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An excerpt from my upcoming book, SOLOMON’S CHOICE. For updates and a chance to beta-read the book, sign up for my newsletter.

Music pulses through the next hall I take, unfamiliar and wild.

I know so little about music, but this seems chaotic to me, energetic, so…

A word comes to mind: Nordic.

I follow the sound as if it’s bait.

An open door. The flicker of firelight, beckoning in a dark room. Within, Terrance, dancing shirtless.

If dancing is the right term.

This is as violent a tread as I have ever seen, his body whipping and arching in ways his spine should not, his face twisted in a rictus as though pain drives him to such behavior. He is not alone here, though the others do not move with him: they sit, two on either side of the fire, beating a wide, white drum, blowing a haunting, curved horn, bowing a long and narrow frame with only three strings, plucking at a hand-held lyre.

I cannot put this sound into words, the pulse it introduces to my blood, swallowing my own and taking me with it. It is a stomping, howling, frightening sound, of hunters celebrating fresh blood and severed heads, or maybe victory after battle with razed villages and dead-eyed men, or maybe some other thing being hyped up and built up and borrowed.

It does feel borrowed, like ancient powers I’ve never known know me, and they have come calling my name.


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.