Once read, words catch on fire. Few books are left to fight the daemons. By law only trained magic users may draw the arcane breath from their pages, in furtherance of war. A young mage ventures deep into the labyrinth with a band of would-be heroes, and emerges alone, his spell-book burnt and his sanity shattered.
Stones glow when their inscriptions are pronounced, but explode when their magic is pushed too far. The temple forbids any but official priests from learning the art of their incantation. One stone-reader who left the priesthood now speaks in the octagon, the center of the City's power, as a counselor of the lower floor. Few listen as he tries tries to persuade the council to lift the prohibitions, and to end the perpetual war against the daemonic hordes.
Bards, trained by the academy, manipulate minds with their music. One, a squat and ugly player of a broken lute, has been cast out for untoward improvisations, and has taken up with a group of irreverent outlaws fighting to expose the aristocracy's corruption, led by a passionate thief missing several of her fingers.
Holy artifacts, created by the visible yet secret rituals of the tower, are used by the garrison in battle against the maze's monsters, granting the warriors inhuman strength and speed. Tzantok, a legendary hero, has turned against his commander, and is presumed to have died during the long winter alone among the jagged peaks. He returns, however, and finds a delirious, wounded book-reader at the edges of the labyrinth.
Together with the renegade bard, thief, and stone reader, they will embark upon an dark and perilous adventure, confronting the secrets of the tower, the maze, and the distant, daemonic city. What they discover will overturn the politics, magic, and ways of understanding that have controlled the land for a thousand years. Everything will change.
The debut novel of a devoted storyteller and disillusioned academic, Runeshadow is a thoughtful, tightly-crafted narrative of fantastic speculation, combining deep world-building with epic, character-driven action, resulting in an immersive reading experience that will unsettle your notions of genre and your expectations of independent publishing, leaving behind an imaginative landscape that, with its creative commons license, you are free to adapt, expand on, or inhabit.