J.B. Knowles has a new FF fantasy romance out, Oathtaker book 1: Broken.
After countless battles as an Oathtaker, Katya is about to face her hardest fight—one for her mind and soul.
Katya Greenleaf has given herself over to the thrill of combat countless times during her years as an Oathtaker. Alongside her mentor Shira, she has sought out evil—pirates, slavers, dark mages and demon hordes. Occasionally, she finds comfort in the company of other females she encounters in her travels, and despite her mother’s best efforts, she has no desire to settle for a traditional elven life and family.
After decades of taking joy from the fight, no matter the odds, Katya leads a group of Oathtakers into a disastrous battle, one which costs the lives of everyone around her, including Shira. Katya survives, but with neither body nor spirit intact, haunted by her life of violence and death in the name of her Oath.
Now, the red-haired warrior will find her greatest challenge in a battle against a different sort of demon—ones that live in her mind and haunt her sleep.
As she heals, Katya is reminded that there is more to life than blood and iron by a compelling human named Lili, who not only catches Katya’s interest, but forces her to re-think her life and her mission.
With Lili at her side, her beloved falcon Fayne on her shoulder and healers encouraging her, Katya sets out to re-discover the warrior she once was and finally confront the truths of what happened the day the world collapsed around her.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and the death of a minor character.
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The swamp went against everything Katya had ever learned about choosing a battlefield.
She stood in freezing knee-high water surrounded by small islands of reed-covered sand. Thick mist hung in the air, limiting her vision and rendering her favoured weapon, a crossbow, useless.
The fog was freezing and damp, and despite the enchantments on the leather armour she wore, a chill was creeping into her bones. In that, Katya wasn’t alone. The other members of her party were also complaining about the wet and frosty surroundings.
The swirling mist made sounds duller and flatter, but with her better-than-human hearing, Katya could hear the clicks and whistles that made up the language of the lizard men that were closing in on them. They were savage and bloodthirsty creatures, given to torture and enslaving defeated enemies, fighting to the last with massive clubs of wood and jagged stone axes.
Today it was Katya’s job to lead the fight against this party of lizard men, sending a message from local merchants and crafters’ guilds that it was time the lizards put a halt to their destruction of trade missions and killing of travelling merchants passing through the area, and that their immediate departure from the swamp would be appreciated.
The responsibility weighed on Katya, despite her eagerness to mix it up, and because of this, she was not happy with what was going to be a horrible place for a stand-up fight.
Still, neither weather nor terrain mattered to Katya. Oathtakers didn’t just head into battle when the skies were sunny and pleasant. Dead enemies were dead no matter where their bodies ended up.
The mist beside her parted and Shira appeared, his beard caked with frost. Katya knew her own long hair looked the same, even though she wore it tied back. Function over form was the warrior’s way.
The old ranger gestured with his chin towards the swamp.
“I’ve seen worse. That garbage pit on the coast? Blah.”
Shira laughed. “I’ll never forget that smell. Nor the rats.”
Katya suppressed the shudder that rolled up her back. Gods, the rats, she remembered. Vile and voracious monsters that had wiped out all the wild animals in a huge area around the garbage dump. When they had moved on to livestock, the farmers in the area were desperate for help. The Oathtakers had answered the call.
The rats had been the same size as large dogs, with yellow eyes and even yellower teeth—one of them had bitten straight through a party member’s leather gauntlet. When all was said and done, everyone in the fray had ended up with scratches and bites from the filthy beasts that needed to be well-cleaned before infection set in.
Their foul bloodstains never had come off Katya’s armour completely, no matter how often she scrubbed them.
“I think the lizards will give them a run for their money today.”
Shira’s face took on the more serious look that Katya was accustomed to—his war-face. “They may, aye. What did our friend in the sky say?”
Katya looked up, straining to see. “I haven’t talked to her yet. Do you want me to call her in?”
“May as well. She’ll have seen all she can by now. No sense in letting her freeze.”
Katya nodded. She pursed her lips and whistled, making an odd yet pleasant musical sound, then waited.
In a few seconds, a dark shadow, one of Katya’s most valuable weapons and allies, plummeted out of the misty sky.
J.B. Knowles has been a lifelong lover of works of fantasy, first creating Katya and the Greenleaf family in high school as roleplaying characters.
After a long career in the fields of justice and mental health, J.B. finally had a chance to build a full world on paper for Katya and to breathe new life into adventures started over thirty years ago.
J.B. is married and has two sons and three dogs who all share an stately old farmhouse in a quiet corner of Canada.