Today is my stop on the Pennyblade blog tour, thank you to Sarah Mather and the Titan Team for having me along! I have an excerpt for you today but first a little about the book:
A sharp-tongued disgraced-noble-turned-mercenary has to stop the world collapsing into chaos in this gripping, savagely funny epic fantasy packed with unforgettable characters, for fans of Joe Abercrombie.
Exile. Mercenary. Lover. Monster. Pennyblade.
Kyra Cal’Adra has spent the last four years on the Main, living in exile from her home, her people, her lover and her past. A highblood commrach—the ancient race of the Isle, dedicated to tradition and the perfection of the blood—she’s welcome among the humans of the Main only for the skill of her rapier, her preternatural bladework. They don’t care which of the gleaming towers she came from, nor that her grandmother is matriarch of one of Corso’s most powerful families.
But on the main, women loving women is a sin punishable by death. Kyra is haunted by the ghost of Shen, the love of her life, a lowblood servant woman whom Kyra left behind as she fled the Isle.
When a simple contract goes awry, and her fellow pennyblades betray her, Kyra is set onto a collision course with her old life, and the age-old conflict between the Main and the Isle threatens to erupt once more.
THE MAIN, Coastal Highway, April 881
I pointed my rapier in the innkeep’s mottled face.
‘Forgive my candour,’ I said.
He stood in the noiseless highway inn’s doorway, the light from inside making a half silhouette of his figure. He stared at the rapier’s point.
‘What’s that?’ he asked.
‘What?’ I said. ‘A bloody sword.’
Trepidation caught flame in his wet eyes. ‘Where’s its edge?’
‘Dun’t have an edge,’ Shortleg said beside me. ‘All about the point. Like a big needle, right?’
‘Right,’ the innkeep said. He gulped.
‘It does have an edge,’ I said to them both. ‘Eight inches’ worth either side of the point, see?’ I indicated. ‘The emphasis is on the point, granted, but it’s not without edge. Common misconception.’
‘Yer couldn’t slice an arm off or owt,’ Shortleg countered.
‘Maybe I don’t want to slice arms off. You humans and your fucking dismemberment.’
‘Nowt wrong with a big chopper,’ Shortleg said. He chuckled and grabbed his crotch.
‘Oh, yes, very mature.’
The innkeep gulped again. ‘You’re an elf?’
‘Fuck’s sake,’ I muttered.
‘Commrach,’ Shortleg corrected him.
‘Look,’ I said, ‘could we all agree that this is a sword? If only in principle?’
‘Yeah,’ the innkeep said. He held his blotchy hands up. He took a deep breath. ‘So… you, er, you want letting in?’
‘Ah, there’s no rush,’ I said. ‘Our colleague’s right behind you.’
The innkeep looked over his shoulder to see Nail levelling a throwing spike at him.
‘Anyone back there?’ Shortleg said to Nail.
‘Silent as the grave,’ Nail said.
‘Business shit then?’ Shortleg said to the innkeep.
‘I guess,’ he replied.
‘C’mon, let’s all have a pint, eh?’ Shortleg said and he smiled.
The men made their way to the bar.
I looked back and motioned to Benadetta. She was stood by the road, thirty feet away, a grey ghost in the twilight. Desolate moorland stretched behind her.
She nodded and began to walk forward, almost hobbling. Not for the first time I felt uneasy about her wound.
The innkeep, already behind the bar and pouring ale for Shortleg, looked at Benadetta’s vestments with surprise.
‘She’ll have whisky,’ I told him.
‘A joke,’ Benadetta said. ‘I apologise for our behaviour, sir.
We’ve h-had to take extreme measures. But, as you see, we are of the Church. You’re quite… safe.’
Aside from his inability to recognise offensive weapons, I thought.
About the Author
James Luke Worrad lives in Leicester, England, and has for almost all his life. He has a degree in classical studies from Lampeter University, Wales. He has found this invaluable to his growth as a science fiction and fantasy writer in that he soon discovered how varied and peculiar human cultures can be. In 2011 James attended Clarion, an SF workshop held at the University of California, San Diego. He’s had short stories published by Daily Science Fiction, Flurb, Newcon Press and Obverse Books. He also writes screen plays for short films, one of which- Flawless- won the Seven/Five Film Festival Award and was selected for both the Cannes and NYC Independent film festivals. (It was also screened at CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider). He runs the Fantasy & Science Fiction Salon group on Facebook. He also works a nightshift at a small hotel, an occupation that never leaves him short of material.
Pennyblade is due for release on 29th March 2022 and is available from Titan Books