I hope everyone is coping as best they can; here’s your reminder that you’re doing the best you can. 🥰
I’m super excited to be part of the blog tour for Emily Victoria’s debut #ownvoices novel, This Golden Flame which features an asexual protagonist and automatons set in a world of magic. (Also there’s government overthrowing plans. I love a rebellion in books.) But before we get into the excerpt, here’s a look at what the book is about:
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using that link, a small commission is made from the sale. There are no additional costs to you. Thank you for your support!This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria
Published by Inkyard Press on February 2, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
An Ember in the Ashes meets Mask of Shadows in Emily Victoria's #ownvoices debut YA fantasy, This Golden Flame, in which asexual Karis, a servant to the mysterious Scriptorium, accidentally awakens long-dormant automaton Alix, initiating an epic adventure full of magic, rebellion, and finding where you truly belong.
Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.
In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.
Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
Sneak Peek from This Golden Flame
I pad silently over, avoiding the strips of moonlight and sticking to the shadows. As if the night sky will tell on me. Details swim from the dark: olivewood doors stretching high above my head, framed with brass and cut with flourishes and curls; the seal of bronze plastered to their center; and the rune carved deep into the metal, a tangle of thick golden strokes, bent around each other as if in a knot. A lock rune. The most complicated rune on this island.
I run my fingers over the ridges of the lines, warm and tingling beneath my skin despite the night air. The truth is, I’m not even supposed to know Scriptwork, at least no more than what’s needed to climb automatons and make rubbings of the runes. The actual work of study is done by the masters and the aristoi scholars who come to study on Tallis. We orphans are only here for grunt labor. The Scriptmasters barely believe we can think for ourselves, never mind do something like this.
Lock runes are tricky. You have to understand which strokes engraved into the seal are part of the base rune and which have been added by that particular Scriptmaster. Then you have to replicate it perfectly in a ledger, all in the right order. Runes have rules, some of which haven’t even been discovered yet, and we were certainly never al- lowed to study them.
But just because a crotchety old master wasn’t going to teach me didn’t mean I wasn’t going to learn.
The light’s just enough to let me see the ledger as I flip it open to the last page, the golden glow spilling over the rough stretch of parchment. I pull out the stub of charcoal from my belt pocket. Once I draw a line, there’s no changing my mind. I’ll have to sneak the ledger back eventually, and lines will only mean evidence, since trying to tear a page out will just be more obvious. If this doesn’t work, I’ll have taken all this risk for nothing.
Only then I think of Matthias. It’s been seven years since they shipped my older brother away, all because he tried to defend me against them. Because they decided he would be too troublesome to keep. Behind these doors is the only record on the whole of this island that can tell me where he was sent.
And I am getting through tonight.
I dash off the first of the lines on the page. It comes off black and bold and perfect.
That’s when I hear voices. Low. Serious.
There shouldn’t be a patrol here, not at this time of night. Which means I’m either not as observant as I think or I’m real unlucky.
As soon as they enter the courtyard, I won’t be able to get back to the window, not without them noticing. A hint of panic thrums beneath my skin, telling me to leave now, while I still can. But then I look down at the parchment, the rune already started. They can’t catch me if I’m already inside the Hall.
As soon as I have the idea, I know it’s a terrible one. I suppose that fits me perfectly.
I bend over the ledger and keep going. The lines unfurl across the parchment as the rune takes shape, each line in the proper order and form. Excitement curls around my heart, even as the voices come closer. I’m doing it.
The rune is finished. I look up at the seal on the door, waiting for the golden line to cut it in half, to let me through.
The seconds pound through my head. No. I look down at the page, at this rune that looks exactly like the one on the door. I’m sure I did it right. Why isn’t it working?
One of the soldiers speaks again, their voice close. Too close.
I’m out of time.
I bite down my curse and dash away from the glow of the rune, toward the courtyard. Maybe I can still get across. I’ve just reached the colonnade when the soldiers step into view through the main gates. There are two of them, a man and a woman, their red chitons dark enough it’s hard to make them out. Short gladius swords are strapped to their hips. They’re coming closer.
There’s one other way to my quarters, through a door I can possibly sneak to by circling the back of the buildings. A door that always stays unlocked because it’s used by the patrols themselves to get inside.
I jam the ledger into a fold in my himation and run, sticking close to the wall that surrounds the Scriptorium complex. I can see the door I need ahead, nestled at the back of the acolytes’ quarters.
I’m reaching out when it swings open toward me. I stumble back, off balance, and a hand from behind me clamps around my upper arm.