The Eight Walls of Rogar is the first book in The Lost Kingdoms of Laotswend trilogy, its pages chronicling the adventures and coming-of-age of a rather bookish young man named Andaris Rocaren. The story unfolds in the weeks following Andaris’ seventeenth name day: Desperate to escape a life of meaningless drudgery behind the plow, he leaves the safety of his secluded valley town and ventures alone into the uncharted depths of an ancient forest, the heart of which is said to be twisted and black. Choosing to ignore the counsel of his more sensible nature, he is drawn ever onward, lured by the tantalizing splendor of distant mountains, the sheer peaks of which purportedly stand sentinel over a land long steeped in mystery.
What ensues is more remarkable than anything even he could have envisioned. Andaris goes looking for adventure.... What he finds is a world in the midst of tidal change, an extraordinary place where he encounters all manner of extraordinary things—vast landscapes teeming with flora and fauna capable of firing the most malnourished of imaginations. To be sure, danger lurks around every bend, a heady amalgam of sword and sorcery which threatens to bring his young life to an abrupt end. Indeed, if not for a very fortuitous encounter, namely the crossing of paths with a band of travelers who turn out to be much more than meets the eye, it surely would have. Gaven, Ashel, and Trilla seem fated to become fast friends, the sort of companions he’d always wanted, but never thought he’d have.
The Lost One and his army of shapelings are preparing to march against Rogar’s western border—the only thing standing between them and the green, fertile lands to the East. The balance of power is shifting. Despite the debt of blood owed them by their Sokerran neighbors, the Alderi Shune fear they will be made to stand alone. No one speaks of defeat, but it is on the tip of every tongue. For the first time since they were erected, more than a thousand years ago, the impossible is about to happen: The Eight Walls of Rogar are about to fall. The scales could tip in either direction, depending, oddly enough, on the choices of a rather bookish young man named Andaris Rocaren.
You will forgive me, intrepid reader, if I now take the opportunity to formally invite you to join in the fun, to accompany young Andaris and his fellows into and out of the kingdoms of Nelvin, Mindere, Sokerra, and Rogar. Over hill, dell, and stream you shall go, hiking through rugged mountain ranges heavy with snow, into subterranean catacombs whose unplumbed fathoms are illumined by naught but the guttering flames of your makeshift torch, until you reach, at long last, and in just the nick of time, the battered gates of a once great civilization on the brink of war.
Light and shadow become one,
Mingling close beneath blood-red sun,
Clockwork toys begin to play,
A forgotten march from another day,
Towers stand on border sand,
Watchful eyes on troubled land,
Swords are drawn against the night,
Man and beast join the fight,
A stranger walks the chosen path,
Through dreaded storm and Lost One’s wrath,
The faithful heed the ancient call,
Stone and earth break and fall,
Bones will crack and spears will splinter,
As the world is cast into eternal winter,
Tears will fill a roiling sea,
Until the stranger comes and sets us free.
2:16 from the book of prophecy
Read an excerpt:
“He moves like a serpent!” Gaven huffed, drawing first their attention then their concern.
Trilla’s mouth pinched shut with worry for him. The other man was both cunning and agile, and Gaven was obviously tiring. Sweat poured from his brow, and he was sucking wind like a leaky bellows. If Gaven could just hit him it would all be over, but each time he came close the man sidestepped, rust-colored braid flying through the air, confident sneer never faltering.
Gaven cried out as the curving steel bit into his shoulder, as it sliced through his leather armor into the corded muscle beneath. With his face contorting in fear and rage, he rammed into the man and bulled him over, knocking the scimitar free. Counting on his opponent’s split-second reflexes, Gaven stabbed to the left as the man began to roll, planting his blade like a tree of metal through the center of his chest into the ground. The man lay there with astonishment in his eyes, spitting blood and grasping at the sides of Gaven’s sword. He struggled to speak, convulsed, and with a sickening gurgle, died.
Consider yourself officially warned, intrepid reader, for what follows is a most unconventional biography, otherwise known as Abstract observations on the Enigmatic Process of Storytelling. The more conventional bit is contained within the following eleven sentences: Mr. Woodward is forty-two years old. He lives in a little town called Blank Texas with his wife, son, three cats, three dogs, and six chickens. He lived in Dallas Texas for the first thirty-six years of his life, but had always yearned for the peace and quiet of the country, both of which, between the cats, dogs, and chickens, eludes him to this day.
Mr. Woodward is currently working on a fantasy/adventure trilogy called "The Lost Kingdoms of Laotswend." He has finished the first two books, and will begin the third when he feels he is unable to do otherwise. The first book is called, "The Eight Walls of Rogar." The second is called, "The Stair of Time." They are available for physical sale through Authorhouse, Barnes and Noble, and no doubt other, less established sources. They are also available for electronic download via Kindle Direct Publishing. And that's about it. As Mr. Woodward likely finds the details of his life even less interesting than you do, this concludes the conventional portion of the biography. All strictly sane people are more than welcome to stop reading here.
As for the rest of us: much to the aforementioned author's unending consternation, he is one of those people who writes because he is compelled to do so, regardless of monetary compensation or societal validation. During the initial creation process, he has the distinct impression that his flagging mind serves as little more than a conduit for the transference of information, the source of which hails from strange and distant shores, demanding his attention. If you should read one of his books, you can be certain of one thing above all else: he has poured the entirety of himself into each and every page, spending countless hours to make the story as good as his will and mental wherewithal are able--which is to say, not nearly as good as he'd like.
To him, the cadence and rhythm of the words are almost as important as the tale itself, each sentence possessing the "potential" to ascend to a higher literary plane, to, in essence, become more than the sum of its parts. What is writing, after all? We all know that, among many, many other things, it is symbols on a page which represent sounds. Fewer of us have thought of, or will agree with, this: when fortuitously penned, these symbols have the capacity to ring in the mind like music. On those rare occasions when everything comes together just right (often by chance), when the timing, volume, and pitch of the words swell into a kind of orchestral splendor, the text is given the power to stir the soul, making it possible for a sort of magic to ensue--the golden ratio of writing, if you will. In this way, a page of lyrical text literally becomes not just music to the ears, but also to the mind.
Now, before you go, Mr. Woodward would like to leave you with a parting thought: should you do him the great honor of cracking open one of his novels, the entirety of which was written in the dim and dusty confines of a cozy little study, try to do so with a glad heart, surrendering fully to that childlike wonder most of us once knew so well. For whether it's climbing to the top of forested mountains, or exploring the depths of subterranean ruins, Mr. Woodward firmly believes that this can transform the experience of "curling up with a good book" from merely entertaining, to sublime.