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Do you know what your problem is?
Sulphur knows hers. This 13th-century woman has trained as a fighter all her life in hopes of joining the army. Then, within days, both of her older sisters announce plans and suddenly Sulphur is expected to find a man to marry instead...
Is it her good fortune her homeland is gripped by fear of a pending invasion and the army now goes door to door encouraging recruits? Sulphur thinks it is. But once she’s forced to kill in a small skirmish, she’s ready to rethink her career decision. Too bad it’s too late. The invasion is coming, and Ilari needs every good soldier it has.
Once Sulphur learns Ilari’s army has made the strategic decision to not defend certain parts of the realm, including the one where her family lives, she has to re-evaluate her loyalty. Is it with the military she’s always admired? Or is it with her sisters, who are hatching a plan to defend their homeland with magic?
The problem with being a woman who fights for what’s right is that now, she has to figure out what is.
(The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters consists of seven short companion novels. Each tells the personal story and perspective of one of seven radically different sisters in the 1200s as they prepare for an invasion of their realm. While these historical fantasy/alternate history books can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, together they tell the full story of how Ilari survived.)
read an excerpt...
“You gave us a better life by teaching all over the realm. Mom had help in the kitchen and you had farmhands for the heavy work. We had, we still have, many things other families don’t. I appreciate them.”
Dad looked at me in surprise, but I went on. “You know Ryalgar stepped in and took charge of the farming things while you taught. Even when she was young, she kept things going here. And Coral, well, she became Mom’s right hand, soothing whatever kid needed it.”
“I recognize that. Big families ask a lot of their older children.” He tapped the mallet against his other palm, giving his hands something to do.
“Yeah, well, while they were busy, someone had to keep the farmhands' sons from trying to do things they shouldn’t with Celestine. And the neighbor boys from picking on Iolite. Seven girls? There were plenty who tried to push us around, Dad, and you never heard about it. By the time I turned eight, I was your biggest and strongest child, so I pushed them back. For you. I got you to teach me more every time you came home, so I wouldn’t get hurt. Somewhere along the way, I learned to enjoy protecting others.”
He gave me a look I’d never seen before, a look holding both sorrow and disbelief.
“Please understand; I don’t want to hurt people. I want to keep those I care about safe. It’s the one thing I do well.”
The various expressions on his face coalesced into one, and to his credit appreciation won out.
“I should have paid more attention. … your mother never mentioned such troubles to me. I’m sorry, Sulphur. I had no idea.”
“Don’t apologize, Dad. Mom didn’t always know about it, and we managed fine. I like who I am. I just don’t want to pretend I’m some helpless woman, okay?”
“I understand.” He chuckled. “You are not helpless.”
It was the opening I’d been waiting for. There would never be a better time to ask.
“Then would you support my joining the army? It means the world to me.”
“Oh Sulphur, please no. That is such a hard life for a woman. And I don’t know how your mother would feel about …”
I interrupted him with a laugh. “Dad, you know exactly how she’ll feel about it. Come on. My whole life she’s told us ‘it’s just as easy to fall in love with a prince.’ The truth is, I’m in no hurry to fall in love with anyone, and no princes are standing in line to fall in love with me.”
I’d lost his attention. His thoughts had gone elsewhere.
“Maybe I can help. I know someone who’d work with you if I asked him to. He once mastered these, um, unusual fighting techniques.” He paused. “You really want this?”
“It’s everything I want.”
“Okay then. If you’re going to be a Svadlu, I want you to be a good one.”
“And I want to be a good one too. I’ll learn anything your friend will teach me.”
about Sherie Cronin...
Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.
She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how eccentric she is.
All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.
Author Social Media Links:
Author Blog: https://sherriecronin.xyz/
Book Series Blog: https://troublesome7sisters.xyz/
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