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Wendy Laharnar

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The Unhewn Stone
by Wendy Laharnar   

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Category: 

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  MuseItUp Publishing ISBN-10:  1927085454 Type: 
Pages: 

259

Copyright:  August 12, 2011 ISBN-13:  9781927085455
Fiction

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My Imagination

Fighting legends in the Middle Ages is a dangerous game, even for the modern young magician known as the Chosen One.

The Unhewn Stone is the story of Stefan Gessler a young entertainer who feels he needs to hide behind masks to fit in. Living in the narrow Swiss village he envies the tourists who stay at his parent’s guesthouse and he really wants to escape.

 

He gets his wish but lands in trouble in the medieval world when he tries to prevent the legend of Wilhelm Tell. As the Üserwäälti or Chosen One, Stefan Gessler is hurtled into the violent era of his ancestors where alchemy, magic and religion collide. His three goals, to save a tyrant's life, discover the cause of an alchemist's fear and learn how to change base metal into gold, force him to face his own demons and those of medieval Switzerland.

 

Through his encounters,  Stefan confronts his ignorance and fear and finds the hero he seeks. He learns to look beyond  himself and discovers the value of friendship, mercy, honour and his most difficult lesson, humility. He discovers a wonderful truth about the Tell legend, but needs more than his superior knowledge to equip him for survival in the medieval world where a shape-shifting sibyl and an evil knight are determined he will never leave the 14th century alive.

 

Excerpt
Stefan watched the nobleman stride across the courtyard. Tall and sturdy, he wore red tights under a yellow brown tunic probably made from flax. He looked the same age as Stefan's father, with the purple-blue eyes and strong jaw Stefan had inherited, but with hair longer and darker. His clamped lips and deep frown worried Stefan.

The nobleman grabbed him by the collar and pulled him to his feet. "Hand over your weapon, Frääffler. If you harmed one of my deer or a chamois or even a marmot, I will lock you in the stocks so fast—"

Stefan winced. "Don't call me a poacher. I'm Stefan Gessler." He pressed the green hood of his anorak hard against his aching head."

Hermann Gessler stepped back. "What? The audacity…Stefan Gessler? Is this a joke?"

Unprepared for hostility, Stefan's face burned. He didn't have to take this. He straightened his back, jutted his chin and spoke with controlled dignity. "I don't have a weapon, apart from this." He took his Swiss Army knife from his pocket and handed it, closed, to the lord.

Gessler turned it over without releasing the segments. "This is no weapon. What else do you carry?" He handed back the knife.

Stefan showed him his plastic comb, Uri's compass, and the box of matches he'd brought along because he thought they'd be like magic to medieval people. He pulled out a length of orange string he'd forgotten to throw away after his party, but he didn't show the angry man Ääni's PB100. He might misconstrue that as a weapon, and Stefan needed it.

Hermann Gessler sneered. He scraped the plastic teeth of the comb on the back of his hand, opened and closed the matchbox and shook it near his ear. "These are strange little toys for a child."

Stefan opened his mouth to speak, but Hermann Gessler's bellow cut short his protest. "Whence do you come?"

Stefan had imagined a warmer welcome. "I live here. That is, I used to live here, well not here exactly, but on this spot. It's a long story. You wouldn't believe me." All I wanted was to escape from here.

"Your life will be longer if you speak the truth."

A barrage of adult questions always intimidated him. They didn't listen. They never really heard his answers. He tried hard to be civil, but his exasperation always sounded arrogant at best,and insolent at worst. He wished this man would take him inside those big black doors. At home, a Gessler would never keep a guest out in the cold. Frustration flared like the pain in his forehead.

Gessler stood with feet apart, hands behind his back, and glowered.

Here goes, Stefan thought. He might as well spill it all in one burst. "I've come from the future, the twenty-first century to be precise."

"What nonsense you speak. Do you know who I am?"

Stefan sighed. "Sort of. What year is this?"

"You have forgotten the year? This is the eleventh year in the reign of His Most Imperial Majesty, Albert of Austria. Do not answer my question with a question."
From Stefan's study of the manuscript and research on the Net, he knew Albert became Emperor in 1296 A.D. A quick mental calculation proved this year to be 1307 A.D. So the orb had brought him through the Wurmloch to the time when the alchemist activated it. Stefan smiled inwardly. He'd reached the era of the legend of Wilhelm Tell. He stared at the nobleman. "I heard the big man call you Hermann Gessler, which means you are the alchemist's brother, aren't you?"

Hermann Gessler's face reddened.

Stefan thought either steam would hiss from those enlarged nostrils or the head would explode, pop, like a balloon.

Stefan bowed deeply. "I'm sorry. Did I say the wrong thing? I heard that guy call you the Landvogt. Aren't you the governor in the service of the Emperor Albert? My parents named my brother after him, well, not after him, after Albert Einstein, really. I have a sister too, Marta, and a dog, but he died and there's Ääni—"

The governor's face relaxed. "I serve Swabia." Pride edged his voice. "What a strange dialect you speak." He studied Stefan. He looked down at his own faded clothes and worn pointed shoes, and back to Stefan's denim jeans and green anorak. "Why are you dressed so strangely?" He grabbed Stefan's sleeve and touched the vinyl material, but when he threw back the fur-lined hood, he drew back. "How did you lacerate your head?"

"It must have happened when I came through the rocks. Travel through the Wurmloch is instantaneous, but the pressure made me black out, so I'm not sure."

"Your words are strange but your voice is, oh, never mind. You forgot the year. The knock to your head must be worse than it appears. Let us hope your memory returns after you rest."

"You'll let me stay?"

"A Gessler never turns an injured man from his door. It is a matter of hospitality. What harm can come of it? Strange as you are, you look innocent enough. You may stay until your head heals."

A youth, older than Stefan, appeared around the corner of the building. He wore the same yellow brown material and faded tights, but carried a crossbow and led a roan stallion. Beside him trotted a large, black dog with a white chest. Its face and paws were marked in tan and white. From drawings, Stefan recognized this ancient mastiff as a Sennenhund, a Greater Swiss Mountain dog. This one was smaller than its descendants, the popular show dogs, at home.

The dog bounded forward, knocked Stefan to the ground and licked his face and bloody wound. Stefan squirmed. He tried to stand but his own laughter and the dog's huge paws prevented him. Tears welled and a lump formed in his throat. He missed Spitz.

"We have a guest, Rolf." Hermann Gessler pulled the dog away. "A Frääffler, unsuccessful it seems. He claims he is a Gessler and insists he comes from the future."

"From the future? Mm." The boy shook off his cowled hood. "One of us?"
"There is a resemblance. Would you agree?" asked the older man.

The young noble searched Stefan's face, turned to the other and said, "Maybe a little, Father, if you mean a resemblance to Rufus Gessler." They shared a hearty laugh.

Stefan shivered. "I'm cold and I'm not a poacher."

"Woof," replied the boy.


Professional Reviews

Immerse yourself in a magical world,
5.0 out of 5 stars August 18, 2011
By Lisa J. Yarde (Brooklyn, New York United States)
This review is from: The Unhewn Stone (Kindle Edition)

On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, Stefan Gessler waited in his attic room, poised for some momentous change in his otherwise uneventful life. He got more than he bargained for. He learns of an ancient manuscript, which his ancestors have protected for generations. With the aid of an ancient orb, Stefan transports into the past to change his family's destiny by trying to stop the legend of Wilhelm Tell.

His abrupt arrival in the fourteenth century is as disconcerting for him as his ancestral relations. Only one among them, the proud governor's son Rolf Gessler is unwilling to dismiss Stefan's claims about his journey to the past. While Stefan gains friends, he also makes dangerous enemies. When the governor unexpectedly dies, a corrupted knight accuses Stefan and Rolf of the murder, and punishes them for the crime. An ancient and eternal witch, who once divided the Gessler family, also knows the true origin of Stefan's orb. She will do anything to get it back.

This is Wendy Laharnar's debut fantasy novel. She has created a magical world, where an ordinary hero faces extraordinary odds in his quest. The author's attention to historical detail immerses the reader in the medieval period, while the fantasy element invites readers to escape with her characters to the past. Her hero Stefan is the honored guardian of his family's secret; often uncertain of his destiny, he remains courageous and willing to right the wrongs of the past. In perfect contrast to the hero, the unrepentant villain's only motivation is greed and ambition, making him the perfect nemesis. With such memorable characters and a unique setting, The Unhewn Stone is a wonderful read.


Time travel, Adventure and a Ripping Good Yarn
5.0 out of 5 stars August 11, 2011
By Rosalie Skinner "Dragon Muse" (Australia) -

This review is from: The Unhewn Stone (Kindle Edition)

I loved reading The Gauntlet by Ronald Welch and found Wendy's books took me back to those halcyon days. Time travel is always a great start for a story. Wendy's first hand knowledge of the location and depth of interest in the subject combine to form the backbone of this story. William Tell is a major character but his legend is told from a new and delightful perspective. The hero of the tale will captivate readers with his quest.
I am not the sort of person who cries during a movie, and when reading it takes a good story to jolt me out of editing mode. So when I found tears welling in my eyes, only a few pages into this story I realised Wendy's writing has a magic of its own. I won't tell you how or why my emotions were struck but I will say that again at the ending I felt Wendy had achieved a certain kind of magic to complete her tale with such finesse.
The excitement and thrill of time travel, the use of modern knowledge to solve age old problems without disrupting history and the growth and development of the main character make this a terrific story for any age.
This novel gets five stars from me.


Historical Fiction at its best,
5.0 out of 5 stars September 1, 2011
By Carole Sutton (Perth, Australia) - review is from: The Unhewn Stone (Kindle Edition)
The Unhewn Stone

1st September 2011

The Unhewn Stone is a fantasy tale about a young man, Stefan Gessler who returns to the time of his ancestors in the 14th Century. His primary task is to restore honour to his family name, destroyed by the William Tell legend, and secondly to learn how to change base metals into gold. Starting off as a callow youth, Stefan grows with the story to become an accomplished man.

Fantasy is not my preferred genre, but once I started this story I became drawn in to the plight of Stefan, as a modern young man, disfigured in looks, suffering from unrequited love, and bereft at the death of his dog. As the story progresses we venture into fantasy land, I continued to read, caught by the adventures of the 14th C. Stefan and his ancient family. One fascinating aspect is that Stefan retains his 21st C. outlook which at times contrasts sharply with those of his 14th C. cousins. I enjoyed his comparisons. I found the magical elements were written convincingly enough that I had no trouble suspending my disbelief.

Stefan remains very human with his faults, his sometimes overbearing attitude getting him into more trouble than necessary. He grows with the plot. He builds a good relationship with his distant cousin Rolf and various friends. The tale is sweetened by the love of Rolf and Eva Tell. It kept me reading as it bounded from one adventure after another with Stefan and Rolf fleeing their enemies, both human and spiritual in the various guises of a sibyl who is determined to steal Stefan's half of his orb and thus prevent him from returning to his own time.

The ending built up into a page turning climax that satisfied this reader.




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Reader Reviews for "The Unhewn Stone"

Reviewed by Laurel Lamperd 9/2/2011
Outstanding book cover, Wendy. It really suits your book, The Unhewn Stone. Loved the excerpt. It brought back the joy I had when reading about Stefan and Rolf and their life and death struggles in medieval Switzerland.It was interesting to read your version of the tale/myth of William Tell and how you fleshed out the William Tell story. Thanks for reading Shanti.

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