The Story thus far / The Characters

Spoiler alert: This is the backstory from Book One, HORSE STALKER.

HORSE STALKER told of a young man who changed the future for his people. To do so, he had to ride a great horse, trust a mysterious woman and survive the attack of ageless enemies who feared he was about to discover an awesome power.

The story began when Roj, a young horse hunter, chased a Spotted Stallion into high desert mountains. There, Roj and his brother-in-law, Noli, met an old hermit, who warned them they were in great danger from strange warriors who were “old as stone and fierce as wolves.” The hermit took the two young men for protection to a foreign woman named Healdin. She told Roj the forgotten history of the Seven Clans of the Dry Lands, including his own people, the MuKierin.

Long ago, a King rescued Roj’s ancestors from starvation and thirst in the desert. In return, they stole the King’s power, the Root of Glory, and ran off with it. For months after, the people fought and killed each other in their attempts to control the power. Eventually it disappeared, but not before its light had pierced the hearts of all mortals and left them with an unquenchable longing, a yearning that has been passed down to all their descendants. That longing cannot be satisfied until the same King sends a champion to recover the Root of Glory and bring the people to his home in the Green Lands.

For generations, the people of the Dry Lands have been terrorized by giant, ageless warriors who long ago rebelled from the King after failing in their own attempt to steal the Root of Glory. The rebels are known as the Realm, and their master Zoirra was blinded when he tried to steal the great power. Nearly all the rebels fear to touch the Root of Glory, but Zoirra has vowed to somehow take control of it and use it to vanquish the King.

Among the evil ones are two lowly warriors, Pibbibib, known as Backstabber, and Weakling. In an early battle with Healdin’s allies, Pibbibib and Weakling killed the hermit but failed to murder Roj and Noli. From that encounter, the two warriors became valuable to the Realm because they are the only rebels who can recognize Roj.

Healdin safely returned Roj and Noli to their home in the low country. She later told Roj that he could change the future and help his people if he would become the Horse Stalker, the man who could ride a Spotted Stallion at the Challenge of Orres. At this challenge, many MuKierin tried and failed to stay atop the great horse. But Roj succeeded and was named the Horse Stalker. Immediately he became wanted both by the Realm’s warriors and by a conspiracy of humans who had long been seeking the Root of Glory. Both groups suspected that Roj might be the King’s champion and might know the whereabouts of the great power.

With Healdin’s help, Roj escaped to the Pappi, a clan that lives beside a great freshwater lake in the west. There he stayed at the estate of a trader named Bairn. Healdin eventually joined him there. Meanwhile, the human conspirators kidnapped Roj’s brother-in-law, Noli, and took him to the lake country to use him as bait to capture Roj. In order to save Noli and himself, Roj falsely told the kidnappers that he could take them to the Root of Glory.

Meanwhile, Pibbibib and Weakling learned the kidnappers had taken Roj. The two warriors gave chase in the hopes that Roj was headed to retrieve the great power. On a darkened hilltop, Roj and Noli managed to foil and escape their kidnappers. In a confrontation with the rebel warriors, Roj wounded Weakling with a stone blade that had been given special powers by Healdin. Weakling survived the stabbing and discovered that power from the blade now lived inside him. With them, he could sense the approach of the King’s warriors. Pibbibib vowed to use Weakling’s “gift” to help him take control of the Root of Glory.

After the battle, the King’s warriors rescued Roj and Noli, and Roj finally professed his love for Healdin. She agreed to marry him and told him that she is the daughter of the King. Roj then learned exactly how he would change the future: He would father a son, the King’s grandson, who one day would become the champion.

Book One’s Characters

     But he soon finds himself a target of ageless rebel warriors and also of mortals who believe he can lead them to the Root of Glory. Both groups will threaten Roj and his kinsmen.

     Even as Roj seeks a way to overcome his foes, he will find himself longing more and more for the love of Healdin.

Illustrations and logo design by Loren Doppenberg,

Roj, a young horse hunter, belongs to the MuKierin, or the Clan of the Horse, one of seven clans in the high desert country of the Dry Lands.

     Roj has a gift for understanding the rare Spotted Stallions, horses that only a few MuKierin have ever seen. This gift can help Roj become the Horse Stalker, the one who can change the future.

Healdin serves the distant king whose great power, the Root of Glory, was stolen long ago by Roj’s ancestors.

     Healdin learns of Roj’s gift with the Spotted Stallions and urges his help. She believes he can hasten the coming of a champion to retrieve the Root of Glory and triumph against the king’s enemies.

      Among Roj’s people, Healdin becomes known as a healer and a beauty who captivates men. They don’t know that she was alive generations ago when their ancestors first entered the Dry Lands.

     Healdin is the keeper of her own secret power, and she will suffer much to protect Roj.

Pibbibib, or “Backstabber,” is a massive warrior who in  ages past served the king. But then he rebelled with a host of other warriors who tried and failed to steal the mysterious power they call the Great Valuable.

     The rebels fled the king’s homeland and came to reside in the high desert country of the Dry Lands.

     They became known as the Dark Brood, and long ago they tempted Roj’s ancestors to steal the Root of Glory, which later vanished.

     For generations, Pibbibib and his allies have sought the Great Valuable and feasted on the flesh of mortals.

     The Backstabber in time will come to believe that Roj can lead him to the Root of Glory.

     Pibbibib’s cheeks are branded with skulls and lightning bolts, the marks of his order. On his forehead he wears the brand of the Broken Star, the common mark of all the Dark Brood. Pibbibib hates his name; it was given to him by his fellow rebels. Once he takes hold of the Great Valuable, he plans to recast himself as “Ekdonuk,” or “Great One.”

Horse Stalker is a world to lose yourself in, with plenty of adventure and mystery. I took it up and hardly put it down until I had read the last page. Quite engrossing! And highly recommended.”

Tim Stafford, journalist and author of the forthcoming book, Miracles, and the civil rights-era novel, Birmingham.

Oposed by rebels and kinsmen alike, Blaze will gather his followers from among the Seven Clans. And his mother Healdin will make ready a fiery sacrifice on behalf of her son and the ones he loves.

And now...

Blaze is the son of Roj and Healdin. He is the King’s champion, but he is a healer, not a fighter, a man of royal lineage who refuse to shed blood and who falls ill while tending the wounded. The fierce, ageless rebels who oppose him believe he’s too weak to withstand a blow from the Root of Glor, if only they can find it first.