Eric Price stops by today to share the amazing cover for his upcoming YA fantasy THE SQUIRE AND THE SLAVE MASTER Saga of the Wizards Book Two. Definitely check out his books (I’m only slightly biased as his editor!). Welcome, Eric!
My favorite cover artist in the world is C. K. Volnek for two reasons. First, her covers are amazing: check them out here. Second, she designed the cover for my first two books with Muse it Up Publishing.
THE SQUIRE AND THE SLAVE MASTER Blurb:
The award winning Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud (CLC’s Best First Novel 2014) chronicled Yara, Owen, and Cedric’s quest to revive King Kendrick from a dark, magical spell. After the adventure to save King Kendrick, for Yara, everyday life has grown monotonous. The dull work of learning her father’s blacksmithing trade, and the pressure from her parents to decide what she plans on doing with her life, has her nerves so stressed she snaps at her father’s slightest teasing.
Lucky for her, a surprise messenger from the castle brings the king’s request for her to join a collaborative mission between the Central and Western Domains of Wittatun to stop a recently discovered slave operation in a land to the west. King Kendrick and Owen want her to accompany the mission as a secret weapon disguised as a squire.
She has to keep secret not only her magical abilities from any possible traitors, but also her gender. The people of the Western Domain have a superstition prohibiting girls from sailing. But a chill wind carries the distinct odor of sabotage. Can one girl survive to destroy an evil rooted much deeper than mere slavery?
“I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.” Yara cut the fat from an emmoth rib. “I don’t suppose anyone knows. It will take as long as needed to end the slavery.”
Her mother pushed her mostly untouched meal around her plate. “I’d prefer you didn’t go. It sounds dangerous.”
“Mother, these people are engaging in slavery. Not farm animals forced to work, they’re humans.”
“I understand. I’m not saying we shouldn’t intervene. I’m just not sure why you have to go.”
“King Kendrick and Owen think an undercover magician could give us an advantage. I agree with them. Besides, I want to go. I need to get away from here for a while. Plus, I’m an adult now. You can’t tell me what to do.” Chancing a glance at her father, she hoped she hadn’t upset him again. Their earlier argument had been mostly in jest, but the comment she made about her brother must have stung.
Instead of looking angry, he leaned back in his chair and chewed his emmoth meat. When he finished, he grinned. “Don’t get upset, Kamala. At least she told us she planned on leaving this time.”
“When I left in search of Owen and Cedric, I didn’t have time to tell you. This time we have a plan.” Yara chewed her last piece of rib meat. She’d snuck out after her parents had turned in for the night.
She could usually count on her father to have a level head…when he wasn’t provoking her about a woman’s place in the world.
Her mother cleared her uneaten food from the table. “I don’t presume to tell you what to do. I just want to make sure you’ve considered all the aspects of the mission.”
“To the best of my ability, I have considered all aspects. First, I have to travel as a boy. Aside from my appearance, I shouldn’t have trouble with this. My best friend is a boy, and I’ve never had much interest in girly activities. And why would I? As a child, playing with dolls couldn’t compare to chasing piglets through the muddy stockyards.”
Her mother’s eyes lightened for the first time that evening. “You also don’t care much for washing clothes. If you did, you’d have realized most of the mess you got into in the stockyards wasn’t mud in the truest sense.”
She laughed. “Fair enough. Now my second concern, while traveling as a boy, I’m best to not get caught. Big burly men, out to sea for several days, may have more interest in a helpless girl than just someone to whom they could confide their deepest secrets.” She grinned, raised her hand above her head, and caused a blue flame to burst forth from her palm. “Good thing I’m not a helpless girl.”
As long as they don’t attack me in my sleep.
Her father collected the dirty dishes.
Yara helped him clear the table. “If I can keep my façade, the trip should sail by, so to speak. Once we get to Buisna, we’ll have to find the ruler of the slave operation. I suppose this could present itself as a difficult task, but at least I won’t have to do it alone.”
Of course there’s always the question of what we’ll find in Buisna. Why does a country the size of the Western Domain need our help? How large is this new country? How many people are there to fight? The military of the Central Domain is weakened from the attack by the Wizard Rebellion. Why would King Kendrick decide to send troops at a time like this? Do they know, or suspect, more than Owen told me?
With the table cleared of dishes, Yara stretched and yawned. “Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll retire to bed early tonight. Shoeing that horse wore me out, and I need to get some thorough rest before my training tomorrow.” She hugged her mother. “Everything will work out. King Kendrick and Owen will have a strategy planned for the whole mission.”
A loud, rapid knocking at the front door startled her. Answering it, she found Owen standing with a man about his same size but a few years older, donned in the armor of the King’s Sentry.
Owen glanced around the room, his eyes wide and observant but clear of any panic. “Yara, you have to come to Innes Castle now. The plans have changed. You’re leaving tonight.”
About the Author:
Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, scheduled for a Fall 2015 release, continues the Saga of the Wizards. He is a member of SCBWI. Find him online at authorericprice.com.