Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have R B Watkinson with the first book in her The Wefan Weaves Trilogy, The Cracked Amulet.
Raised on legends, myths, tales and fairy stories by her professor father, who collected them from across the world, R B Watkinson adores fantasy. Any and all, be it epic, adventuresome, mysterious, grim and dark or just plain weird.
For R B Watkinson, becoming an author of fantasy fiction felt natural and easy as her brain already worked that way.
Born in Holland but raised in Hertfordshire, she now lives in the wilds of west Devon, on a smallholding with two horses, a dog, eight cats, eleven ducks and 6 chickens. Married with two sons and a daughter, she has held down all sorts of jobs, but her favourite ‘work’ was always and still is writing. She also loves art and created the interior designs of her book, including the map, which she greatly enjoyed creating. As the story grew and the characters travelled, so the map of Dumnon developed.
On gaining a Diploma Creative Writing at Oxford University in 2011, she embarked on her epic fantasy – The Wefan Weaves trilogy. Initially, she uploaded her first book onto Smashwords, but it didn’t stay there long before the editor-in-chief of Claret Press, London, read it, loved it and asked R B Watkinson to sign a three book deal in the spring of 2015.
Her debut novel, published in January 2016, is The Cracked Amulet, Book One of The Wefan Weaves trilogy. Book Two should be out by this Winter.
R B Watkinson hopes you enjoy her fantasy trilogy and find it a cracking good read. So far, many readers have enjoyed The Cracked Amulet and the book has received nothing but four and five star reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.
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About the Book
This is an epic though grim story as intricate and as powerful as any fantasy you have ever read, full of adventure, mystery, danger, magic, and magical and strange creatures. A dark and compelling world of full of nuanced, quirky characters that seems too real to be described as fantasy.
The power known as the Wefan, which weaves through everything animate and inanimate, leaks from the world, and Wealdan-bearers, those who can draw on the Wefan for their magic, are fewer and weaker than ever before. A new Priest-king rules in Mureck, and the Murecken blood-priests of the oppressive god Murak rise again to bring war to the lands of Dumnon. They search for those with Wealdan in their blood, for it gives them power. Power to twist, alter and control other beings – human and beast – and ultimately to gain yet more power. They practice horrifying blood-rites on both humans and creatures to gain that power, they gorge on the blood of innocents, destroy farms and families, towns and cities, conquer swathes of territory and gain new followers.
But not all Wealdan-infused blood carries the same intoxicating potency. The blood-priests seek one above all others.
Against a background of failing states, religions, magik and spirits, Coryn and Katleya lose all that they have and must flee all that they know. Coryn, ex-soldier, ex-slave, ex-farmboy, protected by a cracked amulet given to him by a Wealdan-bearing woman also fleeing the Murecken, must find his sister and fulfill an oath. An oath as powerful now as when he gave it over a decade ago.
Katleya, alone in a terrible world, survives through bloody-minded stubbornness, wits and an unbelievable skill with knives. Frustrated that she is able to see the Wefan but not draw on its power, Katleya is determined to reach one of the fabled havens, colleges full of scholars and teachers, where she can learn to use her Wealdan fully. But she is hunted by those who would use her and the Wealdan in her blood for terrible purposes of their own.
Leveen has a single ambition, one she is willing to do anything and everything to achieve. She believes she has found one with so much Wealdan in her blood that the High-priest of Murak himself would give her anything she wants in exchange. And though she hates him with blood-soaked vengeance, she needs him.
And then there’s Mureen, trapped and desperate. Too old for such terrible adventures and dangers, she almost loses her faith in her god, Lehot, as she struggles to save the few survivors left in her care from the blood-priests and their writhen – the blood-magik controlled and twisted creatures that some say are descended from human survivors of blood-magic gone wrong centuries ago.
With wyrms, lacerts, pirates, desert warriors, ifrits, writhen, and blood-priests to contend with, how will any of them survive? Will swords, daggers, bows and and a very small amount of magic be enough for them to survive their journeys and achieve their goals?
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Keep reading for an excerpt:
Katleya and her uncle hunted. It was the tail-end of winter, and the snows had begun melting on the lower mountain slopes. They were high up in the foothills of the Ruel Mountains and had stopped at the edge of the leafless woods half filling a valley. Below, the River Stam tumbled in a rush over rocks between narrow, reed heavy banks. Due west, a few leagues downstream, lay their home, the village of Laeft ofer Stam in the far western reaches of Rophet.
‘So, tell me what you see.’ Uncle Yadoc looked at her then back down the slope.
Katleya pushed out the tip of her tongue and moistened her lips, tasting the frigid breeze sliding down off the mountains. The earth smelled of ice, browned fern, moss, nibbled grass and wild animals. She spotted the tracks of rabbit and fox, even a spirit, a little shy, brown earth-spirit peeping out from a burrow, but that wouldn’t be enough for her uncle.
She moved her head a little from side to side and leaned into the wind. It wasn’t necessary but it helped her concentrate. Then Katleya opened her Wealdan.
Searing light flooded in, swamped her brain, and threatened to drown every sense. She gasped, struggling against it. Forcing her focus to narrow, she felt the light fade to something more bearable. Then she could see, or rather, sense the individual gossamer threads of Wefan. The strands of energy trellised through the trees, laced the grass and leaves, and latticed the rock and earth. Each pattern stretched a little way out into the air creating a nimbus of light, an aura she’d been learning to read. If she concentrated very hard, Katleya could almost hear the soft hum the Wefan made as it coursed through everything. She crouched, laying one hand on the grass. The thrum and tingle of Wefan felt strange and wonderful at the same time.
‘You should know how to stop letting it overwhelm you by now, child. People will notice you gasping and flapping about like a landed fish. Trackers and hunters should be silent, unknown at all times, no matter what skills they use,’ Uncle Yadoc repeated. Yet again. ‘Now, tell me what you see.’
Stung by his rebuke, Katleya turned away, pulled the wide brim of her hat down low to hide her flush, and searched. Where animals had passed she saw the slight damage done to the patterns of the energies in stems, blades and leaves, even on mud, stone and sand. She recognised what had passed by and how long ago by how they’d affected the Wefan. They led her to the actual spoor, which she could see using ordinary sight. The cloven hooves of a herd of deer. The clawed paw of a mountain cat standing well over three feet by the size of its pads. The prints of a wolf pack.
The breeze stilled as she looked over the river. Here, the fast flowing water distorted the strands of Wefan, sending them, and any that floated loose in the air above, into a constant state of flux. It made them almost unreadable and what lay on the opposite bank hard to see. She turned to her uncle.
‘Nothing this side of the river.’
He nodded and led them on. They forded the river, stepping from one slippery rock to the next, where the water ran shallow but swift with icy snowmelt. Then the contamination of Wefan by writhen alerted all her senses.
They had left an obvious trail. Staining the strands of Wefan with a disturbing murk. As if their wrongness infected the patterns of everything they touched. Katleya paralleled their route noting when the spoor of clawed yet human-shaped feet were joined by the prints of a pair of unmistakeable wide, square-toed boots.
‘Writhen passed through here.’ Katleya flared her nostrils. She could almost smell the acrid stink of the twisted creatures. She hesitated, reading the trail with care. ‘Three. They came past here a day ago. A Murecken blood-priest is with them.’
A shiver ran down her neck. Writhen coming down from the mountains so early was bad enough, but a blood-priest too and so close to the village? And so far from the Kalebrodian border? Katleya gripped her short-bow a little tighter. ‘They worked their way along the river here. Then turned back up the ridge over there.’
‘Yes. I see the tracks now.’ Uncle Yadoc followed close behind. ‘Where do they turn, child?’
Katleya walked on then pointed northwards to a slope of rocks and furze. ‘Right here. Then on through that birch copse.’
Uncle Yadoc looked at the tracks. He nodded, almost smiled as he turned toward her. His steel-blue eyes gleamed against his bronzed skin, leathered by the wind and rain of over sixty years. ‘You’ve done well. Three writhen and a Murecken blood-priest as you say.’ He crouched low and traced one of the scuffed prints left in the soft soil. He stood. ‘But you still need more practice. Not now, however. It’s time to return home. The light will soon fail and I’ve no wish to meet a blood-priest face to face. We must also warn the village. Come, child.’