QSFer Clare Solomon has a new YA epic fantasy book out, Ascended Book One: “A Perilous Journey.”
She will do anything to protect those she loves – even risk losing her soul.
Fifteen-year-old Keilena hates the Ascended, the powerful magic-possessors who rule Pellotal and think their own laws don’t apply to them. She lives a quiet life with her carpenter father, enlivening it by getting into mischief whenever she can.
Everything changes when a stranger arrives with a secret about her identity that destroys her current life. Forced to take a journey led by people she can’t trust, Keilena hatches a plot to deceive the most dangerous people in the country by choosing a different destination.
She wants nothing to do with her emerging magical abilities which scare those around her and which she fear might corrupt her soul and turn her evil. Desperate to protect her father and the friends travelling with them, though, she must use them again and again against increasingly deadly enemies. Will Keilena succeed in keeping everyone alive on this deadly journey and will she still recognise herself at the end?
This is the gripping first novel in a Young Adult epic fantasy series and is perfect for fans of Tolkien, Robin Hobb and Bella Forrest.
Note: includes a gay minor character romance.
She saw the protectors first, carrying clubs and knives and then she saw what the chains they held were attached to. The woman couldn’t have been much older than her and wore filthy clothes and an expression of terror.
A few of the people around Keilena called out jeers to the captured woman, sickening Keilena and giving her a sense of alienation from them all. Her stomach lurched as she remembered that Tol was here somewhere. She pushed past the onlookers, looking around until she saw his slender form and blond hair. He was standing stiffly, expression blank as he watched the woman. She walked up to him and took his hand. He flinched, beginning to pull away, then realised it was just her and returned the grip.
“These monsters think they can hide from us,” a protector shouted to the group of people, yanking at the iron chains attached to manacles around the woman’s hands and feet. She was pulled off her feet, falling heavily onto the stone road, and Keilena winced, seeing the bruises and cuts on the bare parts of her skin at wrist and neck. “The polluted are our enemy.”
People in the crowd shouted agreement and Tol’s fingers tightened painfully around Keilena’s.
“We will help the Ascended to protect you from them, hunting them down and using their evil magic against them.”
There were cheers and then the protectors continued their journey to the ruler’s castle, the enslaved woman dragged on behind them, her gaze never lifting from the ground, even when the onlookers called her names and swore at her.
“We need to get home,” Keilena said to Tol, although she wasn’t sure that he heard her. She pulled gently at his hand and he silently followed her, through streets full of the emblems of a Flaenorna dragon against a purple background, the symbol of The Substance, the main magical element used by the current Ascended ruler. Some idiots even dyed the tips of their hair purple to show loyalty to their disinterested leader. “Pells don’t know the truth or they wouldn’t support the slavery of soul dancers,” she whispered.
“They’ll never know,” he responded, so quietly she had to lean closer to hear him. “All they’ll ever hear are the lies the guiders tell them.”
She squeezed his hand, wishing she could say or do something for him. She wished she could yell out the truth, that soul dancers were good people and the Ascended only made up lies about them so no one objected when the Ascended made them slaves and sucked the magic out of them.
Tol came to a halt, not noticing when the man behind him had to swerve to avoid walking into him and swore at Tol. “Do you think my parents were tortured or killed outright? I hope they died quickly.”
She pulled him into her arms, hugging him. “I’m so sorry.”
He held onto her and then moved back. “I’m all right.” There was a look in his eyes that it hurt her to see but he spoke evenly and continued walking, turning into their small street with its hotchpotch of houses in different styles and sizes.
She didn’t blame Tol for wanting to get away from the people who had cheered at the enslaved soul dancer and she followed him into his house. Saun was inside, making a barrel. He wore brown trousers with a tunic that came down over them, almost to his knees and looked up with sharp dark eyes as they came in. “What’s wrong?”
“The protectors caught a soul dancer and paraded her through the streets. It upset us.”
“They’re called polluted,” Saun snapped. “You’ll get us all killed if you make people think we’re on their side.”
She was on his side – his and Tol’s and the rest of the soul dancers – but she couldn’t tell him that Tol had revealed such a dangerous secret to her seven and a half years ago. “I’ll get Tol something to drink.”
“He’s my responsibility. Go home – we don’t need you here, Ilena.”
Clare Solomon began writing novels nearly three decades ago, when she was a teenager. She has worked in a variety of jobs, including legal secretary and sales adviser, while continuing to write and trying and failing to get a traditional publisher for her work. She had a short play performed by the local amateur dramatics group and recorded on local radio and came joint first place in a local writing competition. This inspired her to self-publish and she is thrilled to be able to finally share her novels with actual real people.
She loves to write exciting science-fiction and fantasy novels that include m/m romances and often have a theme of protagonists overcoming prejudice to find happiness.