Skip to product information
1 of 1

Escape From The Dragon Czar (Paperback)

Escape From The Dragon Czar (Paperback)

Regular price $16.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $16.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.

Book 5 of The Aegis of Merlin Series

Ebook Version


All Anya Kazakov wanted for her eighteenth birthday was her favorite dessert and a quiet day with her mother.

What she got was a murdered witch and a ruined life.

Now fleeing with her life and freedom on the line, Anya must escape the overwhelming might of the Dragon Empire and reach safety in the Kingdom of the Isles.

Hunted by a weary but determined imperial agent, brutal dragon-blood warriors, and merciless White Witches, can Anya escape and find freedom or will the Empire grind her hopes to dust?




216 Pages


5.5 X 8.5



Publication Date

September 12, 2017


Sand Hill Publishing

Look Inside

Anya fidgeted and smoothed the front of her best white dress. She sat in one of the hard-backed chairs at their little dining room table. A slightly wilted bunch of daisies resting in a blue vase served as both centerpiece and metaphor. Their whole house sagged like the flowers. The roof needed new shingles, moss covered the cedar siding, and the shutters hung askew. Since Dad died three years ago nothing had been fixed. For a man that had so many friends when alive he certainly had few enough in death.

The delightful scent of baked apple wafted out of the kitchen, making her mouth water. Her mother puttered about at the oven, getting everything ready. Anya loved baked apples and every year on her birthday Mom broke into their savings to buy the costly spices to fix one for her.

Hard slats dug into her back, forcing her to shift again. From the kitchen came a curse followed by the oven door slamming.

“Are you okay, Mom?” Anya got up and took a step toward the kitchen.

Her mother appeared in the open door. She smiled and the fine lines around her eyes crinkled and gray-blond hair spilled down over her blue eyes. “I’m fine, kiska. Sit down, this is your special day.”

Anya sighed and returned to her uncomfortable chair. “Mom, I’m too old for you to call me kitten.”

Her mother brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. “You’ll always be my little kiska, even when you’re as old and gray as me.”

She smiled as her mother disappeared into the kitchen to finish the baked apple. Listening to her talk you’d think Mom was ancient rather than just forty. Anya licked her lips and pictured the apple coming out of the oven. She ran a finger over the battered fork in front of her. Not much longer now. Maybe they could finish before anyone showed up.

Normally this was her favorite day of the year, but this year they expected a special, if unwelcome, guest. One of the czar’s White Witches would arrive soon to test Anya. If the test revealed wizard potential, she’d be taken to New St. Petersburg to meet the czar. She shuddered at the thought of having to leave their little village and never seeing her mother again.

All the girls in the Empire of the Dragon Czar got this visit on their eighteenth birthdays. And they’d all heard the stories as well. Stories of girls taken away and never being heard from again. Anya didn’t know how much credit to give the stories. Most of them sounded like nonsense, but people did vanish and they did it often enough that it had become an almost normal part of life in the Empire.

Mom emerged from the kitchen in a swirl of green skirt. She held a steaming red apple dripping with honey. Anya grinned.

“Ta-da.” She set the plate in front of Anya and kissed her forehead. “Happy birthday, kiska.”

“Thanks, Mom.” Anya picked up her fork and knife as her mother rounded the table.

She breathed in the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg. Both spices cost more than they spent on food in a week, but today only they splurged. She almost felt guilty. Almost.

Anya cut a chunk out of the warm, soft apple, taking her time and savoring the moment. The first bite was halfway to her mouth when someone knocked on the door. Before either of them could get up to answer it, the door opened and a woman in white robes with hair as pale as fresh snow stepped inside like she owned the place.

Mom scrambled to her feet and Anya quickly joined her, her special treat forgotten.

“Welcome, Mistress,” Mom said. “May I offer you—”

The White Witch held up a hand and Mom fell silent. “This will not take long.” Her voice was as cold as a midwinter night.

From the folds of her robe the witch withdrew a length of smooth wood inset with six clear gems. She strode from the door to their table and held the rod out to Anya, who stared at the smooth, dark length of wood.

“Don’t look at it, fool, take it,” the witch said.

Anya grasped the device with a trembling hand and held her breath. She said a silent prayer to any god that might be listening. Please, oh please, let nothing happen. Let me fail this test and get on with the rest of my boring life.

As if to mock her, the first gem burst into light. Anya’s heart sank. She had magic in her blood. Now her life was over.

A second gem lit up, then a third and fourth. When another half a minute passed and nothing happened, the witch snatched the rod out of her hand.

“Congratulations, sister. You will have the honor of joining our ranks in glorious service to the czar. I trust your bag is prepared in accordance with the law?”

“Yes, Mistress.” Somehow Anya forced the words past her numb lips.

“Well don’t just stand there, girl. Go get it. I have twenty more stops to make today.”

Mind racing and rigid with fear, Anya walked up the stairs to her room on the second floor. She pushed the door open and looked for the last time at the soft gray blanket that covered her narrow bed, the handful of stuffed animals her father had bought her before he died, and last, the ancient carved wardrobe, originally owned by her great-grandmother who had left it to Anya when she died. All Anya’s meager possessions fit in it with room to spare. She’d never see any of them again.

Her battered leather valise sat on the floor in front of the bed. She staggered over to it like a clockwork figure from a story and picked it up. Silent tears ran down her face.

Anya looked out the single narrow window. She could jump out, but the fall wouldn’t kill her. Maybe she’d break a leg, but that wouldn’t spare her. If anything it would simply annoy the witch and maybe bring down some sort of punishment on her mother.

“Hurry up, girl!”

How Anya would have liked to strangle the witch. Who did she think she was, turning Anya’s life upside down like this? She wiped her eyes and turned her back on everything she’d ever known.

At the bottom of the steps the witch stood, toe tapping and hard, pale eyes glaring up at Anya. Beyond her on the opposite side of the table her mother wrung her hands and watched as Anya went down the steps.

“Finally. Come along.” The witch marched toward the door.

Anya fell in behind her. Her gaze darted to her mother. She wanted to ask for advice, reassurance, anything to delay the inevitable.

“Be brave, kiska. Everything will work out.”

How could everything work out? She was being dragged away from her home, practically kidnapped by this woman in white.

The witch stopped in the doorway and turned back. “Hurry up, girl. We haven’t go—”

A straight, double-edged dagger drove into the witch’s throat. Blood shot out, glittering in the air like floating rubies.

Anya dropped her bag and brought her hands to her mouth. The witch stared in total disbelief, a hand clamped to her neck in a vain attempt to stop her life from gushing out.

At last she collapsed, revealing a broad, paunchy man with a heavy gray beard behind her holding a dripping knife. Anya stared first at the dead witch then at her murderer. She felt like she should say something, but her mouth refused to work.

The stranger stepped over the dead witch and into their house, the bloody knife still clutched in his hand. Anya scrambled away from him.

Were they next?

Suddenly a trip to see the czar didn’t seem so terrible.

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
View full details