It’s day 2 of the Fellowship of Fantasy Writers Blog Tour and today I’m featuring an excerpt and character interview for Lee Dunning, author of Exile’s Redemption.
Lee has always loved writing, and wrote her first book in ninth grade. It was deplorable, though at the time she thought herself the next J.R.R. Tolkien. Since then Lee has written several short stories and books, but thankfully had enough sense not to publish them. Now as an older, and hopefully more skilled writer, Lee has published the first story she deems worthy of sharing with the world – Exile’s Redemption. She published it through Amazon in July of 2014.
In addition to writing, Lee absolutely loves reading, working on digital art (she did her book cover and has sold several covers to other authors (including Chris Kennedy’s novel, Can’t Look Back), wasting too much time on computer and tabletop gaming, and baking. She’s working on the sequel to Exile’s Redemption and hopes to have it out in the second quarter of 2015.
You can connect with Lee on:
Exile’s Redemption is, on the surface, a fantasy adventure tale about good versus evil, but it goes beyond that. It’s about paths taken which changed the course of history and sent a proud race down a road of slow decline – so slow they don’t even realize that one day they’ll exist only in history texts and children’s stories.
One of the individuals from days long past, Umbral K’hul, returns after ten thousand years of exile. He discovers his flare of temper as a boy not only saw him banished but set the stage for pride and ambition to run unchecked among his people. He must come to grips with his failings and work to rebuild his people while keeping them from discovering his true identity. Adopting the name W’rath, the elves’ first-born son, joins with a young, untried warrior and strives to save their people.
While the story tackles serious subjects, the story is written to entertain and amuse. The characters express themselves in unique ways, and carry the story along in a fast-paced manner. Exile’s Redemption is very much a character driven story, quirky characters for certain, but never boring.
Brief Character Profiles
Umbral K’hul: Ten thousand years ago he tried to murder his father. He failed and found himself exiled to the Abyss to face certain death. Fate has opened a door and given him as second chance.
Raven: A young scholar, she has traveled to Second Home to research the truth about the first child born to the elves, Umbral K’hul.
Lady Swiftbrook: Driven insane by demons, she is rescued and healed by a small, filthy elf, and so starts a dangerous friendship.
Lord K’hul: Newest war leader to the elves, and lover of Lady Swiftbrook, he trusts not the smirking new arrival at his lady’s side.
Exile’s Redemption Excerpt
Okay, this is a scene from Exile’s Redemption between my primary male protagonist, W’rath, and his pain-in-the-arse half-nephew, K’hul. W’rath wants to put a stop to a rather nasty practice going on in the Elven nation of First Home, and K’hul, who has just replaced his father as “First Among Equals” is standing in W’rath’s way. Enjoy.
Now that they were away from the others, and any possibility of public humiliation, K’hul’s confidence reasserted itself. He faced W’rath, arms crossed, his face hostile. “You have me here now, Exile. What do you plan to do? Chew on my ankles?”
“Really, lad, short jokes? Even among the Shadow Elf population, I’m shy several inches of average. I’ve heard every possible insult in existence. You’ll have to work much harder if you wish to provoke me. Oh, I know, threaten to keep my lads helpless and labeled as inherently evil. That will get my attention.”
K’hul raised an eyebrow. “You’re lads? Until a few days ago, you didn’t even know they existed. Until a few minutes ago you’d never laid eyes upon them. How can you call them ‘your lads’ when you don’t know a thing about them? Their own councilors wanted them collared. You just strut in and decide they should have full access to their psionics without first finding out why your predecessors thought it was a bad idea?”
“Interesting.” W’rath cocked his head. “That actually came across as a coherent argument.”
“So we’re done with this, then?”
W’rath chuckled. Ah, so young, so naïve. “Of course not, lad. Those collars will come off. But since you went to the effort to put together a logical reason for your obstinacy, it’s only fair I do the same.”
“Or, since we both know nothing you say will change my mind, we could just skip that part and move on to where I pummel you into a jelly. A very small jelly.” K’hul made a show of cracking his knuckles.
“Charming. However, isn’t that a bit archaic? Isn’t the whole purpose of having a council to facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas? Or am I mistaken and it’s really only an attempt to put a civilized face on our government while the First’s descendant continues to bully the rest of the population?”
“I’m the bully? You’ve already made it clear you expect the collars to come off regardless of the outcome of any discussion. In fact, you used threatened violence to lure me here in the first place. So be it. It worked well enough for the First, I’m only too happy to continue the tradition.”
W’rath had only a fraction of a second to chide himself for underestimating his nephew before the huge First Born smashed a granite-like fist into his jaw. He attempted to roll with the punch, but the lad’s speed shocked him, and W’rath felt the bone shatter. Most people wouldn’t expect someone of such size to also have the agility and quickness of a hunting cat, but W’rath, of all people, realized he should have known better.
The force of the blow sent him flying across the room. He landed and continued to tumble across the floor until a wall brought him to a bone rattling halt. He spat out blood and teeth, but already felt his body regenerating, knitting the bone back together. Another fifteen minutes and he’d completely heal. Of course, K’hul wouldn’t allow him to regenerate in peace. W’rath’s father hadn’t either.
“I knew without your psionics you’d lose miserably in a fight,” K’hul gloated, “but really, Exile, I still expected better. What were you thinking? Is this how you go about turning me over your knee and giving out a good paddling?”
He swaggered over to W’rath, hands on hips. “Did you think because I’m younger than you, you can lord it over me? Or, maybe you think I’m just some big, dumb fighter you can tear apart with your self-imagined superior intellect? Lesson one, Exile, never underestimate your opponent.”
I agree entirely. With the speed of a striking snake, W’rath lashed out with his legs, hooking onto K’hul’s ankle with one foot, and smashing the side of K’hul’s knee with the other. A resounding crack echoed off the walls as the knee exploded. K’hul crashed to the floor, howling in pain and surprise. The entire dojo shook with the force of his massive body splitting the floorboards.
With reflexes honed from years of surviving in the Abyss, W’rath sprang up and forward, smashing K’hul’s ruined knee, causing the First Born to nearly bite through his tongue in his efforts to keep from bellowing in agony. Even so he could not help but cry out as the Shadow Elf launched himself into the air using the shattered knee for leverage. The older elf fell back earthward, smashing the elbow of the hand that had seconds earlier broken his jaw. He tumbled forward and came to rest with his knee against K’hul’s throat. He pressed just hard enough to make it clear how easily he could crush the huge elf’s windpipe.
K’hul went to brush the Shadow Elf from his chest only to find his other arm pinned to the floor by a knife, which hummed with faint magic. Tendons neatly sliced, the embedded knife kept him from healing. For now the arm lay useless. He starred up into W’rath’s furious face in horror.
“If you ever strike me again,” W’rath said, struggling to enunciate through broken teeth, and a partially healed mandible, “your current injuries will seem but pleasant memories. I shall break every joint in your body, and then march up this puffed up chest of yours to smash every bone in your face. If your bloodline to the First survives as unsullied as you claim, you may regenerate perfectly, but odds are you won’t present quite as handsome a visage as you’re used to.”
K’hul gaped at the Shadow Elf, confirming W’rath’s suspicions that no one had ever dared speak to the young warleader in such a manner before. K’hul nearly choked on the blood from his partially severed tongue. W’rath grinned. “Oh, yes, the various races of elves may differ in a great many ways, but one thing you can always count on is our vanity. Lad, you may hate me with every fiber of your being, but by all the ancestors you hold dear, you will respect me.
W’rath’s smile widened. “And now … if you don’t mind, I do believe I have won our … debate.”
Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?
That would have to be my half-nephew, the current head of House K’hul. The wretched, knuckle-dragging, oaf reminds me of my father, only without the power and experience to back up his claims to leadership. He leads by bullying and lets an incident from ten thousand years past rationalize the continued persecution of a segment of our society.
Who do you most admire in your world? Why?
Probably Lady Raven. Yes, she’s young and naïve, but she has a pure heart and courage to search for the truth – regardless of the consequences. Her noble spirit won’t allow her to stand by when she sees an injustice. Our people could use more young ladies like her.
What are your goals? What would you like to achieve?
Goals? So many goals. Perhaps the most ambitious is to see the elves restored to their former glory as the dominant species of Alassea. Of course, I expect to lead them during that journey.
What is your greatest fear? How will you overcome it?
I suppose someone realizing who I really am … who I used to be, would prove problematic. Dealing with the problem would require subtly – and probably an unfortunate amount of memory altering using my psionics. Nasty business but preferable to murder.
What is the strangest situation you’ve ever found yourself in?
I would say learning table manners from a demon lord would have top my list of odd experiences.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? Why?
Definitely Lady Uruviel Stormchaser. While not my birth mother, she raised me. She developed the elves’ first written language and taught me to appreciate my people for more than just their skills on the battlefield.
Do you have any hobbies? What are they?
I’ve spent so much time simply trying to survive, I haven’t had much opportunity to pursue a hobby. Perhaps it’s time I remedied that situation. I could start a knife collection. One can never have enough knives.
Have you ever been in love? How did that work out for you?
I believe I did love someone once, but at the time I was too young, too stupid and too full of rage to realize it. Now she’s dust and all I have are a good many regrets.
Name some of your bad habits.
I don’t believe I have any bad habits, however Lady Swiftbrook loves to regale me about what she perceives as my many shortcomings. She says I’m smug, sneaky, constantly up to no good, and she abhors these rolled up bits of leaves I burn and suck on. She says they stink. I say they smell like pie. All civilized people love pie.
What do you regret most in your life? Why?
I regret failing to kill my father. If I had prevailed against him, I could have ensured our people followed a path which didn’t lead to their diminishment. I like to think Lady Urvuiel Stormchaser would still walk among us … perhaps she and I … well, no good can come of thinking along those paths at this point.