At The Sharp End of Lightning
by NR Bates
Publisher: NR Bates (January 30, 2015)
Category: Epic Fantasy, Magic Realism, Literary Fiction, Celtic Mythology, History
Tour Date: May/June, 2015
Available in: Print & ebook, 239 Pages
AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING is the tale of family, of loss and sacrifice, of unexpected gifts and coping with disability and new abilities set against the backdrop of climate change occurring across parallel worlds.
The intertwined worlds of Oceanlight and Earth are no longer hidden from view of each other. In one realm, Yalara Narika, a winged Sea Sprite, searches for her family and she encounters a deadly blue haze at sea. Escaping the poison makes her realize that her world, Oceanlight, is experiencing sudden and catastrophic environmental change.
Meanwhile, in the safe suburban normality of North Wales, Einion Morgan Alban, a restless youth with haemophilia, is nearly murdered by a man in a white suit who intentionally shoves him off a cliff. If Yalara and Einion don’t uncover the connections between their worlds and near-deaths, it will have dire consequences for the worlds they live in. Book one of the OCEANLIGHT series.
Praise for ‘At The Sharp End of Lightning’ by NR Bates
“What a fantastic book, the author takes you into another realm. I couldn’t put the book down, a real page turner. Seeing as this is book 1 I can’t wait for the next one to be written.”-Scotialassie, Amazon.UK Reviewer
“British author NR Bates makes his novel writing debut with AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING, Book 1 of the OCEANLIGHT series. He has indeed written extensively which explains why his command of the medium is so secure: he has published more than one hundred and twenty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification as a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK. Bates’ passion for the ocean and environmental sciences has proven a successful driving force in both his scientific mind and his fantasy creative mind. The result, as we read it here, is `true’ Science Fiction fantasy!
Bates opens his book with a map/diagram called The Interfaces – the meaning of which will be explained throughout the novel, but whose information offers hints and suggestions of codes to be solved. And at the end of his book he discusses Welsh history that informed this story as well as the biology and biogeochemistry of the Sargasso Sea, further influences. The author provides an outline of the story that assists the reader immensely: `The interwoven fantastical tale of family, of loss and sacrifice, of unexpected gifts and coping with disability and new abilities set against the backdrop of climate change occurring across parallel worlds.
Bates’ writing style can only be called `elegant’ – he is unafraid to challenge the reader with a rich vocabulary that somehow enhances the characters we encounter. This is obvious form the opening paragraph:
`As the streamer of lightning harmlessly discharged through her body into the palm of her hand, Yalara Narika noticed many things at once. There was fright and surprise as adrenaline raced through her body. The words “I’m alive” came to mind, accompanied by an overwhelming relief when the forked sharpness passed out of her. Then came the reflex response– her call to Calymene, Mother Earth– that she had despite her doubt. A hurried glance brought the reassuring thought “I’m still in the sky.” Simultaneously, she returned to her search– for the “lost”– which was set against the immensity of the seas. And interwoven amongst these reactions were thoughts of that moment in the distant future, at the end of her life, when she’d fly up into the tumult, clad in a cuprous woven fabric, and upon the flash of electrica, her constituent parts would disassemble in an instantaneous coruscation of energy.’
This is our first encounter with being struck by lightning.
As with most fantasy/sci-fi books it takes a while to adjust to the strange names and the references to places of origin, but Bates’ language makes that journey of discovery a rewarding one. He does offer a helpful Sprite Glossary and Human Glossary at books end. This is a strong debut, well worth the investment of mental energy.”- Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame & top 100 reviewer.
Ambitious and enchanting, At The Sharp End Of Lightning by author N R Bates proves a rich and original foray into the realms of fantasy fiction. Compelled by a commanding narrative that readily enthrals the imagination, the magical intrigue simmers throughout as Bates renders his fantasy world in rich hues. A world parallel to our own yet retaining a time worn familiarity that makes it feel immediately authentic. It’s an intricate, intrigue-laden telling, which plays to the best in this popular genre and it’s clear from the start that Bates is in his element.
“There’s certainly much to enjoy here. From cleverly contrived and vibrant scenes to a captivating blend of magical mysticism, he ably manages to avoid prescriptive tropes whilst a certain descriptive economy and a tight word count brings a penetrating levity to his dialogue. Both timely and well observed, he notably avoids the trite mutterings of mediocre characterisation to create genuine depth and emotive resonance, which in turn ensures the reader becomes fully invested in the trials and tribulations of his characters.
Beautifully written and undoubtedly the start of an exciting new series, At The Sharp End Of Lightning proves a fine example of fantasy fiction. Definitely deserving of a place on your bookshelf, it is recommended without reservation!”-Book Viral
Extract. CHAPTER FOUR
He was resolutely careful when climbing the quarry’s cliff face—three limbs were always firmly connected to the rock face, only one arm or leg moved at a time, and he always made sure there was a firm footing or handhold. He was always careful, remembering the danger and the newspaper reports of a cliff fall by a teenage boy off the Little Orme. Unfailingly, there were one or two of those accidents each year. Such pursuits of seabird-egg trophies were crazy, Einion thought.
“It’s too soon to go home,” he said quietly, and he deviated from the path and made his way to a cliff within the wood. It was an outcrop he knew very well and only ten feet high—if that. The diminutive cliff was limestone and had a wealth of cracks and fingerholds and toeholds. He’d even climbed it, in his able state, a few days before, between bleeds. His knee felt fine, and he wanted to feel the touch of the rock in his hands. Climbing in miniature reminded him of freedom and escape—of possibilities. Besides, the cause of his most recent knee bleed coincided with his last visit to this small cliff. He was stubborn—the cliff needed to be overcome again.
He climbed up and down the short cliff a couple of times. The problem happened on his third climb up. Einion nearly reached the top when a man in a white suit with a white tie and a white hat suddenly appeared, standing at the top. The man, his pale-blue eyes shining, held out his hand, proffering it as an offering of aid for Einion to complete the short climb. Einion reached out to grasp the man’s hand and then felt an immediate sharp blow to his shoulder. He felt himself tumbling backwards, and the next moment, he lay on his back in a pile of leaves and twigs. A large piece of the outcrop came to rest next to him, and his wrist twisted awkwardly beneath him. A sharp pain infused his knee, which had borne much of his falling weight and twisted on impact. He looked at the loosened rock beside him—it had been the firmest handhold that jutted out from the rock face—and grasped it. As he did so, he winced with pain. Stunned, he felt sharp pain in this knee again. He lay back and glanced upwards to see the man in the white suit.
“F__k,” he said angrily at the man.
The man in the white suit at the top of the cliff grinned, and then, without warning, he jumped down into the hollow of the quarry where Einion lay. It shocked Einion. The man jumped down ten feet, and he landed gracefully—like a ballet dancer—almost without a sound. Einion was astonished, but then he caught sight of what the man held—a glint of steel. Einion found a long blade pointed at him. He couldn’t move—he was defenseless. He hastily threw the piece of rock at the man in the white suit but missed his target. He felt the acute and penetrating kick of a boot into his abdomen, and he turned a little in pain. The man laughed, and when he tried to kick Einion again, his foot deflected as Einion twisted to avoid the blow. Einion started to scramble away, but he felt his arm suddenly wrenched out from beneath him and his palm held up into the air by a gripping hand. Einion and the man stared at each other.
“I will have what is mine,” hissed the man in the white suit. A surprisingly smooth, taut, stretched face and piercing blue eyes were Einion’s instantaneous impression of the face of the glaring man.
“What the hell are you doing?” came a shout. As Einion and the man in the white suit turned their heads in response, an elderly man, breathless and wheezing, ran along the path towards them, a waving stick in hand. A small dog trotted at his heels. “Leave him alone,” the newcomer said in a loud and aggressive voice.
The man in the white suit swore at Einion and at the approaching man. As Einion freed his wrist from the vice-like grip, his good leg found a purchase on the ground, and he retreated from his attacker. He saw the man in the white suit hesitate. The man yielded his stance and, as he withdrew a few steps, swatted at a shimmer in front of him. He retracted his arm quickly as blood emerged from a wound in his wrist.
“I’ll see you again; don’t worry about that.” He swore at the elderly man, who had nearly reached them; then he picked up his hat with his injured arm, turned around, and ran off along the path with the little dog chasing him. He disappeared into the greenery, and the sound of his flight through the woods diminished to silence. The dog soon trotted back, as if satisfied, and sat next to its master. It growled in the direction of the disappeared man in the white suit.
NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife,seven cats, one dog and the tropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors. He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and twenty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification.
He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK. His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences.
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