The Hunter’s Rede

Introducing The Hunter’s Rede, a swords-and-sorcery tale of one warrior’s transformation by the forces of war, betrayal, wizardry and love. This story begins the Chronicles of Ealiron, a heroic fantasy series that follows the redoubtable exploits of an assassin called Lorth of Ostarin.

Lorth is a hunter of men. Lawless, solitary and obscure, he is trained in magic and its inherent order. This uneasy combination of pitilessness and structure has made him the highest paid assassin in the land. It is also about to throw his life into chaos.

The trouble begins when Lorth returns home from a long absence to find his old haunts compromised by a cruel, upstart warlord who has invaded the realm and pushed it to the brink of war. Lorth’s cavalier attempt to elude a political sandpit quickly deteriorates into a series of skirmishes that he negotiates with a sword and a reckless penchant for using magic against the rules. He flees with a price on his head; but no angry warlords, wizards, foreign aristocrats or spooky apparitions can rattle him from the dark stability of his profession—until he is captured and condemned to execution by a formidable wizard who serves the old powers.

In his quest to prove his innocence and loyalty to the realm, Lorth discovers the value of his conflict between war and wizardry. But his quest turns bloody when love for a priestess and a will to avenge his homeland drives him to infiltrate an enemy occupation bent on domination and a blatant disregard for the forces of magic. This brings him to his greatest test, where he must surrender to the darkness of his nature to become a hunter unlike anything he has ever known.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Novel, 322 pages
Third Edition
Edited by Leslie Karen Lutz
Includes a map and a glossary.
Map: Ealiron: Sourcesee and West
Add to Goodreads
Reviews

Related Blog Posts

Lorth of Ostarin
Shades of Instinct
Eaglin of Ostarin
Ealiron: The Keepers of the Eye
Where Veils are Thin

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

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© F.T. McKinstry 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Return of the Sun

Winter Light

Winter Light, by F.T. McKinstry

What is the true meaning of darkness?
Darkness is the source of light.

~ From The Hunter’s Rede

Wishing everyone a Merry Yule. Enjoy the season!

 
© F.T. McKinstry 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Goblins and Creepy Horses

Lone Mountain Moon

Lone Mountain Moon

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. ~ Albert Einstein

One of my favorite things about writing is bringing the stories into visual art. I find this every bit as challenging as I do writing; in either case, the final product, while possibly beautiful, never matches my imagination. A fantasy novel is a spectacular source of imagery, and all the more interesting to create because it’s made up. The real world has some references, but it can also limit things. There’s a weird sort of comfort in having more stories and paintings in my heart than I’ll ever bring into focus.

Here are some recent creations, inspired by my latest novel Outpost, Book One in The Fylking.

Goblins of Wyrvith Forest

Goblins of Wyrvith Forest

Nasty, foul-mouthed, malevolent creatures, goblins. You would not want to cross their path, let alone offend them. Arcmael, the protagonist of Outpost, does both. He is a seer and a servant of the Fylking, immortal, unseen warlords who hold dominion over the realm. For love of a friend, Arcmael shatters his vows to his immortal masters. This puts him on the bad side of the Otherworld, where most beings revere the Fylking as gods. This includes goblins, who revere nothing.

Truss him up!
Drag him hither!
Bind his limbs!
Make him slither!

Poor Arcmael. The goblins capture him and he must make an even greater sacrifice to escape their palace. But I won’t spoil that.

Between the Worlds

Between the Worlds

Rose Moon

Rose Moon

A while back, I drew a series of images to accompany verses that appear in the Chronicles of Ealiron. This collection is called “The Solar Breath,” and one of the images is called “Rose Moon.” The accompanying verse goes like this:

Rose Moon loves the ancient oak
Strewn with chamomile and light
Tall white horses thundering
O’er meadowsweet and rue.

Recently, while contemplating nothing in particular, this image came to mind, particularly the creepy little horses. Otherworldly, in fact. Aha. I grabbed them, put them into the “Lone Mountain” painting, tricked it out in magical storms and mists, and I got “Between the Worlds.”

No end to the trouble I can get into.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Outpost Cover ArtOutpost, Book One in The Fylking.

A race of immortal warriors who live by the sword.
A gate between the worlds.
Warriors, royals, seers and warlocks living in uneasy peace on one side of the Veil.
Until now.

© F.T. McKinstry 2015. All Rights Reserved.

The Riven God

The Riven God is the fourth book in the Chronicles of Ealiron, a heroic fantasy series that revolves around a warrior called Lorth of Ostarin, an assassin and wizard who serves the old powers.

In the world of Ealiron, it is known that wizards and gods rarely involve themselves in the affairs of mortals. They see war or the collapse of empires as they would a leaf decaying on a forest floor. Everything has its time. This changes when a mysterious rift appears in the timeline of the world, cloaked on the isle of Tromb in the far northern Gray Isles.

Rhinne of Tromb, a lonely princess at odds with a turbulent monarchy, has old magic in her veins. When weary defiance and a penchant for a fight lands her on the wrong side of a dark order of warlocks festering in the shadows of the realm, Rhinne is forced to flee, pursued by the king’s assassins. Her brother Wulfgar, a seasoned warrior, is left facing war.

Far away, Lorth of Ostarin, a powerful wizard, learns that something untoward is happening in the Gray Isles, where he has a dark history. When Rhinne is delivered into his hands under unlikely circumstances, he discovers she is not only being hunted by foreign assassins, but also has the ability to channel immortals. Wounded and distrustful, she escapes him with the help of a god thought destroyed centuries ago. Only he knows her secrets, and he’s not telling.

Believing his sister dead, Wulfgar arrives from overseas to the wizards’ citadel, heavy with grief and bearing information that moves the wizards to declare war. Through a labyrinth of assassins, thieves, spies and seers, Rhinne, Wulfgar and Lorth return to Tromb accompanied by an army, a mysterious raven and a war god with a private agenda. In the battle that awaits them, they must find and destroy a cruel, devious entity who has something to hide and can turn the fabric of reality into horrific desolation with a thought.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Can be read as a standalone story.

Novel, 359 pages
Third Edition
Edited by E.G. Stone
Ebook includes a Glossary and a link to Maps.
Glossary
Map: Sourcesee
Map: Sourcesee and East
Map: The Gray Isles

“The pace never slackens as the characters move from one adventure to another in this epic novel. Background explanations are well-integrated and it’s easy to get your bearings in the complex yet emotionally solid mythology of Ealiron. Romance, magic, and pathological power manipulations unreel alongside fascinating swordplay that rarely turns out as you might expect or hope.” – Michael D. Smith, author of the Jack Commer Series (See Entire Review)

“F.T. McKinstry is a master of this genre. Her prose, plot and character development make her books an incredible joy to read. The Chronicles of Ealiron is my absolute favorite series. McKinstry masterfully weaves an intricate tale into the complicated magical world she’s created in a manner that completely captivates the reader without overload…stories are full of magic, mystics, warriors, cults, conspiracies, deities, fully developed and interesting. The main character Lorth is a masterpiece. Best stuff out there. Please keep writing.” – Review on Amazon (See Entire Review)

“Another excellent book. It was excitement from beginning to the end. I wholly appreciate McKinstry’s strong female characters. I can’t wait to read more from this very talented writer.” – Review on Amazon

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

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© F.T. McKinstry 2018. All Rights Reserved.

The Gray Isles

The Gray Isles Cover Art

The Gray Isles is the second book in the Chronicles of Ealiron, a heroic fantasy series that revolves around an assassin called Lorth of Ostarin.

In a remote northern archipelago called the Gray Isles, old magic is rooted deep, hidden from the sweeping gaze of the Eye, powerful wizards who maintain balance in the world of Ealiron. When the Masters of the Eye discover an island witch working spells of a twisted and malevolent kind, they send an assassin named Eadred, deadly, a bit fey, with a deep reverence for the Old One, a primordial goddess of creation. But the roots of old magic are entwined in the hands of the goddess herself. And when Eadred’s mark curses him, his mind breaks, his reverence turns to dread and he becomes obsessed with the sea.

For Eadred has learned a secret involving an orphaned fisherman’s son named Hemlock. When their paths collide, a prophecy is set into motion that the heavens watch with dread; for the legends tell, it heralds the birth of an immortal and the death of the realm.

Lorth of Ostarin is a formidable wizard with a turbulent past. An elite assassin and servant of the Old One, he is sent by his masters to question Eadred after he is banished for breaking the codes of his order. Lorth arrives in a fog of eerie impressions to find both Eadred and Hemlock missing, a mystery that swiftly deteriorates into a manhunt that plunges Lorth into a tricky world of visions, legends, loss, and the hearsay of island politics.

In his quest to lift the curse responsible for his fall and subsequent exile, Eadred has gathered great knowledge of Hemlock’s origins. Through him, Lorth reaches the sobering conclusion that Hemlock is not what he seems, but something powerful enough to destroy the realm with a thought. Unfortunately, Lorth is not the only one who has discovered Hemlock’s secret. Racing time, he must bare his sword against an army, violate discretion and risk his own stature in order to free Hemlock from an otherworldly fate before the forces of earth and sea are unleashed upon the mortal world.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Novel, 292 pages
Third Edition
Edited by E.G. Stone
Can be read as a standalone story.
Ebook includes a Glossary and a link to Maps.
Glossary
Map of Ealiron: Sourcesee and East
Map of Ealiron: The Gray Isles

Add to Goodreads

“Wow. Gorgeous. Highly recommended.” – Amazon Customer Review (See Entire Review)

“F.T. McKinstry has a lyrical voice that suits the ancient magic she describes. The majesty of the gods and mystical forces of the novel entranced me…” – David Lee Summers, Editor of Tales of the Talisman and author of Owl Dance

“The Gray Isles is a very tight and compelling tale of suspense on rocky shores and the high seas.” – Alex Willging, Mr. Rhapsodist

“The strength of this novel lies in its descriptions of Hemlock’s psychological states as he undergoes his psychic changes. It also abounds in excellent descriptions of emotions and sensations.” – Michael D. Smith, author of the Jack Commer Series

“The Gray Isles is an incredible mystery set in an incredible mythical land. Its story captivated and enthralled me from beginning to end.” – Amazon Customer Review

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

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Apple Books
Kobo

© F.T. McKinstry 2017. All Rights Reserved.

The Source

The Source, by F.T. McKinstry

Greetings on this Winter Solstice!

The shortest day of the year captivates the imagination and connects us to a universal truth that’s often easy to forget in the throes of life. A seed in the earth about to germinate, a flash of inspiration in the depths of despair, light emerges from the Void.

The winter solstice brings living things to an instinctual awareness of the Source. The moment the shift happens there is a spark, a sigh, a ray of hope. The days will now begin to lengthen. Little wonder this is a time of celebration. No matter how dark it gets, the light always comes, usually when the darkness is complete.

The Hunter is Gone

Being creative and somewhat broody — ok that’s an understatement, how about Underworldish — I’m a seasoned veteran in the Dark Night of the Soul. As many times as I’ve stood before the abyss, each time is always the very first time, as if I’ve never done it before. It never ceases to amaze me, the Void’s powers of resilience and renewal. “But this time is different,” I say. “No light can come out of this.” Hel knows it’s no different. It’s always the same. Light comes from the darkness.

This finds its way into my art: novels, stories, poetry, paintings, gardening, music, aquariums — it’s everywhere. I stare into the abyss every time I type a word, hold a brush to a canvas or put a seed into the dirt. I listen to death metal looking for a glint of the sublime. I fret over my seedlings in the greenhouse one moment and mercilessly pull weeds from the ground the next. I stand in awe each 21st of December, like a votary of the Dark Night, waiting for the light I know will come. The sun is reliable, after all.

“Only wizards and hunters know the true meaning of darkness.” – From The Hunter’s Rede

“Gardens are made of darkness and light entwined.” – From The Winged Hunter

“In the dark, a call to love; in the light, a bridge.” – From “The Fifth Verse“, Wizards, Woods and Gods

“Where the heart yearns, there is the point of Mystery. Though the Old One holds in her arms the seeds of new awareness, healing and light, she cannot be seen or understood by the seed itself.” – From Raven of the West

© F.T. McKinstry 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Ealiron Glossary Terms: Loerfalos

Welcome to Ealiron Glossary Terms, a series of posts in which I discuss fantasy terms in Chronicles of Ealiron: Terms and Places, the online glossary for the series. Today’s term is loerfalos.

loerfalos (lo ER vah los): In Aenspeak, “serpent of green darkness.” A very large, immortal dragon-like creature that lives in the northern seas. A First One. Always female. See also First One.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Loerfalos

When the moon stares dark, she sees true;
Beneath the surface, green and blue.
Living darkness births the light;
Out of sight, out of sight. – From
The Gray Isles

Also called the Mistress of the Sea, the loerfalos is, to most folks in the world of Ealiron, a legend. The Keepers of the Eye, wizards who generally know better, call her a First One, an immortal created by a union between the Old One and a god named Om, the creator of Ealiron himself.

Mistress of the Sea, by F.T. McKinstry

Mistress of the Sea

The loerfalos is a creature of the Divine Feminine, and the sea is her domain. An awesome force, vast, mysterious and mostly unseen, the sea is a metaphor par excellence for the Old One, the primeval void from which all things come. A creature of the Otherworld, the loerfalos moves between dimensions, making her elusive and unbelievable. This is typical of the Otherworld, as it exists above the time-space matrix. The appearance of beings such as gods or immortal creatures bears a quality of the unreal because Others are not bound to the structures of the physical dimension. To mortals, they don’t make sense. Like dreams.

Annihilation, by F.T. McKinstry

Annihilation

The sailors of Ealiron’s northern seas are a superstitious lot and wouldn’t dare to speak of the Mistress as a mere legend. But in places like the Gray Isles, the boundaries between truth and legend are as blurred as an autumn fog. In a port tavern on a busy night one might hear many yarns which can be chalked up to rumors, the weird nature of the sea or too much whisky; but in truth, seeing a loerfalos is exceedingly rare. Wizards maintain that her appearance heralds transformation on a large scale…usually unpleasant. For this reason, sighting her is considered most inauspicious.

Nightshade by the Sea

Nightshade by the Sea

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

In The Gray Isles, Book Two in the Chronicles of Ealiron, the Mistress of the Sea makes numerous appearances as she takes an unheard-of interest in a fisherman’s son surrounded by tragedy, mystery and dreams. Enter a powerful wizard on a routine mission and an assassin with a broken mind and the realm is faced with annihilation at the hands of the Otherworld.

In The Riven God, Book Four in the Chronicles of Ealiron, the Mistress assumes the mantle of the Destroyer, the darkest aspect of the Old One, to protect and avenge an ancient wrong hidden in the Otherworld by a god.

© F.T. McKinstry 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Wizards, Woods and Gods: 2nd Print Edition

WWG Print Cover Art

The Otherworld takes shape in this collection of twelve stories told on a rich, fairytale tapestry of swords, sorcery, romance, dreams, visions and verse. Ancient gardens, lost temples, cosmic alignments, immortal predators, assassins, shapeshifters, warriors and maidens will transport you to realms where the rules are different and nothing is as it seems.

The Second Print Edition of Wizards, Woods and Gods, originally published as an ebook by Wild Child Publishing, includes “Raven of the West,” a novelette that takes place in the world featured in The Chronicles of Ealiron.

Click on the following links for illustrations, descriptions and brief excerpts.

The Om Tree – Trees know things.

The Trouble with Tansy – Gardens are made of darkness and light entwined.

Pattern Sense – It all started with a mouse.

The War God Sleeps – An age of ignorance ends on the edge of a sword.

The Fifth Verse – The wise men of the world called her a Shade.

Earth Blood – The earth keeps secrets.

Eating Crow – It is never a good idea to anger a wizard.

Deathseer – Death doesn’t take sides.

The Bridge – Gods appear to wizards as one thing; to warriors, another.

Marked – Beware the pitfalls of mingling with immortals.

The Origin – Things aren’t always what they seem.

Raven of the West – In the calm deep waters of the mind, the wolf waits.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Twelve Stories
160 Pages
Available on Amazon.

Reviews

“All the stories are interesting and fun to read… This author gives her stories depth and gave this reader the feeling I was actually in that time and place…” – Long and Short Reviews

“These are short stories but there is a lot of story in each one. They are well told and I enjoyed every one. I will be buying more McKinstry books.” – Review on Amazon

“F.T. McKinstry writes in a way that involves all the senses. It’s not something I read line by line, but sensation by sensation. Highly recommended.” – Review on Barnes and Noble

“…filled with poetic imaging and storytelling that breathes more than just life into the stories…elevated the telling into the fantasy realm even without subject matter that also took place there.” – Review on Goodreads

“Short stories that run the gamut from humour, fantasy all the way to science fiction. I found it a very easy read and would highly recommend it!” – Review on Goodreads

“Each story is set in a fantasy setting, in a world full of magical elements and mythical beings. They are told in a language that is richly descriptive and in my opinion, it helped to make the reader get into the atmosphere of the stories.” – Review on Goodreads

“I think my favorite story was Eating Crow, involving a shapeshifting female who rarely takes the form of a mortal woman. In Deathseer, there is such a memorable quote by an assassin of all people: ‘Love is the difficult choice, Thorn said quietly. Fear is easy.'” – Jessica Nicholls, author of Into the Arms of Morpheus.

“This is my introduction to the literature of FT McKinstry, and I’m positively in love with her writing style!” – R.A. Sears, The Ragnarok Legacy

” was an engaging dark fantasy. It was very well written, plot driven, and pulled me in immediately.” – Wicked Readings by Tawania

“Raven of the West is a tale that should delight both fantasy fans and devoted followers of F.T. McKinstry. It provides an unexpected conclusion keeping the novel rather cryptic and mysterious…” – Writer Wonderland

© F.T. McKinstry 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Maps of Ealiron

Long ago in a life far away, I began conjuring up the world of Ealiron. As it emerged from the mists, I sketched maps. This was useful for figuring out where things were relative to each other, how far, in what kind of landscape, etc. In time these drawings grew and became more complex. Writing the stories helped to draw the maps; and drawing the maps helped to write the stories. This is a fascinating thing about art and writing. They nourish each other.

I also dabbled in Celtic art, and enjoyed embellishing my maps with it.

Sourcesee and West

The first map came with Book One, The Hunter’s Rede. This story takes place in the Ostarin Mountains, which sprawl across western Sourcesee between the borders of Faerin and Tarth. Our hero, Lorth of Ostarin, is plying his trade as an assassin in the watery realm of Tarth when an eerie summons prompts him to defy his royal employers and return to his homeland. He finds it overrun by a cruel Faerin warlord who is set upon casting down everything Lorth holds dear…or so we think.

Ealiron: Sourcesee and West

Ealiron: Sourcesee and West (click to zoom)

Sourcesee and East; The Gray Isles

In Book Two, The Gray Isles, we journey east to an archipelago of backwater isles roughly a thousand miles east of Sourcesee. The Gray Isles are steeped in mystery and legends, most of which are not legends at all but the frightening truth. The first map shows the Gray Isles relative to Sourcesee and the realms south over the seas.

Ealiron: Sourcesee and East

Ealiron: Sourcesee and East (click to zoom)

The second map shows the isles themselves. This one includes close-ups of the places where this story happens: Urd, home to an ancient conservatory for the Keepers of the Eye, wizards who maintain balance in Ealiron; and Mimir, the ruling seat of the isles. Here lives the Master of Wychmouth, a vain wizard of the Keepers’ highest order, who nearly sees the realm destroyed by one of the aforementioned legends itself…which you’ll notice skulking in the water just below the isle of Urd (no coincidence, this).

The Gray Isles, by F.T. McKinstry

Ealiron: The Gray Isles (click to zoom)

Sourcesee

The map for Book Three, The Winged Hunter, focuses on the realm of Sourcesee. This story involves the citadel of Eyrie, the ruling seat of the Keepers of the Eye, in the southeast; and Loralin Forest, five hundred miles northeast of Eyrie. In Loralin, near the village of Crowharrow, lives an old wizard in his domain of Muin, an ancient castle shadowed by an immortal’s curse on the women in the old wizard’s bloodline. This immortal, a ferocious yet beautiful creature, lives in the Sioros Mountains northeast of Loralin, which are named after him.

Ealiron: Sourcesee, by F.T. McKinstry

Ealiron: Sourcesee (click to zoom)

The Isle of Tromb

Book Four, The Riven God, happens in two places: southeastern Sourcesee, in the realm between Eyrie and the port city of Caerroth (see Ealiron: Sourcesee, above); and the island of Tromb in the Gray Isles (see Ealiron: The Gray Isles, above). In this story we delve into the mysteries of the Keepers’ domain and the shadows of a remote northern isle steeped in old magic and hiding a terrible secret that brings the wizards to war. Here is a snarly little sketch of western Tromb, scene of the action. (I haven’t inked it yet…it’s on my list.)

Sketch of Western Tromb

Sketch of Western Tromb (click to zoom)

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

The Chronicles of Ealiron includes four standalone heroic fantasy novels that follow the exploits of Lorth of Ostarin, an assassin and wizard who serves the old powers.

Maps are accessible online through the “Chronicles of Ealiron” drop-down menus and the “Maps of Ealiron” menu, both on the sidebar of this page; and on the URL pages for each book. You’ll also find links in Chronicles of Ealiron: Terms and Places.

Happy journeys.

© F.T. McKinstry 2014. All Rights Reserved.

The Summer Solstice

Rose Moon, by F.T. McKinstry

Rose Moon is a traditional name given to a full moon in Midsummer.

The son of the King of the Moy in Midsummer
Found a girl in the greenwood;
She gave him black fruit from thornbushes.
She gave him an armful of strawberries on rushes…

— From Myles Dillon, Early Irish Literature

Rosa Rugosa

Rosa rugosa

In ancient times the sun played a divine role, being the source of life and the origin of the festivals that mark the quadrants of the year. On the summer solstice the sun is at its peak before its descent into darkness. In the north where I live, the longest day has a visceral quality. The mountains and valleys are lush and teeming with life that seems to sigh as the day turns, bringing a sense of completion. Before long the afternoon shadows will lengthen, the leaves will fly and the nights will grow cold as the sun withdraws for another winter.

I keep part of the sun in my heart on this day so that in winter, when it’s twenty-five below zero and the sun feels like it’s in another dimension (when it shines at all), I have hope.

The power of the seasons fascinates me and finds its way into my stories. The warmth and power of Midsummer has a special place in The Winged Hunter, Book Three in the Chronicles of Ealiron. This story revolves around a wizard’s hall called Muin in the heart Loralin Forest. The Hall of Muin is a Sun Key, or solsaefil in the wizard’s tongue. The design of the hall, including its layout and the placement of crystals in odd locations, uses the Waeltower, a tall, faceted garnet tower that focuses earth energy, to direct the light of the sun into geometric patterns that illuminate physical locations. The Sun Key marks seasonal events such as solstices and equinoxes.

On one particular Midsummer night, the summer solstice aligns with the Rose Moon and this opens a portal to the Old One, a primordial goddess of nature, life, death, and transformation. By the power of the Sun Key, a gate is projected into the woods on the south side of the hall. It is said that what happens there depends on the heart of the perceiver. Midsummer corresponds to the maternal aspect of the Old One, she who nurtures, grows, gives birth. Gardens bloom and flourish. In this story everyone has something to hide and something to heal, and the Rose Moon illuminates the landscape to powerful, transformative and devastating ends.

For more information about this and other wizardly things, check out Chronicles of Ealiron, Terms and Places.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

The Winged Hunter, Cover ArtThe Winged Hunter, Book Three in the Chronicles of Ealiron.

Tansel is a gardener with a healer’s hand. Fey, they call her.
Her aunt, a dabbler in hedge witchery, calls her cursed.
To the most powerful wizards in the land, she is an enigma.

 
 
© F.T. McKinstry 2014. All Rights Reserved.