I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Nameless to read and it is AMAZING. This book completely destroyed me in the best way possible and left me with a horrible book hangover! It is the first in a two books high fantasy young adult series and it releases October 6, 2015. Enjoy reading the first chapter and make sure to put it on your TBR piles because this is one you do not want to miss!
Enter to win a digital copy of Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins at the end of this post! This giveaway is brought you to by Month9Books!
With her degree in History and Secondary Education, Jennifer Jenkins had every intention of teaching teens to love George Washington, the Napoleonic Wars, and Ancient Sparta . . . until the writing began. Author of Young Adult fantasy and co-founder of Teen Author Boot Camp, she divides her time between reading, writing music, taking spontaneous trips, and researching random events from the past. NAMELESS, a Young Adult tribal fantasy, releases October 6, 2015 with Month9Books.
Want to read more from Jennifer Jenkins?
Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing CHAPTER ONE of Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins presented byMonth9Books!
NAMELESS is in development for film by Benderspink! That’s the same company who optioned Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen and produced the I AM NUMBER FOUR film!
New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George read NAMELESS and loved it!:
“Jenkins brings edge-of-your-seat adventure to this intriguing new world. I can’t wait to read more!”
Zo couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t fear the Ram. Even after the raid, when so much of her fear had turned to hate, the fear still existed beneath. It was a foundation that she came to rely upon. A constant.
Sleeping under a fir tree so close to Ram’s Gate went against her very nature. While her body revolted, she couldn’t think of a more appropriate place to be. Zo choked down the beastly fear clawing its way up her throat and smiled like this was just another assignment. “It’s time, Gabe.”
Her guard, Gabe, rested on soggy pine needles beside her. His hands were tucked behind his shaggy blond head, eyes closed in feigned sleep. He used to lay like that, with his arms arrogantly thrown back and his chest puffed out like he owned the world, when they were kids. The river would rush by carrying rumors of starving clans and battles lost—heartache that pulled tight strings of tension throughout Zo’s body—while Gabe just laid back and chewed on a grass root.
Today, Gabe’s pretend-sleep didn’t fool Zo any more than it ever had. They both knew he hadn’t slept soundly since they’d left the Allied Camp a week ago. With eyes still closed, Gabe frowned as Zo left the protection of his side to bundle her bedroll. She crawled out from under the skirt of the enormous fir tree. Its sweeping limbs that kissed the uneven ground had kept them as safe as one could be in this godforsaken region. Behind her, Gabe growled impatiently as he gathered his things to follow.
“There’s no need to rush this.” He pushed the branch aside and threw out his pack with more force than necessary. Zo flinched, not used to seeing her childhood friend angry.
“You didn’t wake me for my watch again,” said Zo, unsurprised. Ever since they’d left the Allies, Gabe had been insanely overprotective.
“You need your sleep.”
“And you don’t?”
Gabe sighed and scooped a blob of mud from the newly thawed earth. He frowned and smeared it along the curved planes of Zo’s face and neck. The cool mud felt surprisingly comforting, but it could have just been Gabe’s touch. His capable hands shook while lines of worry deepened across his brow.
“This won’t work.” He stopped and cupped his muddy hand at the base of her neck, his blue eyes pleading. “You’re too pretty. A little mud can’t change that.”
Zo yanked on the sleeve of her shirt until the seam split then ripped and frayed the cuff of her pant legs. Young, unarmed women just didn’t go on casual strolls through the perilous hills of the Ram. Commander Laden said she needed to look desperate if she wanted them to believe her story. Her lie.
As if looking desperate is hard, Zo thought.
Gabe stood a full head taller than Zo. Despite his large frame, he could outrun a jackrabbit and his mind was just as quick. A valuable weapon for the Allies. But with all of his abilities, he was not the one walking into the lion’s den this morning.
He untwisted the strap of Zo’s medical satchel and let out a long breath before dropping his hands to his sides.
“I’ll miss you,” said Zo. Her voice carried the mechanical cadence she’d adopted several years ago. A small part of her—the part that wasn’t dead—hated disappointing Gabe. He’d done so much for her and her little sister, Tess, since they’d journeyed from the Valley of Wolves to live with Commander Laden and the Allies.
Thinking of her wild, eight-year-old sister brought a temporary smile to Zo’s muddied face. She couldn’t think of Tess and not imagine her tromping through the forest trying to catch squirrels and sneak up on rabbits. It was her second favorite thing to do, next to following Zo around the Allied Camp. The little tick wouldn’t take her absence well. Zo had left a note and arranged for her care, but that didn’t mean the kid wouldn’t be furious.
Gabe pressed his cold hands to Zo’s face and forced her to look at him. “Come back with me, Zo. Let Commander Laden send someone else. Someone with less to lose.”
“We’re not doing this again.” Zo pulled away. She had begged for this mission, and she would see it through. No matter what the cost. The Allies desperately needed information that only she could provide, if they hoped to defeat the most powerful military force in the region.
Gabe’s hands curled into fists. His voice rose to carry over the wind that whipped his unruly hair. “Entering Ram’s Gate is suicide! We don’t even know if you can get the information Laden’s after.”
The truth was far worse than Gabe could possibly know. He hadn’t heard what life would be like inside the Gate. They would eventually discover her, and once they did, they’d kill her. Plain and simple.
There were worse things a person could endure.
She’d do anything for the Cause.
“Goodbye, Gabe.” She kissed his frozen, whiskered cheek.
His hand clamped down on Zo’s wrist and he yanked her into a fierce embrace. “I’ll be close, waiting to help you escape the minute you send word.” He smoothed down her wild, dark hair. “I’ll find a way to keep you safe, Zo. I swear it.”
Zo forced a hollow smile, for Gabe’s sake. “Look after Tess. Tell her I’m doing this for her. Tell her I’m doing it for our parents.”
She left Gabe standing frozen in the low light of morning. After a hard climb, Zo reached the towering wall of Ram’s Gate. The wall was comprised of redwood logs at least four feet in diameter and fifty feet tall, bound together with heavy rope and shaved to a point at the top. Black tar and broken glass glimmered along the high rim of the wall to discourage clans foolish enough to attack, and souls brave enough to dare escape.
Zo looked right and left and saw no end to the wall through the thick maze of aspen and evergreens. From her training with Commander Laden, she knew the giant wall ran for miles in each direction until it reached the cliffs that dropped off to the freezing ocean below. Inside the wall were hundreds of acres of farmlands, mountainous forests, and enough homes to house thousands of Ram and the slaves they called “Nameless.” Calmer than a sane person should be, Zo dropped to her knees in the shadow of the ominous wall. Knowing these might be the last free moments of her life, she allowed herself to think about things that were normally buried deep within her. The memory of her mother’s soft skin. The safety of her father’s smile. Tess’ dimples and her eagerness to please, despite her stubborn ways.
The moment was as sweet as it was brief. But it was hers. Deep-voiced drums boomed and the enormous gate rose inch by inch. Men shouted orders and whips cracked. Through the gap of the slow-rising gate she saw at least forty men in tattered animal hides with harnesses on their backs. They slipped through mud while struggling to turn a giant wheel connected to a thick chain to raise the gate.
The Nameless. The Ram had kept slaves for hundreds of years, some were captured, others came willingly, while most were born into the lowly title.
Instinct told her to run, but fear and determination kept her frozen in place. She locked the people she loved back into the cage that was her heart and prepared to face her enemy. Zo pressed her nose into the icy mud in a show of submission. The drums ceased and the silence echoed in her chest like a painful heartbeat.
The metal of short swords clinked against armor as men approached. She peeked up to sight of a bald leader walking ahead of a wall of six soldiers. His cold eyes seemed too big for his head, protuberant like those of a frog.
“Get up,” the leader commanded.
Zo climbed to her feet but kept her gaze focused on the man’s fur-lined boots.
“State your name and clan,” he ordered.
“I am from the family Shaw of the Kodiak Clan,” Zo said, hoping her accent would pass. The Ram had raided one of the Kodiak settlements a few weeks earlier. Many of the women and children whose husbands had died in the raid would come to the Gate, choosing to offer themselves as slaves over watching their children starve to death.
The leader circled her. “Age?”
A few of the guards in the line exchanged words. One laughed under his breath.
“You’re too thin to claim the Kodiak as your clan. Your jaw is more square than round.”
The sound of a young girl’s scream saved Zo from having to answer.
“Let me go! You’re hurting me!” the girl cried.
Zo froze. It couldn’t be …
A guard dressed in full armor carried the kicking child up the muddy hill and dropped her at the bald leader’s feet. Zo’s whole body went rigid as her eight-year-old sister, Tess, scrambled up to hug her. “I’m so sorry,” Tess cried. She must have secretly followed them from the Allies, though how she survived the dangerous journey unnoticed was beyond Zo.
“Tess, I thought I’d lost you,” Zo stammered. She hoped her shock registered as relief instead of panic. “Don’t say a word,” Zo whispered in her ear as they embraced.
“Who is this child?” the frog-eyed leader asked.
“She is my sister, sir. We were separated. She found me.”
“Clearly.” He circled the girls once more then reached out and grabbed Zo by the throat, forcing her to the ground on her back. His lips brushed her cheek as he spoke. “How do I know you’re not a stinking Wolf? That you’re not feeding me some story?” His breath reeked of stale cabbage and rotten sausage. Zo’s heels dug small trenches in the mud as she struggled against the hand tightening around her throat. Black dots invaded her vision.
The leader smiled and licked his lips as if she were his next meal. “We don’t allow Wolves through the Gate.” A string of spittle escaped his lips and landed on her cheek. “Ever.” He released his grip and Zo gasped for air.
Tess rushed to Zo’s side, her eyes wet with tears.
“With all of the clans mixing, it’s getting harder and harder to sort the wheat from the tares. I can’t take any chances …” He shrugged and nodded to his guard. The men moved in, pulling the sisters apart. Tess let out a shrill cry. A guard struck her tiny cheek.
“Please!” Zo fought against firm hands digging into her arms. “I come from three generations of healers. My sister is learning too. We beg the mercy of the Ram, and pledge our lives to your service!”
The Gate Master held up a hand, and his men threw Zo to the ground. His round, glassy eyes stayed fixed on her as he grunted a soft command to one of his men. The soldier nodded bowed, and ran back through the Gate.
“A healer, you say?” The corner of his lip pulled up to reveal rotting teeth as he smiled. “We’ll see about that.”
This giveaway is provided by Month9Books!
One lucky reader will win a digital copy of Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins!
Available October 6, 2015 from Month9Books
About this Book:
Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.
Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.
What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.