THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Riddler’s Gift (First Tale of the Lifesong), Greg Hamerton {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}}

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Description of The Riddler’s Gift:

A shadow steals across Eyri. One by one, the Lightgifters are snuffed out. When darkness strikes her family, Tabitha receives a dangerous legacy. Soon the Riddler walks beside her, but is he on her side?

The more she searches for answers, the further into treachery she is led. The more she tries to flee, the harder she is hunted. And the more she sings the ancient Lifesong, the more the world begins to change.

Can she grasp her gift before the darkness captures the last of the light?

“In a darkening realm, which is better: the power to save your love, or to save your love from power?”

 

Accolades:

“When you reach the end of The Riddler’s Gift, you’re left wanting more. Highly, highly recommended.”
– FANTASY BOOK CRITIC

“I absolutely LOVED this book…every darn minute of reading!!! This is a stay up half the night, read at stop lights kind of book…just couldn’t put it down. Thank you so much!!!”
– KATHYREEL (recent Amazon customer)

“The world created by the author came alive. The characters had enormous depth and the plot was superb. I looked forward to settling down to read this each night, and now that I’ve finished it, I will definitely be buying the second book!”
– KRISTIN (recent Amazon customer)


Amazon Reader Reviews:

The Riddler’s Gift currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.3 stars, with 38 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

The Riddler’s Gift is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Excerpt from The Riddler’s Gift:

PREFACE

There is a song that drifts on the breeze through all the world. Its rhythms are echoed in our breath, the music is caught in our laughter, hidden in our language, woven through our life. Singers reach for the melody, but it is too delicate to hold and too elusive to remember. As the Ages pass, so the Lifesong retreats under the sounds of our time, its potent beauty and danger ever more a mystery.

Few know how the Lifesong has shaped our world, for those who hear its tune would rather sing than write, and to grasp its tale we must go back, far back beyond our brief and incomplete history, to when the world was changing, when Life was shadowed by a mighty legend.

In that most vital era, when the destiny of Humankind was balanced on a blade, the inhabited Earth was known as Oldenworld. Magic was a raw force then, released from the confining code that so tightly binds it today, yet to master that magic required great patience and even more wit; few apprentices became casters, fewer still became masters.

So much power in the hands of so few. Ever has it been the cause of woe. At first those gifted masters wrought works of great beauty in the rising civilisations of Oldenworld. But they became distracted by the powers they had discovered, seeking majesty, seeking mastery. Seeking might.

And so those who had first been hailed as the Wise, the wizards, now fought amongst themselves, determined to prove one lore over another, to justify one vision of magic as superior, all-encompassing and absolute.

The battle for power was fierce. Those wizards who did not fight to prove their lore, fell.

At first the wizards used principles of Dark and Light for their spells. Such an elementary form of magic came to be known as the first axis. After much study the Wise discovered a second axis, but this only intensified the conflict as those who summoned raw Energy now rallied against those who could command solid Matter. The wizards were driven by the escalating violence to find a resolution; Oldenworld could not sustain such a conflict. Their urgency led them to the third and most advanced axis, a lore of Order, a lore that promised ultimate peace.

There was a hidden price to pay. Order demanded perfection. Order demanded knowledge and structure, it demanded control. The wizards could see no danger; they eagerly developed the magic of the third axis, hoping to mold Humankind into ever greater stability. How different the world would be, if wisdom preceded action.

Too late they considered what might develop on the opposite pole of their third axis, too late they noticed the one who had mastered Chaos.

He swung the third axis like a warhammer: Ametheus, the Sorcerer, the Unbinder. The bringer of Ruin. He tore apart their ordered web of control before the wizards had even recognised their common foe; he smashed their College and their future with it. When the wizards gathered again, they numbered only twelve of thirty-three. By the time they had agreed to unify in one Gyre, they numbered only eight. And eight, they found, was too few.

They had failed to prepare for the coming of the tide, and Oldenworld began to change. The entire lowlands north of the great mountains fell to the Sorcerer’s way, one realm after another corrupted by the spreading web of silvered essence, the horror named Wildfire.

The Gyre fought to restore Order, they fought to save the precious networks of commerce and culture, but Ametheus severed the veins of every system and corrupted the blood of every resistant soldier. Such was his hatred for the wizards and their Order.

Those who could, retreated south, to the heartlands, where for a time the Sorcerer’s power could not reach. But all things that slumber, awaken renewed. When his influence began to spread again, the Gyre suspected that Oldenworld faced its doom.
Ametheus. Some said he was mad from the first. Some began to whisper that he was the shadow of another, more ancient evil, for it was true that he reached beyond the knowledge contained in any of the wizard’s lores; he drew his inspiration from a mightier source.

The wizards of the Gyre even began to fear that their own reasoning had become affected by Chaos. They trusted their perfect foundation of knowledge, but they fought amongst themselves, and had begun to serve the Sorcerer’s ends in so doing. They needed a champion to resist the Sorcerer, someone with a special talent, different to their own. Yet such a champion would have to be born in a place where nothing was known of Ametheus, where no trace of his power lurked. And so they conceived of Eyri, the most secret of secrets, a realm to be sheltered from Chaos for as long as possible.

The battle for Oldenworld continued, and in the years that passed, the Gyre began to understand their foe. They found ways to bring peace to places he had ravaged, they struck blows that shattered his cruel inventions, and they survived, as a pack of wolves survives when facing a bear. Yet before their eyes Oldenworld continued to crumble. So much was lost, so many lives were stamped into the mud of battlefields that should not have been trodden upon, so many people lost their lives to despair.

The wizards of the Gyre grew tired. To assert Order required continuous effort; spreading Chaos took no effort at all.

Ametheus surged into the heartlands, his presence pouring in from both the west and the east. As the beleaguered Gyre fought, their fear grew, for they suspected that the Sorcerer would not stop until he had disrupted everything. He reached for powers that should remain untouched. He would bend the course of Time upon itself until it ruptured. His vision was of all Order ended, replaced by an existence so far from our natural course that nothing precious would remain, not a leaf, not a light, not even the tale of the Lifesong. The Sorcerer reached for the End, and no one could stop him.

The only hope lay in Eyri. And yet, for years, there was only silence from that mountain-rimmed realm.

1. THE GLEE OF GENESIS

“The strength of a song can be marked
by the silence that surrounds it.”—Zarost

The shadows were long. The fading sun rested among the tall western peaks. The forests which carpeted the slopes around the high village had begun to darken, and the wind had a bite to it—a warning there would be snow before winter thawed. The scent of smoke lingered in the lee of the buildings; indoors there would be warm hearths and watchful hounds, but the people would be gone.

Tabitha quickened her pace through the empty streets, worried that she would be late. Her soft boots hardly made a sound on the cobbles, only the fabric of her dress whispered with every step. A curl of hair blew across her face, and she tucked it hurriedly behind her ear.

She knew that she shouldn’t have lingered for so long to practice, but she had been determined to perfect her recital. She had tuned her familiar lyre again and again, but it wouldn’t hold the notes to match her voice, as though the instrument knew of the contest tonight and shuddered under her nervous fingers. She wanted to win a place amongst the three best singers, and so earn a chance to perform in the King’s Challenge. All the villagers of First Light would be at the inn, and a good many visitors besides. She should be there already.

The street held a tense air as if the neighbourhood waited for Tabitha to pass. A building moved, or its shadow shrank against a wall. Her mind was playing tricks with her. She turned away from the imaginary disturbance to take a short-cut, but just as she did so, a toddler tottered into the street up ahead.

He was a lone little figure in a hooded red coat, small between the looming buildings. The child wobbled uncertainly, then turned towards Tabitha. She recognised him, and she guessed that he had only just realised he was lost. Kip was too curious for his own good, and his mother was often too distracted to keep a constant eye on him. His expression showed that his curiosity had once again led him beyond the limit of his bravery.

A tall man rushed from a doorway beside Kip. Although his back was to Tabitha, his black robe seemed to pull the shadows in his wake. He snatched the toddler from the cobbles, and strode off toward a side alley, with Kip’s head protruding from under his arm. Kip gasped like a fish, but didn’t make a sound. Tabitha stared after him, too surprised to move.

A queer shiver ran down her spine; what she was seeing could not be true.

“Hey! Wait!” she shouted.

The man threw an angry glance over his shoulder, and disappeared into the shadows of the alley at a run.

“Stop! Child-snatcher!” Tabitha shouted, but the street was empty of help, and the windows dark.

She ran for the alley before she could consider the consequences. Her lyre bounced hard against her back on its strap, and she lost a moment securing it under her arm. The alley was gloomy, and the cobbles were slippery underfoot. The man was so fast that only the flutter of his robe showed where he ducked around the corner. He seemed to blend with the shadows.

Kip still hadn’t made a sound. He should be bawling his lungs out.

Tabitha sprinted. Her foot slipped at the corner, and her dress tangled around her legs, causing her to careen wide of the turn. She caught herself against the far wall of the alley. When she gathered her dress and ran again, the child-snatcher was out of sight. The street into which she emerged was empty, but for a broken-down cart which slumped against a wall, and too many shadows.

The sound of running came from her left, and she chose the first break in the buildings to dart that way. The passage opened onto another deserted street, where the last of the sunlight was fading from the roofs.

Tabitha slowed to a jog. The little one had to cry out soon, and she would follow that sound.

But there was nothing to hear—only the wind moaned through the eaves.

Her stomach knotted tight. She tried to ignore her mounting dread, and peered alongside every building.

What kind of man steals a child?

A smudge of red caught her eye, but when she turned her head, there was nothing there. She tiptoed between the buildings and into a short dead-end street. A jumble of crates occupied the wedge of two converging warehouse walls.

Then she caught sight of a little face behind a latticed crate-side; a panicked prisoner within the discarded cage. Kip’s face was screwed up, his body shook, but although it was clear that he was crying, he still made no sound. Tabitha looked nervously around. The doorways nearby were empty, the doors closed deep in the shadows.

The strange dark man was gone.

Relief made her legs weak. The black-robed abductor had been more than just a stranger; the way the shadows had clung to his shape, his swift movement, like a predator, stalking. He had preyed upon a child! She hoped that she would never see him again.

“Oh, Kip, it’s all right, it’s all right!” she called out, making her way to him. She tipped the crate aside, and reached for the little adventurer.

A sudden, cold gust crept up her skirts. The street darkened at her back, and she realised she was not alone.

“Hullo, pretty.”


The Riddler’s Gift is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Greg Hamerton:

Author Website: http://greghamerton.com

Author Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/greg.hamerton

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