Welcome back to the Child of Destiny blog tour! Today, you lucky readers get an excerpt from Child of Destiny. But wait! That’s not all. To further whet your appetite, we also have a synopsis, and a little but about George Elder himself. Missed the first part of the tour? Click here to read Elder’s thoughts on Sci-fi and religion.
Child of Destiny (The Genesis Continuum trilogy #1) by Dr. George H. Elder
Edited by Julie Tryboski & Illustrated by Randall Drew
THE ANCIENTS BELIEVED THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS TO EVOLVE SPECIES THAT CAN PERPETUATE THE POSSIBILITY OF CONTINUED EXISTANCE THROUGH THEIR THOUGHTS AND DEEDS — WITH THOUGHT BEING A SEMINAL POWER THAT CAN OVERCOME THE DARK FORCES THAT DRIVE ALL THAT IS TOWARD NOTHINGNESS (“NOTLOH THE OLDER” OF HARKAD PRIME).
CHAPTER 1: ISHTAR’S CHILD
Kara had worked tirelessly piling heavy boulders around her hillside cave’s entrance, leaving a thistle-covered opening on the mound’s top that was barely wide enough for her to squeeze through. Over the years, successive layers of soil and jagged rocks were heaped on the boulders, and the humble shelter could now resist the fiercest storm and harshest winter. Long razor grass, thorny briars, and shrubs flourished on the stout construction, providing Kara’s home with a camouflaged barrier that served well against both four- and two-legged predators. The only drawbacks were meager lighting, invading spiders and centipedes, and the poor ventilation provided by the narrow entrance. Yet these were relatively small prices to pay for security. Moreover, the shelter was adjacent to a spring-fed stream that froze for only part of the winter. Of course, there was a constant need to collect firewood, gather fruits, nuts, and berries, and hunt, but Kara was proficient in these arts. She had to be, for such is an outcast’s lot.
She sat cross-legged on the cave’s floor, bathed in a shaft of sunlight that poured through the entrance. The flint tip of her spear needed sharpening, and she deftly chipped away tiny flecks of stone with a hard rock. Kara’s father had taught her the ancient art of blade-making, not that Torok ever envisioned his daughter would depend on such a skill to sustain a solitary existence. No, he had felt she was destined for great things within the tribe, which was only appropriate for the child of a Labateen chieftain such as Torok. And Kara grew to be a most unusual girl, a precocious child who tagged along behind hunting parties and played violent war games with the tribe’s boys.
By her fifth season Kara’s deftly thrown spear was regularly taking down prey that was nearly as large as she, all of which were proudly dragged back to the great cave. She even learned the old storyteller’s sacred litanies, repeating without error the lengthy and complex tales to the delight of family and friends. Torok was proud of Kara’s intelligence, strength, and courage, and considered her an ideal daughter. Never a man of many words, he once told her, “Blood of my blood, you are a very special child. God has blessed you in many ways and you make my heart proud.” Kara basked in the warmth of his approving smile, and found confidence in the tribe’s universal acknowledgment of her rare talents.
Yet neither Torok nor Kara knew about the awful mark she bore high on her scalp, the one her mother had worked tirelessly to conceal since Kara’s birth. The Labateen were the true Children of God, and only the most perfect in form could be accepted into the tribe. And to all appearances Kara’s long, thick, red hair, green eyes, hazel skin, and lithe athletic body were ideal, the quintessential elements of a Labateen woman. Indeed, all was perfect, except for a dark brown birthmark that hid underneath a luxurious mane of hair.
Leah, her mother, was horrified when she first saw the blight, although there was no one to share her shock in the isolated birthing cave. Her labor was long and difficult, and there were times Leah thought death would be a welcome reprieve. And a lonely, painful demise for mother and child was the inevitable penalty for a failed childbirth. This most sacred process was overseen only by God –- and God alone would dictate if both mother and child survived. But survival was only the first step, for then came the mother’s responsibility of ensuring that the child’s body was perfect in all ways. This was God’s test of a mother’s will to abide by the sacred laws that guided the Labateen for countless generations. These were the same laws Torok was sworn to uphold as the tribe’s Dorma, and thus Leah felt particularly driven to follow the ancient codes.
The birthmark’s grotesquery compelled Leah to contemplate bashing Kara’s tiny head against the jagged walls of the birthing cave, the floor of which was richly littered with tiny bony reminders of Labateen mother who had done their duty. Every Labateen woman knew that allowing an unfit or marked child to live would introduce impurity into what were God’s chosen people. The only right and merciful thing was to end such a star-crossed life swiftly. Leah roughly grabbed her writhing daughter, who still wore the blood and slippery wetness of a new life. She stared into the infant’s eyes, and suddenly her will to follow the old ways evaporated. Perhaps it was the long torment of giving birth, or maybe it was the blood loss, but Leah felt that God was guiding her thoughts and deeds. ‘Yes, God must want this infant to live,’ she thought, ‘And to live for a divine purpose.’
Leah deftly severed the umbilical cord with an obsidian blade and suckled the crying infant. With every passing moment the bond between mother and child grew stronger, as did Leah’s conviction that she was doing God’s work. But Leah’s convictions were the stuff of sacrilege, and that would lead to a dreadful fate for any Labateen. However, it was customary for a new mother to remain away from the tribe for ten suns after giving birth, which was yet another trial to help ensure that only the most able would walk amongst the Labateen. Leah took the time to make dyes from nearby plants and berries, being well versed in the art of marking. Indeed, as the daughter of an Elder and wife of the tribe’s Dorma, Leah was expected to be an exemplary marker and healer.
She carefully dyed her infant’s head, hands, and feet deep black, all signs that the child was one with God’s earth by thought and deed. She repeated the procedure over the coming days until the rich dyes were absorbed by Kara’s skin, hiding any sign of the blemish. When the day came to rejoin the tribe, friends and relatives saw the baby’s markings and she was quickly dubbed “Kara,” meaning, “Companion of God.” Many in the tribe thought it odd that Leah didn’t change Kara’s markings as the child matured, but few dared question a Labateen aristocrat. The query might be seen as an insult, and only blood could assuage such folly. The ploy served well in giving Leah’s daughter time to grow a thick and luxurious mane of dark red locks that hid the sin, at least until the age of ascension.
The spear’s tip was nearly ready, and Kara examined it in detail. A good spear and sharp knife were as essential as stealth, speed, and strength when hunting. Yet the hunt had gone poorly for seven suns, and Kara did not know why. Normally, late spring provided ample game, although one had to be ever watchful for the swift grenlobs that followed the migratory herds. The large, bipedal reptiles were armed with sickle-shaped claws and serrated teeth that turned many hunters into prey. However, a hunting party of Labateen was more than a match for any animal. Even a small party could bring down a tork, a hulking, wooly, four-legged brute with a nasal horn taller than a man. Yet tribal lore aptly described a lone hunter as the personification of a “sad thing,” and Kara was reduced to stalking relatively small rodents and marsupials, with an occasional fish supplementing a meager vegetarian diet.
She preferred hunting in the nude. But it was a chilly morning, so Kara donned a pair of well-worn moccasins and the long rawhide tunic her mother once wore. Although much-patched, the tunic was one of Kara’s prized keepsakes, and as she put it on thoughts of that terrible day wafted anew. The Right of Ascension takes place during the 14th springtime of every Labateen’s life, and the ritual is overseen by the tribe’s Elders. For women, Ascension entails having the head shaved with dull blades, being tattooed with sacred symbols, and silently enduring purification via the excruciatingly slow application of steaming hot water to the clitoris. The unremitting pain often caused visions, and these were a blessing from God if their meaning could be divined.
Want to know more? Here’s the synopsis I mentioned:
The universe is nearing its inevitable end, everything is being rapidly devoured. The last hope of a dying universe is to awaken the Seeker, a legendary metaphysical being known only through ancient tales. The Seeker has the capacity to link the entire universe; they alone may be able to spark the rebirth of the universe.
Many of those that remain desperately want existence to continue. As the remaining races struggle to survive and fight over saving existence, lofty ideals give way to brutal pragmatism. Missions are sent out in search of the Seeker. One such mission encounters Kara an outcast noblewoman of the Labateen, a Stone-Age warrior culture. Kara is well versed in the Seeker’s litany, beyond what would be considered coincidence –to Kara the litany is simply the ways of God. Will Kara be able to help locate the Seeker?
Those who wish the universe to end in disorder, with no more than a whimper are not willing to sit by as others race to alter the end universe. As these opposing forces mount their defenses, racing to see their goals are achieved one question stands out…
Is Kara the key?
Dr. George H. Elder has a Ph.D. from Penn State in Speech Communication and a Masters Degree in nonfiction Writing from UNH. He also has a very eclectic work and personal history. He has been a college teacher, custodian, upper-level scholar, drug addict, weight lifting coach, bouncer, and much more. He has authored numerous articles in the popular press and even a scientific text book that examines the neuropsychological basis of human communication. He has also addressed subjects such as philosophy, free speech, weight training, drug use, nutrient effects, street life, and a wide range of other issues.
His varied life experiences and education give him a unique and interesting perspective, and he often weaves philosophical insights and pathos into his texts. His books are action-oriented, but they do not have simplistic plots wherein good vs. evil or some other hackneyed approach is used. Instead, Elder employs plot shifts that allow the characters and readers to question the relationships we often take for granted. For example, a hero may do great wrongs while a species once perceived as malicious can be revealed to be honorable and wise. This offers refreshing and exciting perspectives for readers as they delve into Elder’s texts, for one never knows what to expect.
You can buy a copy of Child of Destiny here.
To learn more about George Elder, visit his website here.
Hope everyone enjoyed the sneak peeks! Happy reading, happy writing!