Monday, November 18, 2019

"Life and Limb"

Jennifer Roberson has a BS in journalism with extended majors in British history and anthropology. She spent her final semester in London on an American studies program as an adult student in 1982, and while there, two days after her 28th birthday, received a telegram (pre-email!) from her agent informing her DAW Books had bought what became Shapechangers, the first in her Chronicles of the Cheysuli fantasy series. Her collaboration with Melanie Rawn and Kate Elliott, The Golden Key, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. In addition to the new Blood & Bone series, she has published eight Cheysuli novels, the Sword-Dancer Saga (#8 to come) and three of four volumes in the Karavans universe. The second volume in Blood & Bone is Sinners and Saints, scheduled for publication in March of 2021. Hobbies include showing dogs, and creating mosaic artwork and jewelry. She lives in Arizona with a collection of cats and Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Roberson applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Life and Limb, and reported the following:
Life and Limb is the first volume in an ongoing urban fantasy series about the End of Days, and two perfectly ordinary young men who are strangers to one another have been conscripted to join the heavenly host in a battle against Lucifer’s spec ops troops: demons who now inhabit characters and creatures from fiction, history, myths, legends, and folklore. But the angels have agendas, and Gabe and Remi—an ex-con biker and Texas cowboy—must also come to grips with the unwelcome discovery that they themselves are not after all entirely human, even as they climb the steepest of learning curves in an attempt to save the world.
“It will come,” Grandaddy said. “It’s a process.”

I shook my head. “We have lives. Hell, I just got mine back. You can’t expect us to walk away from everything.”

Grandaddy’s voice took on an edge unlike anything I’d heard from him before. My skin itched, and I stared at him in shock. He was doing something again.

“That’s exactly what I expect, Gabriel. This is the End of Days I’m talking about, with the fate of the world at stake. Everyone born of heaven must answer this call, if we’re to succeed. Is it a sacrifice?—of course it is. But there is nothing in your lives that is of greater importance than this.” His eyes were steady. “You have never disappointed me. Don’t do so now.”

I looked for compassion. Found none. “What about our families?”

Grandaddy didn’t even attempt to hedge. “I said we could massage things. Well, I have massaged the minds of your parents and brother. They believe you are in prison finishing your sentence.”

“But that’s only six more months.”

“And your father’s reaction once you’re out? Would you be welcome in his house?”

After a long moment, I said no. Because I remembered what my father had said, even if he didn’t because of Grandaddy’s brain massage. That night on the porch, as I rolled my bike out of the garage, felt like a death-knell. My mother stayed inside, and kid brother Matty was probably out getting high.

“And what would you do, Gabriel?”

“Get on my bike and head out. Maybe for good.”

Grandaddy nodded. “Well, we will free you of that. They will remember no hostilities, only that you are on the road. And so you are free to do your duty without interference for however long it takes.“

I glanced at the cowboy, looked back at Grandaddy. “What about him?”

“Remi is traveling the world undertaking research for the book he plans on writing. And he may, from time to time, call home to reassure his parents. But the calls will show overseas locations, nothing in this country. You, on the other hand, may drop postcards to your mother. Your father’s a son of a bitch, but she is a worthy woman.”

And there it was, all tied up in a neat little bow. The present. Our futures. An explanation for it all.
Page 69 is representative of the book in that Grandaddy is laying out their futures, and their stakes in that future. It's the end of the world, which is the main plot-driver for the series. The introduction to their new lives is not well-received and sets up internal conflict as Gabe and Remi learn they must sink or swim.
Visit Jennifer Roberson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue