Ariel knows that to accept the Shadowblade's deadly gift of fighting skill and power is the first step on a dark path to tyranny. Blade adepts are hated and feared––and ultimately hunted down and killed.
She has no choice. It's her only chance to rescue her sister from capture and slavery by the the ruthless Rapathian invaders.
It feels like a desperate but simple decision until she meets Marin, Captain of the Eldrin, the elite force protecting King and realm from attack. Pledged to fight invaders, they are also sworn to capture and kill dangerous Blade adepts.
Now Ariel has to convince Marin and his highly skilled team of fighters to help her rescue her sister––and that they can trust her to fight alongside them.
Failure means instant death. But the path to success is long and hard. Love and war would be complex enough without having to resist the temptation that too much power brings––or the interference of powerful Elementals focused on revenge...
Shadowblade is the first book in A Dance of Fire & Shadow, the new fantasy series from Jay Aspen.
Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas & J RR Tolkein
Great new fantasy series!
Original and compelling
Great story, interesting characters, plenty of action.
Couldn't put it down!
It can’t be!
It has to be a dream, a nightmare. In a minute I’ll wake. The bodies lie where they fell, scattered between the houses like heaps of bloody clothes. It feels disrespectful to simply run and dodge between them while pausing only to check that my mother and sister are not among the dead, but I have to reach my house. I have to find my family––
I burst through the door and into the kitchen, my heart pounding and my mouth dry.
A few things scattered, smashed on the floor but it is as if whoever stormed through here was in a hurry and looking for something in particular. Even in my anxiety and panic I can see this is not the aftermath of a search through every item for anything worth stealing. Everyone knows the Sylvani are not in the habit of hoarding gold or jewels, so we are not often troubled by bandits.
Maybe that’s why we’ve grown soft. The elders said we would come to regret it.
I check the bedrooms. Nothing. The dye shed. Hardly disturbed. Maybe the stink of the dye put them off. Only the barn left to search. The heavy wooden door is open, swaying back and forth in the breeze, and I’m suddenly terrified of what I’ll find in there.
I can hear Sahan whickering as she picks up my scent. Inside, I’m glad for the comfort of stroking her glossy dark brown coat and mane, feeling her reassuring warmth. .Something still lives and breathes in this place of death.
Another warning chill runs down my spine. We may not have the sort of hard currency most bandits are after but they do steal horses if they find them. Sahan is no plodding load-carrier but she’s tall and rangy, swift and nimble enough to be of value to any ambitious robber hoping for a quick getaway.
Now I’m finding space to think, I can’t remember hearing about any band of thugs who are in the habit of murdering indiscriminately. Perhaps for reasons of practicality rather than mercy. Live victims being more likely to gather future plunder than dead ones––
Sahan twitches and pulls against my hands, trying to break free from her half of the barn but she’s not heading for the door. I follow the direction of her eyes to a bundle on the floor in the far corner, almost invisible in the shadows. I run towards it, somehow knowing that this is my mother even before I turn her over and see her face.
My hand feels sticky. There is blood running from a wound in her neck and her left arm is soaked in it. She’s still warm. If I can get her stitched and bandaged she’ll be all right. We have an emergency first-aid bag stored in every building and there is one right here…
Of course. She was trying to reach it when she passed out.
I grab the bag and get a compress on the wound, holding it tight with one hand while I search for sutures and needle with the other.
Suddenly cool fingers grasp my arm.
‘Ariel. Don’t. I haven’t much time. Just listen.’
I almost start crying with relief.
‘You’re alive. I thought… Just hold on there and I’ll get you fixed––’
‘Too late. I can feel it. So listen for once in your life.’ This is another family tease and she tries to smile but the effort is too great.
‘The soldiers took only the young and strong. Probably to use or sell as slaves. You can find Alina and the rest of them, but you must follow my instructions.'