Joseph Hashimoto is happy with his ordinary life. A man who believes in fairness and just action, Joe’s greatest love is his family. But as he moves about his days, he is completely unaware that his actions are carefully observed. With one momentous decision, Joe’s ordinary life is about to transform into an extraordinary existence. While attempting to save a little girl from danger, Joe is killed in a violent explosion. Instead of dying, however, his soul is brought before the elemental Architects of the Universe, who tell him he has been chosen for a sacred duty. Reborn as Lightrider, the earthly representative of Light, Joe is given leadership of the Elemental Knights, a group of half-man, half-animal beings. Charged with maintaining a delicate balance between good and evil, Joe must police both sides and destroy anyone who threatens to ruin it. As Joe struggles with his conflicting emotions and longing for home, he must face his greatest threat—the ancient Chaos Demons. In this fantasy tale, a man inadvertently thrust into a world of cosmic forces must come to terms with change and accept what needs to be done for the good of all.
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Joe turned on the stairs and began to move up, focusing his thoughts on the
kitchen as he walked up the stairs. After a moment, the wide door appeared before him,
and Joe stepped through without a word. The kitchen was actually a huge, ceramic tiled
room, filled with cabinets containing silverware, plates, and whatever food the person
might desire. There were toasters, microwaves, a stove, and even a huge freezer for the
special meals. Firesprite had been spending a lot of time in here, trying out her apparent
talent for food.
Stalker was by the refrigerator, getting what looked like cheese and turkey.
"Nightstalker?" Joe began. "What was—"
"Oh, hey, Joe," the bat replied, as casually as if the whole incident hadn’t
happened. "You want anything? There’s some pretty good roast beef in here."
"Stalker, can we talk about what just happened?" Joe interrupted.
"Sure. What part of it do you wanna talk about?" Stalker replied as he pulled out
"Well, for starters, the fact that you nearly strangled him?"
"Joe, we can’t die, remember?"
"That doesn’t make it right. And it sure doesn’t make it our first option," Joe
"No. But you had been talking to him with no success, so I felt another course
was the best idea," the bat replied. "Besides, you know how stubborn he is."
"Stalker, no one deserves that," Joe said.
"Not everyone does," Stalker replied. "But if I hadn’t done it, would he be so
eager to help now? He’ll do everything in his power to be invisible down there and spend
all his time watching the king. It’s perfect."
"Stalker," Joe said and then stopped. He rubbed his head, trying to think of how
to proceed. The bat was making a lot of sense, but it was wrong. It had to be. Thankfully,
Stalker sensed his friend’s anguish, and putting down his food, he came over to the Light
"Obviously, this bothers you," Stalker said.
"Of course it—I mean … Damn it, Stalker, I don’t like manipulating people into
doing what we want!" Joe finally said. "Letting you kill that gremlin was bad enough,
but scaring and threatening someone like that makes this whole thing feel wrong. Do you
know how fast I would’ve been canned for pulling shit like that when I was on Earth?"
"Ahh. Now we’ve got it," Nightstalker said. "Look, Joe, I never said I liked doing
that to Groundquake. But it needed to be done. He would never have gone down there of
his own free will. And even if he had, he would’ve done a shitty job of it, come back, and
then whined about how horrible it was."
"How do you know?" Joe asked. "I agree he would’ve been unhappy, but I’d like
to think he knows enough about the demon to take it seriously."
"If he did, he would’ve gone down there right away," the bat replied. "I’ve seen
Quake. He goes with what he thinks is best. And he didn’t think that going down there
for so long on a hunch was the best thing. So I just gave him some incentive."
"By forcing him into it!" Joe yelled. "Is this how we’re gonna do things? We’re
gonna twist people into doing what we want?"
"No," the bat replied, a hint of annoyance in his voice. "We’re going to twist
people into doing what we need, when we don’t have a choice."
"How about not twisting them?" Joe asked. "Goddamn it, we’re supposed to be
the good guys! This is what the demons do. This is what evil people do—"
"Gee, thanks," Stalker said, folding his arms across his chest.
"Wait, no, Stalker, I didn’t mean—"
"No. But you said it. And you know what, Joe? Sometimes it has to be what we
"Why? I mean, can’t there—"
"I hope there is. But we aren’t always gonna build trust or win people over like
that," the bat said, his voice rising as he spoke. "But lemme make a few things clear for
"Number one, we are fighting off monsters on both ends of the spectrum to keep
the universe in balance. Number two, we are currently a bunch of inexperienced creatures
that haven’t been doing it all that long. Number three, not everyone here is committed to
that goal just yet. Number four, until everyone here does agree on that goal, we may have
to twist some arms in order to get things done.
"And number five, you are our leader, and you can’t do that! So I have to do it
for you! And if I didn’t, we wouldn’t get anywhere! So don’t cry to me about it, okay?"
As the bat finished, Joe found words bubbling up his throat toward his tongue,
bitter words that tasted like the sole of a homeless person’s foot. They would’ve spewed
from his mouth, if the door hadn’t suddenly swung open followed by Sandshifter
"Oh, sorry to interrupt. I heard some yelling outside," the wolf said. "Is the odd
couple finally having an argument?"
"Not one that concerns you," Stalker said coldly. He turned and placed the food
back into the fridge.
"Oh, didn’t you want that?" Sandshifter asked.
"I’m not hungry anymore," the bat replied. He shut the door and turned toward
the exit, marching past Joe without a word.
The second the kitchen door shut, the wolf turned to Joe and said, "That was loud,
you know. I heard it all the way in the training room."
"Not now," Joe said.
"You know, he’s got a point. You really shouldn’t bitch to him."
"How much of that did you hear?" Joe said, facing the Desert Knight.
"Enough," Sandshifter replied. "And like I said, you really shouldn’t bitch to him.
Stalker does all the mean and nasty shit for you."
"I do plenty on my own."
"Really? Do you think those Minotaurs in Greece slit their own throats when we
couldn’t stick them back in the labyrinth? Do you think those Iraqis begged us to save
them from some other ‘dark demon?’ And do you think that Quake and I would even
remotely care what you think, if we didn’t have someone dragging things out of our
nightmares to make them real?"
"No. I don’t believe it would go that far—that he would go that far."
"Oh, he does. And it’s the only reason things get done around here. Face it,
sometimes your way doesn’t work. He does the things you don’t want to do. And the only
thing you can do about it is accept it. Of course, that’s just my advice."
"And why are you giving me advice?" Joe asked. "You constantly complain about
the choices I make. You do everything you can to make it clear you hate me. And then
you come in here and try to make sense of things for me? Why don’t you just sit back and
watch us tear each other apart, amiga?"
Sandshifter started at that but quickly refocused, and said, "I may not like you, but
I know that it’s better to have you around when I need you. And if that means you have
to be a good leader, then I’m gonna make you listen to this. I didn’t like you back in the
beginning, and I don’t like you all that much now. You’ve done some growing, but you
are a long, long way from being the leader you need to be."
"Then what do I need to do to get there then?"
"It’s simple—stop making me think I was right."
"That I’m not cut out for this?"
"No. That you talk, but you don’t really buy into any of it."
"This Architect ‘balance; stuff. This big belief we’re supposed to have."
"I’m here fighting for it, aren’t I?"
"Yeah. But that doesn’t mean you buy it. If you did, you’d understand why what
the bat does is important. Violence and fear are as essential to this job as understanding
"No surprise to hear that from you."
"I may like a good fight. But after all this, I know talking is sometimes the only
option. I like seeing people come out of things alive because of us. I like that things keep
turning because of us. And those things happen because we know how to talk and how
to fight. But you still can’t see both sides of it. You still want to keep things the way you
think they should be—the way they were when you were Joe Hashimoto."
"You can’t do that anymore! You have to make hard choices now—choices
that will sting your heart like your ribs were a beehive. And you complain about a little
manipulation? The only way you are going to be able to deal is to accept what you are
now, what it means, and then do what the rest of us don’t have a choice about—forget
about what you were and what you knew."
Joe looked at the wolf as she finished her speech, and slowly spoke his reply.
"And you think that’s easy? That I can just forget?"
"No," Sandshifter said. "But that’s what’s going to get things right around here,
Joe. When you accept everything about who you are now and what all that really means,
then maybe you can start being someone I’d listen to, without threats. But right now,
you’re just reading words from a Bible. And we all know it."
When those words hit, Joe felt as numb as if he’d been wrapped in cotton and
dumped into the Arctic Ocean. He couldn’t feel a single emotion, just a strange, cold
numbness that might have been recognition.
"Nothing to say, huh?" Sandshifter asked. "Just think about it then." She patted
him on the shoulder and then walked to the fridge to get some food.
Joe stood there, his mind trying to unwrap the cotton it felt like it was buried
in. But before his mind could do it, his staff began to glow. Joe noticed it, took a deep
breath to calm himself, and then held it up. As he looked into the stone, he could hear
Wavecrasher’s voice speaking in his head, telling him that everything was ready and they
wanted him to come for some last-minute instruction. Joe mentally replied that he would
be there and then started walking out of the room, away from Sandshifter. It didn’t make
the numbness or the thoughts that came with it go away though.
Buy Links: Available in ebook, paperback and hardcover from each site.
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What people are saying
“More than just the usual good versus evil theme, it focuses on good not always being right, and evil not always being bad, but there needs to be a balance between the two.” – DB ~ Amazon Reviewer
“I really felt like I was on the sidelines watching it all unfold.” – Ren @ A Little Bit of R&R
“From the first page, I found myself not wanting to stop reading. The story and characters had me completely engrossed, and I think it is a book I'd find myself reading over in years to come.” – Kristen Bapst ~ Amazon Reviewer
“The book was not only believable but spiritual as well as suspenseful. The writing is amazingly descriptive which bring the pages to life in your mind. The imagery is so clear, I could see it on the big screen as I flew through the pages.” Anonymous Barnes & Noble Reviewer
Eric Nierstedt grew up in Garwood NJ, and spent most of his life absorbing the epic tales of fantasy from Terry Brooks, Stephen King, and even the tales of comic books and video games. His writing began soon after, as he honed it through writing for the local paper, and maintaing his own blog (www.thepopculturemark.wordpress.com/). When he graduated from Kean University, his began his first novel, while also being selected for the NJ Wordsmith Competiton. Eric wanted to tell a story of a group of characters, anchored by one central narrator, that battled forces of destruction. And he also wanted to use his own thoughts on the nature of good and evil- how the two are defined by each other,
"When I started the Lightrider Journals, the big fantasy novels of the day were Twilight and Harry Potter. I wanted to avoid being another copy of those at all costs. So I combined all my major influences- Terry Brooks, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Stephen King's The Dark Tower. As I wrote, I wanted to explore a concept that wasn't discussed much in any popular fantasy- the idea of showing good and evil as forces both responsible for and essential to life as we know it. I also wanted to show a more natural form of magic, and show fantasy existing in the real world, which would turn out much bigger then people think. And finally, I wanted to tell a story about what I was feeling stepping out in the world for the first time- how a man can adapt to a sudden and tremendous responsibility- not just his successes, but his losses as well, and how he learns to live with them. And of course, throw in liberal amounts of magic, characters that would resonate with people, and a sprinkling of humor. I think anyone who reads it will be able to have a good time with all the characters and action, but also see a different version of the
neverending battle of good and evil. And most of all, I hope they leave the book with a better idea of how they can face that which seems insurmountable."
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April 20 - spotlight - BookEnd 2 BookEnd www.bookend2bookend.blogspot.com
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April 30 Author Spotlight - Read Between the Lines - http://www.rbtlreviews.com