Enter the lands of Leland Province, where dragon and human societies have long dwelled side by side. Superstitions rise sharply, as a severe drought strips the land of its bounty, providing fertile ground for the darker ambitions of Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, who seeks to subdue humans or wipe them off the face of the land.
As the shadow of danger creeps across Leland Province, a young dragon named Kallon Redheart, who has turned his back on dragons and humans alike, comes into an unexpected friendship. Riza Diantus is a young woman whose dreams can no longer be contained by the narrow confines of her village, and when she finds herself in peril, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. Yet to do so means he must confront his past, and embrace a future he stopped believing in.
A tale of friendship, courage, and ultimate destiny, Redheart invites readers to a wondrous journey through the Leland Dragon Series.
Praise for Redheart
“Redheart is a captivating and enthralling book.”- Evie Bookish
“Gamber has written a hypnotic tale that lulls you into a dreamy state of ethereal bliss, as you enter into the world of the Leland Dragons!” – Jorie Loves a Story
“I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a great fantasy novel.” – Jess Resides Here
“The story itself is very beautifully told, and Gamber does a phenomenal job creating personable characters and down to earth themes, all dealing with different aspects, such as social, psychological, feministic, archetypal, and philosophical issues.” – A Book Vacation
Excerpt from Redheart
Kallon soared. He thrust his crimson wings to chase the clouds, tethered to the earth by only his massive shadow. He flew faster, but his shadow could not be outrun. He felt it below him, dragging across the dusty field like an anchor, pulling him downward. With a defiant twist of his wings, he veered straight up into the cobalt sky.
The sky was where dragons were meant to thrive, and it was the place they returned to when they died. At least, according to his father. Kallon had believed it once. He had believed the stories of dragon valor in a world where humans and dragons worked together toward a common future. But that was long ago. Kallon didn’t believe in anything anymore.
It became harder to breathe, and Kallon’s eyes burned and watered. His wings resisted moving. He’d gone as high as he could go. He paused.
As far as he could see, the sky was the same unlimited blue. There was no rail, no net. There seemed nothing to keep him from going forward, yet there he was forced to stop, as every dragon before him stopped. With a groan of regret, Kallon hung his head and descended.
He followed his shadow across a field of withered meadow grass. The field gave way to sand, and the sand to stones, then bulging fists of granite welcomed him home to the foothills of the Leland Mountains.
Then he heard something. Instead of disappearing into his cave, he swooped above a high cliff and circled back. He dropped down to his feet, curled in his wings, and stood still as the mountains to listen.
A scream. From somewhere beyond the next peak came a human scream. He snorted. Too bad it wasn’t something more interesting. His ears had long since grown deaf to the cries of humans.
Then the scream came again. It was the sound of terror; the kind he used to hear from children as his shadow passed over the ground near them. He shuddered, and found himself turning toward the sound. He hadn’t wanted to go home yet, anyway. He supposed it wouldn’t hurt just to look.
He flew low over the meadow until he caught the human scent. No, not one human—several. He landed quietly and loped toward a grove of ancient firs, some of which were taller than his head. Careful not to rustle any branches, he poked his face through the trees. There he saw the humans and discovered the source of the scream.
Three men stood around a female, who crouched in the center of them. There was a leader, it seemed, who cackled an evil laugh and was goading the two younger men toward her. His voice was louder than the others, and his stringy hair was the color of dung.
“Go on,” he said, and shoved his friend toward her. The woman shrieked and lunged, stabbing a knife at the air. The man jumped away, but the leader darted behind the woman and grabbed her wrist, then wedged the inside of his elbow against her throat.
“Give me that little toy,” he snarled.
The woman struggled. The leader yanked away the knife and pushed her to the ground. He slapped her face. Kallon could see her shoulders heave as she whispered in a hoarse voice,
“Please. Don’t do this.”
Kallon was still considering what he ought to do, when there was a sudden shout.
“Dragon!” cried one of the men.
“Bloody ‘ell!” yelped another.
The leader just stood gaping, his bottom lip flopping up and down like a beached carp.
“Run!” The man near the female jumped to his feet, and hollered again.
The leader finally moved. He flung up the knife, and it tumbled through the air to bump Kallon harmlessly on the nose. Kallon growled, anyway. The leader stumbled back. Kallon sucked in a deep breath and bellowed like thunder. The man wailed, and bolted after the others.
The men collided with trees and smacked into each other in their panic. Kallon stopped bellowing to smile. Cowards. Then he swung his face to the woman. He found her gaze locked on him, and his smile dissolved, taken aback by the look in her eyes.
He had grown accustomed to screams, shouts of fear, and the look of terror in the eyes of humans. But this woman reacted to him with none of these. Her face seemed to register… relief. Then her eyes closed and she fell backward onto the ground.
Kallon inched forward through the trees. He bumped her shoulder with his snout. She didn’t respond.
“You dead?” he asked. He nudged her again.
She was breathing. Blood trickled from her nose and mouth. She smelled more pleasant than he thought a human could smell, like the musky forest path drenched in sunshine. He sniffed her again.
He knew he should leave her right where she laid. She was no business of his, and he didn’t know the first thing about tending to her anyway. But she’d looked at him differently than most humans, and it stirred something within him he couldn’t explain. He lifted a claw to his cheek and rubbed, unsure of what to do.
Then he mumbled, “Going to regret this.”
He grasped her with his forelegs and soared off toward home.
Peace was fleeting. Vorham Riddess, Venur of Esra Province, covets the crystal ore buried deep in Leland’s mountains. His latest device to obtain it: land by marriage to a Leland maiden. But that’s not all.
Among Dragonkind, old threats haunt Mount Gore, and shadows loom in the thoughts of the Red who restored life to land and love. A dragon hunter, scarred from countless battles, discovers he can yet suffer more wounds.
In the midst of it all, Sela Redheart is lost, driven from her home with only her old uncle to watch over her. As the dragon-born child of Kallon, the leader of Leland’s Dragon Council, she is trapped in human form with no understanding of how she transformed, or how to turn back.
Wanderers seek a home, schemes begin to unfurl, and all is at risk as magic and murder, marriage and mystery strangle the heart of Esra. A struggle for power far older and deeper than anyone realizes will leave no human or dragon unaffected.
In a world where magic is born of feeling, where the love between a girl and a dragon was once transformative, what power dwells in the heart of young Sela?
The exciting conclusion of the Leland Dragon Series!
Leland Province remains in danger. The sinister Fordon Blackclaw has returned from the shadows to strike at the heart of neighboring Esra, killing its Venur and making clear his intentions to retake what was once his: Mount Gore, seat of the Leland Dragon Council.
All around, the land grows weaker and weaker. Leland, once thought saved by Kallon Redheart, is without purpose, and within its borders, Murk Forest, a place of mystery and danger, has driven its inhabitants to seek aid. Esra is in flames, and the Rage Desert grows. Dragon and human alike struggle to find their way, and the wizard Orman can sense that there may be more at stake than the affairs of dragons.
Hope remains, yet it is not without obstacles. In Esra, Sela, the daughter of Kallon and Riza, found the well, a source of life, and made herself whole again. But her homecoming is not what she had imagined.
Old wounds buried deep must reopen if life is to continue. Dragons, humans, wizards, and shape shifters are all at risk as the peace between dragon and human has finally been broken.
War is here.
Perhaps the whole world.
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As an award winning author, Jackie writes stories ranging from ultra-short to novel-length, varieties of which have appeared in anthologies such as Tales of Fantasy and Dragons Composed, as well as numerous periodical publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Binnacle, Mindflights Magazine, Necrotic Tissue, and Shroud. She is the author of the fantasy novel Redheart and Sela, and writing an alternate history time travel novel. She blogs professionally for English Tea Store.com, where she reviews classic science fiction and fantasy novels and pairs them with the ideal tea-sipping companion.
Jackie is a member of the professional organizations Science Fiction Writers of America and Horror Writers Association. She was named honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, and received a 2008 Darrell Award for best short story by a Mid-South author. She is the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction for her story The Freak Museum, a post-apocalyptic tale that looks closely at perceptions and outward appearances and how they affect the way we see ourselves. Jackie Gamber was co-founder and Executive Editor of Meadowhawk Press, a speculative fiction publisher based in Memphis. One of their novels, Terminal Mind by David Walton, won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award in 2009. Jackie also edited the award winning benefit anthology, Touched By Wonder. She has been a guest lecturer at Memphis Options High Schools, and is a speaker at writers’ conferences from Michigan to Florida. Jackie is also the visionary behind the MidSouthCon Writers’ Conference, helping writers connect since 2008.