The sharp-featured gentleman to the left is the Grand Master Athanor, one of the twelve powerful psionicists who between them control much of the galaxy. Grand Master's Game is the second book in Aurora's trilogy, and is released today.
I enjoyed Grand Master's Pawn, the first book in the series, and I am equally enjoying Grand Master's Game. The heroine is not a shrinking Violet, despite bearing that name, and has psionic powers of her own. The universe itself is complex and has a range of races, all bound together by a system of transmats - but the system is breaking down, for no clear reason. By the end of Pawn there is a possble suspect amongst the Grand Masters. In Game, Violet becomes involved in an investigation into what is going on, as well as facing immediate dangers from monsters and humans alike. Is she still being used as a pawn, or is she becoming a significant figure in the game?
Aurora has kindly allowed me to include an extract from the book.
They reached the massive iron gates in front of the ominous black marble façade of Council Hall. One of the double iron gates swung open, activated by Athanor’s aura. Exerting his superiority, the Grand Master stepped inside first. Violet followed him meekly and blinked in surprise. An alien guarded the inner hall instead of the usual armed man in a black uniform. She had not seen this type of alien before. It resembled a yellow slug with tentacles sprouting from both ends of a bulbous body.
The upper ring of tentacles waved and a mechanical voice spoke with artificial politeness, “Do you have an appointment, Sir?”
Athanor straightened and resumed his natural face. His eyes flashed electric blue at his interrogator, “I am the Grand Master Griffin. I bring a missive for perusal by the Council.” He held up the rolled paper with its blue seal. The alien coiled a tentacle round the scroll and dropped it in an ebony box.
The alien guard sneezed and the translator blurted, “Your message will be delivered to the Council at their next meeting.”
Athanor frowned, “By Odin’s eye, the delay is intolerable! This matter is urgent and the next meeting is not scheduled for three weeks.”
“You may ask the Secretary to expedite the delivery. I will check when she is available.”
“Very well! Come with me, Violet.” The letter flew into Athanor’s hand and he strode past the alien towards the inner doorway. Its upper tentacles writhed in outrage at the Grand Master’s unorthodox behavior. The alien wriggled towards the inner door, clearly intending to block their passage. Athanor directed a pinch of psi pressure, and the creature recoiled from their path.
The Grand Master paced down the corridor, his eyes sizzling blue spotlights. Violet trotted to keep abreast of him. His sub vocal grumble, “Stupid formalities intended to prevent action!” made her suppress a chuckle.
They halted in front of a door with the label of Secretary Berthal. Smaller letters under the name proclaimed, ‘No entry without an appointment’. Athanor knocked sharply and pushed the door open without waiting for a reply.
The Secretary was a Jangalorian, a small fur covered animal like a cross between a rabbit and a monkey. She leaped on top of the desk and crouched on all six legs. Her white puff of a tail quivered, and she shrilled, “You cannot enter without an appointment!”
Athanor scowled at her. After one glance at his fierce hawk face and glaring laser eyes, the Secretary curled into a trembling ball.
Violet decided to mediate. She projected reassurance to the cowering Secretary. Then, she attempted to mollify her irate Grand Master. “The Secretary’s only doing her job. She’ll cooperate faster if you speak in a friendlier manner.”
He crossed his arms over his chest and muttered, “You speak to her, my conciliatory pawn.”
Squaring her chin firmly, Violet said, “My Grand Master brings an urgent message for the Council. The Griffin warns of a gross violation of the Council rules.”
The furry Secretary unrolled and jumped onto her six legs. Her tail twitched in fear and she stuttered, “Urgent message from Grand Master Griffin. Give scroll for Berthal to submit to Lord of Lightning, Council Chair.”
Violet carried the scroll to the desk and placed it between the slender fingers of the Secretary.
“The Chair will order an emergency Council meeting to discuss my letter,” Athanor said in his haughtiest tone. He spun on his heels and strode out the door, tugging Violet in his wake. “We’ll see if they appreciate the warning,” he sent her.
As they stepped into the hallway, he murmured belatedly, “Thank you, Secretary Berthal.”
“Why don’t you do the blasting and I’ll do the sweet talking,” she suggested, twinkling merrily at him. He had reverted to his disguise, but his mouth quirked at her words and he ruffled her hair.
The book is available on Amazon.com
and on Amazon.co.uk
I'll add that Aurora's background is scientific - she has a PhD in molecular biophysics and her day job involves discovering scientific facts (all very mysterious!). She also admits that she has been inventing adventures in strange worlds for as long as she can remember - a habit I recognise, being much the same! Her books are character-driven romances set in weird worlds, with a sprinkling of humour. She was born in the UK but now lives in the USA, in Atlanta with her husband, a dog, and two cats that apparently occupy her keyboard (as most cats do!).
If you want to learn more about her or her other books she can be found on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter or on her own blog: