The Shadow City
Hunters of Infinity #2
by Ryan Wieser
Genre: Sci-Fi/Space Opera
Pub Date: 10/16/18
Jessop, the first woman to join the Hunters, has finally been reunited with those who mean the most to her. In her quest for vengeance, she has left many embittered and betrayed, chief among them Kohl O’Hanlon, the Hunter who once loved her.
Now, as the feared Falco Bane leads his forces into the Hunters’ territory, Kohl attempts to retaliate, flooding their infamous Shadow City with his own followers. Jessop must fight a war on two fronts, testing her commitment to the ones she loves and challenging her abilities as the most elite warrior among the Hunters. With the future of Daharia’s leadership at stake, Jessop is determined to protect those closest to her at all costs . But when allies turn into adversaries, the real threat comes from a place least expected . . .
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In her dream, Jessop wore a linen cloak, identical to one she had first donned in the Blade’s mystical pool. He wore dark funerary robes, and he moved quickly, disappearing around corners, catching her eyes in the shadows. She followed him through the maze, wondering where he went, what he thought. She quickened her step, trotting after him, chasing through the dark corridors. She spun around the wall’s end, and felt a sudden ache in her abdomen. His arm was around her instantly, holding her close to his body. She looked down, over the sheer linen, and saw between her breasts the hilt of his dagger, his gloved hand still tight around the weapon. Blood soaked the robe, slick and crimson, sticking to her form. She wasn’t angry with him; it hadn’t hurt that badly. She rested her hand against his chest, and blood leached through her fingers. She looked up into his dark eyes. A tear ran over the star-shaped scar.
“You’re bleeding,” she whispered, pressing firmly against his chest, ignoring her own wound.
He smiled at her, shrugging casually. “It’s only my heart.”
Jessop woke to the sound of crying, lurching up in her bed. It had been the same dream, for the hundredth time. Her hair snaked around her neck with sweat, her brow damp and hands clammy. Again, the small cry called to her. She glanced over the large, dark bed where Falco slept, motionless and silent. She rolled off, her feet finding the cool ground, and crossed the room, her eyes navigating the dark with their usual ease. Jeco was sitting up in his bed, his damp dark hair standing on end, his large gray eyes
brimming with tears.
She looped her hands under his shoulders and pulled him to her body. “I couldn’t sleep either, love.” He clung to her tightly, burying his small face under her chin. He didn’t care that she was slick with sweat or weary with exhaustion; she was his mother, his protector.
In the darkness, large arms wrapped around her, and she leaned back into Falco, finding the safety in his arms that their son found in hers. Falco was silent in the night, a predatory creature whose abilities amazed her as much in that moment as they had a decade before.
His lips kissed the space where her neck met her shoulder. “Nightmares again?”
“Both of us, it seems,” she whispered, her breath travelling over Jeco’s short hair.
“What should I do when my family cannot find peace?”
Jessop breathed heavily at her husband’s question. It had been a month since Kohl had escaped the Blade, nearly killing her in the process. The Blade had been his home for most of his life. It had been more than a home. It had been his training facility, where he had lived with his Hunter brethren, patrolling the Daharian galaxy on behalf of Hydo Jesuin. The same Blade she had infiltrated and handed over to her husband, Falco. Jessop pushed the thought back, blinking away the image of Kohl O’Hanlon’s face. “Find the one who torments me,” she ordered.
The Glass Blade
Hunters of Infinity #1
In a seedy bar in the shadowy corners of Daharia, Jessop comes to the rescue of young Hunter Kohl O’Hanlon. Impressed by her remarkable sword-wielding skills, the Hunters invite her to their training facility, the Glass Blade, though not all are pleased with the intrusion. But they soon discover that Jessop learned to fight from the rogue leader of the Shadow City of Aranthol—and escaped. Now they want to use her intimate knowledge of their enemy to destroy him.
As Jessop grows closer to this elite brotherhood, their leader succumbs to a mysterious ailment, and Kohl learns that Jessop is hiding dark secrets, raising suspicions about the enigmatic woman who saved his life. Has the Hunters’ security been breached—or do they have a traitor in their ranks?
Allegiances will be questioned.
Loyalties will be betrayed.
Vengeance will be brutal.
"This thrilling, action-packed debut ties together a strong characters with a building story line that will have readers clamoring for the next volume in this new series." --Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW, on The Glass Blade
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From where she sat, with her cloak draped low over her face, she could easily make out the group of Aren. They were more discreet than she had anticipated, but few could go unseen to her well-trained eyes. They were scattered about the bar, donning the civilian attire of common Azgul nomad passer-by. The Aren weren’t common travelers though; they were fatalistic believers who waited anxiously for a supposed impending end. A doom and darkness that would swallow the entire Daharian galaxy whole—their belief in some unimagined state of horror for the universe made her certain that not a man amongst them had ever laid eyes on Aranthol.
She scanned the room, counting twelve of the zealots. Without their robes they appeared as normal men, barring their brand, which could be seen on the base of several of their necks. The tender nape of the neck was where all in Azgul had their brands. She knew that their mark was not well-known though, not as well-known as they would have liked it to be. Thinking of the brandings nearly had Jessop reaching for her own neck, certain she could almost feel the hot iron against her still. The smell of burning, blistering flesh unnaturally recoiling from heated metal filled her nostrils. She shivered at the putrid memory and forced it back to the depths of her mind, where she kept all her locked-away thoughts and all her darkness.
Suddenly, the oddest sensation roused her, overcoming her senses. She could feel silk running across her skin, dragging her fine hairs on end, exciting her cells. The energy of the room had completely changed, thickening the air more than any smoke or liquor could do. She had only ever been around one other of her kind, and to feel the changing electromagnetic charge in the room without him present was as compelling to her as it was terrifying. The draw was a beast’s cry calling her in, feeding her need to find the one like her. It was a pull strong enough to grip her, strong enough to shoot adrenaline through her, to dilate her pupils and ready her muscles and tell her, without question, that Hunters were near.
She closed her eyes and narrowed in on their presence. She could smell the faintest scent of grease on one of them; it had an acidic air to it—like the oil slick found in the Western corner of the city. She could hear his voice though he did not speak. She could see the diminutive smudge of black slick over his boot though she did not open her eyes. Her senses—so refined—ensured she could see most of him without ever glancing his way.
And then she laid eyes on him.
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Even though the second book is only just being released, I have actually already finished writing the trilogy. The last installment is set for release in 2019. The entire experience of writing this story has gone by in the blink of an eye, as clichéd as that is to say, it’s simply true. Even though the last book is done, I honestly can’t say if this is it for Jessop, Falco, and Kohl (if they all survive to the end of the last book, that is…).
If you love your characters it feels impossible to say that you’re done with them forever. And I love these characters. They’re crazy, impulsive, and immature. They make the same mistakes over and over. They are blinded by their motives. But they all end up on the same quest for redemption, reaffirming their love and loyalty along the way. For me, the trilogy was always about the personal journey and relationships of these characters. It is difficult to know for sure if their stories are completely done. Maybe it’s their time. At this point, I can’t say for sure what will happen.
Like my main characters, the trilogy is imperfect, but with each book, it developed more and more. I definitely feel like I had the opportunity to learn a great deal and to exercise new skills with each installment, and in some ways, that’s what Jessop, Falco, and Kohl do – with each book, they learn and they change. I do think that perhaps with a trilogy, you have more room to explore and more pages to fill. It all depends on the way you write, how much of your plot is planned in advance, how many pages you intend to utilize to tell your story… There are a lot of factors to consider. Oddly, I wasn’t necessarily trying to write a trilogy when I started writing the story; I was more focused on the characters, their relationships, histories, and individual profiles. If anything, the trilogy helped provide some structure and give the overarching story a beginning, middle, and an end.
In terms of next projects, I am actually already busy working on my next book, a medieval-esque fantasy novel. I learned a lot from the trilogy. I got some amazing reviews and a lot of feedback, some wonderful and some less so, but all of it served a purpose. My flaws as a novice writer have been highlighted, the interests of my readers have been made known, and the path forward has been laid out with hope and determination. This next book is really quite different from the Hunters of Infinity series. While it is also an action packed fantasy led by a strong female protagonist, it’s set in a different world, a different time, and supported by an entourage of different characters. I’m excited to see where these new characters go. I am committing to them with the same passion and care I did for Jessop and her leading men and it’s my hope that they are received by my readers with as much enthusiasm and support (if not more!).
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