Aelia is the last of her kind without chains on her wrists. She dwells deep in the forest, protecting the only remaining Soultree—the hope for her enslaved people who once drew magic from it. When the tree grows strong, it will be their savior. But only Aelia can spark the tree’s power, and after a misstep leads to her capture, that hope is lost. She is dragged into the slave quarters of a gladiator school where they force her to fight her own people to the death.
There, she meets Zenon, the undefeated gladiator, who has thirteen more fights until he can claim his freedom and be done with this life filled with violence. Never having lost a fight, he can almost taste it—until his master sets him up to fight chained together with Aelia.
She’s unpredictable, wild and weak, and Zenon couldn’t imagine a worse partner. Aelia refuses to kill her own people, and she’s the only thing that stands in the way of Zenon’s freedom. But if Aelia dies, the Soultree dies with her. Along with the hope for her people’s freedom.
Set in a world inspired by ancient Rome, SUN AND IRON is a YA Fantasy that can be described as Starz’s SPARTACUS meets Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. It is a standalone novel with series potential, complete at 73,000 words, and is told in alternating points-of-view between Aelia and Zenon.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
First 250 words:
Sweaty hands catch my wrist, and I curse myself for coming to the market. The crowd is ideal for getting lost in after bumping into my victims and vanishing with whatever their pockets hold, but the merchants tend to get nosy.
A raspy voice calls from behind. “What’s the hurry, girl?”
I sigh, shooting one last look at the forest before pulling the hood of my cape lower over my face to turn back towards the merchant. He smiles, revealing yellow teeth in a perfectly pale face, and his meaty fingers hold me tight.
A girl stands behind him with chains on her neck and wrists, her copper skin stained with sweat and dirt identical to mine. One look at her reminds me why I have to hide day after day, and I pull my cape with my free hand even lower. I painted my face and hands white, but with the sun burning through my dark cape, I must have sweated most of it off.
“Please let me go, sir,” I plead in a small voice. I don’t have much experience sounding like a desperate little girl, but I hope he’ll buy my act. The bounty for my capture has inflated, so I’m more on edge than most thieves in the market today. “My mother is sick. She needs her medicine.”
I show up the small bag in my right hand containing the harvest of today’s pickpocket spree and hope for his sake that he doesn’t insist on opening it.