Today I’m delighted to be joining the Storytellers on Tour Release Day Blitz for Eye of Obscurance by Jeffrey L. Kohanek the first in the Fate of Wizardoms series. Below you’ll find an extract to whet your appetite as well as an opportunity to win either a complete set of the series, or a copy of the Eye of Obscurance for yourself (US only).
A rollicking adventure: Can a quick-witted thief assassinate an almighty wizard lord?
Power. The ambitious thirst for it.
In a realm where wizards rule, those able to claim a throne are granted the power of a god.
How can one defeat a god?
A clever thief, a determined acrobat, and a troubled dwarf are joined by an old storyteller as they attempt the impossible: Assassinate a wizard lord. Their slim hope relies on an enchanted amulet, the Eye of Obscurance.
These unwitting pawns are embroiled in a contest of wizards. The stakes: The fate of the world.
From bestselling author Jeffrey L. Kohanek comes the first novel in an epic fantasy saga where magic reigns, wizards scheme for power, and the world teeters on the edge of breaking, perfect for readers who enjoy Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, or Robert Jordan.
The Price of Reputation
The peal of bells greeted the rising sun, and the portcullis began to rise. Travelers – some on foot, some on horseback, some on wagons – began to filter into Fastella. Perched on the roof of The Briar Patch, an inn located across the square inside the gate, Jace waited. Back when he lived in Fastella, he had spent many evenings in the taproom tossing dice with travelers who were unaware of his exploits. A number of years and many escapades had passed since then, but some of his favorite memories came from The Briar Patch.
The square below began to fill with farmers’ carts and citizens seeking fresh produce. A beggar, a young boy Jace did not know, settled at one intersection. He was sure the boy worked for Cordelia. They all did.
A familiar sound arose – the steadily rising staccato of horses approaching. A cluster of twenty-some riders emerged from a narrow street and crossed the square. At their head was a standard depicting a purple hound on a field of yellow. The robed figure beside the pennant was easy to place. Tall and thin with a brown beard and dark eyes, Eldalain led his retinue through the gate and out of the city. A distant shout arose as the man kicked his horse forward, his entire squad racing north at a gallop.
Jace smiled. “At least some things remain predictable.”
He noticed a flicker of movement on the roof beside his own. It didn’t take him long to guess who it might be.
“You can come out, Rindle,” Jace shouted.
Rindle stood and approached, his frown mirroring his thin mustache. “What are you up to, Jerrell?”
“I thought it might be a nice morning for some rooftop thinking.”
“Really? Overlooking the gate where Prince Eldalain just rode out?”
“Was that him?” Jace did his best to sound shocked. “Huh. I wonder where he is heading.”
“Come now, Jerrell,” Rindle snarled. “I don’t know why Cordelia places so much faith in you.”
“Perhaps it is my handsome looks. Or maybe even my charm.” Jace grinned. “Or maybe it’s because I have yet to fail.”
“Things change,” Rindle sneered. “I had never failed, either, until your interference.”
“I was merely doing my job. It’s not my fault you took the same contract with another party.”
“And that was when she invited me in.”
Jace sighed. “Why not just let it go, Rindle? The past is the past. Leave it there and look toward the future. I don’t want your job, nor do I wish to control these streets. I plan to complete my contract and leave Fastella, which can’t come soon enough.”
“That’s why you sent Eldalain away,” Rindle said with narrowed eyes. “You wanted him out of your hair so you could get to Taladain without having to deal with two wizards.”
Jace snickered. “Amazing. You actually have a brain in that pin-sized head.”
Rindle glared back. “Keep laughing. Your arrogance will be the end of you.”
“Of that, I have no doubt. However, many years will pass before then.”
“Don’t be so sure.” Rindle walked away, speaking over his shoulder. “Good luck with Taladain. You’ll need it.”
Jace frowned, watching Rindle’s back as the man departed. He knows something. Whatever it is, he believes it will be the end of me.
After stewing a moment longer, Jace decided it was time to return to the inn. He ran across three rooftops before leaping the gap over a narrow alley. Continuing, he crossed another eight rooftops, then moved to the edge. A familiar building stood across the street, the front adorned with a sign depicting a goat licking the foam off a tankard of ale.
The climb down to the second-story balcony was a simple task. The drop from the balcony to the front porch awning took but a moment. When he lowered himself to the street, he smiled at a well-dressed woman walking past. A big man walked at her side, glaring at him with suspicious eyes. The woman had pale hair, blue eyes, and sufficient curves to draw Jace’s attention. Despite his best smile, the woman frowned and steered clear, giving him a sidelong look of disdain, as if he were covered in manure.
“Stuck-up wizardess,” he muttered, glaring at her bodyguard’s back.
The bodyguard’s head was on a swivel, watching for any threats as he escorted the woman he was paid to protect. There was a time Jace had considered becoming a bodyguard, deciding against it. Lacking height and bulk, others constantly underestimated him, which was a bad fit. A good bodyguard had an intimidating appearance, the mere threat of their presence doing most of the work. Jace was just too inviting a target. He didn’t need that sort of aggravation.
He entered the inn and passed through the dining area where three tables were occupied by guests having breakfast. A hand went to his inside coat pocket, confirming the item he had retrieved that morning had not fallen out. Thank Gheald, he thought. The jeweler had done a fine job, but the fast turnaround had cost Jace double. To lose it after paying five gold pieces would be more than disheartening.
He cut through the building and emerged in the stable yard.
Rhoa and Rawk were there, her standing on his shoulders. Rawk’s thick hands gripped her ankles.
“Now, let go and hold your palms open in front of you,” Rhoa instructed.
The dwarf did as she asked, slowly releasing his grip. With her arms extended for balance, the acrobat shifted one foot, then the other, until she stood on his palms. Jace leaned against the wall and crossed his legs at the ankles to watch the show.
Rhoa spoke while balancing on the short man’s palms. “When I bend my knees, wait a beat, then push up with all your might.”
“All right,” Rawk said.
Still balancing on Rawk’s hands, just above his shoulders, Rhoa squatted. With a grunt, Rawk thrust his arms up. At the same time, Rhoa leapt, twisting and flipping in the air, her arms in tight, her body spinning in a blur. She fell toward the ground, uncoiled, and landed lightly, her feet shifting slightly to avoid falling before she raised her arms high and bowed.
Hal, who sat in the shade of the stable wall, clapped and whooped.
Jace joined the stable hand’s applause, clapping as he strolled to the middle of the yard. “Very nice, Rhoa. Perhaps we do have a shot with this little show.”
The clopping of hooves came from the alley just before a familiar horse emerged. A small cart followed, Salvon holding the reins.
“Whoa,” the old man shouted and pulled the horse to a stop.
Hal stood and dusted off his trousers. He then walked to Jabbers and began disconnecting him from the cart.
“Where have you been?” Jace asked.
The storyteller climbed down and dug through the back of his cart. “Procuring costumes.” He pulled out a bundle of blue and red cloth, tossing it to Rhoa.
“What is this?” she asked.
Salvon grinned and reached for the next bundle. “That, my dear, is a jester costume.” He then tossed the other bundle to Rawk.
“What is a jester?” Rawk’s face twisted in question.
“I am so glad you asked,” Salvon said with a smile. “In my travels, I have been many places and seen many things. Decades ago, I was part of a show featuring floridly dressed characters known as jesters. I would play lively tunes while these jesters performed. Adorned with bells on their hats and shoes, they would perform comedic acts with an acrobatic flair.”
Jace crossed his arms. “What does that mean?”
“Rawk and Rhoa are going to give Taladain a show unlike any other. I will recite a tale of a ridiculous hero, while they act it out in a combination of acrobatic stunts and physical comedy.”
Jace held his question while he waited for Hal to walk Jabbers into the stable. He then leaned toward Salvon. “What about me?”
“Oh, I have that figured out, as well.” The old man gave Jace a nod. “It was your idea to procure a position as a servant in the palace. You will proceed with your plan and help us gain additional intelligence. When the time comes, you must ensure you are among the servants present while we perform. Of course, the performance will not end quite the way Lord Taladain expects.”
Jace frowned. “I don’t yet have the proper clothing for a servant. You keep changing the plans on me, so I didn’t bother visiting a tailor.”
Salvon reached into the back of his cart and drew out another bundle, tossing it to Jace. “Already addressed, my dear boy. I believe you will find it fits you well enough.” He grinned. “You don’t even need to dress as a woman this time, Jerrell.”
Eyes narrowed, Jace stared at the man. “You have done some research, I see.”
“You are not the only one with eyes and ears in this city. I would not have survived this long without a few tricks of my own. Information is a valuable commodity, as you are quite aware.”
“Who is Jerrell?” Rhoa asked.
Salvon arched a brow. “You have never heard of the great Jerrell Landish?”
She furrowed her brow at Jace. “Isn’t that the name you asked me about when we first met?”
“If you don’t know of Jerrell Landish, perhaps you have heard of the trouble High Wizard Montague ran into a few years ago?” Salvon arched his brow at Jace. “It involves some rather…lewd behavior.”
“That was a contract I should have declined,” Jace muttered.
Rhoa glared at him. “Why the fake name?”
Jace grit his teeth, not caring for the path the discussion was taking. Reluctantly, he explained. “The Montague encounter wasn’t my only famous exploit. The name Jerrell became too well known and drew too much attention. A couple years ago, I began using Jace to remain less conspicuous.”
“I don’t understand,” Rawk said. “Who is this Jerrell?”
Salvon clapped the dwarf on the shoulder while smiling at Jace. “Jerrell Landish is a master thief, able to break into any stronghold. He can even steal the smallclothes right off you without you knowing it.”
Rawk’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Why would you wish to steal someone else’s smallclothes?”
“Why, indeed,” Salvon said, still grinning at Jace.
Jace growled, “Perhaps someone bet a large sum that it couldn’t be done.”
Salvon laughed. “I knew it!”
Rhoa crossed her arms. “If you try to steal my smallclothes, you’ll find yourself leaking blood from a hole you would rather not have.”
Jace sighed. “Oh, for Gheald’s sake. I’m not going to steal anyone’s smallclothes. It was a one-time thing.”
“I suppose stripping a wizard naked and tying him to a bed was also a one-time thing?” Salvon’s grin grew wider.
“Of course, it was!” Frustrated, Jace squeezed his fists until his knuckles turned white. “I don’t have to explain my actions to you, so just let it drop.”
The old man laughed. Even Rhoa and Rawk chuckled as Jace glared back at them.
“If you three are through harassing me, I need to change and see about a job at the palace.”
Laughter continued while Jace stomped to the rear entrance of the inn, opened the door, and slammed it behind him.
About the Author:
Jeffrey L. Kohanek grew up in rural Minnesota where comic books sparked his young imagination, inspiring fantasies of heroes with super-powers saving the day. His tastes later evolved to fantasy epics featuring unlikely heroes overcoming impossible odds to save worlds born from the writer’s imagination.
Now residing in southern California, Jeff uses that imagination to weave tales of engaging characters caught in fantastic plots to inspire young adults and the child within us all.
GRAND PRIZE: Signed copies of all six books in Jeffrey L. Kohanek’s FATE OF WIZARDOMS series (US Only)
RUNNERS-UP: One (1) of three (3) signed paperbacks of Eye of Obscurance by Jeffrey L. Kohanek (US Only)
Starts: May 18th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: May 21st, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
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