The Young Sorceress: My Own Review

The Young Sorceress (New Cover)The Young Sorceress is the shortest book in the Senta and the Steel Dragon series, and yet it was the most difficult to write.  I don’t really remember why– I’m not sure I knew why at the time.  It probably had something to do with the format.  In all of the other books, besides Brechalon, each character gets a whole chapter before we shift to another character.  In The Young Sorceress, and Brechalon, the scene shifts several times.  On the other hand, it’s probably the difficulty I had keeping all the characters straight.  The events in the story result in us following quite a few more characters than we originally thought.

Reading this book again, I now consider it my favorite of the series.  I really enjoy the characterization of Senta and how she grows through the story.  The story of Isaak Wissinger is one of my favorite parts of the series.

Magic Battles: The Young Sorceress

The Young Sorceress (New Cover)Wissinger waited for almost two hours, but when she stepped out of the doorway, he immediately knew that he had made a mistake. This wasn’t Zurfina—at least it wasn’t the Zurfina he knew. This was a mere girl, and yet she looked like the woman that had twice visited the writer in the ghetto and once more on the S.S. Waif des Vaterlands. And that similarity went beyond the bizarre leather clothing. If she wasn’t Zurfina, she had to be associated with her somehow—her daughter maybe, or her sister.

The girl was accompanied by three men and a boy, who surrounded her like a cordon as she walked through the street. She carried a bulging carpetbag in her hand and Wissinger was bothered that none of her male companions offered to carry it for her. The five of them stepped out onto what passed for a main thoroughfare in St. Ulixes, and Wissinger followed along right behind them.

No sooner had they turned the corner, than there were several loud cracks of rifle fire. Two of the men with the Zurfina girl were shot, the older man though the chest and the younger man wearing a fez, right through the head, spraying both the girl and the boy with blood and brains. Before the two bodies had even fallen, bolts of magical energy shot from down the street at the remainder of the party. More rifle fire followed.

“On the roof!” shouted Wissinger involuntarily when he spotted half a dozen men with rifles on the roof across the street.

The girl raised her hand and a massive ball of flame shot from her toward the riflemen. The entire building on which they were perched exploded. She gave Wissinger a quick glance before turning her attention to the attack coming from down the street.

Human beings and trogs alike fled the area, some diving into open doorways, others simply running for their lives. Walking down the center of the street were three men. Wissinger felt a little thrill of fear as he realized that Von Grieg was one of them. The others were the two Reine Zauberei that he had seen at the train station. They waved their hands and bolts of energy shot from their fingertips. The girl waved her hand and the bright blue balls of magic ricocheted away, crashing into buildings and starting more fires. She waved again and thick black smoke rose from the ground which, added to the smoke from the fires, quickly engulfed the entire street.

“Come here,” she called, and it took Wissinger a few seconds to realize that she was talking to him.

He ran over before the smoke made it completely impossible to see.

“Help them get him off the street.” She pointed to the man who had been shot through the chest, and the writer saw that he was still breathing and awake.

Wissinger took one arm and the boy took the other. They dragged him away as the remaining man fired off his own magical missiles through the smoke in what could only have been the most general direction toward his enemies.

“Come on, Geert!” called the boy. “If we can get him back to the lodge, we have healing draughts for him.”

The young man pushed Wissinger aside and took his place with the wounded man.

“We’ve got him,” he said to the girl. “You need to get out of here.”

“Right,” she replied. “You have fire wards, I trust?”

“Yes,” he said, now thirty feet down the alley. “Good luck.”

The girl grabbed Wissinger by the shoulder. Even though he was several inches taller than her, it seemed as though he was looking up at her. “You stay with me.”

She took three steps back out into the street, stretched her hand out into the smoke filled air, and said “Uuthanum uluchaiia uluthiuth.” Another gigantic ball of fire shot down the street, but this time it ignited the thick black smoke. The buildings burned. The very air burned. It was as close to the Kafirite description of Hell as Wissinger ever wanted to see. He could hear people screaming close by and further up the street.

“Gott in Himmel!” he cried, as what had once been a man, but now was nothing but a torch ran past him. He hoped it was one of the Reine Zauberei. He wouldn’t have wished such a fate on anyone else.

“Come on then,” said the girl. She led him down the alley after the others, but turned down a different direction. “Who the hell are you, anyway?”

“Um, I… I’m a friend… of Zurfina.”

“Huh,” she said with a frown.

“Are you her daughter?”

“Kafira no,” she said. “I’m her apprentice, Senta.”

“I’ve never seen magic like that before.”

“Well, it was no Epic Pestilence, but it was all right.”

Magic Battles: The Young Sorceress

The Young Sorceress (New Cover)Most of the lizzies popped back inside. One who didn’t had rifle butts smashed into his face by two soldiers who rushed forward from the line. One lizzie made the mistake of stepping outside while holding an obsidian encrusted wooden sword. He was cut down by at least five rifle bullets, even though he had made no move to raise the weapon. The rifle shots were the signal to all the lizzies outside the perimeter of human soldiers to get away and get away as fast as they could. Senta suddenly realized it was a signal for something else as well.

“Uh oh,” she said, stepping over to the doorway where the dead lizzie was making a large bloody puddle in the dirt.

“Get back here,” hissed Staff, but his attention was pulled away from her.

“We have contraband!” called one of the constables.

Senta ignored the others. Stepping onto the body of the dead lizardman, she pushed aside the animal hide door and peered into the hut’s interior. It was dark, but not so much that she couldn’t see. Four large lizzies stood against the walls, watching her, but she paid no attention to them. At the far side of the room was a fifth aborigine, his back turned to the girl, but when the light flooded into the room around Senta, he turned to look at her. He was shrunken and shriveled, and his skin had faded away with tremendous age or maybe disease. He wore a necklace of human hands held together with woven grass. In his own hand he carried a small lizard, its four legs sticking straight out, mounted on a stick like some strange lizard lollypop.

“Kafira’s Tits!” shouted Senta. “I know you!”

She did know him too. The dried-out old creature was none other than the chief shaman of Suusthek, the great city-state that had sat two hundred miles southeast of Port Dechantagne until Zurfina had called down a meteor strike to wipe it off the map.

The shaman suddenly held up his lizard talisman and hissed. Senta felt herself fly out of the doorway, sailing through the air to smash into the back wall of another hut. All the air was knocked from her lungs and her ears rang. She climbed to her feet just as the witch doctor emerged from inside.

Several riflemen fired at the old lizzie, but he simply waved the lizard on a stick and the bullets ricocheted away. He raised his other hand and a stream of magical energy bolts shot toward the young sorceress. Senta snatched one of the glamours floating invisibly around her head, activating it just in time to counter the witch doctor’s attack. The ricocheting energy bolts flew in every direction. The lizzie hissed and a blast of frost and snow flew from his fingertips directly at the girl.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve,” she said, countering. “That was the first spell I learned. See what you do with this. Uuthanum uluchaiia uluthiuth!”

Senta stretched out both hands and a small ball of flame formed, shooting directly toward the shaman. In the scant score of so feet between the two, it grew to a diameter of ten feet. The witch doctor held up his talisman as the fireball engulfed him and he remained safe within a little bubble as the flame exploded outward, setting fire to a dozen or more of the lizzie homes. The buildings popped and sparked and burned like they had been soaked in kerosene. In a few seconds, every house within sight was at least partially ablaze.

“Oops,” said Senta. She could see lizzies running in every direction and hear the soldiers calling to “fall back!”

The lizzie fired back again with a spell that Senta didn’t know, but she knew it wouldn’t be good for her if it hit her. She blocked it with a shield spell that also protected her as the burning building behind her popped and spread burning embers all around.

“Time to put you down for good,” she said. “Uuthanum uastus corakathum paj.”

The shaman raised the hand with his lizard talisman, but then hissed in pain and surprise. His hand, talisman and all, crackled and hardened, turning to stone. The transformation followed up his arm and then across his shoulders, down his body and up to the top of his head. In a brief moment, the lizzie had been turned into a statue.

“One final bit,” said Senta. “Uuthanum uastus carakathum nit.”

The stone statue that was all that was left of the lizzie shaman, changed color as the stone turned to mud. It slowly collapsed down upon itself until all that remained was a puddle with the vague shape of a head and a hand on the top of it. The mud turned white and cracked under the heat of the fires.

Watching the mud remains of the witch doctor reminded Senta that her own skin was under assault from the surrounding heat.

“Uuthanum rivah-necht,” she said, casting a spell to protect herself.

Then she walked between the burning buildings, navigating the narrow paths through Lizzietown, which was now completely engulfed in flames.

Magic Battles: The Young Sorceress

The Young Sorceress (New Cover)Senta and Hero stepped through the great gate in the emergency wall just in time to see a fireball shoot across the square and crash into the second and third floors of Finkler’s Bakery. Patrons ran screaming from the ground floor as the upper floors took to flame.

“You stupid cow!” shouted Senta. “Why would you cast a fireball in the middle of town?”

“Oh my!” said Hero, when she saw who Senta was talking to.

Another Senta was standing in the square in front of them. This one was wearing a red dress. Hero thought she looked older than the Senta standing beside her, but then realized it was simply that she was a bit heavier.

“You stay out of this,” said the red-dressed Senta. “You take care of your business and I’ll take care of mine.”

“I don’t recall burning down the town as being part of anyone’s business,” replied leather-clad Senta.

She grabbed a glamour from the air next to her. It was one she had kept ever since Mayor Korlann’s house had burnt down. She pointed her hand and the air around the burning building was flooded with carbon dioxide, smothering the fire.

“I’m just sending a little message,” said the other Senta. “Look. Now you’ve let them get away.”

“Let who get away?”

“Graham and that girl he’s running around with.”

“He what now?” Senta looked at Hero, who shrugged. “Whatever’s going on, you have no business trying to kill Graham.”

“I’m not going to kill him. Only maim him a little bit.”

“Obviously the first thing I need to do is to get rid of you,” said Senta, waving her hands. “Teiius uuthanum.”

“Uuthanum,” said the other Senta, countering the spell. “You’ve got to be kidding. No copy is going to out-magic me. Uuthanum Teigor.”

“I thought she was the copy,” said Hero.

“Prestus uuthanum. She is the copy. Go stand out of the way. Ariana uuthanum sembor!”

A sticky mass of spider webs enveloped the red-dressed Senta. She struggled for a moment, falling to the ground. By the time she managed to dispel the webs, the leather-clad Senta had cast a charm spell on her. Stepping over, she looked down at the image of herself lying almost helpless on the ground.

“If you touch me, you’ll see,” said the prone sorceress, in a sing-song voice. “I’m the real Senta. You’ll just cease to exist.”

“Let’s see then,” said Senta, reaching down and touching a perfect copy of her own nose.

The red dress seemed to deflate as the Senta who had been wearing it dissolved and flowed up and into the hand of the standing sorceress.

“Nice,” said Senta, standing up. “A new dress. I was wondering how that was going to work out.”

“I should have known you were the source of the trouble,” said Saba Colbshallow.

He looked sternly at Senta from beneath his police helmet, his blue uniform, with the exception of the sergeant stripes, a match for those of the two constables that followed on his heels.

“I didn’t…” Senta started. “But she… Oh, bloody hell.”

“Come along with me to the station,” said Saba. “We’ll get all the details down in a report. But I can tell you right now that someone is going to be held responsible for the damage.”

The top floors of the bakery had been saved from the fire, but there was plenty of scorching on the outside walls and no one would be too surprised if some of the supports had to be replaced.

“Fine,” said Senta, and then turning to Hero. “See if Mrs. Bratihn can get this dress cleaned. Tell her I’ll come around for a fitting.”

The Young Sorceress – $2.99 at ‘txtr

The Young Sorceress (New Cover)Everyone in Port Dechantagne seems to have an agenda of their own, from mysterious sorceress Zurfina, to agents from the enemy nation of Freedonia, to the kings and witchdoctors of the mysterious lizardmen. On the eve of her fifteenth birthday, sorceress’s apprentice Senta finds herself being pulled first one way and then the other. Will she actually have to split herself into four in order to deal with all her responsibilities?In this, book 4 in the Senta and the Steel Dragon series, the young sorceress finds herself at a turning point, as she has to step up and fill in for her mistress, the mysterious Zurfina. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Zaeri writer Isaak Wissinger must escape the coming genocide in Freedonia, and ship-wrecked sailor Kieran Baxter must survive alone on a deserted island. What connection do they have the the Drache Girl and her country of Birmisia?

Follow this link to purchase The Young Sorceress in EPUB format for just $2.99 at ‘txtr.


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The Young Sorceress – Now in Paperback!

The Young Sorceress (New Cover)Everyone in Port Dechantagne seems to have an agenda of their own, from mysterious sorceress Zurfina, to agents from the enemy nation of Freedonia, to the kings and witchdoctors of the mysterious lizardmen. On the eve of her fifteenth birthday, sorceress’s apprentice Senta finds herself being pulled first one way and then the other. Will she actually have to split herself into four in order to deal with all her responsibilities?

In this, book 4 in the Senta and the Steel Dragon series, the young sorceress finds herself at a turning point, as she has to step up and fill in for her mistress, the mysterious Zurfina. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Zaeri writer Isaak Wissinger must escape the coming genocide in Freedonia, and ship-wrecked sailor Kieran Baxter must survive alone on a deserted island. What connection do they have the the Drache Girl and her country of Birmisia?

The Young Sorceress is available for the first time in paperback for just $4.99.  You can purchase your copy by checking out the books page on this site or by following this link.

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The Dark and Forbidding Land

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The Young Sorceress

The Young Sorceress

The Two Dragons

The Two Dragons (New Cover)

The Young Sorceress – Benny Markham and Shemar Morris

youngsorceressformobileread1When I was writing The Young Sorceress, I needed a couple of young men to tag along with Senta.  I looked through the characters that I had appearing before and after and picked two mostly at random.  Since I had already written what happens to everyone for the rest of their lives, I knew that one of these two young men had a fairly important future.  It wasn’t until recently though, that I realized I was going to be writing it in The Sorceress and her Lovers.  Here are Benny, Shemar, and Senta in The Young Sorceress.

The small train, consisting only of a locomotive and a caboose, stopped at the end of the spur line and deposited its passengers—a blond teenage sorceress and two teenage boys carrying rifles.  The girl was dressed in black leather.  The two young men wore khaki explorer clothes and pith helmets.  All three had high boots, proof against the thick and thorny brush.  On the southeast edge of the great forest through which the train had journeyed, more than a hundred miles from Port Dechantagne, the landscape grew hilly and rugged.

“I really don’t think you two should be out here,” said Senta.  “I can do just fine on my own.”

“It’s not safe out here for you either,” replied Shemar Morris.  “I know you can do magic and all, but Graham says you were almost eaten by dinosaurs on a couple of occasions.”

“Let’s get going,” said Benny Markham, his eyes constantly scanning the area.  “I’m really of no mind to run into a tyrannosaurus.”

“Not likely to see one around here,” replied his friend, “at least according to Colonel Mormont.”

“That’s good.”

“Much more likely to run into a gorgosaurus.”

“Yeah?  What are they like?”

“They’re like short tyrannosauruses,” said Senta.

“That’s just ace.  How about we get a move on?  I’m getting paid a flat rate, not by the hour.”

Senta reached into the air just above her head and grabbed something floating there which only she could see.  It was a glamour—a spell stored for use at a later time.  The spell was scrying magic that would lead her hopefully to a large coal deposit.  The time to use the spell had come.  She crushed the gemlike object between her thumb and forefinger and watched as tiny sparkles spread through the air like fairy dust, gradually drifting into an arrow shape that pointed almost due west.

“This way,” she pronounced.

They crossed over a series of small hills which on their far side looked out over a vast open plain.  Hundreds of monstrous creatures roamed across it.  The vast majority of them were of a type that had the same basic shape as the iguanodons found near the coast, but were a solid deep brown in color and had very different forefeet.

“What does Mormont say about those?” asked Benny.

Shemar pulled out a small leather bound copy of the book that almost all Birmisian residents now carried.  He opened it and read.  “Gryposaurus.  Large herds, very fast, eats grass and shrubbery.”  He stuck the book back in his pocket.  “Bunch of triceratops over there.  Oh, and look.”

Four grey and green striped predators stalked along the edge of the massive herd.  They were very much the same shape as the tryrannosaurs known from the coast, though much shorter and with a lighter build.

“Let’s skirt over that way,” said Benny.  “I’ll feel better if we can keep those paralititans between us and the gorgosaurs.”

“They’re not paralititans.  They’re sauroposeidons.”

“Yeah, all right.  I see than now.  Let’s just keep moving.”

“So have you got a girlfriend yet, Shemar?” asked Senta.

“I’m keeping my options open.”

“He’s too afraid to ask a girl out,” said Benny, still watching the dinosaurs.

“I have my eye on a few.”

“Like who?” asked Senta.

“Why do you want to know?”

“Just wondering.”

“I don’t want it getting around that I might be interested in one.  Then what if I wanted to ask a different one out?”

“Don’t worry,” said Senta.  “I don’t talk to any of those other girls anyway.”

“Well, I kind of like Gabby Bassett.  She has nice eyes.”

Just as he spoke, Shemar kicked a loose rock which went rolling downhill.  A two foot long rodent, heretofore unnoticed, jumped startled from its hiding place, and scurried across Benny’s boots, and then out of sight.  Benny jumped completely off the ground, landed off balance, and dropped his rifle.

“Kafira damn it!” he shouted.  “Can we pay attention to what we’re doing?”

“Uuthanum beithbechnoth!” shouted Senta, aiming her hand in the boy’s direction. 

A bolt of bright orange energy shot from her hand and just past his head, quickly followed by a second and a third.  Benny stood shaking where he was for a moment and then turned around.  Lying dead ten paces behind him was the body of a beautiful red feathered creature.  It was an achillobator, twenty feet long and weighing over a thousand pounds.  It was every inch as large and ferocious as the utahraptors they were all familiar with.

“Kafira Kristos,” Benny muttered, crossing himself.

“Dutty Speel is nice,” continued Shemar.  “But did you ever notice that her eyes are kind of spaced too far apart?”

The Young Sorceress: Nellie Swenson

youngsorceressformobileread1(Spoiler Alert: I’m going to try not to, but be warned.)  Senta got her last name from turn of the century (the one before last) girl-reporter Nellie Bly.  So when I created this particular character for The Young Sorceress, I used the other half of Nellie Bly’s name as sort of an in joke, or hint.  It works perfectly, because Nellie Swenson is a girl-reporter.  The second half of her name is just pulled out of the air.  There is a major street near here named Swenson, and also a chain of ice-cream parlor’s called Swenson’s.  I used to take my kids there.  Anyway, I don’t know if I used the character to her full potential, but I had fun with her.  Here is her first appearance in The Young Sorceress.

“Excuse me,” said a voice from behind them. 

Graham and Senta turned to look into the freckled face of a young woman.  She had evidently just come off one of the ships in port.  She wore a long traveling coat over a white blouse and brown dress.  A brown bonnet held back bright red hair, a few strands of which escaped to hang down on the side of their face.  In her right hand she grasped the handle of a small carpet bag.

“Do either of you know your way around town,” asked the girl.

“Sure,” replied Graham.  “What are you looking for?”

“I don’t really know.  I’m new here.  I don’t have a place to stay yet and I’m not sure where I should go to find one.”

“I’ll help you.  I’m Graham Dokkins.”

“I’m Nellie Swenson, girl reporter.”

“Are you supposed to be famous or something?” asked Senta.

“I’m pretty well known back in Brech.  The Herald Sun is the most widely read news broadsheet, and I have a weekly column.”

“Who’s writing it now then?”

“Oh, I wrote enough extra columns to fill out a whole year, though I’m kind of sorry I’m not going to get to see the reaction to my story on orphanage abuses or the one detailing the stunt of my jumping from a dirigible.  I’m here to see Birmisia Colony and I’m keeping a journal of my adventure.  It should provide at least a year of new columns.”

“Come on, I’ll take you to the new arrivals bureau,” offered Graham.

“That would be lovely, but aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”

“Oh, that’s just Senta.”  Then to Senta he said, “I’m going to help Nellie get situated.  I’ll see you later.”

The boy offered the new arrival his arm, which she took, and the two of them started up Seventh and One Half Avenue.  Senta’s eyes bored holes in their backs, and she absentmindedly punched her left palm with her right fist.