Sometimes, the aftermath of peace is war.
Things are back to normal in Belhanor after a violent civil war... or are they? The traitors were beheaded and their families dispossessed, but now some of those same families are plotting to seize back their land. They call themselves the Restorationists, and are working throughout the kingdom in a surprisingly organized fashion. Who is directing them? Could it be the King’s own son, who disappeared five years ago? Or could the King’s nemesis, Lord Synedd, be using them to try to seize the throne a second time?
It’s up to Faldur, a captain of the Rangers, to find out. When he and the remaining Prince discover a Restorationist plot which threatens the Prince’s bride-to-be, Faldur is given the task of escorting her safely to the capital. Accompanying them is the bride’s cousin Marenya, with whom Faldur is trying desperately not to fall in love. Her father, a Ranger and Faldur’s mentor, was killed in the course of duty; witnessing the family’s grief made Faldur vow never to leave anyone behind. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it) he is drawn to her, and she to him.
Danger strikes on the journey, causing them to drastically change their plans. Marenya takes her cousin’s place as decoy after receiving a visit - and a mission - from a mystical golden gryphon. When Faldur’s own man betrays them, she is taken hostage. Soon both Faldur and Marenya realize that an unseen enemy is using the Restorationists as a front for the real plot to murder the prince and overthrow the king. Marenya gains a deeper understanding of Faldur's world as she navigates through a series of dangers for which she is completely unprepared, while he is forced to confront his own ideas about love and loss.
THE GOLDEN GRYPHON, a romantic fantasy in 80,000 words, is romantic in the classical sense as well as because of its romantic subplot. One reader has described it as having a "bottom of the forest floor, Tolkein-like feeling." The story explores how love and loyalty can pull us apart as well as draw us together, and the importance of knowing the truth in order to combat evil. It also examines the role of personal choice versus destiny, the importance of faith in making those choices, and the ultimate responsibility of the individual for all that happens "under Heaven."
Christine Hardy is a writer and college math instructor. This will (hopefully) be her first published work.
(Polite comments are welcome.)