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Choices Meant For Gods

Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

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excerpt First Chapter | Ryfel Attack | Talking with a Dragon

Choices Meant for Gods
First Chapter

Lord Baine would not return.

Standing on the threshold of a Baine estate balcony, Chariss thought about the ofersey’n’s situation. She stared into the distance as if the clouds would form a picture of his battles for her, but considering what she knew about Baine’s enemy, she didn’t need much imagination. The man had gone to join a battle he couldn’t win. No one in his household realized it yet, but several, including Chariss, began to suspect.

She stepped onto the balcony to lean against its rail and shivered. Hrell Baine was a worthy man, and it upset her to think he could already be dead. Springtime brought fresh, good things—not a war, not the death of a good man. A tear brimmed in her eye at the thought, and as she let her gaze tilt to the buildings of the village below, the tear fell. It splashed against her wrist and left a violet splay. Violet—like the color of her eyes. Violet—like the jewel that graced her cheekbone, up near the corner of her right eye.

Chariss was a pretty girl. Well, she was pretty until she drew a sword. Then she was just plain lethal. Despite her skill with a sword, she didn’t carry the purposeful look of hardened warriors. Call it balance if you like, but her face held the look of a young woman who could set aside the wrongs done to her over the years and enjoy some fleeting moment.

The gods themselves came to miss that look.

Back then, the gods still breathed the geasa into mortals to assist them, and Chariss possessed that gift in abundance. The geasa enabled Chariss to call spells and forces that could serve to protect her from Baine’s approaching enemy.

The geasa pulled her from reverie that morning, whispering in her ear, Flee now.

“Chariss!” her guardian called. “Drake is here!”

They were still running when day passed into night.

*  *  *

You can get your hardcover edition of Choices Meant for Gods, or the eBook, from ArcheBooks Publishing. Copies are also available from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or anywhere fine books are sold.

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Ryfel Attack Excerpt

Chariss ran the few paces to the obedient girl and stood between her and the bend in the road. She stood with her feet shoulder-width apart and her arms raised to cock the bow before her. Hrazon had pushed his way through the people blocking the doorway and heard the roar of something large down the lane. He looked at his girl standing there posed like a warrior. Her thin arms bulged with muscle and tension as she stood, waiting, watching, with the bow posed taut against her strength. They all held their breath, wondering what was happening.

A ryfel appeared out of nowhere. It hadn’t rounded the bend. It hadn’t run up to her. It just materialized before her as if in the training arena. Nigel shuddered when he recognized the beast, and called back into the house, “Henry! My sword!”

He moved back into the entryway to intercept the weapon, and locked eyes with Kora for just a moment. “Go back into the house,” he ordered her.

Henry brought his own sword as well, and now the two ran out into the yard where the first beast lay writhing in the throes of death, an arrow protruding from its eye.

It stank.

Rohne had left the horses and buggy in the stable and now ran toward them with a guard of Ungol around Him. “Get back in the house!” He shouted. “Get back, all of you!”

Hrazon was involved in weaving a spell and Henry and Nigel were running toward their deaths.

“No! Get back in the house!” The Master ran toward Chariss, but, to everyone’s surprise, reached down to grab up Kaylin and run toward the house Himself. “Get back in the house!”

The song of another arrow shot through the air and a second ryfel fell from the sky. Rohne had Kaylin under one arm and now grabbed hold of Nigel with His other hand as He ran past the man. Nigel had no choice but to let the god’s power lift him back to the porch.

“She needs help!”

*  *  *

You can read the conclusion of this scene in the fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, available now from ArcheBooks Publishing, Amazon.com, or wherever fine books are sold.

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Talking with a Dragon Excerpt

“We just need to be ready to stuff you back outside if anyone comes knocking on the door.”

The dragon nodded and lowered its backside to the floor. With wings folded nicely at its back, it took up the space of two grown men.

“You’re bigger every time I see you.”

“It’s from eating all the deer in the orchards.”

Chariss gave him a wan glance as she sat down at the harp, but found the slim skirt of her nightgown kept her from getting her legs on either side of it. Well, this was only a dragon, so it wouldn’t be inappropriate to push the material up a bit. The creature tilted its head, as if trying to understand why she bunched her gown up on her lap.

First, she strummed the strings to be sure they were relatively in tune. Then she played some simple notes, plucking the strings gingerly. She apologized when her audience winced. “I don’t play well…I just play.”

The dragon listened for a while, seeming pleased with the scene. “What other instruments do you play? Oh, please, don’t stop.”

“What others? Have I exhausted your tolerance for this one?”

“Of course not. I just wish to know what other skills my human pet possesses.”

She raised an eyebrow to question his sanity in even teasing about such a thing. “I would play the harpsichord for you, but I don’t believe the Taimans have one of those on hand.”

“Pity. Do you sing? Singing seems one of those virginal qualities ladies are expected to possess and flaunt for potential suitors.”

“I do not sing.”

“And that’s said with a resolution that should close the subject.”

She grinned. “I don’t sing, but I do dance.”

Its lower jaw dropped, revealing a great many teeth.

“You’ll catch flies like that.”

“You dance? I can only assume you’re referring to the refined ballroom dancing of an ofersey’n court?”

“You seem to know a lot about human customs all of a sudden. Who’s your tutor during the day?”

“I’m asking the questions tonight.”

*  *  *

You can read the rest of this scene in the fantasy novel, Choices Meant for Gods, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, Amazon.com, and wherever fine books are sold.

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reviews

Praise for Choices Meant for Gods

Choices Meant for Gods is a marvelous read. The action and suspense continue in one easy flow. Congratulations to Lender. She has a winner.
—Lea Docken, FantasyToday.com

Incredible! Exciting, intriguing, and compelling characters interact to propel a plot that bit by piece encompasses a fantastic world full of gods, goddesses, wizards, sorcerers, gifted mortals, and dragons (the baby dragon—not to be missed—such a sweetie). As Good and Evil pit spells, wits, abilities, and strength against each other, the amazing characters still find love.
—Camellia, Long and Short Reviews

Choices Meant for Gods interlaces high action with a rich historical background, introducing the reader to this sweeping saga of war and ancient divination. The heroine is lovably flawed, marked by the impulsivity and brazenness of youth, but she is also daring and compassionate, strong-willed and noble-hearted beyond her years. Her intricate blend of strength and sensitivity brings to mind echoes of Anne McCaffrey or Catherine Asaro. The leading man adds his own complexity to the picture, complementing his lady perfectly. Nigel Taiman is wonderfully genuine in both his affections and his depth of character, and Lender paints him as she does all her creations, with thoughtful style and grace.
—EM Sky, Wet Ink

Choices Meant for Gods is without a doubt the freshest most engaging high fantasy novel to come out in years and breathes new life into a tired genre. The characters leap off the page and the plot is lightning quick and deftly written with many layers that tease the mind and imagination…The pages flew by as I became ensnared under Lender’s spell as she weaved her story. She writes with such assurance, such poise, that it is hard to believe that Choices Meant for Gods is her first novel.
—Jamieson Villeneuve, American Chronicle

In Choices Meant for Gods, Sandy Lender takes her readers of fantasy fiction by the hand and leads them through an exciting world filled with sorcerers, gods, goddesses, dragons, and other mythical creatures. Through the use of interesting characters and clever dialogue, (“Try not to think, Nicolas. You look so much more handsome when you’re bewildered.”)  she weaves a spell of magic and fantasy. The only problem for the reader may occur at the end of the book when they find themselves wanting more and discover they will have to wait for book two!
—Gary R. Hoffman, contributing author for short story anthologies Seven By Seven and Never Safe

When the gods interfere with mortals, chaos ensues. Caught in a web of greed and betrayal, the likeable heroine uses integrity, intelligence—and a fair bit of humor—to discover her unknown potential, unravel secrets within secrets, delight in an unexpected romance, and face difficult choices.
—Virginia McMorrow, author of Mage Confusion

Robin Hobb meets David Eddings in this rousing tale of a young girl gifted with awesome swordskills and mind magic. In a world where gods walk the earth in human form, can one woman stand as a protector to a god, and prevent the melding of two terrible bloodlines!
—Jack Hillman, author of There are Giants in this Valley

I love Chariss, the main character. I was interested in her story within a couple of pages, and by page 19 I realized I was already sucked in. I love her irreverent playfulness. She is both vulnerable and tough. I found the world enjoyingly different than the other fantasy I read, and yet it felt very real right away. That the gods sometimes choose to walk among the mortals, and are gods but somehow not entirely invulnerable, was very interesting.
—Donald J. Bindner, Kirksville, Mo.

This is a rare, and special tale, transporting the reader into a new realm of reality, where the gods walk among men and converse with them, where evil sorcerers plot and scheme for power and dominion—where dragons still live. At its heart is the relationship between Amanda Chariss and Nigel, somewhat star-crossed, but endeavoring to find one another as opposing forces brace for war. You’ll love it, and all the volumes in the series to follow it.
—Robin Edwards, Ft. Myers, Fla.

I recommend this book to everyone that loves a beautifully crafted fantasy story. It has a little something for everyone and will leave you wanting the sequel as soon as possible.
—Jennifer Moore, Mishawaka, Ind.

The characters are endearing, Onweald springs vividly from the pages, and I anxiously await the unfolding of the next scenes in that world’s history.
—Zack Sargent (from Amazon)

It’s so refreshing when a novel comes along that grabs you from the outset and won’t let go. Such was my experience with “Choices Meant for Gods.” The characters are as real as the author can make them without literally leaping from the pages to be with the reader. Instead, the reader is drawn inexorably into Lender’s new world, where even gods are “human.” I hope that many more readers can have the opportunity to enjoy this marvelous work!
—Crystal Perry, Illinois

Too many fantasy authors are re-hashing the same old plots, acted out by the same old tired heroes and heroines. Here we have a refreshing new take on things! I love that Chariss is both someone I can identify with and whom I can dream about becoming. . . it’s what fantasy is all about!
—C. Nuttmann, Sabetha, Kan.

I love fantasy books, read them most of my life, and found this one to be a fresh and inviting book…It keep my attention throughout, and had enough twists and turns that I was kept guessing, which is a good thing. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves a great story. The only thing bad...that it was over too fast. Can’t wait for the sequel to come out!
—J. Graf, St. Louis, Mo.

This is an excellent debut novel, priming us for more in the years to come, yet sufficient enough to quench a fantastical thirst. The pantheon of characters is excellent, with those you love, those you hate, and those you love to hate. Chariss is a strong heroine, who in the spirit of other fine fantasy heroines, does not yet know her own strengths. Nigel is intriguing and promises only to get stronger as his own destiny unfurls. Just enough foreshadowing of future events to keep us wanting to know (and buy!) what comes next.
—K. Repp, K.C., Mo.

This epic story leaves you wanting more by the end. The plot is intricate and extremely original. No character is without their flaws, making them extremely realistic and relatable. I can’t sum up their novel in one word unless I say it was “Amazing”. Definitely a great book to read; one that can be read a multitude of times. I can’t wait for the sequel!!
—TatyyGirl (from Barnes and Noble site)

Are you sad because the Harry Potter series is done? Well, move over Harry! Although different from the Potter series this book is a must for every library and school—once you start you just can’t put it down. I am an avid reader and love fantasy books. This will be a classic along with JRR Tolkien’s books.
—Anonymous (from Barnes and Noble site)

I read this book in just about 2 days. I could not put it down. The characters…are well drawn and living breathing entities in the world of Onweald. The story starts with action that grabs you right away and pulls you through to the conclusion where you want to throw the book at the wall because of the words ‘To be continued...’.
—Anonymous (from Barnes and Noble site)

I love fantasy books, and found this one to be fresh and inviting. I was captivated by the characters and got involved in their story very quickly. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves a great story.
—Anonymous (from Barnes and Noble site)

bookclubquestions

Suggested Book Club Questions/Topics for Choices Meant for Gods
If you’re a member of a book club or other reading group, you might use some of these questions to start a discussion about Choices Meant for Gods. Keep in mind that Fantasy Author Sandy Lender is available to attend book club meetings by phone or to speak at book festivals. Contact her publicity manager to work out the logistics.

In Choices Meant for Gods, several characters display great love and compassion for their fellow man. Can you name a couple of characters from the novel who are loving and kind? What are some of their other characteristics? Think specifically of Kora Taiman and compare her to someone in your life. Who are you thinking of? Would you like to share with the group who that special person is?

In Choices Meant for Gods, characters who are unkind or bigoted often don’t fare well. Can you name a couple of characters from the novel who are intolerant? What were they intolerant of? What ultimately happened to them? What do you think this says about the author’s view of bigots?

In Choices Meant for Gods, we learn that Henry Bakerson used to be a drunk, is still a teller of tall tales, and wants to take our hero off to sea. Why should the reader like him or trust him once we learn that he’s contracted to carry goods for the evil bad guy? What, if anything, makes you want Henry to stick around and help Chariss?

Sandy Lender introduces a whole cast of characters to keep track of in Choices Meant for Gods. Chariss is the amazing heroine that the reviewers love, but who else is worthy of notice? Who do you get excited to see enter a scene, and why?

In Choices Meant for Gods, Lord Jamieson Drake and Julette don’t get along very well. Why do you think they’re at odds? Why is it important for these two “bad guys” to have tension between them?

The lesser goddess Mia comes to Arcana in an emergency situation early in Choices Meant for Gods, but she stays to help with Chariss’s training. Why does The Master Rothahn come to Arcana? Who do you think is most distressed about having gods at the estate? Why?

Where did Master Rothahn and Chariss go when they left Arcana? What was their purpose there? Do you remember what Elder Edda means? What did the Elder Edda say about Chariss?

Where did Nigel and Henry go when they left Arcana? What was their purpose there? Do you remember who Abigail Farrier is? What does Henry think of Abby?

By the end of Choices Meant for Gods, Sandy Lender has revealed a secret about Nigel Taiman. Did you figure out what the secret is? What do you think Chariss will do about this when she figures it out? Or do you think Nigel will break down and tell her?

In Choices Meant for Gods, the wizard Hrazon has raised Chariss since she was four years old, caring for her as if she were his own child. Now that she is old enough to take care of herself, he is faced with the prospect of losing her to her duty. How could this be similar to the empty-nest syndrome parents feel when children go off to college? How do you think it’s different for these two?