Without further ado, here’s the gorgeous new cover for THE FIVE KINGDOMS book #1, THE PRINCE’S MAN
I still love the original cover, but once book #4 is released I will also be putting all four together as a boxset, so they need to match.
Besides, isn’t this new one gorgeous?
And so to the main event: THE PRINCE’S HEIR is planned to arrive in store on December 14th, and I will soon be releasing details of where you can pre-order it.
Here, for your delectation, is the final FIVE KINGDOMS book cover
King Marten’s reign balances on a blade’s edge. Chel’s Casket, symbol of his right to rule, is missing. Can master spies, Rustam and Risada, recover it before someone notices its absence, and questions Marten’s sovereignty?
But when Queen Betha is kidnapped, it becomes apparent something far more sinister is behind the theft. The contents of the casket contain instructions to raise the demon god, Charin. Would anyone dare use them, when the likely outcome is war between the two halves of the deity?
And if they succeed, will any mortal survive?
Rustam squatted on his haunches, studying the sturdy black leg planted a few finger-lengths in front of his nose. For her part, Nightstalker stood patiently, waiting for her master’s instructions.
Was there a hint of swelling around her fetlock? With so much hair covering the joint, it was hard to tell. With a sigh, Rustam levered himself up and ran one hand down the offending limb for the umpteenth time. Perhaps there was a little heat in the hoof? It could be a hoof abscess brewing, or perhaps the problem was higher up, in the mare’s shoulder. She’d only been a touch off her rhythm, after all, but she’d never been lame before, and Rustam wasn’t taking any chances. He’d stopped early for the night and lingered this morning, unwilling to risk further damage to his beloved horse when perhaps all she needed was a little more time. She’d likely stood on a stone and bruised her foot, or maybe slipped a little and twisted her fetlock. He’d trotted her up in hand, and she’d looked sound. In fact, she’d pranced eagerly, which made it hard to be certain, but if she felt ready to continue, then perhaps they should.
After clearing his campsite and repacking his saddle bags at a leisurely speed, Rustam swung into his saddle and set Nightstalker to a gentle amble. Once they were on the move again, she seemed content at the steady pace, and each footfall rang true, easing Rustam’s concerns.
He’d paused for an early lunch, and to run a hand down Nightstalker’s leg again, when she sprang to attention, head high and ears pricked so hard the tips almost met. Rustam surged upright. Admittedly this was a little-used path, leading as it did towards the Middle Mountains, and they were still comfortably within Tyr-en’s boundaries, but the speed of the approaching hooves alarmed him. He crowded close beside his battle-trained mare with a hand on the hilt of his sword where it rested in its saddle scabbard.
A bay horse cantered into view, its rider wearing the livery of a royal courier. Rustam relaxed, but tensed again as the rider caught sight of him and spurred his mount to a gallop. At the last moment the poor creature sat back on its haunches and slid to a stop, spraying froth from its open mouth as the rider hauled on his reins.
Rustam shoved his sword back into its sheath before he completed the draw. He recognised the rider from the royal mews, but not the appalling standard of riding. “How dare you treat your horse like that!” Rustam berated the man, angry on behalf of the abused animal that now stood beside him, muscles quivering and sides heaving. A tiny trickle of blood slid down the inflamed membranes inside the horse’s flaring nostrils, and lather dripped from his neck, girth, and hind legs. “Explain yourself,” he demanded.
To his credit the rider’s face took on a penitent expression, though he wasted no time with apologies, but reached into the tan leather pouch strapped to his hip and withdrew a folded note.
“Pardon, Master Chalice, but this is extremely urgent. The king wants you back in Darshan immediately.”
Rustam scanned the message, penned in Risada’s precise script, and began issuing orders of his own. “Stay here and walk that horse until he stops panting. There’s a stream over there beyond that copse, so wash him off once his breathing eases, and ride gently when you return: your task is done, no need to hurry back.”
He’d done no more than loosen Nightstalker’s girth and change her bridle for a halter while he had lunch, so it took little time for Rustam to be ready to leave. He kept half an eye on the courier while slipping the bridle’s headpiece over Nightstalker’s ears, and approved of the attentions the exhausted horse received from his rider. To be fair to the man, he’d been following instructions that would have left no doubt about the urgency of his commission.
I hope you enjoyed that, I do love to include some horsey stuff in my novels, as you might guess from the covers!