Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Defenders' Apprentice (Dragonsfall, Book 1) by Amelia Smith

Release date: June 28, 2016
Subgenre: Epic fantasy, dark fantasy

About The Defenders' Apprentice


The Defenders' order is dying, but that's no surprise. After all, they've been in hiding for over a hundred years, and apprentices are getting harder to find – hardly anyone can see the dragons any more.

Eppie picked pockets on the streets of Anamat for years before one of the Defenders noticed her. She hid well, but one day she picked the wrong pocket, or was it the right one? She sets out to help try to save the dragon Tiada, but if her mentor and the others fall in the battle, who will defend the dragons against the next set of invaders?



Thorat’s sword hand moved reflexively to stop the fingers reaching for his pocket. He twisted the wrist before he even looked to see who the pickpocket was.
“Ow!” the scrappling said.
It was the same one who had just left the temple against the priestess’s orders.
“Stay,” Thorat commanded. The scrappling tugged, but he had a firm grip on the wrist. The prayer droned on and he mumbled along, tightening his grasp now and then to keep the pickpocket near.
As the prayer drew to a close, the novices surrounding Iola rang a chorus of bells. Thorat looked up into her eyes. Every time he saw her felt like the first time they had met on that mountain path, the first time he had come to save her. His heart yearned to do it again, to save her forever.
The thief slipped out of his grasp. Iola wasn’t supposed to be looking at him, anyway, wasn’t even supposed to know him. Thorat grabbed at the twice-escaping miscreant.
The scrappling would have gotten away, but just then, a dragonlet scurried along a wall, and he – or she – stopped to watch. So did Thorat. The dragonlet’s crossing gave him just enough time to reach the pickpocket and grab an arm. Thorat watched the dragonlet go. A look of confusion crossed the scrappling’s face.
“What are you looking at?” the scrappling demanded.
Thorat studied the face, dirty and thin. The scrappling had short, ragged hair, and was a little too tall to have no whisper of hair on the upper lip, if this were a boy, but too sharp and awkward to be a girl. But then, some girls were sharp and awkward.
“I believe I was looking at the same thing you were,” he said.
“I wasn’t looking at nothing!”
“I think you were,” Thorat said.
“You can’t arrest me,” the scrappling said. “You’re not even the watch. You’re just a palace guard. Governor’s toady.”
Thorat sighed. He hated even looking like the governor’s toady even when it was only for a day or two at Midsummer, and he hadn’t officially been hired. It stopped people from asking questions—stopped most people, anyway. The youngster squirmed.
“No, I can’t arrest you,” he said. “You should be more careful whose pockets you pick, though. I’m just a poor guardsman. Besides, I used to be the best pickpocket in the East Market.”
The scrappling snorted. The gate was open now, and the ones who had gotten their share of festival bread were hurrying out to take cover in their own corners of the city.
The dragonlet reappeared, dancing along the roofline of the building opposite, one of the weavers’ warehouses. It glinted red and gold, dancing on the red-brown tiles of the roof, then disappeared. When Thorat looked down, the scrappling was still following some motion there with her—or his—eyes.
“Is it still there?” he asked.
“What?” the scrappling said. “Let me go!”
For a moment, their eyes met. He knew, they both knew, what they had just seen. “I believe that only a very few of the priestesses would have seen that,” he said quietly.
“I won’t be a priestess,” the scrappling said.
“Can’t be, or won’t?”
“What’s it to you?” she said.
“Nothing much,” Thorat said. “But if you don’t want to be one, you’d better find something else to do, and soon.”
One of the red-robed priestesses was talking to the one at the gate, pointing at the scrappling girl whose wrist was locked in his grip.
“I’ve got to go,” the girl said, pulling away.
“I have work for you,” Thorat said. “Meet me at the top of the first bridge over the east canal at sundown.” A worried look crossed the girl’s face for a moment, quickly replaced by affected nonchalance. She nodded, and he released her. She ran full tilt toward the east canal, her festival bread held tight against her chest.
“I have an aunt who needs help with her housekeeping,” Thorat shouted after her, not that she would believe him.

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About Amelia Smith:

Amelia Smith writes magazine articles about Martha's Vineyard, fantasy sagas about dragons, and blog posts about nothing in particular. To learn more about her, visit www.ameliasmith.net.

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