Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:
Retired from the pharmaceutical industry, he lives with a wife and two cats outside Brevard. A science fiction-thriller novel is being revised. He has co-authored with A.C. Brooks a mystery with a paranormal and psychological-twist (hunting publisher). A sequel to Justi the Gifted is in the works.
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About the Book
This epic fantasy tells of a simple peasant boy with a damaged gift from the old god Li. Justi has nothing to do with the conflict between Tantrocan barbarians and the Kingdom of the Zell. And his gift, the Sense of Justice, is hardly a threat to the invaders who’d killed Justi’s father. It becomes so when Dar, god of Chaos, sunders the gift, sends a part to another human, and leaves Justi with a killing power. This power could defeat the barbarians if he could control it. To do that he must find the missing part—and survive.
Dar’s spirit servants engage animals to kill Justi. The Tantrocan high priest Aduk dispatches his assassin to do the same. The Tantrocan king sends soldiers to finish the job, driving the boy to the very person he must meet. Mercerio, daughter of exiled Queen Melsin and heir to the Zellish throne, has the mercy component of the gift. The teens are attracted and repulsed as teens will be. To thwart the prophesized liaison of the children of the gift, Dar has the prostitute Provani seduce Justi. In shame, Justi shuns Mercerio and refuses to help drive the Tantrocans from the Zell. Only when Mercerio is kidnapped can he use his untempered power and confront his great fear—killing an innocent. But his greater task is to resolve the rift with the princess and unite their gifts.
Justi the Gifted is a fast-paced adventure tale of enchanted animals, befuddled seers, and struggle to do what’s right to save a kingdom and a young love.
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Keep reading for an excerpt:
Clearly Stren didn’t want to talk about it, so Justi stretched, breathed in the woody mossy scents, and joined his friend in the warm pool. They were still swimming when Tirea arrived. She posed on the sand with her hands on her hips and surveyed the pool, smiling.
Justi noticed her first. “What are you doing here? This is our spot.”
“Really?” Tirea studied the spread-out clothes and then the two bathers. “Who gave it to you?”
A gurgle of falling water was the answer. The boys backed away from the shore.
“Well, I see that you think it’s yours.” Tirea picked up an undergarment, holding it at arm’s length in two fingers. “We girls will try to remember that when we use it.”
“Fine,” Justi said. “Now put that back and go.”
“I have something to tell you, Justi—”
“Can’t this wait until later?” Stren said.
“You mean when you have some clothes on? Don’t be concerned. I’ve seen you boys swimming here before.”
“What?” Stren said, sinking down until only his head was above the water. “You shouldn’t be snooping around where you don’t belong.”
“Walking in the woods is not snooping.” Tirea gathered up the clothes and walked to the edge of to pool, grinning. “Don’t you want these?”
Stren stepped into a hole and his head disappeared under water. He came up sputtering. “We’re not coming out until you leave. We’ll get them ourselves.”
Tirea dumped the clothes on the boulder. “All right. Quit fussing like cows who want to be milked. Goren wants you to visit him, Justi. Sooner rather than later. He asked me how you were doing.”
“You’ll have to ask him about that.”
Justi came half way out of the water. “This makes no sense. What aren’t you telling?”
Tirea sighed. “All right. I was visiting Goren and the thing about Morul just sort of came out. Goren was really interested.”
“Why did you say anything to the seer?” Justi, more than miffed that she was stirring things up again, fought an impulse to grab Tirea and shake her.
“He asked about you. I told him the most important thing I knew.”
“You’re making such a fuss over nothing,” Justi said, feeling as trapped as a pig in a butcher’s pen.
“Goren thinks what happened is important—”
“Maybe you think too much. Now go.”
“I’m going. I wouldn’t want to embarrass you.” Tirea patted the garments and went into the woods.
Justi and Stren waited, listening to footsteps climb the path. When the sound disappeared, they emerged from the pool.
“We should dry off before we get dressed.” Stren stepped over sand and pebbles to a bright patch of sunshine and stood with his arms spread. “So you’ll see Goren, right?”
“I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”
A rustle from the woods sent them both to crouch behind the boulder.
“Very cute. Both of you.” Tirea’s laughter faded as she ran off. Still damp, the boys scrambled into their clothes.