This is not your typical epic fantasy. Five very dangerous elven women from five very different countries are on a quest to save the world, and when they're not kicking ass, they're driving each other crazy.
Explore a fantasy world that's as classic as it is bizarre with JENAVELLE, a knight who's sick and tired of fantasy clichés, AMINA, a princess with a fondness for pirates, NIYA, a hard-drinking mercenary in search of a her next ex-girlfriend, TOMOE, a shaman who is coping well with her recent resurrection, and LOZEN, a hunter whose hobbies include fine cuisine, high fashion, and excessive violence.
Discover the world of Vaenos, where dragons are weapons of mass destruction, faeries are pests, mermaids are monsters, and everyone has long pointy ears! With five heroines inspired by historical warriors and leaders, this modern twist on old-school fantasy mashes up classics like Lord of the Rings with the funny, sexy, self-aware style of Supernatural, Buffy, and Archer.
I was lucky enough to read the first of these stories before it came out. Joseph wanted to create a comic fantasy which destroyed every cliché we've come to expect about both female characters and elves… and he succeeded in high style. These books are a riot, and a revelation. – Charlotte E. English
"Another awesome book by one of my all time favorite authors. Anyone who likes to read fantasy will really enjoy it."– Willow
"Great read. I can honestly say I've got to read the next book. It's so seriously funny at times. I couldn't put this book down."– Maddie
"Joseph Robert Lewis has proven again and again that he is a master and knows very well how to create a vast and interesting world, develop characters that you like and want to root for, and knows how to balance them both perfectly."– Jay Morse
"Awesome epic fantasy story. What I love is that the characters feel like real people. They cursed, they talk dirty, their flaws were upfront. The fighting scenes were beautifully written. I think anyone that loves high fantasy and is looking for something good to take them to a new height will find this book enjoyable."– Anderson
"We only want your gold," yells one of the taller bandits. I count thirteen of them, all fairly young and angry-looking, all with old rusted swords and scraggly attempts at beards. They're completely blocking the end of the bridge, but I'm in no mood to turn back and find another way around this river, so here we are. He calls out again, "We don't want to kill you."
"You don't want to kill us? Wow, you guys really suck at making threats," chuckles the woman on my right. "You should try something like, we're going to shoot every one of you, and then take all your purses while you lie bleeding and whining in the mud."
"Ease it back, Lozen," I mutter. "Remember, we're the good guys."
Dark clouds rumble overhead as the first light hints of the coming rain start to fall on the dusty hills and the filthy river running beneath us. The thin gray haze of ash that hangs in the air smells more earthy today, and less flinty. But it's still been more than three days since I've seen a faerie out here. Not a good sign.
"Drop your weapons and give us your money!" the red-faced bandit shouts.
"Drop your pants and give us a show!" Lozen laughs.
On my left, Amina laughs too, and then quickly hides her mouth with her hand as she gives me a guilty look.
"Lozen, please." I exhale slowly as I massage my eyelids, trying to keep from raising my voice. "You're not helping."
Behind us, Niya mutters, "You seriously expected Lozen to help? Have you met her?"
"Unfortunately." I step out in front of my companions and study the bandits blocking the west end of the bridge. They all have a light speckling of red around their tall ears, the sides of their faces, and the backs of their hands. Dragon scales.
I grimace and call out, "I am Syra Jenavelle Rolantir, gray knight in service of Her Majesty Donatella Ganelon, Queen of Gallia. And I am ordering you to step aside and let us pass."
The dirty men with the rusty swords glare at me. "This isn't Gallia, girl."
"No, it isn't." I sigh. "Gallia enjoys a much better class of criminals."
"It's true." Amina nods. "The thieves in Gallia are just the most charming people ever. Very gallant. And so funny! They can just charm the purse off you… and the pants off you." She grins. "You know, if you were wearing pants to begin with."
"Last chance!" the Drogori bandit growls. "Your money or your lives!"
"We don't have time for this," I say, mostly to myself. "Wolfram, step back, please."
The huge blonde slab of muscle who carries our food and bedding takes several steps back as we raise our bows. I call out one last time, "Walk away now or we start shooting."
"Get them!" The bandits charge.
"Ladies, the legs." All four of us open fire. Arrows whisk across the length of the bridge in several waves of steel and feathers, and a moment later all thirteen of the bandits are howling and gasping on the grass, clutching the fresh wounds in every one of their legs.
"That's the third time this week, and all of them Drogori." I shoulder my bow and start walking the rest of the way across the bridge, ignoring the bandits' cries of pain. "Min, how did they sneak up on us?"
Amina shrugs. "They must have some sort of hidey-hole away from the road. They definitely weren't out in the open when I checked the area."
"When you checked the area?" Lozen rolls her eyes. "Was that before you started picking balewood blossoms, which stink by the way, or after you made those ugly daisy-chain crowns?"
"After." Amina narrows her eyes at the hunter. "And those crowns were adorable."
I stride down the bridge and step over the moaning bodies choking the path. "I'll never understand the Dusklander fascination with swords and axes. We always shoot them before they get anywhere near us. Why don't they ever learn?"
"Well, they probably never learn because they always get crippled and have to retire from their lives of crime." Lozen glares down at the bandit leader. "You see this? This is called following through on a threat. Makes it more credible. Take notes."
Amina waves at the men on the ground. "Wolfram, be a lamb and get those, please."
"Absolutely." The blonde youth goes to fetch the arrows. He's quite gentle and quick about it, quietly advising the bandits to put pressure on their wounds, and telling them what herbs to chew for the pain. Wolf also takes a moment to relieve the bandits of their purses, which he squirrels away in the many bags arrayed around his broad shoulders and belt.
"Duskland. Seriously, Duskland? Such a stupid name. Sounds like something a thirteen-year-old would pick." Lozen follows me off the bridge and down the muddy road. "And we'd better be close to the next town because my feet are killing me. Honestly, if these weren't genuine Nachotl boots, I would sit down and just wait for the apocalypse right here."
"You know, in my country we don't travel on foot." Niya pauses to take a swig from her little tin flask. "We ride on horses. On elephants too, but mostly on horses."
"What?" Lozen turns to study the tall mercenary with a look of amused confusion. "I'm sorry, did you just say that the people in your country ride on prostitutes? Because I love that idea."
"Horses! They're called horses," Niya snaps.
"Oh. Horses. Sure, whatever. And those are what, exactly?"
"Large animals. Four legs. Like elk, but without antlers."
Lozen nods slowly, her wide-brimmed hat spilling drips of rainwater onto her leather jacket as she walks along. "Interesting. So basically, your people ride on ugly unicorns that have no horns or magic. They sound absolutely fantastic."
"I believe you."
"Ladies." I pause to survey the rolling hills to the west. The forests look mostly healthy with only a few burnt patches here and there on the higher slopes, but I can't see any sign of civilization. "Don't make me shoot you. I'd hate to have to tell your families that I killed you both for giving me a headache. Again."
"Hey, I was only asking questions." Lozen saunters past me. "You wanted us to bond more, so I'm bonding. Don't blame me. I'm the one making all the effort here."
"The only effort you're making is to piss me off," Niya mutters as she drifts back to her usual position at the rear of the group. Her red Varadan silks are all but hidden under her stolen coat bearing the familiar browns of the Tenjian army, and the little gold ring on the left side of her nose gleams dimly in the fading light.
"Oh, come on, everyone, calm down!" Amina skips along lightly in her drab Gallian cloak, but beneath it the colorful patterns of her yellow Oyeran dress shimmer brightly against her dark arms. "We're all friends here."
"She is not my friend," Niya grumbles, pointing at the hunter.
"Hey, I'm everyone's friend," Lozen says mildly. "And for the record, I don't blame you for being so touchy. I'd be touchy too if my mother was an overbearing, manipulative faerie princess."
"Feyeri priestess!" Niya snatches an arrow from her quiver and jabs it at Lozen's back, but before it can poke the hunter, I snatch it from her hand and slip it into my own quiver.
They're like children.
I hate children.
Thunder rumbles through the dark clouds and the cold drizzle grows louder.
"Maybe we should get out of the open before it starts to rain again." Amina points at the woods just down the hill to our left. "There's no sign of any people around here, not even smoke."
I nod. "Fine. We'll wait for the storm to pass."