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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spotlight and Giveaway King’s Crusade by AD Starrling


PROLOGUE

November 1700. Battle of Narva. Swedish territory.

The little girl stared into the dead man’s eyes, her expression steady and unflinching. All around her rose the cries of soldiers and the clash of swords, while cannons boomed on a distant hill, and the sharp reports of musket shots echoed across the banks of the nearby river.
The morning’s blizzard had turned the battlefield into a gray and bloody mire. The snow and rain that had been falling steadily during the night had grown heavy at dawn, and visibility was worsened by vicious gusts blowing in from the west. When the wind shifted to the south at midday, it provided an unprecedented advantage for the eight-thousand-strong army of Sweden’s King Karl the Twelfth. They had been able to advance virtually unseen on the significantly larger Russian contingent, which laid siege to the city of Narva in early November of that year.
Although tired and hungry after traveling across miles of treacherous back roads and countryside laid to waste by the invaders, the better-equipped and more experienced Swedes managed to get within fifty yards of the enemy’s front lines without being detected and led a swift attack on two fronts.
After overcoming Russian General Veyde’s and Prince Trubetskoy’s men, they now marched for the troops on the adversary’s left flank, which were under the charge of Duke de Cröy, the field marshal whom Tsar Peter I of Russia had left in charge of his army. 
As he carefully made his way across the treacherous ground, Dimitri Reznak glanced at the bruised skies overhead. Though the worst of the storm had passed, heavy flakes still fell from the low clouds that covered the land in eerie twilight. Interspersed with rain and sleet, the snow melted rapidly in crimson puddles that dotted the plain, forming brief teardrops on the cooling skin of the hundreds of Russian and Swedish soldiers who had fallen since the start of the battle. Reznak frowned at the gruesome sight.
Given that he was an immortal who had witnessed countless wars and conflicts over the five centuries of his existence thus far, he knew he should have been immune to the spectacle of blood and gore that surrounded him. Yet, despite the fact that he and the two hundred Crovir immortals under his command were assisting the young Swedish King in his endeavor to keep the new territories his predecessors had acquired during Europe’s bloody Thirty Years’ War, Reznak could not help but feel overwhelmed by sadness at the needless loss of human life. Which was why he headed straight for the little girl when he saw her standing on the knoll in the middle of the battleground. 
Although he hadn’t expected to see a child in the midst of the war zone, Reznak was not surprised. Some civilians had still been trying to reach the safety of the fortified city when they were caught between the advancing armies, and those who had not succumbed to the fierce blizzard perished in the subsequent crossfire. He could only presume that the child had become separated from her parents during the ensuing chaos. The chances of finding them alive, he knew, would be slim at best.
When he got within twenty feet of her, the little girl finally looked up. It was not the panicked, wild movement he had been anticipating. Instead, it was a slow and measured gesture. Reznak froze.
Her eyes were a clear gray, the irises wide and almost silvery in their sheen. Her skin, where it was visible beneath the dirty yet elegant ivory dress she wore, was an alabaster white. Thick, dark curls crowned her head and fell in waves to her shoulders, framing a surprisingly slim face and neck. She looked to be about eight years old and was without a doubt the most shockingly beautiful being he had ever seen.
Yet it was not her startling appearance that stopped him in his tracks; it was the look on her face that sent a sharp chill through his bones and a shiver down his spine, immobilizing his legs.
There was only one word to describe the expression in her eyes: fearlessness.
Pure and unadulterated, the feeling seemed to seep through her pores and emanate from the very core of her being, an almost palpable energy focused in a lance-like beam projected from her dark pupils.
That was when Reznak knew she was not human.
The little girl blinked. Reznak suddenly found that he could move again. His gaze drifted down to her right hand, where the handle of an ugly knife was clasped firmly between her slender fingers. Red droplets still gleamed wetly on the edge of the blade and dropped into an expanding pool by her bare feet. His eyes followed the crimson trail to the dead man lying inches from where she stood. There was a deep, linear wound on the left side of the soldier’s chest; by the looks of it, she had stabbed him in the heart.
It would have taken the man less than a minute to die.
Reznak’s gaze shifted to the girl.  ‘Hello,’ he said gently in German, conscious of the weight of the sword at his waist. ‘My name is Dimitri. What’s your name?’
The little girl remained silent. He hesitated. Certain he would not get a reply, he repeated the question in the local Estonian dialect. He was shocked when, in a clear and low voice that was oddly devoid of emotion, she said, ‘Alexandria.’
Reznak took a cautious step forward, his eyes never leaving hers. Her chin tilted as she stared up at him. ‘Where’s your mother, Alexandria?’ he continued quietly in the same vernacular.
A faint frown dawned on her face at his words. ‘I don’t know,’ she said. 
Less than two hundred feet from where they stood, scores of soldiers fought to the death, their swords and daggers carving through the flesh and bones of their enemies. The harsh breaths of their nervous horses misted the cold air, while musket rounds peppered the ground around them.
Reznak took another step forward. ‘Can you tell me where you came from?’
The little girl’s frown deepened while she considered the question. ‘I don’t know,’ she repeated.
It was then that he noticed the fresh blood matted in her hair. She had suffered a blow to the side of her head. His gaze dropped to the red finger marks on her arm. His eyes narrowed.
‘Did that man hurt you?’ Reznak asked stiffly, indicating the dead soldier at her feet.
Her chin dipped in a brief nod.
He stared at her for a moment before slowly squatting down. With his face level with hers, he carefully extended a hand. ‘Would you like to come with me, Alexandria? It’s not safe here.’
The little girl gazed at him silently. Undaunted, Reznak stood up and waited. She turned on her heels and stared through the thin veil of snow at the river and the city beyond it. The wind picked up and ruffled her hair.
He peered at the back of her neck curiously. Imprinted a scant inch beneath her hairline, in the very middle of her delicate spine, was a triangular mark—a trishula. Although generically shaped like a trident, the more intricate details of the design reminded him strongly of the weapons he had seen wielded by fearsome Asian warriors in battles past. It was not a tattoo. It looked more like a birthmark. 
The knife thudded softly in the deepening snowdrift when the little girl opened her fingers. Still gazing at the battlefield before them, she raised her bloodied hand toward him. Reznak clasped it in his own and was surprised at how warm her skin felt.
‘Are you my father now?’ she asked calmly.
‘No,’ he said with a weak smile. He glanced at the top of her head. The dark curls shivered slightly in the wind. Beneath them, the child’s body was as still as stone. ‘Can I call you Alexa? Alexandria is a bit of a mouthful.’
She gave this some thought. ‘Yes,’ she said finally with a curt nod.

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2 Bibliophiles Guide




King’s Crusade
Seventeeen Series Book 2
AD Starrling

Genre: Supernatural thriller

The perfect immortal warrior.
A set of stolen, priceless artifacts.
An ancient sect determined to bring about the downfall of human civilization.

The exciting, action-packed follow-up to Soul Meaning and the second installment in the supernatural thriller series, Seventeen.

When a team of scientists unearth scriptures older than the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave in the Eastern Desert mountains in Egypt, a mystery lost to the tides of time is uncovered. Heading the expedition is Dimitri Reznak, the Head of the Crovir Immortal Culture & History Section. But the monumental discovery is spoiled by evidence of looting and half the priceless artifacts Reznak has been seeking for centuries have disappeared.

Alexa King is a covert agent for the Crovir First Council. When she is approached by her godfather for a mission that could help elucidate the enigma of her lost past, she finds herself delving into the dangerous and shadowy world of secret religious societies. Assigned by Reznak to assist her is Zachary Jackson, a gifted human and Harvard archaeology professor.

In their search for the missing artifacts, King and Jackson stumble upon the existence of a deadly sect whose origins are as mystifying as the relics they are searching for. From North Africa to the doors of Vatican City itself, they unveil a centuries-old plan that aims to shatter the very structure of civilized society.

With the help of Reznak and a group of unexpected allies, King and Jackson must stop the enemy and uncover the astonishing truth behind the missing artifacts and King’s own unearthly origins before all is lost.



Soul Meaning
Seventeen Series Book One
AD Starrling

Genre: Supernatural thriller

ISBN: 978-0957282605
ASIN: B008L8IU8C

Number of pages: 420
Word Count: 108,187

Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics




Book Description:

A half breed immortal. An international manhunt. A race against time to stop a terrifying plot that threatens to kill millions. The gripping, action-packed debut novel by AD Starrling and the first in the supernatural thriller series Seventeen.


‘My name is Lucas Soul.
Today, I died again.
This is my fifteenth death in the last four hundred and fifty years.’

The Crovirs and the Bastians. Two races of immortals who have lived side by side with humans for millennia and been engaged in a bloody war since the very dawn of their existence. With the capacity to survive up to sixteen deaths, it was not until the late fourteenth century that they reached an uneasy truce, following a deadly plague that wiped out more than half of their numbers and made the majority of survivors infertile.

Soul is an outcast of both immortal societies. Born of a Bastian mother and a Crovir father, a half breed whose very existence is abhorred by the two races, he spends the first three hundred and fifty years of his life being chased and killed by the Hunters.

One fall night in Boston, the Hunt starts again, resulting in Soul’s fifteenth death and triggering a chain of events that sends him on the run with Reid Hasley, a former US Marine and his human business partner of ten years. When a lead takes them to Washington DC and a biotechnology company with affiliations to the Crovirs, they cross the Atlantic to Europe, on the trail of a French scientist whose research seems intrinsically linked to the reason why the Hunters are after Soul again.

From Paris to Prague, their search for answers will lead them deep into the immortal societies and bring them face to face with someone from Soul’s past. Shocking secrets are uncovered and fresh allies come to the fore as they attempt to put a stop to a new and terrifying threat to both immortals and humans.

Time is running out for Soul. Can he get to the truth before his seventeenth death, protect the ones he loves and prevent another immortal war? 




About the Author:

AD Starrling was born on the small island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and came to the UK at the age of twenty to study medicine. After five years of hard graft earning her MD and another five years working all of God’s hours as a Paediatrician, she decided it was time for a change and returned to her first love, writing.
Soul Meaning is her debut novel and the first in a supernatural thriller series entitled Seventeen. She currently lives in Warwickshire in the West Midlands, where she is busy writing the second novel in the series while drinking gallons of tea.
 She still practises medicine. AD Starrling is her pen name.





    
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2 comments:

Bethany C. said...

Looks exciting! Just put it on my wishlist.

AD Starrling said...

A very, very belated thank you for having me on here again Wenona!