I'm very excited to announce that yesterday, one of my author friends, Christina Ochs, released a new novel in her truly epic Desolate Empire series– Hammer of the Gods! I've read and reviewed the books before, and I'm not saying the books are amazing just because she's a friend and has reviewed the Cursed novels, including, most recently, Damnation's Door. I'm saying that because they truly are spectacular, stories rich with political intrigue, deep and diverse characters, unpredictable twists, and a hint of magic that leads to jaw-dropping events. If you're a fan of Michael J. Sullivan's work (and you should be!), you absolutely need to check out these novels. For now, enjoy the cover and exclusive excerpt from Hammer of the Gods!
Hammer of the Gods-Chapter 1
“Karil, bring me that sword.”
Elektra realized Karil must be the boy by the fire, and understood an instant later what the sword was for. She worried she’d cry again, but was too frightened for tears. She breathed in great, ragged gasps, and tried to scramble to her feet, forgetting they were still tied together. She fell to the ground again, jagged rocks digging into her side.
“Better if you don’t make such a fuss,” the man said. “I promise to do it fast. The blade’s nice and sharp so I doubt you’ll notice a thing.”
“Vica will strike you down before you can harm me,” Elektra said, her voice quavering, not because she really believed it, but because she needed to hope for a miracle. She clenched her teeth, vowed not to cry, and reminded herself she was an archduchess, an acolyte of the League of Aeternos. She wouldn’t go to her death like a sniveling peasant.
The man laughed. “Surely you don’t hold to that nonsense. Ah well, if it gives you comfort I suppose there’s little harm in it.” He turned away. “Karil, bring it here.”
The boy still stood at the fire. “I don’t want to.”
Elektra realized she’d been holding her breath. She exhaled, and scrutinized the boy more carefully. As she had noted before, he appeared to be around her age, short, but powerfully built. He didn’t look like a soldier, but held the sword as if he knew his business. She wondered if he might save her, but looked at the big man again. Impossible. Even with the armed boy on her side she could do nothing against such a brute, one of the Sanova Hussars, trained and experienced killers the lot of them.
The man sighed. “Don’t be ridiculous Karil. We agreed to do this.”
“But she’s just a girl. A child, still.”
Elektra bristled at that, but remembered the boy was trying to help, so she gave him her best pleading, helpless look. Then she offered a quick prayer to Vica to guide her thoughts and words to wisdom.
“I see that,” the big man said. “So were my children. Do you know how old my little girl was, Karil? Not even three. And the boy lived no more than a few months before Teodora murdered them both.” His voice grew rougher. “Janna too, and you loved her even before I did.”
Elektra began to understand. “Did they live in Kersenstadt?” She asked, surprised at how clear and strong her voice sounded. That must be the work of the Goddess, and the realization gave her more strength.
The man turned back to her. “Yes, and they died there too, thanks to your mother setting the whole city aflame.”
Everyone knew it was Quadrene fanatics who’d burned Kersenstadt to the ground, but Elektra could tell such facts meant little to this man. “I am very sorry,” she said. “It was a terrible tragedy and entirely my mother’s fault, I’m sure. But what do you hope to accomplish by sending her my head?” She was heartened to see the boy quietly slide the sword back into a scabbard.
“Revenge,” the man said. “That’s all. You needn’t lecture me about how it won’t help.”
“I wasn’t going to.” Elektra felt an odd coursing in her veins. She was no longer afraid. Even if this man killed her, it would be while she received the highest blessing from the Goddess. It would be a martyr’s death, and she would join Holy Vica in the halls of paradise. Still, she wasn’t ready to die just yet. “Not only will it not help you feel better, it will not help you thwart my mother. I am in a far better position than you to do that.”
“You should hear her out, Braeden.” The boy knelt in front of Elektra and cut the ropes binding her ankles with a short knife. She whimpered as the sensation returned to her feet in a rush of prickling pain. “Give me your hands,” the boy said and she looked into his eyes. They were large and dark, though not warm, but she saw he wouldn’t hurt her. She let him cut the ropes around her wrists.
Elektra looked up at the man named Braeden until he met her eyes, then said, “I promise not to escape. Let’s talk about how I can help you.”
A war-ravaged continent. An epic battle for power. An endless chain of betrayals . . .
In her quest for dominance, Teodora will destroy everything in her path.
Kendryk and Gwynneth enjoy their reunion and look to the future, laying plans to regain their home. But all their hopes rest on King Lennart's invasion.
Determined to overthrow Teodora and everything she stands for, Lennart finds himself thwarted by an unlikely opponent as he gathers allies. While he struggles to gain the upper hand, Teodora must repay a debt which will alter her life forever.
Unmoored in his grief, Braeden risks everything in an ill-fated bid for revenge; Anton struggles to make a new life for himself while forced to fight for the enemy; and Elektra gathers her forces, determined to be Empress someday— if she can survive long enough.
The Desolate Empire, Christina Ochs’ epic fantasy series, continues in Book 3: Hammer of the Gods.
Buy it here:
Other Novels In The Series
Book 1 – Rise of the Storm
When a renegade priest prophesies an imminent apocalypse, a conflict is sparked which will tip a continent into war.
Prince Kendryk is young, handsome and popular, his kingdom prosperous and peaceful. But in the face of the prophesied apocalypse, he must choose between conscience and power. If he chooses the side of faith, he must defy the ruthless Empress Teodora, ruler of a vast empire, imperiling kingdom and family— but if he chooses the side of power, he risks plunging his world into a darkness worse than war.
The coming conflict will touch the lives of thousands, among them…
Prince Kendryk’s adored wife, Gwynneth, the proud daughter of a king, whose ambition may come at great cost…
Braeden, a violent mercenary, commander of a legendary winged army, who will find himself in the service of an employer he must defy to protect those he holds dear…
And Janna, the merchant’s wife, forced to abandon her home and her way of life, ill-prepared to keep herself and her children safe from the ravages of war…
An epic fantasy saga drawn from real history, Rise of the Storm is Book One in the compelling new Desolate Empire series
Buy it here:
Book 2– Valley of the Shadow
A captive prince. A desperate princess. An alliance that will shake the foundations of an empire.
In the wake of battle, Kendryk finds himself the prisoner of Empress Teodora. As war ravages Terragand, Kendryk’s guilt is matched only by his fear that he will never see his family again. Gwynneth, in possession of a valuable captive but sworn to keep him close, faces Teodora’s wrath as she waits in anguish for relief.
But when Gwynneth’s rescue comes, the empire will never be the same again.
A tide of religious upheaval sweeps across the land, bearing men and women toward their fates. The delicate joy shared by Janna and Braeden will be shattered; the king of a neighboring kingdom will walk the edge of madness; and an oath of vengeance will bind three unlikely allies together in a desperate attempt to curb Teodora’s ambitions once and for all.
The Desolate Empire, Christina Ochs’ epic fantasy series, continues in Book 2:Valley of the Shadow.
Buy it here:
Check out my full review of Hammer of the Gods this Saturday! Happy release day, Christina!