It was supposed to be a simple adventure: Rescue the princess. Slay her captors. Grab the loot. THE END.
She was never supposed to start a war.
And he was never supposed to fall in love.
Keith Hendricks’s new sword and sorcery fantasy novel A Spell Takes Root is a tantalizing cocktail of epic fantasy, forbidden romance, dark intrigue, and high adventure—a must-read for any fantasy fan.
A Gripping Sword & Sorcery Adventure Novel
The story centers on Khyte of Hwarn, a barbarian hero who’s far more than he seems. Although he’s convinced everyone around him that he’s a mere musclebound brute, beneath Khyte’s perfect pecs beats the heart of a warrior-poet—though he’s content to let his adventuring partners underestimate him so long as he still gets his share of the loot. But when an old friend tricks him into joining a perilous quest to rescue a dryad princess, he finds himself falling under her seductive spell—and ensnared in a game of hearts, swords, and interplanar politics.
This book has it all: barbarian heroes; dryads, giants, and goblins; magical conspiracies; adventurous quests; interspecies romance; and so much more.
Read on for an exclusive preview of A Spell Takes Root. We hope you love it.
An Exclusive Book Preview
Please enjoy this excerpt from Keith Hendricks’s A Spell Takes Root:
Huiln looked even sadder than Khyte as the goblin departed friendless on his deceitful undertaking. A few minutes later the others left for King Merculo’s castle, with Khyte in the middle of the red-hot enmity between Kuilea and the giantess. Literally in the middle, for the young barbarian placed himself between them.
“How do we proceed?” asked Khyte. “We won’t just walk in? If I were a King’s man, I would suspect us.”
“Of course they will,” said Eurilda, “and as we want them to take us directly to the king, we want them to be suspicious. We want to be under his nose so we can take the measure of his courtiers.”
Kreona’s industry and restaurants made it a smoky city to begin with, but now it was exceptionally hazy due to the rising condensation of yesterday’s cloudburst. The scintillating radiation of the Abyss enfolded dim rainbows in the hot shade; it would have been a good day for laziness, reading, games, and drunkenness. As they wended the streets between lunch and dinner hours, bistro tables were bussed of their cups, plates, and flatware, and busboys tossed brown mop water to the sidewalk. There was a line for an art gallery, cashiers had their hands full at book and grocery stores, coffee house baristas ran trays of beverages, and the Grand Goblin Library’s double doors were propped open.
In a hospitality district, they shuffled slowly, first inhaling the warm, sweet smell of breads and pastries, the tangy and pungent aroma of melted cheese, and the sour odor of spilled beer, then passing the troughs and stables where the kembir swilled and snuffed as their masters slumbered, feasted, or shopped. The swinish beasts seemed nearly as common as goblins, serving both as steeds and beasts of burden, hauling wagons and coaches in teams, and they swaggered with much more purpose than the king’s guard, who chewed junjin weed as they leaned on gaslamp posts, fences, and estate walls.
At the end of the hotel concourse, they passed through a gate, designed ostensibly to provide security for traveling humans, elves, and dryads. Khyte suspected it was really there to create a gullible captive audience that would willingly pay prices five times higher than those outside. Sneering at the persistent merchants as they hawked fruit smelling of sweet rot, battered meats, and cloaks and boots with tags that might make the High Tzhurarkh himself choke in disbelief, they filed through the gate while the guards’ sloth-shy eyes slipped back and forth under heavy eyelids.
A few ramshackle tenements and hole-in-the-wall shops, whose main products appeared to be the dissolute youth that patronized these derelict establishments, created a tumbledown buffer between the hotels and a pennant-decorated university of gray stone. As these youths also sprouted in this institute of higher learning, Khyte guessed the broken-down apartments serviced the needs of those aspiring to goblin greatness.
“To our right,” said Eurilda. “Guards. Step up your pace, but not so that we draw their attention.”
“Wouldn’t that speed things along?” asked Khyte.
“They would all try to take credit for your arrest,” said Kuilea, “and it would complicate things. No, our destination is Merculo’s castle.”
Surrounded by expert schemers, Khyte began to think he had given himself too much credit. While he wasn’t leagues behind his friends’ reasoning ability as they assumed, he was at least a step behind. However, their tendency to underestimate him worked to his advantage, as they explained the steps in the plan until he understood them better than they did. While they were stuck in the abstract, following the web of cause and effect, he saw the eight-eyed consequences, and realized their plan was doomed from the start.
Their scheme assumed the king would do one of two things—punish Khyte, or grant him immunity due to his allegiance to the House of Hwarn and their professed fealty to Merculo. This was all well and good, but it ignored the character of the king, a goblin who cruelly satisfied his curiosity about offworlders and was social with his vices. Khyte had learned from Eurilda’s example that people were just as likely to opt for the irrational as the reasonable, so he felt they should account not only for reasonable alternatives, but also for any unreasonable ones that they could expect from the king’s character. As the king had invited his favored courtiers to partake in the rape, brutalization, and cannibalization of the dryad, Khyte could also end up on a sadistic dinner party menu.
To Khyte, there were hence three outcomes: draconian punishment, which would not serve a political end or be in character for the king; the pardoning of Khyte’s brawling, which would keep the House of Hwarn close and be politically expedient; or his immediate capture and addition to a menagerie of offworlders, which would be in character for the king and serve the twin agendas of entertaining his cronies and adding to his collection. And it was this latter very likely possibility for which they were not prepared.
“It won’t work,” he said to Kuilea and Eurilda, expecting that his reasoning would not be heard.
He was right.
“It will be okay,” said Kuilea.
“Trust us, Khyte,” added Eurilda.
While Khyte wanted to be able to say that he had tried to tell them, he was satisfied, as he had never planned to share this rescue. Whether it led to ransom or altruistic reward, because Khyte was led along on false pretenses by all of them—Sarin Gelf, Huiln, Kuilea, and Eurilda—he owed this victory to himself. Moreover, Eurilda’s too-easy forgiveness, Kuilea’s clingy claims of sisterhood, and Huiln’s aloofness in the face of Khyte’s probable peril—all of these were disturbing, and he would be glad to get out of their reach. It might leave him without friends for a while, but he could secure the victory and the wealth now, and secure his friends later.
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