Today I’d like to introduce Gwen Perkins, author of the Artifacts of Empire series. The second book of the series, The Jealousy Glass, was released on November 28 and has been getting a number of 4 and 5 star reviews. Want to know what the fuss is about? Well, here’s a sneak peek:
Excerpt from Chapter 1, The Jealousy Glass
The white monster swooped down.
All that Asahel could see was a cloud of pale feathers as the Rukh lashed out at the cannon that had fired. Screams throbbed around him as the Rukh lifted, golden talons now rusted with blood. Broken bodies lay on the wood, ribs smashed by the weight of unearthly claws. The men were too distant for Asahel to put faces to as he fell to the deck, heart pounding at the sound of the wings beating once more.
The Rukh dove again, its beak rending the ship’s prow. The heavy timbers cracked like bones against the pressure. A slow tearing sound cut through the haze of chaos settling over the ship as panic took hold. Spice spilled out of the hold the beast had torn open. Pungent scents of oil and cedar clouded the air as chests smashed against the bow, breaking apart into the water below.
Asahel crawled on his knees toward the heart of the battle, his eyes stinging red from the spices in the air. The Rukh thrashed as another cannon fired its shot, black powder belching into the fading light. Angry cries from the monster above filled his ears as it lurched down, plucking a sailor off the deck and squeezing its talons tightly around the man’s midsection. Another series of screams began as the ship’s port side blazed into flames, but he kept moving toward starboard, trying to reach the first cannon that had been fired.
“Zuane!” He called, hoping that the captain was near. When that failed, Asahel shouted out for others. “Felix! Nicolas!” His knee edged forward as he crawled, the coarse wool of his trousers suddenly damp. He looked down to see the blood of the fallen pooling in the cracks of the boards.
He was near the side of the Serenissma. Asahel stood, crouching each time the Rukh let out another shriek. Black smoke surrounded him, choking his lungs as he turned. The white beast had grown dim as the wall of fire leapt up, flames feeding on the ship’s planking.
Asahel turned but did not see who could have called him.
“Where are you?” He whispered, afraid to raise his voice. He saw a pair of hands gripping the railing. He reached out, his own strong fingers clutching them and pulling the man toward the deck. He could feel Felix shudder as he came up over the rail, his thin body battered. The older man began to cough almost immediately as Asahel helped him back to the deck. They stared through the flames at the carnage.
The Serenissma wrenched sharply to the right. The Rukh cawed as it rose, white wings blotting out what was left of the sun. Water splashed across the wood, shooting up from the hold as the lower decks flooded.
“We’ve got to get out of here,” Asahel said.
“There’s no rafts.” Felix coughed and leaned back against the rail. His eyes were bright with a fear the other man had never seen.
“Aye.” The fire was close enough to warm them both. Which will it be? Asahel thought. Burning or drowning?
“I can’t swim.”
“Sure, and now you tell me.” Asahel steadied his expression for Felix’s sake, more nervous than he let on. The Soames family had been merchants and traders for generations. Unlike Felix, Asahel had been raised at water’s edge.
“I never expected it to come up.” Felix grimaced. “I know. We’re on a boat. Clearly, I was being an optimist.”
“Ship,” Asahel corrected gently, looking over his shoulder at the waves.
“Grave—if we don’t do something shortly.” Felix inhaled, his body clenched as he turned his back on the flames. The Serenissma was moving downwards rapidly. The remaining sailors leapt from the deck, disappearing into the churning tides as they plummeted through the darkness. He looked at Asahel, his mouth twisting into a crooked grin. “No time like the present.”
Felix climbed back up on the railing, sweat trickling down his forehead, his skin mottled with bruise and shadow. Asahel followed, his own ungainly body slower to take action. The two men looked at one another a last time, then back at the burning ship.
With one breath, they jumped.
Gwen Perkins is a museum curator who holds a MA in Military History. She has written for a number of magazines, exhibitions and nonfiction publications. This interest in history fueled the creation of the world of her Artifacts of Empire series, inspired in part by people and events of the medieval and Renaissance periods.
Gwen is presently hard at work on a number of projects, including an illustrated dark fantasy novel with Wilson Fabián Saravia. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. As it happens, today is also her birthday so I’d like to take this occasion to wish her many happy returns of the day.
Thanks Gwen! The book looks fascinating and that excerpt really has me wanting more. If anyone would like to read on, they can find The Jealousy Glass at Amazon as an ebook.
Today is also my last post for 2012. I would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season, and I will be back blogging from January 7. Happy Christmas, everyone!