Friday, 6 September 2013

Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire (Book I of The Painted Shōgun) by Andrew S. Cioffi in One Thousand Words

Things are really starting to happen here on One Thousand Worlds and today I have the great pleasure of introducing Andrew S. Cioffi. Andrew has kindly allowed us a preview of the first One Thousand Words of book 1 of The Painted Shogun series, Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire. What's more, he is offering 3 copies in Kindle or E-pub format as prizes in a giveaway.

Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire (Book I of The Painted Shōgun)
Devastation waged on a young girl’s village by a hardened Shogun brings her to the capital of the prefectures in search of his death while his travels take him north to the land of the Dragons in search of settling very different matters with a once loyal and trusted retainer.
Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire is a tale of retribution and rebirth, of traditions new and old, of overcoming loss through great sacrifice, and of learning faith in the Elders. It is the telling of ten year old ‘Kiko’s battle with what horrors were wrought upon her family and how her patience helps to summon the ways of the Yoru shadow warriors who were all but destroyed. From the boundaries of Ryoku castle, she watches the Shogun as his past haunts his dreams, all the while studying how she will claim his life. Hundreds of miles to the north, it tells the tale of Ginjiro, an unlikely choice to be the next of the Dragon Riders. He is a student of the uncompromising Yamada-Sensei, one who shares a difficult past with the Shogun. And to the southern islands, surrounded by pirates, traders, and a salty old fisher and his bird, it tells the tale of young Michio, who trains under the watchful eye of his arcane father. Michio struggles to learn the ways of his warrior father as he walks a path towards a singular and dark purpose. All share a common destiny that was prophesied and set into motion on that one fateful night.
A fantasy series for all ages, The Painted Shogun is set in a world that combines the richness, aesthetic, and sweeping sensibilities of feudal Asian cultures with splashes of color from pirates, fishers, and scoundrels to the south and painted warriors and Dragon Riders to the north. Vividly told characters immerse the reader in a world of authentic and imagined customs, ethos, war games, market places and festivals, and Dragons as they’ve not been portrayed before. What sets this work apart from others of its genre is its departure from the medieval and barbaric to something more folk-inspired and sincere. Fans of historical fiction, fantasy, world cultures, suspense, a whisper of magic, and, of course, Dragons will find common ground here.

About this author-

Andrew S. Cioffi works as a disability services professional at a local university in Boston, MA. By night, though, his dreams of dragons and samurai were calling enough to start writing things down. With a passion for great stories and great mythologies, he is equally inspired by comics, graphic novels, chambara films, progressive metal, and high fantasy of all sorts. Aside from hours spent enjoying the finest teas and pipe tobaccos, Andrew is an avid archer and skeet/trap shooter. His other talents include all things cooking and eating. But his biggest inspiration comes from his family. Born in Everett, MA, and well-traveled throughout the Greater Boston area, he now lives in Malden with his wife Christina and two amazing kids.

The First Thousand Words
Like every night before, Tsukiko eased out from under silken, buckwheat bedding, still warmed from a rousing   yet previously asleep self.  She cursed her name: Child of the Moon.  But it was late and of the hour that would soon be early.
‘Kiko had learned by then that her name held more than her calling.  More like the essence of her spirit.  Of her destiny.  By her tenth year, she learned that she was bound to the moon.  Her purpose would be realized in front of its grace and beauty.  She’d long ago decided that her place was out there, amongst the peaceful quiet of the night.  Alone.
Tsukiko's bed was between her two sisters, whom she loved dearly, on the floor.  Her parents were in the next room.  That spot was chosen with care because she would walk the house at night.  If she were to wake, her sisters would be woken and would help her back to bed.  They didn’t understand.
Her blankets did not rustle, nor the creaky wooden floor panels below the tatami mats creek under her carefully placed step.  She knew this all too well.  This was not in the spirit of deception.  It was from a deep understanding of their simpler way and a respect for their continued and peaceful slumber.  It was just as well for the protection of her nocturnal ways.
The next part, what was once a game - the exhilaration of trying to move through the house unnoticed and the sometimes crushing disappointment of being caught - had become routine.  It’d been years since she was caught.  Years since she began her secret wanderings.  She slid to the door, spinning as she lowered to her knees in one fluid, deft motion.  Her silky, bluish-black hair whipped around.  The door panel stopped, open, just enough, as her hair found its resting place across her shoulder.  Her movements were like reflexes.  She knew her next steps; how the floor would flex just so under the tips of her toes as she lifted slightly up.  Her body anticipated how the mats would press her shoulder and cross her back when she flicked from kneeling up to the balls of her feet.  Her spirit was calling her from halfway to the door already.  Calm and collected, she allowed a breath.  In a flash, her muscles tensed providing the power to launch her out of the bedroom.  That night, though, much to her own surprise, she stopped.  Her body chose not to spring as a drumming in her chest began to sound.  A swelling of familiar and unsettling emotion rose as the drumming warmed her cheeks and hastened her breath.  She shuffled from the hip to reposition, facing her two sleeping sisters.  Her shoulder lowered the straightened fingers of her right hand, followed quickly by the left, forming a neat little arrow as she bowed.  Emotions erupted as a single tear met the inner corner of her eye.  The tear was whisked away into a softly blown kiss. She did not yet know why that night felt different.
As Tsukiko relieved herself from the pulsating walls of her home she was met with a cool, pine-touched breeze that answered the warmth on her brow.  For a fleeting moment, her spirit told her that she would not be coming back; that she would never see her family or her school again; that her village may be forever changed.  With furrowed brow in disbelief, she began her rounds.
Despite the eternal brightness of the moon, all was quiet behind the canopy of the Hayashi, as the village of Oshiro was often found in its darkest hour.  As she set out on the worn foot path, she spun a thin, lacquered pick around the length of her hair, locking it into place in a neat, yet artfully whimsical bun.  The village looked enchanted by spirits at such a late hour.  The earth was cool and slightly damp.  The way was uneven with the bulging roots of hundred-year-old giants.  There was just enough dew that the lichens on the great pine trees were moist to the touch.  It had rained that evening and the remnants of a late spring shower left an ethereal haze in the cool of the night.  The spirited mists playfully danced in and out of the web-like streaks of moon-glow that outlined pitch black branches above.  It was quiet.  It was the type of quiet that superseded serene and sent a feint tingle across the back of ‘Kiko's neck and up gently to her hairline, alerting the tips of her ears.  Onward, vigilant, she walked.
The Morihito were a peaceful and reserved people.  Evidence of their spirituality graced each family’s stake of land as far as Tsukiko's accustomed eye could see.  Their shrines to the wind were humble yet bold.  Each adorned with subtle differences.  A perfect stranger would walk the village at that hour and write great volumes on the simplicity that the Morihito found in their lives.  Therein was their true power, for an elder amongst them, having spent a lifetime, could not account many of the great secrets that those woods had to tell.  For as much as they were growers and artisans, there was a warrior class hidden amongst the Hayashi and fabled throughout the prefectures.  The Yoru were trained in secret and were shrouded in mystery, even to the villagers, and often to their own family.  In a time of relative peace throughout Daichiyama, their presence had become more mysterious, even doubted, except from those most faithful to the belief that the Hayashi was untouchable under their protection. 
Each village employed night watchmen that were stationed, each in a tree stand, at high vantage over the most major roads.  Tsukiko had known since her walks began some three or four springs ago that those men were not the true Yoru, but rather a deterrent.  She chuckled as she whispered to herself. "Scarecrows." So inept, so comfortable, they were. "So not ready." All the more justification for her to be keeping an eye on things. To be protecting her village.
Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire is available on
Follow Andrew on Twitter

Enjoyed what you've read so far? Here's your chance to win one of three ebook copies of Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire (Book I of The Painted Shōgun).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to Tahnee Lacey who wins a copy of Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire. Happy reading! It would be great if you could let us know what you think. You could even post a review here if you would like to.