Goddess TitheYesterday we had the pleasure of seeing the next lovely cover in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. (Click here to see reviews and other earlier posts about the series.) Today I’m pleased to bring you an excerpt from the novella itself, with an opening description by the author, Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Enjoy!

***

Here is an excerpt from the middle of the story. In this scene, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! Munny hopes to slip in and out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring:

__________

“And what do you make of him yourself?”
Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”
“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.
The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”
Munny made neither answer nor any move.
“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”
“I hope—” Munny began.
But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”
The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.
Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.
“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.
“It’s a sign!”
“She’s warning us!”
“It’s a sign, I tell you!”
Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.
They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.
They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.
Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”
There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.
But it was.

AESAbout the Author

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

Giveaway:

Visit Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s blog to enter for a chance to win one of two proof copies of Goddess Tithe! U.S. and Canada only, please.

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Here’s a peek at the gorgeous cover of the next book in the wonderful Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. The cover image is accompanied by the back cover copy below:

Goddess Tithe

The Vengeful Goddess

Demands Her Tithe

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya’s only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

Anne Elisabeth Stengl talks about the beautiful cover:

I had the fun of designing this cover—finding reference photos, inventing the composition, applying the text, etc.—but the actual artistic work was done by talented cover artist Phatpuppy (www.phatpuppyart.com), whose work I have admired for many years. It was such a thrill for me to contact and commission this artist to create a look for Goddess Tithe that is reminiscent of the original novels but has a style and drama all its own.

The boy on the front was quite a find. I hunted high and low for an image of a boy the right age, the right look, with the right expression on his face. Phatpuppy and I worked with a different model through most of the cover development stage. But then I happened upon this image, and both she and I were delighted with his blend of youth, stubbornness, and strength of character! It wasn’t difficult to switch the original boy for this young man. He simply is Munny, and this cover is a perfect window into the world of my story.

You can’t see it here, but the wrap-around back cover for the print copy contains some of the prettiest work . . . including quite a scary sea monster! Possibly my favorite detail is the inclusion of the ghostly white flowers framing the outer edge. These are an important symbol in the story itself, and when Phatpuppy sent me the first mock-up cover with these included, I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement!

Goddess Tithe Illustration by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Goddess Tithe Illustration by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

About the Illustration by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

There are eight full-page illustrations in Goddess Tithe featuring various characters and events from the story. This is the first one in the book. I decided to share it with all of you since it depicts my young hero, Munny the cabin boy, under the watchful eye of his mentor, the old sailor Tu Pich. Munny is on his first voyage, and he is determined to learn all there is to know about a life at sea as quickly as possible. Thus we see him utterly intent upon the knot he is learning to tie. Tu Pich is old enough to know that no sailor will ever learn all there is to know about the sea. Thus he looks on, grave, caring, and perhaps a little sad. He might be looking upon his own younger self of many years ago, fumbling through the hundreds of difficult knots his fingers must learn to tie with unconscious ease.
I enjoyed creating all the illustrations for Goddess Tithe, but this one was my favorite. I love the contrasts of light and dark, the contrasts of young and old . . . youthful intensity versus the perspective of age.

AES

About the Author

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

Giveaway:

Visit Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s blog to enter for a chance to win one of two proof copies of Goddess Tithe! U.S. and Canada only, please.

DRAGONWITCHDragonwitch
Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Bethany House

Lord Alistair, heir to the Earl of Gaheris, finds his sleeping hours plagued by night terrors prophesying his death and his waking ones by his mother’s political schemes to make him king. Alistair resigns himself to a loveless marriage with Lady Leta, the daughter of the second-most powerful earl in the land. Leta appears to meekly acquiesce to the plans made for her. Inside her, however, a battle of wills rages, and the rebellious Leta will not so easily be silenced. Befriended and challenged by the reclusive Chronicler, Leta begins to desire more for herself than a lonely life as a silent and powerless queen.

As Alistair’s uncle, Earl Ferox’s life draws to its end, he reveals a secret that sends the entire nation reeling and upsets all plans to unite the people under one king. In the midst of this chaos, an evil army marches, determined to destroy the would-be king and his people and capture the fabled House of Light. Meanwhile the Dragonwitch waits, searching for the enchanted sword which ended her first two lives. Only a hero can wield it.

Once again, Stengl excels at drawing readers into the world of faeries and monsters. Dragonwitch reveals more story surrounding Starflower, as earlier Goldstone Wood novel Veiled Rose added to the series beginner, Heartless. Fans will enjoy piecing scenes from the two stories together as well as the cameo appearances by beloved characters from previous stories.

 

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
Brief kissing.

Spiritual Content
Spiritual references are more understated in this novel than in previous books in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. The Prince of Farthestshore (who seems to represent Jesus) makes a brief appearance. The idea that God has a plan, and it may not look like our plan, is discussed more than once during the course of the story.

Some characters are part of a cult in which they worship and serve the Dragonwitch. An acolyte first defends her goddess, but later sees her as an imposter who imprisons and abuses her people.

A mysterious narrator recounts the tale of two brothers given gifts by the true God who use those gifts to spread light and justice. One brother carries a lantern and the other a sword.

Violence
Battle violence. Some brief details are given.

Drug Content
None.

 
BOOK GIVEAWAY!
Like the sound of this book? Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy! Contest begins July 25, 2013 at 7:53 am Eastern Time and ends Sunday July 28 at midnight Eastern Time. (Must have US address to win.)

To enter, scroll to the top of the blog post and leave a comment about one of your favorite fantasy characters. One random commenter will be chosen to receive a FREE copy of the book.

 

DRAGONWITCHSneak Peek from

Dragonwitch

By: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

 

The Twelve came to the doors of Omeztli Tower and their voices carried from the ground to our high perch above.

“Cren Cru commands. Send us your firstborn.”

I clutched Tlanextu’s arm in terror. I could not bear to lose him! He took my hand and held me gently.

Then we saw a powerful form rising up from Itonatiu Tower. It was Citlalu, our father. He flew across the city, his wings like a griffin’s, like a roc’s, blocking the sunlight from view they were so vast! He landed before us, and I shivered with fear and love at the sight of him, for he was King. A true King. Not like the foolish little kings we see nowadays wearing crowns, waving swords and scepters, ruling by feeble kinship-rights. He was King of Etalpalli, bound to the realm by his own blood, by the beat of his heart. He was strong as the nation itself, stronger, I thought. The pinions of his wings were like daggers, like swords, and he shouted down to the Twelve below:

 “Be gone, back to your master! You will take none of mine into that Mound, not while I have life yet coursing through my veins!”

His voice shook the foundations of Etalpalli. I thought the Twelve would run, would scream with terror, would flee the storm of his gaze.

They did not. They merely turned and retraced their path to the Mound and the concentric circles of bronze.

But the next day, they returned. Once more they called up to the heights of Omeztli: “Cren Cru commands. Send us your firstborn.”

Once more, my father denied them.

Anne Elisabeth StenglAnne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series, adventure fantasies told in the classic Fairy Tale style. She makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University.

 

Dragonwitch Banner

Tour Schedule

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about the Goldstone Wood series with reviews, interviews, giveaways and more on these other great blogs. Be sure to visit the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog for a chance to win the first five Goldstone Wood novels!

July 14 – Day 1

Rebecca’s Book Blog – Interview

Jennette Mbewe – Sneak Peek

Bluerose’s Heart – Top Tens List

The Wordsmith’s Shelf – Sneak Peek

The Wonderings of One Person – Guest Post

Seasons of Humility – Interview

Worthy 2 Read – Guest Post

The Endless Road – Interview

Tea and Bree – Interview/Sneak Peek

JoJo’s Corner – Interview

July 15 – Day 2

Letters to the Cosmos – Guest Post

The Writer of Dream Things – Character Interview

The Sassy Sister – Sneak Peek

Makai Queen – Interview

JoJo’s Corner – Sneak Peek

Crafty Booksheeps – Interview

Young Adult Books – Sneak Peek

Darling Diaries – Interview

Blooming with Books – Interview/Sneak Peek

 

July 16 – Day 3

The Writer’s Window – Character Interview

Penning Praises – Guest Post

Crimilia – Interview

Rachel Herriman – Guest Post

Rina’s Reading – Top Tens List

JoJo’s Corner – Guest Post

Living On Literary Lane – Interview

Onto Her Bookshelf – Interview

An Ink-Made Maiden – Interview

July 16 Evening

Blog Tour Finale and Prize Awarded back at the Tales of Goldstone Wood!

 

moonblood

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl / Bethany House

Prince Lionheart returns to his ruined kingdom and struggles to reclaim the trust of his people. But when the people demand the death of Lionheart’s only loyal friend Rose Red, he banishes her instead to the treacherous Goldstone Wood, filled with deadly magical creatures.

Captured by her father, King Vahe, and imprisoned in the lost kingdom of Arpiar, Rose Red refuses to call for help. She waits for the Night of Moonblood and her father’s vile plans to unfold, a talking statue and lost boy with no memory for her only companions.

Lionheart pursues Rose Red, determined to rescue her and atone for his betrayal, but finding his way through the Wood is more difficult than he could have imagined and strange enemies greet him at every turn. He must defeat them all and find a kingdom no one has been able to enter in more than five hundred years if he is to reach Rose Red before it’s too late.

Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl possesses a masterful sense of story and beautifully incorporates powerful symbols seamlessly into each of her novels. In reading Moonblood one cannot help but become as lost in the story as the desperate prince in his search for his friend. Lionheart’s struggle to accept his failings and the healing of Rose Red’s wounded heart echo the deeper spiritual message that none are forgotten or without hope.

Moonblood is the third book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. Starflower, tthe fourth book in the series has just been named a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award. Book five, Dragonwitch, will be released in the summer of 2013.

Language Content
No foul language.

Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
Lionheart is haunted by the choices he has made which caused harm to those he cares about, but refuses to accept blame and wanting to believe he has made the only choice possible. He tries to salvage his mistakes by rescuing Rose Red, but in the end, still he cannot atone for what he has done on his own. He must accept forgiveness and aid from a Higher Source.

Rose Red, still wounded by the prince’s betrayal, refuses to call for aid in her imprisonment. She too believes she can escape on her own, without help. A small bird calls to her, as God’s spirit calls to us, but she doesn’t want to trust him anymore. She learns that God’s plan doesn’t always look the way we expect, or keep us safe in ways that make sense to us.

Violence
Heroes fight a tiger and dragons. A unicorn’s horn stabs through someone. None of these events are given deeply graphic descriptions.

Drug Content
None.

Shadow Hand

“She Will Take Your Own Two Hands

To Save Your Ancient, Sorrowing Lands.”

By her father’s wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . . 

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

Tales of Goldstone Wood Mug

To celebrate the cover reveal, author Anne Elisabeth Stengl is hosting a giveaway on her blog. One lucky winner will receive a mug with the gorgeous covers of all six books on it. Enter the contest here!

Shadow Hand will be the sixth book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. Fans will remember brave and guarded Lady Daylily and her betrothed from Stengl’s third book, Moonblood. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying the series, there is plenty of time to catch up! Shadow Hand will only be available beginning early next year. For more information, visit the Shadow Hand blog.

starflower

Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl / Bethany House

The entire court of immortal faeries is distraught when beloved and beautiful Lady Gleamdren is kidnapped by a fearsome dragon-witch. Two of her most devoted admirers race to her rescue, and the Bard Eanrin is determined to be first to reach his ladylove. On his journey he encounters a human girl locked in a spell of sleep and finds he cannot simply leave the unlucky mortal to her fate.

Eanrin wakes Starflower from her sleep, intent upon sending her on her way, but the maiden knows little of the treacherous Wood. As she accompanies Eanrin on his quest, a deep connection emerges between the girl and the dragonwitch. It may be Starflower alone who can rescue Gleamdren and battle an ancient dark power.

Fans of the Tales of Goldstone Wood will recognize Eanrin as the wise and mischievous cat who often kept company with the Princess Una in Heartless, the first novel in the series. Starflower predates Heartless and tells the tale of a much younger and more, often humorously, self-centered Eanrin and adding still more depth and breadth to the already rich and lustrous story world Stengl has created.

Starflower is a tale of love, not strictly romantic love, but of the journey toward choosing to put others first, to risk losing total autonomy, and to show love to others even when they are not outwardly deserving of it. It is the fourth book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series and was just named a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award. The fifth book, Dragonwitch, will be released in the summer of 2013.

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
A kiss.

Spiritual Content
Starflower’s people are under a curse and cannot speak. To remove the curse, she has to learn to love her enemies. Over and over through the story, characters are challenged to love others at expense to their own desires or safety.

Violence
References to a dog being beaten by its owner. A girl is surrounded by young men who mean her harm (she is not injured). Two dogs fight. References to human sacrifices. A man is killed saving his daughter. These scenes are short and do not contain a high level of detail.

Drug Content
None.