A big welcome to Lou Hoffmann as part of her blog tour for Dragon’s Rise from Harmony Ink Press.
Hello! I’m Lou Hoffmann, and I am happy to be visiting here at Drops of Ink! I’m touring to celebrate the release of my latest book, Dragon’s Rise. It’s number 4 in The Sun Child Chronicles, released on July 9 from Harmony Ink Press. Don’t miss the Rafflecopter giveaway—enter with the “If I had magic I’d be like…” poll, by signing up for my newsletter, or tweeting a message. Enter as many times as you can, and keep your fingers crossed for luck in the random pick!
Writing The Sun Child Chronicles is an adventure, and I hope that means reading it feels like that too. The best thing about adventure stories? The places you go! My favorite places in The Sun Child Chronicles are the ones that fantastical. If I’m honest, I can’t pick true favorites—it’s something I’ve never been good at! Can’t even pick a favorite color and stick with it. I should say these are places I think I’d love to visit—there are some other really fabulous places, but they’re the scary ones; maybe those can go in another post someday, somewhere. With that in mind, these four (one from each of the books out so far) are some of the best—I think. If you’ve read the books (or are reading them now), and you have different favorites, I’d love to hear about your choices.
• Hank George’s log cabin at Black Creek Ravine, from Key of Behliseth: For me, this cabin speaks of all the comforts of a true home. It’s neither fancy nor large, but it’s warm and sunny, smells of cedar and woodsmoke and home-cooked, rustic meals, and is filled to brimming with the memory of drumbeats and songs, love, kindness, and care. Lucky was indeed truly lucky when he happened on Hank George after he first arrived, completely alone, in this new world called Earth, and Hank took him home to live in this wonderful, safe place.
• Naht’kah’s grotto, from Wraith Queen’s Veil: It is very hard to choose one place from this book, because this is the part of the tale that takes Lucky on a quest through many lands, and it’s full of wonderful places. Ask me tomorrow and I might choose Baneshieldh’s forest, or the Wraith Queen’s tower, but today, I’m sticking with Naht’kah’s grotto, where the otter shifter Tiro L’Rieve took Han Shieth for healing. I’m just going to give you some lines from the book—you might be able to see why I love it.
When they surfaced at their destination, Han saw a strange grotto cupped inside a stone sphere. No candles or lamps or flames of any kind, but the smooth walls glowed with a low white luminescence, and the pools, too, shone as if the held liquid light instead of water. Han was able to take in these details because the violet waters in the grotto’s lowest pool soothed his pain, leaving his mind clear for the first time since he’d lain down in exhaustion on his pirated ice floe. A series of pools to either side of where Han floated with Tiro’s aid curved upward like twin staircases, climbing through the colors of a rainbow. Red next after violet, orange, yellow, green, and ending in blue. At the top, a translucent crystal bowl ten feet across held indigo waters, the tips of the tiny waves on its surface like stars in a summer night sky.
This image is actually a cave in Vietnam, but doesn’t it kind of feel magical like Naht’kah’s grotto?
• The Bastien Clan Aerie, in Ciarrah’s Light: It’s true that in the story we visit the aerie at a troubled time. Not only the eagle shifters of Bastien clan are suffering from a strange malady, but shifters of various species from all over Earth have gathered there, trying to work together to solve the problem of the illness affecting them all. Forgive me, but I want to put that all aside for a moment, and just look at the imaginary place hidden inside a real place in north central Washington State—the Sinlahekin Game Reserve. We’re in wild country on the margins of the Okanogan. The shifter’s aerie hides in a high, hanging valley surrounded by ridges and peaks—like the one in the image below. No roads can take you there, and the taxing hike is over hidden trails and obscure tracks. Frankly, nobody not invited in is going to make it in. Inside the community, the eagle families have individual homes along the high ridges overlooking green swards, pools, wildflower meadows, and shingled slopes. The view encompasses snow-capped peaks year around and vast skies seemingly held up by rings of mountain summits. Can’t you just feel the cool, fresh breeze?
• Followers Quarter in Dragon’s Rise: Of all the places Lucky visits, this is one of his favorites, which may be why it’s one of mine. It’s called the Quarter, because it’s in a section of Nedhra City. It’s different than any place in the city, and any place in the Sunlands. The people there don’t practice magic and they don’t have ‘gods.’ What they do have is common sense, lots of love and care for others and for the land of which they are a part. And their little town within a town is beautiful. Here’s a brief description of what Lucky saw when he first entered the Quarter:
They rode out of the vacant space, through a wide-open set of gates made of a golden wood like bamboo, and into an area of the city that seemed far more peaceful than any neighborhood Luccan had seen so far. Rows of houses that reminded Lucky of the ones he’d seen in San Francisco the time he went there with Hank George. Brightly colored, tall, narrow, and very close together, they occupied blocks of broad cobbled avenues lined with old trees with golden leaves that somehow seemed to cast cool shade without any darkness. A fresh breeze blew through, making the trees shimmer and crowds of poppies and roses and daisies bob and weave.
And here’s an image of part of the courtyard of Thurlock’s favorite café in Followers Quarter, Almirah’s.
Thanks for accompanying me on a mini-tour of some of the best places in Lucky’s worlds! I enjoyed it and hope you did too. I hope to see you again on some of the stops along the way as I celebrate this latest release (and good luck with the giveaway). Thanks for reading!
Author: Lou Hoffmann
Title: Dragon’s Rise
Series: The Sun Child Chronicles
Series book number: 4
Series type: True series, read in order
Are all series books available for review? Yes
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover artist: Catt Ford
Length: Novel, 313 pages, 130,000 words
Genre, tropes, types: YA Fantasy; sci-fi elements, LGBTQ+ Characters include Gay Teen MC and other LGBTQ+ characters, limited romance elements, series is coming-of-age/meeting destiny; shifters, dragons, magic, aliens, alternate worlds/dimensions
Notes: Includes: violence/battle in a fantasy setting, horror elements including zombies/wraiths/aliens, physical abduction/abuse of children depicted as horror.
Sexual elements/heat level? Sexual allusion, no direct reference to sexual activity or on-page sex
MC age: 16
Keywords: fantasy, epic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, dragon, magic, wizard, shifter, alien, destiny, battle, YA, teen, LGBTQ+
Twitter Hashtags: #YA, #Fantasy, #dragons
Like series: (per readers) Ascendant by Craig Alanson, Mage’s Guild Trilogy by Andi Van, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Eragon by Christopher Paolini, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien, Septimus Heap by Angie Sage, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
Like books by authors: (per readers) Anne McCaffrey, John Flanagan, Robert Jordan
Cursed and exiled to Earth by a witch, Lucky has only his name, a pocketful of strange items, and the destiny to become the Sun Child and lead his world through its darkest time. In an epic adventure full of dragons, shifters, talismans, magic, alien enemies, shifting time, and wars waged for survival, humanity’s only hope is one young man’s unquenchable strength, spirit, and heart.
Days ago, with the help of his living sword Ciarrah, Lucky fought through an army of wraiths led by the undead horror that was once his mother. Though he’s seen more bloodshed in his short life than many seasoned warriors, his destiny as the chosen Sun Child of the magical world called Ethra demands more. Otherworldly enemies are regrouping, barely fazed by a single defeat. If they won’t rest, then neither can he.
He travels to the capital city with ancient wizard Thurlock, but instead of allies, he meets open betrayal. An old friend of Thurlock’s and some young supporters boost his morale, but how much help will they offer against zombies, dragons, and evil magic users? In the epic battle looming on the horizon, everything he’s gathered, from mystical tools to a winged horse, a loyal dog, shifter and dragon allies, and even an army at his side might not be enough. Will he measure up to fate’s challenge… or be trampled by it?
Reviews/Reader comments on the book/series:
“I loved everything about this story. It’s breathless scenes left me stunned at times. The battle plans were ingenious as well as the characters themselves all playing vital roles into bringing this stunning story into sharp clarity. I was hooked from the very first word to the last in this exciting addition to the series. Another brilliant story for the Sun Child Chronicles as we follow Lucky on his journey yet again. Great read.”—(on Book 3) from Shorty at MMGood Book Reviews
“Ciarrah’s Light is a wonderfully epic fantasy, with dynamic characters and enchanting settings. Hoffmann’s tale is one to rival some of the greatest fantasy sagas, including the Eragon and Lord of the Rings series. With a relatable character facing unbelievable challenges, Hoffmann allows the reader to find themselves in Lucky’s journey while being immersed in a completely different world. […] older readers are sure to be delighted by the fast-paced nature of the book as well as the imaginative language the author weaves into the story. Hoffmann balances drama and humor, providing much-needed variety in the story. […] I am delighted to give this beautifully-written book five stars.”—Avery Todd, Student Reviewer (age 16) at LitPick
“This is an amazing series. I’m really looking forward to reading more of it and I’d love to see this visualized. For what it’s worth, this is impressive—this is easily up there with McCaffery, Flanagan, and Jordan (easier to read than Wheel of Time though)….” — from an email to the author from Joe Bone.
“This story is magical, fantastical and sure to be a winner for young readers that enjoyed Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series, Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series, or even a touch of Madeline l’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time books. The cover is striking and colorful, and sure to appeal to those skimming bookshelves for a fantasy series to remember.” —Mt Snow of Rainbow Gold Reviews (on book 2)
“The author perfectly blended old and new characters in this fantasy series. I think the best parts of the book were when Lucky was being heroic. I can’t wait to read book three! […] I would recommend this book for ages 12 and up. If you like fantasy and fiction, you would love this book!” —Nictaf, reviewer at LitPick Student Book Reviews (on book 2)
An hour, Lucky thought. Two days ago I fought in a battle with aliens and dead people and… ended my mother’s nightmare. Yesterday I went to a meeting where I found out people still hate me. Today I had a bit of not-fishing with Han, a game of Skippers with Cook, and a game of Skies with Aunt Rose, and now I have one hour before I have to leave. My boyfriend’s gone home, one of my best friends is missing, my other best friend is on a mission, and my dog isn’t even here.
Lemon Martinez apparently had taken pity on him for once, though. He purred comfortingly—and uncharacteristically—curled into a loose spiral of gray fluff next to Lucky on a sun-washed flat rock in a quiet corner of the Behlvale. Not far away, a worker was singing a rhythmic song, maybe keeping time with the movements of rake or hoe in the Sisterhold’s kitchen garden. Much closer, a pair of hand-sized golden dragonflies flashed in and out of the sunlight, their wings making a droning hum over the splash and bubble of the creek.
“Springborn.” Lucky had just that day learned the name of the creek, and now he announced it to Lemon, who didn’t seem to care.
The whole scene could, Lucky supposed, be called idyllic, a word he’d also recently learned. Be that as it may, he wasn’t in the mood for peace and country sunshine. He didn’t want to leave the Sisterhold. Not yet. He had questions he wanted answers to, and he felt pretty darn sure that at best he’d come back from Nedhra City with more questions instead. At worst… he didn’t want to think about it.
Fidgeting, he drew the Black Blade from its sheath, which was hooked to his belt at the moment, and squinted at the violet gleam echoing the sunlight deep inside the obsidian. It brought to mind another afternoon in the sun, and he realized one of his questions could be answered then and there.
“Ciarrah.” Lucky mentally called the blade’s name and waited no more than a second for her response.
“Remember when we were playing… um, I mean practicing sword stuff?”
“I’m a rock, Blade-keeper. Memories are embedded in me.”
“Is that a yes?”
There was no way to know for sure if Ciarrah was doing the equivalent of an eye-roll, but somehow Lucky thought she might be. He smiled at the idea before communicating, mostly just being stubborn, “Well? Is it?”
When Ciarrah answered, her “voice” had a lilt that might have been laughter. “Yes, young Light-wielder, I remember all that has happened to me and all that I have been told or shown over these last thousands of years, beginning with the day I first met our great ancestress Naht’kah.”
“Naht’kah, the dragon? The one I read about in that book? Isn’t that just a… story?”
“Oh, but there is no such thing, Luccan, as ‘just’ a story! In stories lie the greatest truth. Sometimes it’s hidden in fictions, but sometimes at the core of a legend is the true account of what has come to pass. Naht’kah is quite real.”
“You mean was?”
“She lives. You may meet her one day.”
Why that idea should freak him out, Lucky wasn’t sure. So many crazy impossible things had happened in the last year, what was one more? Still…. He began his usual comforting chant out loud. “Normal, normal, nor—” He stopped and shook his head, then gave himself an order. “Never mind! Nothing is normal. I mean everything is normal. I mean whether it’s normal or not, it is what it is, and no use pretending different.”
Lou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing. She reads factual things—books about physics and history and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. She loves all sorts of wonderful things: music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, flora and fauna, rivers and seas. Even good movies and popcorn! Those things help her breathe, and everyone she knows helps her write. (Special mention goes to (1) George the Lady Cat and (2) readers.) Proud to be a bisexual, biracial woman (of European and Native American descent), Lou considers every person a treasure not to be taken for granted. In her life, she’s seen the world’s willingness to embrace differences change, change back, and change again in dozens of ways, but she has great hope for the world the youth of today will create. She writes for readers who find themselves anywhere on the spectrums of age, sexuality, and gender, aiming to create characters that live not only in their stories, but always in your imagination and your heart.
Check out the tour schedule here