As a writer and reader, there are few things I find more exhilarating than watching a friend’s novel move from tentative rough draft to polished gem, ready for publication.

That delight is doubled when the novel in question is a phenomenal fantasy read, from an exceptional author and friend whose work proves the mastery of his craft. It is not often that I have such a narrative to recommend, but today I do.

That novel would be Orison, by Daniel Swensen.

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Orison is a peerless debut novel, full of trust, treachery, and draconic intrigue . From the opening page I was pulled through its tightly woven narrative, losing whole swaths of time to this richly crafted world, its magical nuances, and the people who filled it.  Every twist and revelation made me fall in love with Orison more and more.

And, as you might expect, I fell in love with a couple characters along the way.

Well…okay. ONE character in particular.

His name: Dunnac.

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Behold! An artist rendering of one FASCINATING warrior.

Of all the dynamic, multi-faceted and sympathetic characters in this tale, I was drawn specifically to Dunnac. Nothing of the cardboard “tall, strong and silent” trope exists here. Tall and strong? He is that, certainly. His consummate skills as a swordsman turns the plot on the head of a pin more than once.

Yet he is distinctly more. Dunnac bursts all the seams of the “dashing warrior” costume: He is an upright man pushed into unholy gambits. A warrior forced into a dangerous slavery. A visionary blindfolded by etheric power beyond his reckoning. As a fugitive in a strange land, he faces bitter choices, yet meets them head-on – not merely with the brute force of a battle-hardened warrior, but with forthrightness and tenacity, and a dry humor that endeared him to me all the more.

If I speak of Dunnac as a real person – that should not surprise anyone. All the truly well-written characters are like that. They leap from the page, fully formed, and plunge into our lives, pulling our hearts and imaginations along with them.

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The best part of this book, of course, is that you can order it for yourself in a matter of days. This tale of a magical jewel heist gone deliciously wrong can be found at Nine Muse Press beginning on February 28th!

As an additional teaser, I am delighted to share with you this snippet of Orison, and with it a tantalizing glimpse into the desires and temptations that drive Dunnac through this intense, breakneck-paced adventure.

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“This is a bad plan, Dunnac,” Orain said, dropping a heavy purse of coin onto the table.

The two of them sat in the cramped cabin of the Copper Omen, a flickering lamp the only illumination. Dunnac refilled his flask from a bottle of Halakin whiskey, taking quiet note of Orain’s scowl.

“Admittedly,” Dunnac said. “But it’s the only plan we have.”

“It doesn’t have to be,” Orain took the bottle from Dunnac and poured himself a cup. “We have a ship. We have money. I say we go back to Rull Halak with what we have and take back the crown.”

Dunnac stared at him blankly. “With twenty men.”

“We can get more. The people know who you are. They will follow you. We can raise an army.”

“To raise an army, we need a symbol. We need power. I was sent away to find a weapon of prophecy. If I return without it, my first word is that of failure. Who will follow that?”

“I would,” Orain said softly.

Dunnac nodded slowly. “I know you would. I appreciate that, old friend. But these are not the old days of the war. We need more.”

“I dislike the idea of using draconic magic.” Orain scowled into his cup. “To use the dragon’s power is to risk waking the Semblance of Sleep. That’s just what the Fireborn want.”

“Or perhaps the Fireborn want us to fear magic so we will not use it,” Dunnac said.

Orain looked up sharply at the casual heresy, displeased. “Is that something your sorcerer friend said?”

Dunnac pushed his own cup toward Orain, who poured more whiskey. “Something I observed. His empire sought to write the future of his life in magic. When he refused, they took his power away.”

“I still don’t like the idea of using a dragon’s power.”

“We may not have to use it,” Dunnac said. “We only need people to believe that we can.”

Orain grunted disapproval, but conceded the point with a nod. After a moment of silence, he spoke again. “You still haven’t told the sorcerer about any of this, have you?”

“He wants out of Calushain. When the time is right, I will make my case. What he does then is up to him.”

“He seems all right for a sorcerer,” Orain said reluctantly. “I suppose.”

“He is resourceful, even without his magic. I owe him my life.”

“Do you think he can be trusted around the orison?”

Dunnac sat in quiet thought for a moment. “As much as anyone can be.” He finished his drink and stood. “We’re going to go make this deal now. We should be back before the day is out. If not—”

“I’ll come get you out of trouble again,” Orain said with a grin, a shadow of his good humor returning. “I’m looking forward to going home, Dunnac.”

Dunnac nodded and took the purse. “I wish I could say the same.”

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Keep your radars honed to the ORISON release tour for more character introductions, teasers, and more! Here’s a look at what’s ahead:

Sunday, Feb. 23: Ruth Long and Wrynn

Monday, Feb. 24: yours truly, and Dunnac  🙂

Tuesday, Feb. 25: Lisa V. Tomecek-Bias and Ashen at 2 pm EST

Wednesday, Feb. 26: Tracy McCusker and Camana at 2 pm EST

Thursday, Feb. 27: Emmie Mears and Story at 2 pm EST

Friday, Feb. 28: RELEASE DAY!

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