Friday, May 10, 2013

Book Feature: Ganwold’s Child

Tristan grew up a human among aliens. Now he must use his alienness to survive among humans.

The Sergey Chronicles, one military family’s saga and a large-scale epic of interstellar war, begin with the odyssey of Ganwold’s Child. Combat surgeon Darcie Dartmuth is taking her toddler son, Tristan, to rejoin her husband, Lieutenant Lujan Sergey, when their military transport is captured by alien slavers, the masuki. Darcie and Tristan manage to escape in a lifepod and land on Ganwold, home of the primitive and alien ganan. Tristan is barely eighteen when Darcie contracts a life-threatening illness. Accompanied by his gan “brother,” Pulou, Tristan sets out to seek help for her. When he ventures into an enemy colony, he is captured and turned over to Sector General Mordan Renier, his father’s nemesis, who uses Tristan as bait to trigger a new war for Renier’s lost homeworld. Now an Admiral and commander of the Unified Worlds’ special forces, the Spherzah, Lujan must repel Renier’s impending attack, realizing he could lose the family he has just learned is still alive.

“A very good first novel,” wrote Orson Scott Card, “in which a youngster plunges into a demanding military environment and is forced to find out just how good he is. This novel is exemplary for showing how the effective military mind really works—you’ll find no romantic military nonsense here.”
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About Diann T. Read and Her Books
Originally from northern Utah, Diann Thornley wrote her first story at the age of five and never stopped writing. She taught herself to type—with two fingers—on her father’s ancient manual typewriter at the age of six because it was faster than pushing a pencil. After winning a statewide writing contest, junior high division, at the age of fourteen, she began her first novel, which was based on the Arthurian legends. This endeavor filled most of her high school years and freshman year of college, until a handful of friends introduced her to science fiction by “kidnapping” her to go see an obscure little movie called Star Wars. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ganwold’s Child, first book of the The Sergey Chronicles, took seven years to complete, due to completing college and entering the U.S. Air Force. Following a year-long tour of duty in the Republic of Korea, Diann finished Ganwold’s Child while stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. Echoes of Issel and Dominion’s Reach, the second and third books in the Sergey trilogy, were also written in Ohio.

Diann transitioned into the Air Force Reserves following Desert Storm, but her military career spanned 23 years and included deployments to Bosnia and Iraq. In December 2000 she married Jon Read, NASA rocket scientist and martial artist, and moved to Texas. Diann retired from the Air Force in June 2009 to return to her writing career and spend more time with Jon.
Check out Diann’s website at, find her on Facebook at, follow her blog, “Hero Journeys,” at and on Twitter @DiannTRead.  You can find her books on Amazon at

The Sergey Chronicles (military science fiction)
When Tor Books originally published this trilogy in the late 1990s it was called The Saga of the Unified Worlds. It would have been more accurate to call it The Sergey Chronicles because it is, more than anything else, the story of one warrior family—Admiral Lujan Ansellic Sergey, his combat surgeon wife Captain Darcie Dartmuth, and their teenage son, Tristan Sergey—who become caught at the fulcrum of interstellar politics and the demands of their military duty. Wrenched apart and scattered across the galaxy by the brutalities of war, they face captivity, torture, coercion, and epic space battles to be reunited. Only then do their most devastating challenges begin. Having been separated by decades of time as well as lightyears of distance, each of them must confront his or her internal demons to make their family truly whole again, and to defeat a new and more insidious threat to their civilization. Among deadly special operations missions and scenes of deep-cover political intrigue runs a thread that proves how much one family can accomplish with patience, forgiveness, trust, dedication, and unity of purpose. The Sergey Chronicles are all available on Kindle at and are now available on Nook as well.

Excerpt from Ganwold’s Child
            Darcie didn’t expect to live.
            With the hand she could move enough to reach them, she tore unit and command patches from her uniform shirt, leaving only her nametag, rank and combat surgeon’s insignia. She drew out the chain from around her neck, yanked off the two crystal pendants hanging with her ID tags, shoved them into the corner behind her.
            “Mama?” The child stirred on her lap, trying to push himself back. “Why are—”
            She put a finger to his lips, her other hand cupping his head to prevent its bumping the metal bulkhead. “Hush, Tris.”
            She could barely whisper. She sat on the bottom of a locker meant only for a pressure suit—one of four lockers in the maintenance compartment—with the toddler held snug between her body and her drawn-up knees.
            Outside noises reached her: the roar of engines crescendoing toward thrust into lightskip. The fourth attempt.
            She braced her head back in the corner behind the pressure suit, hugged Tristan to her breast and locked her teeth. Clumsy masuki! They won’t have a catch left if they strain the transport to disintegration first.
            Lightskip warning horns screamed through the corridor outside the maintenance compartment. The vessel shook and groaned. In its turbulence, the child threw up.
            Darcie swallowed against her own nausea at its sour odor. She wiped his mouth and the front of her uniform. “Don’t cry, little soldier,” she whispered. “Here now, hold onto me.”
            The horns wound down as they had before, and she relaxed her brace against the plasmic sensation of entering lightskip.
            She waited what seemed hours in stifling darkness. Her legs grew cramped, then numb from their position and the toddler’s weight on them. She tried to shift a little, to ease them, and pain arced up her back.
            Her thoughts tumbled over each other without any order. She thought of Lujan, her husband, waiting for them at their destination. Remembered the way he had kissed her good-bye months ago on Topawa.
            The locker had grown hotter, almost suffocating, despite the vents in its door. She wondered, in an oddly detached way, how long it would take for her and Tristan to smother. Wondered what Lujan would do when he learned they were dead.
            The tremor of explosions shattered her reverie. Shooting? She heard the transport’s minimal weaponry reply, and then running footfalls, thudding up and down the corridor beyond her hiding place.
            Another hour passed before the craft rocked at the impact of electromagnets and shuddered in 
whine of winch cables. She started at volleys of light arms’ fire and bootfalls ringing through the
passages. Armored bootfalls this time, not scuffing masuk footsteps.
            Catching her lower lip in her teeth, she began to stroke the child’s hair.
            The maintenance compartment’s door slammed open. Voices reached her—two or three of them, only yards away—but their words, modulated by their helmets’ electronics, weren’t understandable. Boots trod the circumference of the maintenance compartment. Over her pulse in her ears, she detected an oscillating hum.
            She pressed a hand tight over Tristan’s mouth and bit off a groan. She had used lifeform sensors before; the locker’s construction wouldn’t jam them.
            The hum shot to a sharp whine; the boots stopped outside her enclosure. She heard an order, and then banging. Metal clashed on metal until she thought her head would split and Tristan’s wail would be drowned in its clamor. When the locker door tore away, she stared up at three armored shapes silhouetted against the dull light.
            Dominion legionnaires.
            The nearest one shoved aside the pressure suit, seized her by the wrist, and hauled her to her feet. She staggered, numb legs nearly buckling, and almost lost her hold on her child. From behind tinted helmet visors the other two soldiers’ gazes roamed her body.
            Darcie jerked her wrist from her captor’s gauntlet and wrapped both arms around Tristan. “This is illegal, you know! It’s been a month since the hostilities ended at Enach, and the talks are—”
            “I don’t think so,” the squad leader said. “Where’ve you been for the last few years?”
            She glared at him. Forced herself not to let her breath catch when one soldier stooped to search the locker. Straightening, he handed something to his sergeant. “Look at these.”
           The crystal hologram pendants. Her wedding portrait, and a picture of Lujan with Tristan.
           The sergeant held them up to the light, and she saw his eyes widen behind his visor. “Yeah, I thought the nametag looked familiar,” he said. “The colonel will probably promote us for this!” He tucked the holodiscs into his utility belt and reached for her arm. “It’s my duty to inform you, Lieutenant Dartmuth, that at no time in the last nine years has the Sector General recognized the governments of the Unified Worlds. He sealed the Accords under duress, so it wasn’t a legitimate treaty.”
            She evaded his hand. “Nine years? Surely you can lie better than that . . .”
            Her voice trailed off as she remembered the futile attempts to make lightskip. The masuk slavers must have succeeded at entering a time track whether or not they had crossed space. She questioned the legionnaire with a stare.
            “The Enach Accords weren’t ratified as easily as the Unified Worlds had hoped,” he said. “They didn’t fail as completely as Sector General Renier had hoped, either. You may be able to make that up to him.”
            “Mordan Renier?” Darcie stiffened. “Sector General?”
            The squad leader smiled. “I wonder what kind of plea bargain the Unified Worlds might be willing to make in exchange for you?”
            “It won’t work, you know.”
            “We’ll see.” His smile turned grim. “Move.” He shoved her shoulder, indicating the corridor. “Maybe the war isn’t over yet.”
            She yielded, her thoughts racing ahead. This transport has a cross-corridor aft of the bridge with an emergency shield door. . . .
            Hugging the child to her body, one hand rubbing up and down his back in reassurance, she set her teeth. One soldier strode before her, two behind. They hadn’t applied restraints; they had no firearms ready to hand. They appeared to trust her feigned submission. But a glance back showed one soldier’s hand resting on the hilt of a boarding knife, one of a dozen strapped naked about his hips like armor’s tasses made of steel teeth. Boarding knives, she knew, could double as throwing weapons.
            Several members of the crew lay in the corridor. She recognized Rahb Heike, the ship’s captain, and recoiled. He lay face down in his own blood. Masuk work.
            A hand pushed her back when she paused. She stumbled, slipping in Heike’s blood before she could catch her balance, and moved around another bloodied body. Lieutenant Baraq. He had also died before the legionnaires arrived. She swallowed dryness and turned her head away.
            She felt brief satisfaction at spotting several masuki sprawled in the corridor. The Unified soldiers had died fighting. But the ship was too empty, both of military personnel and civilians.
            Light from the intersecting corridor cast a square across the concourse deck ahead. She shifted Tristan to her left arm and curled her right fist, keeping her head lowered.
            Ten paces. . . .
            She lunged left into the cross-corridor, her right fist punching the manual trigger on its bulkhead. The shield door dropped behind her with a whoosh that ended in a crunch and her pursuer’s garbled scream. She pressed Tristan’s face to her shoulder and forced herself not to look back.
            The cross passage opened on one parallel to the corridor she had sealed. It led to the lifepods. If they’ve not been jettisoned already.
            She pressed herself to the bulkhead to listen for pursuers and peer into the corridor. She saw nothing, up and down, but the smoke-obscured shapes of bodies on the deck. She tried to set the child on his feet, to rest her arm, but he clung to her, wide-eyed with confusion and fear. She smoothed his hair, kissed his forehead. “Come then, little soldier,” she said, collecting him again, and slipped into the passage.
            Smoke from screen grenades stung her eyes, making them run and blurring her vision. She stumbled over a body and paused, panting. One of the surface troops, a young man she didn’t recognize. An energy pistol lay in his out-flung hand. She stooped to snatch it up. Glanced at the power cell in its grip when bootfalls echoed up the corridor behind her. Its charge light still burned.
            Five or six armored figures emerged through the haze. She leveled the E-gun, squeezed the trigger. Its energy burst seared off the bulkhead into the knot of oncoming men. A cry rang back to her as one of them crumpled. Another, too close to avoid, sprawled over him as the rest sprang for cover. Darcie turned for the lift.
            Its door stood jammed open, its platform suspended between decks. She glanced over her shoulder. Two armored shapes advanced on her, steel glinting in their hands.

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