The River Against the Sea


The River Against the Sea

by Z. Lindsey

GENRE:   New Adult Fantasy

Some heroes have swords. Essimore Darkenchyl has a pen. But it’s a magic pen.
Some wizards have spellbooks. Essie has Gossen’s Guide to Shipping Law. But it’s a current edition.
Some sailors have . . . experience. Essie has a new diploma and a year-long contract, and her people have won wars with less.
And that’s good, because between stolen weapons, a coup, and a strange disease creeping in around her and the crew, she might need to win a war.
In a world that blends traditional fantasy with the Age of Exploration, Essie knows a pen is mightier than a sword, especially since hers sometimes shoots lightning.
But what she thinks is a routine political dispute turns out to be something much, much more, and she may have finally met the one problem she can’t talk her way out of.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“My cousin believes they’ll attack on One Wyrm.”

“One . . . Wyrm?” Essie asked as she tried to adjust the ropes around her. 

Bunts scoffed.

“Didn’t you read your briefing?” 

Essie felt the blood rush to her cheeks. 

“I read about the calendar, but it was confusing. It was like math, but it had this religious undercurrent going on. Did not like.” 

The captain squinted at her and raised his lip in distaste. 

“Bunts, tell our bureaucrat what One Wyrm is.” 

“Heh,” Bunts said. He cleared his throat, then shrugged.

The captain squinted at him, too. 

“One Wyrm is New Year’s Day.” 

“New Year’s Day, of course,” Bunts said. “Those jerks.”

“And what do you want me to do about it?”

“Nothing,” the captain said. “Report that the cargo got handed over and let us go on our way.”

“And if I don’t agree, you’ll throw me off the ship,” she said.

Bunts snorted.


The captain scratched his chin. 

“To be honest, I was just hoping you’d agree. If you don’t . . .” The captain puffed up his cheeks and stared at the ceiling in thought. “I guess we’ll lock you in the brig until the weapons are safely delivered and we’re back at sea. That’ll give me a good lead on any Agency cutters.”

She tried to adjust herself in her chair, but couldn’t do much, so she frowned. Slowly she turned to Bunts and gave him her best puppy-dog eyes. 

“Can’t you undo these bonds?” 

Bunts shook his head. 

“Nuh-uh. I’m told you’re stronger than you look. And that you eat people’s hearts.”

Essie frowned. 

“Not raw.”

About the Author:

Zac Lindsey is an anthropologist and a linguist who focuses on the Maya people of Quintana Roo. Since childhood, he's had a not-so-secret love of weird, silly, and well-structured fantasy. When other people's parents were reading them picture books, his mom was reading him Terry Brooks. He typically writes hopeful and character-driven fantasy. 

Today, he lives in Quintana Roo, Mexico with his wife, daughter, and various stray cats. 

Q&A with Zac Lindsey: 

What was your inspiration for writing this book? 

I wrote it when my wife had just had our baby. That kid would not sleep no matter what we did. Whenever she was asleep, we didn't put on TV for fear of waking her, so we'd sit silently in the dark. I wrote the book to entertain my wife in those very quiet days. My goal wasn't really to write something deep, it was to write something that was enjoyable. As far as the actual content, It's based on our shared life experiences. We live in the Yucatan Peninsula, so expect jungles and jaguars. We also live close to Bacalar, which used to suffer fairly regular pirate attacks, so pirates and shipwrecks are a big part of the narrative. 

I didn't realize this until right now, but the series villain is a god who is obsessed with making the universe quiet, so basically the overarching villain is . . . my infant daughter's poor sleeping habits!

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? 

There are a lot of jokes about gross food in the book. Essie, the main character, is a devil-like creature that eats the hearts of the dead, but despite that she's actually a really picky eater. Describing food in a way that grossed out my wife was probably the most entertaining part of it, but in general seeing my wife get emotional about jokes or character deaths or unexpected twists was wonderful. 

Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about? 

I'm working on a National Novel Writing Month project set in the same fantastic world but a few hundred years after the events of the series I'm currently working on. This allows me to mix tropes like elves and magic with technology and a bit of solarpunk. It's about a street kid who gets caught in the machinations of a microdosing real estate agent and the smoke monster he accidentally unleashes. It's set in a mystical tourist town based on Cancun, which is about three hours from where I live. 

Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future? 

I've already finished a trilogy with Essie where she's forced to deal with the fact that her bosses are monsters. If people like the character enough, though, she's got plenty more stories. I'm particularly interested in "old lady Essie" stories, where the character is at the end of her 350-year-long life but still kicking butt. But I don't imagine her growing cynical as she gets old. Unlike, say, Old Man Logan, Essie is a cute old lady who just wants to bake some cookies. But life never seems to let Essie do what she wants. 

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I sometimes feel like the world is a pretty dark place, so I didn't want to write a dark fantasy. Although there are real consequences in the world Essie lives in and there's a bit of "fridge logic" in the sense that Essie typically defeats big monsters but leaves people to clean up their political mess on their own, in general my books are meant to be fun, fast reads. I wrote them for people to enjoy, so have fun!



Amazon preorders (for ebook):

B&N preorders (for paperback):


Z. Lindsey will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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  1. Essimore is a great character name. I enjoyed reading through the excerpt

  2. Thank you for sharing your Q&A, bio and book details, I enjoyed reading about the impetus behind the writing of this story, lol. As a mother of ten, grandmother of nineteen and counting and great-grandmother of one and counting, I can definitely relate. As one of the classifications of this story is Martial arts fiction, how difficult is it to write the choreography of a fight scene? Do you have any Martial arts experience personally?

  3. Sounds like a good book. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

  5. Fantasy is a great choice of genre.

  6. I love the cover and the title... and books in this genre definitely fascinate me..

  7. I think your inspiration behind the book is very interesting.


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