Title: A HARE IN THE WILDERNESS
Series: KINGDOM OF DURUNDAL #1
Author: S.E. TURNER
Genre: EPIC FANTASY
ABOUT THE BOOK
They persecuted her as a child. Now they have to face her as a woman.
In the house of Gnaeus, a daughter is born, though when a mysterious mark appears in her face, the father instantly rejects her. Scorned and isolated by those at court, she grows up in the shadows, unaware of the tragic events that caused the defect in the first place.
Unwavered by kinship and severing all ties, Gnaeus strips away his daughter’s identity, removes her from court and banishes her to the wilderness forever.
Cast out with her mother, they find sanctuary with the clans. Here she forges a new life, learning new skills, gathering knowledge and finding love. No one can harm her again this far north. No one knows who she is. Until the day an old enemy appears on the horizon.
Now a grown woman, and a formidable warrior, she knows she must defeat this enemy and seek the truth. That she is Ajeya, Crown Princess of Ataxata, heir to the subject kingdoms of Ataxata and all the colonies of the southern most territories.
Because if she fails, she will remain as the forgotten heir forever…
A story of an exiled princess who had to live a life full of tough challenges and grew up to be a remarkable and fierce young woman. The type of story I love to read. It was a great action-packed story even without any magic in it. I’m not sure if the totem can be considered as magic, I don’t see it as one but the totem sure gave a lot of strength and confidence to the characters and it also helps in boosting up their skills. What I find unique is that each character received a different totem, and their totem give them a similar ability and strength as the symbol of their totem. The story was intense, that’s what you get when you have an exiled princess and an exiled empress on the run from being hunted down by an evil emperor. The first chapter can be a bit confusing, because the prologue was very different compared to what happened in the first chapter. But once I finally had the idea of what was happening, I finally understood it.
The writing was pretty good, but the pacing of the story can be slow at some point. The whole thing that happened in the story are basically flashbacks, and only two chapters are from the present time. So I wasn’t sure if I’m gonna see Ajeya in the present time again. I had no problem with the story being told from all the flashbacks, because those flashbacks also help me see what Ajeya had to go through her whole life, and her journey from when she was a little kid until she become a 22-year-old remarkable young woman, and also it told the story of other characters too. But what I had a problem with is the fact that we saw little Ajeya for majority of the book, and the teenage and adult Ajeya only started to make an appearance like in the final 10 chapters. For the story to get to the time jump point took so long. I was eager to see Ajeya all grown-up, but when the story still focusing on little Ajeya, I was feeling a bit disappointed.
Overall, I think it was great to witnessed Ajeya’s life from when she was little until she become a woman. Her life journey was very sad, especially the first 10 chapters, I was crying knowing her own father and this one particular clan couldn’t accept her because she was born with a disfigured face on one side. That’s what breaks my heart the most, people called her mean things and doesn’t want to go anywhere near her due to her face. She was just a child at that time and already had to experience such things. I feel like I want to protect her at all costs. But later on when a group of people accepted her to their tribe and treated her with love and kindness, that really warms my heart knowing there are people with good hearts who doesn’t judge her. The author managed to make me cry reading the main character’s journey. I felt really emotional finishing this book. Talking about that ending, it was a pretty suspenseful ending, because I’ve been asking myself the whole time, “What is going on with that prologue?” and “What is going to happen after that prologue?” I wasn’t very satisfied with the ending honestly, but I have to get used to it. I was just hoping to see more of Ajeya and Dainn in the present time.
The world-building was truly epic and the settings are beautiful. I loved that it gave me a strong medieval vibe from the beginning to the end. There are some places mentioned in the story and also it was shown what kind of tradition and culture do the people who lived in those places follows. The Giant’s Claw clan has different culture and tradition than the Mountain Lion’s clan and the Hill Fort Tribe’s people. I loved seeing the differences in cultures and traditions from these different clans. What I loved the most is the tradition that the people in Hill Fort Tribe has. I loved seeing how they celebrate some celebrations, how they do a wedding celebration for a newlywed couple, and so on. I loved witnessing those moments, making it feel like I was actually there. Out of all the places mentioned in the book, I prefer the Hill Fort Tribe, not only because the main characters lived there, but also because it was the only peaceful place and the people are so happy and content with their lives and the people aren’t weak, they’re strong, hardworking and very motivated. Also, they have a strong belief when it comes to trusting good spirits for protecting them. Personally for me, the Hill Fort Tribe is truly a beautiful, peaceful and magical place.
The whole story was enjoyable, and the plot was incredibly amazing. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it yet in the beginning, but the moment the story picks up in the middle, that was the exact moment I was truly invested in the story. I just keep on going without stopping and it was the best feeling ever. The beginning was slow and the middle was a bit fine a little bit but it does have interesting things happening, and the final 12-10 chapters are so intense and so impressive making the story more delightful to read. The action-packed parts are so epic, it was truly a well-crafted action scenes for this type of fantasy story. The battle doesn’t took so long, it wasn’t so short but still short (if you know what I mean), and I wish it could’ve been a bit longer. There are some exciting training scenes too where the main character Ajeya trained with her brother, Keao and her lover, Dainn. The training scenes are so important, because it shows how Ajeya grew up to be someone so skilled and where did she get all those skills from. Her training scenes also helps a lot when it comes to her character development, which is why I didn’t mind seeing her training all the time from when she was still a kid until she grew up to be a teenager and finally seeing her become a formidable warrior in her adulthood.
All of the characters in the story are so unforgettable. They are amazing and likable characters that has been through a lot in their lives and their backstory help the readers see where they came from, what kind of challenges they had to go through, and what their lives was like. One of the good thing about this book is that, each characters had their own backstory, and each of them got their own time to shine. Their backstory also tells the readers all the important things about them which I find truly enjoyable to read. It helps me get to know the characters more and understand the situation they’re in. All of the characters had great developments, and all of them become a memorable warriors in their own way. I’m just glad that they didn’t take the spotlight away from the main character of the story: Ajeya. In the beginning, I do feared that with all these characters popping up all of a sudden along with their backstories, Ajeya will be forgotten and the focus on other characters will ruin the focus on her character. But I was happy it didn’t go that way! I also loved seeing Ajeya’s family get along with pretty much everyone and that all the good characters formed a great and strong bond with one another. The theme of family and friendships are strong in this book, so that’s a bonus point on why this book is special.
Ajeya is the main protagonist of the story. She is an amazing and a remarkable young woman. Her character is the best. I felt truly bad for what happened to her when she was a child, but I was glad that her mother possessed a great survival skill. This is the story of her life journey from her childhood to adulthood, and everything she went through in the story felt real. All those years of suffering and living out in the wilderness shaped her into the person she is today, which is a formidable warrior. Being an exiled princess and had to changed home a couple of times until permanently settling down in a new home in a new tribe was tough. All the movings must’ve been hard but I was happy that she and her brother along with their parents found a permanent home in a land where everyone is accepting of new people and give them a warm welcome to their land and treated them with kindness. Ajeya also finally found a large group of people who accepted her with open arms and doesn’t cast her out just because she wan’t born normal like the others. She is a great warrior, she has a great leadership skill, and also an excellent fighting skills that help her survived. I was grateful for her brother Keao, and her lover, Dainn, for training her since she was little. I was amazed by her character, she has been consistent throughout the whole story, and I find that out of all characters, she has the best story arc…I mean of course she does, after all this book is about her.
Dainn is a great hero in the story, his backstory mirrored Ajeya’s, and that made him and Ajeya similar in many ways. He is like a male version of Ajeya. I loved his character just like I loved Ajeya’s character. He grew up to be a great man and it was all thanks to his parents for raising him right. He possessed a lot of great skills; fighting skills, hunting skills, and also a leadership skill. He may look like a character who is all-perfect, but actually he had flaws too, and that’s why I liked him. Dainn is a very down-to-earth person, he’s nice and treat others equally. He was also a fierce and brave warrior, he never show any weaknesses in front of his enemies. He doesn’t make an appearance until the middle of the book, and the first time he appeared I can already feel that he is a very likable character. He just had a lot of charms, and he was always up for a challenge. I find him to be so unique and so consistent throughout the whole story, and he also got the best arc just like Ajeya. There isn’t a single thing about him that I find unlikable, he truly is the best and I was glad the author picked his character to be the main hero.
There are side characters that are just as likable as both Ajeya and Dainn. The side characters also had their own story to tell, only for a little bit. These characters are the ones who supported Ajeya and Dainn throughout the whole story and always helped them when they needed it. Ajeya and Dainn along with the side characters are a one big team, they always stay together through thick and thin, and their bonds are unbreakable. That’s what make them stronger, because they never fail to be there for one another and they always showered everyone with love. I loved seeing them together.
The big bad is the Emperor of Ataxata. I never thought he was capable or harming and murdering innocent lives, what he and his band of soldiers did was terrible and unforgivable. I wished Ajeya came face to face with the emperor, what a missed opportunity considering they had a connection, only Ajeya doesn’t know it since she was too young to remember and her mother kept it a secret for years. The emperor doesn’t make much appearance in the story, he had a lot of potential as the big bad, but the opportunity was wasted. And then come General Corbulo, the emperor’s General. Corbulo is just as ruthless as the emperor. He was very ambitious and his goals drove him to do a lot of bad things. His sudden disappearance after the battle raised a lot of questions, where did he go to? Is he still alive or is he dead? These questions didn’t have any answers in the story, so I guess he will reappear in the sequel since he has a connection with King Lyall and Namir and the sequel is Lyall’s story. That is my best guess, at least!
As for the romance, this book has a lot of romances in it but the romance doesn’t overshadow the plot or taking over the whole story. The author managed to balance the romance and the actual plot. Each characters get their own HEA, so there are many couples in this book and many lovely weddings too. Dainn and Ajeya is the main couple of the story. These two just match together, and they are so similar in a lot of ways actually, from their origin stories until they grew up. They were strangers then become close friends and lastly become lovers. I actually loved the progress of their relationship. The slow-burn really works well with them. They are so compatible together, both are the leaders of their own people, both suffered throughout their whole lives before getting to live in luxury, both are strong and intelligent. I liked that they cared for each other and always support each other’s decision and that both of them will do anything to keep each other’s and their people’s safe from any harm or danger. They both grew up to be a great person and both grew up to become the leader of their people. I enjoyed the moments they shared together, it was undeniable that they had a strong and great chemistry, the connection has always been there. I was hoping to see more of them in the present time but I’m glad to know they were doing just fine.
This coming of age story has a lot of great hidden messages in it, and I truly enjoyed it even though it was a bit slow in the beginning. I had an expectation that this book will be epic, which didn’t disappoint me at all. It was a very well-written story with a well-crafted plot and also featuring lots of memorable characters that can inspire a lot of people. There are times when I cried because of how sad and deep this book can get, but that was one of the reason why I loved it. The characters journey in this story are so tough and very challenging and how they overcome those struggles truly inspired me. This book surprised me in a very big way because I didn’t know it will be so good, and so enjoyable.
Title: A WOLF IN THE DARK
Series: KINGDOM OF DURUNDAL #2
ABOUT THE BOOK
Lyall has lived and breathed nightmares since he was fourteen years old. He believed he knew every horror, and was beyond surprise. He was wrong.
When General Domitrius Corbulo launches a brutal attack on Castle Dru in Durundal, he slaughters everyone else, including the king and queen. Everyone that is…except one.
The young Prince Lyall escapes the carnage through an ancient, disused tunnel, knowing that he can never go back to his ancestral home, and fearful of what lies ahead. In the wake of this tragedy, he has to adapt to a new life and face challenges beyond his wildest dreams…and the wrath of the General is always a heartbeat away.
By the time he reaches adulthood with unrivaled and a unique set of skills, he faces the ultimate decision: embrace the future as the man he has become, or return to his birthright to avenge a past he can’t forget…
Title: A LEOPARD IN THE MIST
Series: KINGDOM OF DURUNDAL #3
ABOUT THE BOOK
It’s not until you’re broken that you discover what’s worth fighting for.
Cornelius has returned from exile to reclaim his birthright and take back control of the empire. Offering a peace treaty with the clans, he approaches Namir, an adversary from old, with whom he seeks to make amends.
However, the clan is suspicious of Cornelius. Concerned that his intentions are not entirely honorable. Worried that his agenda is the same as the emperor before him; steeped with motives in a lust for power to bring down the Kingdom of Durundal forever.
Despite the protests from his wife and the rest of the clan, Namir accepts the proposal and ventures to Ataxata to sign the agreement. Though when he doesn’t return, suspicions are heightened and they fear the worst. Now the clans will risk everything in a race against time to find the chieftain and save the future of his kingdom. And only one thing is certain, there will be blood.
Title: A STAG IN THE SHADOWS
Series: KINGDOM OF DURUNDAL #4
ABOUT THE BOOK
In the Kingdom of Durundal, hearts will be broken, loved ones lost and thrones burned.
Saskia remembers when the soil of Durundal hummed with peace, and the future of the kingdom brimmed with prosperity. But everything changed the night her home was attacked.
On the orders of the ruthless King Segan Hezekiah, she finds herself imprisoned in a tower awaiting a fate worse than death, her father has been taken to the dark labyrinths of the mine to dig for gold, and her people are forced to work in the adjoining grounds. The only person with the power to help is locked up in the mines alongside her father, and anyone who disobeys the king, or tries to escape, is targeted and killed.
As danger lurks at every turn and guards prowl every corner, Saskia feels more helpless than ever…but is she?
Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Saskia has yet to discover what she is capable of.
The morning air was dark with the smell of rain, and the dragons peered out from their stone surroundings as if they were looking directly at him. A cloud seemed to hang over him today, ragged and black as his cloak. He paced about restlessly, muttering to himself, and the crenel of witches trembled when he brushed past them. He was agitated about something, he did not know what, he just knew that he needed a change – after three years of living in the cave, something had to alter.
Outside, he heard the waves crashing against the jagged rocks, eager to get past the entrance of the cave’s mouth. The wind picked up pace and threaded its way through the canyon into the dome of gargoyles, where it curled round the hundred faces and breathed energy into them. The fire glowed with the life giving elements and rose up higher, burning brighter with every passing minute. He caught his breath for a moment, unsure of what was happening. He heard a rustling and then an even fiercer light bloomed.
He shielded his eyes and felt his breath stuck in his throat. His own hand gripped his neck and the other protected him from the glare. As the roar of power settled down, it then went pitch black.
‘What witchcraft is this?’ his voice quivered.
All he could hear was the sound of his own breathing; loud, anxious, agitated. He calmed himself. The light returned, and out of the flames stepped a life form. He didn’t know what it was. He backed away, stumbling, slipping, falling. Hot coals ignited the being. The black charcoaled image stood there burning, as ashes around its feet lifted in a frenzy and swirled around the body, before disappearing into the orifice of a throat. The blackened skin became young and even skin-toned. Long golden hair grew from the crown of the head. Though shrouded in a fine gossamer, he could see that the face was beautiful, and beneath, the body was perfect. A naked woman stood before him veiled in plumes of smoke. Fiery amber eyes pierced his own and didn’t stray from their focus.
‘Cornelius, I have watched you grow into a man, I have seen the change in you. But I know you are about to leave this place and go on a journey.’
Cornelius pinched himself, he shook his head, not quite believing what was in front of him or what he had just heard.
‘You are not the frightened little boy anymore. You are strong and you are courageous. I can help you become even stronger.’
‘How?’ his voice was small and weak.
‘The gods of darkness protect you and I can give you immortality.’
Cornelius laughed out loud.
The fire soared, the wind howled, the amber eyes glared. ‘Do not mock me,’ she bellowed.
He swallowed the laugh and spoke quietly. ‘Why would you do that for me?’
‘Because I want something in return.’
He braced himself fearful of what she would request from him.
‘What can I give you?’ He heard the whisper.
Her eyes burned brighter, the plumes of smoke clung to her curves. The breeze curled around his torso.
‘Look at me Cornelius.’
Their eyes met.
‘It is written that a warrior will charge through the kingdoms and seek vengeance for those whom have been slain and tortured. This warrior will be born from the seed of the living and the womb of the dead.’
He dropped his head sideways in astonishment.
‘Her name will be Sansara, her purpose will be to bring peace. She will be able to take many forms – but in this life – it will be of a human.’
His rhetoric was mocking. ‘That is impossible. There is too much evil out there for one person to take care of. Even a ten thousand strong army of powerful bowmen and a well established cavalry cannot do what you propose’
The fire blinded him. The wind froze him to the spot.
‘I want you to father me that child.’
She saw the pink cavern of his mouth.
‘If you do this for me then I give you my word, no ordinary man will take your life.’
‘How do I know you are speaking the truth?’
The fire roared again, the waves snarled foam around the cavern, the wind raced through the gloom.
‘How can you take care of a child? What will you do? Where will you go?’ He continued despite the wrath.
‘That is not your concern. The child will be mine and given everything she needs – I can assure you of that.’ Her voice grew thin ‘But I grow weak in this life form…I am tiring… now do we have a bargain?’
Cornelius sat in the tavern for the first time in months.
‘Gimme another flagon of ale!’ He caught the passing serving girl by the arm.
‘Are you sure sir? I think you have had enough for one night.’
‘I’ll be the judge of that you useless wench, just do as I ask.’
The girl rushed off to get his ale, and left Cornelius immersed in his thoughts, looking down at a torched piece of paper born from the ashes.
‘Beware a stag in the shadows – for he has the power to slay you.’
S.E. Turner is a life-long enthusiast of epic fantasy that borders on the believable. With an abundance of historical research weaved through the pages, this promises to be an engaging immersive experience.
‘The Kingdom of Durundal series is far more than the single genre of fantasy. Rather, it blends into a prestigious crossroads where fantasy meets reality, and the surreal meets the sublime. I wanted to write a series that everyone could read, and I’m happy to provide an exciting, epic story that a wide variety of ages will enjoy.’