Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tour Kick-off & Giveaway: The Lightrider Journals by Eric Nierstedt

Joseph Hashimoto is happy with his ordinary life. A man who believes in fairness and just action, Joe’s greatest love is his family. But as he moves about his days, he is completely unaware that his actions are carefully observed. With one momentous decision, Joe’s ordinary life is about to transform into an extraordinary existence.

While attempting to save a little girl from danger, Joe is killed in a violent explosion. Instead of dying, however, his soul is brought before the elemental Architects of the Universe, who tell him he has been chosen for a sacred duty. Reborn as Lightrider, the earthly representative of Light, Joe is given leadership of the Elemental Knights, a group of half-man, half-animal beings. Charged with maintaining a delicate balance between good and evil, Joe must police both sides and destroy anyone who threatens to ruin it. As Joe struggles with his conflicting emotions and longing for home, he must face his greatest threat—the ancient Chaos Demons.

In this fantasy tale, a man inadvertently thrust into a world of cosmic forces must come to terms with change and accept what needs to be done for the good of all

Buy Links: Available in ebook, paperback and hardcover from each site.

The man once known as Joseph Hashimoto, now called Lightrider, looked over at the cosmic beings that had called him here and made him one of their vessels. One by one, he met their eyes, until he came to the being that had given him his name and power.

As Ralin watched, the man put down his staff, and then, moving his hands to his face, his fingers came to the wrappings that covered his lower face. But as he touched them, the wrappings glowed with golden light and then vanished, leaving his face bare.

The Lightrider licked his lips and spoke the first words of his new life. “Well …that was … goddamn!”

“True, if not eloquent,” Ralin said. “How do you feel, my knight?”

“All right, I think,” Joe said, glancing down at himself. Looking at his golden clothing, he asked, “If I’m a knight, shouldn’t I have armor or something?”

“A knight is made not by the clothing he wears, Lightrider, but by the virtue he keeps in his heart.”

“Wow. That’s uh … Can I say it sounds cheesy, or should I just nod?”

“Both, Lightrider,” Demtia said with a chuckle. “Our brother lets his mouth run away with him quite often. I believe such terms are called ‘cliché’ in your world?”

“That’s one way of putting it,” Joe said. Turning back to Ralin, he asked, “Okay, so no armor. But what happens now?”

“What happens to all soldiers before battle,” Rastla answered. “You and your siblings must train, and learn to use the powers you have been given.”


“Siblings in our service. Remember, Lightrider, I said you were the final Elemental Knight,” Ralin said. “My fellows have already made their selections of Knights. But we had decided that my choice would lead, and so we did not finish building the knighthood until a leader was chosen.”

“Okay, that makes sense,” Joe said. “So who are these guys? Did you pick them from earth like me?”

“They do come from your world,” Ralin answered. He gestured for Joe to turn.

“You will find them somewhat … unique, I believe.”

Joe raised an eyebrow at that, but he turned nonetheless. What he saw was each of the Architects holding his or her hand over a ball of energy that appeared on his or her part of the platform. Each was colored for its specific Architect, and as Joe watched, the balls grew smaller and smaller. As they did, Joe could see arms and legs poking out of the energy. But as they emerged, he realized something was wrong. The appendages he saw were slim compared to those of humans, and many ended in paws. Two of them seemed to be wings.

And as the energy faded completely, Joe looked at the being closest to him and said, …“A lizard?

“You expect me to lead a lizard?!” Joe exclaimed in disbelief. He stared at the reddish-brown creature that sat on Darya’s section.

“Of course not, Lightrider. Don’t be ridiculous,” Darya answered.

“Oh, thank God. I really thought that—”

“This is a Gila monster, not a simple lizard.”

Joe looked at the Fire Architect for a moment, and asked, “Uh, you realize that it’s kinda, well, non-advanced, right?”

“That may be true now. But such things can be changed.”

“Right. That totally makes sense,” Joe said. He glanced over at the other Architects and their selections. At the feet of each Architect sat a being encased in strange, multicolored energy, frozen in one position. But none of them was human. As Joe looked at each Architect down the line from Rastla, he saw they had chosen a bat, an orange cat, a German shepherd, the Gila monster, a falcon, a squirrel, a ram, a spider, and a wolf.

“Um, I’m a little confused here,” Joe said, looking back at Ralin. “I thought I was going to be leading a knighthood, not Noah’s Ark!”

“You thought that all our choices would be human?” Ralin asked. “Remember Lightrider, we Architects have created all manner of life—many more species than humans alone and on many other worlds.”

“Though Earth and humanity were our first successes, there are few humans on Earth that are able to handle this power,” Rastla whispered. “It would be a tool for them, easily abused for material gain or power. That is a large part of the reason my brother chose you instead of another. But the rest of us chose animals that we saw as symbolic of our elements.”

“But what do you expect me to do with them?” Joe asked. “I can’t lead a bunch of animals into the fray and hope for the best.”

“Nor would we ask you to,” Ralin said. “Your knighthood shall be one comprised of the best of man and beast—one providing the primal body and the strengths therein and the other the developed soul and intellect. For yours is not the only human soul taken from Death’s grip.”

“You mean… you’ve taken other people away? Given them this choice?” Joe asked incredulously.

“Not exactly,” Naru replied. “The souls we chose have been dead for quite some time. We offer them a chance for new life, new purpose. You would understand that, correct? We have seen you demonstrate belief in redemption. It was one of many qualities I enjoyed seeing in you.”

“Well … I guess that’s different,” Joe mused. “But I still don’t understand what it is you plan to do.”

“You have but to watch, Lightrider, and all shall be made clear,” Ralin answered.

He pointed to Rastla.

Joe shrugged but turned his eyes to the Architect of Shadow. She raised her arms, her long sleeves draping down. Something began to glow inside them. Joe’s eyes narrowed as Rastla began to speak under her breath, muttering strange words that were too low and foreign for Joe to understand. The glowing from her sleeves grew brighter, until the black of her robe had been changed into a blinding white. Despite the light, Joe didn’t blink; instead he gasped as nine glowing spheres of white energy flew out of Rastla’s sleeves. They floated and twirled around the dark Architect, as she continued her strange chant. Finally, she finished her words, and brought her arms down. The spheres shot off in nine different directions, coming to rest before the nine beings selected to fill the ranks of Joe’s knighthood.

This is some majorly weird shit, Joe thought to himself, watching as the spheres hovered in front of their respective chosen ones. The spheres moved closer to the animals. As each sphere touched the magic aura that covered its animal, the aura glowed briefly, fading as the spheres pushed through and entered the animals.

Joe’s eyes went wide as he saw a new glow encase each of the creatures, each one the color of an Architect. He heard a creak, and then Joe gasped as the creatures inside the glows begin to move. Wings twitched, heads swung, and legs kicked—the creatures awoke from whatever slumber they’d been placed into. But Joe realized that the creatures weren’t just waking up.

They were changing.

It was the lizard that grabbed his attention first. Joe heard the creaks and cracks as the creature’s body began to shift and move, like its bones were changing under its skin. It started to grow bigger, its limbs becoming thicker and longer. Its scales started to become more pronounced and defined. It began to rise up, its shape stretching and shifting underneath its frame. For a minute, Joe wondered what was going on, and then he understood as he saw how its lower legs had stretched and how it was attempting to push off the ground with its now long front legs.

It was trying to stand up.

Caught between amazement and horror, Joe whirled around to see what was happening to the other chosen. He saw the spider, already five times its previous size, holding itself up with six arms that now possessed clawed hands and attempting to balance on its two back legs. He saw the bat, almost as large as the spider, its small body becoming tall and lean. The cat next to it was the same, its head and face stretching and smoothing out, becoming a strange mix of woman and feline.

Joe’s eyes spun from creature to creature, as if each one wasn’t some horrible, new life-form evolving before his eyes, but a beautiful woman with a sign that read,

“Come get me, Joe.” As the creatures continued to change before him, Joe realized the tremendous mistake he’d made agreeing to this. Creators of the universe? Oh yeah, they were creators all right—the kind that belonged in a movie, digging up graves to form their monster. Whatever magic, whatever power they’d given him, it wasn’t worth it— not for beings that would do something like this.

Maybe I can still get out, Joe thought. It might not be too late. Yeah I can tell Ralin, “Listen, this was cool, but the whole Dr. Moreau thing is freaking me out. I’ll be happy to help you find another dead guy, but I think I’d rather see what’s in the great beyond and …”


That one simple word snapped Joe out of his mental hysterics. Slowly, Joe turned his head toward the sound of the voice and felt his jaw come unhinged and fall toward his chest. The dog that Chirron had selected had finished its transformation. The creature stood upright on two legs, and Joe saw that, despite the fur that still covered it, its naked body had become very, very obviously human. Its front legs had become a pair of arms, ending in hands with furry fingers. The rest of its body might’ve passed for a very well toned human, had it not been for the fur and tail—oh and the German shepherd head that was now staring at Joe.

What people are saying

“More than just the usual good versus evil theme, it focuses on good not always being right, and evil not always being bad, but there needs to be a balance between the two.” – DB ~ Amazon Reviewer

“I really felt like I was on the sidelines watching it all unfold.” – Ren @ A Little Bit of R&R

“From the first page, I found myself not wanting to stop reading. The story and characters had me completely engrossed, and I think it is a book I'd find myself reading over in years to come.” – Kristen Bapst ~ Amazon Reviewer

The book was not only believable but spiritual as well as suspenseful. The writing is amazingly descriptive which bring the pages to life in your mind. The imagery is so clear, I could see it on the big screen as I flew through the pages.” Anonymous Barnes & Noble Reviewer

Eric Nierstedt grew up in Garwood NJ, and spent most of his life absorbing the epic tales of fantasy from Terry Brooks, Stephen King, and even the tales of comic books and video games. His writing began soon after, as he honed it through writing for the local paper, and maintain his own blog (www.thepopculturemark.wordpress.com/). When he graduated from Kean University, his began his first novel, while also being selected for the NJ Wordsmith Competition. Eric wanted to tell a story of a group of characters, anchored by one central narrator, that battled forces of destruction. And he also wanted to use his own thoughts on the nature of good and evil- how the two are defined by each other,

"When I started the Lightrider Journals, the big fantasy novels of the day were Twilight and Harry Potter.  I wanted to avoid being another copy of those at all costs.  So I combined all my major influences- Terry Brooks, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Stephen King's The Dark Tower.  As I wrote, I wanted to explore a concept that wasn't discussed much in any popular fantasy- the idea of showing good and evil as forces both responsible for and essential to life as we know it. I also wanted to show a more natural form of magic, and show fantasy existing in the real world, which would turn out much bigger then people think.  And finally, I wanted to tell a story about what I was feeling stepping out in the world for the first time- how a man can adapt to a sudden and tremendous responsibility- not just his successes, but his losses as well, and how he learns to live with them.  And of course, throw in liberal amounts of magic, characters that would resonate with people, and a sprinkling of humor.  I think anyone who reads it will be able to have a good time with all the characters and action, but also see a different version of the never ending battle of good and evil.  And most of all, I hope they leave the book with a better idea of how they can face that which seems insurmountable."


Email: [email protected]

I thought I'd share some of these character drawings with you because they are AWESOME!

Artwork by Derrick Fish. You can see all of the character illustrations on The Lighrider Journals webpage.

                        Joseph Hashimoto/Lightrider                                  Nightstalker

          Knight of Light and Leader of the Elementals   Knight of Shadow and second in command

                                         Forger                                                       Wavercrasher

                                  Knight of Metal                                             Knight of Water 

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