Saturday 12th March sees the launch of Liz Calder’s new book, Shamira – Warrior (Ark House Press). This is Liz’s first book-length publication and the first in her Shamira Trilogy. Please join us in the Chapel at Tabor Adelaide (181 Goodwood Rd Millswood) from 6pm to celebrate the launch. To whet your appetite, here’s a short synopsis and a tantalising extract…
A rebellious princess who longs to find her true purpose in the world, Shamira is bound by the demands of custom and etiquette. Since the death of her mother while giving birth to her sister, Abella, Shamira’s relationship with her father has been strained, compelling her to abandon all faith in the Helm. Not even her one true friend, Keagan, Captain of the Princes’ Guard, can help Shamira overcome the bitterness and anger that keeps her spiraling out of control and inevitably into the arms of the artist, Sir Devon, who would see her compromise everything she once believed in. Preserved by conflicting loyalties, and a disturbing sense that there’s more to Sir Devon than meets the eye, Shamira is eventually sent away to stay with her late Mama’s family. Travelling to the Summer Province, she soon learns of the severe hardship faced by those under the rule of the corrupt Imperial family, including a thriving slave trade and systematic mistreatment of half-breeds. As Abella discovers her own prophetic powers, Shamira learns that their destinies are intertwined and will soon see them reunited for a purpose. In an ensuing battle of good versus evil, Shamira must put aside the princess and become the warrior she was born to be…
Chapter 1 (excerpt)
Shamira drew a rasping breath as she lunged forward, cold sweat trickling down the nape of her neck. A chill crawled over her arms, yet her skin was on fire. Her heartbeat drummed within the confines of her sleep-deprived mind as her bony fingers clawed the sheets, clenching the balls of ruffled silk. Every night she woke this way – every night the same dream.
Panting, she tossed back the quilts and stumbled bare foot across the wooden floors. Darkness weighed upon her eyes as she fumbled through the curtains covering a pair of glass doors. With click of a lock, the doors swung open and Shamira escaped into the blue haze of the crescent moons. There they hung above her balcony, like ornaments on Solstice Eve, surrounded by candles in the shape of glistening stars. She gazed, searching for answers beyond her reach. Dawn would soon break the spell of night, shedding its light on the darkness swaying her mind and sending her tumbling into a world of nightmares. Soon the light would come, blazing on the horizon of the Autumn Province.
The voice came from below, deep within the gardens of Eryntire House, its bearer hiding beneath the orchards of wilting trees and auburn leaves.
Shamira summoned her strength and shifted the ceramic flower pot hiding the rope he had given her. Securing it on the balustrade, she climbed over the edge with ease and, with hands no longer belonging to a princess, lowered herself into the ruddy foliage.
‘Captain,’ she said with the smallest of smiles, sweeping her matted blonde hair from her face.
‘Princess,’ he replied with a bow.
She strode before him, leading the way to their sacred arena, to the place where she defied her position each morning, before daylight could condemn her to the life sentence of royalty.
‘Have you been practicing what I taught you?’ he asked as they walked.
‘How can I?’ she replied.
It was more a statement than a question, one to which Keagan thought it best not to respond. So they continued in silence, where the foliage thinned and the four moons could be seen in all their glory.
Shamira glanced at Keagan, his silver tunic gleaming beneath the moonlight, his sapphire eyes fixed on her.
‘Here,’ he said, tossing her a sword.
In one fluid movement, she grasped its polished handle and took her stance.
‘Is there something bothering you, Princess?’ he asked, his brows drawn together.
‘You seem distracted and somewhat . . . aggressive.’
Shamira’s wild eyes narrowed. ‘No,’ she answered simply.
‘Very well.’ Keagan set his feet apart and leveled his sword parallel to the ground. ‘You know you can talk to me if needed.’
Shamira tapped her blade against his, piercing the still morning with the shrill of steel. ‘When have I ever wanted to talk?’
Keagan shrugged, only to have Shamira swipe his sword aside in a circular motion.
She shifted across the clearing. ‘You’re not trying.’
‘Yes, I am. You’re just getting better.’
‘Try,’ she growled, attacking him with her full force. Shamira’s jade eyes caught light as the blades clashed, beating together. Her heart raced. Keagan maneuvered himself with ease but she could see a deep concentration settle into the creases of his brow. As the Captain of the Princes’ Guard, Keagan fought like a warrior, bowed like a lord, and taught like a scholar. His appearance never failed to impress, from his chestnut waves of hair to his impeccable posture. Shamira found him at the best of times quite infuriating. However, he put up with her antics and taught her to master the art of the sword. Thus, she liked him.
‘Didn’t you sleep well?’ Keagan asked, grazing her blade with his.
She started battering again, shifting her feet across the clearing as they danced the violent set. ‘What makes you ask?’
‘Well, you didn’t remember your shoes, nor to dress yourself.’
‘I need to look like I’ve just woken up, in case anyone sees me. I can hardly be dressed as though I’ve been up for hours.’
‘Usually, you at least put on your boots and a robe.’
‘I was too hot, besides, I fight better bare foot.’
‘You also look rather fetching in your nightdress, Princess.’
‘I know what you’re doing.’
‘I don’t have the faintest idea to what you are referring . . .’
‘You are trying to make me angry.’
‘I would never do such a thing.’
‘Harness my anger, you told me. Don’t let it control me, you said.’
He shrugged. ‘Well, you need the practice.’
‘Argh!’ she screeched, lunging at him
‘It is almost time,’ Keagan said calmly, swiping Shamira’s last blow and turning his eyes to the skies.
‘There is never enough of it.’
‘Time.’ She looked up at the smears of pink and gold diffusing the darkness into soft indigo.
‘Remember what I said, Shamira.’
She blushed unwillingly, handing him her sword. ‘What, to harness my anger?’
‘No. If you ever need to talk . . .’
Shamira watched as his poised form disappeared into the shadows of the orchards. She then hitched her sullied nightdress to her knees and trudged after him, back to Eryntire House, back to a life foreign to her, back to being a princess of Vanora.
Liz calder is in her third year of a bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) at Tabor College, Adelaide. She is the co-organiser of Omega Writers Adelaide and administrative secretary for the up-coming Stories of Life writing competition. She is currently working on the second book in the Shamira Trilogy.