Saturday, 22 October 2016

Spotlight: The Sailweaver's Son (Sky Riders of Etherium Book 1) by Jeff Minerd

About The Sailweaver’s Son

The Sailweaver’s Son is a unique fantasy adventure story that has charmed readers young and old. It takes readers to the world of Etherium, where mountains rise like islands above a sea of clouds and adventurers travel the skies in sail-driven airships.

The main character is a young man named Tak who rescues the sole survivor of an airship destroyed under mysterious circumstances. This act of bravery draws Tak into the politics of a brewing war between his kingdom and a race of underground creatures called the Gublins.

Suspecting the claims made by the kingdom’s warmongering Admiral are false, Tak sets out to discover the truth, accompanied by the irksomely intelligent daughter of the local wizard and his friend Luff. The three undertake a dangerous journey to the underworld to meet with the Gublins.

The adventure will take Tak from the deepest, darkest underground caves to a desperate battle on Etherium’s highest mountaintop. It will force him to face his worst fears, and to grow up faster than he expected.

There’s more about the book at

Author bio:

Jeff Minerd’s YA fantasy adventure novel, The Sailweaver’s Son, was released by Silver Leaf Books in September 2016. Jeff has published short fiction in literary journals including The North American Review. One of his stories won the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Competition, judged by the late novelist and NPR book reviewer Alan Cheuse.

Jeff has worked as a science and medical writer for publications and organizations including the National Institutes of Health,MedPage TodayThe Futurist magazine, and the Scientist magazine. He lives in Rochester, NY.

Book excerpts

[excerpt 1]

 He’d seen nothing like it in his life. No sky rider ever had. It was an enormous bubble. Twice the size of the battleship. As it rose into the sky, the bubble wobbled and shimmered, squished into lopsided potato-like shapes then snapped back to roughly round. It was more or less transparent, but its rippling surface glistened with a rainbow of colors where the sunlight played on it. The bubble rose with alarming speed, rolling this way and that with the wind. It was not on a collision course with the battleship—yet. It was some distance off the port bow.

The lookouts didn’t see it until it was too late. As the giant bubble drew level with the battleship, Tak heard the faint ringing of alarm bells. The ship came to a full stop, propellers going still, sails slanting upward to create drag. Tak could imagine the startled looks on the faces of the men on deck. He was wearing such a look himself. Then the wind shifted and gusted again. The sky riders have an old saying: Our lives rely upon the wind, and the wind is not reliable. The saying proved true for the men on the battleship. The wind took hold of that bubble and hurled it directly at them.

Too late, the captain cried the order to turn hard to starboard, trying to veer away. Too late, the propellers leapt to life and the ship lurched, listing heavily with the effort of making the turn while men scrambled in the rigging to adjust the flapping sails. Large battleships like the Vigilance are known for their strength and forward speed, but they are not known for their maneuverability. The bubble hit the ship broadside and enveloped it entirely.

And then both ship and bubble exploded into a burst of fire that left a glowing yellow spot like the sun behind Tak’s eyes, which had snapped shut. When he opened his eyes, blinking, the bubble was gone and the ship was engulfed in flames. The sails were ablaze. Horrified, Tak watched as burning men leapt from the deck like showers of sparks, their flaming parachutes useless.

As Tak sat stricken in the stern of the Arrow, gaping in shock and disbelief, he felt the first rumbles of the giant explosion in his chest. He felt hints of its heat on his face. And then he saw the shock wave expanding in all directions from the ruined ship.

Including his.

[excerpt 2]

"That’s comforting,” Tak said. “Turn your back.”

Brieze turned her back. Tak and Lothran completed their exchange of clothes. Lothran tied the white mask about Tak’s face. It smelled of some unpleasantly medicinal substance. Tak hoisted the tray of tea and edibles onto his shoulder and made ready to exit the front door masquerading as a member of the wizard’s island people. Brieze licked her hands and did her best to smooth down Tak’s wild hair. Ordinarily Tak would not have put up with anyone running their—ugh!— licked hands through his hair. But in this case he found he didn’t mind so much.

“One more thing,” Brieze said, laying a hand on Tak’s. “Your ring. That certainly will get you spotted.”

Tak looked down at his left hand. “You want me to give you my family ring?” he asked. Removing and handing over one’s family ring was a symbol of surrender. There were stories of men in the Kingdom of Spire who had preferred having their hand cut off—or being put to death—rather than hand over their ring.

“Just for now,” Brieze said. “I’ll give it back. I wouldn’t want it to give you away.”

Tak patted at his new clothes with his free hand, looking for a pocket into which he could stow the ring. But Lothran’s simple clothes had no pockets. Tak suspected that Brieze knew this.

“The tea is getting cold,” Brieze said. She drew herself up to her full height and looked down at him with a deep, dark-eyed gaze that Tak, without meaning to, felt like a warm glow in the center of his chest. His hand tingled pleasantly where her fingers rested upon it. Goosebumps blossomed along his forearm.

He gave her the ring.

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