Cover Reveal (AND EXCERPT!): The Song of All, by Tina LeCount Myers!

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We normally try to write something clever and interesting here, but, frankly, if the cover for The Song of All doesn’t get your attention, nothing we can say in this first line will. Seriously, though: A herd of reindeer in the snow? A blood-soaked warrior on a cliff? A towering mountain in the distance? What more can we say, really? What could be cooler and more epic than that?

And that’s before we even delve into what the book’s actually about; before we touch on its parallel worlds accessed by music and poetry—the titular Song of All—or the immortal beings who dwell there, or its depictions of indigenous Scandinavian cultures, or the fact that it’s the first in a trilogy.

That’s before we tell you about the amazing and multi-talented debut author, Tina LeCount Myers (@tlecountmyers), who is not just a writer, but an artist, independent historian, and surfer (!).

That’s before we tell you we’ve got an excerpt for you below: the second chapter, when things start to heat up in the frozen northern lands of the novel.

Seriously, we could sing the praises of this one all day (or through an endless winter night). So read on and be amazed!

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Chapter Two

“We have, each of us, a duty to the gods beyond prayer, beyond offerings. From the moment our souls arrive, carried upon the wing of the bird, until the moment they claim them for their own, the gods demand we find the light in the darkness and fight against evil in all its forms. We, the Olmmoš, are their chosen. We are their soldiers in this mortal realm of Davvieana.”

The Apotti’s exhortations echoed in the narrow wooden temple. The burning braziers belched thick smoke, smelling of rich smoldering pine. The Apotti stood in front of the chosen and tried not to see the tired faces of farmers and tradesmen, but rather an army of the gods.

As the last of his words reverberated, he felt his heart beating wildly. The blood of a believer coursed through him. He was a child of the church, a son of a priest, and a man, as his father had impressed upon him, destined for greatness within the Order of Believers.

“And, as soldiers, we must remain ever vigilant.” His voice rose to the rafters. “As we enter the dark time we often become vulnerable. Doubts and fears prey upon us and we can lose our faith, fearing the light will never return. In these moments, I ask all of you, the gods’ chosen ones, to remember the battles of our forefathers. Remember the blood they shed to fight evil, to fight those who tempted them to look away from the gods, to fight the Jápmea. These so-called Immortals, these abominations, strove to bind us to their wickedness and have us believe them to be our true gods. But we saw through their lies, for only the gods are immortal, and we slew these false deities. And in shedding our own blood, we cleansed ourselves of their tainted promises.” The priest sagged after his crescendo to catch his breath.

“Remember, mánáid, children of the gods, the battles may have ended, but the war for your souls continues.” The priest closed his eyes and let silence take over the room.

***

After the sermon, the faithful stood and shuffled toward the door. The priest, however, did not move forward to greet his worshipers. Instead, the priest’s acolyte stood with his outstretched arms, ready to receive the varied offerings.

“The Apotti thanks you as you thank the gods,” the acolyte said softly to each person.

Waiting to leave, Irjan and Sohja spoke to those they knew in the village. The women cooed over the baby, and a few of the men clapped Irjan on the back. He was accepting their congratulations when a voice whispered, “Brother, the Apotti thanks you as you thank the gods.”

Irjan faced the priest’s assistant and replied, “I am thankful to the gods and their messenger the Apotti.” He handed the acolyte the cured and folded reindeer skin.

The acolyte accepted it. The corners of his mouth pulled up into a pained smile, as if someone stood behind him tugging at strings. “Brother,” he said through strained lips, “the Apotti would like you to call upon him in his sanctum. It is a matter of importance to the village.” The acolyte then nodded solemnly.

Irjan continued forward through the open door and into the cold.

Sohja smiled. “You see? I was right!”

“Yes.” Irjan smiled back. “You were right.”

“Go to him,” she urged. “Hurry!”

“The only reason to hurry is to see you and the baby get home and out of the cold. The Apotti can wait,” Irjan said, raising his voice.

“Shh. Do not! You have gained the Apotti’s notice. Do not court the attention of the rest of the girkogilli for being rude. I will be fine. I will walk with the neighbors, and then it is a short distance home.”

Irjan raised his hand to guide Sohja down the steps. “No. I will take care of my family first.”

Sohja brushed his hand away. “You are doing so by going to see the Apotti.”

Irjan knew by the look in her eyes he could no more change her mind than he could stop the falling snow.

Reluctantly he watched his wife hurry off to catch up with the others. He watched her retreating back until he could no longer distinguish it from the snow. He felt a hand on his shoulder.

“This way, Brother,” the youthful acolyte said with some command.

Irjan followed, but his thoughts remained with his wife and son.

At a large, rounded door, the acolyte stopped and knocked softly. It seemed impossible anyone could hear such a light touch on such a stout door, but from inside a voice granted entrance.

The young cleric pushed open the door. The iron hinges groaned with strain. A fire blazed on the far side of the room and the priest sat beside the hearth, gazing with interest at his guests.

“Good,” he said. “Send the Brother forward, Siggur. Your duty is done. The gods thank you.”

The acolyte stopped abruptly, then lowered his head, murmuring, “As I thank the gods.” Silently he retreated.

The priest gestured. “Brother, come sit beside the fire. We have important matters to discuss.”

Irjan took the proffered chair. Even with the light of the flames, he could only see the Apotti’s face. Whatever cloaked the priest’s body, its details remained hidden in blackness. In contrast, the priest’s face was ageless and luminescent, framed with golden white hair. His eyes were icy pools. Irjan felt as if the Apotti looked through him as if he were mist, with no solid substance to stand in the way. Suddenly, Irjan feared those same eyes were trying to bore into his thoughts, into his soul, where desire and fear intertwined.

“Brother, you have skills we are in need of,” the priest said.

“Apotti, I do not understand. I am a boanda, one of many farmers, and certainly not the richest in crops or livestock,” Irjan answered cautiously.

The priest blinked.

“Brother, don’t think I cannot see your soul, your history,” he replied. “You are not a farmer; you are a Piijkij, one of the Brethren of Hunters.”

The statement hung in the air. One man refused to accept it and the other refused to retract it. The silence grew to fill the room, pushing out what little air the fire had not already consumed.

“Apotti, you are mistaken,” the man finally said. “I am not a Piijkij. I was a reindeer herder before becoming a part of this village.”

The priest’s face darkened. “Am I mistaken? Are then the gods mistaken? They are the ones who speak of you. You may deceive others with your tales of traveling with reindeer in the North. The gods are not fooled, nor am I.”

Irjan’s throat ached to deny, to lie. And yet, he sensed it was useless. The priest’s penetrating gaze told him he somehow knew the truth. Had the gods betrayed him? If so, why?

Irjan’s mind raced to avoid being engulfed in the past. “Apotti, I was a Piijkij,” he finally admitted, “but I am no longer among the Brethren of Hunters. I made a vow to the gods I would never again hunt, never again kill.”

The priest stared at Irjan, his face taking on the color of the flames. “You remain a Hunter, Brother. It is what the gods want. It is what the gods ask of you now and forever.”

“I cannot,” Irjan protested. “I am no longer a young man. I have a family, a wife and a child who need my care, and a farm to keep.”

The priest rose abruptly from his chair. The rush of his robes fanned the flames and his voice parted the darkness. “Hunter you were born. Hunter you remain. You may not choose your destiny. It has been chosen for you.”

“And if I fight my destiny?” Irjan asked.

“Hunter, you will lose,” the answer came back, as if from the flames themselves.

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Spoiler alert: Irjan still tries to fight his destiny. You may be able to guess how that goes.

But to find out all the details, you’ll have to pick up The Song of All when it comes out (in simultaneously releasing hardback and paperback editions) February 20, 2018!

In the meantime, follow Tina LeCount Myers on Twitter and/or at her website for more updates!

And check us out on Twitter, too (@NightShadeNews), to stay updated with all our cover reveals, excerpts, and other interesting content.