I’ve got another great indie author to talk about today – Kyra Halland, and her novel “Chosen of Azara”.
Here’s a little about Kyra…
Beginning with the Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander and the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Leguin, Kyra Halland has always loved fantasy. And, beginning with those books, she has also always loved a good love story. In 1990, as a new stay-at-home mom with a young baby, she finally decided to combine those two loves – like chocolate and peanut butter! – by writing the kinds of romantic fantasy novels she wanted to read.
Courageous and complicated heroes, strong, smart, and sweet heroines, magic, romance, adventure, heroism, excursions into the dark corners of life and human nature, and a dash of offbeat humor – all of these make up Kyra Halland’s worlds. Now she is pleased and excited to share those worlds with readers, and hopes that others will enjoy her worlds and stories and characters as much as she does.
Kyra Halland lives in southern Arizona. She has a very patient husband, two less-patient cats, and two young adult sons. Besides writing, she enjoys scrapbooking and anime, and she wants to be a crazy cat lady when she grows up.
You can follow Kyra at her website.
And here’s the book!
Juzeva: Born a princess of the beautiful land of Savaru, dedicated to the service of the magical Source Azara, she is forced to marry a man she doesn’t know for the sake of her country’s survival, and finds herself trapped in a web of evil and betrayal…
Sevry: The last king of the war-ravaged land of Savaru, he is tasked by Azara with finding the secret that his aunt Juzeva carried with her when she disappeared – the secret that will bring Savaru back to life – and finds himself hounded by evil men who want to use that secret for their own terrible purposes…
Lucie: The cherished only daughter of a Ceryrian baron, haunted by visions of a desperate man, she is unaware of her true heritage and the power she holds to restore life to a long-dead land…
Then Sevry, Savaru’s past, and Juzeva’s secret catch up with Lucie, leading her to adventure, danger, and a love that will forever change her life and the lost land of Savaru.
Kyra’s got a treat for us – an interview with one of her main characters…
Introducing Sevry, one of the main characters in Chosen of Azara. The last king of the ruined land of Savaru, he has spent many years searching for the woman who holds the key to bringing his land back to life.
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I dream of going home to Savaru as it was before the war, green and beautiful and peaceful. If I am successful in my quest, I’ll have the chance to do that before I die.
Tell us about your family.
I had a large and loving family – mother, father, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. We were all very close. Unfortunately, they were all killed in the war and I’m the last one left.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
Because of the life I’ve led while on my quest, I’ve had a lot of frightening moments, particularly when I’ve sustained an injury that I feared would make it impossible for me to continue with my sworn task. But the worst moment was when I was ten years old, the invading Madrinan army attacked my family’s stronghold. My mother hid me in a closet, and I watched through a crack in the door as she and the rest of my family were slaughtered.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a bard. I always loved music, loved to sing and make up songs and stories. The war took that possibility away from me when I was forced to become a soldier at a very young age and then when I had to take command of more and more of what remained of our army as the other leaders were killed.
What are you passionate about these days?
Before my aunt Juzeva was married off to the Madrinan Crown prince in an effort to prevent the war, she received the power, from the magical Source she served, to restore Savaru to life should it be destroyed in war or by magic. She later disappeared with her secret. The sole purpose of my life is to find her or one of her descendants who inherited this power, and take her back to Savaru to restore the land to life. That is what I live for, and when it is done I will finally be able to die and be at peace.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
*laughs a little* I always have to be on my guard. There are evil men following me, hoping I will lead them to the woman who holds the power to bring Savaru back to life. When I do have a little time to think and reflect, I think back through the years to see if there are any clues I might have missed. Or I remember the songs and tales from when I was young, before Savaru was destroyed, so that they will continue to live on.
If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
I would apologize to my people for not being a strong enough king and leader to save them from destruction.
What makes you happy?
I don’t remember what it feels like to be happy. I suppose that when the day does come that I return to Savaru with my aunt or one of her descendants and see it returned to life as it was, then I will be happy.
What one word best describes you?
Do you have any special routines or rituals?
I can’t say that I do. In order to evade the man who are tracking me, and to keep certain secrets, it’s been necessary for me to change my identity about every five years, if not more often. That sort of instability makes it difficult to maintain any kind of routine. As for rituals, I long ago let go of the idea that anything would bring me luck or make my task any easier.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Er. Ah. *blushes* Because of the circumstances of my life, fighting in a war from the time I was ten till I was twenty-three, and struggling to lead my people and stay alive, and then because of the demands of my sworn task and the need to avoid the men who are hunting me–and there is no limit to the awful, depraved, cruel things they’ll do to anyone they think might know anything about me–my experience with women is, well, let’s just say it’s non-existent. I’m told I’m not bad-looking, and I frequently associate with men who are far less restrained in such matters, but it’s something that, out of necessity, has no place in my life. Which I regret, but my life is not my own–it belongs to Savaru and to my sworn task.
Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?
Trust Azara. Azara was the magical Source that my aunt served. When I learned of the secret Aunt Juzeva carried with her when she disappeared, I was told to trust Azara. That is what keeps me going, the faith that Azara knew what she was doing when she assigned me this task.
And Kyra’s also given us an excerpt from the book, to whet our appetites…
Sevry walked amidst the death and destruction, looking for the best place to make his final stand, where he could do the most damage before the Madrinans killed him. At the top of the steps leading to the front door seemed a fittingly heroic place, but it was too exposed. An archer could cut him down before the army even entered the courtyard. Somewhere indoors would be better. In the main hall, the lower half of the great staircase had collapsed; perhaps if he climbed onto the upper, intact, part, and fought from there–
He stopped at the sound of a faint moan from behind a pile of rubble near the staircase. Sword in hand, he moved silently towards the place the sound had come from. He heard it again, a low, animal sound, not a call for help but an involuntary groan of pain. Keeping low, alert for signs of a trap, he stepped closer, and saw the crumpled body of a woman wearing the white robe of Azara. The back of the robe was saturated with blood both dried and fresh.
Sevry knelt next to the woman and laid her head on his lap. Between her wounds and his lack of resources, there was nothing he could do for her but try to comfort her for a moment. “You’re not alone,” he whispered, smoothing her long, gray, blood-stiffened hair.
She was large for a Savarunan woman, and something about her size teased at his memory. She opened her eyes, studied him briefly, then smiled. “King Sevros,” she said, her voice barely making its way out of her broken, dying body. “I’m Ysa. I served your Aunt Juzeva.”
Sevry’s hands briefly stilled in surprise. Then he took up the soothing touch again. “Yes, I’m Sevros,” he said.
“Is anyone else left?” Though her voice was hoarse and weak, the urgency in it was clear.
“I’m the only one, Mother Ysa. I’ll die too, but I’ll take as many of them with me as I can.”
“No! You must not die.” She coughed. Sevry raised her head and put his waterskin to her lips. “Listen to me,” Ysa went on, her words coming with greater difficulty. “Juzeva had a secret. A Source-token, a small crystal vial on a silver chain. Into it, Azara put the power to restore all the Sources of Savaru if they were ever destroyed. Azara would have told me if she had died. Find her, and bring her back, so Savaru can live again!”
The last word ended in another rattling cough. Sevry gave Ysa the last few drops from his waterskin. “But how can I find her, Mother Ysa? I’m standing alone at the end of the earth, with an entire army against me.”
“Trust Azara. She will help you bring back…her own…”
Once again her voice trailed off into a harsh fit of coughing, which was quickly drowned out by the sound of dozens of mounted soldiers riding into the courtyard. Sevry started to gather Ysa into his arms, to take her with him, but she pushed him away. “Leave me. Save yourself. Let Savaru live again.”
The first soldiers entered the great hall. Sevry scrambled up onto the pile of rubble that was the lower part of the staircase. He grabbed the broken edge of the upper part and dragged himself up, determined now not to let the soldiers corner him. Sword in hand, he ran upstairs, meaning to find a place to hide, but they came too quickly, clambering up onto the broken staircase after him. He ran through the hallways and up more stairs, trying to lose the Madrinans. It galled him to be running instead of fighting, but now he had a reason to live. He believed Ysa; no one could make up a lie like that so close to death. It almost seemed as if she had deliberately pushed away death so that she could tell her secret to someone who could make use of the knowledge.
The Madrinans drove him upwards through the convent until, on the top floor, he came to a ladder that led through a trapdoor in the ceiling. He climbed the ladder and came out onto the roof, which was bordered by a low stone parapet. The wave-wracked, rocky cove of Azara lay far below. Sevry stood on the roof, trying to catch his breath and gather his courage for what was to come. Trust Azara, Ysa had told him. It was all he could do now.
The first few Madrinan soldiers climbed up through the opening in the roof, grinning and boasting in anticipation of the honors that would come to the man who killed the last Savarunan king. Sevry ran to the parapet, stepped up on it without breaking his stride, and, with a final, defiant cry of “Savaru!”, dove from the wall.