The young man was confused. His horse edgy, restless. So much noise. He’d seen horseless carriages, but this was crazy. Those things were fast, going every which way. How many directions in a small town not much bigger than those with which the Lone Ranger and his faithful Indian Companion Tonto were familiar.

Different trees. No cactus. Churches the same. But so many? Why would a small town need so many churches? You’d think one or two would be enough.

UU Church Uxbridge

Silver whinnied. Lone released his neck rein so he could graze. Soft, green grass. Not coarse prairie grass. He needed to figure out how he’d wound up here. He thought back, trying to reconstruct events. He and Tonto had pitched camp by the Arkansas River, not far from Wichita. Built a fire. Then they heard something. Told Tonto to stay put, he’d check it out.

A weird noise. Sucking, whirring … like a tiny tornado. But not loud. A purr rather than a roar. He’d thrown a saddle on Silver, gone to investigate. In the middle of nowhere, a vortex hovered in the air. He’d ridden closer to get a better look. Whoosh!

Lone had experienced strange things in his 31 years, but this was the weirdest. He’d been transported somewhere else. Some time else, too, if those … vehicles? were any indication. Those wires couldn’t be telegraph wires. Too many. Too thick. Electricity? He’d heard you could get it in San Francisco. Out east too.

“Well,” thought Lone. “I’ve got my gun, ammunition, silver bullets. Silver. There must be work for me here. There’s always a job for The Lone Ranger.”

He looked around. He was on a green lawn surrounded by white churches. A few statues. Likely a village common. Not west of the Mississippi. This looked like pictures he’d seen of New England. He must be there.

It was all connected to the odd disturbance in the air. A doorway? Through … time? Space? Lone was an educated man. He read books. He’d heard of things like “time travel.” He’d never believed it. Why him? Only one possible explanation. The town was in trouble. They needed him.

He hadn’t seen anyone on horseback or driving a buggy. Just those noisy things. He had to figure out why he was here. Across the street, next to another big white church stood a brick building. A library. Well, where better to start collecting information? Librarians always know what’s going on in town.

75-LibraryGA-NK-6He dismounted, suddenly aware of his mask and gun. No one was wearing a gunbelt. It didn’t mean they weren’t carrying firearms. “Maybe they hide them here,” he thought.

“Look,” cried some teenage kids, “It’s the Lone Ranger! And Silver! Hey, where’s Tonto? Whatcha doin’, huh? Cool horse!”

“Okay,” muttered Lone to himself. “They know who I am. Now, I have to figure out who they are, where I am and what I need to do to get home.

He dismounted to lead Silver across the road. He’d ask the librarian. Then, he could start unraveling the mystery. He wished Tonto was here. It would be good to share this adventure with his friend.

He looked around. “Hi yo Silver,” he added softly. “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”


The Rai Kirah Trilogy: TransformationRevelationRestoration

Listening to this series was a revelation. I’ve read the series several times, but I never listened to the books. When I got the series on Kindle, it was unavailable as an audiobook. When finally it became available, it took a while to collect all three books. I’m still collecting other series by Carol Berg on audio. And I’ve been busy with other reviewing commitments. Finally it was time to give myself a treat. I settled in to reread the series through my ears.

Listening to this beautifully narrated series, I heard much I had missed when I read it. I read too fast, so I read books at least twice.  Even so, I miss stuff, often a lot. When I listen, I cannot listen faster than a human narrator can read and I discover entirely new dimensions. Audiobooks have a unique ability to create a movie in my head. I see characters, hear them, see their world.

Carol Berg’s worlds are magic. The fantastical is normal. Those who wield magic are powerful, but not invulnerable. Sometimes, their magic makes them more vulnerable and puts them in danger. And there’s alway a price to pay.

Seyonne spent 16 years as a slave. He is beaten, branded. Horribly mistreated. Subjected to the destruction of his religion, morals and powers. When he is acquired by the spoiled, bad-tempered Prince Aleksander, his situation does not improve.

Aleksander is as cruel a master as any he has had. But there is something about Aleksander, something different. Seyonne only catches it in flashes. One day he looks into Seyonne’s eyes and what he sees changes everything. Aleksander is destined — unless he is stopped before he has the opportunity — to save the world.

The Rai Kirah — demons — are trying to destroy Aleksander. Kill him, discredit him. Prevent him from becoming the official heir to the empire. With Seyonne’s help, Aleksander can defeat the plot. Working together to save the world from demons, the two men save each other, physically and spiritually and form an extraordinary friendship.

Victim and persecutor evolve together. Seyonne and Prince Aleksander, heir to the Derzhi Empire, learn to trust each other. Considering the amount of wrong Seyonne and his people suffered at the hands of Aleksander’s family, there’s a long road to travel. In the process, both transform. They save each others’ lives. Their fates are intricately linked. I found their relationship deeply touching.

Despite some childish nonsense from other reviewers, two people of the same-sex who love one another are not necessarily homosexual. If they were, I wouldn’t care, but in this case, they are not. In my world, loving non-sexual relations are called “friendship.” To those who have a problem with this, get over it. Drinking beer and watching a game is not necessarily the highest level to which a friendship can rise.

In the course of Rai Kirah, a selfish, cruel monarch transforms into a compassionate man and ultimately, a great ruler. The former slave rises while a king’s fortunes rise and fall. Both are redeemed. More or less.

There’s plenty of action. Battles are fought, magic is wielded, blood is spilled. The writing is intelligent and the author never takes the cheap way out. The plot is complicated. No “deus ex machina” appears to fix problems.

Rai Kirah is beautifully crafted. The story is riveting. There’s a very satisfying amount of action, romance (think “Dumas” rather than “Harlequin“), nobility, fantastical realms and magic.

Hearing on audio was a far more satisfying experience than reading it. If get buy the audiobook and the Kindle version, whichever you buy first, you get a substantial discount on the other. I suggest you should buy Kindle first. The discount is more substantial on Audible. You can then, through Whispersync, literally listen while you read, a “follow the bouncing ball” reading experience.

I don’t have enough glowing adjectives to tell you how very much I love Carol Berg as an author, the worlds she creates. Her characters, stories. Everything. I’m a fan. Big time.