Seasoned warrior and wizard, Therin McKarrin rides into the world of Tha'Davia to pull the strings of prophecy. To save the life of a man that has not yet been born; to find the woman that must live to fight beside him but is already grown; to protect the flame of a land so that it may be overthrown. To do this he must stop the opening of the Well of Souls, a gate to the Underworld that could be the destruction of a prophecy that must unfold.
In his effort to find who and what he must, he takes cover as a merchants guard. A twist of destiny has him meet Lady Darfinel of Ladasia, a strong-willed merchant that plans a trip in the direction Therin needs to go. Darfinel, stubborn and defiant, becomes an unlikely asset to join forces with Therin, but he comes to believe she is part of the prophecies. As she travels with the wizard and his company of warriors, Darfinel begins to feel the need to be something more than just a merchant. Her abilities as a warrior surfaces in this time of growing darkness, and through the wizard, Darfinel learns she was born with the blood of an ancient line of warriors. She was meant to be a warrior, not a merchant.
They must negotiate the complications of a world that does not allow magic, and wizards are hunted for bounty. The world stirs with evil as the feared Lords of Morigdune join with a strange power. New, monstrous creatures as well as old myths walk the land, leaving death to mark their paths. Fighting both witch hunters and the wizard Lords of Morigdune, Therin learns the Well of Souls is already open. Now they must find a way to close it before the webs of prophecy are wiped away.
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|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.43(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By LJ Jones
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 LJ Jones
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFirst Meet
Lady Darfinel of Ladasia sat pondering a map on the table. She was quite comfortable in the small parlor off and away from the common room. A small fire had been kindled in the grate, and the rain against the glass window was a soothing sound. Quite soon enough she would find herself in the weather when her wagons, laden with goods, began the trek to Lorinelle, the city by the mountains.
Darfinel was tall for a woman, with sparkling blue eyes that tilted slightly up. She was not particularly beautiful, with heavier bone structure than was appropriate for a Lady. Slightly pronounced cheekbones and concave cheeks provided a slightly severe look and thin, pursed lips tended towards stern, rather than smiling. Her chin and jaw line were square and strong, again lacking refinement. Her nose would have been proper, if not for the slight crook in it from where it had been broken a few years prior during a fight with brigands while defending her wagons. Darfinel's long brown hair was, today, up in a tidy bun placed formally in a silver worked basket. A silver running horse charm dangled from the chain at the end of the matching silver stick that kept both basket and hair in place.
She wore a light blue dress of finely woven light wool. It was fitted at the body and then flared out to a full skirt. The neck was cut high, adding to her properly severe and no-nonsense appearance. The front panel of the dress was sharply contrasting dark blue with pearl buttons down the front. The dress was long sleeved with small matching buttons several inches down the wrist. Small bits of dark blue scrollwork embroidered on the wrist, collar, and hem of the dress finished the merchant class design with her allowed higher status of nobility. Light blue silk slippers covered her feet that would have shown matching embroidery had they been visible beneath her dress. Such finery would not be the common wear for Darfinel while on the road.
The trek to the mountains would be worse weather than what was currently outside. Darfinel was not a stranger to bad weather or difficult times. She was a woman of twenty-eight years, and she had grown up on her father's merchant trains, traveling all over the continent and to other parts of the world by ship. She had learned from her father the art of merchanting since she had been old enough to understand. Darfinel had seen fighting and killing as well, when the guards had to defend the train; she had seen the giant kelartra come down from the mountains when she was sixteen, and seen them again when she was eighteen. Her father had been killed in that attack, leaving her with the option of returning to their Lordship in Falinkhon and finding a proper suitor who would become Lord of Ladasia. She had decided against the life of a Lady even before her father had been killed. Instead she had taken control of her father's business, and had become a merchant herself, leaving her father's steward to continue to run the small lordship.
Using the skills she had learned from her father, as well as skills she obtained strictly from experience, Darfinel had become a well-known merchant, one that demanded respect and honesty when she was either buying or selling. At first it had been very hard. Merchants were men. That was the way it had been, and it took awhile for them to get used to the idea of a woman doing the job. Not only did she do the job, Darfinel thought to herself, but she did it much better than most merchants. Putting all differences aside, she wasn't just a good merchant for a woman; she simply was a good merchant.
Darfinel had learned where the money was in trade goods, and often times it was where higher risks and more demands for superb drivers and honorable guards were required. In her experience, good drivers were easier to come by than honest guards. Already she had been delayed by guards on this trip. During her last expedition from Zenphinin, she had begun to have problems with some of the guards she had hired to protect her wagons and drivers. They had taken up drinking in the evenings, and the man that led them truly disliked taking orders from a woman. Upon reaching the port city of Marinfarn, she had let them go. It wasn't an uncommon story for her. She had some drivers that had been with her since her father had died, such as her foreman, Master Abry Mauffet, yet guards came and went like the seasons of the year.
It was unwise to travel any part of this world without enough guards. There were far too many bandits, rogues, and thieves that would wait in ambush of a large, slow moving merchant train. Worse still was going into Falinkhon, land of the Falin Mountains and the border of Morigdune. Nevertheless, Lorinelle was a very wealthy city, and if a merchant was willing to pass through the dangers, she could get very high prices for luxury items and fine fabrics, not to mention the goods that could be purchased in this city. The most profitable were raw stones of high value and pelts of the Rink—small but devilish creatures found only in the Falin Mountains, whose coats were of the finest and softest textures in hues of blacks and blues, and occasionally one could even find dark deep reds. These were highly sought by the Lords and Ladies of every land, except for the Falinkhons, oddly enough.
So the twenty-day trip to Lorinelle was filled with dangers, but could fill a merchant's pocket quickly if the trip was made safely. Already Darfinel had purchased goods that would bring high prices in the mountain city, and so she would just have to be patient in finding more guards; after all, she had a few more days before the coming of winter could make the trip more dangerous than was profitable.
A soft tap on the parlor door stopped her thoughts. The inn keeper, Dorin Hoffman, poked his head in. "M' Lady, there is a man here to see you. He says about the hiring," he said quickly.
"Really? Who is he?" she asked.
The innkeeper was a balding, round cheeked man in his later years. He was confident, and a good and fair businessman; and he made her stay enjoyable at the Wayedge Inn every time she came to Marinfarn. Master Hoffman entered the room the rest of the way and closed the door behind him.
"His name is McKarrin, M'Lady. Not from these parts, although I have heard a few things about him," The innkeeper looked secretive yet sincere.
Darfinel smiled, "What have you heard?"
"Well," he began. "For one, no one knows where he hails from. And his men, they are from mixed lands. But it is also said that he can be trusted, and that the company will never turn from a fight, and they will never rob or abandon you once this McKarrin agrees to work for you."
"How long has he been in town looking for work?" she asked.
"I believe he rode in three or four days ago. He is staying on the north side of the city, though I am not sure which inn. I've heard about him because he has been about, asking questions about things, but mostly looking for work, I think."
"What kinds of things Master Hoffman?" Darfinel was curious if nothing more.
"Just about the rumors, M'Lady. You know," he shrugged uncertainly. "About there being strange creatures attacking folk and uncommon raids up North."
"Sounds interesting. I'll see him."
The innkeeper departed but returned very shortly, leading the man they had spoken about.
"Therin McKarrin, M'Lady," the innkeeper introduced, then bowed his way out the door and closed it softly.
Darfinel noticed first his eyes; they were a pale, crystal green. It seemed she could dive deeply into them and be comforted in the soul within. She found it hard to break contact, but she forced herself away. The rest of the man was interesting enough. His face, with its lean, high cheekbones and weather-darkened skin, had a hard look to it. His hair was black, long in the back and braided partway down, with a short top, and alongside one cheek ran a thin braid tied with a green strand of leather. He seemed quite tall at first, but after a moment of gazing, Darfinel found he was of medium height with broad shoulders and a very confident stance. He carried a sword at his hip, an unremarkable weapon with no adornments upon the hilt or scabbard—simple and useful.
Darfinel realized that she had been looking him over longer than might be considered respectful. Careful not to look too deeply into his eyes again, she cleared her throat. "So you've come about the job?" She asked stiffly, trying to rise from the smitten child to the hard merchant that she was.
He nodded and seemed to smile just a bit. Darfinel fought the color creeping up her neck. Had she looked at him so hard and long? And for him to be amused by it! Darfinel stiffened and composed herself; she stayed her hand from adjusting her dress skirts.
"I plan to travel to Lorinelle," she said strongly. "I would expect there could be some trouble along the way, as there usually is on the North Falin Road. I understand that you bring with you a company of guards?"
The smile was gone as if it had never been. Darfinel wondered if she had been imagining it out of her own embarrassment. McKarrin's face was unreadable.
"That is correct, Lady Darfinel. There are eleven, including myself. I do not hire out separately. We would not shudder at your planned destination, though I would ask if you had heard the recent news of the North Falin Road."
"About the 'strange' creatures?" Darfinel asked, having heard plenty of the rumors herself in the week she had spent in Marinfarn. But the rumors had not been new to her even upon arrival at the port city; all along her last travel route from the east there had been harrowing tales of the monstrous attacks and the killing of people traveling anywhere in countries bordering Morigdune.
"That would be the news, yes M'Lady."
Darfinel had somehow expected him to be less civilized, as many guardsmen tended to be, especially because he had smirked while she stared so appraisingly at him. Yet he sounded respectful now, even though Darfinel had regained her strong, in-control personality that so many men hated. "I have heard some of it. Do you fear to go then?"
"I would not have come about the work, if we shied from it, M'Lady," McKarrin replied flatly.
"Do you have references, guard? For I have never heard of you."
"We have worked in West Corner in Anadahl mostly, on the other side of the Falin Mountains. We traveled here with Captain Stomm, on his ship 'The Blue Drake.' You could inquire with him. Otherwise you could send messenger to Lord Vlassir or Captain Maramx at West Corner. Though that would take a few months, the snows would have fallen, and passage to Lorinelle would be impossible."
"So I am to take you on your word that you and your men are honest?" Darfinel asked with sarcasm.
McKarrin's hand fell to the door knob and turned it. "I see that we would be unable to fulfill your requirements, M'Lady ..."
"How did you hear of this job?" Darfinel interrupted him quickly, not having expected that kind of a reaction. Most men were quick to defend their honesty and reliability. Therin McKarrin was certainly a little more than different from the average guard.
"I heard it from one of your drivers, Abry Mauffet. We were at the smithy at the same time. We were speaking casual, but he mentioned that his Lady was looking for guards to go into Lorinelle."
Darfinel nodded satisfactorily. He had not heard of the job in a tavern. He could be lying, but Master Abry seldom drank. And McKarrin spoke of him by name, and there was no hesitation in his answer, so he had not been making up the answer as he went. She had already been sure she wanted to hire this man, but now she was quite certain.
"I would pay you six hundred silver to take my wagons to Lorinelle," Darfinel rushed out, realizing that the conversation was going to end and she would not have any guards.
"One thousand silver," McKarrin replied flatly, his green eyes meeting hers sharply.
Darfinel's instinct told her this man wasn't the dickering sort; he would get what he asked or wouldn't do the job. She consoled herself with the fact she was restless and did not wish to spend any more time in the port city. One thousand silver was well worth a good set of guards, yet she was a merchant, and a merchant never took the first offer.
"A thousand is too high," she said with a shake of her head. "I could perhaps pay six hundred and fifty."
"One thousand," the green eyed man said firmly, his green eyes holding hers.
Suddenly Darfinel felt that this man was testing her, to see who would be in charge once they left the city gates. Darfinel never stood for a guard to make the decisions for her wagons, not unless they were under full attack. This man was strong willed and defiant, and Darfinel knew that if she gave into him now, she would have to struggle with her authority the entire way. He would probably compete with her all the way to Lorinelle no matter what she did or said today, but she would never make it easy on him, nor would she ever let him win.
"A thousand is hardly a fair price for a few guards to ride north with me, even guards with the experience of West Corner. I have other guards; yours will not be the only ones taking orders from me."
One black eyebrow rose on McKarrin's face. His green eyes might have twinkled with some sort of mischief, or it might have been her imagination. She watched him closely, trying hard to read him. "Nine hundred silver," Therin countered her.
Darfinel thought that she might be making a point until his next words.
"Nine hundred silver and I give orders to all the guards on the train."
So, this was in fact a challenge to her authority, as well as her strength and ability as a merchant. "I give the orders on my train, Master McKarrin," Darfinel spoke very clearly, and looked hard into his crystal eyes with as much coldness as she could share.
McKarrin met her hard stare and never blanched. Most men could not hold her gaze when she had her temper up. It was something Darfinel had learned from an old innkeeper that kept business in a very surly part of town; and she seldom had troubles. Men backed down from her, not wanting to fight with a woman. It was an advantage that had come very useful in the past, and yet it was not working on Master McKarrin.
"I cannot run a strong defense if other guards are off doing one thing when it is crucial that they did something else. I find that some guards know nothing more than how to use their weapon with no inclination of where or when."
It was true, what he said, though Darfinel did not like it, but it did bring forth more information about this man. He at least felt he could lead a defense, and also knew that he had to be in control of all the players. Still she grimaced inwardly. "Alright," she accepted. "You are in charge of the guards. You take orders from me unless we are under full attack, and I will pay you seven hundred silver."
"I am in charge anytime there is a notable danger, and you will pay me eight hundred silver."
Obviously she had been wrong. McKarrin knew how to barter just fine. "Eight Hundred," Darfinel agreed, though there was a notable growl in her voice.
"Done," McKarrin nodded
"We leave first thing in the morning. Do not arrive drunk, Master McKarrin, or any of your men. Or the price will go back to six hundred."
Darfinel was drawn once again to Therin McKarrin's emerald green eyes. They were darker now then when he had first entered, and there seemed to be a flame dancing beneath the surface. It was difficult to break the contact again, yet when she did, somehow she felt confident that she had hired an honorable, if obstinate, man, and that there would be no problems with him or his men with drink or dishonesty.
"We will be there," McKarrin said solemnly, bowed respectfully, and the door closed behind him without sound.
Darfinel breathed deeply. She had not realized she had been holding her breath and felt annoyed with herself. Normally she could keep a calm and authoritative demeanor while debating prices and values. Yet she had barely been able to with this man; he had her flustered from the moment he had entered the door. She shook herself and forced another deep breath. The fact remained that she had finally acquired enough guards to get on the road. They would finally be leaving, and at first light. She would send word to Master Abry immediately so he could round up the drivers and be ready. The wagons had yet to be loaded and tarped for the journey, and he would also see to that.
Darfinel shook her head and consoled herself with the thought that she had paid the man a fair price and that they would finally be underway. These were good things, and she should be pleased. Yet she was still irritated with herself for the way she had behaved, and swore she would make certain that Master Therin McKarrin understood who was in charge of her train. Still pondering why she had behaved the way she had, she walked to the window and looked out through the raindrops that slid down the glass pane.
Excerpted from Warder Born by LJ Jones Copyright © 2012 by LJ Jones. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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I just finished reading Warder Born. I want to read the next book. Warder Born doesn't leaving you hanging at the end, it leaves you wanting to spend more time with the people from the story. I am an avid reader and enjoy stories of mystery, action and drama. This book develops the characters at a pace that makes the reader enjoy the discovery. The storyline keeps you wanting to turn the pages, even if it is 1:00am and needing to get up at 6:00am! Unexpected events kept my interest as did the continuing development of the characters. I wanted to help them! I needed to see what happened next! The words so well written that I was transported in time and place. I had to remind myself that I was in a comfortable recliner, wrapped in a blanket and not on horseback in the middle of a blizzard. If you enjoy adventure, drama, mystery and action you will enjoy Warder Born. I commend the author for the ability to create another world in which I want to return. Thanx! Oh, and to LJ Jones, you have a fan for life!
I have just finished reading Warder Born. and for a first time author, L. J. Jones does a superb job. The characters are engaging and likable. The author does not fall into the first time writers trap of "too much description" There is just enough to make it very easy to see the story in your mind. The book is a comfortable read and the story is compelling enough to make it hard to put down. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
Very interesting aspect on the balance of nature. Exceptionally written.
Rarely a find a book I can't put down.