by Gail Z. Martin
Buddy flick epic fantasy! The second in the Assassins of Landria series from the award-winning, bestselling author of Scourge: A Novel of Darkhurst and The Chronicles Of The Necromancer books!
Wandering mystic Yefim Makary, known to his followers as the ‘Witch Lord’, disappeared before he could be accused of inciting dissent against King Kristoph. His supporters among the disenchanted aristocrats who weren’t arrested have fled or died by their own hand. The king is happy to put the matter behind him. Yet Burke, the commander of the elite King’s Shadows, doesn’t believe the threat is over, and he assigns his two most troublesome, rule-breaking—and successful—assassins to ferret out the real threat and put a stop to Makary’s plots.
Joel “Ridge” Breckinridge and Garrett “Rett” Kennard rose through the ranks of the Landrian army together, from teenaged conscripts to seasoned fighters. Together, they became the most feared team of assassins in Landria, surviving longer that most in their profession by virtue of excellent fighting skills, legendary bravado, peerless strategy, and an uncanny synchronicity.
As the threads of a new plot come together revealing disloyalty among the priests and generals, Ridge and Rett once again find themselves on the run, hoping they and their allies can figure out the Witch Lord’s latest scheme before it costs them their lives—and the king his throne.
The trick, when setting off gunpowder, was to be far enough away.
Ridge had never been good at that part.
He’d almost reached the embankment when he heard the shot from Rett’s matchlock. Knowing what was about to happen next, Ridge dove into the ravine, taking his chances with brambles and thickets over flying rocks and shattered glass.
Behind him, the country manor exploded in a fireball as Rett’s shot touched off the barrels of gunpowder on its roof. That would bring down the ceiling and blow the bombers on the roof sky high while trapping the traitors inside, where they’d either be killed by the blast or buried in the rubble for the king’s guards to collect.
Ridge grunted as he tumbled over roots and rocks, tucking his arms over his face and trusting his leather cuirass to take the brunt of the hits. Even so, rock dust settled like snow over the whole area, and small bits of stone pelted like hail.
To keep it all official, Ridge had nailed the letter of marque to a tree in front of the manor, after he had ensured that no one but the smugglers were inside the abandoned country house. The smugglers—and their rivals on the roof—were already in the process of setting explosives when Ridge and Rett arrived to carry out the assassination. That was a bonus, killing two sets of troublemakers in one swoop and without the personal danger of getting close enough to throw a knife or slit a throat.
He trusted Rett to stay in position, where he would be able to pick off stragglers from his vantage point high in a sturdy tree. Ridge dragged himself to his feet, brushed off the worst of the dirt, and climbed back up the slope. Once he got to the top of the embankment, he would have a good view to spot anyone who might have escaped the explosion and eluded Rett’s aim.
“Damn,” he muttered when he reached the top and saw the results.
SOME WORDS FROM GAIL
Q: What does \”buddy flick\” fantasy mean to you? How did you approach creating the characters and world around this label?
A: For me, a ‘buddy flick’ is an adventure that has a lot of action and humor, and focuses on two main characters (usually male) who have a deep friendship, brothers-by-another-mother. Think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the Lethal Weapon movies, for example. Plenty of explosions, danger, snark and two characters who always have each others’ backs.
I love movies like that, and wanted to bring those vibes into epic fantasy. The Assassins of Landria series is my fourth epic fantasy series, and it’s much less traditional than the others. Not only does it have a buddy flick feel to it (fast-paced, action-packed and humor), it’s also much shorter, so it doesn’t require as much of a time commitment. It’s epic fantasy feels without the epic fantasy length!
I got the plot bunny of two life-long best friends who were good-guy assassins but broke all the rules and had really smart mouths. Once I knew that, I had to create the kind of kingdom where the assassins would be sort of like the CIA—the secret agents taking care of dangerous threats. Only my guys, Ridge and Rett, aren’t too good at the ‘secret’ part—they blow a lot of stuff up! Even so, they’ve got the best success record of any of the other assassins, also because they work as a team and they always have each others’ backs.
Ridge and Rett met as children in an orphanage, where they quickly teamed up to watch each other’s backs. Ridge taught Rett to read. Rett taught Ridge to pick locks. They bonded over hardship, big dreams, and the secret flicker of magic each of them needed to hide from the monks. Once I had those pieces, I knew a lot about the kind of plot that had to happen, and what dangers Ridge and Rett were going to face as they saved the king and kingdom!
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, SOL Publishing, Darkwind Press, and Falstaff Books. Recent books include Witch of the Woods, Sellsword’s Oath, Inheritance, and Night Moves. With Larry N. Martin, she is the co-author of the Spells Salt & Steel, Wasteland Marshals, Joe Mack and Jake Desmet series. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance including the Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail series. Recent books include Loose Ends and Unholy.
Find her at gailzmartin.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook, at blog and on Goodreads. Never miss out on the news and new releases— newsletter signup Follow her Amazon author page here On Bookbub On Instagram
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