If you love high, epic fantasy, you must charge into the world of THE OBSIDIAN HEART by Mark T. Barnes. Released on 15 October, 2013, The Obsidian Heart is Part II of his The Echoes of Empire series which begins with The Gardens of Stone.
“. . . As Kumeri rose from her smouldering bed—a petite figure of tattooed yellow bones socketed with gems and sheathed in bands of gold, and wrapped in the shredded rags of what had once been sinew and skin—there came distortions in the air around the sarcophagus. Kumeri’s skull, with its mangy fringe of coarse hair, turned diamond-filled eye sockets in Indris’s direction. Skeletal hands gesticulated. Kumeri’s emaciated form blurred. Ribbons of illusion clothed her in golden flesh, dotted with sapphires and tourmalines. Clothing spun about her like a whirlwind, fragments of light and dust mimicking a layered coat of leather with mewling faces that shrieked, and gibbered, and begged in awful discord. Her arms became spined, bloodied tips dripping venom. Finally her mop-haired head vanished behind the grim visage of a horned tiger, orange stripes burning bright, eyes like jagged pits.
The air swelled like air bubbles rising from the bottom of a pond. They burst, and five S?q Knights strode the air, weapons drawn and blazing with disentropic fire. Their power turned their flesh to backlit canopies . . .”
The Obsidian Heart continues the story commenced in the positively reviewed The Garden of Stones. A plot to overthrow the Shranese Federation has been quashed, but the bloody rebellion is far from over, and the struggle to survive is just beginning.
Warrior-mage Indris grows weary in his failed attempts to thwart the political machinations of Corajidin, and faces the possibility of imprisonment upon his return to his homeland. Moreover, Indris’s desire for Corajidin’s daughter, Mari, is strong. Can he choose between his duty and his desire . . . and at what cost?
Alienated from her House, Mari is torn between the opposing forces of her family and her country—especially now that she’s been offered the position of Knight-Colonel of the Feyassin, the elite royal guards whose legacy reaches back to the days of the Awakened Empire. As the tensions rise, she must decide if her future is with Indris, with her family, or in a direction not yet foreseen.
As he awaits trial for his crimes, Corajidin confronts the good and evil within himself. Does he seek redemption for his cruel deeds, or does he indebt himself further to the enigmatic forces that have promised him success, and granted him a reprieve from death? What is more important: his ambition, regaining the love stolen from him, or his soul?
The second novel in the lyrical Echoes of Empire series, The Obsidian Heart is an epic, fantastic tale of family loyalty and political intrigue, fraught with shadowy visions, baroque magic, arcane science, bloody feuds, and ancient forces whose agendas are as yet unknown.
What did people have to say about The Garden of Stones?
“Barnes drops his readers into a complex world that makes for an immersive experience for lovers of epic fantasy. The political machinations and constant familial betrayals are reminiscent of Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel” series … the female characters on both sides are every bit as strong as the males, a refreshing change in epic fantasy. Highly recommended.” ~ Library Journal
“The Garden of Stones was an immersive fantasy. It felt like being in the eye of a storm … When I finished, I simply did not want to leave this world…” ~ Reading Reality
“You know that feeling when you a finish a really good book and you don’t want to leave the world it’s set in? That any book you pick up after just isn’t right because it’s not the book you were just reading? Well that just happened to me … I loved this world and the characters.” ~ Marktimmony.com
“If you’re looking for something different, something to strike that vein of Eastern Fantasy with a twinge of weird, this is what you need to go with. Barnes has crafted a great debut with plot twists galore, exactly what speculative fiction needs.” ~ acerbicwriting.com
“This is an incredible read … It is a rich and lyrical style [that] flows. Tantalising all the senses. The world is detailed and tactile, with an almost awe-inspiring depth to it … Mark T Barnes is going to be huge, once the world gets up to speed!” ~ Galaxy Bookshop
About the Author: Mark Barnes was born in Sydney, Australia, in September of 1966. A strong athlete, he was also drawn to the arts at a young age, penning his first short story as a seven-year-old. He worked in finance and advertising before establishing himself in IT services management. Currently he owns and operates a freelance organizational change consultancy.
In 2005, when Mark was selected to attend the Clarion South residential short story workshop, he began to write with the intention of making it more than a hobby. Since that time, Mark has published a number of short stories, worked as a freelance script editor, and has driven creative consultancy for a television series. Mark is the author of The Echoes of Empire series, published by 47 North. The series includes The Garden of Stones and The Obsidian Heart. The Pillars of Sand is book three of the series, scheduled for release in May 2014.
Visit http://marktbarnes.com/index.html, his Facebook page www.facebook.com/marktbarnes.author, or follow on Twitter @MarkTBarnes.