THE SWORD KEEPER is out!

It’s finally out, guys! The Sword Keeper is now available for your reading pleasure. If you haven’t already preordered it, pick up your copy today!

The Sword Keeper

The Sword Keeper

Only those who rise to their calling discover why they were chosen.

Tamuna Leladze always dreamed of adventure, but never expected to answer its call. That changes when a wandering knight arrives at her aunt's tavern. He is the keeper of a magic sword that vanished from the pages of history more than a thousand years ago. The sword has a mind and a memory, and it has chosen Tamuna for purpose far greater than she knows.
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About the Book

Only those who rise to their calling discover why they were chosen.

A thousand years ago, an order of twelve magic swords kept the world at peace. Each sword had a personality, a mind, and a memory. Through the bonds they shared with their bearers, the wisdom and skill of generations was preserved.

But the swords became corrupted. They turned on each other, shattering the order and plunging the world into war. The twelfth sword went into hiding until the day of prophecy, when the last sword bearer would free the world of men.

That day has come, and the sword bearer of prophecy is a mere tavern girl.

Tamuna Leladze never sought for this honor. Raised by her aunt Sopiko, her only knowledge of foreign lands came from the travelers who passed through her aunt’s tavern. She always dreamed of adventure, but never thought she would answer its call.

But when a wandering knight arrives at the end of the harvest season, all that begins to change. The old knight is the keeper of the sword Imeris, who has chosen her in the eleventh hour. For far to the north, a terrible empire has unleashed a reign of blood, fire, and steel. Led by an evil brotherhood more ancient than the sword itself, their darkness will soon sweep the land.

As events carry Tamuna far from her village home, she cannot help but wonder if the sword has made a mistake.

This book is rated T according to the AO3 content rating system.

Details
Author:
Series: The Twelfth Sword, Book 1
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy
Tag: 2017 Release
Publication Year: September 2017
Length: Novel
eBook Price: 5.99
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About the Author
Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek fell in love with science fiction with Star Wars as a child and hasn't looked back since. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Genesis Earth, Bringing Stella Home, Heart of the Nebula, and the Star Wanderers and Sons of the Starfarers series. As a young man, he studied Arabic at Brigham Young University and traveled across the Middle East and the Caucasus. He currently lives in Utah, which he claims as his home.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will not receive any additional charge.

The Sword Keeper — excerpt 8

Master Ivanar looked Tamuna in the eye, putting both hands on her trembling shoulders. “We must go south, to the kingdom of Aramand. You’ll be safer there.”

“But what if Araste gives chase?” someone asked.

Ivanar turned to face the room. “We’ll split up to confuse him. I’ll travel to the coast and alert the Aramandi people so that they’ll be ready to receive us. In the meantime, we must do all we can to keep the sword bearer from being discovered.”

The faces around the room were grim, but several of them nodded in approval. Ivanar searched them until his eyes settled on a tall, blond-haired young man. He nodded, and the young man stepped forward, his expression as hard as flint.

Alex, I’m entrusting the girl to you. Take her west over the mountains, until you reach the stronghold at Akalika. Wait for me there.”

“Yes, Master Ivanar.”

Alex bowed curtly and turned to Tamuna. His arms were strong and muscular, his chest broad. He had a sharp chin and high cheekbones, with deep blue eyes. Even though he was clearly a warrior, he couldn’t have been more than a few years older than her.

You do realize that you may never come back, said Imeris. A war is coming, and this village may not be here when—or if—you return. I wish that you had more time to say goodbye, but that is a luxury neither of us can afford.

Tamuna swallowed, and her knees went weak. She glanced at Sopiko, whose face was red with rage. Part of her longed to hug her, but she hesitated, worried that her aunt would nag her for being so sentimental. In that brief moment of indecision, Aunt Sopiko turned and stormed out of the room before she could say goodbye.

“Here,” said Ivanar, fitting a cloak over her shoulders. “It’s a bit large, but it will have to do until we can get you a proper one.” He reached into his rucksack and pulled out what looked like a belt, but wider and with broad leather straps. As Tamuna adjusted the cloak, he put on the belt and fastened the scabbard to it.

“This may feel a bit cumbersome, but you’ll soon get used to it.”

Alex bent down and pulled the leather straps tight. When he was done, it felt as if she were carrying a bag of rocks on her hip, but the strap across her chest and shoulder offered enough support to make it comfortable.

You’ll grow used to it with time, said Imeris. I won’t always be such a burden.

“No, it’s fine,” she said aloud, blushing as she remembered that only she could hear him. But Alex and Master Ivanar were too busy conferring with each other to hear, and most of the others had already left. She glanced at the door, hoping to catch sight of her aunt, and instead saw Nika. Her eyes widened, and her heart skipped a beat.

“Nika!” she said, hurrying over to him. “Did you hear what happened? There’s so much to tell you, I—”

“Mistress Leladze,” said Master Ivanar, putting a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, but we have to go.”

Nika looked from her to the sword keeper and back again, thoroughly confused. A horrible sinking feeling rose in Tamuna’s stomach, and without thinking she threw her arms around him.

“I have to go, Nika,” she said. “I don’t know when or if I’ll come back, so… goodbye.”

“Goodbye?” he said, giving her a stunned look as she drew back. “Where are you going?”

“I don’t know. Away, far away.”

“But when will you—”

“Goodbye!”

She turned her face to hide her tears and followed the sword keeper out into the yard. A rooster crowed as the sun began its descent behind the mountains, while all around her the monks took to their restless horses. She glanced one last time at Aunt Sopiko’s tavern—the only home she’d ever known—before following Alex onto a chestnut mare. He spurred the horse forward, and she held tightly onto him as they galloped southward.

The Sword Keeper

The Sword Keeper

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: The Twelfth Sword, Book 1
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy
Tag: 2017 Release
Tamuna Leladze always dreamed of adventure, but never expected to answer its call. That changes when a wandering knight arrives at her aunt's tavern. He is the keeper of a magic sword that vanished from the pages of history more than a thousand years ago. The sword has a mind and a memory, and it has chosen Tamuna for purpose far greater than she knows. More info →
Buy now!

Late September update

I am not a pleasant person to be around when I’m struggling to finish a difficult book.

Me: There’s just not enough time in the day.

Dad: I know how you feel, son.

Me: I don’t think that you do. You’ve never been self-employed.

Later…

Me: I need to quit my job.

Dad: But Joe, what about the benefits?

Me: Screw the benefits! I don’t want to be dependent on anyone for “benefits.” Besides, there’s a public pension crisis looming over this country, and in ten years your teacher’s pensions are all going to dry up. You can thank a decade of 0% interest rates for those “benefits.”

Like I said, not very pleasant.

So I had to push the deadline back another week for A Queen in Hiding. Really hate to do that. Problem is, the only writing time I can carve out of my schedule comes in short 1-2 hour chunks, and a single interruption can throw off everything. Like when a truck shows up during my lunch break. Or like when I’m playing catch-up and sleep in past my alarm.

It doesn’t help that every chapter, I run up against a wall that forces me to go back two or three chapters and completely change the direction of the story. This is definitely one of the weirdest books I’ve ever written. It’ll come together eventually, but it’s definitely taking more effort than it’s worth. Should lead the series in an interesting direction, though, and tie into the Gaia Nova series much further down the road. If I ever write any more of those books.

Anyway, so that’s coming along slowly. On the marketing end, I’m trying out a bunch of new things and/or working harder at things I’ve been doing for a while. All of my free and 99¢ book deals are scheduled through August 2018—now I just need to figure out how I’m going to promote them.

Not much is happening on the publishing front, other than The Sword Keeper which comes out this weekend. I’ve got a release schedule that runs through August 2018, which is part of the reason why I’m so stressed about getting Sons of the Starfarers finished. That series WILL be complete before the end of 2018, hopefully before July 2018. Four more books, of which 1.5 are currently written.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Time to get back to writing.

The Sword Keeper — excerpt 7

“Hey! Where do you think you’re going?”

Nika stopped at the farmhouse gate and sheepishly turned to face his father. “To the tavern,” he muttered, hoping that was an acceptable response.

“Why, boy? The tavern’s closed.”

Sopiko said she still needs me.” And Tamuna’s been sick all day.

His father jabbed the pitchfork into the ground and swore. “That damn woman had better be paying you for this. Have you had your supper yet?”

“No, sir, I—”

“Good. Eat it there.” He turned to the yard, where Nika’s two older brothers had paused in their work. “Giga! Lasha! What are you doing standing around? Get back to stacking those cornstalks!”

“Yes, sir.”

Remember: Who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat!”

Nika took that as his cue to leave. He slipped out the gate and pulled it shut before dashing across the dusty lane and into the fallow field on the other side. The tall grass brushed against his legs, ticking his skin through the holes in his pants, but he kept running until he was well out of sight. Only then did he slow down enough to catch his breath.

Tamuna was so sick that Sopiko had closed the tavern—which she never, ever did. When he’d arrived in the morning, the door had been locked. Only after knocking for several minutes had Sopiko finally opened it.

“Come back later,” Sopiko had told him when he’d come around back. “Tamuna’s taken ill, and we’ve closed down the tavern until she’s better.”

“She’s ill?” Nika had asked, his stomach falling. “What do you mean? Is she going to be all right? What happened?”

We don’t know. We found her passed out on the floor in the private room, and she hasn’t woken up since. Come back this evening; we may need you then.”

Nika had wanted to ask more, but Sopiko had pressed a few coppers into his hand and sent him on his way home. His father had thrown the meager coin angrily against the wall, and probably would have beaten him, except that his mother had intervened. He was a harsh man, and Nika wasn’t his favorite. Sometimes, Nika wondered if his father cared about him at all.

Thoughts like these always made his heart heavy. But the cool autumn breeze and the splash of gold across the evening sky soon lightened his spirits. A rooster crowed somewhere in the distance, and the sound of cows mooing in the thicket made him smile. Old Giorgi’s cow had just had a calf a few days ago, and he’d been there to witness the birth. It was amazing how the little ones could walk almost from the moment they left the womb.

Sometimes, when he wasn’t busy, he liked to sit in the shade of a tree and watch the mother hens roam the yard with their broods. While the little chicks pecked and played, the mother hen stood watch, chasing away anyone who dared come too close. And in the evening, while the other chickens flew into the trees to roost, the mother hen would stay on the ground and gather all her chicks under her wings, protecting them throughout the night.

Of course, there was always a straggler who didn’t get to the food as fast, or couldn’t keep up with the rest. Whenever he could, Nika would take the straggler aside and hand-feed it to make sure it grew up strong. Sometimes, it was enough to make a difference.

The footpath turned into the wide lane that led from the village to the western mountains. He passed a few cows and a small clutch of geese, who moved to the other side of the dirt road as he walked past.

In a lot of ways, his friend Tamuna was a straggler. Just as the mother hens knew the difference between their chicks and the ones that didn’t truly belong to them, Sopiko clearly knew that Tamuna wasn’t her true daughter. It showed in her stern demeanor and overly-critical eye. Of course, Tamuna never saw it that way. When she needed someone to talk to, though, he always tried to be there for her. He often stayed in the stables late into the night just to talk with her, after all her chores were done.

The Sword Keeper

The Sword Keeper

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: The Twelfth Sword, Book 1
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy
Tag: 2017 Release
Tamuna Leladze always dreamed of adventure, but never expected to answer its call. That changes when a wandering knight arrives at her aunt's tavern. He is the keeper of a magic sword that vanished from the pages of history more than a thousand years ago. The sword has a mind and a memory, and it has chosen Tamuna for purpose far greater than she knows. More info →
Buy now!

The Sword Keeper — excerpt 6

Tamuna swallowed again, shooting a nervous glance at her aunt. I’m sorry for all this, she wanted desperately to tell her. Please, forgive me.

“Well?”

“Y-yes,” she stammered. “Yes, I did.”

The man’s eyes narrowed, and he withdrew his hand from her shoulder. For a moment, she wondered if he thought she was lying, but then he held the sword out to her, hilt first. Once again, the room fell silent.

“If what you say is true, then prove it by drawing the sword.”

She hesitated, unsure what to do. Her aunt shook her head, but once again she felt as if some unseen hand was pushing her forward, down the path of destiny.

Don’t be afraid, Tamuna, came Imeris’s voice. You made your choice, and you made it wisely. These men are here to help you, I promise.

Taking a deep breath, she wrapped her fingers around the ancient hilt. To her surprise, the sword practically leaped into her hands. She stumbled backward, the blade ringing in the stunned silence, and for a very brief moment she lost her balance. The tip swung down and hit the wooden floor with a thud.

“I’m sorry,” she said, horrified at herself. “I didn’t mean to—”

Before she could finish, the silver-haired traveler went down on one knee and bowed. Words failed her, and it was all she could do to keep from dropping the sword entirely.

All my life, I’ve longed for this moment,” the traveler said reverently. “For almost a thousand years, we have kept the sword Imeris hidden from the eyes of the world, searching for the one who would fulfill the ancient prophecy, and now, our search has finally come to an end.”

He looked up, and his eyes shimmered with tears. Tamuna didn’t know what to say. All around them, the silence gave way to a torrent of hurried and excited words, like the patter of rain from the breaking of a storm.

He’s right, said Imeris. You are the sword bearer.

“I don’t—”

Hold on.

For an instant, she saw a man on a black horse, galloping full strength at the head of an evil storm. In his hand, he held a sword that shimmered like lightning, a red-speckled black stone embedded in the hilt. She shuddered in fright, but the image fled as quickly as it had come to her.

We’re in danger, said Imeris. The others have seen your face and know our location.

“But—”

There isn’t time to explain. We need to go now!

Tamuna’s stomach fell, and her heart began to race. The memory of the darkening shadows came back to her, and she knew, intuitively, that Imeris was right.

The Sword Keeper

The Sword Keeper

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: The Twelfth Sword, Book 1
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy
Tag: 2017 Release
Tamuna Leladze always dreamed of adventure, but never expected to answer its call. That changes when a wandering knight arrives at her aunt's tavern. He is the keeper of a magic sword that vanished from the pages of history more than a thousand years ago. The sword has a mind and a memory, and it has chosen Tamuna for purpose far greater than she knows. More info →
Buy now!