The Lost Valor of Love
The Transcendence Series Book 1
by E A Carter
Genre: Historical Fantasy, SciFi
"Claim me, and your every movement, every breath, every word will be written upon my heart, for eternity. You will be immortal yet."
'GRIPPING. WILL KEEP YOU READING THROUGH THE NIGHT.' KATHERINE STANSFIELD, AUTHOR OF FALLING CREATURES
Growing up during the centuries-long conflict between the empires of Egypt and Hatti, the young princess Istara is taken hostage by the King of Hatti to secure the loyalty of her father, the King of Kadesh to the empire. Soon her new life in Hatti's glittering capital becomes all she knows. Bound in blood before the gods to Hatti's unwilling crown prince, Istara, now Hatti's queen-in-waiting, learns she will never be loved.
But the drums of war beat again, and when the scheming plans of Hatti's king threaten the existence of all civilization, the gods give Istara a choice: to leave behind everything she knows to save mankind, or remain where she is, powerless, a token on the game board of kings. On the brink of one of the most brutal battles in history, she chooses to risk her life to deliver a message to the only man able to prevent the prophecy from becoming a reality—her mortal enemy, the Pharaoh Ramesses II.
Wounded, cold and hungry, she wanders in the battle's horrific aftermath, and aids a powerful commander, who she learns protected her once, and has been bound to her ever since by a prophetic dream of his future. Despite his resistance, and Istara once more becoming a pawn of kings, they must confront an eternal love so powerful, not even kings, the gods, or death can keep them apart.
The Lost Valor of Love is the first book of the Transcendence series.
**Get it FREE Apr 9 – 13!!**
Summer 1274 BCE
City of Pi-Ramesses, Summer. Reign of Ramesses II, Year 6
In the sweltering heat of the Egyptian sun, the pharaoh's eyes are cold, like the icy, silent winters of Tarhuntassa. He sweeps his khopesh, slick with blood, high into the burning air, and heavy, dark gouts soar from his curved blade toward the pristine white pillars of the palace, where they land in a perfect arc, staining them the color of my love. The taut muscles of his body, and his kilt are a canvas, splattered with the essence of the man who has sacrificed everything so I might live. Were it not my own love's life the ink for such art, Ramesses's work could almost be considered beautiful. Almost. And when he comes to me tonight, will he think of this brutal battle as he is taking me, possessing me as his own? Will he speak of it, reminding me I was destined to be a queen, though not of Egypt, but of her enemy? Will he gloat about his triumph, not just over Egypt's commander, but over Urhi-Teshub, the Crown Prince of Hatti, to whom I once belonged? The one, who far too late I learned, loved me. Though not like this. Never like this. The image of Ramesses entering me, his body still drenched with the blood of my love fills my mind. I swallow the bile rising in my throat, tasting metal, the scent of butchery heavy in the enclosed space. I am able to see my bleak future. Once he has taken his fill of me, I will be sent away, like all the others, condemned to the corridors of his harem, to live in the shadows, forgotten, alone and unloved, with only this, my meager store of memories to comfort me. My love fights on, for love, for honor, for us; his powerful body torn apart by the one who believes himself a god. I try to see the man who cradled me against him only a few hours ago, his tenderness as he made love to me for the first and last time. His mouth on mine, our souls entwining. He is unrecognizable. I blink back the tears burning in my eyes, ashamed. I promised I would not cry. But my chest is aching, and my throat is raw, the agony of holding the pain inside, exquisite. With every blow he suffers, I flinch. He bleeds outward, and I, inward. Together, we are dying. Powerless, just as I have always been, I watch them battle, my hands clenched into fists, my fingernails cutting into my palms. The one I love, despite knowing his fate, remains steadfast, valiant, and honorable against the relentless onslaught of the pharaoh, who must cheat to bring down Egypt's indomitable commander. Beneath their sandaled feet, the pristine white sand turns red, drinking up the fluid of my love's life, thirsty in this accursed heat. Another savage assault and Ramesses's khopesh slices deep, carving into bone, becoming stuck. He staggers, struggling to free his blade. He heaves once, twice, grunting with the effort. It is a nightmare. With a sickening snap his sword bursts free and my love, reviving from shock, roars in agony. My thoughts splinter. I imagine myself kneeling in the soaking black-dark sand, gathering up his life essence, drawing it into the material of my gown so I can return it to him, drop by precious drop. My love rallies, but Ramesses plays foul once more. Overcome, my love falls to his knee. He looks at me, his chest heaving, his breathing ragged in the thick, claustrophobic air. I see his suffering, not just from his pain, but from knowing he will soon face his annihilation as the gods claim his debt, separating our souls for eternity. I step onto the grounds, desperate to go to him, to ease his pain, the memory of our first encounter exploding into my thoughts; the long, cold night I spent tending his injuries, fighting his delirium, struggling to keep him alive. The night he tried to kill me. Our love, born in violence, dying in violence. He calls to me, my name on his lips ragged and bloody. His final words tear me apart. I feel a forbidden tear slip free, hot against my face. Furious, Ramesses roars and strikes him down, and the one who sacrificed everything to hold my heart in his hands for the briefest space in time falls to the ground, dying. Numb, I watch Ramesses as he staggers, panting, staring battle-blind at his butchered commander. A bright gleam pierces my blurring vision. I shove away my tears. In the burning light, a fallen dagger, forgotten—like me—beckons. I beg the gods for forgiveness, and run.
The Call of Eternity
The Transcendence Series Book 2
'AN EPIC STORY OF LOVE. POWERFUL AND COMPELLING.' KATHERINE STANSFIELD, AUTHOR OF THE MAGPIE TREE
"I love you, even past the boundaries of eternity. Not even the end of my existence could extinguish the love I feel for you."
In the epic sequel to The Lost Valor of Love, worlds collide, and gods and mortals cross paths, kingdoms fall, and ancient, long-buried hatreds stir.
In the heavens, the storm god Teshub discovers two of the most powerful gods of the pantheon have fallen to a world torn apart by rivalry, war, famine, and plagues. Soon, he learns, he too must fall.
In the north, a crown prince ascends the throne, his queen taken by his enemy as compensation for the crimes of his father. But the new king is prepared to risk everything to reclaim his queen, and plans for war begin.
In the east, a near-immortal senses the awakening of a powerful artifact after an eternity of silence. It can only mean one thing: gods once more walk among men, and with their return—the key to his immortality.
And from far without, the Creator eyes his dying creation, its fragile boundaries unraveling. From across an enormous board, he picks up a token—an exact replica of a living woman. He smiles at it with fondness and sets it down on a new space. Folding his hands together, he steps back, and waits.
The Call of Eternity is the second book in the Transcendence series.
**Get it FREE April 16 – 20!!**
Western Empires & Kingdoms 1274–1272 BCE
The Immortal Realm
Teshub, the once-powerful and mighty storm god, woke to the sensation of flames burning across his arms. He cracked an eye open. Symbols, glowing red-orange crackled to life along the backs of his forearms. Rubbing his eyes, he sat up wondering how long he had slept this time. The last time he woke, Horus had said more than one hundred thousand years had passed in the mortal realm, though, he had added with a wry smile, Teshub had missed nothing. Teshub pushed his long dark hair, tousled from sleep, back from his eyes, hoping this time he had slept even longer; it was a good way to pass the meaningless, useless, endless time. The symbols brightened, glowing, demanding his attention. He lifted an eyebrow, savoring the long-forgotten sensation of cold fire spreading along his arms. It had been an eon since he had followed the actions of mortals on his flesh; when he last lived in their realm, a god. But those days, once filled with opulence and glory, had come to their brutal end when the savage wars of gods and men reached its fatal impasse. Thoth, infinitely wise and rational—standing in the place of the Creator God who had abandoned his creations once the first blood was shed—had called for their evacuation, sealing them into the immortal realm, the new home of the gods, sentencing them to an eternity of silence. And yet, after an epoch of dormancy, the fiery symbols which had once ignited and extinguished endlessly on Teshub's arms flamed again. Strange. He leaned forward, intrigued, tingling with anticipation. A long time passed before he sat back, troubled. A man—a prince—had sacrificed six bulls to Teshub begging him to spare the life of the woman he loved; a woman he had almost killed with his own hands. She lived, but the prince had then lost her to another, a pharaoh. The prince wanted her back, but first, as dozens of bulls fell to his blade, he pleaded for success in his campaigns against the pharaoh's vassals so he might win back his right to the throne. Then, with the armies of the empire behind him, he would bring war to the very gates of Egypt until the woman bound to him in blood was returned. The flames subsided, though the glow remained; the connection between Teshub and the prince remaining, tenuous. Teshub got up and moved across his sumptuous apartments, undisturbed for millennia, wondering if Baalat still used her vision pool. After enduring the crushing weight of the endless epochs of wasted time, an upwelling of purpose ignited in him, raw, visceral. Hope bloomed in his chest; to be useful again, to have a reason to exist. He hurried through his rooms, eager. As he reached the outer vestibule, a gilt card lying on the threshold of his apartment lit up, glowing pure white. Curious, he bent and collected it, recognizing the elegant handwriting of Baalat. Turning the card over, he read her words. He blinked, and read them again. No. It couldn't be. Waving his hand over the panel bearing his sigil, the door to his residence slid open. He left, striding through the realm toward the apartment of Baalat and Horus. Preoccupied by Baalat's disturbing message, he was halfway to his destination before he realized the vast realm's wide avenues lay quiet, shrouded in silence. None processed. Doors stood sealed, the sigil of the ones within hovering without, glowing white. Teshub walked on, alone, trepidation bearing down on him. A tremor, deep within the foundation of the realm vibrated against his feet, faint. Slowing his steps, he halted, waiting, his skin prickling. There. Another tremor, so faint it almost felt like he might be imagining it. He quickened his pace, uneasy, disturbed by the realm's ominous silence. Within the courtyard of their home, the entrance to Baalat and Horus's apartment stood open. He entered, calling their names, hoping Baalat's message had been an elaborate diversion, nothing more. On the table, a glass of wine, half-finished. In the bedroom, an unmade bed; its silken covers trailing onto the floor, a cushion halfway between the door and the bed. On the room's ceiling, the fractals of which Horus had been so proud were gone; vanished as though they had never existed. Teshub turned, searching for something, anything to help him understand why two of the highest gods among the pantheon would throw away their immortality for two mere mortals. He looked down at the card again, turning it over, hoping to find more, but there was nothing, only her brief words: They were gone. One day they would die so two mortals could live. It made no sense. The symbols on his arms lit up again. Another tremor shot through the realm's foundation. The floor trembled. The wine in the glass shivered. Golden symbols flared to life on his arms, so bright the walls reflected its light. He staggered, staring at the arcane lettering as it coalesced, its movements stately, regal, inexorable, the symbols older than time itself. After an eon, the Creator God—the father of his existence—had broken his punishing silence. The symbols solidified; the glare faded. Teshub read the message, burned, indelible on his arm. He sank down onto the bed, stunned, and read it again. You are next.
The Rise of the Goddess
The Transcendence Series Book 3
Istara found the courage to meet Sethi's eyes. In his, the anguish of his love, untainted by the darkness. He was going to leave her. Tears blazed a path through her soul. He drew her against him as she wept, as she accepted what he already knew. For them, there could only be war.
'A SUPERB FINALE. YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED.' KATHERINE STANSFIELD, AUTHOR OF THE MERMAID'S CALL
In a world older than time, a portal stirs from its long slumber. From out of its cerulean mists, the warship of the scion of darkness and destroyer of worlds emerges. With its gods long gone, Elati is a world ripe for the taking. Marduk intends to take it all.
Corrupted by Marduk's devices, Sethi succumbs to the grip of evil. A brutal, merciless commander, he oppresses the kingdoms of Elati, his violence awakening a weapon of the deepest darkness. Poisoned by lies and tainted by hate, he thirsts for its power to obliterate the light of the one he once loved beyond all reason.
Desperate to reprieve Sethi from his corruption, Istara pursues her last hope, risking everything to retrieve powerful artifacts of Thoth's, her light her only defense against the growing darkness—and the one determined to annihilate her.
Bound by love and driven by duty, Urhi-Teshub reaches the threshold of his destiny, where he faces the horrifying price he must pay to protect Istara.
And at the heart of an abandoned island of gods, surrounded by an endless storm, an eternal tower awaits. Caught in the crosshairs of a primordial war for supremacy, Sethi and Istara must face each other one final time. Darkness and light. Enemies. Lovers. Gods.
The Rise of the Goddess is the final book in the Transcendence series.
**Get all three books FREE April 23 – 25!!**
Sethi slammed his way through a glut of warriors, his arms and chest bloody, his double-bladed jihn thrumming, hungry for the essence of the living. He looked up, breathing hard, the burning air searing his lungs. There. He had her. Istara stood alone and undefended, surrounded by smoke and fire. In the heated updrafts, her star-clad, tangled hair whipped around her face. Her golden eyes raked over the scores of Elati's dead and dying, her healing light pulsing across the battlefield, brilliant haloes of gold. He stood still. Waited until she found him. Caught the parting of her lips. The tremor of her heart. The quiet hope. He smiled at her, cold, the god of war, and tread over the carpet of her fallen warriors, never taking his eyes from her, his soul scorched with hate. No one could stop him now. Not even the one who called himself her protector — A blade, from behind, delved into his heart, the pain brutal, agonizing. He turned. Urhi-Teshub twisted the weapon, his eyes hard, hatred bleeding from him. With a roar, Sethi yanked himself free and slammed his fist into Urhi-Teshub's skull, once, twice, three times. Istara's protector collapsed, senseless. Sethi staggered, blinded by pain. His left pectoral lay torn open, muscle and bone sundered, his heart riven in two. The jihn slid from his grip. He cursed as his light ignited, slow, unsteady, working to heal him. He sank into a crouch, blackened by fury. By the time he was strong enough to stand, his quarry would have fled. Hands came to his face and cradled his jaw, tender. He looked up. Istara's golden eyes, bright with tears, met his. She spoke, her words stolen by the thunder of an explosion. Light exploded out of her heart into his, brilliant, a nova, blinding. In its wake, tendrils of her healing light wove around him, a multitude, closing the rent in his heart, making him whole again. His nemesis—the one who had rallied the armies of men and gods against him—granted him her healing light, the stars limning her hair dimming as she brought him back to his full power: Sethi, god of war, Commander of Elati, second only to Marduk, Lord of All, Giver of Life, Taker of Life. Rejuvenated, he rose and hefted the jihn, the heat of battle still hot in his veins. In his grip, the jihn's curved blades awakened. Its lethal hunger coursed through him, hardening him. He looked down at his once-consort, filled with abhorrence for her weakness, scorning her gift to him. He would never have done the same for her. She remained on her knees, her eyes on his. A tear slid free and tracked a path through the fine coating of soot dusting her face. Her lips moved again. He couldn't hear anything over the scream of the ships as they tore across the burning sky, but he read her lips, words enslaved queens had whispered as he rode them, desperate for his favor. I love you. He lifted his weapon. The jihn's black blades glinted, blue-white, slavering for her light, her annihilation. She was a fool. Love meant nothing. And soon she would be nothing, her light consumed by the jihn. He smiled, cold, triumphant. At last. Victory. He thrust the glowing blades toward her heart. Sethi sat up, abrupt, panting. He touched the back of his neck, the agony of the device Marduk had driven into the base of his skull unforgettable, the shear of its bite hot and sharp as it dug its way through flesh and bone and burrowed deep into his brain. Its malevolent presence had poisoned his thoughts, corrupted his memories — had made him into a weapon. It hadn't taken long for the device to betray Sethi's awareness of Istara's presence in Elati. Marduk had listened, impassive, then showed Sethi images of Istara with Urhi-Teshub in the Etemen'anki. The once-king of Hatti had taken her, willing, to his bed. Sethi had destroyed everything in the suite. It hadn't been enough. Blinded by the hateful thing controlling his mind, Sethi dined on his rage, his hunger for revenge. And yet, despite his descent into evil, his god-light remained. Each morning, during the ephemeral heartbeats of dawn, golden tendrils of his light would overcome the device's control. Fragments of his true self would slip from their bond, would force him to face the horror of what he had become, of the crimes he had committed, and of the lie he believed against the one he loved — and his helplessness to stop it. He carved messages into his flesh: It is a lie. Istara was not unfaithful. Protect her at all costs. But no matter how deep he cut, his warnings would last no more than a few hours, his light erasing every desperate, bloody symbol. He clenched his fists, the dream returning, haunting him. To think he might do it, might drive his blade into the heart of the one he loved beyond all reason — He caught a glimpse of his bleak reflection in the enormous mirror facing the bed. The tyranny of his acts seared his mind, damned him for his brutality. Everything he had once stood for had become perverted, his power used to oppress those who dared resist Marduk's conquest of Elati. The air in the room oppressed him. He lunged from the bed and shoved aside the shutters leading to the terrace. The lavender hue of dawn sliced its way along the mountain's ridge to the east. At the edge of the terrace, he eyed the sheer drop into an enormous lake, more than half a short iter distant. From an outcropping in the mountains, a waterfall thundered into the lake, shrouded in pre-dawn mist. The night before, he had flung a king from this terrace — for entertainment — then dragged the dead king's queen to his bed before throwing her to her death after him. Anguished, he clawed at the back of his head, desperate to dig the vile device out, to end what he had become. How many times had tried to cut it out with his dagger before the device reignited? More than he could count. There was never enough time. The warmth of the sun's rays slid over him. He glanced at the golden disk as it ascended, fast, recalling a smaller, statelier sun which had risen over the desert sands of an empire that had been his home. The memories of his mortal life had almost vanished. Soon there would be nothing left of the commander he used to be, or of the princess he loved beyond all reason. His fingers bloody, he pressed his palm over his heart, sensing the his light reawakening his bond with Istara. For a beat, joy. Then, the agony of her grief for his crimes slammed into him, followed by her yearning, her loneliness; her determination to free him from Marduk's grip. Shame engulfed him. Somewhere out there, beyond the mountains, beyond the sea, beyond the desert, she gathered allies — to save him from himself. His goddess. His consort. His everything. A shear of blue-white light tore through his mind, washed her presence away. He sank to his knees and gripped the edge of the terrace, his muscles straining, resisting the device as it dragged him back, unwilling, to its filth, its lies. Nausea boiled, rancid and bitter. Hate sawed through the him, ugly and familiar. He clung, stubborn, to the last images he had of Istara, of when he had lived with her in another world, his love for her endless, overwhelming. The device's light screamed through the images, scoured his mind, its heat blistering, blinding. He fought its brutal onslaught, vomiting over the edge of the terrace, his heart aching, bitterness saturating him as his memories dissolved and slipped through his fingers, grains of sand. Gone. For eternity. The god of war fell back on his haunches. He blinked, disoriented, unable to recall when he had come to the terrace from his bed. The images of his dream crept into the corridors of his mind, of the mysterious weapon which could consume a god's light, a weapon which had called to him. With such a powerful artifact, none could stand against him, not even the gods. He would search for this weapon, and once he possessed it . . . he smiled, cold, as he considered his faithless consort and the agonies he would inflict on her for betraying him. Yes. He glared at the sun as it soared into the sky. For what she had done with Urhi-Teshub, he would make her suffer. Forever.
E A Carter is a British-Canadian who lives in Sweden.
Her debut novel The Lost Valor of Love is the first book in the Transcendence series and a finalist winner in the First Novel and Historical Fiction categories in the 2019 Indie Author Network's Book of the Year Awards.
When not at the keyboard, she can be found photographing the world around her. Between 2014-2015 she held three exhibitions of her photographs, two by invitation from the city's Kulturhuset. Her work has been seen on national television, and her black and white photography has won two contests, one in the US and one in Sweden.
$30 Amazon – 1 winner , $15 Amazon – 2 winners
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