Joseph Hashimoto is happy with his ordinary life. A man who believes in fairness and just action, Joe’s greatest love is his family. But as he moves about his days, he is completely unaware that his actions are carefully observed. With one momentous decision, Joe’s ordinary life is about to transform into an extraordinary existence.
While attempting to save a little girl from danger, Joe is killed in a violent explosion. Instead of dying, however, his soul is brought before the elemental Architects of the Universe, who tell him he has been chosen for a sacred duty. Reborn as Lightrider, the earthly representative of Light, Joe is given leadership of the Elemental Knights, a group of half-man, half-animal beings. Charged with maintaining a delicate balance between good and evil, Joe must police both sides and destroy anyone who threatens to ruin it. As Joe struggles with his conflicting emotions and longing for home, he must face his greatest threat—the ancient Chaos Demons.
In this fantasy tale, a man inadvertently thrust into a world of cosmic forces must come to terms with change and accept what needs to be done for the good of all.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.81(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Lightrider Journals
By ERIC NIERSTEDT
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Eric Nierstedt
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe man in gold looked into the crystal sphere. His expression was one of neutrality—no crease on his weathered, bearded face showed the slightest hint of emotion. The orb glowed as scenes of a man in a combat uniform flashed within it. As the man in gold watched, the soldier leaped across the fray, his gun blazing as he mowed down his enemy. He saw the soldier whirl around, turning his weapon against another enemy and taking him to the ground in minutes. The soldier holstered his gun and moved to the corpse before him. He paused only to spit on the dead man's face before he moved on.
And still, as the orb flickered on, the man in gold showed no emotion. He watched the soldier break into a building, brandishing his gun and shouting at the men inside, who ceased loading bombs with poison gas. He watched as the soldier stood at attention and as a medal was pinned to his uniform. But despite his intense study of the scene before him, the man in gold still sensed another presence entering his realm.
"You have found another?" said the woman in black, her dark hair falling across her eye as she spoke.
"I have," the man finally said, the orb going dark at last. "I have been observing him for several days now."
"And what do you think you have?"
"A strong man. A man who fights for high ideals. But not one who can bear my power."
The woman sighed then. "Which is what you have said about the last few candidates."
"This is a delicate matter. We cannot simply give power to those who are undeserving."
"It still has to be given!" the woman declared. "All of us have made our choices; only you remain, spending your time gazing at mortals while the threat to existence grows worse. Everything we have worked to maintain, wiped out because of your inaction!"
"I am fully aware of the consequences of inaction," the man said, finally turning away from the sphere. "But I will not rush my choice out of fear of what may be. For now, we have time."
"You have never listened to your fears. It has made you foolish."
"I do this out of knowledge, sister," the man said. "We both know the weight of our powers. In the wrong hands, it would be disastrous, especially with the threat we face. Is that not why I helped you—so that your choice could bear your power but not be consumed by it?"
The woman in black paused and then answered, "Yes, I will grant you that, brother," the woman said. "We have always worked best when we combined our wisdom. Perhaps I should return the favor then?"
"You wish to help me?"
"If only to speed the process. I know the dangers of your power, as you know mine. Despite the threat we face, I could not allow a poor choice on your part."
"Very well. There is another that has been brought to my attention."
"Another man of the law? Or a soldier?"
"Neither. One who seems to possess the qualities, if not the experience. Come see."
The woman nodded and walked to where the man stood. Together, they looked into the orb. They watched as another scene was drawn for them and listened to the voice that filled the air.
* * *
"Don't forget the milk today," Jeri Hashimoto said.
"Huh?" Joe asked.
"Don't forget the milk," Jeri repeated as she poured herself a cup of the black, herbal sludge that somehow worked like coffee. "Like you did yesterday."
"Yes dear," Joe Hashimoto muttered. He hated to make mistakes like that. Jeri always said that it was because he was Japanese; she often hid the knives when Joe forgot or failed to do something and then made him promise not to "go kamikaze".
Luckily, she'd forgotten this morning. Joe finished buttering his toast. Still, sometimes Joe wondered if he should add a scar or two, if only to accent his bland features—short black hair; slanted, dark Asian eyes in a slightly rounded face; moderately fit physique; average height. His plainness had made him work hard to get people to recognize him for his skills, although being able to one-up his wife wasn't always one of them.
"Come on, you deserved it a little," Jeri said with a laugh as she brushed back her hair.
"Believe me, dear, seeing that disappointed look on your face is motivation enough."
"Aww, look at the little suck-up," Jeri replied. She leaned forward and kissed Joe on the cheek.
"Well, that is why you married me, isn't it?" Joe asked.
"Sure wasn't the sex," Jeri said, sipping her tea.
Joe just shook his head and began to butter his second piece of toast. As Jeri picked up the paper and started to read, he took a look at her face. Even though she wasn't wearing much makeup, Joe still thought he'd married the most eyes-popping-out-and-leaking-into-your-lap stunning woman in the world. Her red hair framed her face and still looked as fiery as ever after all the years. Still, Joe was always drawn to her eyes above all else. They were a deep shade of green, almost the color of the rain forest in the pictures Joe had seen.
That was why he waited until Jeri finished her paper before he turned her face against him. "I almost forgot; Mom called last night."
"Oh ..." Jeri said in horror-laced surprise. "Joe, please don't tell me ... not after the last time. Don't tell me they're ..."
"Yeah. On Thursday."
"Oh God, and you said yes?"
"I know, I know, but I think she's coming around."
"Dear, she will never forgive me for being your wife and a cracker. All I ever hear is, 'in Japan we do this' and 'this is how we did it when I grew up.' She spent the last visit giving me 'suggestions' on how to decorate the house, how to cook our food, and even how I should defend a case!" she snapped.
Joe tried to hide a smirk. "I don't disagree with you. But Mom was never happy about having to leave home when my dad got transferred—"
"And she wanted to make sure you didn't forget your culture." Jeri sighed. "She barely even accepted giving you an American name. But it's been years since all that, and I'm always going to be the ignorant cracker-Mick to her until one of us dies."
"I know. Even my father is tired of hearing it. But she's my mother, and I don't want to become estranged from her. Your dad and I didn't hit it off either, but he and I worked it out. Doesn't that prove that maybe we can get Mom to accept you?"
Jeri was quiet then. Finally, she asked, "When are they coming over?"
"They aren't yet," Joe said. "I said I'd have to clear it with you first."
"I hate you," Jeri muttered.
"I know. But what was I gonna do? Let her come by unannounced and have you even angrier with me?"
Jeri gritted her teeth and then said, "Thank you. I'll try to make it work then. But I'm not making any promises if she goes off the deep end."
"Good. Now, they were talking about taking us to dinner on Thursday. Is that okay with you?"
"All right. But if she goes nuts, you owe me big-time."
"I promise, if anything happens, I will be your slave."
"We're married, Joe. You already are."
"Dad's already what?" another voice said.
Both Jeri and Joe turned to see their twelve-year-old son standing in the doorway, his backpack slung over his shoulder. Cody Hashimoto had the open look on his face his father used so well. But physically, he was his mother's child, with light skin, blue eyes, and an oblong face. Only Joe's jet-black hair had managed to establish itself, along with a slightly Asian slant to Cody's eyes.
"Nothing important," Jeri said. "You ready for school?"
"Yes, Mom," Cody said with a sigh.
"You have your books?"
"Mom, come on. One day I forget my books, and you don't let it go for a year!"
"You can complain later; you have to catch the bus in five minutes—which is all the time I have," Joe said, looking at the clock. Grabbing his coat from the nearby rack, Joe threw it on, put some of his toast in his coat pocket, and headed for the door.
"See you guys tonight," he said as he worked the doorknob.
"Later, Dad," Cody said as he headed for the front door as well.
"Have a good day," Jeri added, moving to grab her briefcase from the countertop.
* * *
"He seems rather ... quiet, don't you think?"
"Perhaps, but he does show promise. He knows how to negotiate."
"One argument solved is not enough. Yours is the final piece, and we cannot wait forever to determine whether or not he is acceptable."
"Give him time, sister. I was led to this man by the One, and we both know such things do not happen without a reason."
"Just make sure you do not misunderstand the message. I agree that this man seems to have the moral qualities we seek. But is he a leader? If he cannot end the conflict between his wife and mother, how can he face the challenges we have for him? How can he lead anyone when he cannot lead himself?"
"Wait and see. I believe that our answer will be delivered."
Chapter TwoJoe drove his car through the streets of Chicago, allowing himself a mental pat on the back for his deft handling of the situation. Usually, whenever he came between his mother and his wife, he had all the decision-making skills of a blind man buying a TV. But this time, he'd actually managed to work out a compromise.
Of course, Mom wasn't actually there to influence me, he thought to himself as he turned the corner. Ever since he was a kid, Joe had never really been able to stand up to Miyako Hashimoto. He remembered times when his mother had tried to push him into something he didn't want to do, like joining the chess club or the Boy Scouts (which she felt would help him develop, ironically, more Japanese values). He had told her, "I just don't want to do it." But after that, Miyako would begin to cry. And the only time he'd ever really been able to blind his eyes to the tears was when he'd married Jeri.
Since then, Jeri had become the target for his mother's disapproval, through comments and criticisms that were supposed to be subtle. Oh, is the ham supposed to be so pink? I didn't know that color was in style. Is that your relative that's going blind? After each family gathering, Joe had to listen to complaint after complaint from Jeri about his mother's rudeness. And those gatherings had been more frequent since Cody was born. As the Grenwal store came into view down the block, Joe was thankful that at least Ken Hashimoto had always thought that his son had married a fine woman and not a potato-eating Mick.
I just hope Dad can rein Mom in this week, or she'll probably give Jeri more advice on how to clean the house or some other thing, he thought to himself as he pulled the car into the store parking lot. I can't stand another rant about hand cleaning instead of using the vacuum. He exited the car and walked to the store.
As the doors opened, he said, "Morning, Miro," to the employee working at the register.
"Morning, boss," Miro replied as he continued to ring up the customer.
"How are the classes going?" Joe asked the cashier.
"Oh, great. I like how all these six-hour classes eat up all my time. But at least they're for my major. The science requirements really suck, though. I mean, I'm studying graphic design. Why do I—"
"Something about a well-rounded education," Joe answered. "It could be worse; you just have the basic courses."
"Maybe, but it still sucks," Miro replied. He paused to take the customer's money and give her the change. She left, and Miro turned and said, "I mean, half my professors are old as hell and don't even understand what I'm studying. One guy thought I was studying fashion and asked me if I was gay—in class!"
"At least the semester will be over soon, and then you won't have to deal with him anymore. Anything to report?"
"There is one piece of great news," Miro replied, brushing his long hair out of his eyes. "We got a call from ... her."
"Her?" Joe asked. "Who is ... wait you don't mean—"
"Yeah," Miro said. "She asked about the Jell-O sale, and I said we had plenty. Man, I wish we could lie."
"We have to serve the public, even when the public shouldn't be served," Joe sighed. "Thanks for telling me. I'll be on my guard for her."
"Actually, she's been here for an hour," Miro replied. "She found the Christmas stuff on the clearance rack and well ..."
"I see. All right, Miro, you know what to do when she gets up here," Joe said.
Miro nodded and Joe started walking to the office, muttering to himself on the way, "But she's Jewish. Why would she want Christmas—Oh, who knows? Anybody can be crazy at that age," he answered himself as he entered the office.
"Morning, Joe," Ronald, a shorthaired and thin-faced black man, said from his spot at the office computer. "You hear we got a call from—"
"Yeah, Miro told me," Joe said, moving over to the clock and punching in.
"Sucks don't it?" Ronald asked. "I mean, we're just getting through the holidays, and then they decide on a surprise inspection—"
"What?" Joe asked, whirling around to face Ronald.
"Yeah, Muriel called. She wants to come down and see the setup— just the general look, really."
"But the store's a mess! We still haven't cleaned up from the holiday rush," Joe cried out.
"Well, that's what she told me."
"But it makes no sense. I mean ... Ron?"
"Are you bullshitting me?"
"No, of course not. Not about something like this."
"So you're serious?"
"No, but it's fun to tell you that I am."
Joe let out a long sigh, and Ronald started to laugh.
"You know, I could fire you," Joe added.
"And who would take care of all this shit for you?" Ronald asked.
Joe thought briefly of saying more, but he just shook his head, knowing that it wouldn't matter.
"You know, you could get rich from comedy a lot faster without these stupid pranks," Joe said.
"Aw, c'mon. Even you thought the crazy Jamaican grandma call was funny."
Joe started to say something but then stopped and said, "Okay, that was good. I don't know how they didn't realize it was you calling."
"Skill, man. So what did Miro have to report for you this morning?" Ronald asked.
"The lady of a million and one coupons and no patience is back," Joe said. "Whose turn is it this time?"
"I did it last time, so ..."
"I could just make you do it."
"But then who would finish the paychecks?"
"Figures," Joe sighed as he moved over to the countertop, where a few stacks of papers and order forms sat for him to look over.
"Amazing," he said aloud as he looked over the forms. "I feel like I just filled out the orders for last week."
"Blame it on Christmas," Ronald answered. "People come in for the clearance stuff and then end up buying half the store on their way to the register."
"I thought it was supposed to get easier for us after the holidays," Joe muttered as he checked out the forms that the other managers had prepared. "Eggs, milk, microwave burritos, dehumidifiers—well at least it isn't too out of the ordinary."
"We've got another problem," Ronald said, swiveling around in his chair. "Debbie called out for Friday night."
"Oh, for God's sake! This is the third week in a row!" Joe said.
"You saw how pissed off she was last week," Ronald said.
"Half the cosmeticians are on vacation. What else am I supposed to do?"
"I told her the same thing, but she didn't care. What do you want to do?"
"First, I'm gonna call her and talk to her before I change anything. Usually, I can get a yes out of her."
But as Joe went to the phone to do just that, he was interrupted by an announcement that said, "Code 33, Main. Code 33."
"Oh great," Joe muttered. He turned toward the door.
"Good luck!" Ronald said as Joe left the office and walked through the store to the register, where Miro stood with a great look of exasperation, along with an old, blonde-haired woman wearing a red coat and holding a long receipt next to a cartful of items.
"Hello, Mrs. Schlove, how can I help you today?" Joe asked in what he hoped was a cheerful and upbeat voice.
Waving her receipt in front of Joe's face, Schlove screeched, "Your system is screwed up again, young man. And your cashier is wrong! He says my receipt is perfect, but I did the math! Everything I bought is on clearance or I had a coupon."
"Well, let me take a look at it, ma'am," Joe said. He took the receipt and viewed the items.
"Mrs. Schlove, I'm sorry, but I don't see anything wrong here."
"Are you blind? With what I bought, I shouldn't have had to pay all that."
Excerpted from The Lightrider Journals by ERIC NIERSTEDT Copyright © 2012 by Eric Nierstedt. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book reads like a movie. It was the first fantasy book I had ever read. I was drawn to it by its imaginative cover, which was explained to me as I quickly flipped through the pages of The Lightrider Journals. The book was not only believable but spiritual as well as suspenseful. The writing is amazingly descriptive which bring the pages to life in your mind. The imagery is so clear, I could see it on the big screen as I flew through the pages. Joe is a character you care about and he stays with you long after you close the book.
I have a weird relationship with Fantasy novels. I either love them or hate them. I really enjoyed this story. You have the Architects of Creation who are the creators of our world. They put together a team of Elemental Knights to fight for the balance between good and evil. Sounds cool right? At first, the Knights have a hard time grasping their new existence and they don't all agree with the task that they are given. They take an oath to become immortal and fulfill their duties and begin training to use their special powers. There are a lot of characters in this novel and it was hard for me to keep up, at first. That's mainly the reason I steer clear of fantasy novels...too much going on lol. Moving on... I grew to love some of the characters. My favorites were Sandshifter and Groundquake. They were the most defiant of the group(go figure, that's probably why I liked them lol.) They both made such huge transformations by the end of the book. Of course, the biggest transformation was the main character, Joe. But I don't like Joe. I can't explain why I don't like him, but I spent most of the book just groaning at his indecision and whining. The action scenes in this book were SOOOO GOOOOOOD!!!! Each character learned more of their abilities with each fight. It was so cool to hear about their powers and how they started working as a team to defeat the demons. The imagery for the demons was fantastic. Not just the demons, but everything. I really felt like I was on the sidelines watching it all unfold. I really enjoyed it and I hope you will all check it out.