|Cover Artist:||Don Semora|
|Genre:||Christian, Scifi, Survival, Adventure|
|Series:||The Offworld Chronicles|
|Publication Date:||July 2019|
|Media Types:||Print (paperback) and Ebook|
|ISBN:||978-0463970102 (ebook) TBA (print)|
|Preceded By:||Dragon's Gambit|
|Followed By:||The White Mountains|
Gold Rush is the third novel in The Offworld Chronicles series and picks up the story of Simon's Team, The Dragons of Offworld, The Syndicate, and many others, while also adding a new team into the mix, lead by Arthur Holland, and will become the greatest challenge that Simon and his friends have faced thus far.
Back Cover Blurb
Winter has come, and the race that once haunted Simon's team is now but a shadow and a fading memory. But as Simon and his team winter over in the Kestrel Weyr, resting from their travels, and sheltered by the dragons who have sworn to protect them from all harm and danger, greater events are unfolding behind them; consequences of their desperate struggle to survive the prior year that will in turn bring about the greatest gold rush of men and women the distant planet of Offworld has ever seen.
The book starts with a flashback to a hundred years earlier in a village to the east of Donville. It is here that a prophecy is given by Reverend Kinson telling of the future fulfillment of an earlier prophecy given 400 years earlier, and the signs that will indicate that they are closing on the end of the race and their eventual freedom. The story then returns to modern day Donville and the shop of Arthur Holland, a master woodcrafter and artisan as he works on a special project made out of Mahoy wood for the city's mayor. He's soon joined by his best friend and business partner Dexter Dramond, after which the two men talk about the project and the general lack of business they've been suffering lately, some of which is being caused by a bad economy, and some by the unusual calmness of The Reaping Sea over the past months. Deciding to seek out answers, Arthur heads down to the dockyards and meets Captain Ebenezer on his way. Arthur is surprised, yet happy to see him alive, given the rumors of his death on The Reaping Sea. Arthur then goes down and speaks with the dock master and asks if they've been withholding work from him, or giving it to another ship. The dock master informs him that they haven't. There just hasn't been anything to give him. The two part company with a friendly goodbye.
Elsewhere Chester Westman meets with Adam and Martha and is brought up to speed on recent events in the area, including the fall of Ruby. Sheobaal, and his master Azazel meanwhile look in on Simon's team, still bent on destroying them, but find that they're too well protected by a LARGE angel army, so they satisfy themselves with just watching them for now. As they do, Aria and Trevor spend a little time together on one of the many observation ledges on the side of Kestrel Weyr and talk about each other, but mostly about Trevor's past, some of what he owns, and some of what he has done, not all of which the young man is interested in talking about, and much of which he regrets. Back in Donville Arthur meets with the mayor, an annoying, penguin like man, and shows him his carved Mahoy commission that is to be the accent piece on a new bed he's recently had made. Afterwards Arthur goes for a walk for some fresh air. As he does, a local paper boy comes by shouting about the latest headline, which is about the fall of the Four Kingdoms. This in turn sparks a memory by Dexter of the previously mentioned Kinson prophecy. Realizing what this means, Arthur decides to go speak with the Mayor.
Back on Adam's farm, as he worries how they're going to survive the winter given that none of their crops have ripened, he discovers that God has blessed him and his farm by literally enlarging his barns to over twice their original size, then doubling, and sometimes even quadrupling his herds, and filling his now enlarged barns to the roof. While they're taking this in, Jack Lundy and Agent J take some time at a local pub to discuss current events on the race course, including God's seemingly miraculous intervention in recent events. Back at Kestrel Weyr, Garloond and Maggy take some time out during Garloond's busy day and go for a romantic flight and get to know each other better. And, while Garloond still doesn't consider Maggy to be a sufficient candidate to be his eventual mate, she does begin to slowly change his mind as she continues to grow on him, as does his interest in her. And, while she didn't turn out to be the amazing warrior she was touted by so many others to be, he is both surprised and greatly impressed with Maggy's incredible flying skills, much of which was learned from her Aunt Karuth.
Back in Donville, Arthur takes the news about the Four Kingdoms to the mayor, who grows irate at this news for no apparent reason and throws Arthur out of his office. Elsewhere, Fallon appears to his grandfather, Weyr Master Zek, and warns him that their master, the controllers are growing wise to his plans, and as such he needs to back off for a while until things blow over. Over in Donville Captain Ebenezer is greeted by an agent of Section 17 and asked to begin working behind the scenes to get people moving because, with the Four Kingdoms gone, the path forward is clear, and it's the will of Section 17 and, their currently temporary partner, Section 9 to get as many racers to resume the race as possible, of which Ebenezer agrees to do. In the former city of Ruby, now called Renata, Chester wakes up one morning to find its devastated, burned down buildings and raged streets filled with hundreds of tents as far as the eye can see. He learns that word has spread far and wide of Ruby's fall, drawing people up from the south to the former city of sin to take advantage of this opportunity for a new start, work, and possibly riches in the newly opened and accessible northern territories.
Over at Mongangro Weyr, Zek, Akhur, Shuman and Fallon gather in a specially created room that hides their words, plans and actions from their masters. Once there, they discuss the current state of the race, Simon's team, their plans and more. They then decide they need to create a diversion to draw away the attention of their masters from Simon's team, who they still trying to protect, despite recent setbacks. They will also need to become hands off with Simon's team for a while to remove the attention from them to keep them safe. Back in Donville, Arthur and Dexter realize that the mayor has begun taking steps to prevent and discourage anyone of the 1st generation from leaving his city. Realizing the situation, and the problems this creates, Arthur and Dexter begin forming a plan on how to defeat the mayor's efforts to trap them there. Over in Renata, Adam and Martha go into town and meet up with Chester and discuss doing business together, with Adam's farm being a primary provider of produce and resources for Chester's growing town. While there they pick up some workers for the farm.
Later on, in the village of Westland, several of Arthur's apprentices arrive in a printer's shop and drop off his order of new chairs, and also an envelope with some silver coins and a letter that talks about the fall of the Four Kingdoms, and encourages the printer to spread the word far and wide, which he does, setting in motion a chain reaction of good news all across the lands east of The Reaping Sea, much to the chagrin of the mayor of Donville. Back in Kestrel, Maggy comes to see Simon and the others and finds them planning the next stage of their journey come spring. Seeking more information, Maggy requests information from her masters (the controllers) about the seasons, and is given a picture book with encoded, hidden information that only their implants can unlock. So it's hidden to everyone else. Simon decides to take this odd book and use it to help them plan their departure. Over in Donville, Arthur arrives home after a hard day at work and shares the news of what's been happening with his wife and two kids. They all realize this will almost certain mean he'll be leaving soon, so they discuss his departure and encourage him to go, as it's in the best interests of everyone on the planet if he does.
Over at Hollow Manor, they too receive word of the fall of the Four Kingdoms, which Jeremy brings to the attention of the Baroness. However, they're both suspicious of this message and decide to verify if it's true or not. However, this also brings up the fact that The Baroness (whose real name is Susan Wheaton) has been feeling a longing to go west again for a long time, and resume the race. Back in Donville, the mayor gets his hands on one of the original letters sent out by Dexter, and they come to realize the danger that it presents them and their plans to keep the 1st Generation racers locked in Donville and unable to continue. The mayor wants immediate action to crush the uprising of hope and excitement that these letters are bringing. But the council wisely advises him to hold off until spring as there's no risk anyone will set out now while winter is raging outside. He agrees and sets this aside for a time. Meanwhile, the owners of a local bakery, while preparing their daily wares for sale, discuss the sad state of affairs in Donville, the prophecy give a century earlier by Reverend Kinson, and its seeming effects on the economy and food supply. As they do this, Ebenezer enters the shop to order supplies for his ship and crew. While there he craftily sows the seeds of dissent against the mayor in their minds, to begin turning the hearts and minds of the people of the city against the mayor and his plans.
As he's doing this, Councilman Zander comes to Dexter and warns him that the mayor is getting wise to their plans, and he (Dexter) risks being hung if he's not careful. This causes Dexter to change his plans to account for this new development. As Simon and Trevor are continuing their work to plan their departure and the next part of their journey, Zek calls another meeting of the Weyr Masters at Mongangro, this time including Narond in his discussions, despite the elder dragon's frail condition. Once there they further discuss their plans to draw away the eyes of their masters from Simon's team, as well as other elements of the plan as it stands currently. Back at Hollow Manor, the Baroness briefs her senior staff on the letter she received, and what it means for the future of the manor, and the staff. After everyone leaves, Jeremy and the Baroness discuss the letter and what she will do. Knowing that, deep down she's already decided, Jeremy leaves her to think about this. Over in Kestrel Weyr, having just come off their recent meeting at Mongangro, Zek, Akhur, Fallon, Shuman and Narond gather in the hall of meeting (all of whom attend by hologram, save only for Akhur) and play a game of charades, pretending to be discussing something in an effort to determine their next move.
However, this is merely a well planned and practiced stage play done with the intention of deceiving their masters, while secretly informing Garloond, and a few other choice individuals, of their plans and the things that they need them to know, without revealing the same to their masters. Garloond does eventually catch on and receives the message loud and clear, while at the same time Sheobaal is blinded to the truth, as are the other controllers. Back in Donville, a group of men all gather in a house, summoned there to discuss something that is reported to be of great importance. However, it's a well orchestrated trap, setup by Dexter, to trap the mayor and turn the hearts of the city against him when he comes down hard on the men who were tricked into attending the meeting. Down in the stables of Kestrel Weyr, Simon and Birash talk about Tiny and the need for a new horse for Birash, one that is more his size, which foreshadows some of what is coming up in regards to Birash and Tiny. Meanwhile, at Hollow Manor, Lord Trig and Lord Camton, two allies of the Baroness, arrive and spend some time talking with her, eventually providing her with the last bit of reassurance and convincing she needs to finally agree to rejoin the trail and continue her journey west. They will, in turn, work with Jeremy and the other members of her house to keep things going in her absence.
Back at Kestrel, Maggy learns that she is not to go with Simon's team when they set out in the spring. She is saddened by this, not realizing it's part of Zek's plans to draw attention away from Simon's team. She then breaks the bad news to Simon. He is sad, but understands. However, as she's talking and spending time with him, Garloond and Pehkek stand nearby and watch her, concerned that she might do something wrong. It's also shown Garloond's growing love for her, even though he denies it, despite it being bluntly obvious to Pehkek. Over in Donville, Ebenezer goes to the mayor and requests parlay. He then, through some crafty convincing, and with the help of Zander, convinces the mayor to let those of the 1st generation go, saying that by doing so, he will become very rich, while at the same time knowing that such won't be true. The mayor, feeling greedy, finally agrees to let anyone who wants to resume their participation in the race. While Simon and team further discuss their plans for the journey ahead, it's revealed that Azazel and Sheobaal have fallen perfectly for Zek's plan of diversion. However, that hasn't stopped their plans to destroy Simon's team. It's just added more people to their hit list of those they seek to exterminate.
Back in Donville the mayor announces his permission for all 1st generationals to leave his city and continue. At the same time, Simon's team prepares to leave Kestrel Weyr and set out on the trail. After some packing and final goodbyes, their return to their journey. Arthur and Dexter also begin putting things in order for their soon departure as well. While they're doing this, Azazel goes and meets with other demons like himself in search of help in solving the dilemmas he faces. Later on that night, Maggy, just as predicted, tries to sneak out of the Kestrel Weyr to follow Simon's team and protect them, despite her orders not to. However, before she can, she's intercepted by Fallon and Garloond who confront her about this and eventually talk her out of breaking her orders, as staying put is in everyone's best interests. And especially Simon's team.
Over in Donville, racers, who have recently returned to the course now that spring has arrived, are flowing into the city in droves, much to the joy of the many sea captains in town, and most especially Ebenezer. He welcomes Arthur and Dexter on the ship, and being well acquainted with them, gives them some of the best accommodations. He soon encounters Susan (the Baroness) as well and does the same with her. His ship is soon full to capacity, after which he sets sail to the other side. Further down the trail on the other side of the sea, Simon's team is making their way towards Forlorian when they come to a crossroads. As they're discussing which route to take, Sheobaal, disguised as an old man in a cloak and hood, tricks them into taking the path towards Forlorian with plans to use the Queen of Venodor to destroy them. Realizing what has happened, Fallon moves ahead of the team, seeking to outflank Sheobaal and protect Simon's team when they eventually come into the city of Forlorian.
In the White Castle, Sheobaal warns Queen Narcella that Simon's team is coming, and that there's a big payoff in it for her if she traps them in Venodor, or better yet, kills them. Tempted by what he offers her, she agrees to the bargain, and then begins planning to capture Simon and his team. Back on the trail, it's getting close to dark, causing Simon's team to look for a place to camp. As they do, they stumble onto the cottage and farm of Esther, who they at first don't trust, but soon come to understand that she's a Christian like they are. She then takes them into her house where she feeds and then houses them for the night. While there, Esther gives her late husband's horse Bellimeir to Birash to replace Tiny as his riding animal. This now brings the number of horses in Simon's team to seven.
The next morning they set off down the trail again and eventually reach a bridge that leads into the city of Forlorian. They pause briefly as they're not sure if they should go into the city or keep going. But when Aria prays, Elliot turns on his own, as though called, and heads towards Forlorian. The others follow. After being briefly interrogated by the guards at the gate, they're allowed to enter. About this time Narcella takes notice of them and begins to put her plan for their capture into motion. While she's doing this, Simon's team stops at a local Inn and gets a single room for the entire team to share as that's all they can afford. Simon then leaves for a while alone to go shopping at a local hardware store where he's captured by Narcella's secret guard and whisked away to the castle. Back at the Inn, Trevor heads downstairs looking for something to eat, but is confronted by a cadre of soldiers who break into the Inn trying to capture them.
After a brief fight the remaining guards retreat out of the Inn. While following up after the fight, Trevor notices that Yurg is down. He climbs down from the second floor balcony and checks on his friend, who he finds alive, but badly wounded amidst a large pile of bodies of the queen's guard. He carefully carries Yurg upstairs where they tend to his wounds. Trevor then secures the Inn so that reinforcement's can't get in. Realizing they're locked out, they check with the queen and receive orders to burn down the Inn. If she can't capture them, then she'll just kill them, even if it burns the entire city to the ground. So the guards return and set the Inn on fire, much to Trevor's chagrin. Nearby in the castle, Simon awakes from being drugged by the queen's guard and is taken to see Narcella. She tries to act nice to him, and even feeds him dinner, before taking her up to one of the tallest towers in the castle where she attempts to seduce him and make him her lover.
But Simon refuses, no matter what she does. Enraged, she had him beaten and thrown in the dungeon. Back at the Inn, Trevor and the others work quickly to escape the rapidly spreading fire, which they successfully do through an upper window that overlooks the rear stables. They then load up the horses, place Yurg on Tiny's back (much to her dismay), and race out of there. However, as they're making good on their escape, God stops them for a time to prove that they have nothing to fear, and then helps them escape the city without further incident. Meanwhile, further up the trail, while Arthur and Dexter are working to get a morning cook fire going, they discover that Susan and her group of servants have caught up to them, but are struggling to get a fire started. After Arthur gives them some tips to help start it, he then talks with Susan and he decides that strength in numbers would be a good thing. So they agree to join together as one team, with him and Dexter adding their skills to Susan's team.
Back at Narcella's castle, after having to leave for a time to recharge his systems, Fallon returns to discover Simon beaten and bloodied in the dungeon. He moves to heal him, but Caleb appears and tells him to stop and not heal Simon. When Fallon protests, Caleb explains that God has his reasons and simply to trust Him that what He's doing is right. So Fallon reluctantly agrees, and then leaves. He soon appears near the Inn where Trevor and the others were earlier and discovers it burning. He soon spots Sheobaal nearby gloating as though he'd won. But Fallon won't give up and he instead calls Garloond, an expert Tracker, and gets his help locating Trevor and the rest of the team. They soon locate them, at which point Fallon sends Garloond off to follow and protect them while he goes back to keep an eye on Simon.
Back at Esther's house, Trevor and the others arrive frustrated, tired and worried about Simon, whom they haven't heard from since he left for the hardware store. Once there they discover that Esther knew they were coming back and had prepared for them. She helps them properly treat Yurg's wounds, and then lay him down to rest and recover. They then eat a quick meal before falling asleep. The next morning Trevor wakes up and goes outside to sulk, but instead meets Esther while she's doing her chores and learns of the very hard life she's lived. Through this conversation he's able to experience some important healing and relief from the sorrow and worry he's feeling. Back at Narcella's dungeon, Simon awakes and finds himself in so much pain that he's barely able to move. Fallon, who had been silently watching him from the nearby shadows watches as Simon begins to sing, much to his amazement given Simon's circumstances.
In the midst of this, one of the prisoners begins to mock and blaspheme and tells Simon to be silent, of which he refuses to. After some time the guards grow tired of his screaming and come in first to force him to shut up, and when he refuses to, they slay him and take him away. Over at Esther's, Aria and Trevor are sitting out front of the house on a rock when Garloond appears and they talk briefly, with Garloond offering some advise before vanishing behind his cloaking once again. Back in the dungeon, Simon continues to sing, eventually being offered a chance to witness to the entire jail, which he takes. He then leads all the prisoners to salvation. Shortly afterwards and officer and a group of his men appear, testing his faith by threatening to kill him unless he denies Christ, of which he does not. He challenges the others the same way, and they too refuse to deny Christ.
Seeing the strength of their faith, the officer has all the prisoners rounded up and put into a wagon. Fallon follows them out and watches with curiosity as they're escorted out of the castle, then the city, and finally beyond the gates in route to an unknown destination. Not long after Narcella finds out about their escape, when she goes down to the dungeon to challenge Simon one more time to give in to her, and grows irate when she realizes they've all escaped/been freed. She then orders her captain of the guard to prepare to make chase after Simon and the others. But as they leave, a gray haired old man appears in the room and is pleased to hear what has happened, as it may allow him to finally get rid of the queen and all of her evil once and for all.
Awards and Reviews
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