BY: KEN NEWMAN
The powerful champion of a fallen angel she loves as a father, Maggie Black relishes her heroic life of danger and intrigue—until the day the angel betrays her and sends a witch to kill her. But the assassin, Mrs. Kerr, is so impressed by Maggie’s unearthly abilities, she kidnaps her, making her a slave. The woman fakes Maggie’s death and changes her name to Hajar, which means forsaken. Once a hero, Hajar now serves the capricious whims of her new master, committing audacious crimes to support her lifestyle. When all seems lost, hope arrives in the form of a world-weary adventurer, Gideon Kane. Touched by Hajar’s plight, he bargains for her freedom, offering Mrs. Kerr a prize the power hungry woman cannot resist—the legendary Tree of Life, whose fruit can turn mortals into Gods.
As Gideon and Hajar track down Eden, they face both old enemies and new, while fighting their growing desire for each other, unaware they are pawns in a deadly game that could decide the fate of life on earth.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Forsaken by Ken Newman, Maggie Black is a Paladin, a warrior for good. Tall, beautiful, and fierce, she serves a fallen angel, Larry, whom she loves like a father, fighting evil with her magic sword Kali, in hopes of helping the fallen angel redeem himself and get back into Heaven. But Larry betrays her and Maggie becomes Hajar (the forsaken), a slave for an evil witch, forced to commit crimes to support her new mistress’s lifestyle. Enter Gideon Kane, mercenary and champion for good. He was once a powerful warrior, but now he’s a shriveled old man, at the end of his life. Maggie’s witch mistress sends her after Kane, hoping he can decipher a mystic book for him. When Maggie shows up and reveals her painful story, Gideon takes it as a sign that he has one last mission before he dies and he decides to rescue Maggie and her fellow slaves from their evil mistress.
Newman has crafted an adventure/romance/thriller with a little something for everyone. The plot is strong with plenty of surprises. It will catch and hold your interest from beginning to end.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Forsaken by Ken Newman doesn’t really fit into any one genre. It’s part romance, part mystery, part thriller, and part adventure. Our protagonist, Gideon Kane was once the kind of hero fiction novels were written about. But that was a long time ago, and now he’s tired, old, lonely since his beloved wife died, and disillusioned. Still, when a young woman in trouble shows up on his doorstep, Gideon decides he’s up for one last mission. Maggie, the young woman, was a warrior for good, the champion of a fallen angel. Then the angel betrays her and she ends up as a slave to the evil Mrs. Kerr. Controlled by a hair-thin collar around her neck, capable of inflicting unimaginable agony, Maggie is forced into a life a crime to supply her new mistress with the finer things in life, betraying her Christian values. Together, she and Gideon go on a quest to find the Tree of Life for Mrs. Kerr in exchange for Maggie’s freedom. It’s an adventure that will change both of their lives forever.
Forsaken is a unique reading experience, reminiscent of Indiana Jones and The Shadow. Although the story is set in present day, it has a bit of an old-time feeling to it which is very appealing. This one is a page turner, with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.
The opulent hall was a sumptuous feast for the senses. Decorated with one-of-a-kind, priceless masterpieces from dozens of far-flung worlds and cultures, the hall reverberated with the music of a genius who lived and died on a world whose sun burned out before the earth was formed.
In different circumstances, Larry would have been delighted and savored the sights, smells, and sounds of his former life, but now he had more serious matters on his mind. Bound and guarded by two unearthly bounty hunters, he trudged along, his Chuck Taylors making an odd scuffing sound on the thick, rich carpet.
So, after ten thousand, seven hundred years and some odd days, this is the end of the line? Not with a roar of sweet victory, but with a whimper of bitter defeat. Well, perhaps a little torture and a lot of screaming, then the whimper of defeat. This really sucks.
The two guards were identical in every way, from their blond, flawlessly quaffed hair and perfect features, to their tailored, blue pinstriped double-breasted suits. Their chocolate-brown fedoras, cocked at the same precise angle, completed the ensemble, making them look like racketeers from the 1930s.
Their unwilling guest, however, was a different story.
Larry, although of the same celestial house and rank as his guards, clung to the appearance of a man of Chinese descent, sporting a wild Hawaiian shirt, faded jeans, and bright red tennis shoes. At chest level, pinning his arms to his torso, was an A’rtict Band.
The slim, golden ring, which glowed and pulsated in response to the prisoner’s exertion, siphoned away his arcane energy, keeping him locked into his human form and powerless–or so his guards thought.
“So, fellahs, can we talk about this, before things get out of hand and I get my feelings hurt?”
“More than your feeling will be hurt when the Boss gets through with you, smart mouth. Now, move.”
“So, this is how it ends? I always thought the entrance to Hell would be more gothic–more Dantesque. What do you say, Twiddledum?”
The guard on the left gritted his teeth while his burly brother snorted.
“Do you ever shut up? Since we got the drop on you, Larry, you have been determined to drive us crazy! I would love to shut that mouth once and for all.”
“Now, now, let’s not let tempers flare, boys. I know for a fact your Boss would pull out the rolled up paper if his yard dogs chewed on his favorite toy without his permission.”
“He likes the sound of his own voice,” said the guard whom Larry had dubbed Twiddledum. “I hope he likes the sound of his own screams as much.”
“So, what would it take for you two fine gentlemen to look the other way? Cash, coupons, free car washes, trading stamps? How about a swimming pool of flea dip? Trust me, the sky is the limit.”
“That’s it,” Twiddledee said. The angel grabbed the front of Larry’s shirt and lifted him off the ground.
“Weeee,” Larry said. “Can you spin me around, too?”
“Put him down,” Twiddledum said. “The Boss will have your hide if the merchandise is damaged.”
With a deep, inhuman growl, Twiddledee set Larry on his feet.
“That was fun, Daddy, do it again!”
“Move,” Twiddledum said, as he shoved a chuckling Larry forward.
“All joking aside, fellows, can you at least turn down the power setting on this dohicky? The thing stings like I am making out with a bee hive.”
“Oh we can’t have that, now, can we?” Twiddledee said with a wicked smile. With a flick of his wrist, he turned the power drain to maximum. He laughed as Larry gasped.
“Guys,” Larry said, “look, a three headed dog!”
As his guards turned to look at the impossible animal, the prisoner lashed out at Twiddledum, smashing him into Twiddledee. Using only his legs and a few well-aimed head-butts, he toppled his captors and ran with all his might down the hallway.
“Come on, you jerks, you are not going to let an asshole like me get away, are you?” Larry mumbled.
A few yards ahead of him both beings suddenly appeared, blocking his escape.
“Think you are clever, don’t you? You need a lesson in manners, smart mouth,” Twiddledee said as he produced a strange looking weapon.
The device, which looked as if it were made of solid gold, appeared as the bladeless haft of a sword. A bolt of dazzling blue fire lashed out, catching Larry square in the chest. To Twiddledee’s surprise, the hallway exploded in light and holy fire.
The stunning force of the explosion knocked the two warrior angels off their feet, sending them sliding several yards down the room.
Twiddledee and Twiddledum groaned and struggled to their feet.
“What did you do, Brother? This is bad. This is real bad.”
When the spiritual fire and smoke dispersed, the hall was completely destroyed and blocked with ruble. Larry was gone and all that was left was the scorched spiritual restraint lying in the middle of the smoldering carpet.
“You idiot! You vaporized him!”
“Oops,” said the grinning Larry who stood behind the duo, his own glowing weapon in his hand. “Talk about your classic goofs. Don’t you know that firing a weapon at an active prisoner restraint can cause a bitch of a feedback, especially if it is set to maximum and the prisoner is throwing all his power into it? Give my regrets to Lucifer, boys. Tell Old Scratch I have to cancel our play date.”
With a bright flash of blue tinted light, Larry stunned the angelic beings and turned to flee.
“Who are you calling Old Scratch, smart guy?” asked the smooth baritone.
“Aw crap,” Larry said as his weapon drooped in his hand. “These guys were your muscle? Things must have gone to pot since I left.”
Larry quickly knelt before the Archangel Michael. Michael stood dressed in an immaculate white dinner jacket that showcased his powerful form.
“Walk with me, Larry.”
Larry obediently fell in step behind the Commander of the God’s Army.
Michael paused before his groaning soldiers. “When I am finished with Larry, we will have a long, one-way conversation that you two dimwits will not like.”
“Don’t ‘but Boss me,’ you imbecile! You blew up my house! Now beat it.”
Wearing identical expressions of terror, Twiddledee and Twiddledum promptly disappeared.
Michael snapped his fingers and the ruined passageway returned to its original form, with the exception that the wallpaper and artworks were of a different style.
“Sorry about the mess, sir. I didn’t know this was your place.”
“Forget about it. I was getting tired of the motif anyway.”
“So, are you going to toss me in the pit, sir?”
Michael opened a door. “After you,” he said.
Larry gasped at the utter richness of the suite, so rich the human mind could not comprehend.
“You are just in time for dinner, only please change first.”
Larry’s clothes instantly transformed into a classic black, perfectly fitted tuxedo.
Michael looked down at Larry’s bright red high-tops and wrinkled his nose.
“What’s the matter,” Larry said. “Got something against style?”
“You wouldn’t know style if it bit you on the bum,” Michael said. “The saying about making a silk purse from a sow’s ear comes to mind.”
“I don’t understand, sir. First, I am on my way to the Big Barbeque and now I am invited to dine with royalty? What gives?”
“We had a little misunderstanding. I sent those two low-level rejects to track you down because I wanted to have a word with you without drawing any undue attention. They apparently assumed that I was going to bring your antics to a permanent end.”
“Funny, I thought the same thing,” said Larry.
“Because of your help with the Noah situation, I gave you my word that you were to be confined to the earth and not Tartarus, until Judgment Day, as long as you behaved. I never break my word.”
“I have done my best to uphold the law.”
“That is a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think? While you have bent and stretched the rules to the breaking point at times, I have always been impressed by your clever plots and schemes. Not to mention that you have been a thorn in the side of Satan. When he finally gets his hands on you, and he will, it won’t be pretty, but until then, it is priceless to see him get a taste of his own medicine.”
“I am glad someone is entertained. I will do anything to get my old job back, sir.”
“That is quite impossible. Rebellion is death. You rebelled. You will die, case closed.”
“I am not a rebel. I am a fool who was tricked.”
“We have been over this before.”
“Then why am I here?”
A smile split the handsome features of the Archangel.
“Something has come up and I need some…advice.”
“Advice? From me?”
A thick manila folder appeared in Michael’s hand. He tossed it to Larry.
Larry read the one-thousand-page report– twice–in one third of a second.
“This is bad,” Larry said. “He has lost his mind.”
“It is actually worse than that document alludes. What do you think of my proposed solution on page 989?”
“An epic disaster waiting to happen, sir. Honestly, you are a bit too straightforward for your own good. If you go through with this, although justified, this is murder. You will be stripped of everything and be in a worse position than me.”
“A small price to pay.”
“It will wreck everything and you know it. Not to mention that your big throw down with Goat-boy won’t happen, and I already put down a non-returnable deposit on a ringside seat.”
Michael smiled. “Do you have a better idea?”
Larry walked the room, his inhuman mind running countless scenarios and possible outcomes, before a smile spread across his face.
“I take that as a yes?” Michael asked.
Pulling a sheaf of paper out of thin air, Larry diagrammed an intricate plan. Michael smiled and nodded as he examined the plan. “What do you think, sir?” Larry asked.
“I think that I am glad you are on our side instead of Goat-boy. Your plan is splendid. I knew that the assistance of a wily fellow, outside of the normal network, who is well known for his creativity and fast thinking, would be just what I need. Not to mention, one who can keep his mouth shut.”
“In other words, if this plan goes south, I will be the one who gets the blame while you and your network of choirboys can stand back in innocent, shocked dismay. I will be the one who gets the bum’s rush to a permanent room without a view in the Big Barbeque.”
“Honestly, Larry, your room is already reserved. If this ‘goes south’ as you say, you will merely check in a bit earlier than expected.”
“I feel better already.”
“When can we get started?”
“With all due respect, if I am to risk so much, what is in it for me?”
Michael smiled and took a goblet of wine. “Success will mean that I will pull a very large string.”
“I will personally vouch for you and your exile will be over. In fact, pull this off and you will join my personal staff as my chief strategist.”
Larry looked at the powerful being in stunned silence.
“Well, well, I finally found something that would shut you up,” Michael said.
Elated that at last his personal hell was over, Larry fell to his knees before Michael. “Thank you, sir.”
“There is one, small stipulation.”
“Yes. It concerns your Paladin.”
“The very one,” Michael said. “End her, please.”
“Excuse me, sir?”
“I do not understand. Maggie is the best friend I have ever had. She has done enormous good. Why she is even a Christian! I can’t kill her!”
“That Maggie Black is a good girl is completely irrelevant. It is her bloodline that worries me. She must die.”
“And if I refuse?”
“The deal is off the table. Your ten-thousand-year struggle for redemption is for naught. Wave goodbye to Heaven and say hello to the Big Barbeque, all for the sake of a tenuous, emotional relationship with a being whose lifespan is as brief as a wave tossed on the ocean.
“Look, Larry. Maggie Black will go to a much better place, just a bit sooner than she expected.”
Larry looked at Michael for a long moment. Taking a deep breath, he scooped a goblet filled with Ambrosia from a small table and raised the frosted glass high. “Here is to burning bridges, sir,” Larry said without the slightest hint of a smile.
“Excellent. I look forward to working with you. Now, let’s eat. The Ra’Kash is getting cold. I am told it is your favorite dish.”
“Yes, I have dreamed of it for ten thousand years.”
“You will dream of it no more, my friend.”
© 2015 Ken Newman