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New release: The Blood-Born Dragon – J.C. Rycroft

The Blood-Born Dragon - J.C. Rycroft

QSFer J.C. Rycroft has a new FF fantasy out, Everlands Cycle book 1: The Blood-Born Dragon.

A bond she didn’t choose.
A love she can’t escape.
A creature so powerful it bends the limits of time…

Smart, sassy, and sanguine, Des Mildue is a traveling sellsword in Rescalin, a dry and dusty kingdom full of rogues, opportunists, and thieves. She keeps her nose clean, brazens it out with a blade when she can’t, and keeps others at arm’s length where they can’t mess up her plans.

That is, until a sword fight gone wrong leaves her tied by blood to the first dragon hatched in centuries. Suddenly, Des has to contend with a new voice in her head: haughty, willful Esquidamelion. Des wants to leave Squid by the roadside, but the blood bond has other ideas.

With half the world on their tail – including Liv, her beautiful, faithless ex who Des is definitely over – Des must search for answers for why so many are willing to kill, maim and torture to get their hands on Squid. But she’s beginning to suspect her blood bond has tied her not only to a dragon, but to a fight for Rescalin’s future…

…and no one else even knows it’s at risk.

If you like the kind of story that grabs you by the shirtfront and hauls you through mystery, magic, adventure and betrayal, with a side of sapphic romance, pick up The Blood-Born Dragon, first in a new trilogy from debut author J.C. Rycroft.

Get It At Amazon


The meaty knuckles swing toward me. I duck too late, the unexpected backhand sending me tumbling from the saddle. I sprawl into red dirt, face pounding. Ouch. All I wanted was to get to Valenta, the next town. I hear they have baths, and fuck knows I reek after crossing this desert.

The three dismount, laughing and exchanging what I’m sure is witty repartee I can’t make out through the ringing in my ear. My cheek is split inside, the blood slick, salt, and copper on my tongue. I spit into the dust. The air smells like heat, and I’ll bruise to blues on that hip tomorrow.

I scan the horizon, a red line carved against deep blue sky. No one else in sight, and with my blade unhelpfully strapped to Liza’s saddle instead of slung on my back.

Well, that one was my choice. My fault.

I squint against the sun at them. Hefty. The blade’ll help if I can get to it, much as I wanted to not use it. But it’s probably not enough on its own. I’m good, but I’m not that good.

But there’s no one else.

Right. Fuck.

Any decent swordsman will tell you half the game is in the head, and the best place to play that game is out on the stage.

I level my gaze at them, unveiling the challenge in it. “Really? That’s your best offer?” I grin, knowing my teeth are outlined in red. The second-in-command blinks. An iota of fear. I can work with that.

The leader, a brawny man with a scar carved from eyebrow to chin, grins back. He opens his mouth to speak and glances at his two goons. They always do this—take a moment for their audience. As the goons return his look, smirks dawning, I move. I toss a handful of sand across their faces, kick hard into the leader’s belly, and turn immediately to feint left but hit hard on the right with an elbow into the first goon’s crotch. He grunts, folds in half, and I stumble as I spin away from the second.

Their mounts panic, kicking up heels and bolting along the road to Valenta. Liza, my own horse, stands firm, thank fuck. She’s the best.

My burst of violence is not going to be enough of a head start. No mercenary or highway brigand would hire backup less than raised to the kill. I need a weapon.

I roll backward through the hard-packed red dirt, sparing a sad thought for my glossy new silk jacket as I spring up next to Liza. The sword is there, tied into my blankets like only a fool would do. I grab the hilt, and with a swift tug that sends poor Liza skittering sideways and whinnying in protest, it’s out of the scabbard.

I grin. It’s been a while, but the leather-wrapped, sweat-soaked hilt welcomes my touch like a mother’s arms to a prodigal son. Well, not my mother. Then again, I’m not her son. If I’d been a boy, it might’ve made all the difference.

Making my entrance, I lick the blood off my front teeth and spin the blade casually from hand to hand. A juggler’s trick. The bright sunlight glints off the blade. The three have recovered, and are spreading to flank me. The second-in-command is closest. He’d been coming for me, full of bravado, making up for the stab of fear earlier. But now, he hesitates.

Intensify, bellows Picton in my memory. They mustn’t be able to look away! I add an extra half-twist to the juggle of my blade, opening my eyes a little too wide, and the goon glances back at the leader, uncertain.

“Look, I get it,” I say, after a decent spell of silence bar the whistle of my sword. “I do. You thought I was easy prey. Here I was, riding along, looking for all the world like a weaponless fool in a pretty silk jacket. You made me an offer based on that assessment. But none of those things are true … except for the pretty silk jacket.”

I pause for a moment, making a show of scanning the desert horizon, blade still spinning in the light. “So why don’t we just leave it here? You can go home with all your limbs, and I’ll be on my way. Better deal than the one you offered me.” The traditional deal of highway brigands everywhere: give us everything and we’ll kill you anyway.

Silence. It sounds like a fight coming. I spit on the ground, red on red, and try again. “That can be the measure of blood spilled here. Sum total.”

The leader’s craggy brow draws even tighter, and his face gets ugly. “So the fucking bitch has a sword,” he snarls at his men, his disdain clear. It’s always a marvel to me, the way men will loyally follow those who mostly show them contempt. “She’s still a fucking bitch. Take her out!”

I’m decent with a sword, but truth be told, I’m a better player. I’d hoped the juggled sword would be enough to at least open negotiations. Wishing for the seven hundredth time that Petrus was still at my back, I draw up strength I haven’t used this way in a good long while. Time to lean in to what I do have.

As the two goons rush me, I duck to cut swift across the middle, then spin right around to cut low, slipping below their blows. The dry air scalds my lungs. Their axes clash against each other above my head and my ears ring, but they are both bloody across the thighs. I might be a better player than fighter, but that is true of these two too. They tumble against each other, moaning as long spurts of blood chunk the dirt of the road. They won’t be getting up anytime soon, but it won’t stop them from screaming at me.

Author Bio

JC Rycroft is a fantasy author, living, working and writing on the unceded land of the Wadawurrung people.Their work draws on high and epic fantasy tropes, mixed with a dollop of queer romance, humour and wit, flawed but fabulous feminist heroes and diverse-in-all-the-ways characters, liberally sprinkled with philosophical concepts brought to life. She loves bringing together the apparent contradictions: high theory and silly humour, profound political concerns with a rollicking good story, and ordinary people with unexpected demands to heroism.

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