Organized by Storytellers On Tour, today, along with several other bloggers and bookstagrammers, we present to you The Iron Crown, L.L. MacRae‘s Epic Fantasy novel, the first in the Dragon Spirits seires! Make sure to check out their posts as well! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Lauren is a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure. Her books usually contain dragons, rarely feature romance, and are typically fun and hopeful. She lives in a tiny village in the UK, has a degree in Psychology, and was a professional copywriter before going full-time as an author (it’s just more fun to write about dragons than corporate copy!) She has previously published under the name L.L. McNeil.
Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name.
Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors.
But her mother is the least of her worries when they discover an ancient enemy is rising again. It should be impossible with the Iron Crown in power—and Fenn is terrified he might unwittingly be playing a part in the war’s resurgence.
Surrounded by vengeful spirits and powerful magic, Fenn’s desperate attempt to find his way home might well alter the fate of Tassar, and every power in it.
A new high fantasy series bursts into life with the DRAGON SPIRITS who reign supreme in the magic-drenched world of Tassar.
Excerpt from The Iron Crown by L.L. MacRae
Fenn managed to stay on his hands and knees for a few seconds before collapsing onto the dew-covered grass, panting heavily. Glancing back down at himself, he realised he’d lost a shoe somewhere in the fetid pool. There was no going back for it now. His lower half was completely caked in the stinking, oozing mud, and all his clothes were ruined, anyway. It hardly mattered that he was missing a shoe, too.
Besides, that was the least of his worries.
The vine had spoken to him, hadn’t it? Or had that been part of a headache-induced hallucination? The pain hadn’t left him. And the vine wasn’t speaking now. There were distant sounds in the trees: birds and squirrels chittering, the drip of water somewhere, the rustle of leaves in the breeze.
Nothing here was familiar. And nothing made any sense. He had no idea where he was, how he’d got there, or—more worryingly, now he had time to consider it—no recollection of who he was. Where had he been? Who…who was he?
His name floated up from the darkness of his mind. But other than that? There was…nothing. The more he tried to think, the less he knew. Memories slipped through his grasp like water through his fingers. His mind was a tangle of confusion, as though a dense fog had taken up residence and settled down over everything that made sense.
Several lines of crimson criss-crossed his flushed arms and hands, the stinging intensifying now he was still, especially where the stinking mud touched it. He raised his left arm to his face, wondering if there was poison in the thorns. Perhaps that was causing the hallucinations? The memory issues?
Something moved just outside his peripheral vision. A shadow, shifting along the leaf litter covering the forest floor. Fenn turned, breath held in case it was one of the numerous predators that made the trees their home. After saving himself from drowning, it would be just his luck to be devoured by a bear.
A hiss rippled through the undergrowth.
Perhaps it wasn’t a bear. They didn’t hiss.
‘Who…who’s there?’ He staggered to his feet, wet mud dripping from his body, trying to get a better look between the trees. His one bare foot squelched with each step, and he suppressed a shudder. He hadn’t fully recovered from the talking vine—if it really had been talking—and wasn’t sure he could face a new threat quite so soon.
A sudden cold wind snaked through the trees, turning the damp air into freezing mist. The grass wilted away, shrinking down to the ground. Even the trees seemed to sag. Fenn shivered at the drop in temperature and the growing tension that came with it. The hiss sounded again—no more than a few feet away.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as the mist crept across the mud pool, frosting the top layer. Fenn saw his breath in the air on his next exhale, and gritted his teeth, expecting to be snatched away and eaten by some frost monster.
‘My, my, my…where have you come from?’
It wasn’t the vine talking. Not this time. The disembodied voice came from the mist itself—across the pool within the shadows, just hidden out of view. Not trusting himself to speak, Fenn kept his mouth shut and eyes wide open, ready to react.
The hiss shifted into a low growl, and the mist coalesced on top of the frozen mud pool. It churned like water over a fall, until solid shapes formed. A sinuous, reptilian body. Scales. Claws. Wings. A tail. Two golden eyes with vertical slit pupils that stared directly at him.
Fenn’s breath caught. Even if he’d wanted to talk, he couldn’t. His voice had left him.
The dragon’s nostrils flared, sending up a plume of smoke that joined the mist wreathing the trees. Its skin was mottled green, like the forest around it, with darker stippling along its back and legs. Its wings were thin and membranous, the pattern on its skin identical to the tree’s leaves. Four large horns protruded from the back of its head, and long, green vines dangled between them. Although easily as large as the bear Fenn feared it had been, it wasn’t as bulky, and it shimmered in the pale sunlight—becoming translucent every few seconds.
Waiting for a response, the dragon flexed its wings.
Memory loss was one thing. A talking plant was another. Now a dragon had appeared out of the mist, Fenn was sure he wasn’t entirely in his right mind. He blinked rapidly, hoping to clear the visual and auditory hallucinations he was most definitely experiencing. But the dragon remained. If anything, it looked mildly irritated at being ignored. Another plume of smoke rose from its nostrils and one long, sharp fang protruded from its upper jaw.
‘What…are you?’ It was a stupid question, but the only one Fenn could come up with. He took a few steps away from the now icy mud pool and the dragon standing atop it.
Lowering its head to the torn vine, the dragon breathed gently over it, and a cloud of thick, green smoke drifted out from its jaws. At the smoke’s touch, the vine’s tendrils lifted, wrapped around one another, and knitted themselves back together, as if Fenn had never ripped it. Even the lost thorns regrew, pushing through the vine’s flesh like new teeth.
The dragon let out another growl, its muscles bunched up as it studied Fenn through bright, golden eyes. In a flash, the dragon charged at him. Fenn leapt back, tripping over a tree root and slamming the back of his head against the trunk. The dragon roared as it leapt into the sky with a beat of its wings, before it shifted into a thousand green scales that burst into fragments of light.
Fenn gasped in shock and watched as overhead, every individual scale shifted from light into countless silver butterflies. Air forced from his lungs, Fenn could do nothing but groan and gaze up in wonder as the thousand butterflies reformed overhead, turning back into the translucent green dragon that soared underneath the canopy, mist wreathing its limbs.
A shaft of sunlight broke through the leaves and cast rainbows of light on the forest floor where it touched the dragon. It arced in the sky, powering on wings of pressed silver, before it dived towards the ground—directly at him.
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