The Keepers of Elenath is a delightful fantasy novel for Christian teens. It is much like C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia or J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Barnes & Noble.com
Author Amanda Bradburn
Evil is stirring in Elenath. A rapid chain of events: a righteous king's
murder, a dark queen's seizure of the throne, and the stirring of
ancient peoples opens a new chapter in Elenath's history. Dark powers
seek to control all and a bare few stand against the sinister forces. At
the center of the tempest lies Gwaeron, princess of Anirum. Secrets
surround her true identity, and the strange gifts she is capable of are
sought after by both sides of the silent war. Another evil haunting the
land of Elenath; sweeping from the northwestern wasteland to Anirum's
eastern coast is the dreaded eves fornost. Hearts of human, elf, etel,
and gnome will turn for good or evil. And the worst is yet to come.
He had been there; he had seen it with his very own eyes.
The scene was as clear in his mind now as it had been on that very night, nearly eleven years before. The sky was pitch black. Neither the stars nor the moon dared show their faces. Cold wind blew across the capital city, sending shudders through the slowly dying torches high on the stone walls.
The king had just returned from a long battle and for a short respite had gone to one of the large palace gardens.
Where I had been hiding from the stable master.
The youth remembered hunkering down in the thick bushes near the edge of the garden, where the soft light from the glowing blossoms on the Life-trees did not reach. Sweet-perfumed flowers and daintily manicured shrubs rimmed his hiding place on both sides. He had seen barely seven summers at the time.
Around midnight the king had passed silently by him and strolled beneath the glowing blossoms. He had been there only a matter of a few precious moments, alone with his thoughts, when suddenly the sound of a footstep penetrated the comforting silence of the gardens.
“Regent Ermalan!” The king clasped his trusted advisor’s hand warmly, but the small child in the shadows thought King Theon turned a bit pale. “How delightful to see you here at this dark hour! Pray thee, why are you here? I thought that you and your new wife had departed for your honeymoon this morn. What has delayed you?”
“We were…hindered inescapably, Your Majesty.” The last words were spit out bitterly, and the black-haired gnome waved a many-ringed hand as he wrenched his fingers from the king’s warm clasp. He rubbed his slightly balding brow, his other hand fondling something within the pocket of his black and scarlet tunic.
“Have we received news from King Runin of Aenar regarding the adjustment of the boundary lines?” asked the king.
“Those lands are mine,” growled the regent, his hawk nose and dark eyes making him look menacing in the semidarkness. “And I intend to keep them!” He took a step forward.
“My friend, we have already spoken of this matter. You will receive the parcel of land that includes a section of Greenleaf Forest, and with that you should be content.” The king’s voice held a note of firm resolve, but as he glanced at his advisor, compassion still glimmered in the hazel depths of his eyes.
“They’re mine! They always will be!”
And then it happened. There, in the shelter of the Life-trees, the defenseless king of Anirum had been cruelly stabbed and left to die in a pool of his royal blood. Near the smooth, silver trunk of a Life-tree, the accursed murder weapon lay, its silver blade stained forever with the deed. Ermalan fled swiftly from the garden, fearful of being caught. But there was another in the garden that moonless night, one who hid, cowering in the bushes the entire time. One who had seen it all.
“My king! My lord!” The words from the little boy’s trembling lips and broken heart had dimly fallen upon the ear of the dying ruler. Though he was in great pain, the king would not allow a cry to escape his tortured body. Valor ran strong in the veins of his family, and as he lifted a tormented gaze to the boy’s stricken face, his eyes softened for a moment.
“Go, faithful lad. Do not let them find you here, lest you be condemned for my death. Live your life well.”
The boy knelt by the dying king’s side, took his hand in his own, and kissed it.
“I will become a knight,” he vowed, the blossoms on the Life-trees shining down and caressing his dark hair and blue eyes. “I will serve your country for as long as I live, my lord.”
Coming back to himself, the eighteen-year-old stable boy clenched his jaw and turned his gaze to the castle where the king had once lived. I swore to him that I would become a knight. But he knew that as a slave he might never get that chance. After all, the only place where knight hopefuls were readily apprenticed was the mighty city Maran Ithael, many leagues to the northwest. He would have to be freed, and there was little chance of that. Slaves had not been freed from Boronea for many, many years.
In his mind’s eye, he became that child again, staring in horror at the king as the ruler took a last trembling breath and sank into death. The king’s cloak seemed to be lit with white fire beneath him as he lay, his kingly brow still creased with compassion and wisdom. His bearing, even as he lay with a mortal wound in his chest, was yet noble. He was a king who would never be forgotten.
That was the last time anyone had ever seen the king alive, and that night had been only the beginning of the evils that would someday seek to tear the country apart forever.