Guest Post: Why I Enjoy Riding

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

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Why I Enjoy Riding

The popular thing to do these days is to call it a “mid-life crisis.” For me, it was more a matter of self-reflection.  Everyone eventually gets to the point where they take a critical look at their life; to see what they’ve done, what they’re currently doing, and what they can possibly do in the future.

I won’t delve into my own results ad-nauseum, but I’ll just say that this is how most bucket-lists are likely conceived.   I personally believe that having accomplishments to look forward to are much better for the soul than having a long list of things already accomplished.  You see it all the time—a person in impeccable health retires early, and like clockwork, his health deteriorates.   Some might attribute this to their being less active physically, but I suspect otherwise.  My current love of motorcycles is the result of my own mid-life bucket list, along with getting a pilot’s license and taking a month long trip to Africa, and it was by far the easiest of the three to accomplish (the other two are still in progress).  After a four-day class, including about twelve hours of actual instruction on a bike, I was ready to see if riding was all of the fun and fulfillment that it seemed to be.

First however, I had to buy my first bike. This was almost a nerve-wracking as my first ride; I was absolutely clueless but forced myself to try to look as if I knew what I was doing.   It’s a self-preservation tactic.   No one wants to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous dealers, similar to when people shop for cars.  Finally, I found a nice “beginner-friendly” Honda CTX700 (I’m sure I was robbed) and was ready to take it for a spin. This was when I learned that riding on a closed course with instructors and traffic-cones is a totally different experience than riding on a major US interstate highway.   It’s not even in the same league.   For one, there were no impatient motorists (cagers, we call them) on the practice range, either sitting on your rear tire with their bumper or swerving into your lane without so much as a glance.  There was no crosswind blowing twenty MPH as you traverse a long bridge.   And none of the famous potholes which force you to keep one eye on the pavement and while the other stays on the traffic in front of you.   All of these things kept my knuckles white for most of the first month as I struggled to get comfortable with this new sensation of being on the open road.

With all of these concerns, was the decision to ride worth it?  For me, the answer is and will always be a resounding YES. I’ve heard from people time after time who don’t understand the fascination or enjoyment some of us get from riding and to be honest, it’s tough to explain with mere words.   The best I can do is to ask them to imagine something they’ve done in their life that makes them alert and exhilarated all at the same time.   Some may answer an insane roller coaster at their favorite theme park; others may get that same feeling from taking a trip to a new and unfamiliar city.   This is the ‘kick’ some of us get from riding—it’s like ziplining into a haunted house.  It’s freedom in its purest form.   I bought my second (grown up) bike last year, and as the summer approaches, I can’t wait to see what adventures the open road has in store for me.

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About the Author

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard. Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker. When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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Book Highlight: The Onyx Crown

To celebrate the release of Alan Hurst’s debut novel, The Onyx Crown, we are having a week-long book blitz! There will be an exclusive excerpt reveal, and a chance to win a digital copy of the book at the bottom! 

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

Add to Goodreads

onyx crown poster - savannah

Excerpt

For the next few days, the three of them did virtually everything together, including games, horse riding, and spear training with the First Knight, who seemed to be getting sterner and tougher on them with every lesson. The First Knight, whose given name was Jorell Boro, was famed throughout the fourteen provinces as one of the best living warriors of all time. He’d made his name fighting for the upstart Regent Okon in his war of usurpation against the High King Toloron.

After Toloron was defeated, the regent rewarded Boro with the titles of First Knight of the Crown, Protector of the House of the First Prince, and the moniker “the Bloodless Death,” because supposedly his bladed spear could kill a person so quickly and with such precision that they would be dead before any blood was even visible.

Okon, along with the ruling conclave, also granted a treaty to Pala Jorell’s home kingdom of East Rhydor, including a guarantee that no Numerian troops would invade as long as the East Rhydor king or his son, the prince, were in power.

The First Prince had asked Pala Jorell to begin instructing Zadeemo in the ways of knighthood, and also Gesemni himself, most likely reasoning that Zadeemo would need a sparring partner when the First Prince was absent.

The First Knight had been reluctant to train a “commoner” in the higher arts of warfare but, at the insistence of both the First Prince and Zadeemo, had relented. Still, one could tell he took The Onyx Crown -26- great pains to make sure that Zadeemo understood some of the finer points of the moves he instructed, while not deigning to help Gesi.

Luckily for Gesi, he had tremendous aptitude and seemingly a womb-borne comprehension of instinctual combat. As such, he rarely needed the extra tutoring that Zadeemo couldn’t seem to do without. On this day, the two of them were instructed for quite some time on hand-spear counters, an ancient method of grappling that involved an unarmed warrior wresting the control of spears and other long objects away from their adversary. It was an extremely rough and unpolished method of fighting, and the First Knight took the better part of the morning explaining it to them.

Finally, the paladin suggested they work the puzzling elements out with a few rounds of sparring. Boro handed him a bladed spear and marked out a circle four en-yawo in diameter with his carving knife. Zadeemo was given a pair of lyocell gloves, which felt like silk but were made from the toughest fibers in existence. These were to be used to protect his hands from blade cuts.

Gesi shifted nervously. Always when they’d fought before they’d both been armed. Oddly, there’s a certain amount of safety involved when two weapons compete against each other. But with Zadeemo being unarmed, Gesi felt he’d have to be very careful. He was also very conscious of Zoe sitting on her tilbury, watching them both amusedly.

“Engage!” The First Knight’s voice rang out through the square as the boys stepped into the circle. Zadeemo immediately lowered his stance, thrusting the heel of his boot inside Gesi’s left calf to disrupt his balance, simultaneously snatching at the bladed spear handle.

Shuffle-stepping to counter, Gesi twisted the blade ninety degrees, forcing Zadeemo to withdraw his hands. He knew he was supposed to be nothing more than a punching target for Zadeemo, but in situations like this, his stubborn, competitive imoya always got in the way of things, and yes…he also wanted to show off a bit in front of Zoe.

Surprisingly, Zadeemo must’ve anticipated his counter because he nimbly moved to his left, crashing his knee into Gesi’s right thigh and causing him to grimace. Ducking underneath the spear, Zadeemo swung his right elbow fiercely into Gesi’s solar plexus. The few servants and townspeople who were looking on cheered loudly, including Zoe.

At that second, he felt like he was going to black out. Zadeemo may have been slower than a stuck rhino, but he had strength far beyond what most twelve-year-olds could muster.

Instinctively, he twisted his bladed spear to block the next grasping move he felt was coming, slid his left knee under Zadeemo’s right, and reverse-swung the spear in a sweeping arc toward Zadeemo’s chest. The cheering stopped, followed by a deathly silence as Zadeemo crashed down to the dirt awkwardly. Everyone was staring at Gesi. Some looked angry, some fearful, some puzzled. Even he didn’t know how he’d won.

*Available Now*

Amazon | Nook

For your chance to win a digital copy of this exciting new fantasy, click the link below!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepreneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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