NEW NEW *** Sirion ***NEW NEW

12 Aug

Congratulations to Ivano Massari on his new release from GSP.



After 16 years of teaching in primary and high schools and at North West University in South Africa, I was fortunate enough to be able to fulfill a lifelong dream when I joined READ Educational Trust as a writer-editor. In 2010 I immigrated to Ireland with my wife and daughter to take up a position as Instructional Designer to the Yahoo/Microsoft Search Alliance Project, after which I worked for different companies as a Learning / Instructional Designer and Technical Writer.

I have always had a great love for history, warfare, theology, fantasy and language and have sought to combine these with my other great love—that of writing. The result is my first fantasy novel, Sirion. I have been extremely fortunate in being able to have my wife provide all the illustrations for my book. It was a joyful experience watching her bring the characters and the world, which existed only in words, to life with her extraordinary talent.

I hope that readers enjoy their journey through Mendleburg. 


His book we are highlighting today is Sirion.



The world of Mendleburg is threatened by the growing power of the Druadians led by their vicious overlord, the emperor Estraimor. Between the armed hosts of Estraimor and southern Mendleburg, lies the mighty Dwarf fortress of Sirak-arnal which Estraimor must overthrow in order to achieve his dreams of conquest. Azhal, Warden of Sirak-arnal, sends out a company of Dwarves to seek for the Sceptre of Anankhar. With this great heirloom of the Dwarf race in his possession, Azhal will be able to command the allegiance of the disunited tribes of the Dwarves, and thus swell the ranks of the defenders of Sirak-arnal before the hosts of Estraimor lay siege to Sirak-arnal. The mighty wizard, Sirion, joins the companion as they seek for the sceptre. Dangers beset the company and the companions call upon Sirion’s great knowledge, skill in arms and powerful magic to ensure the success of their quest.


Chapter 1
                               He who follows the One in this life must be an exile
                                    and a wanderer amongst all creatures always.
                          (Akhaleth—the Holy Book of the Dwarves, Psalm 9 v 11

In solitude he stood on the castle tower and gazed across the storm-weather that had settled upon the valley. The black rain clouds tumbled across the valley and cut off the light of the moon. Then the storm hit the castle. The wind howled and shrieked its way toward him and he pulled his cloak more closely around him. Torrential rain surged across the night sky and fell upon the castle. Within moments he was drenched, but he refused to abandon his station on the walls. He set his hard warrior’s face grimly toward the storm, determined to endure the weather and keep his station upon the battlements. He cursed and then immediately thrust his right thumb toward his heart. A harsh laugh sounded behind him and a taunting voice cut across the noise of the storm.

“Still trying to ward off evil with that superstitious gesture, my lord?”

Arvan, Mound Prince of Arvinia, spun around to face his antagonist.

“Maberg!” he said. “By the One, what brings you up here on this demon-cursed night?” The man called Maberg looked with affection at Arvan, the first born son of Selcontar, High King of Arvinia. His answer was short.

“You,” he said.

“I thank the Land Commander,” Arvan replied with a sweeping bow.

Maberg laughed affably.

“Must the King’s son stand guard on a night like this?” jested Maberg.

“Maberg, my friend,” replied the Prince, “duty is to be endured, not enjoyed.”

The other laughed. “Ah, my lord, always so serious. So young and yet so serious. Never time for laughter or for the harp.” Maberg stroked his beard and regarded the man who stood before him. The tall, dark-haired, powerfully built warrior he beheld little resembled the scrawny youth the King of Arvinia had brought from the royal capital to Eagles’ Nest when he had attained his fifteenth summer. Arvan, High Prince of Arvinia, he thought, was the most promising young man he had ever trained. He remembered well the day King Selcontar had entrusted him to his care.

“Above all, Maberg,” the King had said on that eventful day, “he must be a warrior, skilled in every weapon, and a commander of men. Teach him well, and teach him swiftly, his time draws near. I am called by the gods and fear that I must soon leave this world. I want no weakling to take the kingship.” The man whom the King had trusted so highly that he had placed his eldest son into his keeping, was not the same as the one who stood now on the ramparts with his Prince. Maberg knew that as the passing years had formed his youthful charge into a man, they had also marked the passing of his own stature. His brown beard and hair were now flecked with spots of grey. The powerful shoulders that had borne many burdens were no longer upright, but stooped.

Maberg heard Arvan talking and forced his mind back to the present.

“Should the future King be a jester?” the Prince said. “Arvinia would enjoy such a king. A merry monarch they would have,” he continued bitterly. “One who spends his days in merriment and his nights in his cups.”

Maberg laughed softly.

“Ah, Arvan,” sighed the Land Commander, “when your time comes you will be a great king. The gods be praised that Arvinia has been blessed with such an heir. These are not times for a poet king, but for a warrior monarch.”

Arvan swept his long, black hair from his face and regarded Maberg carefully. His dark eyes were hard and calculating as they searched his friend’s face, while the storm around them lashed the castle tower in its fury. Maberg met the Prince’s searching glance unflinchingly. He was not disturbed by Arvan’s scrutiny. Their eyes locked and held. There was no question of arrogance in this gesture, for Maberg was no petty tyrant. Warden of Eagles’ Nest, the castle upon which they stood, Maberg was also one of the Ahkans, the hereditary lords of southern Arvinia, and Land Commander of all the King’s armies garrisoned between Drenerbach Mountain and the Istenor River. Maberg stood high in the favour of the King and his counsellors. He had little need to bolster his own sense of worth by seeking a confrontation with a subordinate. Not even if that subordinate was the High Prince himself. He had come to see Arvan this night for another purpose.

“The people would not have it so,” said Arvan aloud while he thought secretly, and my brother Eldran is a poet. What game are you playing, Maberg?

“The people,” retorted Maberg harshly, “do not crown a King!” He looked away from his Prince over the swaying forest, caught now in the full power of the storm. For an instant he thought he saw dark shapes moving in and out of the trees, but they vanished again into the night-gloom. Maberg scoured the forest, attempting to pierce the curtains of rain and the blackness of the night, but saw no further sign of anything untoward. I was deceived, he thought.

“No,” continued Arvan, “the people would have a King who danced and diced, who provided games and held feasts. They blind themselves to the danger from the north.” Arvan turned his eyes away from Maberg and stared once more across the land below him.

“Danger,” the Prince said slowly. “Yes, dangerous is Estraimor, who reigns in Druad, and is it not likely that his Wizardry has embraced Arvinia? For is it not magical that, though Arvinians see their doom drawing nigh from the north, they nonetheless shut their eyes and smile, as all Arvinia is doing? Thus would he weaken our vigilance and take us ill-prepared to meet his onslaught, or so I and many others believe. Great is the Dread Lord, the Emperor Estraimor, and greatly is he to be feared, yet many admire him.”

Maberg narrowed his eyes and looked at the Prince. His heart was darkened by what he had just heard. The other sensed his fear, but waited.

“You admire the Evil One then, my lord?” Maberg asked, the disbelief he struggled to hold back as clear and as brief as the lightning flashes above them.

“Fear not, Maberg,” replied Arvan. “As one soldier might admire the skill of a warrior who is so far above him that he seems verily to be a god, so do I regard him. But be at ease, for I detest him and his evil.”

“Good, Lord Prince,” said Maberg with relief. “Very good, but be warned!” The Land Commander came closer to Arvan and whispered, “If you have any desire to mould yourself on that demon’s spawn, then remember the old Arvinian proverb, he who imitates is as much a slave as the clay is to the potter.”

“As you are a slave of the golden-haired Clothilde?” Arvan asked wryly.

“Prince,” replied Maberg, “I doubt not that you will one day be a warrior of great renown. I pity your enemies, for you have already learned to strike a blow at a man’s weakest spot; his heart.” Both men laughed.

At that moment the tread of heavy steps and the clash of armour warned them that they would soon no longer be alone. Maberg glanced briefly at the tower’s stairwell. Then he turned and faced Arvan, son of Selcontar, once more. There was encouragement and admiration in his look. Arvan nodded, acknowledging the unstated affection in the Land Commander’s glance.

Maberg bowed and moved toward the tower’s stairwell. Two guards bearing spears appeared at the top of the stairwell. Like Arvan, they were dressed in sable armour. Over their shoulders they wore the fur of forest animals for protection against the bitter cold. Seeing Maberg approach, they stood aside and clashed shield against spear as he passed. The latter acknowledged their salutation by crossing his right arm over his breast. For a while, Arvan and the guards could hear his retreating footsteps. Then all was once more silent. Arvan nodded toward the newcomers, and they bowed deeply. The gesture was not devoid of affection, Arvan knew. He had long held a place in the hearts of the men of this stronghold.



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