Posted in excerpt, Middle Grade, Spotlight on November 5, 2017


Pounce and the Riddle of Fire is a middle grade fantasy novel. It tells the story of a tiger-folk cub that undertakes a grand quest to earn his name of maturity and the right to lead the tribe. The quest he is given seems impossible. How could anyone find the lost Saber tribes of the Eastern Jungles? And if he doesn’t, he’ll be banished forever.

With no other choice, Pounce begins his journey across the treacherous realm of Fire, but soon finds he is not alone. A human girl with a secret and two gazelle-folk trying to reach the city of Torch View decide to join him. The four unlikely companions find themselves battling elemental monsters and fierce Fire creatures. Unable to turn back, Pounce must rely on the help of his new friends to uncover the secret of the Riddle of Fire as he continues his quest.

This fantasy adventure is the second book in the Battlemental universe and combines action and humor to show that people from different backgrounds often make the best friends. Several interior illustrations depict the heroes and some of the strange creatures they meet.


Sneer had a forty-yard lead on me. He raced toward the side of the mountain that sloped straight up to the cave mouth. Going in from that direction made it more likely that the mother Slam-Slide would see him approaching, but that also allowed him to use his longer stride to quickly outdistance me.

Even though all of the cubs in the village had been told how dangerous it was to play anywhere near the Slam-Slide cave, the warning had only served to increase our interest. I had climbed nearly to the top enough times with Tumble and Doze to know that if I scaled the back side of the mountain I would eventually come across a rough path that led to the cave.

That was a great idea except for the fact that the rocks on the backside of the mountain were loose and if I made one mistake I’d tumble down the rocky cliff and probably die. But that was my only chance to beat Sneer. There was no way I could keep up with him in a straight-out race.

“I guess Pounce is giving up on the challenge already,” one of Sneer’s friends called out. The laughter from the rest of the group followed me as I sprinted to the section of mountain I was familiar with.

The first fifty feet weren’t any real problem. Plenty of large boulders had crashed down the mountain and I was able to spring from one to the next, going higher and higher with each leap. One of the rocks rolled out from under me as I pushed off from it. I flailed with my claws and managed to sink them into a mountain cleft above me.

My chest heaved as I struggled to catch my breath, but I refused to let that slow me down. Sneer had to be close to the top by now—unless he planned to charge straight into the cave. And nobody was that stupid.

By the time I climbed half-way up the mountainside, my arms and legs burned with the exertion. If I hung from the rock in an effort to rest I might not be able to continue climbing and Sneer would win the challenge. I pushed myself to continue.

I reached up to pull myself over a ledge and my claw slid along the stone, causing me to lose my balance. One second I was scaling the side of the mountain like an eight-legged rock monkey and the next I’m hanging from one claw. A fall from this height wouldn’t hurt me—it would kill me.

Deep in my chest, a roar swelled in power until I couldn’t contain it any more. I let loose with a sound that felt as if it shook the very stone in front of me. Renewed strength, however temporary, flowed into my arms and legs. I reached up and grabbed the ledge with my other claw and pulled myself up.

There was just enough room on the ledge for me to rest on my side. I gulped great lungfuls of air and hoped I didn’t pass out and fall over the edge. My mind screamed that I needed to move. Every moment I stayed here put Sneer closer to winning the challenge.

With my arms and legs still aching from the climb, I managed to stand up and slide my feet along the thin stone path. My muscles trembled with each step. With my night vision, the path ahead of me shone light gray against the blackness of the sky.

After about twenty feet, the path widened enough for me to walk as long as I kept my shoulders twisted away from the mountainside. I was still breathing heavily when the trail leveled off and joined the broad, open area in front of the cave.

My breaths sounded like a tornado in my ears. Any moment now, I expected the mother Slam-Slide to hear my panting and wheezing. If she did, I had nowhere to go . . . except down.

Then I spotted Sneer. He was nearly to the mouth of the cave, slinking from boulder to boulder. His head turned in my direction and his eyes locked with mine. He froze in mid-slink. The jaw-dropping, wide-eyed expression he gave upon seeing me was worth every bit of ache and strain it took to reach the top of the mountain before him.

He mouthed, “Eat my smoke.”

Without waiting for me to respond, Sneer tensed his muscles and charged into the cave. I hadn’t thought he was that stupid, but apparently I was wrong. A moment later, a thunderous bellow sounded from inside the cave. It was the kind of blood-thinning roar that any Saber would be proud to have made.

Except it wasn’t a Saber roar. That was the Slam-Slide mother announcing her intention to turn Sneer into tiger paste.

Sneer bolted out of the cave, running full speed down the incline.

The Slam-Slide flew after him, sending chips of stone flying everywhere as her massive hooves struck the mountain rock. She was at least ten feet tall, had dark brown skin that was cracked like dried mud, and a pair of shiny brown horns that were lowered to skewer her foe. Slam-Slides were humanoid creatures of Earth and despite her large size she was less likely to trip and fall going down the mountain than a Saber.

Sneer was in some serious trouble.

I watched as the Slam-Slide lurched forward and slammed her fists on the ground. A wave of stone rolled down the mountainside, tossing Sneer in the air. Fortunately for Sneer that put him farther away from the upset mama battlemental. As long as he kept running he should be able to outdistance the Slam-Slide.

And while the two of them were busy getting to know one another, I snuck inside the cave and searched for the skull-shaped birth fragment that would permit me to win the challenge. Fragments were scattered everywhere. It took more time than I wanted to spend inside before I found the right one—and the baby Slam-Slide.

The oversized baby was standing almost on top of the necessary birth fragment. I shuffled forward, hoping a slow approach would keep me from scaring the young battlemental. Apparently, that wasn’t really a concern. The Slam-Slide baby screeched at me and then wobbled forward on unsteady legs.

These guys were some cranky battlementals.

I stepped off to one side as the young Slam-Slide lunged at me. The Slam-Slide hit the cave floor and slid a couple of feet. I reached down and grabbed the fragment and was almost out the cave entrance when the baby started wailing. It sounded like a couple of rocks being scraped against one another.

Climbing down the rocky face of the mountain would be trickier than making the trip up here. If I took the same path as Sneer and the Slam-Slide I could veer off to one side to avoid being seen and then sprint to the finish line. Besides, Mama Slam-Slide seemed pretty focused on catching Sneer.

Using my legs to slow my descent just enough to avoid tripping, I sailed down the path. Up ahead of me, Sneer dodged a clumsy attempt from the mama Slam-Slide to grab him. He looked in my direction. I smiled, waved, and continued past him.

The slope leveled out. A few hundred yards ahead of me stood the Saber gathering that had been watching the contest. They were still too far away for me to see the expressions on their faces, but their body language told me that none of them were particularly happy to see me win.

Then I heard a scream.

About the Author

RANDY LINDSAY is a world traveler. Which sounds impressive until you realize the worlds he visits exist only in his mind and on the pages of his novels. He claims to prefer this method of sightseeing because he can stop at any time, go to the kitchen, and indulge his ice cream addiction. When he isn’t busy making things up he likes going to movies with his wife to watch what other people have made up and plays board games with his children who are in the habit of making up the rules as they go along.

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