In the Company of the Dead
by Ciara Ballintyne
GENRE: Fantasy Romance (epic)
Ellaeva’s obligations to the death goddess leave her no time to hunt down her parents’ murderer—until both duty and revenge lead her to the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris has been exiled for striking his prince. As the castle falls under siege, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods—but the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.
Dust rose into the sky, painting the sunrise red with a shepherd’s warning.
On the castle parapet, Lyram lowered the eyeglass and frowned. Beyond the ruined, outer wall of the keep, the terrain turned to densely wooded hills and then into mountains, but that much dust meant men and horses, and lots of them. No merchant caravans came past the remote Caisteal Aingeal, and he expected no supply train until the spring thaw reached the mountain passes, which would be two weeks or more. He turned to his aide-de-camp.
“Have any of the scouts returned yet?” The stiff wind whipped the words from his mouth and his auburn hair into his eyes.
Everard stood straight and stiff alongside him, impeccable in formal court jacket and kilt marked with the insignia of his rank. Before he could answer, a shout rose from further down the castle wall. A soldier pointed at the old gate.
Lyram pressed the glass back to his eye and swung to look, his basket-hilted broadsword banging against his leg at the sudden motion. With no trouble over the winter, and no reason to expect any, he wore only his gambeson and a leather tabard. The rest of his armour remained in his room—a lack that left him distinctly uneasy now.
A horse raced through the crumbling gate in the old vine- and grass-covered outer wall, the rider clinging to its neck. It galloped up the narrow dirt path that cut straight from outer gate to moat. This close to the tail end of winter, no cattle grazed in the waist-high grass between the two walls.
A hushed stillness spread along the soldiers lining the battlements. Tension squeezed a tight knot into Lyram’s gut. Nearly twelve months he’d waited here in exile, twelve months wondering if Drault would be true to his word—if he dared.
Now it began.
This was a great fantasy with sweeping scenes full of mysticism and excitement. I found myself immediately drawn into the mysterious world Ballintyne paints, and wanting to know the story behind some of the more obscure characters and places that are referenced. Although there were a few times that I was just about holding my breath, I wouldn’t call this a nail biter in the sense of psychological suspense, but more of an intense and multi-layered fantasy rich with seemingly real problems, and real people. I greatly enjoyed this review opportunity and look forward to reading more from this author in the future!
About the Author:
Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic.
She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead.
She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be? If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian… OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ.
Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, her two daughters, and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.
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