Review

“A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read … especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.” —MBR Midwest Book Review

Becoming a Warrior

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“No, no, no,” Samo was saying as Dee came around the side of Samo’s cart thirty minutes later. “You must bring your arm forward like you’re throwing a ball as hard as you can.”

Fan and Clee were wiping their faces with rags, which only served to smear the dirt and sweat around.

Mai stood before a dummy made of clothes stuffed tightly with long grass from the meadow. She turned at the sound of Dee’s footsteps and pushed a strand of hair off her damp forehead, leaving a streak of dirt behind, then patted her long braid, now coiled and pinned around her head, to make sure it hadn’t come loose.

“May I join you?” Dee asked.

“Perfect timing,” she panted. “It’s not going well this evening.”

“It certainly isn’t,” Samo approached them. “Mai, you have to keep your arm coming up and over in one smooth continuous movement. Aim for the head. You know how to do this.” He strode back to his observation spot muttering about distractions and losing valuable conditioning. “You’ve clearly had training before this. Use it.”

“You know how to fight?” Dee’s eyebrows rose.

Mai nodded. “Yes, of course. Grandfather has been teaching me for years. He’s a master level fighter.”

“I thought he was a monk!” Dee exclaimed.

“Mai!” Samo shouted. “Get on with it. That dummy would have had you out cold by now. Once your opponent has his head down, never give him a chance to look up again.”

“Haven’t you ever heard of the Fighting Monks?” Mai said. “Gotta go.” She whirled on the ball of her right foot, using her momentum to put all the force she possessed behind the overhand punch she aimed at the dummy’s grass head. She connected. It exploded. She gave a small sound of satisfaction and turned to face Samo. “Better?”

Grudgingly he nodded. “But you need to work on your timing. And you need to keep your wrist straighter—keep it in line with your elbow. Otherwise, you’re going to sprain your wrist”

Mai nodded, turning away but not before Dee saw her roll her eyes.

He suppressed a grin.

“Now, get in there with your elbows and knees!” Samo barked at Mai.

There was a whirl of arms and legs and the rest of the dummy disintegrated.

“Better.” Samo nodded and then turned to Dee. “Are you here to learn or to gawk?”

Excerpt from The Caves of Wonder

“No, no, no,” Samo was saying as Dee came around the side of Samo’s cart thirty minutes later. “You must bring your arm forward like you’re throwing a ball as hard as you can.”

Fan and Clee were wiping their faces with rags, which only served to smear the dirt and sweat around.

Mai stood before a dummy made of clothes stuffed tightly with long grass from the meadow. She turned at the sound of Dee’s footsteps and pushed a strand of hair off her damp forehead, leaving a streak of dirt behind, then patted her long braid, now coiled and pinned around her head, to make sure it hadn’t come loose.

“May I join you?” Dee asked.

“Perfect timing,” she panted. “It’s not going well this evening.”

“It certainly isn’t,” Samo approached them. “Mai, you have to keep your arm coming up and over in one smooth continuous movement. Aim for the head. You know how to do this.” He strode back to his observation spot muttering about distractions and losing valuable conditioning. “You’ve clearly had training before this. Use it.”

“You know how to fight?” Dee’s eyebrows rose.

Mai nodded. “Yes, of course. Grandfather has been teaching me for years. He’s a master level fighter.”

“I thought he was a monk!” Dee exclaimed.

“Mai!” Samo shouted. “Get on with it. That dummy would have had you out cold by now. Once your opponent has his head down, never give him a chance to look up again.”

“Haven’t you ever heard of the Fighting Monks?” Mai said. “Gotta go.” She whirled on the ball of her right foot, using her momentum to put all the force she possessed behind the overhand punch she aimed at the dummy’s grass head. She connected. It exploded. She gave a small sound of satisfaction and turned to face Samo. “Better?”

Grudgingly he nodded. “But you need to work on your timing. And you need to keep your wrist straighter—keep it in line with your elbow. Otherwise, you’re going to sprain your wrist”

Mai nodded, turning away but not before Dee saw her roll her eyes.

He suppressed a grin.

“Now, get in there with your elbows and knees!” Samo barked at Mai.

There was a whirl of arms and legs and the rest of the dummy disintegrated.

“Better.” Samo nodded and then turned to Dee. “Are you here to learn or to gawk?”

Excerpt from The Caves of Wonder


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