Welcome to another Fantasy Friday with author Anne Brooke, who's sharing her new release, The Gifting!  She has a wonderful giveaway to go along with today's post -- be sure to check it out!

The mind-dwellers of Gathandria are under deadly siege. For two year-cycles they have suffered: their people decimated, their beautiful city in ruins. Their once peaceful life has descended into chaos and misery. Legends tell of the Lost One who will return at such a time to save them from their mortal enemy – the mind-executioner. This enemy knows their ways well, for he was once an elder of the city. Time is running out.

Johan and Isabella take up the quest, journeying to the Lammas Lands searching for their distant cousin and lowly scribe, Simon Hartstongue. The elders dare to hope that he is whom they seek. Not everyone shares this hope; there is one amongst them who is bound to the enemy, shielding their secret thoughts from mind links while seeking to betray Simon.

Powerful lessons are learned as they travel through the mystical kingdoms of the Mountains, the Air, the Desert and the Waters. Deadly attacks threaten total annihilation and devastating sorrow strikes. Story-telling weaves a tenuous net of protection around them, but the enemy has absolute power with the stolen mind-cane in his possession. To his surprise Simon hears its song. Desperately he tries to understand and embrace his gifting, as he struggles to comprehend his inheritance.

A strong and pure mind is needed in the battle to defeat the enemy. If you are branded a coward, a murderer and an outcast, how can you be a saviour? Doubt creeps into the Gathandrians' minds. Is Simon truly the One?

Anne is going to tell us about a little of her inspiration for The Gifting.  Welcome, Anne, and thanks for stopping in today!  

With Grateful Thanks to Thomas Covenant

A large part of my late teenage years was spent devouring the wonderful Thomas Covenant novels by Stephen Donaldson. I couldn’t get enough of the unbelieving leper and his fantastical world, and still think he’s one of the most complex literary men I’ve ever read. The world of Thomas became one I thought a lot about both in my teenage years and in young adulthood, though later on the busyness of life got in the way and, in some ways, I moved on to other interests and hobbies.

Thomas never really went away though; he had captivated me far too much for that. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that when I began writing fantasy novel The Gifting, the first in my Gathandrian Trilogy, the character of Simon the Scribe took some of his attributes from the wonderful Thomas. A few readers have already picked this up with Nithu commenting in a 4-star review at Goodreads: “I loved Simon, in particular. He reminded me of Thomas Covenant - almost an anti-hero. A very flawed individual who is his own worst enemy.”

Certainly Simon, as an itinerant scribe who is a murderer and a self-confessed coward, is very much his own worst enemy. Like Thomas, he is taken away from his familiar though terrifying world, and deposited in an unfamiliar and very challenging one, and he must come to terms with the gift he has been given in order to become the man he was meant to be.

His story however is a very different one. The worlds he travels between exist in the same universe, although the city of Gathandria is very different to the rural landscape of Lammas, where Simon lives. And Simon must endure four elemental tests – earth, air, fire, and water – in order to examine the purity of his own heart and to bring about the salvation of the war-torn lands. Not only that, but his two greatest enemies, Gelahn the mind-executioner and his former Lammas Overlord Ralph Tregannon, are in close pursuit and if they find him have sworn to murder him. Here’s a scene, where Simon is in hiding, in terror of potential discovery:


When Simon woke, the darkness this time was complete; velvet and damp against his skin. His dreams had shaken him, but he couldn’t remember them now. There was no fire, no line of light. He struggled against the dark, trying to blink it away, and stretched out his hand. At once he touched warm cloth and leather. The next second, fingers were jammed over his mouth and the word Hush echoed around his thoughts. Closing his eyes, Simon tried to calm his breathing and be still.

For a few moments, all was silence. Then, as if from a great distance, he could hear rustling and the murmur of voices. A river of sound, flowing steadily towards them, intent on its own mysterious purpose. Squeezing his eyes more tightly shut, he let his mind focus on the approaching people, trying to find the reason for their being here. Outside, the night was cold.

It was against the law to travel after sunset in any of the Lammas Lands. Or indeed any other, he imagined, though he could not have confirmed that view; nobody travelled in either the northern mountains or the southern mud plains anymore. Sometimes, people journeyed at night alone, but only if they wanted to disappear, and never in groups. As, in his mind, Simon came towards them, the whispering grew louder, a low murmur contrasted with the occasional screech of a wood-owl disturbed at the hunt. He didn’t dare drift too close, in case Ralph was among them and might sense it. The Lammas Master’s presence, after all, would give the group protection. As Simon once had claimed it.

At last he was near enough to see them, but not so near for some to know it. There were six of them, two carrying small torches, their fire flickering in the intermittent gusts of night breeze. Ralph was not there. Simon recognised the blacksmith, wrapped in a thick woollen cloak, and one or two of the other villagers. As Thomas moved, his cloak swung a little to the side, and something sparkled. For a moment Simon didn’t understand what it was and then he saw the silver decoration on the knife handle. The blacksmith had never been armed before. It was not proving to be a good day.

But there was more to come. A fact he hadn’t anticipated, although if he’d been more awake he might have been prepared.

In the middle of the group stood Gelahn, the mind-executioner.

With a sudden gasp, Simon was flying back to the safety of his body, his mind whipped by the freezing wind, his thoughts stumbling over themselves in their panic to be gone, surely leaving behind a thousand signals telling Gelahn he’d been there. How could he have been so stupid? The mind- executioner had wanted to kill him before. Surely Simon should have known he’d seek him out to finish the task? And, after that, his apprentice also? Simon hoped not with all his soul.

He came to in the cave again. They were not that far away. In the transition between being outside his body and being within it, he couldn’t help the groan that escaped his lips. The fingers still on his mouth pressed harder and he could feel the beat of his companion’s heart. He knew it was the man. Not Isabella.

Before he could say a word, try to explain what he’d seen in the forest, there came from outside the sound of a shout quickly stifled and the thud of feet on rock. They’re climbing up here, Simon thought. They’re climbing. He must prepare to fight, though the gods knew he was never a fighting man. Hush. The word came again, somehow spinning through his head in a way it shouldn’t have been able to. The sense of swift movement behind, something exchanged with—whom? Isabella? He couldn’t tell—and then Simon’s mind was being sealed in by the kind of power he’d never experienced before. Cut off so no outside force could find it. Whoever this stranger was who’d brought him here, his skills were beyond understanding because in spite of the fact that he was now somehow safe in spirit, if not in body, from any detection, he could still hear what was happening at the entrance to the cave. But all impressions slid together, defying logic.

A flood of noise. Words melding into nonsense. Another language. Men’s breathing. The stark smell of sweat. Aching muscles, a muttered curse. White fingers slowly running along the cave’s entrance. A foot poised to take another step forward. Gelahn. Simon knew it. And then, far worse than all these, a deep, deep silence.

A silence in which Simon was totally alone. The hand over his mouth was a thousand miles away, and he was lost in an unknown wilderness. Not even the sound of his own breathing reached him. Was this what death meant?

And then, as if one minuscule piece of his mind had been opened to sunlight, the blankness around him slowly took on a subtle change in colour. Simon drew a shaking breath into his lungs. And then another. And no swift pulse of pain rose up to meet him. Instead, the familiar furnishings of his mind stepped, one by one, back into place. His memories, his beliefs, his knowledge of himself. His thoughts stretched in delight at their rediscovered freedom...

They took him into his immediate surroundings without having to move or even open his eyes. Although it was still night, Simon could see everything as if it was bathed in rich morning sun; Isabella in a brown tunic and skirt, her blonde hair dark with sweat as she hugged herself tight and shivered. The man whose name Simon didn’t yet know leaning back against the cave wall, panting with effort.

At last the man released him.

The stranger ran his hands upwards over his face and through his short black hair. His blue eyes flickered upwards, but by then Simon didn’t need to see them to know who he was.

The stranger at his home. The one who’d arrived with Thomas to take him. The one with the knife.

The scribe gasped, and plummeted once again back into his skin. At the sound, the man looked at Simon. His eyes were expressionless and calm. “My name is Johan,” he said. “Johan Montfort. Isabella is my sister.”


At the same time, not all the focus is on Simon. The action also shifts between Johan and Isabella, two of Simon’s Gathandrian companions on his epic journey as in the above extract, and we see key scenes in the city of Gathandria itself, through the viewpoint of Annyeke Hallsfoot, Johan’s closest friend. My aim is to slowly draw these different narrative strands together until the final confrontational scenes at the end of the book. So in many ways, the story belongs to them all, not just to one man. Much like life itself ...

Happy reading!

Giveaway competition details:

The giveaway competition: the prize is ONE Kindle ereader worth £89 if these three questions about The Gifting are answered correctly:

1. In the beginning of Chapter Four, what sound is Simon first aware of when he wakes up?

2. At the start of the Third Gathandrian Interlude, who knocks Annyeke down in his desperation to reach her?

3. What happens to Simon at the end of Chapter Six?

Answers should be sent to albrookeATmeDOTcom (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after the tour ends.

There is also a Runner-Up Prize of THREE eBooks from my backlist (not including The Gifting) to one lucky commenter from the whole blog tour. Good luck!  Follow the tour!  The more you comment, the better your chances of winning!  Complete tour dates can be found here.

More About Anne:
Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition.

She is the author of six published novels, including her fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, published by Bluewood Publishing and featuring scribe and mind-reader Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: www.gathandria.com and the first of these novels is The Gifting. In addition, her short stories are regularly published by Riptide Publishing, Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads.

Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at www.annebrooke.com and she regularly blogs at: http://annebrooke.blogspot.com.

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6 Responses so far.

  1. Thank you for hosting Anne today.

  2. Lovely to be here - thank you so much, Claire! :))

  3. I love Anne's m/m stories, and would love to try this one!


  4. Many thanks, Vitajex! :))

  5. Hi Anne! The Gifting will definitely be most welcome reading material come these winter months, while I hibernate. It sounds like an epic journey!

  6. Many thanks, Sylvan! - I hope you enjoy the read and it keeps the winter blues away :))


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