Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book Spotlight with Excerpt: Escape from the Past: The Duke’s Wrath by Annette Oppenlander

Escape from the Past: 
The Duke’s Wrath
by Annette Oppenlander

Paperback: 299 pages
Publisher: Lodestone Books (July 31, 2015)

About the book:

When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he's sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn't realize that 1) He's been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game's rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever. Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets' nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.

Excerpt from Chapter 2:

I heard more rustling. Louder now. Not from the men, but from the woods behind me. My knees buckled and I was vaguely aware of the thudding sound I’d made. I had to figure out what had just happened, retrace my steps. Where was my room? My mind churned as I scanned the ground for some sign of home, something familiar.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the bearded thug turn his head. Ducking behind a hazelnut bush, I squinted through the leaves. The thug had raised his sword and stepped toward my hiding place.

I crouched lower, my ears filled with the pounding of my own heartbeat. Rough laughter came from the other two riders. Despite my panic I caught a glimpse of them poking their swords at the injured man’s shoulder. I smelled their stench—and the wounded man’s fear.

The bearded thug continued in my direction. Sunlight bounced off the edge of his blade. He took another step, scanning, listening. I forced my shaking body to be absolutely still. This had to be some kind of challenge in the game.

The man kept coming. Twenty feet. Everything about him looked menacing: his eyes the color of mud, his razor-sharp sword wide as a hand. Fifteen feet. I held my breath.

A scream rang out.

“Have mercy, My Lords,” the bleeding man cried. He was kneeling now, waiving his good arm in a pleading gesture. “I beg you,” he wailed.

I lowered my gaze. Somewhere I’d read that the white of a man’s eyes could give you away. Keeping my lids half-closed, I peeked through the leaves once more. The thug was ten feet away. Close up he looked worse, a brute with arms the size of my thighs, his chest covered in leather and wide as a barrel. Despite his size he had the soundless walk of a stalking animal. I watched with paralyzed fascination. Any second I’d be discovered, but all I managed was to shove my hands into my jeans pockets to keep them from trembling. It’s a computer game, my brain screamed. It’s real, my gut argued. 

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