by Intisar Khanani
Book 1: Sunbolt
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Archmage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
“I LOVED the main character Hitomi in Sunbolt more than I’ve loved an MC in a long time. She was super scrappy, vulnerable, clever, big-hearted, and streetwise while maintaining an endearing innocence at the same time.”
“I was gripped from the start and found this story to be a very different take on what is actually a kind of vampire fantasy.”
“Intisar Khanani is now one of my favorite authors.”
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Book 2: Memories of Ash
In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.
If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
“The story is vivid, believable and flows. The world is crystal clear before my eyes. The characters, too, are believable and grounded, compete with their conflicting motivations and imperfect information and judgment. I also really love that Hitomi has a bone-deep rejection of prejudices and an instinctive respect for different cultures. It’s a pleasure reading through her lens, not only because she is a wonderful character, excellently written, but because I actually respect her and all her motivations and decisions.”
“I’ll probably read it again a few more times like I did with the first book Sunbolt. This really is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time.”
“Spare, elegant prose, wondrous world building, believable magic, and characters with depth who you really get involved with. It has it all.”
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
CIR: What have you enjoyed most about writing this series?
KHANANI: I love how twisty the plot is in this series. In the first book, Sunbolt, things keep going wrong for Hitomi, and each time, the story changes direction in a perfectly believable way. It was grand fun to write because even when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I’d find myself surprised. In the second book, while the reader might guess the general arc of the story (it is a rescue story after all), little things continue to go wrong here and there, deeply influencing where the story goes by the end.
CIR: Who is your favorite character and why?
KHANANI: Hitomi, the heroine of the series, is definitely my favorite character. She’s strong but not invulnerable, stubbornly loyal, and somehow, despite everything she faces, an optimist. She never stops fighting or hoping, even when the outlook is about as grim as it can get. I admit to wanting to give her a good shake once in a while, but most of the time I just wish I was more like her myself.
CIR: Did this require any research, and what kind?
KHANANI: The Sunbolt Chronicles are set in the fantastical Eleven Kingdoms, each of which are based on historical lands and cultures from around the world, ranging from historic Zanzibar to Ottoman-era Istanbul. So far, I’ve been able to draw on memories of places I’ve visited, and then supplemented that with reading first-hand accounts from early travelers, learning about historic social structures, gender norms, foods and crops, and talking to friends who might have first hand knowledge of the language and current-day culture. It was both intriguing and a bit overwhelming, but also so very awesome to create a diverse world.
CIR: Is there any content that some readers might find questionable despite the overall “clean” feel of the book?
KHANANI: There are definitely a few fight scenes and some violence—it is all integral to the story. There are a few light swear words as well, used very rarely as was appropriate to the character and situation. Overall, though, I would rate this series PG-13.
CIR: I think your fans will go crazy if this is the end of the series. Please tell us there’s more coming?
KHANANI: Yes! There should be two more books in the series. I’m currently working on Book 3, but I’ve learned better than to offer up release dates before I’m sure of them. Hopefully, though, the wait will not be too long.