Today’s book feature is a bit different from the others, because this time I asked the author, if she would like to be featured on my blog. I contacted Alexis Radcliff after reading a short description of her upcoming novel A Vanishing Glow on her personal website. A Vanishing Glow will be released on October 1st, but now on to the author and the novel:
Alexis Radcliff is an author, gamer, unashamed geek, and history junkie who spent the better part of a decade working in tech before dedicating herself to her first love, literature.
Alexis lives and works in the Portland area with her adorable (if surly) cat and her equally adorable fiancé. When not writing, she spends her time reading, running, playing way too many video games, and thinking too much about everything.
Here is a blurb:
A Vanishing Glow is the opening to The Mystech Arcanum series, a blend of steampunk and flintlock fantasy with mature themes.
It is an Age of Revolution, an Age of Industrialism. Constructs, living men who are as much brass and steel as they are flesh, man the factories and wage the wars of a ruling elite who gorge themselves on the fruits of the common man’s labor. Mystech, a brilliant fusion of magic and machine, gives rise to a new class of privileged inventors and merchants even as the country festers with wounds from decades of internal strife.
Only one man holds the promise of a brighter future: Nole Ryon, the crown prince. When his childhood friend Jason Tern answers his call for aid, the two of them set out to fight for the change their country needs in order to survive, even as shadowy foes frustrate their efforts. But soon, Jason and Nole’s idealistic mission of hope becomes a furious manhunt for a political murderer as the nation balances on the precipice of a country-wide civil war. Can they cut through the threads of intrigue to discover their true enemy before everything is lost?
And here is an excerpt of the first chapter:
Jason Tern slid his rapier free of its sheath as he crouched in the brush with two other blue-coated soldiers, yards away from the lynching.
One construct already hung from the solitary oak tree in the clearing before them, dead, still twitching like a marionette on the branch, while his companion screamed, fighting for his life. Two burly men in leather work vests held the remaining construct fast, one to each side, while the ringleader tightened a noose under his chin. Sunlight glinted off the brass-and-steel arm restrained behind the construct’s back as he struggled against his captors. The ringleader stooped to gather the end of the rough hempen rope and tossed it into the air. It arced over a thick branch of the tree, beside the first rope, and sailed back down into his calloused hands. He yanked hard, and their captive jerked with a strangled gasp.
“I count five of them,” Jason whispered. He and his Windriders would have the element of surprise if they stepped in now. The workmen looked more like common thugs than real fighters—bullies who’d talk big while they had the upper hand, but would back down quickly from the business end of a sword.
“Five is two more than we have, and they all have clubs,” Albas grumbled. He spit his tobacco into the dirt and pulled his cap low over his eyes. “I don’t like those odds if it comes to a fight. We should wait for our outriders.”
“It won’t come to a fight.” Their grizzled sergeant, Lugan, loosened his sword in his scabbard and drew his flintlock pistol. “Trust an old veteran. Those men are cowards.”
The construct screamed again as the two remaining men joined the ringleader and prepared to hoist him into the air. He kicked and scrabbled at the dirt, jerking from side to side. His captors gritted their teeth and held on. The construct wasn’t a large man—scrawny and pale with a mop of dark hair; Istkherian, judging by the style of his factory-made clothes. He would have been no threat at all to the burly men surrounding him, except for the long, skeletal arm with the joins and pistons visible which protruded from the stump of his shoulder. His construct arm lacked the plated armoring or reinforced leverage of a war model. It was stronger than an average man’s arm, but not strong enough to break free of their grip, and little help against a hanging once they had him strung up.
“I won’t stand by while they kill him,” Jason said. Not unless the council approves it, and this doesn’t look sanctioned.
“Your call, Captain.” Albas drew his own pistol. “Let’s just hope they don’t have friends hanging back. Numbers have a way of curing cowardice.”
Jason plunged through the foliage into the open air of the clearing, sword at the ready, with Lugan and Albas close behind him.
“Stop what you’re doing, in the name of the Council of Ghavarim,” he called out.
Everyone froze, eyes popping wide, and stared at the long iron barrels his men had trained on them. The end of the hemp rope slid out of the ringleader’s fingers and dropped onto the ground with a tiny puff of dust.
Jason gestured toward the construct. “What’s going on here?”
“Who are you?” The ringleader squinted at them suspiciously over the tip of his pinched nose. His workman’s outfit had seen better days, and a thick wooden cudgel swung from a loop attached to his belt. “Those aren’t Crimson Fist uniforms you’re wearing.”
Another of the men with a face like sanded leather and a touch of gray at his temples coughed. “Those jackets—They’re Windriders. Militia-men, from Fen. Windriders haven’t been this far south of the border since the Ordist rebellion. What are you doing here?”
“I believe the Captain asked you the same question… And we have the guns.” Albas cocked his pistol and flashed them a crooked, yellow grin that was anything but warm.
Jason waved him down. They needed to defuse the stand-off; not trade banter. “I’m Captain Jason Tern, Lord of Fen, traveling to Adaron on council business. We heard shouts from the road and came to investigate.”
“These men are from Lagrish,” Lugan said. Jason nodded his agreement. Their southern accents had marked them clearly. Lagrish had never been friendly to constructs, but when had murdering them in broad daylight become acceptable?
“Yes, we are. Honest Lagrishmen.” The pinched-face man stuck his chest out and jerked a thumb at the constructs. “And these men are thieves, my lord. We’re having our justice.”
“I’m not a thief, I’m not!” The construct began to struggle again. “And neither was Peter! These men jumped—” He cut off with a muffled grunt as one of the men holding him cuffed him.
“You must have mislaid your magistrate’s robes.” Lugan turned his pistol toward the man who’d struck the blow. “Touch him again before you’ve explained yourselves and my finger might get itchy.”
“What did he steal?” Jason would eat his belt if the construct had actually taken anything from these thugs, but protocol required hearing both sides. He’d have to make a decision here. They didn’t have the manpower to drag all six of these men into Adaron for a judge to sort out. The ringleader opened his mouth but stopped as Jason held up his hand. “Not you.” He pointed to the youngest of the five men, standing a little back from the others in the clearing. “You.”
The sandy-haired youth’s eyes grew even wider. He licked his lips, throwing a worried glance at his comrades. “Er… well. That is… our jobs, I suppose.”
“He stole your jobs?” Jason wasn’t sure he’d heard him right.
“Our livelihoods!” The pinched-face man broke in again, shooting the boy a dirty look. He shifted nervously. “Pity, lord. You’re an Easterner. You must know how it is back East. We came from the Giltland to find work in Adaron, but it’s just as bad up here as it is down there. The capital is crawling with Western junkers like this claptrap, and they’re soaking up all the jobs because their freakish bits let them work faster. These two Istkherian constructs took our jobs and laughed at us as we were turned out.”
Are you excited about A Vanishing Glow? You can get it here.