Thanks to Sara & Justin @ Escapist Tours for allowing me the opportunity to join in on the Book Tour for A Touch of Light (The Ashes of Avarin #1). Big shoutout to Thiago on his debut release!
Below, you will find information on the book, links to purchase, information on the author including where you can find him on social media, my chat with Thiago, an excerpt from the novel, and a GIVEAWAY!!!!!!
A Touch of Light by Thiago Abdalla
Series: The Ashes of Avarin
Genre: Epic/Grimdark Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: March 1st, 2022
Publisher: The Alterian Press (Self Published)
The dead shall not be mourned or remembered, for death is the enemy, and will only drive the Seraph away.
The Domain is the bastion of life. The Seraph blesses her faithful with endless years, and death is kept away in hope for Her return, but The Domain nations are not the only ones in Avarin. They have managed only a tenuous peace with the clans to the south, who believe life must be returned to the Earth to keep it whole.
Yet the world of Avarin is changing.
In the clanlands, parts of the Earth seem to be withering away, while in the Domain, a deadly frenzy spreads among the people. It brings darkness to the minds of men and bloodlust to their hearts.
This sickness threatens more than just the peace in the realm, it imperils its very heart.
Now the people of Avarin must fight to save it, before death comes for them all.
Dive into this sweeping epic fantasy saga where religion and politics are one, magic brings terror into the hearts of men, and a looming blight threatens to tear everything down.
(This is our attempt at a bit of fun. We ask our authors to come up with a few short, clever, possibly pop culture laden, descriptions of their books just to give a little taste of what’s to come for readers.)
You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry • Is it Just Me or is it Getting Hot in Here? • Why So Serious?
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09GHJNMPD
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09GHJNMPD
Author Bio & Information
Thiago was born in Brazil but grew up in the fantasy worlds from the stories he kept in his mind. He has inhabited everywhere from Middle-Earth and Azeroth to the planes of Dominaria, Ravnica and Tarkir. No matter the medium, what kept him coming back was always his love for story.
He could never wait for the next world to dive into, so, after being (indirectly) urged on by the (printed) words of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Patrick Rothfuss, N. K. Jemisin and many, many others, decided to create his own.
Thiago Abdalla (@TAbdalla) / Twitter
Thiago Abdalla (@tabdalla_author) • Instagram
Thiago Abdalla | Facebook
The dead shall not be mourned or remembered, for death is the enemy and will only drive the Seraph away. To keep death in our hearts is to delay Her return in the Promised Dawn.
— The Book of the Blood
Father’s officers shuffled around the map on the council room table, pointing out routes and offering suggestions, each one more certain than the last about the location of the missing airship. Half a dozen voices, all arguing over whose unsuitable excuse would be brought to the king. Adrian stood by the window with his back to them, gaze set on the palace grounds, mind set on his brother.
Jovu would’ve had theories of his own, no doubt, and the officers would likely have followed them. It should have been him standing in the room instead of Adrian—Father would certainly say so—but everything had changed when Jovu died, and Adrian was all that was left.
None mentioned the dead prince, of course. They’d never risk falling out of the Church’s grace by speaking of the dead. But that didn’t stop the questions in Adrian’s mind.
Why had Father sent Jovu into the clanlands in the first place? Why had the Pontiff not preserved Jovu’s body to be brought back in the Promised Dawn? They’d
followed the Church of the Seraph, lived for hundreds of years off what the Pontiff called Her blessings, but how much was each year worth if Jovu’s name couldn’t ever be spoken again?
Adrian let out a long breath and turned to look at the officers, still arguing around the map of the Domain. He’d never even believed in the blessings, and he was sure his years came from the power of his family’s blood, not some misguided notion that the Seraph found them worthy. Yet Father seemed to have a different opinion, and it was strong enough to sacrifice the memory of his eldest son.
He left the men to argue in the room and paced down the corridor until he reached the open doors of the reflection hall. Myrra sat on a low stone bench in the center of the rectangular chamber, head bowed, hands on her lap, while priests tended to scriptures and images of griffin riders carved into the walls. They brushed off motes of dust that drifted in the rays of sunlight streaming in from the openings above.
Adrian watched her for a while. Silent. Holding back any expression that could alert the priests to his true feelings about Jovu. One of the clergymen lingered on him—his eyes inviting Adrian into the chamber, perhaps—but he managed nothing other than a frown in return. His own eyes were still dry from the lack of sleep, his throat still tight from strangling down the tears he could not show.
He shifted his feet, and the clinking of his sword caught Myrra’s attention. She rose and walked toward him with a solemn aspect of her own, while Adrian forced a steady gaze into his eyes and a weak smile onto his lips—his best attempt at masking the ache tearing at his chest.
She stepped into the corridor and tilted her head while pulling him away from the sight of the priests.
“You don’t have to put on that face with me,” she said in a gentle voice.
Adrian’s mouth twisted, and he closed his eyes, trying to keep back the pain that was seeping through. She stepped up and kissed him lightly on the lips.
“I’ll always be here for you,” she said, then gave him a smile, much warmer than his own. It was veiled by the waves of her auburn hair but touched her leaf-green eyes and was as soft as the lines of her face. He held her gaze for a while, hoping he could forget all of it, wake up from whatever madness had fallen upon them.
“He shouldn’t have gone,” Adrian said.
“You shouldn’t dwell on this, Adrian. We should look ahead.”
“He attacked the clans, Myrra!” Adrian started moving down the hallway, struggling to keep his voice down, and she followed. “Jovu had been the leader of the Othonean armies for over a hundred years. He never attacked the clans. Not even the Pontiff would have ordered it.”
“Wasn’t he expanding the Domain?”
Adrian shook his head. “No. I . . . heard things after he left. One of Father’s generals grumbling to his captains about being left behind. Jovu was looking for something. Something my father trusted no one else to look for.”
“In the clanlands? What could have been so important outside the Domain?”
“I’m not sure, but he was willing to sacrifice Jovu for whatever it was he was after.”
Myrra frowned. “You shouldn’t think like that. You’ll need your father to get through this, and he’ll turn to you now. Maybe you can ask him about it.”
“I doubt he’d trust me. I’ll never be Jovu.”
“You can be better.”
Adrian scoffed, eyes trained on the corridor ahead. “I love you, but not even you believe that.”
“I don’t remember you provoking the slaughter of entire villages. Would you attack the clans knowing they’d strike back? Even if your father ordered it?”
“I . . . I don’t know.”
“I know you wouldn’t.”
They started making their way down a stairwell towards the King’s Temple, Adrian’s gut clenching with every step closer to Father.
“You’re stronger than you think, and your father knows it too. Why don’t you talk to him about Khet?”
“He’d never listen to me, and he’d never trust Khet. Jovu tried.”
“Jovu didn’t know them as you do.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Khet has been a foothold for Dakhra for too long. Every step your father takes is with one eye over his shoulder. If you could remove the threat from his back . . .”
“You talk like you’re not a Dakhran princess.”
“I’m your wife-to-be, and that is stronger than any title.”
Adrian gave her a true smile this time. He knew she was right.
The circumstances of his brother’s death were still too shadowed for Adrian to accept, and, even if he asked, no one would ever talk about it. He was the one who needed to understand what his brother had died for, no matter how grim the notion of getting close to Father. Maybe removing a thorn from the old king’s side could soften him enough to make the ordeal bearable.
Adrian narrowed his eyes at Myrra. She didn’t smile, but the triumph was plain on her face by the time they reached the bottom of the steps and paced into the chamber before the closed temple doors.
Dignitaries representing the five other nations of the Domain stood in private groups, but Adrian’s gaze was fixed on his father. The king’s short, sandy-blond hair
mirrored Adrian’s in all but length, as did the thin shape of his eyes. He’d always wondered if it made the old man proud, seeing parts of himself in his son, but wasn’t sure he’d care for the answer. Father was flanked by a handful of priests and a lightly bearded man with shoulder-length tawny hair in a silver cloak that fell off the shoulders of his glinting armor. A stacked circle of crescent moons emblazoned on his chest showed the Sign of the Breath. A Sentinel.
The man tried to stay in the shadows, but Adrian caught more than one uneasy glimpse shooting towards the Sentinel. Most kept their distance; others looked anxiously at Father, but he did not look back.
It was only a moment before a man in the silver-and-white robes of the Church parted the temple doors and turned towards Father.
“They are ready for the cleansing, King Iridan.”
Cleansing. Adrian balked at the word. He could still remember the day Jovu took him to the palace Cleansers. It was the day Old Gera died, and Adrian couldn’t accept how no one would speak her name. She’d raised them after they lost Mother and had been as important to Adrian as any person he’d known, but much like today, after life left her, it was as if she’d never existed. Adrian tried asking Father, yet things had never been the same between them without Mother. The old man demanded too much of his children with hardly any explanation, and, unlike Jovu or Ellana, Adrian was never short of questions.
Father hated the questions. He turned Adrian away, as always, and it was Jovu who took him to see the old woman burned into indistinguishable ash along with the rest of the piled, unworthy bodies of the dead.
Father strode into the temple and the procession slowly filed after him, filling the space of the circular cloister along the edges of the open-roofed temple. Adrian
waited for another moment in the entrance hall. He could never have imagined he’d see Jovu burn, and it was impossible to think of his brother as unworthy. Impossible to accept that a private . . . cleansing was all he’d get. It was more than Old Gera had gotten, but it still wasn’t enough.
He breathed in, held the air for a moment, then blew it out and walked into the temple with Myrra by his side.
Blood-red Othonean banners hung between cloister pillars, and short steps descended into a wide circular patio where Jovu’s body lay on a pyre. The setting sun splayed across the Seraph’s scriptures carved through the temple walls, projecting the words in orange-yellow light on the shaded temple ground.
A shadow moved over the gathered dignitaries—a winged outline, gliding over the opening—and looks shot up towards the massive griffin circling above. Adrian had seen the beasts on the ground once. They stood three men tall and two men wide, but this one seemed even larger with its spread wings. None lingered on the Sentinel’s beast for long, though. No one was ever comfortable around the Church’s elite, and there was always a haze surrounding their mounts, something in the way their silver eyes locked onto your own.
Adrian’s gaze drifted down to his brother’s body, lying motionless on the pyre. His neatly combed long black hair and clean face almost made him look as if he were asleep, if not for the paleness of his skin. It churned Adrian’s stomach, and he had to press his teeth and swallow hard to keep his expression under control.
He glanced at the gathered dignitaries, but none seemed focused on him. They were here only as witnesses, an assurance that Othonea was doing its part in cleansing the unworthy from the Seraph’s Domain.
A priest strode to the center and stopped beside Jovu, flaming torch in hand. Father paused but did not hesitate for long before descending the steps, taking the torch and putting it to the bottom of Jovu’s pyre—eyes still devoid of pain.
Myrra brushed a warm hand against his. “Now is the time. Stand by your father.”
Adrian nodded, sucked in a breath, held it for a moment, then blew it out, just like she’d taught him. It loosened the knot in his stomach, and he stepped towards the pyre.
Father did not move as Adrian approached, his empty gaze fixed on the flames. Even now, he still had eyes only for Jovu, it seemed.
“Your sister should be here.” Father’s voice was solid as winter ice, no wavering, not even now that they could not be heard.
“Ellana is a high priestess, Father. Her family is the Church.”
“Blood still holds ties. You’ll learn that soon enough, boy, and she’ll learn to respect all I’ve given you.”
“I am your blood, and I am here at your side.”
“With Dakhran blood at yours.”
“Myrra’s ties are with me, with Othonea.” Adrian paused, but the question had already risen to his lips. “Why did you send Jovu into the clanlands? What were you after?”
“Always asking questions, yet you still do nothing to deserve the answers.” Father shook his head, his eyes focused ahead. The finality in his tone was the same Adrian had heard since childhood. He’d get nothing from the old man. Not today.
Adrian looked back at the pyre. The smoke made his eyes water and his nostrils burn. He would have taken anything at that moment to be convinced it wasn’t true, but each burning breath reminded him of the reality that nothing had been enough. Neither Jovu’s deeds, nor his faith, nor his belief in the Seraph’s blessings had protected him. The thought that someone like his brother had put so much faith in the blessings set a fire in Adrian’s veins. Maybe Jovu should have asked a few more questions himself. Still, the Church had some truth. Adrian had never believed in the blessings, but he’d never denied the Promised Dawn. The day the Seraph would return, raising the worthy, whose bodies had been preserved by the Pontiff. There was enough evidence in the texts, and Father had taken them to see the original scriptures in Alteria after Mother’s body was embalmed.
Maybe some small measure of hope that Jovu might still follow Mother’s path had lingered before, but that hope had crumbled and was swirling away like Jovu’s ashes. The Seraph would have no body to bring Jovu back. Adrian’s brother was truly gone.
Adrian turned back towards the gathered witnesses, blinking hard—they were breaking away, their duty done now that Jovu had been burned.
Hypocrites. They wore the mask of piousness, but it was nothing more than fear of losing their so-called blessings. They’d be struggling just the same if their brothers were lying on the pyre.
Adrian stood beside Father with his back to Jovu. The old man had his eyes on the pyre, but the words still seemed stuck in Adrian’s throat. He closed his eyes and repeated the ritual Myrra had taught him—breathing in deep, letting the burning air swirl in his chest, then blowing out. She was right. He had to get close to Father to find out what Jovu had been after.
“We should talk soon, Father. I . . . might have a solution to some of our problems with Dakhra.”
Father did not turn to him and gave no indication he’d heard the words, but Adrian knew the man well enough. There would be no answer now. Adrian walked away, incapable of bearing the ashen scent or the light-headedness that always came while standing beside his father any longer.
Myrra waited for him in the raised cloister, and Adrian lingered beside her, not wanting to face the stares that would fall upon him now that Jovu was gone. They stayed there until the temple was devoid of witnesses and all that remained were the priests collecting Jovu’s ashes to be scattered over the Ulean Sea and taken away from the Domain.
Not even his ashes are good enough for their precious Domain.
Adrian moved close to Myrra, but a hand touched his shoulder from behind. He turned to find Derren looking at him, a heavy beard giving his somber expression even more weight. The captain of his father’s army was said to have been with Jovu when it happened, but Adrian doubted they’d discuss it; the living should not dwell on the dead, and there was too much faith in the old captain’s heart for that. Derren moved aside, and Father stood there, regarding Adrian with placid, ice-blue eyes.
“Let us talk, then.” He stepped past them and into one of the many doors that led into a private reflection chamber, one of many constructed around the covered walkway of the temple.
Adrian hesitated, and his stomach coiled into a knot again, tighter than before, but he could not refuse his father’s sudden invitation.
“You are stronger than you think,” Myrra whispered as she, too, stepped past him and into the chamber. Adrian breathed deep, then followed.
The room was cramped, lit only by candlelight that illuminated a carved depiction of the Seraph on the far wall: Her flowing hair framed sharp features with a
squared-off jaw and eyes that were as empty as Father’s had been—no irises or pupils carved into them. Three pairs of wings extended from her back, the white veins in the ruin-stone flickering with the dancing candle flame.
Adrian and Myrra sat on wooden benches to one side, while Father took the bench facing them on the other. He frowned at Myrra, likely preferring not to have her there, but Adrian ignored the expression.
“I’d expected some more—”
“Things are never as we expect, boy. Speak.”
Adrian regarded his father for a long moment before doing so. “You and Syvern have been at each other’s throats for years.”
The king’s gaze flicked to Myrra at the mention of her father, but her own gaze remained collectedly calm.
“Yet Khet has never let you focus,” Adrian said, trying to regain the old man’s attention. “Their ports are a doorway for Dakhran troops, one you must always keep your eye on. You’ve tried things your way, but they don’t seem to be working.” The words tasted treacherous. He wasn’t used to criticizing his father’s strategies or his brother’s execution of them, and doing so after seeing Jovu burn only made it worse. “We should propose an alliance.”
Father let out a sharp laugh. “The wolf does not ally himself with the crows. He takes what is his and leaves them the scraps. An alliance presumes trust.” His gaze slid to Myrra again. “Maybe if King Henrik had a daughter, we could consider marriage. It would bring more than your current . . . situation.”
Myrra’s stare remained as composed as the king’s had during Jovu’s burning. “Your discomfort is well noted, King Iridan, yet not even Jovu held the respect Adrian does among the Khetish court.”
The king’s eyes narrowed at the sound of Jovu’s name, but Adrian gave him no time to steer the conversation away.
“King Henrik listens to his son, and Addo will listen to me,” Adrian said. “Would it not be better to have them on our side? Mitigate Dakhra’s presence so close to Othonea? We’d control the Ulean Sea, know if Syvern tried to send airships over it. You wouldn’t have to rely on men like the ones you trapped me in that council room with.”
Father’s eyes darted between them, his brow knotting into the slightest of frowns. Maybe it was the mention of the airships, maybe he was recalling the incompetence of his officers, or maybe he saw the sense in what Adrian was proposing. Whatever it was, he seemed to be entertaining the proposition. “We’ve tried talking to them before. Henrik is a snake.”
“I’m sure he’d say the same about you, Father, and I was never part of those conversations.”
“Indeed, you were not.” Father’s tone was laced with disapproval, but after a long moment, he grunted and stood. “I will consider your request.” The door opened, and the king paused on the way out, looking back at Adrian. “The Pontiff has sent me a Sentinel, thinks it will help keep me safe.” He snorted. “You should have him. Elwin, I think he was called.”
Father walked off, making his way past Derren and back into the palace. The captain looked back at Adrian, nodded, then followed the king.
Adrian let out a heavy breath, ignoring the underlying slight in his father’s offer of the Sentinel. He’d listened. He’d shown his usual resistance, but Adrian had sat through enough audiences to know that he would at least consider the idea, and that was the first step in uncovering what Jovu had died for.
He turned to Myrra, who had a hopeful glint in her eye. It still hurt not having Jovu. It still felt wrong stepping into the void left by his brother, but he had her, and she was all he needed to keep going.
Adrian smiled. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
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