Welcome to my stop for the book tour of The Heron Kings’ Flight by Eric Lewis, organized by Random Things Tours. This is the sequel to The Heron Kings, taking place a hundred years after the first book, although it can be read as a standalone.
I will have a full review later this week as I insisted on reading the books in order and one right after the other, and they’re both lengthy works, though fast-paced and enjoyable. Similar to the first book, The Heron Kings’ Flight speaks of war and its horrors and doesn’t hold back. It also has an ensemble of memorable characters who, like the prequel, are more of the people caught in the middle rather than royalty and nobility.
Even if I’m not yet done, I already recommend this book (and the prequel) if you’re a fan of epic fantasy and character-driven stories! In the meantime, here’s some more information and cool stuff you can check out, including a map and an excerpt.
The Heron Kings have been betrayed. A century after their formation from a gang of desperate peasant insurgents, the shadowy band of forest rangers suffers a rare defeat when a skirmish turns into a bloody ambush. Their shaky truce with the crown is tested as young members Linet and Aerrus work to track down their enemies. When reluctant peacetime soldier Eyvind reveals a conspiracy to welcome the charismatic invader Phynagoras, the trio must convince a weak king and pitifully few allies to stand against the storm.
Their only hope lies in the forgotten tactics of their own guerrilla past, and a terrifying new alchemical weapon the likes of which the world had never imagined. The only question is which side will be destroyed by it first…
GENRE: Epic Fantasy
PUBLICATION DATE: May 2022
PUBLISHER: Flame Tree Press
I love maps on books! I know they’re not as needed in other genres compared to epic fantasy, but I think they’re really cool. It also allows me appreciate the flow of the story as I can see the characters’ journey through the different places, and likewise helps me commit the names to memory 😉
Linet strode through the twilit halls of the Lodge of the Heron Kings, gathering bits of gear, moving from one chamber to the next and through the long-remembered routines of lacing her leather jerkin, hooking a quiver of arrows to her belt and stringing her bow. There was some small comfort in these familiar acts, but she knew they were only a distraction from the worry gnawing at the back of her mind.
Where are they? she thought.
It was just a routine skirmish, another Marchman tribal incursion meant to test Lord Osbren’s resolve, no more. What had begun a century ago with a desperate band of peasant guerrillas lived on in the deadly rangers, a forest refuge for those born with no place in the civilized world and who exchanged freedom from it for service from the shadows. The task of the Heron Kings had been to block the woodland paths while Osbren’s men did the dirty work of driving the barbarians back into the mountains. But the twenty sent to do the job were late in returning. They were proficient fighters in any setting of course, but they were most dangerous among the rocks and trees in the dead of night. Tactics that availed one little on an open field.
Linet was late herself, should already have been out on her nightly patrol around the perimeter of the Lodge. But she itched to steal a horse and ride out into the night to make sure nothing had gone wrong. She came to the entrance hall just as the last drops of sunlight fell into shadow, casting a dimness over the valley and leaving the opening to the underground complex, difficult to find even in the noonday sun, as good as invisible. It was almost empty tonight, with everyone of fighting age out on patrol and only a staff of fledglings and elders remaining.
The hall was the only open space in the Lodge, with ornate double doors opening to a concealed access tunnel. A domed ceiling curved down to corridors connecting the system of subterranean chambers that were part natural cave, part carved from the rock. It was a minor marvel of engineering that could house a hundred in perfect secrecy, situated beneath both a natural hot spring and waterfall and suffused with pipes and ventilation shafts. Years of improvements had given the underground fortress a little home-like quality at least, including a stone hearth at one end of the entrance hall. Two high-backed chairs sat side by side before it like faithful old hounds, padded and upholstered and worn deep in the seats with much use. Passing by on her way to the exit, Linet cast a glance in their direction, a last look at a piece of civilization before the wildness of the night forest, and then screamed.
Or rather, she screamed as much as her lifelong training would allow. A short, shrill yelp of surprise before she recovered into a fighting stance, her short recurved sword halfway out of its scabbard and eyes trained on the odd figure sitting in one of the chairs. It was covered in dirt and leaves, its wild and tousled hair prickly with twigs.
“Identify yourself!” Linet demanded. The figure started, rose and turned toward her. A face flickered in the low hearthlight. Linet breathed a sigh of relief as she dropped her blade back into its scabbard. “Aerrus! You ass, you frightened m—”
“Lin,” the young man croaked hoarsely, running forward and clapping dirty hands hard on her shoulders. “Has anyone else made it back yet? Tell me they have!”
“Made it back? No, not yet. What do you mean, what’s happened?”
Aerrus’s brow wavered. “No. So I’m the only one. Lin, it was a trap. Somehow the Marchmen, they knew we were gonna be there. They ambushed us with torches, set fire to the whole godsdamned forest it seemed. Went up like a thatch barn in autumn. We never had a chance. They…they cut us to pieces.”
Linet’s voice caught in her throat, her knees suddenly weak. “What? But…how?”
“Someone betrayed us,” Aerrus growled, looking like some forest wight out of legend, filthy as he was. “Told ’em right where we were going to be. Someone who in the near future is going to become a corpse. Very. Slowly.” Fury boiled in his eyes. “And I know just where to start. Is anyone else about?”
“No, everyone’s either out on patrol or…with you.”
“It’ll have to be just us two then,” he said urgently. “We can do it, they’re only six. Come on!”
About the Author
By day Eric Lewis is a PhD research scientist weathering the constant rounds of mergers and layoffs, and trying to remember how to be a person again long after surviving grad school. In addition to subjecting his writing to one rejection after another, he can be found gathering to himself as many different sharp and pointies as possible — you can never have too many, as a certain someone often says — and searching for the perfect hiking trail or archery range.