In a land ravaged by civil war, the Mage King Kedehen initiates a ruthless purge of the magas. Eolyn, last daughter of the magas and sole heiress to their forbidden craft, seeks refuge in the South Woods.
When she meets the mysterious Akmael, heir to the throne of this violent realm, she embarks on a path of hope, seduction, betrayal, and war. Desire draws Eolyn toward Akmael’s dark embrace, but fate binds her to Corey of East Selen, a cunning mage whose ambition challenges the limits of love and loyalty.
Can she trust either man?
Hunted in a realm of powerful wizards and brutal deceptions, Eolyn must find her own path to freedom or she will burn on the pyre.
"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes, with a romantic thread." - Publishers Weekly
A Nest of Vipers
Mage Corey closed the distance between them. His magic spread in a hush through fallen leaves, surrounding Eolyn, cutting off all retreat, and daring her to defend herself with a counter spell. He stopped just in front of her, his face a breath away.
“Sometimes I like to imagine you and I live in a world where we do not feel compelled to keep secrets from each other,” he murmured.
Eolyn’s throat went dry.
“Indulge me in this fantasy and tell me: Why do you desire to go to the King’s City?”
Eolyn willed her eyes to remain steady on his. “It is a child’s wish. I had a friend growing up. I believe he lives there. I wish to find him. That is all.”
Mage Corey studied her a moment. Then he stepped away and continued his walk. The autumn earth released Eolyn’s feet. She quickened her pace to catch up with him.
“A friend,” Corey asked, his voice a mask of idle curiosity, “or a lover?”
“A friend. We were only children when we knew each other.”
“I see. I am sorry, Eolyn, but I cannot take you to the city, not because I object to you finding your friend, but because I am averse to leading fawns into nests of vipers. Still…” Corey stopped, his expression thoughtful. “I know many people in the city. If you give me the name of this friend of yours, perhaps I could...”
Eolyn’s expression put a stop to his words.
“I see I am pressing too hard. Very well, Eolyn. We have had a fair exchange: one truth for one truth.” Touching Eolyn’s chin, Corey brought her gaze back to his. “Perhaps we can continue down this path when I return.”
What inspired you to write this book?
Eolyn simmered in my imagination over many years, and for that reason, had many sources of inspiration. But at heart, I had a desire to write an epic fantasy in which women played complex and meaningful roles. Coupled with this, I also wanted a woman protagonist who could be strong, even triumphant, without wielding a sword.
Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
The best person to answer this question is the artist, Thomas Vandenberg. Tom read Eolyn, and together we decided on a scene that we thought would be appropriate for the cover. We wanted to capture Eolyn’s youthful innocence, but also her emerging power. I think this moment of quiet, peaceful exchange with a very fierce looking dragon accomplishes what we were after.
I also want to mention that in Eolyn’s world, Dragon is not a biological creature but a spiritual one. She is considered a messenger of the gods, and according to legend, was instrumental in bringing High Magic to Eolyn’s people. Dragon can shape shift into any creature of the forest, but she appears in her true form very rarely. So, it is quite the privilege to have her on my book cover! You’ll have to ask Tom how he got her to agree to a sitting.
What do you think makes a good story?
It all comes down to the characters. They have to be realistic, nuanced, likeable but flawed. In other words, they have to be real. Nothing makes a story flatter than flat, stereotypical characters.
What are you working on next?
All three books of The Silver Web trilogy are finished, so Eolyn’s companion novels should be out within the next year or so. I am currently working with Thomas Vandenberg on a cover for The Sword of Shadows, which we hope to release this fall, with pre-orders possible well before that. Once The Sword of Shadows is ready to go, we will tackle the cover for the third and final book in the series, Daughter of Aithne.
On the writing end, my new project, The Hunting Grounds, is a contemporary urban fantasy an paranormal romance. I’m very excited about this book; it’s been a lot of fun to write. And an interesting switch, as well, from the high fantasy I’ve been crafting over the last several years. My hope is to release The Hunting Grounds later this year as well, though I suspect that might be a little ambitious.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way?
Whenever I’m asked this story, I always go back to Gioconda Belli’s The Country Beneath My Skin, a memoir of her involvement in the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua in the 1970s and 1980s. I drew so many ideas and lessons from that book: the strength of women warriors, the transformative power of poetry and the arts, the insidious persistence of sexism, no matter what the political or social context.
I also deeply admired Belli’s very open and frank approach to women’s sexuality. There are few fantasy tropes I dislike more than the “pure and virtuous maiden”, as I’m sure anyone who reads my work will discover. Although The Country Beneath My Skin is a modern story about real events, Belli gave me many ideas for how to make the love lives of my fictional characters more complex and realistic.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
I grew up with paperbacks and continue to prefer paperback books, though I do have an e-reader that I always use when traveling. I also like hardcover books, but they tend to be more expensive than my budget allows.
Any last words?
Thank you very much for having me today. If your visitors have any questions about writing or publishing, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments.
Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands for over twenty years. Her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to The Silver Web trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.
Karin will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.