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Lauren McNeil is a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure. Her books usually contain dragons, rarely feature romance, and are typically fun and hopeful.

She lives in a tiny village in the UK with her boyfriend and dog, has a degree in Psychology, and was a professional copywriter before going full-time as an author—swapping corporate copy for magic and dragons! She adores castles, sunshine, and the seaside, and dreams of owning a cottage with the perfect sea view.

Rise of a Sky Pirate by L. L. McNeil

When an opportunity to escape servitude presents itself, Amarah cannot resist the temptation to take it.

At fifteen, Amarah ran away from the mage city of Berel, her birthplace.

Unable to use magic and unable to read, she flees to the other side of the world to forge a new life for herself. But all she manages to do is serve Goldstone nobility and sweat in kitchens—hardly an improvement.

When an opportunity to escape servitude presents itself, Amarah cannot resist the temptation to take it. Yet there is no reward without risk, and the Varkain lurking in the city's shadows are sure to make her aware of her folly.

Amarah will have to use all her cunning just to survive, and bravado is not enough when it comes to thwarting the sky pirates who are trying to steal from the most sacred—and dangerous—place of all: the dragons.

Discover Amarah's journey from street urchin to sky pirate set twenty years before the events of World of Linaria Book 1: Moroda.

 

REVIEWS

  • "LL McNeil's prose is immensely readable and flows beautifully, making this a short, pleasurable read. Rise of a Sky Pirate offers non-stop action and will be a treat for all fans of the series."

    – Amazon Review
  • "An epic fantasy prequel that serves as an excellent intro into the World of Linaria. I didn't need to know anything about the main series to appreciate it, and it's a good mix of action and duplicitous dealings. It might not have been quite as gripping or original as I'd have liked, but excellent writing and world building is always a win for a prequel."

    – Amazon Review
  • "The writing style is great - you wouldn't have thought this is indie. It's proper epic fantasy with a dash of steampunk or Edge Chronicles but for an older audience. Amarah's a tough character, but vulnerable and fallible enough to not make her one of those unrealistically awesome at everything she does heroines."

    – Amazon Review
  • "The writer does a very solid job of establishing the main character of Amarah, the setting, and the story. I really like Traego, Nell, and, of course, the dragon. The author has written a brisk story with the plot always moving forward. Each scene was important. The author has a very engaging writing style and has a knack for story telling."

    – Amazon Review
  • "Rise of a Sky Pirate takes the readers back to when Amarah is a teenager; she's fifteen and already a rogue and aspiring thief. Throughout books one and two of the series we hear snippets of Amarah's past, about her rise into piracy, her conflicts with the Varkain, and running away from her home; what Rise of a Sky Pirate does is illustrate how far Amarah as a character has come. She still has an attitude; she's tough as nails and quick witted, but still she's growing, still becoming her own person and the Sky Pirate we are first introduced to in Moroda."

    – Amazon Review
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

When an opportunity to escape servitude presents itself, Amarah cannot resist the temptation to take it.

At fifteen, Amarah ran away from the mage city of Berel, her birthplace.

Unable to use magic and unable to read, she flees to the other side of the world to forge a new life for herself. But all she manages to do is serve Goldstone nobility and sweat in kitchens—hardly an improvement.

When an opportunity to escape servitude presents itself, Amarah cannot resist the temptation to take it. Yet there is no reward without risk, and the Varkain lurking in the city's shadows are sure to make her aware of her folly.

Amarah will have to use all her cunning just to survive, and bravado is not enough when it comes to thwarting the sky pirates who are trying to steal from the most sacred—and dangerous—place of all: the dragons.

Discover Amarah's journey from street urchin to sky pirate set twenty years before the events of World of Linaria Book 1: Moroda.

a Sweat rolled down Amarah's forehead and shoulders as she jumped from one side of the kitchens to the other; roaring flames licking at her arms one moment, frigid water from the wash basins cooling them the next.

The heat was nothing new to her—she'd been born and raised in a veritable desert—but the cacophony of noise was something else entirely. Her head thumped with barked orders, cooks yelling at one another over crackling fires, and the constant clatter of glass and stoneware carried from front to back of house.

Every time the door swung open, a wave of raucous laughter washed over the kitchens, and by the end of the first hour of dinner, Amarah's head spun. At fifteen, she was old enough to deal with the labours of work, but as a foreigner in a strange city, her work was more than cut out for her.

Amarah had already left her parents and crossed half the world alone in the hope of a better life. Working in a kitchen was not part of the plan.

She sniffed and wiped her face with her arm before plunging her hands back in the basin and scrubbing sauce and stew from the latest batch of soiled bowls. Amarah chanced a look over her shoulder, smirking when she saw Tani staggering under a large silver platter, several full goblets balanced on top. The other girl was younger than her by at least three years, a petite thing with no strength in her arms, and Amarah left her post to stop Tani from sloshing most of the drink over herself and the floor as the platter tipped.

'Hold up, hold up,' Amarah called. She steadied the edge of the tray so Tani could find her balance. 'There'll be hell to pay if you spill this. Ten florins a glass, these are. Ten!'

'That's pay for the both of us tonight! You sure that's ten a glass not ten a bottle?' Tani asked, incredulous.

'Heard it meself. They said it was a fine vintage from someplace in Val Sharis. Goldstones have more money than sense.' She couldn't stand the rubbish they wasted such riches on.

'Damn.' The front of Tani's brown apron was dark red. 'Think they'll notice?'

'They'll be too drunk. I'll take these out. You finish the dishes.'

The door to the kitchens swung open as the innkeeper stormed in. He was a round man with no neck and long legs that reminded Amarah of a squashed frog. She instinctively stepped back, but Tani wasn't so quick on the uptake—he knocked into her and the platter went flying.

Amarah caught two goblets on reflex as they fell past her, but the other four smashed on the stone floor, wine staining where it touched.

'Dragons above, girl! Get out the damned way!'

'I—I'm sorry,' Tani stammered, crouching to wipe the wine from the floor.

'That's coming out your pay! You know how expensive that is? Three weeks this takes to ship!' His face grew red in the heat, eyes bulging as he glared down at the spillage. 'You!' He whirled around and waved a fat finger at Amarah.

'What?'

'Don't talk back to me!'

Amarah scowled at him but said nothing.

'Get over to the seller down by the canal, Royston his name is. Buy another four bottles before he closes for the night!' He grabbed Tani by the elbow and yanked her to her feet. 'Get serving, girl! These Goldstones won't be kept waiting!' He shoved her away and reached into his pocket, withdrawing a velvet drawstring purse. 'Six florins a bottle, right? Not a penny more!'

'What wine is it?' Amarah asked, an idea forming at the opportunity that had suddenly appeared. She whirled around to put the goblets down on the large table behind her, and slipped one of the kitchen knives up her sleeve before turning back to face him.

'What did I say about talking back? Vallilo Piquant, of course! The most damned expensive wine they have! Be quick about it. If they drink all four bottles I'll make a tidy profit tonight and overlook your clumsiness!' He thrust the heavy purse into her hands.

Amarah's mind raced as she felt the weight of the coins. 'But I didn't spill anythi—'

'Get going!'

She snorted as he marched to the ovens. This was her way out of the infernal kitchen for good. A purse full of money and the knowledge of something highly-valued she could sell on. She'd be damned if she gave any of it back to the innkeeper.

Amarah gave Tani a small shake of her head, wiped her hands on her apron, pocketed the purse, and hurried out the back door.