15 December 2016

Excerpt Thursday: THE SULTAN, THE VAMPYR AND THE SOOTHSAYER by Lucille Turner

This week, we're pleased to welcome author LUCILLE TURNER with her latest release,  THE SULTAN, THE VAMPYR AND THE SOOTHSAYER. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the storyBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win a FREE copy of the novel - open internationally. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

1442: The Ottoman Turks are advancing through the Balkans with Vienna in their sights and Constantinople, the Orthodox Greek capital, within their grasp. Dracul, ruler of Wallachia (present-day Romania), will pay almost any price to save his country, but he will not surrender to the blackmail of the cardinals of Rome; he will not betray the Greeks.

When Vlad, his middle son, begins to show signs of the ancestral sickness, Dracul vows to deliver him into safety. But time is running short. To some, Vlad Dracula is a strigoi, the worst of all evils; to others, he is the son of a righteous man. Confrontational, charismatic and manipulative, he tests family and enemy alike. Surely he is destined for power, but of what kind?

The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer weaves a web of intrigue in a world that will divide forever. As Eastern Europe struggles against the tide of a Muslim advance it cannot counter, Western Christendom needs only one prize to overthrow its enemies – the ancient scrolls of the library of Constantinople.


‘I don’t understand.’ Vlad lowered his sword. ‘You want me to stop because I’m good?’
‘No, said his father. ‘I want you to stop because you are good enough.’
‘But Cazan wants me to train. He says…’
‘I will tell Cazan myself. You needn’t worry.’
‘And Mircea, must he stop too?’
‘Mircea can use a sword adequately; that is good enough, as it is good enough for you. As for Radu, he is too young. Does that satisfy you?’
A venomous thought invaded Vlad’s mind. ‘And what about the other son? Have you forbidden him too?’
His face a bedrock of stone, his father opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again.
There was a difficult silence. Vlad was about to sheathe his sword and take his leave, when his father finally broke it. ‘You do have a half-brother. I did not bring him to court because the child was unwell and needed care I could not give him. If I have not spoken about it before, it was because I felt that it was not important. But since you have brought the matter up, so be it.’
Vlad stared at the ground, suddenly ashamed. His father touched his arm. His father’s fingers were long and white, like a woman’s. At the feel of them he softened.
‘Where is Mircea?’
‘In the music room.’
His father put an arm around his shoulders. ‘Come with me.’
He lifted a torch from the wall and they took the palace stairs down to where the living quarters ended and the cellars began. The cellars ran underneath the palace grounds as far as the arena where they trained. As they walked through what was almost a tunnel of stone, Vlad tried hard not to think about the training sessions with Mircea, now forbidden. On the right was the entrance to the storerooms. They turned left and his father pushed open a heavy door into a large stone room, dry as dust and filled with books and parchment. The door breathed out an odour of wood and hide. There was no window, but the light was coming from somewhere. Vlad noticed a stone vent at eye level. So this was his father’s private room; this was where he disappeared when he did not want to talk, to this place of books and dust. There was a long wooden table in the middle of the room with benches around it. The wall was lined with ledges of wood and these were filled with rolls of parchment, and papyrus sheets. He felt a pang of disappointment.
‘I think you have enjoyed Aristotle. That is good. It pleases me.’ His father pushed a seat towards him and began to search through a pile of parchment. He pulled out a roll and opened it on the table.
‘Do you know what this is?’
Vlad looked at the drawing before him, a stretch of parchment full of shapes that wound between each other in snaking trajectories of ink; there were place names he recognised marked upon it in script, and distances were written in figures in between. ‘Is it a drawing for a Roman cursus publicus?’
‘In a manner of speaking, but it’s more than just one area; it’s a mappa mundi, a record of distance and place. It was drawn by a man called Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria.’
Vlad leaned over it and put his finger in the centre, a little to the right. Constantinopolis.
‘Yes, our patriarchate is on it, so is Antioch, and Rome is marked there.’
Vlad looked into the deepest corners of the basement room. On a far ledge was a more interesting shape, an old leather scabbard on a ledge. His father saw him looking; he rose from his chair and picked it up. It was a sword. He laid it on the table without unsheathing it.
‘But I didn’t think…’
‘That I owned one,’ finished his father, quickly. ‘As you can see, I do.’
‘But you don’t use it?’
‘I chose not to, long ago.’
Vlad shook his head. ‘Not even against the Turks?’
‘I have my reasons. One of them is that it is better to talk than to fight. And while I still have a tongue to speak with I would rather use that than take a risk that could prove irreversible.’ His father looked down at the parchment on the table, his brow furrowed. ‘I brought you down here to show you the mappa mundi, the cursus publicus as you called it, but it does not surprise me that the sword found you first.’ He unsheathed it and ran a finger over the blade. A thin line of red appeared on the tip and he smoothed it away with his hand.
‘The Romans are our cousins; we are family now. They conquered us; we conquered them. That was how it was in those days, but without the knowledge of Ptolemy they would have stayed what they always were.’
‘No, farmers,’ said his father, distracted by the sword. ‘There was a time, long ago, when a farmer could change the world, but now the world is changing by itself and I hope it will be for the better. There are new ideas abroad, wonderful ideas that will transform everything. One day we will no longer need scribes. Their work will be over. Christendom will enter a new age and I want Wallachia to be at the head of it. I want the Rumani to be great again. What I am trying to say,’ his father said, putting down the sword, ‘is that if you have to choose one day between the knowledge and the sword, you would do better to take the knowledge.’
Vlad looked from his father’s mappa mundi on the table to the shining blade beside it. ‘And if I can take both?’

His father almost smiled. ‘Then you will either be a tyrant or a deliverer,’ he said softly. ‘Only first you must deliver yourself.’ 

Learn more about author Lucille Turner

Author’s website: http://www.lucilleturner.com/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sultan-Vampyr-Soothsayer-Lucille-Turner/dp/1527202062/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sultan-Vampyr-Soothsayer-Lucille-Turner/dp/1527202062/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucilleETurner
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucilleETurner/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32313477-the-sultan-the-vampyr-and-the-soothsayer