Legends of Ash and Dust
Author: Kate Cowan
Series: Fearless, #1
Publication date: January 24th 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Aerona was raised by legends. Her people, the Shae, are the closest thing this realm has to the supernatural: they train their entire lives to protect, forging their bodies like steel. They are the stories told to children in the night, the monsters who lurk in the woods. Or, they were — until the massive Red Wolf army attacked, slaughtering them all in a single night.
Now, Aerona is the last, and it doesn’t help that she is the only female Shae in history. Besides the revenge she has sworn to get, she has one final mission: to protect Niran, a handsome prince with secrets of his own.
In Niran’s home, the Palace of the Golden City, nothing is as it seems. Aerona’s enemies are lurking around every corner, the Emperor is blackmailing her into becoming his assassin, and an ex-Shae librarian is convinced that she has a long-forgotten Shae magic hidden on her skin.
Caught between two worlds, Aerona must kill, spy and betray… even if it means unlocking the magic this world has long been starved of…
“What is it?” I demanded. “What’s happening? Kentric, I saw fire—“
“We’re being attacked,” Kentric said. Shouts and bangs and running footfalls filled the air, filtering in through the dark window.
“What?” I started for the door, but he pulled me back to face him. “We have to go, we have to fight—“
“There are too many, Aerona. Far too many.”
“Too many? We’re Warriors.”
“Fifty of us have already been slain in the Sanctuary,” Kentric said quickly. “More at the outposts and farmhouses. There are hundreds of them, Aerona, an army. We cannot win.”
“No,” I breathed. The world had been opening before my eyes that morning: now, it felt as if it closed in from every angle, crushing me.
Taking a step back, I looked to the glowing window, listened to the screams in the distance.
“We can fight them! Drive them off,” I was pleading, tears in my eyes, but there was ice in Kentric’s gaze.
He had stopped listening. From around his neck, he pulled something on a thin black cord out of his robes. It was small and silver, glinting in the faint light from the window. The symbol of the Shae—all of the Masters wore one, a hand-forged silver pendant. A mountain overlaid with two crossed swords, surrounded by a circle of four dragons. He pushed it into my hands.
“No. I can’t,” I took a step back, looking shakily down at the heavy, cold pendant.
“There’s no time for this. Listen to me carefully,” he took my shoulders, standing so close I could feel his breath on my face. “The prince is your responsibility now. He’s in the barns, Malik told him to meet you there. Take horses and get off the Shae mountain. Get far, don’t stop moving, and don’t use the gates to get past River’s Edge. Go through the river itself. Don’t come back here, don’t try to fight them. You are Shae. You are one of us. Never forget that. We will fight them as long as we can. Stay off the main roads and away from anyone until you reach Dothor.”
I tried to suppress the tears welling up in my eyes, clenching my jaw and my fists, but my heart broke as Kentric wrapped me in a fierce hug. He was old, but like an ancient willow, he was supple and strong.
“Now go, Aero,” he whispered in my ear. “Go!”
I knew I would regret it, Gods, I knew I would—but I did as Kentric told me.
about the author
Hi, I’m Kate Cowan. I’m an author, writer, painter, and illustrator. When I’m not writing or creating art, I love to take my three insane dogs out for hikes and explore the beautiful Niagara region of Canada, where I live. My passion is in telling stories that move people and capture their imaginations. I also strive to create art that is full of life and beauty. I love creating pretty things, both written and painted. I’m also a martial arts instructor, 3rd-degree black belt in Goju-Ryu Karate, and lover of badass characters (which I’m sure you can tell from my books!!)