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Friday 20 May 2016

☀ Traitor: Dragonrider Chronicles [3] - Nicole Conway

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Traitor, a Middle Grade Fantasy by (, Month9Books, 244 pages).

This is the third book in the Dragonrider Chronicles series, and it includes the free novella: Kiran's Story.

Don't miss our interview with author Nicole Conway.

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below. Read the first two chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Author Nicole Conway will be awarding five digital copies of Traitor by Nicole Conway (INT) to randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour.  

Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).

Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


Can anyone survive being lost in Luntharda?

No amount of training has prepared Jaevid Broadfeather for the frontlines of battle. Now facing the true horrors of war, with Luntharda looming on the horizon, Jaevid has begun to question everything he thought about his heritage. The only thing keeping him going is his oath to protect his dragonrider brothers. But in an instant, even that slips through Jaevid’s fingers as he steps from the safety of his dragon’s saddle into the depths of his mother’s wild homeland—the kingdom of the gray elves.

Stranded in Luntharda with his partner, Lieutenant Jace Rordin, Jaevid must finally confront the demons of his own past as he uncovers the truth about a war that began before he was ever born. Armed with a new appreciation for destiny, and flanked by his trusted friends, Jaevid moves to make the final strike against an enemy that has hidden in plain sight for far too long.

One kingdom’s traitor will become the world’s last hope.

Teaser: Excerpt


The world had changed.

And so had I. Nothing was simple anymore. Nothing was as it seemed—or as I thought it would be. I always lived my life with one little shred of confidence. Even though I had no idea where I was going, be it to a prison camp or to the dragonrider academy, I at least knew exactly where I’d come from. My mother was a beautiful, gentle gray elf woman. My father was a cold, abusive, tyrannical human who made saddles for dragonriders. Those were facts I’d known I could rely on.
      But as it turned out, not even that was true. Every passing night brought more dreams and more strangeness. Secrets were mocking me from the shadows of my past. I couldn’t shut out the noise anymore. And it was beginning to wear away what little bit of sanity I had left.
      When I had first set foot into Blybrig Academy for Dragonriders as a terrified child, I was the very last person you’d ever want to stick into a dragon saddle and send off into combat. But now, as I leaned into Mavrik’s speed, feeling the strength of my dragon’s wings as if they were my own … I knew I wasn’t that child anymore. I couldn’t be.
      I was a dragonrider—not only because I had been chosen, but also because Blybrig had made me one.
      I’d fought through hell and back, been baptized in the inferno of combat and survival training to prove that I belonged here. Now I could stand and be counted among the men who called themselves the Dragonriders of Maldobar. I’d worked until I bled for every single step of progress. Was I terrified? Absolutely. Fear was a constant, but it paled in comparison to the sense of duty that burned in my gut now.
      I wouldn’t fail. I wouldn’t falter. I would fight until my very last breath. Not for myself, or my own glory—I was fighting for the people I loved.
      The battlefront was beckoning, and I couldn’t ignore that call.No dragonrider could. But I’d seen what it had done to others of my kind, and that impending reality was frightening.
      You see, the battlefield changes everyone. You can’t get back what it takes from you, and you can’t erase the marks it leaves behind.I could look at my instructors and tell that much. Not all of them had gruesome physical scars, but they all had the same dead look in their eyes. It was the look of a soldier—the somber sense that they had seen things they couldn’t tell anyone about. They were living ghosts, mere specters of their former selves haunted by the things they’d done all for the sake of a blue banner bearing the king’s seal.
      I poured my thoughts into my dragon’s mind. Our minds were melded together as one, so we exchanged wordless conversations as we darted through the steep, rocky canyons and soared over the sprawling, bowl-shaped desert valley. Blybrig was the only spot of civilization in sight. That stony fortress had been our home for so long now, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
      But our time was almost up. We had to join my new squadron at Northwatch soon. I was supposed to be partnered up with my former instructor, Seasoned Lieutenant Jace Rordin, and act as his wing end. Together with our dragons, we would fly in combat until the war ended, we retired, or one of us got killed. That was the dragonrider way.
      Jace had already left to rejoin the forces at the citadel. He’d given me a few days to gather my stuff and say goodbye to my family—which would have been nice if I’d had any worth speaking of. I hadn’t heard a word from my father, Ulric, since I’d started training.My half-brother, Roland, was the only one of my family members who had ever reached out to me. He was stationed with the infantry at Northwatch, too, and part of me was hoping I’d get to see him again.
      As Mavrik and I reached the edge of the mountains that surrounded the valley, we soared higher and gazed out across the desert. The dark silhouettes of other dragons flickered against the blazing glare from the setting sun. The heat made the air ripple like water, and yet the mountains around us were crowned with snow. It was a beautiful contrast.
      We flew until it was nearly dark, bolting through drills and running through every test of speed and aerial acrobatics we could. I pushed the limits of what I knew my body could take. It left us both exhausted when we landed back at the Roost. As I unbuckled from the saddle, Mavrik shook himself. He seemed glad to finally be free of my weight.
      “Dinner?” I asked him as I took off my helmet.
      He snorted in agreement.
      I brought him up a bucket of cut meat scraps and refilled his water trough before I started taking off his saddle or my armor. It was a lot of work, and I had to make sure to check over every buckle and strap for possible damage. I stacked all our gear in the corner of his stall and sat down on the open ledge that overlooked the academy.My body ached from riding. My hands were sore and my palms were raw from gripping the saddle handles—even through my thick riding gauntlets. I was tired, filthy, and hungry. But this was my last time to watch the sun set over the academy. I didn’t want to miss it.
      When Mavrik finished eating, he strolled over to flop down beside me. He curled his tail around his body and tucked his wings in close to his sides, resting his huge snout right next to me. I heard him puff a loud, deep sigh.
      “I know what you mean.” I sighed, too. “I’ll miss this place.”
      Mavrik’s catlike yellow eyes looked up at me, and an image of Felix and his dragon, Nova, popped into my mind.
      Felix Farrow had been my best friend basically since we first met, which had been in our fledgling year of training. We’d been through a lot together since then, and still didn’t seem at all bothered by any of the bizarre things that were happening in my life. For that reason alone, I was determined to do everything I could to be as loyal to him as he had been to me.
      “Yeah. We can’t let them go alone. Somebody’s got to keep that idiot from getting himself killed.” I smirked as I scratched his snout. It made Mavrik purr and his eyes closed. “Besides, there’s nothing left for us here.”
      Once he was calm and settled in his stall, I carried all our gear downstairs to the tack room and stored it. It was dark when I started for the dormitories, so I didn’t think much of it when I passed people on my way. There were still plenty of students and instructors milling around, running last minute errands before they retired for the night.The few craftsmen that had come to make saddles and armor this year were already closing down their shops and dousing their forges.
      I was looking forward to a hot meal and some sleep, maybe even a bath to soothe my aching shoulders, but someone suddenly grabbed my arm. I stopped, turning back to squint through the darkness.
      At first, I barely recognized him.
      It had been a year since I’d spoken to Bren, and he didn’t look at all like he had the last time we’d parted ways. Last I had seen him, he had been smitten with my former childhood friend, Katalina Crookin. They had both been in an apprenticeship to become blacksmiths, and Bren had demonstrated a lot of talent when he fixed my scimitar. He was kind of a simpleton, but I had to give him some credit. He had a good heart, and a sunny disposition that sometimes made me want to choke him. Despite that, and Katty’s fiery disapproval, we’d become friends after I had saved him from being mauled to death by a pack of wolves.
      Seeing him now was sort of bittersweet, though. He still wasn’t even close to being as tall as I was—not that many people were—but he looked older. Much, much older. He had the beginnings of a short beard on his chin and there were heavy, dark circles under his eyes.His hair was longer, and he looked a little thinner. When he smiled, it put crow’s feet in the corners of his eyes.
      “Jaevid Broadfeather? My, the Fates are kind. I was hoping I would see you. It’s been a long time, dragonrider.” He put out a hand toward me.
      I smiled back at him and shook it firmly. “I’d say so. Glad to see you made it here without me this year.”
      He laughed at that, but it was a hollow, forced sound. “Barely, I’m afraid.” I could see worry in his eyes as he turned away, nodding toward his forge. It was unsettling. “Could I get a hand?”
      “Of course.” I followed him to his temporary shop. I half expected to see Katty there, unloading the wagon or closing down the forge for the night. After all, they were supposed to be partners. But there was no one else with him.
      “I just need to get these last few crates stacked up,” he explained as he climbed up into the back of his wagon.
      I joined him and started helping move the heavy wooden crates, one by one, into his work area. It brought back memories of helping my father when he’d brought me here to be his apprentice.
      “Are you alone this year?” I dared to ask.
      He swallowed stiffly. “Yes. It couldn’t be helped. Mr. Crookin retired. I guess last year’s run-in with the wolves and mountain cat was all he could take. And it’s too dangerous to bring Katty through the mountain pass right now. I left her at home with the baby.”
      Through the gloom, I spotted the metallic glint of a wedding band on his left hand. It gave me a weird feeling. Not jealousy, though.Definitely not. I was actually wondering if he really was happy with Katty. He’d aged a good ten years in such a short time. Did that usually happen to newlyweds? “Congratulations. If I’d known I would have sent you a gift or something.”
      Bren just shook his head dismissively. “There wasn’t really a ceremony to speak of. And Katty was calling all the shots. I tried to talk her down, but she insisted she didn’t want you to know about any of it.”
      “It’s okay. I understand.” I hefted the last crate out of the wagon myself, carrying it over one shoulder and stacking it up with the others. “Maybe it’s not my place to ask, but is everything okay? You look … tired.” I tried to phrase it gently.
      With the last crate out of the wagon, Bren started unhitching his team of horses. He hadn’t asked for my help with that, but I decided to give it anyway. He looked like he might drop from exhaustion at any moment.
      “I wasn’t counting on being the sole provider this soon,” he admitted quietly. “I’m barely out of my apprenticeship, I’ve no funds built up, and I’m already here working the spring orders alone. Katty didn’t want to stay behind. The baby, well, that wasn’t exactly planned. We rushed the marriage because of it. As much as I need her here to help, I couldn’t risk hauling them both over the mountains right now. Not with the way things are.”
      I nodded. “I’ve heard the animals are getting worse.”
      “That’s putting it mildly. This madness—it’s spreading like a sickness all over the kingdom. There’s too many animals infected for it just to be a coincidence now. Every day we hear new stories of villages and cities being overrun. Creatures no one has seen in hundreds of years are suddenly stirring. It’s like the whole world is going mad.” Bren glanced sideways at me, like he wasn’t sure how I would take this. “People are saying it’s coming from the elven forest.That it’s something they sent to be a plague among us.”
      “I hope so.”
      His eyes got wide.
      “Because if it is, then there might be a way to stop it,” I clarified.
      “I suppose that makes sense,” he agreed. “Mithangol hasn’t been hit hard yet. Just a few cases of cattle and dogs. We’ve been waiting and hoping for orders to come down from the king, that soldiers or dragonriders would come to help us. But the king doesn’t seem to care about any of this. He only has eyes for Luntharda.Crushing the elven armies is all that matters to him. Meanwhile his own people are being stamped out like cockroaches.”
      I put a hand on Bren’s shoulder. I understood now why he looked the way he did. I could sympathize—but only to a degree. I’d never been married, and I’d never been a father. The weight of being both, and then being forced to leave them behind so he could provide, regardless of what was happening in the world, must have been incredibly hard on him. No wonder he’d aged so much.
      “Don’t give up.” I tried to sound reassuring. “As long as there’s even one dragonrider left to fight, then there’s still hope.”
      Bren gave me another tired smile. “I know,” he said. “That’s why I came.”

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The Series: Dragonrider Chronicles

|| [1] | [2] ||

Click on the book cover to Look Inside the book on Amazon and read an excerpt.

Fledgling [1]

“Not just another dragon story; this memorable escapade is fast-paced and packed with action. It will leave readers on the edge of their seats.” — D.J. MacHale, author, The SYLO Chronicles and Pendragon

Can one boy stand between two kingdoms at war?

Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.

Everything Jaevid learned at the academy will now be put to the ultimate test.

[Published 5 August 2014, 308 pages]

Avian [2]

What kind of power is lurking inside him?

After a year of training to become a dragonrider, Jaevid Broadfeather has been sent home to rest during a three-month interlude. But when he returns to find the king drake has chosen Beckah Derrick as his new rider, Jaevid realizes something big is about to happen. Every fiber of his being is pushed to the breaking point as Jaevid battles through his avian year, preparing for the final graduation test of the battle scenario.

But there is more standing in his way than a few pushups and fancy sword moves. Jaevid must face a new fear as he is tormented by a gruesome nightmare of a mysterious gray elf warrior murdering the royal family of Maldobar. It seems obvious to him that this is some kind of message about how the war started long ago—until Felix assures him the king is very much alive.

With his strange powers growing stronger by the day, and that violent dream replaying in his mind every night, Jaevid no longer wonders if he will pass his avian year or not—he wonders if he will even survive it. The truth will soon be set loose.

[Published 9 October 2014, 405 pages]

About the Author

Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book.

Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school.

She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.

Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.

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Giveaway and Tour Stops

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May 9 – Coffee Books & Art
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May 11 – Chapter by Chapter
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