Monday, October 30, 2023

Have a sneak peek between the covers of N.L. Holmes' intriguing novel — The Moon That Fell from Heaven #HistoricalFiction #AncientFiction #BlogTour @nlholmesbooks @cathiedunn

The Moon That Fell From Heaven

Empire at Twilight

by N. L. Holmes

Ehli-nikkalu, eldest daughter of the Hittite emperor, is married to a mere vassal of her father's. But despite her status, her foreignness and inability to produce an heir drive a wedge between her and the court that surrounds her. When her secretary is mysteriously murdered while carrying the emperor a message that would indict the loyalty of his vassal, Ehli-nikkalu adopts the dead man’s orphaned children out of a guilty sense of responsibility.

A young cousin she has never met becomes a pretender to the throne and mobilizes roving armies of the poor and dispossessed, which causes the priority of her loyalties to become even more suspect. However, Ehli-nikkalu discovers a terrible secret that could destabilize the present regime if the pretender ever learns of it.

With the help of a kindly scribe, her brave young ward, and an embittered former soldier trapped in debt and self-doubt, Ehli-nikkalu sets out to save the kingdom and prove herself to her father. And along the way, she learns something about love.

Amaya gave out a high-pitched, inarticulate noise of terror and denial. The men turned as one to fix their gazes on her and the petrified steward. Then they began to run toward her. She spun and took off like a frightened rabbit into the darkness.
Through the night-veiled backstreets she pounded, Karranu thudding at her heels. She could hear his breath dragging desperately in his throat. But the assassins were not far behind and were fast closing the distance. She dodged suddenly down a side street, hoping they wouldn’t notice she had turned. But a quick glance over her shoulder revealed the shadow pursuers still in her wake.
Amaya was reaching her limit, her heart hammering, her breath rasping in her throat. The men were getting closer and closer, their feet thudding tirelessly. Her own footsteps had begun to drag, until she feared she would stumble and fall. 
A scream made her turn. The men had reached Karranu. With a whimper, he sank into the street, a knife projecting from his back. This is the end, Amaya gasped silently. But faithful Karranu had fallen across the alley and dragged down one of his attackers as he went, and it cost her pursuers a moment’s delay to pull out their blade and haul him aside. 
By that time, she had whipped around a corner and begun to pound desperately on a door.
Almost immediately, the door swung open a space. Amaya hurled herself into the dark interior and the door shut behind her.
She stood there on her trembling legs, leaning against the wall, panting, her heart throbbing in her throat, too relieved to wonder where she was. 
Outside the door, muffled by the heavy wood, she heard men’s voices. “Where’d the little vixen go?”
“She’s probably a witch. She just vanished.”
But a third, better-educated voice said dryly, “She slid into one of these houses, you fools. Start knocking on the doors.”
Amaya cringed against the plaster wall, expecting the worst. She heard the dreaded knock, and from the darkness of the room stepped an older woman, her hair in a tousled braid. She shot the girl a sharp look and Amaya realized she must have been standing there all along. She opened the panel. The woman set her hands on her broad hips.
“We’re chasing a thief. A young girl who stole something valuable from me,” said the man with the cultured accent.
“What? Your virginity?” The woman’s voice was tart and brooked no nonsense. “Go home where you belong at such an hour, and leave honest folks to sleep in peace.”
The voice insisted, “So you haven’t seen a girl?”
“Why, yes, I’ve seen a few in my day. Not tonight, though.” She made as if to close the door, but Amaya, watching with wide, fearful eyes, saw a foot thrust into the opening. She flattened herself even further against the wall, trying to will herself a part of the chilly plastered stone. But she was flesh and blood. If the man looked in, he would certainly perceive her there, a cubit or so from the open doorway.
“You’re sure? She disappeared right around here.”
“Unless you think you might have mistaken me for a thieving girl, then no. None here. Now shoo.” And the woman slammed the door shut and barred it.
Amaya dared to breathe at last. “Thank you, mistress,” she murmured in a shaking voice.
Her rescuer turned to her. “So, what did you really do that had them on your heels?” 
Amaya realized that somewhere in the house a lamp was lit, and it was far from pitch black as her eyes accustomed to the moonless interior. Her rescuer was a big woman, well into middle age, with a round, lumpy face like a slab of flatbread. Amaya said, “I saw them. They killed my father.” 

N. L. Holmes

N.L. Holmes is the pen name of a professional archaeologist who received her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. She has excavated in Greece and in Israel and taught ancient history and humanities at the university level for many years. She has always had a passion for books, and in childhood, she and her cousin used to write stories for fun.

These days she lives in France with her husband, two cats, geese, and chickens, where she gardens, weaves, dances, and plays the violin.

Connect with N.L.:

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram • Pinterest

No comments:

Post a Comment