Hi guys. Today I am officially announcing the release of the new novel Taurok's War. This novel was debuted at the recent Nine World's Geekfest 2013 and I am now offically opening it for release!
Taurok's War is a prequel to Trapped on Draconica, focusing on the early life on one of the most popular characters in the book - General Finn Taurok. Wanted to know how a kind hearted man could come with work for such a terrible empire? Then this is the book for you!
The book is initially released on paperback - but ebook versions will follow. In the meantime you can grab your copy here!
TAUROKS WAR ON AMAZON
And just to wet your appetite, here is a quick blurb of the story AND a sample chapter as well!
Finn and his son Barin came to Baalaria to escape from a country ravaged by war. They came finding a new home and family – what they got was a new kind of hell.
Forced into the Imperial army, Finn and Barin have to fight to overcome the prejudices that they have to face – and fight so that they can be with their families once more. To save themselves and the ones’ they care about, they will go to any lengths – even if it means slaying the Emperor!
This prequel to Trapped on Draconica focuses on the early life of General Taurok and his son Barin, we learn the truth behind Barin’s eventual fate and see just how painful the life of a soldier in the Baalarian Empire can be. Set against a backdrop of warfare and violence, only love keeps these men going on.
The thud of heavy metal boots reverberated across the stone walls – each step like a mountain avalanche. The steps came one at a time, very slowly so that the thud could ring out. And with each step, the prisoners’ hearts jumped and chilled their souls.
They were all chained by their hands and feet and standing in a line. They had been stripped of their clothing and wore only a white loincloth that they had been forced to wear. It did little to help warm them in this freezing cold place – but the fear that they felt, punctuated by each pounding step, easily overpowered the cold air. Around them were Baalarian soldiers, dressed in black armour, each with a spear and shield and a helmet that carried four horns. The prisoners weren’t sure if these were the same soldiers that had invaded their homes, ripped them from their families and forced them here, but they certainly looked familiar.
The owner of the thudding boots arrived, making his way into the centre of the room. He was overbearing to say the least – with broad shoulders and a large build that was barely contained underneath his black armour, a long fur coat dragging behind him. He was like a mountain, almost 300 pounds of pure muscle, with a shadow that enshrouded any who were caught beneath it. He had a bald head and was clean shaven, a metal plate surgically attached to the left side of his face, starting from the top of his head and ending just above his enormous lips.
The jotun of a man looked up and down the line, eyeing the terrified men in turn. He had a sneer as he gazed at them – unimpressed by the distinct lack of muscle between them. Hardly any of these men looked like they were fit enough to lift a dagger, let alone a spear or sword. And he was to try and make them into soldiers?
Well, he was never one to turn down a challenge.
He spoke to the men in a deep, booming voice that echoed across the stone of the keep as his boots had done moments before.
‘My name is Hannibal Lurkz – some of you may remember me by the title of The Iron Skull. I served in the Baalarian army for fifty plus years and achieved the rank of General in my first two decades. I held that title for over thirty years. Here though, I am your Thrall Master – and that is how you will address me. I do not want a single one of you to utter a sentence to me without adding the words “Thrall Master” at the end of it. Is that clear?’
The men were too frightened to answer. Lurkz allowed a few moments silence before he spoke again.
‘WELL IS IT?’
Lurkz had lungs as deep as a cave and vocal chords made of iron – when he shouted, the Universe trembled.
‘Yes, Thrall Master!’ the men called out, some half-hearted, some unable to speak fully because of the fear that clogged their throats.
I ask for soldiers and they send me babies? Lurkz could always tell from the first meeting with new recruits what they would be like – and he didn’t have high hopes for any of these men.
‘Some of you may be wondering where you are,’ Lurkz continued. ‘Well, to answer that question, you are in the barracks of the City of Baalaria – where all new recruits to the Baalarian Empire are sent.’
Recruits seemed too nice a word to use, Slaves would have been much more appropriate.
Lurkz moved up and down the line as he continued his speech. ‘You have been sent to me because the Emperor passed a law that all men over the age of 15 must undertake involuntary military service. Many of you do not wish to be here – and think that you do not deserve to be here. Well, too bad. The Emperor’s word is law and I intend to turn you all into soldiers, whether you want to or not. At the end of your training, you will be part of the Baalarian Empire, the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. You will fight alongside the strongest, deadliest soldiers known to man and many enemies will taste your blade.
‘But until that day, you are scum! You are simply initiates – the lowest of the low. Even the faecal matter that resides in the lavatoriums has more prestige than you. This training will be hard and only the strongest will see it through. I will push you to the edge of your limits and then push you further. I don’t care who you were in a previous life, whether you were a Lord of the land or just some street urchin – here ALL follow my commands! There is no favouritism in my unit. When I tell you to jump, you jump. If I tell you to jump higher, you will do it. There is no “trying your best” in my regiment. You will do it perfectly, or else you will be disciplined.’
As he moved up and down the line to get a closer look at the men, Lurkz still felt angry at the men that had been sent to him. They may have well have sent him women for all it mattered. He stopped by one man – a small framed and skinny boy who couldn’t have been more than twenty. He was shaking fiercely and tears were rolling down from his eyes. Lurkz stood over him, casting him in his shadow. He looked so weak that Lurkz wasn’t even sure that he would be able to lift up a sword without falling over.
‘What is your name, scum?’
The boy gasped aloud at the question.
‘Are you deaf, boy?’ Lurkz shouted. ‘I do not like repeating questions.’
‘F... F... Francis... Th... Thrall M... M... Master.’
‘Speak up!’ Lurkz shouted. ‘And stand up straight before your Thrall Master.’
The loud shouting of Lurkz was too much for Francis and his vague attempts to act strong crumbled as more tears fell. ‘Baala help me...’ Francis squealed. ‘I shouldn’t be here. I want to go home. I want my mother.’
To Lurkz, a man crying was the worst kind of indignity and not something he was prepared to tolerate. He grabbed Francis by his neck and lifted the boy off his feet.
‘I’M your only parent now!’ Lurkz shouted at him. ‘I will have no cowards in my rank! So you better man up or you’ll be strung up!’ He dropped Francis and the boy landed in a heap, almost pulling down the other prisoners that were chained along with him. ‘On your feet! And tidy yourself up, or else I’ll give you something to cry about!’
Francis rushed to his feet, wiped his eyes and tried to hold back his tears. Lurkz shook his head as he walked away – he knew that this lad was going to be trouble.
He walked down the other side of the line, noticing that some prisoners did actually look pretty physically fit and strong. Maybe there was hope yet.
Lurkz stopped by another prisoner who caught his attention. This was a tall man, somewhat larger than the others, with long white hair and purple skin. He had pointed ears and slender, but muscular arms. He stood up straight, keeping a stern look.
‘You,’ Lurkz said. ‘You’re a shadori, aren’t you?’
‘I am, Thrall Master,’ the shadori replied.
Lurkz looked over the shadori with an obvious contempt. ‘What is your name?’
‘Finn Taurok, Thrall Master.’
‘Well, Finn Taurok. What are you doing in Baalaria?’ Lurkz asked. ‘I did not realise that we had had any raids in Shadoria recently.’
‘I live in Baalaria, Thrall Master,’ Finn replied. He tried to answer the questions of Lurkz as concisely as he could in an attempt to avoid upsetting him. Unfortunately, it did not take a lot to upset Lurkz.
‘You live here?’ Lurkz moved closer, almost swallowing up Finn in his shadow, even though Finn was not a small man by any means. ‘And what makes you think we’d welcome your kind, shaddi?’ he snarled, using the common racial slang for shadori. ‘I lost many good soldiers to your kind twenty years ago.’
‘I am sorry to hear that, Thrall Master.’
‘You’re SORRY?’ Lurkz put an armoured hand around his neck. ‘You piece of dirt! You and your kind are not welcome in our lands. I should just snap your neck right here and spare my unit your vile stench!’
‘Leave my father alone, you disgusting animal!’
Lurkz looked down the line and saw another shadori. This one much younger than Finn, but so similar that he would have taken them for brothers had he not identified himself as Finn’s son (although all shadoris looked the same to Lurkz). Finn’s eyes widened in terror as the young shadori spoke up.
Lurkz let go of Finn and moved down the line towards the younger shadori. Unlike the other prisoners, this young wolf showed no fear before Lurkz – intimidated by neither his size nor his voice.
‘Another one?’ Lurkz exclaimed. ‘And what name do you go by?’
‘You want to know?’ the young shadori asked, ‘ask me politely.’
Lurkz eyes raised in surprise. Finn realised that trouble was about to come, so he did his best to try and restrain the situation. ‘Thrall Master, my son meant no disrespect...’
‘I don’t remember speaking to you!’ Lurkz snarled, then turned back to the boy. ‘Do you know who you are talking to?’
‘Of course I do,’ the young shadori replied. ‘A three hundred plus pound gorilla who has the intelligence of a rock. You may be able to intimidate the others here, but you won’t be able to do so to me!’
Finn’s eyes opened wider on hearing his son’s insolence. He feared for his safety. An uneasy silence filled the barracks as everyone waited for Lurkz to make his move.
A booming laughter came from his mouth, surprising even the young shadori. ‘You have courage, young one,’ Lurkz said, almost sounding impressed. ‘It’s been a while since anyone’s spoken to me in a tone like that. You may just earn my respect yet.’
A metal fist slammed into the shadoris stomach and he went to his knees. ‘But you will address me as “Thrall Master”,’ Lurkz shouted. ‘And if you EVER speak to me in that tone again, I will beat your stomach until you piss blood. On your feet.’
Despite his stomach feeling as if it had been struck by a cannonball, the young shadori managed to pull himself to a vertical position, albeit struggling to breathe. It seemed that the cost for his defiance would be a night coughing up his own blood.
‘You all look worthless!’ Lurkz exclaimed. ‘Hardly any of you look capable of even lifting a stick. Still, I have been charged with training you as soldiers and that is what I will do. Your training starts now. All of you go and get suited up before reporting to the courtyard.
Herded like sheep by the Baalarian soldiers, the prisoners moved as one, groaning in protest at such treatment. All of them were tired and had had little rest – and now they had to go through training without any time to recover. But the soldiers showed them no sympathy, pushing them along like common criminals. The initiates would have to earn the respect of the soldiers the same as Thrall Master Lurkz.
I hope you guys enjoy this next chapter in the Draconica series and I'd appreciate your comments for those who read it.
Have a great weekend folks!