Winter Solstice Book Sale

Season’s Greetings! I hope you’re all well, hanging in there and finding what peace you can in this unhinged world. By way of preserving my own sanity, I’m drinking coffee, listening to Seether turned up rather loud, and watching the sun descend into the trees at all of 2:30 in the afternoon, a hallmark of the upcoming winter solstice in this northern clime.

Winter Moon Raven, by F.T. McKinstryAside from the comforting idea of the sun emerging from the primordial darkness, one of the things I appreciate about the earth’s cycles is consistency. Whatever is going on, the sun rises, the sun sets, the moon waxes and wanes, and the solstices and equinoxes continue to mark the seasons. Barring some scifi cataclysm, this is something we can count on. It’s cold, it’s dark, but spring will come.

Our ancestors celebrated this, and so do we, in whatever way. Deep in our bones, we feel it. What better occasion for a book sale? Today through December 22nd, all five books in the Chronicles of Ealiron are on sale for $0.99 each. These books stand alone as individual stories that happen in the same world with some protagonists appearing throughout. Each book includes a map and a glossary.

Book One: The Hunter’s Rede. A swords-and-sorcery tale of one warrior’s transformation by the forces of war, wizardry, betrayal and love. In this tale, Lorth discovers his destiny when his homeland is occupied by a cruel warlord with no respect for the deeper powers of the world.

Book Two: The Gray Isles. Some fish stories should be taken seriously. Very seriously. In this story, Lorth sets off on a routine mission and is drawn into the cataclysmic fate of an Otherworld being that rules the sea.

Book Three: The Winged Hunter. An immortal hunter, a gardener, and some very naughty wizards. In this story Lorth must use his darker abilities to help two powerful wizards protect a maiden from a diabolical immortal predator bent on fulfilling a curse.

Book Four: The Riven God. His greatest challenge yet, Lorth falls afoul of a backwater monarchy stained by evil, a wayward princess, and a dark order of warlocks wreaking ruin. When the wizards declare war, the northern seas churn with unrest and a war god keeps his secrets.

Water Dark. In the calm, deep waters of the mind, the wolf waits. A tale of desire and deception told on a fairy-tale landscape of arcane texts, herbal lore, visions and disasters at the hands of the powerful. Water Dark is a standalone novella with a cameo appearance of Eaglin of Ostarin, a protagonist in the Chronicles of Ealiron.

These books are also available in paperback and on Kindle Unlimited.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

The following excerpt is from The Hunter’s Rede, during a winter solstice celebration in the great forested hall of Eusiron. Lorth, a.k.a. the hunter, our deadly protagonist, uses the wild and beautiful occasion as the ultimate distraction from a dark agenda indeed. You know, it only takes one asshole to ruin it for everybody.

The hunter padded through the forested hall of Eusiron, circling to the north, light and darkness merged to unholy intention as he blended with the trees.

Beautiful and strong, graceful as a hind, the Mistress ascended the dais in the center of the Ofthos. The hall fell silent, awaiting her. She raised her face to the sky twinkling with the constellation of Laerstroc, opened her arms and spoke in the Dark Tongue. The words summoned the stars, caressed the heavens and lay like a yielding lover beneath the loins of a hungry god. The hall grew winter-still as the night fell into the darkness of the longest night, the death of light and the silence of a dormant heartbeat. Then her voice changed and suddenly shifted. Gasps, sighs and smiles rippled over the hall as everyone felt the rebirth of the sun. As the Mistress’s voice echoed away, the top of Lorth’s head grew warm, as if light shone on it from the inside.

The hall erupted into cries of celebration. Deep, drumming music shook the floor. The priestesses spun away from their places and began to dance, moving like clouds of smoke. Many of the guests had left their seats and stood mingling and watching the dancers.

Setriana stood with Barenus near an ash tree on the northwestern corner of the Ofthos. In his altered state, Lorth no longer saw her human features; she wore the face of the Destroyer in full. But she was no match for him, friend to the wolves and child of the mountains. She had made her last mistake by crossing into his territory.

Calculating the distance between every face, hand, cloak, goblet and tree, he descended into the darkness of his heart, through the sinuous movements of women, fire, smoke and the rush and cry of music and voices. He went deeper, until he wept Leaf back to life, Setriana into a muddy grave and Barenus to his sword; he cast the Faerins from Os and the Tarthian-Anglorean war into a steel-slime wreckage of blood and dirt; he descended until he forgot Leda, her ivory breast and hollow eyes until finally, he settled like frost on Icaros, his hands clutched over the rastric bite on his heart.

He stopped with a breath. The Princess of Tarth appeared through a gap in the trees, her arms folded over her belly. Her wolfish face seemed to grin, causing Lorth’s rastric scar to burn. She paused and turned, slowly, and met the hunter’s gaze.

Lorth’s heart hesitated on the edge, like a drop of water creeping, swelling, then moving to its fall. Take great care when stirring the waters of Maern, for you may not understand the consequences. Darkness flowed through his hand and into the knife in his boot.

Barenus looked up. So did Eaglin, his expression impenetrable.

In a flash as swift as a bat, Lorth threw the blade. Barenus deflected it with his sword, but he was not fast enough to stop the blade from clipping his lover in the arm. Setriana screamed and fell to her knees, holding her shoulder.

The hall erupted into a surge of blades and cries as the High Guard took up arms.

The Raven of Eusiron towered to the heights like a storm casting living shadows.

If you are under attack by a wizard, think nothing.

Absurd advice. Icy wind cut through the hall, and the stars swirled like water. As Lorth attempted to gather himself in the darkness, he discovered he was not alone there. He collapsed to the floor as it joined the stars and consumed him.

Stay well and enjoy the holidays.

© F.T. McKinstry 2020. All Rights Reserved.

A Bookish Thank You!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for many things…a purring cat, the thriving rosemary cuttings on the windowsill, the handwritten, wax sealed letter I got from my best geek buddy. Oh, and the big wood pile on the porch (it’s -1F out). When I think about it, I can make a long list. But today, in celebration of Thanksgiving, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in any way–following, tweeting, sharing, shouting, viewing, promoting, reading, reviewing–by offering the entire Chronicles of Ealiron for $0.99 each. First time ever.

This is epic fantasy old school: swords and sorcery, wizards, immortal creatures, gods, and a complex magical system of correspondences between trees, birds, color, sound, geometric patterns and energies deep in the earth. Votaries of the old powers work the forces of nature inherent in the cycles of life, death and transformation.

These stories are driven by an assassin named Lorth of Ostarin, a complex character with a bent towards bringing things to their darkest ends. These books stand alone as individual stories that happen in the same world with Lorth and some of the other characters appearing throughout. The ebooks include links to high resolution maps and a glossary.

The Chronicles of Ealiron is also on Kindle Unlimited.

The Hunter’s Rede
The Gray Isles
The Winged Hunter
The Riven God
Water Dark

“The main character Lorth is a masterpiece.”

“Reminiscent of Michael Moorcock in his Elric saga.”

“Without a doubt one of the best books I’ve ever read.”

“Lorth is a great character, reminiscent of such pulp heroes as Conan, Elric, and Fafhrd.”

“Wow. Gorgeous. Highly recommended.”

“Set in a world that is one of the most detailed I’ve seen in quite some time.”

“The Chronicles of Ealiron is my absolute favorite series.”

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Thank you again. And again. You guys rock.

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

New Release! The Riven God, 2nd Edition

Introducing the Second Edition of The Riven God, Book Four in the Chronicles of Ealiron.
Get it on Amazon. Available on Kindle Unlimited.

Novel, 359 pages
Ebook includes links to maps and a glossary.
Can be read as a standalone story.
The First Edition of this work was originally published as Ascarion by Double Dragon Publishing.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

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

“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.” – Amazon Customer Review

© F.T. McKinstry 2018. 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
Second Edition
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

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon

© F.T. McKinstry 2018. 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 Hooded Crow

The Hooded Crow

There is an especially striking bird in the corvid family known as a Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix). They are found across Europe and in parts of the Middle East. Also called Hoodiecrows, Corbies or Grey Crows, they are ash gray with a black head and throat (hence the name), wings and tail. As with all crows and ravens, these birds are extremely intelligent and surrounded by myths and fairy tales.

Heh. Far be it for me not to give homage to such a beautiful, mysterious creature. In Outpost, Book One in The Fylking, the hooded crow shows up as a harbinger of the gods, leaving our protagonists mystified as to what it’s up to.

In The Riven God, Book Four in the Chronicles of Ealiron, an immortal being with a thirst for vengeance and a sense of humor gains the help of a mortal warrior to open the gates for his feathered, otherworldly devotees, thereby changing the course of a war.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

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

The Ubiquitous Corvid

Nightshade in Flight

A raven landed on the rock, released a deep-throated cry then rose into the air and wheeled away, blending with the night. The priestess watched his form against the stars until she could not see him anymore. Then she picked up the knife. ~ From The Riven God

I live in the woods, and my vegetable garden is fenced in to keep the wildlife from eating it. For two years now, some creature has maintained a tunnel to my well-stocked compost pile despite my best efforts to thwart it. I’ve never seen this mysterious sapper; it comes in the night. Amazingly, it doesn’t bother anything in the garden, so I concluded the compost is a good first line of defense. The beastie doesn’t bother to venture beyond it.

Edgar Watching over my garden with the patience of a plastic thing is a big black corvid. A puzzling ornament, he is big enough to be a raven but has the beak of a crow. He stands in a stately pose. I dubbed him Edgar. He doesn’t deter night raiders, blue jays, cabbage moths or mice. But he is good company.

In traditional animal lore, crows and ravens were given the honor of belonging to both the seen and the unseen realms. They are creatures of the hinterlands, mysterious, powerful and devious. This is a natural association given their intelligence, which is formidable. That these birds tend to accompany death also makes them ominous, both feared and revered by their ubiquitous presence on the carcasses of animals, the condemned, or fallen warriors. They are omens, heralds of death and bringers of information from the other side.

Winter Moon Raven, by F.T. McKinstryThe Vikings had great respect for ravens, and a symbiotic relationship with them similar to that of wolves, as the birds led them to prey and shared in the spoils. The Norse god Odin, the one-eyed, all-seeing god of war, magic and wisdom, keeps two ravens named Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory) which fly over the land and whisper to him of all they see and hear.

These birds fascinate me to no end and they have found a special place in my work, both visual and literary. I have dedicated an art gallery to them, given their names to high-ranking wizards’ orders and made characters of them in their own right. One such character is a raven called Nightshade, who plays a major role in The Riven God, Book Four in the Chronicles of Ealiron.

Nightshade, by F.T. McKinstryNightshade is no ordinary raven, if any raven can be called that. Marked by a single white feather in her tail, she is a messenger kept by wizards for times when their powers of otherworldly communication do not serve. She does this on her own terms, however. Nightshade finds someone lost at sea without the help or instruction of her keepers; she disappears for days at a time on mysterious errands; has been known to hang about with war gods telling them who knows what; and even appears to one startled wizard as a warrior lost to memory.

In the following excerpt, an exiled princess lost at sea meets Nightshade for the first time.

She jumped as the squawking repeated outside. Gasping with pain, she pushed herself up and crept to the gaping crack between the hull and what used to be the cabin hatch. Clouds drifted across a hazy sky. The diluted orb of the sun shone like an eye shrouded by age.

A raven fluttered into view and alit on the broken mast.

“You,” Rhinne rasped. Something like this had awaked her earlier. The bird preened its glossy black feathers. It had one white feather in its tail. What was it doing out here? Rhinne pushed herself through the crack like a timid cat and scanned the horizon in every direction.

No land. Nothing.

The bird took off and flew out of sight. Rhinne had no clear references by which to mark the direction of its flight.

She lowered herself back into the cabin. Trust the water. She abruptly broke into laughter. She slammed her fists down and then shoved her face in her hands, laughing like a wild thing, tugging at her hair and rocking forward, clutching at her salt encrusted clothes. This was absurd. She had just died following the advice of a delusion and now a raven was harassing her. She was nothing but a weak, stupid creature that had been crushed by a bigger, stronger, smarter creature. So it was.

Three days passed.

In the clutches of hunger and thirst, rocking in the cycles of day and night and the swells and movements of the sea, Rhinne decided she was not dead, but living and stranded somewhere in the Sea of Derinth. At night, the gibbous moon told her that over a week had passed since her departure from Tromb. It rained once, giving her a brief respite from thirst. But her throat ached and every part of her body wept with too much noise.

She had seen the raven twice more; once at sunset the first day and again the day after, in the evening. She had not seen it since. Wherever it had come from, it undoubtedly knew she would die and planned to feast on her remains. She thought long and hard on how she might turn the tables, capture and eat it herself.

It had also occurred to her that the bleak creature served Ragnvald or Dore, and was giving them reports as to her whereabouts. Unfortunately, she had no bow or arrows, not even a knife. And a raven would not be easily ensnared.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Hooded crows also play a part in The Riven God. No one sees them coming, not even the one who summons them. But that’s another tale.

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

The Warlock’s Spell

The Warlock's Spell, by F.T. McKinstry
Stars shine in the dark as the moon looks away.
Away, disinterested.
A sword will cut the fair
And call it love.
Love, forsaken.
Come to my hand as a shell washed upon the sand.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

From The Riven God, Book Four in the Chronicles of Ealiron.

© F.T. McKinstry 2013. All Rights Reserved.