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The Merewyrm’s Tooth Animal Kingdoms Book 1 by Oliver Paglia Genre: Epic Fantasy

Faharen was a contented enough young lad, living a simple farming life with his adopted kin the Manxii, on the North Western Plain of the Animal Kingdoms. After a mysterious blight begins to ravage the pastures of his homeland, he must embark on a perilous quest only he can complete; to cross the Great Forest, entering the Realms of Men to retrieve a piece of ivory with healing properties from a legendary monster, the Merewyrm; a creature so ancient it predates both man and animal kind. Not long into his journey, it dawns on Faharen that he is part of a much larger, darker world than he thought existed and must mine hidden depths he wasn’t aware he possessed to survive. Created by the gods to divide fallen men from the faithful animals and forsaken by them long ago, traversing the Great Forest will not be easy, for it hides many malevolent creatures such as the Satyrs to name but one; a half man, half cloven hooved beast that knows only spite and treachery! With the body of a man and the heart of a Manxii, Faharen must do what is deemed impossible; cross the worlds to save his people. Goodreads * Amazon

Gauntlet of Wrath Animal Kingdoms Book 2

Residing in a monastery far to the east of the North Western Plain, troubling nightmares stalk Faharen’s sleep as he seeks inner peace and answers to profound questions, stirred up by his quest for the Merewyrm’s tooth. But in the Realms of Men, all is not well. Out of the deserts to the south, like a sandstorm on an ill wind, a force of occultists, led by an armoured giant calling himself the Ferra Demiurge, or Forged Lord, wielding the strongest ever blades made of a mysterious metal, have taken the Achaean lands by coup and sorcery. Their ambition and greed is insatiable and the Demiurge will not be satisfied until the entire known world is his, including what lies beyond the Great Forest. With the worlds of the Animal Kingdoms and men alike set in flux by recent events, the ancient prophecy of the wild men seems to be unravelling. Now, all those standing against the Achaeans will be tested in their defence of the sacred. Some will conquer, some will die, but all will struggle to survive. Goodreads * Amazon

Oliver Paglia is a writer/filmmaker and was born and bred in Hampshire, south England, where he grew up on a small farm in the picturesque Test valley countryside. He now lives in Reykjavik, Iceland with his veterinary nurse partner, Snæfriður Stefanssdottír. For many years Oliver has worked as a videographer in England and has a substantial portfolio of commercial and artistic film work spanning a broad variety of subjects. Oliver’s artistic preoccupation is with the mythic; it is his view that it is one of the highest forms of artistic expression. It can be vague, yet illuminating, without a contemporary context yet insightful as to the human condition, absurd yet wise and dark yet moral. The legends of old are the stories that resonate with us on all levels. As the late Professor Joseph Campbell put it, “The myth is the public domain and the dream is the private myth. If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group. If it isn’t, you’ve got a long adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.” Also, “Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are the artists of one kind or another.” And that is what Oliver hopes to do, to keep myth alive in his own modest way. Website * Facebook * Twitter * Amazon * Goodreads

The first thing Faharen saw as he awoke was a modest portion of
cold venison left on a well chewed bone. After everything he’d
experienced since the spring, it was enough to make him smile. The
smell of thick smoke followed afterwards. Looking over the cliff,

Faharen saw one of the wild men stamping out the fire below while
the rest draped themselves in their crude, animal skin clothing.
Before long the group made off across the flat, dry, gravel valley
floor. Faharen descended to their campsite once again and waited
until they had travelled a safe distance. The only thing they left of
yesterday’s kill was a few bones and its skin. This had been partially
cleaned and spread out in the sun, destined to be another item of
clothing no doubt.
Trekking across the barren, open landscape was a surreal experience
in contrast to the claustrophobic cliffs and sharp, jutting rocks of the
previous days. Faharen was surprised at himself for not being more
anxious than he was, though caution prevailed as the wild men
remained just in sight ahead of him. Large, fissured tracks ran
through the rocky land, though there was no water to be seen.
It didn’t take them long to traverse it and more sloping cliffs and
boulders loomed closer. Faharen picked up the pace as the group
disappeared amongst the landscape. On reaching the end of the flat
land, he had walked up a thirst and after a quick swig of water,
commenced scrabbling over rock and boulder. The wild men
obviously weren’t in a state of urgency, because it didn’t take
Faharen too long before they were in earshot. It sharpened his senses
somewhat, because if he’d hurried any faster he would have
stumbled into them. He paused for a moment to listen, gentle chatter
drowning out the tired sobs of a young girl.
For a moment Faharen questioned his own judgment in following
the group. Perhaps they were just a family scratching a living
beyond the edge of civilisation for tragic reasons and he’d stolen
their food! He bit down on a clenched fist as he likened his
behaviour to the Satyrs he’d had the misfortune to meet in the Great
Forest. Guilt swirled in his belly. Then he noticed the voices
becoming more distant and continued at a steady pace.
It must have taken most of the morning to travel as far as they had
and finally the group came to a halt in a circular clearing, flanked by
tall cliffs. Faharen remained at a position above them as before,
when he recognised the setting from the last part of his vision.
“So these were whom I saw!” he blurted out to himself, finding
some purpose in following his hunch to track them. Some of the
wild men walked halfway across the clearing towards a large cave
entrance on the far side, whilst the women prayed and chanted
around the young girl. The men erected a knotted wooden post and
after the women had finished painting something on the girl, they
took her over to the men. It was then the girl began to cry louder and
offered some resistance, so the men promptly tied her to the gnarly
post. It was only at this point that Faharen became aware that

something sinister was going on, his knuckles turning white as he
gripped his rock perch in horror.
A macabre ritual now began to play out whereby the entire group
danced around their poor, unfortunate victim, with one of the men
occasionally breaking off from the main group to run over to the
cave, repeatedly calling as if to summon something. Then after some
time, a response came and it made every hair on Faharen’s body
stand on end.
The bass shriek of a Giga sounded as a child compared to the
unworldly tone of the roar that shook the landscape. Immediately the
wild men stopped dancing and recoiled behind their victim, now also
struck quiet with terror. The sound was constant now, but not vocal
so much as an unceasing scraping, rising out of the ground.
With surprising subtlety, the largest head Faharen had ever seen
gradually emerged from the cave barely able to squeeze out it was of
such a size. Its eyes alone were bigger than the Manxii lad and they
squinted with a horrific, almost omniscient knowing the likes of
which must have come before men or Manxii. All of its skin was
scaly, ending in fins under its chin.
A pregnant pause gripped all involved.
“Merewyrm!” was the only thing Faharen could speak. Even after all
of his struggles, he had never fully realised what he was up against
until now. Indeed it was the Merewyrm and as it took a snort of the
air through its giant nostrils, its lips peeled back to reveal a vast set
of pearl white, spear shaped teeth. Finally Faharen had glimpsed
what he had come all this way for and it didn’t fill him with any
reassurance.
The group of scruffy cowards now fled, filling Faharen with rage as
he watched the innocent girl futilely trying to wriggle free. But the
Merewyrm didn’t head straight for her. It weaved from side to side
as it repeatedly sniffed the air, a sinister, thin tongue occasionally
flicking out through a slit in its front teeth.
Faharen’s conscience took over from where the concern for his quest
had been and rushed down to the clearing. Suddenly the monster’s
head lurched around at his presence and Faharen’s mortality became
all too apparent to him. But a moment later, it continued sliding
around as it had been before.
“It can’t see me!” The realisation compelled Faharen on, though he
moved more cautiously. With dagger in hand ready to cut the girl’s
bonds, he approached her. As he reached her she saw him over her
shoulder and began to protest as if he were her executioner. Faharen
immediately clamped a hand over her mouth, keeping one eye on the
Merewyrm at all times. Faharen’s closer distance must have given
him away, as the huge nostrils turned in his direction and stopped.

He tried as subtly as possible to cut her bonds but the Merewyrm
had found them now and proceeded directly toward them.
All caution left Faharen as he hacked desperately at the girl’s bonds.
The gargantuan head was only a few paces away, as the rough
leather lashes fell away. Yanking at her arm, Faharen dragged her in
the opposite direction, not daring to look back, until they stumbled
and fell on something sharp and brittle. Gathering their senses, all
they could see was a pit stacked with skeletons of all kinds and the
stench of rotten flesh. Then a long shadow was cast above them and
tilting his head just enough, Faharen saw the Merewyrm’s fantastic
maw descend on him.

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About Angie

I'm a wife and a a mom of 4: 3 boys and a girl. I also have 3 fur babies, cats named Soleil, Luna, and a Savannah cat name Malkia. I work part-time outside my home as a COTA/L at a local hospital. I cover Johnstown, Altoona, and Pittsburgh areas. I love to do reviews and host giveaways for my readers. Contact me: angwith4 at gmail dot com if you would like a review.