Hiya guys! We have Amy Rae Durreson visiting today with her upcoming release Recovery, we have a fantastic guest post from Amy where she tells us how the Reawakening series came about and she shares a brilliant excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Amy Rae Durreson
Resistance, exile, plague. Raif has survived them all, but now he finds himself in search of a new purpose. Traveling north to wake the dragon Arden, he hopes he has finally found a leader worthy of his loyalty, but Arden turns out to be more of a frivolous annoyance than an almighty spirit lord. Now bound to Arden’s side despite his frustration, Raif follows the dragon to the rich and influential lagoon city of Aliann, chasing rumors of the Shadow that once cursed his homeland.
With the election of a new duke at stake, Raif struggles to make sense of the challenges he meets in Aliann: a conspiracy of nixies and pirates, selkie refugees in desperate need of a champion, a monster that devours souls, a flirtatious pirate prince, and a machine that could change the world. For nothing in the city of masks is what it seems, from the new friends Raif makes to the dragon he follows—or even himself.
On Unexpected Journeys
by Amy Rae Durreson
I didn’t intend to write a trilogy.
In truth, when I started what eventually became Reawakening, I thought I was writing a short story. Almost 370000 words later, I have to admit that I overshot the mark a bit on that one.
I blame Raif for that.
Raif first showed up half way through Reawakening, a serious-minded young man who showed no fear of dragons and turned out to have a much more interesting backstory than I was expecting. Growing up in exile from a land overrun by tyranny and dark magic, Raif had returned home to join the resistance and devote himself to saving a country the rest of the world saw as a lost cause. As he joined my heroes on their quest to confront the evil power controlling his country, I grew increasingly fond of him.
By then, I knew the world I’d created held the potential for many more stories. In a world where gods and dragons are slowly waking from a centuries’ long sleep to resume their ancient powers—and conflicts—there were all sorts of stories to be told. By the time I’d finished the first book, I had a sequel in mind—I wanted to send Raif, idealistic young hero that he was, to wake the most irreverent of dragons and see what came out of that inevitable personality clash.
He didn’t cooperate.
I tried. I wrote three or four opening scenes to his book and every time I thought I got him to a point where I could point him north on a new quest, he stubbornly turned back to his own country. I just couldn’t get him to leave home. So, very reluctantly (I really wanted to write about that dragon), I put his story on hold. After all, Raif’s home country, Tiallat, had enough problems to fill a book of its own, and the missing god Raif was determined to find would make an interesting protagonist in his own right.
That book became Resistance. It’s a much darker and sadder book than the first, a story about finding the strength to survive and rebuild while everything you love is destroyed around you. No one in that book came out of it unscathed, and by the end of it Raif, who stands by the hero’s right hand throughout the story, is a changed man. His idealism is a little tarnished and all his beliefs have been challenged, but his courage has withstood the test too.
This time, when I offered him the chance to go north and start again, he took it.
And that’s where Recovery begins, with a journey into a world which is far more varied and complex than Raif has ever realised. His path takes him from his poor and troubled homeland to the source of the great River Anniel and then, to his surprise, to the wealthiest city in the world—the trade city of Aliann, where ancient powers and modern politics jostle for control. It takes him to a flirtatious—and very irritating—dragon, but also to new friends and allies with dangerous secrets of their own.
Raif and I took two books to get here, despite my best intentions. I had a lot of fun along the way (much more than he did, but that’s the life of a hero for you). I hope you enjoy finding out where his journey took him. There’s a little taster of his journey—and his relationship with the dragon Arden—below.
As he shrugged on his cloak and headed out into the evening, Raif wondered why Tarn and Hal had sent him after this particular dragon. Striding through the streets, he dwelled on just some of the things that were wrong with Arden—his gambling, his drinking, his ridiculous sense of humor, his refusal to fly sensibly to Shara, his terrible taste in men, and his complete and utter lack of any dignity.
He turned away from the inn and the surrounding busy streets. He wasn’t in the mood for the noise and cheer of the town’s nightlife. Instead, he walked back over the bridge, stopping to look down at the moonlit waters. At least it was quiet here.
Miserably he circled back to his earlier worry. Hal and Tarn knew him, and they presumably knew what Arden was like. Why hadn’t they sent him to find one of their other brothers? Quarllian was supposed to be a scholar. Sharnyn had been known for his love of poets and philosophers. What had made them send him to Arden instead? Had they just considered it so important to wake Arden that they didn’t care?
Or did they not think Raif was worthy of serving someone he could actually admire?
That idea hurt. He had spent so long working so hard to make the world perfect, and nothing he did ever seemed enough.
He slumped, his face dropping until he was staring into the gleaming darkness of the river.
Someone was looking back.
At first he thought it was his own reflection, made dim and distorted by the pale moonlight. He could see his own shadow in the water, though, and this face was farther out, upturned just below the surface of the water, staring at him from shadowy eyes. Pale hair swirled around it, leeched of color by night. It was pale skinned, almost fish white, and his heart sank. Someone had drowned in this river tonight.
Then, with a faint splash and a swirl of water, it moved, surging out of the river. It was a woman, he saw as she rose out of the flood, with wet hair and silvery cloth clinging to the curve of her breasts, but there was nothing human in her expression. As he flinched back, she opened her mouth, revealing rows of pointed teeth, and began to sing.
He had been ready to dash back to the inn to call Arden away from his flirtations, but suddenly it seemed less urgent. His breathing slowed, and he leaned forward to gaze at the river woman.
Her song swelled around him, making him yearn for all he had lost, all the dreams that had never come true. Her song promised a peaceful place, somewhere cool and quiet below the softly flowing waters, and made him want that, crave it with all his soul.
She lifted her arm and beckoned before sliding back under the water.
Raif moved, walking back across the bridge and into the steep alleyway that led between the buildings down to the water’s edge. As he moved from shadows to moonlight under the leaning eaves, the whole world seemed as flat and frail as a dry leaf, and only the singing still whispered in his ears, sighing promises.
The alleyway came out at a little quay where a rowing boat was pulled up on a rough slipway. As Raif walked past it, close enough to the river now that the sigh and lap of waves against the quay merged into the melancholy whisper of the river woman’s song, ripples spread across the water and she rose up again, opening her arms to him. He stepped forward, ready to fall into her embrace.
Behind him, the air crackled like fire, and a sweep of heat passed over him.
“Mine,” Arden growled, his voice so deep and fierce that every hair on the back of Raif’s neck rose.
The river woman screamed, showing her sharp teeth, and then leaped away, plunging backward into the river with a flip that revealed her lower half—not legs, but a long silver tail. Then she was gone, only the ripples speeding downriver betraying her direction.
Raif expected Arden to rise into flame and go after her, but instead he felt the hard grip of hands on his own shoulders. Arden turned him round to say furiously, “You’re mine! You belong to me!”
“Yes,” Raif said. The world was returning to normal around him, slowly taking on substance again, but he could only concentrate on Arden’s furious face. Like this, with his jaw set and his eyes bright with rage, he didn’t look foolish at all.
“Never run off with a nixie!”
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Raif protested. “I was just staring at the water, and she was there!”
Arden shook him a little. “Don’t stare at a moonlit river! Every child knows that!”
“I didn’t,” Raif said, beginning to feel irritated as the dreamlike calm her song had cast faded. “What was she?”
“A nixie.” Arden frowned at him, starting to look more puzzled than angry. “They’re in every river.”
“Not in Tiallat. I’ve never heard of them.” He was starting to realize that he might have been in real danger. “What would she have done?”
“Drowned you in her hair and shared your body with her sisters. For sport, until you began to bloat, and then for supper.”
Raif shuddered quickly.
Just as fast, Arden wrapped him in a tight hug. Bewildered, but warmed through, Raif hugged him back. “I’m sorry. I’ll know not to do it again.”
“Never,” Arden said, clutching him tighter. “You’re my hoard. I need you.”
That was good to hear, but Raif was suddenly distracted. There was bare skin under his hands, warm as if Arden had been out in the sun for hours. “Where’s your shirt?”
“Back at the inn,” Arden said, pulling back to stare at Raif as if it had been a strange question. “With the rest of my clothes.”
Raif stepped back quickly and couldn’t stop himself from glancing down. He saw enough to confirm that Arden really was stark naked before he closed his eyes and counted silently to ten. Then, when he trusted himself enough to uncurl his fists, he took off his cloak and thrust it at Arden. “Put that on.”
Amy has a terrible weakness for sarcastic dragons, shy boys with sweet smiles, and good pots of tea. She is yet to write a shy, tea-loving dragon, but she’s determined to get there one day (so far, all of her dragons are arrogant gits who prefer red wine). Amy is a quiet Brit with a degree in early English literature, which she blames for her somewhat medieval approach to spelling, and at various times has been fluent in Latin, Old English, Ancient Greek, and Old Icelandic, though these days she mostly uses this knowledge to bore her students. Amy started her first novel twenty-one years ago and has been scribbling away ever since. Despite these long years of experience, she has yet to master the arcane art of the semicolon.