Zoysana’s Choice Author:Gordon A. Long Genre:Fantasy
Discovered as a child living alone in the forest and growing up an orphan of mixed parentage, but under the protection of the king’s youngest son, Zoe is appreciated for her own merit by everyone, from the royal family to the lowest kitchen wench. But her secure nest is shattered by conflict in the king’s family, and soon she will have to decide where her loyalties lie. She flees to her former home in the mountains, where she finds many answers, but not to the questions she is asking. Then she is offered the chance to visit Kyabra, the home of her grandfather, to learn about that ancient culture. But all of these travels come to naught when she hears of war at home, and she returns to Petrella to be faced with a decision that could stop a war and change the lives of thousands, but only at the greatest personal cost. This is the first published work of a 7-book saga of standalone novels tied together by characters and setting. Books 4 to 7 are sequential, and Books 1 to 3 happen 400 years earlier.
Most of the way through the town the armigerent was content to walk in the centre of the street, but once in a while he would notice something off to the side and wander that way. Each time, this caused consternation among the nearest bystanders, creating a minor stir in the normal flow of the crowd. At one point he veered close to a group of citizens and there was more movement than usual. A young child, separated from her mother, found herself confronted by the huge beast. Repeating the Kyabran equivalent of, “Doggie, doggie,” she toddled over to investigate. A rough spot in the roadway proved an obstacle for the tiny feet, and the baby was dumped in the dust. She sat there, deciding whether she was injured enough to cry or interested enough to get up and keep going. Patu solved her problem by strolling to her. Seeing the huge nose conveniently near, the little girl grabbed two good handfuls of whiskers and hauled herself to her feet then stood there, unwilling to let go of such a convenient support. Patu stood also, wondering what to do. The child’s mother was in a similar quandary, but less placid about it. She had taken a step forward, but could not bring herself to approach closer. She wavered, almost in hysterics, but whether through inability or sufficient control, made no sound. Finally the baby decided she was solid enough and let go, crowed and patted the huge, bristly nose. More “Doggie, doggie.” Patu decided that this was fun. He wagged his tail and presented his nose again for more patting. There was a distinct relaxing of breath among the bystanders. Pleased by her attention, he tried to nudge his head under her arm so she would scratch his ears. The nudge was too much for her precarious balance, and she sat down again, rather hard. She looked up with the beginning of a pout. The armigerent’s tail went down, and he glanced around with a guilty set to his ears. Several people laughed. Zoe thought that this had gone on a little too long for the mother’s nerves, so she whistled softly. Patu delicately reached out and caught the girl’s coat near the collar and picked her up, turned her towards her mother and set her on her feet. Then he gently nudged her. The chubby legs churned in order to keep from falling and propelled their owner straight into her mother’s anxious arms. From that high vantage, the toddler squirmed around, pointing and calling her “doggie” refrain proudly. When the laughter subsided enough that she could be heard, Zoe kneed her horse forward and bowed in the saddle. “If you don’t mind, madam, and your child has finished playing with my armigerent, could we go on now? We are holding up a lot of people.” She gestured to the rest of the procession, filling the road behind. The mother, flustered by the quick flurry of emotions and the laughter of her friends, gave a quick curtsey and nodded, still clinging mutely to her daughter. Zoe bowed again and instructed Patu to do likewise. Then she sent him on ahead and they continued through the town.
Brought up in a logging camp with no electricity, Gordon Long learned his storytelling in the traditional way: at his father’s knee. He now spends his time editing, publishing, travelling, blogging and writing fantasy and social commentary, although sometimes the boundaries blur. Gordon lives in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with his wife, Linda, and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. When he is not writing and publishing, he works on projects with the Surrey Seniors’ Planning Table, and is a staff writer for <indiesunlimited.com>