I’m happy to be kicking off the Reign of Serpents Blog Tour organized by Glass Town Entertainment in anticipation for the book’s release! Today, I have an exclusive excerpt from the book to share with you all! I’m super excited for this book and adventures that lay in store for the characters!
Title: Reign of Serpents
Author: Eleanor Herman
Release Date: June 27, 2017
New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy in this action-packed follow-up to EMPIRE OF DUST.
In REIGN OF SERPENTS, the ancient power of Snake Blood threatens the known world. While Prince Alexander struggles with a very deadly inner demon, his betrothed, Zofia, is on her way to him, to unite their kingdoms…even as she begins to realize where her true allegiance lies. The fierce Cynane meets her match-not in her future husband, the deranged king of Illyria, but in her great-great-grandfather, Talus, possessor of Smoke Blood, who will teach her the true meaning of betrayal. And marooned together on an island in the Mediterranean, romantic tension blooms between Katerina and Hephaestion as they learn of lost civilizations and discover a device that could help them do the impossible: kill the last living god.
New York Times best-seller Eleanor Herman brings her skills as a historian to an exciting new Young Adult series on Alexander the Great at sixteen, the four-book Legacy of Kings: Blood of Gods and Royals.
“History is so fascinating that it never has to be presented in a boring way, even in non-fiction,” she explains. “These were flesh and blood people, just like you and me, facing war and plague, falling in love, living among splendid art and gut-wrenching poverty, evanescent beauty and devastating illnesses. Blending real history with the conversation, action, emotions and fantasy aspects of Legacy of Kings makes the story explosively exciting. I want readers to smell the blood on the battlefield, hear the delicate strumming of a lyre, feel the heat of an ancient Greek summer sun on their faces, see the beauty of the temples and palaces, and taste the dark wine, full of lees, poured from a red-and-black painted Greek vase.”
Eleanor calls herself a “Sherlock Holmes of history.” For Legacy, she studied and visited most of the major sites of the ancient world, usually with an archeologist in tow, and read just about everything, ancient and modern, written on the Greek world of 340 B.C.
Eleanor has hosted shows for The History Channel and the National Geographic Channel on Henry VIII, the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias, and the Hindenburg. She is an expert commentator on numerous episodes of a national show coming out this fall.
Eleanor lives with her husband, their black lab, and her four very dignified cats in McLean, VA. She is a member of the National Press Club, where she often moderates book events, a queen mother of Cameroon, an elections officer, and a volunteer for the aging in Fairfax County, VA.
Cyn clutched the edge of her seat, feeling the metal ornaments cut into her palms but not caring. Across the arena, the doors opened. She squinted in the bright sunlight, her eyes pinned to the darkness of the tunnel. For a long moment, nothing happened.
Then the blackness shifted, like shadow on shadow. Suddenly a bellow of rage echoed from the opening. A second later, a wild bull galloped into the ring.
Taller than Priam and five times as wide, the beast looked like a small mountain. Muscle and sinew rippled as it stamped and snorted. She could see its matted black hair clumping around the wounds that zigzagged across its back. The cuts had not been made to tame the beast, but to enrage it. As the bull shook its barrel-sized head, she realized with horror that its horns had been sharpened to cruel points.
Papari cartwheeled to the nearest marble wall and scrambled over several rows of spectators until he sat quivering in mock fear on a fat woman’s lap, his head buried in her neck as she tried to push him off. Only one spectator laughed, and the sound of King Amyntas’s mirth was like a whip to the bull’s back. It roared in rage as wild bloodshot eyes locked on Cyn.
The bull pawed the ground as its red-brown eyes rolled. Then it charged.
Training took over. Cyn grabbed the sword and shield from the old man trembling beside her. He and the rest of her Queen’s Guard fled toward the nearest door, as did the spectators in the bottom rows.
Finding her center, she braced herself as the bull bore down on her. The heft of the wooden shield and the sword’s solid hilt gave her strength. It felt so right to have weapons in her hands again. She felt the blood pumping through her limbs, her heart racing in anticipation. The irony was that the king was doing this to harm her, but she had never felt so alive.
She counted the bull’s stride as it thundered toward her. Five strides until it reached her. Three…
There was a movement in the corner of her eye, and Priam leaped in front of her. His sudden appearance startled the bull, and it swerved, breaking its pace. Cyn gnashed her teeth. What was he doing? She had the situation under control!
The two other Macedonian guards appeared behind the creature just as a kick connected with Priam’s chest. An inhuman groan escaped Priam’s lungs as he was tossed back, all the way to the wall, where he slid to the ground in a quivering slump.
Cyn froze, torn between running to him and defending herself. Herod and Jamesh stabbed the creature’s back, but they’d misjudged the bull’s agility. It swung its head and impaled Herod, horns piercing through leather breastplate, muscles, and bones as if they were butter. The tips of the bull’s horns were visible through Herod’s back as Jamesh, horrified, stumbled backward and vomited. As the beast shook his head, the dead man’s arms and legs jerked hideously, like ribbons on an obscene hat.
Cyn stumbled back, bile rising in her throat.
Now. Now was the time to attack the beast, encumbered with the weight of the soldier.
“Over here!” she cried, banging her sword on the shield.
The bull, half-blinded by the body and half by rage, bellowed. It galloped in the direction of Cyn’s voice. She wasn’t sure if the spectators were still silent or not. If the audience had escaped or not. If Priam was dead or not.
Her entire world was hooves, horns, and fury.
Wait, she told herself, even when every particle of her being screamed at her to move. Not yet…not yet…NOW!
She dropped to her knees as the bull lunged.
With all her strength—with all her anger at Olympias, all her disgust at Amyntas’s mad games, and all her bitterness of being nothing more than just a girl—Cyn drove her sword upward, into the bull’s belly.
The force of the impaled creature wrenched the hilt out of her hands. She had only a breath to roll to the side as the beast tumbled, the weight of Herod’s body, still attached to the horns, pulling it forward. The animal landed on its face with a sickening crunch, followed by a snap that turned Cyn’s insides to liquid.
The bull gasped once, then was still.
Panting heavily, Cyn lurched to her feet. The remaining spectators sat frozen, eyes wide and mouths agape. But the king slouched on his throne, sipping his wine and frowning.
“You’ve ruined the game,” he drawled, his voice carrying in the abandoned arena.
Without responding, Cyn walked to the bull, put one daintily sandaled foot on its stomach, flexed her muscles, and, with all the strength she had left, pulled the sword from the beast’s thick, bleeding body.
There you have it! Reign of Serpents will be released tomorrow, June 27. The characters and story developed greatly between the first and second books and I’m excited to see what happens next! If you enjoyed this excerpt, be sure to check out the rest of the blogs below for the more from the Reign of Serpents blog tour!