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Monday, August 23, 2010

Swords/Sorcery/Romantic Family Saga by Author Toni V. Sweeney

Today's guest blog is presented by Toni V. Sweeney!

Toni Sweeney was born in Georgia after the War between the States but before the Gulf War. Her writing career began during an extended convalescence following an automobile accident. Since her recovery, she has survived hurricanes in the South, tornadoes and snow-covered winters in the Midwestern United States, and earthquakes and forest fires in California. She had been associated with the South Coast Writer's Association, the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers website, myspace and YouTube. She presently has numerous novels in publication, as well as several short stories featured in magazines, online, and was featured on's Amazon Shorts.

Latest Book: A Singing in the Blood
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I’ve always loved Sword and Sorcery stories. I read all Robert E. Howard’s stories I could find and when Conan the Barbarian eventually rode onto the silver screen, wielding a broadsword with both hands, I was in the audience, gasping and goggling, not knowing that within a few years I’d be living in California and Conan himself would be governor of the Sunshine State. I was well into writing romantic adventures by that time, and my love of SS (which had now degenerated into being called “medieval romances”) wove itself through the series I entitled The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic.

Like Conan, my hero Riven kan Ingan is a barbarian, the son of a wolfhead, a barbarian mercenary hired by the Margrave of Francovia. Unlike Robert E. Howard’s Cimmerian, however, when his father, who became the king’s favorite warrior, is killed in battle, Riven is adopted by His Majesty and raised with his own children. In spite of this, he’s never allowed to forget his foreign background. It is this and his self-professed disbelief in the gods which governs most of Riven’s behavior and sets him on a road leading from a captaincy in the Margrave’s army to becoming one of the most influential men in Francovia.

A Singing in the Blood is the third book in The Chronicles. It's a romance, a partial fantasy, and a family saga as well, because in these stories, the characters grow and change, in appearance, age, and their beliefs and convictions as well.

In the first story, Bloodseek, the hero Riven kan Ingan was a heretic, a disbeliever in the gods, he is in his mid-twenties, an arrogant young man aware of his lowly birth. Having been raised by the king after his father is killed in His Majesty's service, Riven is also privileged. A schemer, he decides to marry the king's daughter so he can pay back those who've looked down on him for being a barbarian's child. As will happen, however, his plans go awry, and those very gods he denies send him into the arms of the woman he will love forever...Barbara, a very young, very brave barbarian girl barely in her teens.

In the second book, Blood Curse, Riven is in his mid-thirties, Barbara her early twenties. He marries the woman of his heart and for her sake, resigns from the army and accepts a title from His Majesty. Now the Barbarian's Whelp is a Noble of the Realm and with it comes all responsibilities and griefs, for Riven is now accountable not only for himself and his wife but for a manor, an estate, and a village full of peasants. Tragedy involving Barbara's death sends him on a quest which will change his life forever and make him accept those gods whose existence he's denied. When he's at last allowed to return home, he brings with him a son, the child of his union with a barbarian woman who cared for him during an illness resulting in the blindness of which he's now cured. Back at his manor, he discovers another miracle--Barbara is still alive and he has another son. With his new family, he seeks forgiveness from those whom he wronged.

A Singing in the Blood opens on a Riven now in his early fifties age, a man loved by peasants, servants, and friends. He's negotiated a peace with the barbarians; his wife's people now come into Francovia, settled there and intermarry, some actually becoming nobles themselves. Oh, there's some strife...what household wouldn’t have it, with four teenaged boys and one daughter? Son Val seems determined to be at odds with his father no matter what the subject, second son Ilke wants to become a priest, the twins are forever into some mischief or another, only daughter Llani does what he tells her. Plus Val is jealous of Ilke because he's the son of Riven's second wife. Nevertheless, Riven is happy, and as much in love with Barbara as ever, but everything changes when Meraud, his good friend, drinking companion, and now ruler of Francovia, dies mysteriously and his son the Prince, whose sanity has always been questioned, comes to the throne. Morling hates foreigners, of which there are a goodly plenty in Francovia, thanks to Riven's peace efforts, and the mad young king is determined to get rid of all of them, beginning with his father's and his grandfather's favorites...the kan Ingans themselves.

That's the introduction to the third novel. Called once again to make his pledge of loyalty to the king, Riven has to choose. Will he give back this madman and persecute those people who have become his friends or will he refuse and become one of them? One choice means safety for everyone he holds dear; the other means destruction and the death of a traitor to the crown. On a bright winter day with the snow covering the trees, Riven, with son Val, makes his way to the capitol city, to announce his decision--and change the fate of the entire planet forever…

A Singing in the Blood is available in ebook and print from Double Dragon Publications.

In spite of his volatile relationship with his eldest son , life for Riven kan Ingan is very good indeed. His estate prospers, the land is at peace, and the barbarian tribes of Ghermia are now the Margrave's allies. Riven and his wife, Barbara, prepare to welcome another child into their household. When a new sovereign comes to power, however, civil war isn't far behind, and Riven is forced to make a choice between following a madman or being declared a traitor to the land he loves.

In the morning, the midwife was brought from the village but the day wore on and the child didn't come.

On the second day, Ynes barred Riven from the bedchamber. There was no malice in the action. One patient, she felt, was enough. Riven couldn't help and the sight of Barbara's bloodless face, her golden hair darkened with sweat, and the sound of her cries made his own face blanch with worry. Not resisting, Riven allowed himself to be banished from her presence.

Early the next morning, the Physician was summoned, and that in itself was rare, for 'twas unusual for the Leech to treat a woman in childbirth.

Riven found himself wishing for Ischa, the narcotic green wine used by the Cymenean warriors--some Ishca to give his little warrior, to kill the pain of the war for life she was waging. Though the Leech had similar drugs, he refused to give them, for they deadened the mind as well as the body and he feared she wouldn't be able to respond when her cooperation was needed.

Late that night, the Physician took drastic measures. Appearing in the chamber where Riven brooded before the fire, Ynes ran past him to the window where she seized the tieback braids, jerking them from the drapes. Unbound, the heavy curtains fell together, plunging the entire room into darkness.

Groping for the tinderbox upon the mantel, he struck flint against flint and lit the candles in the massive candlabrum there. He turned as she reached out and untied the lacing of his overtunic, pulling the string from the eyelets and dropping it upon the floor. The garment fell open revealing the white cambric longshirt he wore underneath.

"Ynes, are you mad?" He caught at the tunic, pulling it together. "What are you doing?"

Kneeling, she unlaced his boots. "We must untie every knot and unlock every lock. 'Tis the Leech's orders. Nothing must be closed."

Understanding what she meant, he pulled them off. Nothing must be closed, nothing must make an obstacle to prevent the child's coming into the world.

"Here, wear these!" For the first time, he saw that she carried a pair of soft house slippers. "You've been a noble a dozen years, Riven. Surely you know by now a Giarl doesn't stride through his home dressed as if he's riding off to war! 'Tis time that changed." This last was muttered under her breath.

Silently, she surveyed him, then reached out and flicked open the two buttons at the throat of his longshirt, caught the sleeves of his tunic and jerked it off his shoulders. As Riven stood there, barefoot, in just his shirt, he felt absurdly like a child being dressed by its nurse. Ynes held out a robe, placing the slippers on the floor.

As he straightened from sliding his feet into them and gathered the robe about himself, she smiled. "Now you look as you should when in your home."

In spite of these preparations, the child remained unborn, though every door in the castle was left ajar and all windows unbolted and all knots and other fastenings untied. The servants weren't even allowed to clasp their hands together, but the third day arrived with Barbara still in labor.

Riven was allowed to see her briefly that morning. As he stood there trying to decide what to say, she turned her head to look at him, raising one wavering hand to brush the hair out of her face.

"I vow, Riven, next time I'll think twice before I lie with you!" To his surprise, she gave him a weak but mischievous smile.

"I'll only have to remember this," he told her, swearing in his own mind he'd never touch her again if she was going to have such prolonged suffering while at the same time knowing he'd forget such a promise once she was well again.

She caught his hand, pulling him closer, under he was bending over the bed.

"Call Corvus." The words were whispered.  Then she closed her eyes again and astonished him by falling asleep.

He stood for several minutes holding her hand, then turned away to do her bidding. Things were desperate indeed if Barbara herself was asking for the priest of Ildred.




I'm putting all 3 books on my TBB list.


Tina Donahue said...

What a great title, Toni - loved the excerpt. :)

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