Saturday, February 26, 2022

Audiobook Spotlight: The Briton and the Dane by Mary Ann Bernal, narrated by Sebastian Lockwood


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King Alfred the Great has thwarted the Viking threat against his kingdom of Wessex. Signing a treaty with the formidable Danish King Guthrum, he succeeds in pushing the heathen army back to the rolling fens of East Anglia.

An uneasy peace holds sway: The King establishes a standing army under Lord Richard, who takes command of the citadel at Wareham.

Richard and his army are accompanied by his daughter, Gwyneth, an impetuous and reckless young woman – at once striking, intellectually gifted, but dangerously vain and imprudent.

While Richard broods on the Viking threat, Gwyneth falls in love with an enemy prince - only to discover that she has been betrothed to a Saxon warrior twice her age.

Refusing to countenance her grim fate, she flees the fortress, but is soon kidnapped by a Viking warrior and taken to the camp of King Guthrum while Saxon search parties scour the land.

In captivity, a hostage to fortune, and the focus of political intrigue, Gwyneth is submerged in a world of expediency, betrayal, and black treachery. Slowly, she realizes the truth is suspect, nothing is what it appears and her reality cannot be trusted.

And all the time, against this background, she desires nothing more than to be reunited with her dashing Danish prince.

Listen to Chapter One HERE


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Friday, February 25, 2022

Book Spotlight: Escape the Choice (The Choice Series, Book 1) by Ellie Yarde


How do you make a choice when you don't want to choose?

Oliver's friendship may be important to Ali, after all, she's the only friend he's got, but that's all they will ever be – friends. When it comes to Noah, she can't help but hope their friendship will become something more. Her heart flutters when he is near, and her eyes always seem to find his.

Unfortunately for Ali, Oliver would make things very difficult if anything were to happen between her and Noah, and while Noah has never told her not to be friends with Oliver, his distaste for the man is quite clear. For Ali to resolve the ongoing dispute, she will have to choose between them. But how can Ali choose between the two men when her decision will mean she has to cut one of them from her life?

A quick read filled with friendship, love, and a deep adoration of coffee and muffins.

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 Available on #KindleUnlimited.

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Ellie Yarde

Ellie Yarde is primarily a reader and blogger. She writes short stories, which are published on her blog, Reading All Night, where she also shares her reviews. Escape The Choice is Ellies debut novel and the first in The Choice Series.

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Saturday, February 19, 2022

Audiobook Spotlight: The Briton and the Dane: Concordia by Mary Ann Bernal, narrated by Sebastian Lockwood


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Travel back in time to late ninth-century Anglo-Saxon Britain, where Alfred the Great rules with a benevolent hand while the Danish King rules peacefully within the boundaries of the Danelaw. Trade flourishes, and scholars from throughout the civilized world flock to Britannia's shores to study at the King's Court School at Winchester.

Enter Concordia, a beautiful noblewoman whose family is favored by the king. Vain, willful, and admired but ambitious and cunning, Concordia is not willing to accept her fate. She is betrothed to the valiant warrior Brantson but sees herself as far too young to lie in the bedchamber of an older suitor. She wants to see the wonders of the world, embracing everything in it - preferably, but dangerously, at the side of Thayer, the exotic Saracen who charms King Alfred's court and ignites her yearning passions.

Concordia manipulates her besotted husband into taking her to Rome, but her ship is captured by bloodthirsty pirates, and the seafarers protecting her are ruthlessly slain to a man. As she awaits her fate in the Moorish captain's bed, by sheer chance she discovers that salvation is at hand in the gilded court of a Saracen nobleman.

While awaiting rescue, Concordia finds herself at the center of intrigue, plots, blackmail, betrayal, and the vain desires of two egotistical brothers, each willing to die for her favor. Using only feminine cunning, Concordia must defend her honor while plotting her escape as she awaits deliverance somewhere inside steamy, unconquered Muslim Hispania.

Listen to the Preface HERE


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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Audiobook Spotlight: The Briton and the Dane: Timeline by Mary Ann Bernal, narrated by Michele Lukovich


Dr. Gwyneth Franger, a renowned expert in early medieval England, is set upon learning the truth about the death of Lord Erik, the last descendant of the powerful House of Wareham. Her quest becomes an obsession, a condition that began with the discovery of a portrait of the tall and valiant warrior. Digesting troves of mildewed scrolls and source documentation only enhances her belief that Lord Erik was brutally assassinated by a cabal of traitors in the pay of William the Bastard, shortly before the onslaught of the Norman Invasion.

On an archeological dig in Southern England, Dr. Franger finds herself transported back to the Dark Ages and at the side of the noble Lord Erik who commands an army of elite Saxon warriors. Witnessing the unrest firsthand, Gwyneth senses that her instincts had been right all along, and she is determined to learn the identities of the treacherous blackguards hiding in the shadows, villains who may well be posing as Lord Erik’s friends and counselors.

Gwyneth knows it is wrong to stop the assassins but isn’t sure she can find the strength to walk away and watch her beloved Erik die. Will she intervene, change the course of history and wipe out an entire timeline to save the man she loves?

Listen to Chapter One HERE


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Thursday, February 10, 2022

Spotlight on Elizabeth R. Andersen, author of The Scribe (The Two Daggers, Book 1) and The Land of God (The Two Daggers, Book 2)


The Scribe (Book 1)

All Henri of Maron wanted was to stay with his family on his country estate, surrounded by lemon groves and safety. But in 13th century Palestine, when noble-born boys are raised to fight for the Holy Land, young Henri will be sent to live and train among men who hate him for what he is: a French nobleman of an Arab mother. Robbed of his humanity and steeped in cruelty, his encounters with a slave soldier, a former pickpocket, and a kindly scribe will force Henri to confront his own beliefs and behaviors. Will Henri maintain the status quo in order to fit into a society that doesnt want him, or will fate intervene first?

The first book in The Two Daggers series, The Scribe takes readers on a sweeping adventure through the years and months that lead up to the infamous Siege of Acre in 1291 CE and delves into the psyches of three young people caught up in the wave of history.

The Land of God (Book 2)

Pain. His sisters screams. And a beautiful face in the jeering crowd. When Henri of Maron woke, he had only a few memories of his brutal flogging, but he knew the world had changed. He had changed.

Now, as he grapples with the fallout from his disastrous decisions, war with the Mamluk army looms closer. To convince the city leaders to take the threat seriously, Henri and the grand master of the Templars must rely on unlikely allies and bold risks to avoid a siege.

Meanwhile, Sidika is trying to find a way to put her life back together. When she is forced to flee her home, her chance encounters with a handsome amir and a strangely familiar old woman will have consequences for her future.

The Land of God weaves the real historical figures with rich, complex characters and an edge-of-seat plot. Readers who enjoyed the Brethren series by Robyn Young and The Physician by Noah Gordon will appreciate this immersive tale set in the Middle East in the Middle Ages.

Trigger warnings:

Torture, violence, sexual assault, sexual content.


Buy Links:

 (The Scribe, Book 1)

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(The Land of God, Book 2)

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.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´

 Elizabeth R. Andersen

Fun Facts
(Stuff you may or may not already know.)

I travel…a lot

In my corporate life, I have always had jobs that required a lot of international travel, and so I’ve spent a lot of time living and working outside of the US.  Although I no longer work in big tech, I still travel frequently, although COVID has definitely dampened my globe-trotting.  I am planning a research trip to Marseilles, Conques, and Colmar in the summer of 2022 (some of that is related to The Two Daggers series and some related to another series that I am starting this fall).

I ran a non-profit for child refugees in Thailand

When I was in my early twenties, unsatisfied with corporate life, I decided to quit to do something more meaningful (this became a pattern in my career).  Three months after I made that decision, I was living in a remote part of Thailand near the Myanmar border and running a non-profit that housed and educated children fleeing the ongoing conflict.  I was only twenty-five years old and utterly unprepared for the challenges involved in working with refugees.  I spent a lot of time teaching the children to speak English, but we also gave them vocational training so they did not end up in prostitution or other unsavory jobs.  I created fundraising campaigns, community outreach programs, partnerships with the other NGOs, and advocated for the kids to go to the local public schools.  I also oversaw the medical treatment for our kids who were HIV positive.

 I used an Oculus 3D headset to do my Acre location research for The Scribe

I had a business trip to Malta planned for September of 2021, which would give me a chance to take some personal time and head over to Acre to research the location for The Scribe.  Like everyone else on the planet, COVID-19 squashed my plans, so I took the trip from my home instead.  Using an Oculus 3D headset and an app called Wander, I walked the streets of Acre, looked inside the stunning Hospitaller citadel, and gazed across the ocean toward Cyprus.  It cannot replace an actual in-person visit, but it was the best I could do.

I am a classically trained pianist

I started playing the piano at age five and performing at age ten.  Although I was quite good (I still love to sit down and hammer out some feisty Rachmaninov when I’m feeling frustrated), I developed carpal tunnel syndrome at the age of fifteen and completely burned out on the hours of practice.  I only play the piano rarely now, but I have been enjoying learning the hammered dulcimer lately. 

I am a mountain and outdoor addict

This writer is extremely fortunate to live in the stunning Pacific Northwest of the US because we have stunning mountains everywhere!  I’ve enjoyed hiking in Washington, California, Oregon, Hawaii, Montana, Colorado, British Columbia, Alberta, Switzerland, Thailand, Laos, China, and Singapore (yes, there are hikes in Singapore), but Bolivia and Patagonia are my ultimate dream hiking locations.



Elizabeth R. Andersen

Elizabeth R. Andersen's debut novel, The Scribe, launched in July of 2021. Although she spent many years of her life as a journalist, independent fashion designer, and overworked tech employee, there have always been two consistent loves in her life: writing and history. She finally decided to do something about this and put them both together.

Elizabeth lives in the Seattle area with her long-suffering husband and young son. On the weekends she usually hikes in the stunning Cascade mountains to hide from people and dream up new plotlines and characters. Elizabeth is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

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Friday, February 4, 2022

Forgiving Nero by Mary Ann Bernal awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion


FORGIVING NERO by Mary Ann Bernal has been honored with the B.R.A.G.Medallion (Book Readers Appreciation Group). It now joins the very select award-winning, reader-recommended books at indieBRAG.

A Story so Intriguing and Spellbinding

The jewel of the civilized world has fallen. The Senate is weak, her legions are in disarray, and the Empire has fallen into depraved Nero’s hands. Politics and treachery threaten to end Nero’s reign before it begins, forcing him to turn to Traian, who becomes the father he never had, and the one man who never judges him.

When Traian secretly marries the hostage Vena, it sets in motion a collision of values as Traian comes to odds with his former charge. The whirlwind that follows will shake the very foundations of the greatest Empire the world has ever known, and survival is far from guaranteed.

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Thursday, February 3, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: A King Under Siege (The Plantagenet Legacy, Book 1) by Mercedes Rochelle


Richard II found himself under siege not once, but twice in his minority. Crowned king at age ten, he was only fourteen when the Peasants' Revolt terrorized London. But he proved himself every bit the Plantagenet successor, facing Wat Tyler and the rebels when all seemed lost. Alas, his triumph was short-lived, and for the next ten years, he struggled to assert himself against his uncles and increasingly hostile nobles. Just like in the days of his great-grandfather Edward II, vengeful magnates strove to separate him from his friends and advisors, and even threatened to depose him if he refused to do their bidding. The Lords Appellant, as they came to be known, purged the royal household with the help of the Merciless Parliament. They murdered his closest allies, leaving the King alone and defenseless. He would never forget his humiliation at the hands of his subjects. Richard's inability to protect his adherents would haunt him for the rest of his life, and he vowed that next time, retribution would be his.


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Audio Narrated by Kevin E. Green

 ¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´


Richard and his retainers sat astride their horses while Walworth crossed the distance between the two groups, stopping just outside of rock-throwing range. He wasted no time.

"Wat Tyler," he bellowed. "The king commands you to present yourself and submit your petitions in person." Wheeling his horse around, the mayor trotted back to the royal party.

The rebel leader was standing in the second rank, and he puffed his chest out when his name was called. "Imagine that," he boasted to his neighbors. "The king calls me by name." He couldn't stop himself from bouncing up and down in excitement. "Look at them, cowering over there like so many sheep. They know we are the rulers of this city." He stepped out and gestured for someone to bring his horse. "What say you, lads? Shall I go and address the king?"

"Yes, Yes!" the rebels clamored their support.  Wat mounted his hackney and rode into the open field, accompanied by a single follower carrying the king's banner given them the day before. He glanced up at the sky, wanting to remember this moment. The horizon was slightly hazy in places from the smoke of burning buildings. The sun warmed his back; his followers cheered him on. Today, Wat Tyler would make his mark as England's champion. Across the square, the king waited for him. For him alone. He rode right up to the unsympathetic lords and quickly dismounted. Just as quickly he bowed, then seized Richard's hand and roughly shook it, to the astonishment of everyone.

"Be of good cheer," Wat declared. "For you shall have, in a fortnight, forty thousand more commons than you see right now, and we shall be good companions."

Richard suppressed a shudder. Pulling his hand away, he asked, "Why haven't you gone home, since I gave you what you asked for?"

All elation fled. This wasn't what he wanted at all. "Upon my soul, I will not go home. Not until we have a charter more to our liking." He unsheathed his dagger and pointed it up as though to emphasize his declaration. "There are many different points that need clarifying. And if you don't you will bitterly rue the day you opposed the commons of England!"

Sitting behind the king, Robert de Vere grunted in anger. But Richard held up a hand, silencing him. "And what points are these you need clarifying?"

Wat started tossing his knife from one hand to the other. Back and forth the knife went, while he proclaimed each carefully rehearsed statement. "Well, sire. It's like this. First, we demand that all game laws be abolished. Every man should be able to hunt his own food without worrying about getting killed, trying to feed his family. Secondly, there should be no outlawry in any process of the law." He paused, waiting for a response but none was forthcoming. Again. Wat took this as encouragement, resuming his knife toss. "Thirdly, the goods of the Holy Church should no longer remain in the hands of the religious. Let the clergy have sufficiency to support them, but let the rest of their goods be divided among the people of the parish. Lastly, we demand that there should be no more lordships. All the lands should be divided among the people, except what belongs to the king. There should be no more villeinage and no more serfdom, but all men should be free and of one condition." He stopped, wiping his forehead.

Richard nodded briefly. "You shall have all that I can legally grant, saving the regality of my crown. Now go. Go back to your own home."

The king and his men sat unmoving on their horses. Not another word was said. Even the rebels had quieted down, though they were too far away to hear any speeches. Wat stared at the king; this was not going right.

Jerking his shoulders, he turned around. "Water," he shouted to his follower. "Bring me water." He stared at the king while he waited, then held out his free hand as he heard someone run up behind him. He took a deep draught from a jug, swished it around his mouth, and spat on the ground in front of Richard's horse. The animal stepped away but Richard nudged it back into place. The king held up a warning hand once again. He waited. He could tell that Wat was losing his self-control.

"Ale," shouted Tyler. "Bring me ale!" Once again he waited; once again he quaffed the contents in one long gulp. Handing the mug to his companion, he remounted his horse, turning his back on the king.

"You are a common thief and a liar," someone shouted.

Wat spun around. "What! Is that you John?" he growled, recognizing the voice of Sir John Newton, his old captive from Rochester. "Come out here." He shook his dagger threateningly.

"I will not! You are naught but a knave and unworthy of my sword!"

Wat couldn't believe that his authority was slipping away so fast. "By my faith," he hollered, "I shall never eat meat again till I have your head!" Blinded with rage, he pushed his horse into the royal entourage, intent on striking his challenger.

But Mayor Walworth expected something of the sort. "False stinking rascal," he shouted, and interposed his own horse between Wat and Newton. "I arrest you for drawing your blade in front of the king's face!"

Momentarily distracted, Wat swung around and thrust his dagger at the mayor's stomach—only to see it turned aside. The steel breastplate had done its job. He struggled to disentangle his blade from the fabric, but Walworth was faster; he drew a short sword and slashed it down on Tyler's shoulder, driving him onto his horse's neck. One of Richard's squires plunged his sword twice into Wat's side.

The rebel leader was incapacitated but he had enough energy to pull out of the crush. "Treason!" he cried, urging his mount toward his followers. The horse took a few running steps but slowed to a stop and Wat slipped out of his saddle, hitting the ground with a thud.

Nobody moved. From across the field, a groan went up, rising in volume as though the heart was rent from thousands of breasts. Louder and louder the cries grew until shrieks of rage shook the multitude. "Our captain is dead! Our leader has been killed!" Many of them reached for their arrows and bent their bows, intent on slaughtering everybody they could reach.

As soon as Walworth had dealt his blow, he turned his horse and charged away from the king directly toward the city. Richard's followers were in a panic; everything was happening too fast. They broke their close-knit ranks; a number of them followed the mayor. Others milled around the king when, without notice, Richard spurred his horse and galloped across the field toward the rabble.

"Men," he shouted. "What aileth you? Ye shall have no captain but me. I am your king! I will be your leader. Follow me into the fields without!" He pointed north to Clerkenwell and slowed his horse to a walk.

Bewildered, they hesitated, gawking at each other. All of a sudden, everything had changed for the worse. From the beginning, they had claimed their support for the king, and now the king commanded them to follow. What else could they do? The rebels lowered their weapons and obeyed for lack of better leadership. Still standing in a semblance of battle order, they kept their formation as one and followed Richard toward the fields around Clerkenwell.

Mercedes Rochelle 

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received a  BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Waking Up Lost by David Fitz-Gerald


Traveling without warning. Nights lost to supernatural journeys. Is one young man fated to wander far from safety?

New York State, 1833. Noah Munch longs to fit in. Living with a mother who communes with ghosts and a brother with a knack for heroics, the seventeen-year-old wishes he were fearless enough to discover an extraordinary purpose of his own. But when he mysteriously awakens in the bedroom of the two beautiful daughters of the meanest man in town, he realizes his odd sleepwalking ability could potentially be deadly.

Convinced that leaving civilization is the only way to keep himself and others safe, Noah pursues his dream of becoming a mountain man and slips away into the primeval woods. But after a strong summer storm devastates his camp, the troubled lad finds his mystical wanderings have only just begun.

Can Noah find his place before he’s destroyed by a ruthless world?

Waking Up Lost is the immersive fourth book in the Adirondack Spirit Series of historical fiction. If you like coming-of-age adventures, magical realism, and stories of life on the American frontier, then you’ll love David Fitz-Gerald’s compelling chronicle.

Buy Waking Up Lost to map out destiny today!

Trigger Warnings:

Rape, torture, cruelty to animals, sex, violence.


Buy Links:

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Available on #KindleUnlimited.

 ¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´


I’m outdoors, shivering, and I have no idea where I am. I’m lying on solid rock, perhaps a giant boulder, and the wind whips at me from every direction, all at once. Cold rain is falling, and little bits of ice, perhaps freezing rain, are mixed in. I can’t see very far, no more than a couple of yards into the darkness. Then I realize this is not a dream, and it is not a nightmare. It has happened again. As terrible as my predicament seems at the moment, I’m relieved not to be inside someone’s house.

I pick a direction and crawl along a path that I hope will lead me to somewhere I can take cover. I wish that my pack basket and survival tools were with me. Instead, I’m barefoot in my nightshirt and night cap, outdoors in the middle of the night, during a storm. I find shelter between four giant boulders and scoot as far back as I can within the opening. I sit with my back against a cold rock, pull my knees to my chest, and tuck my feet under the bottom of my nightshirt, hoping to capture some warmth at that extremity. I pull my arms into my sleeves and cross them over my chest. I tuck my mouth under the neckband of my nightshirt and breathe the warmth from my body back over my core. I plan to stay in this position until the weather breaks or morning comes. I have plenty of time to contemplate my situation. This is the third time that I have awakened in a strange place. People may think that it is sleepwalking, but I know better. There is no way I could have sleepwalked my way here.

I scream into the darkness, “What do you want from me?” The swirling winds swallow my plea. I reach my hands up through the neck hole of my nightshirt and sob into them.

Exhaustion overtakes me again. I yawn and doze off, aware that I might freeze to death in the elements and never awaken again. I don’t care. I’m not sure how long I sleep or how I come to be awake again, but I’m shivering violently. I sit forward and gaze out of the hole into the night. The storm is gone, and I see brightly twinkling stars in an expansive firmament. The air is still but cold. The sky is bright enough that I can see far off into the distance. I take a deep breath and experience a wave of wonder. I’m standing on top of a mountain in the middle of the night. I jump up and down to get my blood moving and to warm myself. I bend and stretch my fingers, and then do jumping jacks. I’m grateful to find warmth return to my body. I must keep moving.

Carefully, I set out to explore the mountain top. I can see the faintest smudge of color, yellow and orange on the horizon, that must be east. The top of this mountain is a vast rocky dome. I walk warily on top of it, not afraid of the heights, but mindful not to fall.

I feel a swelling in my chest, a sense of wonder that I’ve never experienced before. Last night, I asked my maker, “Why me,” and I was shown this sight. I bounce for warmth on the tips of my feet. I watch as the sunrise spreads across the heavens beneath and in front of me. I keep looking to my left and right, as if I might meet God here. Though I don’t see Him, I feel the warmth of his arm across my back. I feel his strength within my being. I hear his message in my soul: “You shall survive. You will overcome enormous obstacles, and you will find your way. Have faith and be strong.”

I feel like I’m looking at the world from the moon. Then it hits me that I am standing on top of Whiteface, the enormous mountain above our town. I watch as clouds float around beneath me, and I wander the ridge along the top of the mountain. I wish I could lock the sights I see, forever in my brain. If I can, I’ll come back here as often as possible. If not, at least I want to remember this one miraculous morning. I feel the chill of cold air, but it is no match for the warmth in my heart.

Then I notice the wind has picked up again, and clouds have begun to gather. I worry that the storms are returning to the top of the mountain, and I know that it is time to leave. I fear that I have stayed too long as it is. I find a possible path toward the east below and scamper from the top of the mountain. I see a faint trail. I can’t imagine what might have made such a trail, but it is time to move, not time to contemplate.

David Fitz-Gerald

David Fitz-Gerald writes fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits. Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing.

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