Special Preview: Educator’s Guide to THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY by Don M. Winn

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THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY
Sir Kaye the Boy Knight, Book 4
by
Don M. Winn
  Genre: Children’s Chapter Book / Adventure / Medieval
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
Date of Publication: June 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 166, B&W illustrations
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Kaye’s father is in danger! The young knight, Kaye, and his friends Reggie and Beau enter Eldridge in search of the only man who can save Kaye’s father. During their journey, they encounter and make a powerful enemy of Baron Thomas—the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Eldridge—who also has his sights set on ruling the country of Knox. Together, the boys dodge the baron’s henchmen and race against time to stop an assassination that would plunge the two kingdoms into war in this exciting conclusion to the series.

PRAISE FOR THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY:
“This set of books just gets better and better. Yes, it’s a non-stop adventure, packed full of nasty barons and battling knights. But it’s also a story which is strongly-themed and where the bond between the characters is highly prized.” —The Wishing Shelf Awards Book Review

“Books of adventure and challenge that still offer an emotional component are hard to come by for middle-grade readers—and even more so for middle-grade boys—yet Don M. Winn hits the mark dead center with The Eldridge Conspiracy.” —Patricia Reding, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review
“This is more than just a fictional story; it teaches children about life, about friendship, making decisions, and about not putting too much stock in pride all the time – sometimes pride gets in the way of making the right decision. Great story. I would recommend that the whole series be read in order to get the most out of it and I think all kids will enjoy this tale.” —Ann-Marie Reynolds, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“The Eldridge Conspiracy was a rewarding read due to a wonderful writing style of incorporating dynamic characters, humor, relevancy, and the thought that even without superpowers, children can be heroes.” —Stacey Waltzer, Urban Mommies 
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Preview

Sir Kaye Series Study Guide

A complete classroom study guide is now available for the entire Sir Kaye series on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. The Sir Kaye Study Guide is also available directly from the publisher (Progressive Rising Phoenix Press) for schools that order the Sir Kaye books for the classroom.

This comprehensive study guide contains teaching materials for all four of the Sir Kaye the Boy Knight books. The classroom lessons help students improve reading comprehension, build vocabulary, and expand their writing skills. This study guide also includes fascinating supplementary historical material to help students get a feel for what life was like in the Middle Ages.

Study Guide Summary for Book 3, Legend of the Forest Beast:

Sir Kaye the Boy Knight Book Three: Legend of the Forest Beast is an adventurous installment in the series portraying complex and relatable characters while teaching kids that they are capable of great things. The story and lesson plan teach the importance of humility while challenging students’ creative and objective writing skills. Beginning with fun trivia to test reading comprehension, the lesson plan also provides activities to help students create their own fictional characters and questions to stimulate comprehensive classroom discussions about what humility looks like in contemporary life. Vocabulary activities help students understand the story and improve dictionary and writing skills.

Study Guide Sample from Legend of the Forest beast:

Introduction to a Main Theme: Humility

Throughout the story, there are many times when the characters have to do embarrassing things or things that make them seem smaller or less important in order to accomplish their goals.

Ask the class if they can think of any examples of this: i.e., Kaye riding a donkey instead of Kadar; Kaye being called Sir Donkey; Kaye having to deal with the villagers making up mean songs about him; Reggie having to dye his hair; Reggie being called Ugly; Reggie working in the kitchen and as a page for Sir Bragwayne

Ask the class if they know what is it called when you lower your own importance to get the job done.

Introduce class to the word and definition: Humility – lowering your own importance to get the job done, not proud : not thinking of yourself as better than other people

Ask the class if they can think of any examples of what might have happened if the characters hadn’t practiced humility: i.e., Kaye would have never made it out of Castle Forte without riding Grumble; Reggie wouldn’t have gotten into Bragwayne’s manor without dyeing his hair and working in the kitchen;

Ask students for examples of times they have practiced humility or could in the future: i.e., When their little sister wants to play dress up and put crazy makeup all over their faces; When they are playing sports and have to play a different position than what they want

Activity: Royal Chronicler

At Castle Forte, Reggie has been given the job of the Royal Chronicler, which means he has to write about everything that happens so no one will forget the adventures of Kaye, Reggie, and Beau. Today, give students the chance to document the goings-on of the class. Have the kids go out to playground to play, or even just do activities in the room for ten to fifteen minutes. Then have them write a few sentences about what happened. Don’t forget to ask if anyone would like to share their work with the class when everyone is finished.

Vocabulary Activity

Have students select 1-3 words (depending on time restraints) from the vocabulary list, and ask them to write original sentences using the words. Then, ask students to share their sentences (preferably one for each vocabulary word) with the rest of the class, either by writing it on the board or reading it out loud

 

Don M. Winn is a multiple award-winning children’s author of eleven picture books and four children’s novels. His Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® series of novels for independent readers include The Knighting of Sir Kaye, The Lost Castle Treasure, Legend of the Forest Beast, and The Eldridge Conspiracy. Don’s picture books include The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon; Superhero; Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge; Shelby the Cat; Space Cop Zack, Protector of the Galaxy; and many others. 

Don has been writing for over 20 years. After beginning with poetry, Winn moved on to writing children’s picture books. Almost immediately, his growing young readers begged for chapter books, which led to the creation of the Sir Kaye series. As a dyslexic, who well knows the challenge of learning to love to read, Winn’s goal is to write books that are so engaging they will entice even the most reluctant or struggling reader. Winn lives in Round Rock, Texas.

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  June 14-June 28, 2017
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
6/14
Book Trailer
6/15
Review
6/16
Guest Post 1
6/17
Review
6/18
Author Interview
6/19
Excerpt
6/20
Review
6/21
Scrapbook Page 1
6/22
Guest Post 2
6/23
Review
6/24
Character Interview
6/25
Educators’ Special
6/26
Review
6/27
Scrapbook Page 2
6/28
Review

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Guest Post by Katie McElhenney

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer

Three of my favorite activities are running, reading, and writing. Besides being alliterative, those activities have another thing in common—they’re all solitary endeavors. And while exercising and spending time with a book can be great solo ventures, the same isn’t necessarily true for writing. Unless you’re writing professionally, most of the time you need to be creative about when you fit in your keyboard time; before work, after dinner, in those few precious moments when a child is napping. These times are chosen precisely because they allow for solitude and quiet. Yet, I’m going to make the case for adding community to your writing routine and here’s why:

Productivity

I love walking into places bustling with activity. There is something about the energy that thrives in those environments that is contagious. This is why so many writers flock to coffee shops and shared workspaces. It’s true that those places aren’t for everyone and can get pricey after a while, so it helps to explore other options. Libraries are a great place to work, as are larger bookstores (and you’re surrounded on all sides by inspiration!).

Accountability

Back in school there was no question you were going to turn in that big term paper that was worth 50% of your grade. You had a hard deadline and you didn’t give yourself a choice in meeting it. When you’re writing for yourself it’s easy to get off track with your progress because you don’t have any accountability for your work. Having a community of writers who know your goals and (kindly) remind you of them will help keep you focused and motivated.

Feedback

No one wants to complete a three-hundred-page novel then get the note that your main character needs more of an arc starting back at page twenty-five. This is the kind of thing that happens if you aren’t getting feedback as you go along. Getting other sets of eyes on your work will lead you to a much cleaner first draft. Also, I’ve found that there is value in both getting and giving feedback. If you are reading another’s work critically, you tend to look at your own in that way too. It’s a great way to hone your craft.

 Embracing the social side!

Writing is tough. There are days when the words just seem to fly out of your fingertips, and days when you want to toss your laptop out a window. Having a network of writer friends to commiserate with is essential. Whether this a group that meets weekly at a coffee shop or a forum you check in with online when you need it, having people who understand what you’re doing and have been there themselves helps you rejoice in the victories and power through the bumps in the road.

I know that this isn’t practical for everyone. Life is busy and there are many demands on your time. However, even if you can carve out a little time each week to connect with other writers, you’d be amazed at the benefits you’ll see. Check out sites like Meetup or the bulletin boards at your local library and coffee shops to find groups of writers in your area. Your book will thank you for it!

About the Author

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About Katie McElhenney

Katie McElhenney was born in Philadelphia into a big family of curious kids and patient adults. A voracious reader and unapologetic daydreamer, she knew she wanted to become a writer someday. With the support of an amazing family, great friends, and some truly spectacular teachers she has written short stories, poems, and novels. A solar-powered human, she now lives in Los Angeles and uses the great weather for year-round trips to the beach and long runs (where the best inspiration happens).

Find out more about her at katiemcelhenney.com

About the Book

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The Things They’ve Taken

All Lo Campbell wants is to be a normal teenager—to go to one high school, live in one place, and have one real friend. Instead, she travels the country with her mother, chasing the unknown, the “what else” that’s out there…

Until one day, the “what else” chases back.

Determined to rescue her mom from whatever supernatural being took her, Lo will need more help than a badly dressed demon obsessed with country music. She’s going to need a Tracker—and lucky for her, she finds one. Shaw is strong, good-looking, possibly available, and utterly infuriating. Sure, he may have secrets, and his help costs more than a brand-new car, but she’ll have to deal with him if she wants to find her mother—and get her home alive.

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Interview with Mary Shotwell, author of Weariland

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I wrote Weariland not only for myself but for my teenage nieces. I wanted the protagonist to be relatable to them, which steered me to write Young Adult. In addition, I’ve always enjoyed fantasy and sci-fi, and that is where my imagination leads me.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I grew up with six siblings and working parents. No one had much time to read to me, so I yearned to learn how as fast as possible. I wanted to know the stories behind the colorful covers of the books at the library. Once I learned, I couldn’t stop. I had the freedom to explore wherever I wanted with whomever I wanted.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Currently I write Young Adult, in what I call “light” fantasy. It’s not as heavy as, say, Lord of the Rings, in terms of descriptions of familial hierarchies, landscape, etc. I have to write scientifically for work, so I enjoy the complete opposite end of the spectrum to exercise my creativity.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

Even though I write light fantasy, I try to be as real as possible—make events realistic, or if they’re beyond our realm, make reactions of characters to the fantastical world realistic. I like to think my writing is clean and fast. Not much of a “fluff” writer. My scientific writing experience keeps me in line there.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

Ugh. Cutting out whole characters and chapters. I sent the manuscript off to agents, and I received feedback from one or two that recommended I cut out a side story following a reporter. I ignored the feedback at first, and queried more agents. I repeatedly received advice to stick to Lason’s story more and less to the reporter’s part. Finally, I gave in when an agent from Writers House said the same thing, but gave me details as to why, in addition to in-depth feedback elsewhere. I had to cut my reporter out, and it hurt. It was the right decision, but it still aches thinking about it.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing?

Michael Crichton! I love how he incorporated the realistic with the fictional. I read in a brief bio that he wrote 10,000 words a day. Although I strive to have his pacing, clarity, and imagination, I realize I probably won’t if it takes 10,000 words a day. That’s crazy.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

Planning. Having all the character attributes, character paths mapped out, and action in each chapter makes writing incredibly smoother. Some have said, “As long as you wrote today, then you were successful.” Rubbish! I wrote mostly “off the cuff” for about 25,000 words of Weariland and it took forever. I changed my mind, I went down blind alleys, and it was exhausting. When I got serious and mapped out the story, I was able to finish.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

Part-time. I write less when it’s part-time, since I prefer long chunks of time per sitting. I can remember what I already wrote and who was doing what to move forward more efficiently (2000-4000 words a day). I get that time in the summer, and get a taste of what it feels like to write full time for a few weeks (it’s wonderful). During the school year, I only have nights to write, which results in 300-1000 words per day, and I don’t write everyday (*gasp*).

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

Too many to list all of them. My first real job was as a server and party hostess at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I worked as an undercover buyer of cigarettes to fine stores if they didn’t card me, gave campus tours as an undergrad, and substituted K-12. All experiences aided in getting to know people. Working with kids and teens helped in characterizing that demographic in writing.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m finishing a dystopian YA novel in which the protagonists are brother/sister. It takes place in the distant future (as most dystopian does) and explores the evolution of humans when the smartest minds seclude themselves from the rest of society.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.

I anticipated a question by people who read both the book and one of my earliest blog posts. In the post, I write about my history with my sister. After writing Weariland, I wondered if readers would ask, “Is the character of Nicholas a reflection of your sister?” The answer is No. Perhaps subconsciously, but I didn’t plan him to be an interpretation of my sister and our relationship.

What book do you wish you could have written?

I changed this to book and/or screenplay here. The Boxtrolls and The Lego Movie are so clever, in both surface story and deeper levels. I also wish I had written The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is genius, and I would have worked with the amazing Danny Elfman.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I take names seriously. I Google girl/boy names to get ideas, but often I pinpoint a region and time period to get appropriate names. I’ve also taken a character trait and jumbled the letters or sounds. For instance, Ruban is a red rabbit, and I found his name by picking letters from ‘auburn’.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Hard to say, but the question made me think, How cool would it be to have ‘To Be Continued…’

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

Has someone already said Hogwarts? Ever since seeing Dr. Zhivago, I’ve wanted to visit Russia. Perhaps not in the current political climate, but then again, the past hasn’t offered many better times to travel the country.

abouttheauthor

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Mary grew up in northeast Ohio, so it was only natural for her to pursue a degree in marine biology. After studying dolphin behavior and estimating great white shark populations, she earned her Ph.D. in Biostatistics in Charleston, South Carolina. It was there, during the arduous dissertation process, where she had the idea to write a book.

With Alice and the crazy characters from Wonderland staring her down from her bedroom poster, Mary envisioned what that fantasy realm would look like in current day. Creative writing served as a natural escape from technical writing, wedding planning, pregnancy, and job hunting.

Mary is excited to debut Weariland (Merge Publishing, 2016), a novel introducing Lason Davies, a teenager who learns about her family’s past in a world once called Wonderland. She currently resides in Tennessee with her husband and three children.

Aboutthebook

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Lason is haunted by the last words of her murdered relative as she and her mother fly to England for the funeral. The crime is a sensation, but the clamoring reporters and news photographers aren’t the only ones interested in their arrival.

As Lason copes with the family loss, she encounters a mysterious stranger. He hails from Weariland, a dreary world once known as Wonderland. Lason wants to confide in her mother, whose long-repressed family demons have resurfaced, along with her erratic behavior. Convinced she’ll find answers about her grandmother’s death, Lason takes the leap to help the stranger, leaving her world behind.

Lason’s mother wakes to find her biggest fear realized—Lason is missing. When the murder investigation turns up traces of unknown black goo and pictures of a giant creature, she believes in her gut something out of the ordinary truly is happening. And it’s not the first time a loved one has disappeared.

As her mother confronts the past she so desperately tried to forget, Lason must navigate through an unpredictable realm, encountering colorful, fantastical characters and discovering her family’s elusive history. Ultimately, she must rely on her courage to brave it alone when her guide is captured, along with her only chance to ever getting home.

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Guest Post by author Megan Tayte

Clearing the Cheerio-Strewn Decks: Ten Jobs I Have to Do Before I Can Write

 

In an ideal world, I would write five to six books a year alongside bringing up my kids, doing my day job, keeping up with the housework and swimming three times a week.

Theoretically, it’s possible: I wrote my five-book Ceruleans series in nine months, after all, while juggling a five year old and my busy business. I just about stayed sane. I don’t think I made it to the swimming pool once, though – but in my defence, I was pregnant and far more interested in sitting about and drinking iced coffee.

Now that my daughter is two, I’m ready to write again. But before I can even think of setting pen to paper, I have to do the following ten jobs:

  1. Make a very large coffee – with chocolate sprinkles if the kids haven’t scoffed them. Then clean the coffee maker.
  2. Notify everyone in the house that I’m about to write and would like to be left alone. Wait patiently while my son draws a sign to that effect and sticks it to the door.
  3. Clear my desk of work – and invariably end up doing some.
  4. Clear my desk of household papers – and invariably end up paying bills and filling out school permission slips.
  5. Clear my desk of assorted toys and a lone sticky Cheerio – and invariably end up cleaning the desk, the bookcase, the entire room.
  6. Haul the desk over to the patio doors so that I can write with a view over the garden.
  7. Shut the blinds on the patio doors upon realising my view is in fact of the kids running riot in the sandpit.  
  8. Answer a knock at the patio door and mediate between two sand-covered children warring over a spade – then gently close the door on them.
  9. Return to the laptop, launch the book’s mood playlist, navigate to the writing folder and begin reading notes.
  10. Hear an alarming bash on patio door, and open the blinds to reveal two cheeky faces squished into the glass, grinning at me. Smile, kiss the kids through glass, close the blinds.

By then, of course, most of my allotted writing time is gone. Sometimes I write for the time I have left. Sometimes I give up, go out to the garden and make sandcastles. Because just as no (wo)man is an island, no writer is only that, a writer. I’m a mum, a wife, a homemaker and a businessman too – and if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have nearly enough energy, humour and inspiration for my writing. Put simply: a writer must not only clear the decks to write, but must in the first place have decks covered with the accumulated clutter of a life well lived.

AboutTheAuthor (1)

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.
Thirty-odd years later, MeganMegan Tayte is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in the village of Standish, Greater Manchester. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

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AboutTheBook

ABOUT THE CERULEANS SERIES

The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death. If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

The Ceruleans is a young-adult paranormal romance series set in a world in which angels walk among us. The Ceruleans don’t think of themselves as angels, though – just ordinary people who happen to have a most extraordinary gift. And certainly few of them behave like angels. Because as it turns out, humans don’t handle well the reality of playing god…

The story of the Ceruleans spans five books

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All five books of the series are available as ebooks, and now are available in print on
 

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An Interview with Author Andy Peloquin

 

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Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? — What I love about fantasy is the freedom it offers. I love to think outside the box, and being able to create whole worlds, races, and cultures is a thrill. I love to take mundane things (religion, politics, society, war, etc.) and do unique and intriguing things with them. It’s exhilarating to take common perception of something and flip it upside down.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from? — I come from a highly creative family, filled with musicians, songwriters, actors, designers, and artists. Many of my siblings are writers as well, so it runs in our blood. My love of fiction and fantasy dates back to my childhood. I used it as an escape from the bad situations in which I found myself. It was so much easier to block out the world around me when I had a good book to take me on a journey.

What do you like to read in your free time? — I wish I had more time to read, but sadly I’m a bit of a workaholic. I try to cram in as much writing time as possible. However, when I do read, I prefer a good fantasy book. It’s not only research for my own writing, but I LOVE the escape from the mundane that fantasy offers.

And sometimes…I like to have a little fun with my guest authors…

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? — I have to have a phone, tablet, or notebook on me at all times. I get hit with ideas while driving, walking through the supermarket, cycling to the gym, or working out. If I don’t write it down, it eats away at me.

Say there’s like a whole box of your favorite snack in a room all by themselves. Say I left them there and told you not to eat any until I got back. How long would it take you to disobey my wishes? — Pretty much right away. I’m a VERY independent person, and someone telling me not to do something makes me want to do it. Although, my respectful nature will be the “angel on my shoulder” telling me not to do it. It would be a struggle, that’s for sure.

If I gave you a pencil and piece of paper and told you to draw something funny, what would you draw? — A stick figure. That’s pretty much the extent of my artistic skill.

How many friendships have you ruined because you refused to play a game of Monopoly mercifully?

How many times does it take for you to listen to a song that you love before you actually hate it instead? Usually no more than 20 to 30. Some songs I can still listen to even after hearing it well over 100 times.

Finally, and this one is important, so please pay attention What do you think cats dream about? — The enslavement of humankind.

This or That? 

Tea or Coffee? — Coffee

Marvel or DC Comics? — Marvel, for one simple reason: DEADPOOL!

Chocolate or Vanilla? — Vanilla

Fried or Scrambled? Fried

Roller Coaster or Ferris Wheel? — Roller Coaster

 

AboutTheAuthor (1)

Andy PeloquinAndy Peloquin–a third culture kid to the core–has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child. When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back since. Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

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AboutTheBook

THE LAST BUCELARII (book 1): BBucelarii - CopyLADE OF THE DESTROYER

The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.

When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?

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Praise for Blade of the Destroyer:

“Creative, gritty, and beautifully dark…fantasy addicts will love it!” — Peter Story, author of Things Grak Hates

“The fantasy world has a compelling new antihero…the Hunter will terrify and captivate you.” – EJ Bouinatchova, author of Soothbound

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