Gregar For Thanksgiving

Oh, there is soooo very much to be thankful for this year.  I’m thankful for my family and friends, my Evil Day Job (which really isn’t that evil), three releases in 2011, an RT nomination, just to name a few.  But one thing I’m very very grateful for…. is finding Silviya, the artist I commissioned to create new covers for the Shanhasson books.

Because let me tell you, she outdid herself.

You know how hard and long I searched for Gregar.  I never could find the right man, the right look.  Well, Silviya was able to take the stock photo I found that was close, almost him… and breathe life into the wicked assassin I’d hoped to see.

Wait until you see him in all his glory!

But you know me, I have to torture you just a little.  So this week I’m going to release hints of the final cover, one cropped bit each day.  You won’t see the whole cover until Thanksgiving Day.  Until then, feast your eyes on this…and dream of Blood and Shadows, which I hope to re-release in December after I finish NaNoWriMo.

Friday Snippet: Shadowed

Some men tremble in the face of death.

Others bare their teeth and fight to the very end.

While I’m the cold Shadow that glides forth from darkness to slit your throat before you even know I’m there. 

My name is Gregar and I’m the deadliest, most honored assassin on the Sha’Kae al’Dan’s Sea of Grass.  They call us Death Riders, for we ride death like the wind across the rolling Plains.  My hair is heavy with red kae’als, each bead a life that I have snuffed out in the Great Wind Stallion’s name.  Vulkar, may He sire many foals.  

My ivory rahke is silent and swift.  When I draw it, I will not sheathe my blade until it is red with blood, whether yours or mine.

Nothing short of death will stop me, but you cannot kill me.

For I am already dead.

~ * ~

Years ago, I died on the jagged slopes of Vulkar’s Mountain.  Shards of obsidian sliced me to ribbons and the rocks glistened with my blood.  Yet I made it to the top.  I crawled into the fiery caldera and gave my broken, crippled body to Him.  Vulkar found my sacrifice acceptable and rewarded me this ivory rahke, a death sentence for any who endangers the Plains. 

Even now, I heard an insistent whisper of rolling thunder in my head, insisting another shadowed soul darkened our hills.  A life that I must claim.  He must die to protect all we hold dear.  I am Vulkar’s right hand of sacrifice.  Let His will be done.

Before I could mount Shaido and ride through the night to claim my prize, Kae’Shaman stopped me.  Older than the hills, his eyes gleamed with the wisdom of Vulkar.  When he spoke, it was Vulkar’s voice on the Plains, so I entered his tent at once.

“You feel the Call.”

“He’s far to the north.”  I nodded with a cocky smirk that I didn’t bother to hide.   “He lives a night longer than most but I wager he’ll be dead on the morrow.”

Even my own people didn’t understand how I could find humor in the face of death.  Why I felt no guilt when I tracked my next mark.  Why I joked and smiled while another life wavered in the shadow of my rahke

They never felt the heartfires of the earth crisp the flesh from their bones in Vulkar’s molten lake.  They never suffered the cold embrace of Death’s Shadow, the insidious creep of darkness into my very soul, which makes me invisible for the kill.  If I could not laugh, then I knew I would at last be wholly dead.

 “He mustn’t live so long.”  Kae’Shaman’s kindly face hardened with grim certainty.  “He plots to allow outlanders access to the Plains.  He must die this very night.”

“Tell me how and I shall make it so.”

“You must enter the Dream.”

I had heard whispered tales of such a feat but had never attempted a mark from inside his own dreams.  The thought made my stomach tighten and my heartbeat quickened.  In the dream realm, the Endless Night could easily reach out and taint any man.

“You are correct to fear.”  I twitched with surprise that he’d read my reluctance so easily, and Kae’Shaman spared a slight smile.  “Walking the Dream will draw heavily on your gift of Shadow, endangering your soul more than ever.  The Endless Night waits, crouched like a starving wolf in the dead of winter, and he hungers for you, Gregar.  You must dance on the rahke’s edge of Shadow and Light, becoming that which you fear in order to save that which you love most of all.”

Why did shamans always speak in riddles and grim prophesies I had no hope of understanding?  Quirking my lips, I shrugged and forced a laugh despite my unease.  “I love nothing so I risk nothing.  Show me the way, Kae’Shaman, and my mark shall be dead before I wake.”

The sympathy on the holy man’s face made my blood freeze in my veins.  “You will, Gregar.  Some day you will love more than life itself.  You will hold that precious heart beneath the weight of your rahke.  May Vulkar guide you in your darkest hour, when the Endless Night will lure you to ravage and destroy the last light of the world.”

Resolve, cold and grim, made my heart feel like an iced boulder in my chest.  “I may be shadowed, but I kill for no one but Vulkar.” 

 

Gregar is Coming…Again

I’ve been thinking about another short read before Return to Shanhasson, the final book in the trilogy, comes out in October.  Last night, Gregar walked in my dreams and gave me this, below, the opening to a new short project I’m working on.  Depending on its length, it’ll either be a standalone or combined with my other Blood & Shadows short stories for Kindle in the next month or two. 

I sure wish I had his image for the cover of Shadowed.  *hint hint*

Some men tremble in the face of death.

Others bare their teeth and fight to the very end.

While I’m the cold Shadow that glides forth from darkness to slit your throat before you even know I’m there. 

My name is Gregar and I’m the deadliest, most honored assassin on the Sha’Kae al’Dan’s Sea of Grass.  They call us Death Riders, for we ride death like the wind across the rolling Plains.  My hair is heavy with red kae’als, each bead a life that I have snuffed out in the Great Wind Stallion’s name.  Vulkar, may He sire many foals.  

My ivory rahke is silent and swift.  When I draw it, I will not sheathe my blade until it is red with blood, whether yours or mine.

Nothing short of death will stop me, but you cannot kill me.

For I am already dead.

Road to Shanhasson: Best Book 2009!

The Road to Shanhasson is up for best book of 2009 at Whipped Cream!  Voting starts on Monday, Feb. 1st here.  To refresh your memory, here’s the wonderful review by Holly.

This book pushes the limits to new levels, in terms of passion, strength and pure lust. The scenes between the three main characters are so explicitly hot and erotic I expected my e-reader to melt. Ms. Burkhart creates her world so skillfully, the people and places become real to the reader, and the emotions are deep and, at times quite gut-wrenchingly real. There were many places in the story where I cried along with Shannari, at her depth of loss and her heights of joy and passion.

2009_BB

Review: The Rose of Shanhasson

Marissa is another book lover that I met thanks to Twitter, one of the incredible ROOB reviewers, and I was so thankful when she was willing to give Rose a try. 

Joely Sue Burkhart creates a rich and layered story by interlacing different elements like world-building, characterization, fantasy, suspense and romance perfect to a tee. I love her writing, it is fast-paced, smooth and easy to picture. It is like watching a movie. Her jump-off-the-pages characters are profound and her warriors addictive. The darkness and shadows of evil are perfectly mirrored in the characters that are corrupted by power. The storylines are fresh and original and I loved the traditions and blood rituals of the Sha’Kae, but perhaps they do not fit within everyone’s comfort zone. The provocative erotic scenes raised my blood pressure to the max; there really is not a thing in this book that I did not like!

It has been a while that a story took me by surprise and left me breathless, but Joely Sue Burkhart did it. The Rose of Shanhasson is intense, erotic, dark and addictive from start to finish, a perfect read!

Ten out of Ten

!!  10/10 !!  and what an incredible, detailed review!  Thank you so much, Marissa!

P.S. She also sent me some incredible pictures that maaaaay be Gregar.  I just need to see if I can track them down and find out if they’re royalty free or not.  So stay tuned!

Is This Gregar?

A few more links to share with you!

My Beloved Sis sent me several links, including this one, because “he could definitely win an arse competition!”  Unfortunately, it’s not a royalty-free image.  I think she may have also found Sal, but again, sadly, we can’t use it in the final cards because it’s unlikely I’d be able to track down the rights (and probably couldn’t afford them either).

Again, a nice link from Bethanie but not royalty free:  Til Lindermann

Molly’s friend, Pesh, found a man who definitely has Gregar’s sense of humor.  Can’t you see this guy flipping up his memsha and shouting “kiss my arse?”  However, he’s a bit too pretty and of course has too many clothes for us to use him for a Sha’Kae al’Dan warrior.

Sherri found this guy, but egads, the pricing on this site is a killer!  I just guessed on the parameters, and it priced the image at over $1500!

This guy has the bod and a bit of attitude, but I don’t know if he’s right in the face.  Can Deena add hair and darken him up enough to give him Gregar’s dusky caffe skin with just a bit of cream?

So what do you think – are any of these Gregar?