E A Carter

Head and shoulders color photo of E A Carter
E A Carter grew up in the Canadian countryside, the daughter of a reverend of modest means, with only her bicycle, her cat, and her imagination to occupy her.

Ever since she could talk she has been crafting stories. She writes of the complexities of love and mortality against evocative backdrops and seeks to test the perceived limits of love, death, and time.

Her most recent release is The Rise of the Goddess, the final book of the Transcendence Series which begins with the multiple award-winning historical epic, The Lost Valor of Love, and continues with The Call of Eternity.

The premise for the series came to her during a stay in Luxor, Egypt when she dreamed of an empire-crossing, forbidden love affair which transpired during the New Kingdom period. As she woke to the sun rising over the Nile and three thousand years slammed back into her senses, she heard these words: Tell the story. Do not let it die.

It took five years of research across four countries to put together all the missing pieces of the puzzle. When she discovered the man she had dreamed of was a real historical person, including his position in Ramesses's court, she sensed she had embarked on the story of a lifetime.

After sixteen years of research and writing, the love affair she dreamed of at last, lives again.

Indulge your senses and journey to another world where passion, war, treachery, and a love even more powerful than death awaits…
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The Call of Eternity
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Worlds and powerful men collide in this breathtaking epic of star-crossed love
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In the epic sequel to The Lost Valor of Love, worlds collide, and gods and mortals cross paths, kingdoms fall, and ancient, long-buried hatreds stir.

In the heavens, the storm god Teshub discovers two of the most powerful gods of the pantheon have fallen to a world torn apart by rivalry, war, famine, and plagues. Soon, he learns, he too must fall.

In the north, a crown prince ascends the throne, his queen taken by his enemy as compensation for the crimes of his father. But the new king is prepared to risk everything to reclaim his queen, and plans for war begin.

In the east, a near-immortal senses the awakening of a powerful artifact after an eternity of silence. It can only mean one thing: gods once more walk among men, and with their return--the key to his immortality.

And from far without, the Creator eyes his dying creation, its fragile boundaries unraveling. From across an enormous board, he picks up a token--an exact replica of a living woman. He smiles at it with fondness and sets it down on a new space. Folding his hands together, he steps back, and waits.

If you have enjoyed the poetic beauty of Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles, and the epic sweep of A Song of Ice and Fire, then you'll love The Call of Eternity. E A Carter's debut novel in the series, The Lost Valor of Love has won numerous book awards, most recently the 2019 Gold Medal for Adult Fiction from The Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

PROLOGUE

The Immortal Realm

Teshub, the once-powerful and mighty storm god, woke to the sensation of flames burning across his arms. He cracked an eye open. Symbols, glowing red-orange crackled to life along the backs of his forearms. Rubbing his eyes, he sat up wondering how long he had slept this time. The last time he woke, Horus had said more than one hundred thousand years had passed in the mortal realm, though, he had added with a wry smile, Teshub had missed nothing. Teshub pushed his long dark hair, tousled from sleep, back from his eyes, hoping this time he had slept even longer; it was a good way to pass the meaningless, useless, endless time.

The symbols brightened, glowing, demanding his attention. He lifted an eyebrow, savoring the long-forgotten sensation of cold fire spreading along his arms. It had been an eon since he had followed the actions of mortals on his flesh; when he last lived in their realm, a god. But those days, once filled with opulence and glory, had come to their brutal end when the savage wars of gods and men reached its fatal impasse. Thoth, infinitely wise and rational—standing in the place of the Creator God who had abandoned his creations once the first blood was shed—had called for their evacuation, sealing them into the immortal realm, the new home of the gods, sentencing them to an eternity of silence.

And yet, after an epoch of dormancy, the fiery symbols which had once ignited and extinguished endlessly on Teshub's arms flamed again. Strange. He leaned forward, intrigued, tingling with anticipation.

A long time passed before he sat back, troubled. A man—a prince—had sacrificed six bulls to Teshub begging him to spare the life of the woman he loved; a woman he had almost killed with his own hands. She lived, but the prince had then lost her to another, a pharaoh. The prince wanted her back, but first, as dozens of bulls fell to his blade, he pleaded for success in his campaigns against the pharaoh's vassals so he might win back his right to the throne. Then, with the armies of the empire behind him, he would bring war to the very gates of Egypt until the woman bound to him in blood was returned.

The flames subsided, though the glow remained; the connection between Teshub and the prince remaining, tenuous. Teshub got up and moved across his sumptuous apartments, undisturbed for millennia, wondering if Baalat still used her vision pool. After enduring the crushing weight of the endless epochs of wasted time, an upwelling of purpose ignited in him, raw, visceral. Hope bloomed in his chest; to be useful again, to have a reason to exist. He hurried through his rooms, eager. As he reached the outer vestibule, a gilt card lying on the threshold of his apartment lit up, glowing pure white. Curious, he bent and collected it, recognizing the elegant handwriting of Baalat.

Turning the card over, he read her words. He blinked, and read them again. No. It couldn't be. Waving his hand over the panel bearing his sigil, the door to his residence slid open. He left, striding through the realm toward the apartment of Baalat and Horus.

Preoccupied by Baalat's disturbing message, he was halfway to his destination before he realized the vast realm's wide avenues lay quiet, shrouded in silence. None processed. Doors stood sealed, the sigil of the ones within hovering without, glowing white. Teshub walked on, alone, trepidation bearing down on him. A tremor, deep within the foundation of the realm vibrated against his feet, faint. Slowing his steps, he halted, waiting, his skin prickling. There. Another tremor, so faint it almost felt like he might be imagining it.

He quickened his pace, uneasy, disturbed by the realm's ominous silence. Within the courtyard of their home, the entrance to Baalat and Horus's apartment stood open. He entered, calling their names, hoping Baalat's message had been an elaborate diversion, nothing more. On the table, a glass of wine, half-finished. In the bedroom, an unmade bed; its silken covers trailing onto the floor, a cushion halfway between the door and the bed. On the room's ceiling, the fractals of which Horus had been so proud were gone; vanished as though they had never existed. Teshub turned, searching for something, anything to help him understand why two of the highest gods among the pantheon would throw away their immortality for two mere mortals. He looked down at the card again, turning it over, hoping to find more, but there was nothing, only her brief words: They were gone. One day they would die so two mortals could live. It made no sense.

The symbols on his arms lit up again. Another tremor shot through the realm's foundation. The floor trembled. The wine in the glass shivered. Golden symbols flared to life on his arms, so bright the walls reflected its light. He staggered, staring at the arcane lettering as it coalesced, its movements stately, regal, inexorable, the symbols older than time itself. After an eon, the Creator God—the father of his existence—had broken his punishing silence. The symbols solidified; the glare faded. Teshub read the message, burned, indelible on his arm. He sank down onto the bed, stunned, and read it again.

You are next.

PART I - BOUND IN BLOOD

CHAPTER 1

Northeast Amurru, Late Autumn. Reign of Muwatallis, Year 21

Along the line of chariots, torches flared to life. Pinpricks of wavering light spread away into the distance, holding back the ominous, murky depths of Amka's wood. Alone, within his chariot, Urhi-Teshub waited, patient, ignoring the late autumn chill seeping into his limbs. He flexed his fingers on the reins, the quiet clack of his horses' teeth worrying at their bits triggering an old memory from a time when things had been different—when he had belonged in Hatti and would inherit the throne. When Istara had been his and not a hostage of Egypt's pharaoh.

A sharp crack rent the air. Across the muddy, ruined plain the massive cedarwood doors of Ay's gates buckled against his army's battering ram. He let out a slow breath, the air turning white in its wake. Not much longer now.

Under a roiling, heavy sky, the walled city stood dark and silent; the stars of Arinna's crown lost behind swollen clouds eager to lash Hatti's soldiers with icy rain. Long exhausted of arrows and burning oil, the last of Amurru's north-eastern city-states loyal to Pharaoh Ramesses II, waited, bleak, for its fall. The terror of the people trapped within scythed across the devastated fields, past the once-crown prince of Hatti and into the impenetrable darkness of Amka.

Urhi-Teshub cut a look at the splintered doors, his lips thinning as he considered what his father, the king of Hatti would do if he were here—imagining the destruction. The brutality. The waste. No. Urhi-Teshub was not a murderer like his father. Dead men did not grow crops, smelt metal, craft weapons, or herd livestock. He had a different plan. Mercy. Occupation. Ramesses would hate it.

Another blistering crack snapped across the plain, startling the horses. They blustered and pulled on the reins, agitated. Urhi-Teshub called to them, soothing them with quiet words, even as the memory of the previous evening returned, unbidden, and haunted him.

A wealthy Amurrite trader had come to him bearing a casket of gold ingots, seeking permission to trade in Hatti. Over a cup of spiced wine he mentioned a strange rumor he thought might interest Urhi-Teshub. While in one of the southern cities of Amurru, he had heard a story about the Princess of Kadesh, fallen to an ambush of barbarians in Amka. The trader had made light of it, saying there was no limit to the stories the common folk could fabricate, unaware she no longer resided in Tarhuntassa, but had been taken to Egypt and never returned.

Urhi-Teshub had tossed and turned the entire night, unable to sleep, fearing the pharaoh's oblique message to find another queen had hidden a sinister truth—Ramesses had not returned Istara to Urhi-Teshub because she was dead. No. Urhi-Teshub tightened his grip on the reins. Istara had been surrounded by an army of five thousand men. She lived. He could feel it in his bones. The trader had heard wrong. He had to be wrong. To live without the hope of her—

Another splinter wracked the cooling air, sharp with the tang of falling frost. A section of the door buckled inward. Darkness gaped through the hole. Urhi-Teshub eyed the damage. At least two more blows would be needed to open the way. He drew a deep breath, letting the air's bitter chill invigorate him. He could be patient. His weeks of confinement after Kadesh had hardened him. Sharpened him. Granted him focus.

Never again would he make a reckless mistake like he had done at Karchemish, where he had discovered the extent of his father's tyranny, and the depths of the king of Hatti's deviousness and dishonor. Urhi-Teshub could never win against a man who could murder in cold blood every relative and slave of Asuru's family—his father's once-beloved wife who had died giving birth to Urhi-Teshub—in revenge for Urhi-Teshub's uprising to regain his right to the throne.

His heart tight, he forced his thoughts away from the burden of his guilt, thinking instead of the carts laden with caskets of gold, ivory, silver, and gems, of the raw panels of cedarwood worth a fortune—the spoils of Egypt's vassals, worth more than twice the costs depleted from the treasury for the battle at Kadesh. Urhi-Teshub bit back the nascent hope he had nurtured, fearing if he dwelled upon it too long, he might cause its demise. And yet, this was why he was here, in the cold, laying siege to all of Egypt's vassal cities south of Amka—to win back his father's favor and regain his right to the throne.

Another section of the doors crumpled under the blow of the battering ram. Jagged pieces of wood exploded out from the gap, raining onto the shields of the soldiers flanking the sides of the enormous tree, its weight borne on the trunks of lesser trees beneath. Wails, thin with distance, rose from within the shrouded city—women keening in fear, men pleading to their gods—the city's smooth walls caressed by the light of thousands of flickering torches.

A harsh shout broke through the susurration. One of Urhi-Teshub's commanders bellowed to strike again. The soldiers scrambled to secure the teams of oxen to the rigging lashed to the battering ram—a giant cedar felled, stripped and dragged across the plain from Amka. The men swarmed over the ruins of the tree like locusts, their burnished leather armor gleaming orange in the firelight. Another command. The cracks of dozens of whips. The beasts bellowed, frightened, straining against the weight of the monstrosity beside them, the whites of their eyes iridescent in the torchlight.

Urhi-Teshub rolled his shoulders, the heavy weight of his scabbarded sword across his back dragging on him. Not once had he needed to draw it. One by one, the cities had fallen, grateful for the reprieve of occupation granted at the cost of an emptied treasury. How fast they had succumbed, unguarded and unprotected. No one, least of all Ramesses, could have anticipated another Hittite campaign only four months after the bloodbath at Kadesh. Urhi-Teshub suppressed a ripple of satisfaction, wishing he could be in the room when Ramesses learned he had lost six of his wealthiest vassals within the space of one month—and who had taken them from him. Across the muddy field, the battering ram settled into position, ready to strike again.

A cold wind rose, cutting, raw, warning of rain as the soldiers freed the oxen from their tracings and tugged them away. Night fell in earnest. The chill in the air deepened. Between the scudding clouds, the stars glittered, sharp and cold.

Another terse command, and the soldiers shoved against the shorn limbs of the tree, their feet sliding in the muck, already beginning to harden in the cooling night air. Heaving to the beat of a hundred goatskin drums, his soldiers rocked the felled tree toward the gate, their breath coming out in vapors; murky clouds of white. At the last drumbeat, they let go, the momentum of the monstrosity carrying it the last few spans. It slammed against the crumpled doors with a heavy thud and bounced back. The soldiers scrambled away, tumbling into each other, frantic, desperate to avoid its recoil.

The debris settled. Another section had fallen, but the doors still held. Urhi-Teshub knew they would not withstand another blow. It never took more than three barrages to break through once the wood had been breached. The wails inside the city escalated. Hatti's soldiers roared, eager for the spoils they were permitted to take: food, armor, weapons, concubines. Urhi-Teshub eased on the reins, and let his horses walk forward, restraining them as they bobbed their heads up and down, caught by the fervor of more than ten thousand men beating their swords against their shields.

Soon he would enter the city and claim it in the name of his father; would meet the conquered king, and deplete his treasury. He would drink the king of Ay's wine, eat his roasted meat, and sleep in his royal apartment where he knew his dreams would be haunted by how Istara had looked at him when he had freed her from the blade of the Egyptian queen's Nubian guard—and the act of treason he had committed to protect her. He had kept his end of the bargain. Now he wanted her back, his wife—bound to him in blood before the gods—belonged to him, not Egypt. Not Ramesses.

Across the plain, his men reattached the oxen's harness to the ram's rigging for the last time. It would be another hour before the gates would fall, but it would be worth it. One hour less apart from Istara. One step closer to his throne. He just had to be patient. And he could be. Anything for her. Anything.

Comments

adellryan Mon, 08/24/2020 - 17:05

The enemies to lovers trope is always an intriguing one to me. Your spin on the idea seems fresh and exciting! Congratulations on becoming a Page Turner eBook Award finalist. Best of wishes on your writing journey. ~ Adell Ryan