Escape from the Past: The Duke’s Wrath
by Annette Oppenlander
Publisher: Lodestone Books
Publication Date: July 31st 2015
Genre: YA Historical Fiction, Time-Travel
When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he’s sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn’t realize that 1) He’s been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game’s rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever.
Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets’ nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.
I leaned forward because all of a sudden my chest was killing
me. I was stuck in a truck-sized vise, my ribs squeezing together,
body compressing. My lungs throbbed and I couldn’t breathe,
not even a little. My arms and legs felt numb. Do something, I
thought. I pushed myself to stand. Something is wrong with the
game, stop the game, my mind urged. But I couldn’t. Lights
exploded behind my eyelids and I had to pay every shred of
attention to the task of breathing.
It occurred to me that I was having a heart attack.
My mother’s face flashed by. I wanted to shout for her, but my
lungs had quit for good, my tongue a rigid piece of meat. She’d
find me in the morning dead on the carpet. My sight turned
foggy then black. I was passing out. I sucked frantically and
drew in a bit of air. Slowly with each breath the crushing
Blinking away the haze, I wiped my sweaty forehead. I
should make an appointment with the family doctor.
Something moved ahead. There at the edge of a clearing
cowered the man in rags holding his right elbow. He trembled
and now that I was closer, I saw blood dripping from his wrist.
The three riders had surrounded him, their blades pointing
toward the man’s neck. One rider dismounted, his face shadowed
by a half helmet and curled brownish beard, his hands covered
by steel gauntlets like lizard scales. The other two sat motionless,
waiting. I tried to get a better view of what the horsemen were
doing when I looked down.
I stood on the root of an oak tree. Surely I imagined things.
But those were definitely my Nikes I’d forgotten to take off when
I returned home. I moved my foot. Leaves crackled. A twig
snapped. Something terrible had happened, something I couldn’t
wrap my mind around. I blinked and looked to my right. Trees
and undergrowth were losing themselves in the gloom. I remembered
the mouse in my right hand, but when I lifted my arm, my
fingers came up empty—except for the smear of something sticky
on my palm. I was bleeding.
The bush next to me was covered in blood. Not mine, I
realized with relief. Disgusted I wiped my shaking hands with a
fistful of leaves and turned to look behind me. The woods
stretched into darkness—shadows within shadows nearly black.
My room was gone.
Fist Chapter Read by Author
About the Author
Annette Oppenlander writes historical fiction for young adults and anyone who loves stories set in the past. When she isn’t in front of her computer, she loves indulging her dog, Mocha, and traveling around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories.
“Nearly every place holds some kind of secret, something that makes history come alive. When we scrutinize people and places closely, history is no longer a number, it turns into a story.”