Monday, April 23, 2018

The Knight's Secret (The Mage Conspiracy, Book 1) by Jeffrey Bardwell

Release date: April 8, 2018
Subgenre: Epic fantasy, Dark fantasy

About The Knight's Secret:


Sir Corbin, the retired Hero of Jerkum Pass, rides on one last adventure with the aid of a magic ring. The knight’s quest takes him to the capital of the Iron Empire. The city is in an uproar. The emperor has been slain by rogue mages. The new empress is livid. Soon all mages are suspect . . . including Corbin’s daughter.

Corbin attempts to find allies among his old regiment. The army has become a slithering nest of vipers as imperial mages and cavalrymen move warily around each other. Both sides snare Corbin in tight coils of suspicion, politics, and lies. The hero is caught between a steamy tryst with a jilted mage ex-lover and the tight-lipped scheme of an ex-buddy in the cavalry. When the vengeful empress launches a vendetta against all mage kind, Corbin must decide whether to save his family or preserve the empire.

Only his towering reputation holds the looming conflict at bay. Unfortunately, Sir Corbin is neither the man nor the hero he pretends to be. Unravel The Knight’s Secret, the first fantasy romance of The Mage Conspiracy series. Join the adventure of self discovery, lurid entanglements, and political intrigue where lies cut deeper than any sword.




I rapped my knuckles on the brass and moved the dial to its original position. “Old model here,” I said. “Seems in want of some repair.”
They're heavy to move, sir, and repair costs dear.”
An old story flashed through my mind. In the days of my youth, I had strapped one of these infernal contraptions to my back once. Then I lugged the thing into battle and saved the day. I reached over and patted the brass edifice, keeping the ring at a distance. “Heavy indeed. I know from personal experience.”
The innkeeper nodded and turned to select a key off the rack behind the counter. He offered it to me.
No need to ready a room.” I waved him away and flashed a smile that was unfortunately more gums than teeth. “I'll bunk down with my horse. Done it often enough on past campaigns.”
Past campaigns, sir?” He placed a disturbing emphasis on the word 'past.' The little man dusted the wood with the corner of his apron as his eyes flickered past my tin dress armor and ornate cape. I could see the obvious thoughts marching through his skull. I was dressed more for a ball than a battle. “Surely, you cannot expect us to house a gentlemen of your mature years and advanced . . .”
Just what is he implying? I propped my elbows on the counter and glared at the innkeeper. It was the dark, cloudy expression I borrowed from my son-in-law. The skinny, little miser always looked like a storm was about to break across his face when he caught someone in the family daring to spend coins instead of earning them. I had certainly seen that glare often enough to mimic it: those hooded eyes, that angry, slanted brow, and a forehead you could use as a washboard.
. . . stature,” the man coughed, “with the horses? The Hero of Jerkum Pass cannot sleep in a barn.”
The sheer nerve of this man. Does he think that older heroes are too delicate for straw beds?
The innkeeper turned and clapped his hands. “Marie! The finest silken sheets for our guest. And a bath. Don't spare the aromatic salts. And heat up the finest sweet porridge . . .” His voice dropped off when he turned back and saw my face glowering a flyspeck away from his sweaty brow.
Porridge?” I drummed my fingers on the counter. “Do you serve such filth to every soldier of the empire who walks through your doors? Or just the heroes?”
Marie,” the man squealed. “Only the finest cuts of the pork haunch roasting on the spit for our illustrious guest.”
I nodded and turned towards the door. My hand froze in the act of gathering my kit when I heard the man whispering.
Well-roasted and tender, mind you. Be sure to trim the blackened, gristly bits. And maybe some soft peas and mashed potatoes on the side?” As I whipped around, the innkeeper smiled. “We shall prepare a feast fit for a . . . hero. Now, if you head up the stairs to your room, sir, I believe Marie has drawn you a nice, hot bath.”


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About Jeffrey Bardwell:

Jeffrey Bardwell writes dark fantasy, romance fantasy, and steampunk set in the Metal vs. Magic Universe. His character-driven books are guaranteed to include elements of gritty realism, political intrigue, romantic entanglements, dry wit, and dragons in differing proportions. He devours fantasy and science fiction novels and is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove. When not writing, Jeffrey enjoys cooking, gardening, and shooing baby dragons from the compost bin.

The author lives on a farm and in a prior life worked as a community ecologist. He is overfond of puns and alliterations. He is also an unabashed history and mythology buff. He himself is not buff.

Website | Bookbub | Author Central

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