I’m pleased to be able to share the cover for Rival Gates’ new book, The Sapphire Crucible, which is due for release on April 10th.
Captured! In ”Sapphire Crucible” (Book 2 of the Sapphire Chronicles) Linvin Grithinshield and his party find themselves prisoners of the maniacal Lord Mandrean and his Necromancer. The Emperor has a surprise for Linvin. He knows where the Red Sapphire is but in order to attain it he needs Linvin’s help. With his family as hostages Linvin has no choice but to help. Now they must find a way to escape, find the Red Sapphire and make it home alive. Along the way they must fight ever-growing odds of survival.
Exclusive excerpt from The Sapphire Crucible
The garrison consisted only of human cavalry with no goblin infantry. They wore uniforms and armor identical to the Captain at the head of the prison convoy. The guards near the barracks saluted him as he passed on his way to the castle gate. The gesture consisted of flexing their right arm out with a fist at its end, then thumping it over their hearts and holding the pose. The Captain gave a similar response.
Linvin pressed his luck and whispered to the goblin at the rear of their group. “Who are they?”
In spite of the warnings and punishments, the goblin looked carefully about for anyone paying attention. When he determined no one was watching him, he responded. “They are the sickles to the wheat. They are the cleavers to the meat. They are the wolves that drive our feet. Those men are the Elite Mandrean Imperial Guard. They are the finest fighting force in the world. No cavalry compares to the power and precision of those men.”
“They began years ago as a small unit assigned to personally protect Lord Mandrean. They were bodyguards. Over the years they grew into the most devastating force in the army. In many battles larger forces turned and ran at the mere sight of their polished shields in the distance.
They are unflinching butchers on a scale that dwarfs even my murderous brethren. Entire villages will be burned without a soul left alive if the slightest resistance is shown. Their atrocities are an equal match for their skill. My people know that well.
Their greatest weapon is intimidation. They give no quarter and have no signal for retreat. Crimes they commit are absolved. Their loyalty to the Emperor is total. It is by their hand that He rules all. They will give their lives for him. Every man fears them. Every goblin resents them. They are the slave drivers. Their cruelty nearly equals the starvation we faced in the Goblin Nations. Their day will come.”
“Your people have shown themselves to be no different in my experience,” Linvin countered. “You are receiving the treatment you have given over the centuries. I have seen my share of burnt villages over the years with Goblin blades lodged in blackened corpses.”
“We kill for what is rightfully ours,” the goblin growled. “They kill for sport.”
“I suppose you have taken no pleasure in your murders?” Linvin asked.
“Those we kill deserve death. This world should be ours. It will be ours when all of you wretched beings are dealt with and we reclaim our birthright.”
“If it is pity you sought from me, you will be disappointed,” Linvin corrected. “You and the Mandrean Imperial Guard are merely two sides of the same coin. Call it what you will. If your positions were reversed the treatment would be no different. For once, you serve those who mistreat you. What irony that you feel the brand from the same boot you wear.”
The soldier was infuriated by the remark and impulsively attempted to act on his feelings. As the goblin reached for his weapon, a high-pitched whine proceeded a swift sword stroke through his neck. The head fell to the ground as the Captain returned his long sword to its scabbard.
Comments about Book 1, Quest for the Red Sapphire
“Quest for the Red Sapphire is an engaging adventure that instantly pulls the reader into a unique world alive with its struggles, wars, and varied social strata” Helen Alexander ~ Goodreads
“Nicely written. Great plot. The details are quite thorough.” Tumbleweed ~ Amazon.com
“The story was mind-gripping for sure. It’s action-packed and full of surprises that keeps the readers on edge.” Nicole ~ Goodreads
“This book was one of the best fantasy stories I’ve read in years.” J Streff ~ Amazon.com