Book 1 Song Against Shadow: The Song of Svarnil
The people moved without emotion, without awareness of their own emptiness. They hurried without purpose, spoke without knowing what they said, fought over things they did not want and then forgot they had won them. It was as though habits had shed the people who used them and now lived on their own. This was the Death.
This is the story of Svarnil, an apprentice bard chosen by the immortal Cumarún to travel to the land of the Deerfolk and rescue them from a shadowy warrior king and the mysterious Death that follows him. But in a world of warriors and magic, not everyone is a warrior or a mage. Svarnil has never learned sword fighting, cannot perform magic, and seems to have no heroic powers. She is not even sure she wants to become a bard. But what other ways can there be of meeting the dangers and conflicts she faces?
As her adventures among mages, monsters, and spirits unfold, Svarnil learns what it means to be a true bard. She must also discover whether the gifts she has will be enough to bring her through the challenges before her.
Book 2 Sleeping Legends Lie: The Legend of Jiriya
That something was wrong Jiriya could feel even before she was fully awake. It was the stooping edge of an anxious dream, perhaps, or the prickle of an insect at the back of her neck. She raised her arm to brush away the insect, and her knuckle knocked against something hard. When she tried to turn her head to look, her hair pulled so sharply it tore. She was fully awake now, and frightened. It was still just before dawn, grey and dewy, and silent. Cautiously she put her hand back again, and her fingers met the blade…
Jiriya has always loved the tales of wise, kind-hearted Prince Oru, who ruled Yuwara Ul Sahd two hundred years ago. Then one evening she learns another part of the legend: that upon his coronation as emperor her beloved Prince Oru turned suddenly and inexplicably evil. Jiriya is determined to discover the truth about this legendary mystery - until the legend begins to bring menace into the present. With the help of the bard Svarnil, Jiriya must discover the truth about Prince Oru, and find her way home from an adventure more perilous than any she could have imagined.
Book 3 Return to Tchrkkusk: The Tale of Chlukash
As Chlukash passed through the gauntlet of Deerfolk, at the end of the line of her people, something warm and wet splattered against her ankle. Laughter and hooting broke out behind her. She refused to look back, but deliberately stopped, wiped the gob of spit from her skin with her kerchief, and dropped the fabric behind her on the street. She was almost to the North Bridge.
As she stepped onto the stone span, the soldiers closed ranks across the road and Eotheort was behind her. A great furious cheer rose up from the city’s shore. “Scomu, never come back! Never come back!" they screamed.
Chlukash muttered, “I swear by all the chwshym, I never will.”
This is the tale of Chlukash, a young Scomu woman from the ghetto of Eotheort. The king of the Deerfolk has died suddenly, and his two sons both claim the throne. Which one becomes king may mean the difference between life and death for the rufous dwarves in Scomu Ghetto. With Chlukash inspiring them and the elven bard Svarnil to remind them of their history, a group of the Scomu set off for the long-ruined cities of Tchrkkusk, in search of a place where they can be free. But is Tchrkkusk more than a dream? And if they arrive, will there be anything there for them now?
Book 4 Vision Revealed: Further Adventures of Svarnil
There was a flash of yellow light, a cloud of brown smoke, and everything was chaos. Screams shook the air as people leapt to their feet and tried to run from the thing that had appeared, a smoking, swirling, monstrous figure at the back of the temple near the doors. The panicking people dashed helter-skelter, knocking into each other, tripping and trampling, seizing their loved ones. The apparition, after an instant of stillness, seemed to explode across the temple floor. It was impossible to make out the features of the monster, for it never rested or stilled its rampage. It seemed to be composed of dust or brown smoke, whirling madly in the ever-shifting shape of a beast…
When Svarnil hears of the discovery of an ancient religious document that may change the course of history, she travels all the way to the southern border of Yuwara Ul Sahd to learn the truth about the Minarian religion – and join the librarian Nulif in his dangerous quest to share that truth with others. This time the bard and Nulif must contend with elemental monsters and charges of criminal blasphemy as they try to help the city of K'Ten accept a forgotten interpretation of the scriptures and hold fast to the true meaning of their faith.
Book 5 A Threatening of Dragons: Travels of Nulif and Svarnil
“Why have we let them live even this long?” the silver dragon demanded, his harsh voice rising to a roar of such rage that the fires ringing the cavern shook, the tongues of flame cowering and leaping as if in fright. All around her Svarnil could see the restless shifting of scaled limbs, but whether it indicated agreement or dissent she could not see without risk of meeting the dragons' eyes…
There are rumors of trouble between dragons and the people of the North Region, but who can negotiate with angry dragons, clawed and fanged, and armed with eyes as deadly as their fire? The bard Svarnil and the librarian Nulif find themselves on the quest to discover what is making the dragons so restless, and how peace can be restored in the Region. It will require all their bravery, all their wisdom, and all their faith in each other to survive this adventure, in which they must face the distrust not only of the dragons and a sorcerer, but also of Svarnil's fellow elves.
Book 6 Ruin of Ancient Powers: A Song for Many Voices
Svarnil strained to catch the words of the muttered conversation on the other side of the door. In the quiet there was a sudden sharp crack of thunder loud and close enough to shake the stone around them, so that their hands shot out against the walls for balance. One of the voices said, “The power is flowing.” He sounded frightened.
From the ancient ruins of a lost civilization to the sudden ruin of a new city, a mysterious power stalks the desert. Oru of Sisoa leads an expedition to investigate, accompanied by his beloved Jiriya, the bard Svarnil, and the librarian Nulif. Their group also includes two young sky-dwarf orphans who may carry a curse from the destruction of their home, and three nomads of bitterly feuding tribes. Together the diverse members of this expedition must solve the mystery of the ancient curse of Edah and turn aside its terrible danger. But the greatest danger of all may not be the nameless gods of Edah, but the conflicts these travelers bring with them on the journey.
The Otherworld Series
1. Song Against Shadow
2. Sleeping Legends Lie
3. Return to Tchrkkusk
4. Vision Revealed
5. A Threatening of Dragons
6. Ruin of Ancient Powers
Imagine a rather traditional fantasy world - now imagine dealing with that world without relying on the traditional swords and sorcery. These fantasy novels explore what happens when characters try a more thoughtful, creative approach to dealing with people and their conflicts. They are adventures about doing right even when the effect seems small, and following your leadings even when you don't know where they will take you.
Reading level is complicated. This series was written for adults and the writing is not simple. However, there is nothing in the content that would be inappropriate (explicit sex, violence, etc) for children 10 and up. Consider this for any thoughtful, advanced reader who loves character-driven fantasy, but not for younger kids who will struggle with a large vocabulary and some complicated syntax.
Paperback books, 178 - 240 pages
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(Also available at amazon.com, where you can also "Look Inside.")
Praise for Song Against Shadow
The rich descriptive passages and the careful rendering of the characters is impressive. I appreciate the way the author deals with issues of life and death, and the way intent affects the rightness of actions. They are good lessons on honor and responsibility, and what really matters... I recommend it for fantasy readers from about 5th or 6th grade through adult.
In Song Against Shadow, this strong, wise young elf seems ready to take on an adventure even though she is a bit unsure of herself. The underlying themes of confidence, trust, hope, life and death are well articulated and thought provoking... The setting is luminous and inviting and the characters are well crafted and quite likeable. The tone is warm hearted and entrancing, making the reader want to follow along on this journey. Definitely recommended.
- amazon.com editorial review
Let it be known that I... read way-too-many self-published books to be anything but cynical --- and yet I stand in awe. Not just another quest tale, Song Against Shadow explores the inner and outer landscapes of Svarnil's world as she confronts darkness and finds light. Rich descriptions of both character and setting are balanced against a tightly-moving plot that engages and engrosses. A wonderful way to start what promises to be a satisfying series.
- Jo Steigerwald
A friend who knows I read a lot of fantasy novels lent me this book. Impatient reader that I am, at first I had to get used to the characters' names. But I kept reading, wanting to find out what happened next. And I was not disappointed. There are some creative twists in the book that I have not read anywhere else, and I read a LOT of fantasy novels, both young adult and adult. Worth the read. And there are more novels to look forward to. I want to know more about the bard's gifts.
- “Violet Penumbra"
Song Against Shadow was selected as a Quarter-Finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.