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Top » Catalog » Fantasy » Young Adult Fantasy » The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Shades of Nyx
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Cervera, Spain, 1852. David Sandoval is a sixteen-year-old genius on many different subjects, yet he is more content studying than becoming close with family or friends. When he accepts an apprenticeship offer from a French architect, he is convinced that this will be the biggest achievement of his life.
 
While on his travels to Paris, a foolhardy decision on his part gets him abducted by a gypsy caravan, owned by a living Grecian sphinx. The sphinx, seemingly intrigued by the fearless young man, takes him through the Curtain, the gateway between our world and the worlds of the "unseen," where many creatures of myth and legend reside. When David discovers that he has unwittingly proposed to the sphinx - who appears pleased to have him as a potential mate - he attempts to escape back through the Curtain to the human world, only to be sent to Kyoto, Japan, and that is only the beginning of his problems.
 
On his adventure to return home, he learns a dark secret: a Shade, an extension of the shadowy Night Goddess Nyx, is slowly draining the sphinx of her most precious talents. David might be the only human on earth with the knowledge of how to save the sphinx from a lethal blight imposed on her by Nyx, and he must also save his new friends from a ruthless adversary, the Teumessian. Can one normal boy truly undo the inflictions of a goddess, and rescue both the seen and unseen worlds from her dark intentions?

It takes only one reckless decision to change a life—to better it, worsen it, or end it. It takes only one decision to make someone a hero, or a fool. It was that kind of decision that led a young man to journey into the Curtain, outwit a predator, befriend a shape shifter, face the test of an ancient spirit, confront a goddess, and be loved by one of the most infamous monsters in the world. This is how it happened.

Surrounded by his citadel stacks of books, David Sandoval devoured words on a printed page as one consumes the most treasured of treats. Much like the biblical king for which he was named, he ruled over his designed realm of knowledge, a kingdom constructed from everything he found engrossing, from swordplay, to history, to languages, and most devotedly, to the tales of the supernatural and magical. No one could understand why such fairy tales fascinated David so—his family considered it “impractical,” and concluded it was only a phase—but his stories of mythical beasts and enchanting spirits had given him quite a reputation in the city of Cervera. He always tried to sneak something unusual into any conversation, or give advice to others based on what a legendary hero would do. He wrote all of his ideas and stories down in journals, away from disapproving glances or patronizing gossip. Unfortunately, David experienced none of the excitement that he wove into his stories, for nothing frightening or wonderful happened in his hometown.

He came from a long line of tradesmen, less whimsical, more practical people. His father was a hard worker who was adequate enough at his job for his family to live comfortably. It had been hard times in Cervera, since its famous university had been relocated to Barcelona when David was only six years old, and this had triggered a great economic strain on the city. The Sandoval family was not in dire straits, however, and could not rightfully complain—even if it made David’s parents crestfallen that their children would not as easily get the advanced education they had hoped for before losing the university. David’s father, being a pious man, was the one responsible for naming David after the Biblical king that had overcome the giant Goliath, setting the expectation that his son should always conquer any insurmountable obstacle that life would present. David held his pride in being named after a king, as he knew from the old tales that one’s status in life, and his prosperous future, was tied to having a meaningful name.

The opportunity for a prosperous future arrived in the form of a letter shortly after David’s sixteenth birthday, one of the many milestones he anticipated for the year 1852. He tore ecstatically into the letter, knowing it was a reply to his request for apprenticeship in Paris. He was to study under the renowned architect Antoine Roland, a long-time friend of the Sandoval family.

This is an exciting time for Paris, as it is undergoing a grand modernization, Monsieur Roland wrote in his eloquent and loquacious letter to the Sandovals. Napoleon Bonaparte III has great plans to rejuvenate the city, and under the direction of Baron Haussmann, I am one of an exclusive selection of engineers commissioned to help with new layouts for Paris’s streets and public parks. Such a large scale endeavor is a great opportunity for any aspiring architect, and I know that David would be the perfect apprentice to assist me in this project.

 David was inflated with a burst of delight at these words. This was his ticket to an admirable career and wealth of which his father and brothers could only dream.

His delight was abruptly deflated once his mother told him that they had sent for the eldest son of their neighbors, the Guerreros, to be David’s traveling companion.

“No! Not Pablo!” David begged. “Mother, he hates me!”

“Of course he doesn’t hate you. Pablo has nothing but respect for you,” his mother insisted. “It is dangerous for a boy as young as you to travel on his own. There are thieves on the roads, and swindlers in the towns. Pablo is older and stronger.”

Pablo was a bulky braggart of a fellow, strong in arms but not so much in brain, which was a severe contrast to David’s lean, limber stature and erudite mind. While Pablo wasn’t smart, he could be charismatic when he desired to be, and he often deceived Señora Sandoval into thinking he was an upstanding man. David knew better, as all the childhood years of Pablo flicking him behind the ears, giving him hard punches in the shoulder, and tripping him into mud puddles were not forgotten nor forgiven.

“Mother, have I not proven that I am mature and smart beyond my years?” David said. “I know how to protect myself. I will always keep my belongings in my sight. I will send letters home every day if you want me to, and I will not take any detours. Please, mother, I’m not a child! Give me a chance. If I am to prove myself to Monsieur Roland, I need to show him I can take care of myself and be responsible. How can I do that if I need to be chaperoned to Paris?”

It took several days of insistence and the consent of his father—“I was traveling on my own when I was his age,” Senor Sandoval noted—and David’s mother finally relented. She made him promise to send letters home at every stop along the way, and she made no promises not to send Pablo after him if her mother’s intuition should alert her to trouble.

David was so thrilled that even his mother’s threat could not ruin his mood. He would be traveling to Paris, without parents or chaperones to tell him what to do. This was going to be the best time of his life.

 

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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-9084838-7-4
Dimensions: 203 x 133mm
Page Count: