Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway - Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich

Welcome to my stop on Karin Rita Gastreich's Virtual Book Tour for Eolyn.  Please be sure to leave a comment or question below for Karin.  You can enter the Rafflecopter form below to enter her giveaway.  You can follow her tour stops here, the more often you comment, the better your odds of winning.  


Guest Post: Dragon  By Karin Rita Gastreich

According to the traditions of the Mages and Magas of Moisehén, Dragon is not a biological or physical creature. She is a spiritual entity who has appeared in her true form -- as a winged serpent -- only a handful of times in history. 

Sent by the Gods, Dragon first appeared to the legendary figures Aithne and Caradoc, and taught them the ways of High Magic. The story of Aithne and Caradoc, and their encounter with Dragon, is told in one of the early chapters of my novel Eolyn. (There is an audio recording of this scene available on my blog, if you’d like to listen sometime!)

Many generations after appearing to Aithne and Caradoc, Dragon returned to teach Caedmon how to use magic in warfare, making Caedmon the first Mage Warrior.  This was a time of great crisis, as the People of Thunder were annihilating all practitioners of magic.  Caedmon formed an alliance with the warrior chief Vortingen, and together they defeated the People of Thunder.  As a result, the winged serpent appeared once more to grant Vortingen the crown of Moisehén, charging him and all his descendants with protecting the followers of Aithne and Caradoc.

Dragon, also called Messenger, can shape shift at will, taking on the appearance of any living creature that inhabits the earth. Using this ability, Dragon has appeared to every Initiate of High Magic since the time of Aithne and Caradoc.  When Eolyn makes her pilgrimage into the forest to petition for a staff of High Magic, her tutor Ghemena advises her to be prepared for all possibilities:

The Initiate must open her mind to the greatness of all beings, lest she fail to hear Messenger’s voice in the sinuous movement of a millipede’s legs or in the fearsome roar of an angry bear.

Dragon reveals to the Initiate what elements are to be incorporated in his or her staff. Under the traditions of the Old Orders, it was widely taught that Dragon appeared as a male to Mage Initiates and as a female to Maga Initiates, although there were of course exceptions to this rule.

If Dragon does not appear during the pilgrimage of the Initiate, it is understood that the petition has been denied; that the Gods for whatever reason have judged the petitioner unworthy or unready to practice High Magic. 

Dragon is often referred to in Moisehén as the Silver Serpent. Her scales are iridescent and highly reflective, and can take on a variety of colors. Nonetheless, artwork in Moisehén portrays Dragon only in silver. The sigil of the House of Vortingen, for example, is a silver dragon against a purple night. Mage Corey, of the Clan of East Selen, wears a clasp on his cloak in the form of a silver Dragon. Early in the novel, Akmael gives Eolyn a silver bracelet with images of the many forms in which Dragon has been known to appear:

On the etched surface of winding silver Eolyn recognized multiple forms of Dragon: winged serpent, snake, lion, butterfly, river otter, fish and many others. Each figure blended into the next, creating a single creature as fantastic as imagination itself.

This jewel is a parting gift, but it will bind them forever in ways neither one anticipates.


Karin Rita Gastreich

Genre:  Fantasy

Publisher:  Hadley Rille Books
ISBN:  978-0-9829467-4-9

Number of pages:  325
Word Count:  approximately 118,000

Book Description:

In a land ravaged by civil war, the Mage King Kedehen initiates a brutal purge of the Magas.

Fleeing his wrath, Eolyn, daughter of the last of the Magas and sole heiress to their forbidden tradition, seeks refuge in the South Woods.  There she meets the mysterious boy Akmael, and forms a friendship that thrives on shared magic.  Destiny leads them down a tortuous path of love, betrayal and war, until one day the Maga Eolyn takes up arms against the new Mage King.

Must Eolyn slay the man she loves in order to free herself and her people? 

The answer lies in the extraordinary magic she commands, and in the hidden power of a Maga’s heart. 

“Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes. . . with a romantic thread." – Publishers Weekly

Short Excerpt

Akmael set the jewel on a polished oak table, next to the ceremonial mask he had confiscated from Eolyn when they had brought her to him as a prisoner. The silver web sparkled under the flickering light of the torches, and the folds of her mask seemed to waver with the shadows. After a careful search, Akmael found what he sought: a coppery strand of her hair, glowing with her magic and still bearing traces of her exquisite aroma. With a quiet invocation to Dragon, he wove the hair into the heirloom of his mother, snaking it tightly through the intricate mesh. When he finished a sudden white glow flashed through the medallion, fusing the strand of hair to the web and rendering it indistinguishable from the other threads. Satisfied, Akmael stood and lifted the circle by its silver chain. He drew a breath and began a new incantation, one he had worked meticulously by integrating the lullaby of his mother with a spell designed to separate the seam of a Maga’s ward.

Elaeom enem, eleaom enem
Sepoenem fae
Elaeom enem, elaeom enem
Renoenem mae

As he repeated the verse, the stone walls melted around him and soft loam rose to his feet. The web had taken him to a forest, ancient in aspect though illuminated by energies very different from the South Woods. The pale light of the new moon filtered through the canopy. A breeze shifted restless against the trees. He thought he could feel Eolyn’s essence on the wind, but she was nowhere to be seen. Disappointed though not deterred, Akmael lifted the medallion to try again. Just as he spun the web to begin his invocation, a soft rustle in the underbrush detained him. Eolyn appeared a few paces away in the shape of Wolf, her true identity betrayed by the full spectrum of her magnificent aura.

Akmael caught his breath and held very still. The Gods must have favored him, for she did not at first detect his scent. Stepping into the clearing, she searched the leaf litter with her snout, her awareness focused on some favored smell emanating from the damp earth. Her coarse gray fur blended into the shadows. The faint moonlight glinted against her black eyes. She continued oblivious to him, until in a sudden shift of attention she paused and looked up. She sniffed at the air, her muscles tensed. Her ears turned in Akmael’s direction. She growled then bolted into the forest.

Calling upon the shape of Wolf, Akmael charged after her.

As a girl, Eolyn had been a swift runner. As a wolf, she seemed impossible to catch. She hurtled through the bushes, managing with nimble turns a rough terrain unknown to Akmael. Branches caught at his fur and scratched his snout. Tangled roots threatened to trip his paws. More than once she gained enough distance to lose sight of her, yet Akmael kept tight upon her scent and did not give up. His muscles began to burn. His tongue hung limp from his jowls. He panted hot clouds into the air as he pushed his limbs to move faster and faster.

Without warning the undergrowth disappeared. Akmael skidded into a small clearing. The she-wolf paced a confused circle in front of him, her whimpers soft and high pitched. A steep wall of rock had cut her flight short. Upon sensing Akmael, she swung around to confront him and bared her fangs in a vicious snarl. They stalked each other, heads low and tails ominously still, quiet growls and sharp barks building in a tense duet. Eolyn sprang first, striking his shoulders and digging her claws deep into his fur as her teeth sought his neck. Akmael twisted his throat out of her reach, forcing his snout underneath her muzzle, leaving her snapping at his ears instead. Again he ducked his head, barely avoiding the tearing hold of her canines. He had never seen Eolyn so intent on drawing blood. Wedging his paws up through her hold, he pushed against her muzzle and spread his claws over her face. With a sharp yelp, Eolyn stumbled back, breaking their grapple. Recovering her balance, she lunged low, fangs flashing in the moonlight. Just as her jaws snapped shut, Akmael reared up on his hind legs, leaving nothing for her to take hold of. Coming down upon her back, he caught the nape of her neck with his razor sharp teeth and forced her decisively to the ground.

Eolyn went very still, though her muscles remained tense. After several moments she tried to shift her position, scooting a few inches along the ground. He tightened his grip with a low growl, sending a clear signal that the strength of his muzzle could break her neck. Again she paused. He felt her pulse against his jowls, rapid and strong. The intensity of their conflict had left her fur warm and damp at the roots. Her rich musk rose about him in waves, saturating his senses to the point of dizziness. His loins tightened with need. Every instinct of Wolf was urging him to claim her right then and there. Was such a thing possible, he wondered. Did the Mages and Magas of old partake in the pleasure of the Gods even when they shape shifted?

Eolyn’s muzzle sank between her paws. Her ears twitched and she whimpered quietly. Her pulse slowed. The tension drained out of her haunches and into the midnight earth. Interpreting this as a sign of submission, Akmael loosened his hold and stepped away.

In an instant, Eolyn rose to her feet, resumed her human form and kicked him full in the stomach. The force of her strike surprised Akmael. He hit the ground with a yelp, and the shape of Wolf deserted him. His hand went instinctively to where the blow burned against his side.

“You have lost nothing of your strength and skill,” he said, “but don’t you think that move was a little unfair?”


About the Author

KARIN RITA GASTREICH was born near Kansas City, Missouri. After living and working for ten years as a tropical ecologist in Costa Rica, she recently returned to her home town and is now a Professor of Biology at Avila University. Her past times include camping, hiking, music and flamenco dance.  Karin's fantasy novel EOLYN was released by Hadley Rille Books in May, 2011. 

The companion novel, HIGH MAGA, is scheduled for release in 2013. Karin’s short stories have appeared in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and A Visitor to Sandahl.   She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.

Visit her at the blog for Eolyn,  and at Heroines of Fantasy, co-authored with Terri-Lynne DeFino and Kim Vandervort
Blog Heroines of Fantasy:


My Review:

Like a spider creates a web, Karin Rita Gastreich, builds a complex world in her high fantasy novel, Eolyn.  With a likable heroine and hero, well developed secondary characters and good dialogue, I was transported to a world full of magic I never wanted to leave.  Fully engaging my emotions, Ms. Gastreich created a reading experience I won't forget any time soon.

As this tale begins, Eolyn and her older brother are being raised by their parents in a small rural community.  Loving her "nature" hikes through the woods with her mother, Eolyn is slowly being taught the basics of natural magic.  It's only when her family is destroyed that Eolyn learns the danger of learning magic, and the dangers of being a female in possession of any knowledge.  Seeking refuge in the woods, Eolyn is taken in by an older Maga, whose presence and teachings will forever change her life.

Born to a King, who is both a warrior and a Mage, and his Maga princess, Prince Akmael is expected to follow in his father's footsteps.  With the kingdom being ruled by strength and the magic of the Mages, Akmael is not quite what his chief tutor is expecting; he's independent, bright and magically gifted.  He's also lonely and good at keeping secrets.  

When fate brings Eolyn and Akmael together as children, neither one knows how important their bond will become or that they'll end up on opposite sides of a future battle.  Even as their friendship grows and blossoms into early love, Akmael fears for Eolyn's safety - if his father's soldiers and mages find her practicing magic, she could be found guilty of violating the king's law and being burned at the stake.  Ms. Gastreich does a wonderful job providing us with the experiences they have together in the woods, and then the experiences they each have individually when they begin to go separate directions.  As Akmael is forced to take on more responsibilities in the Kingdom and is given further instructions by the mages, Eolyn begins her own journey to discover her destiny and begins to try to bring the old magical ways back.  Even if she has to move slowly and secretly at first.  

As the political and magical machinations of others around them continue to escalate, Eolyn and her new found friends become the opposition.  They see no reason for women not to be trained to be whatever they want to be and it soon becomes clear the war between the mages and magas is far from over.  As Akmael is forced to face the growing treachery among the mages - he'll have to make a choice too. 

Will Eolyn and Akmael's friendship and early love lead to their salvation or their destruction?  And what will the future hold for them both?  You'll have to read Eolyn to find out, I enjoyed this and can't wait to read the next book, High Maga, due out in 2012.  I do want to caution romance readers that while there is some romance in this book - this is not a romantic fantasy - most of the focus of this story is on the destiny and future of the world the two primary characters live in.  

My Rating:  4 out of 5 Crowns 


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  1. Thank you so much for hosting EOLYN on your blog today. I'm so thrilled that you enjoyed the novel; I didn't expect a review at this stop, and it was a wonderful way to start my day. :)

    Soft toys -- Thank you for stopping by. I'm very happy you enjoyed the post and found it helpful.

  2. sounds great, been wanting to read more books with magic - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com