The Illuminated Kingdom

My good friend Alina Sayre has just released the fourth and final installment of her middle-grade fantasy series, Voyages of the Legend, and today on the blog I’m helping her celebrate. It’s a wonderful series, captivating for any kid and adult. I love all the book covers for the series, but this last one tops them all. (I mean, dragon!)

Title: The Illuminated Kingdom

Series: The Voyages of the Legend, Book 4

Author: Alina Sayre (

Cover Designer: Jenny Zemanek of Seedlings Design Studio

Genre: Middle Grades Fantasy

Release Date: November 3, 2017

Price: US $4.99 (eBook), US $14.99 (paperback)

ISBN (paperback): 978-1979020442


The Vestigia Roi has risen up to retake their home island of Rhynlyr, but all Ellie can think about is rescuing her missing brother, Connor. Guided by a dream of Connor’s whereabouts, Ellie disobeys the Council’s orders and stows away aboard the Legend. But a simple rescue mission quickly goes wrong as Ellie and her friends confront new monsters and old enemies. The crewmembers of the Legend soon find themselves waging a last, desperate battle to save not just Connor or Rhynlyr, but their entire world. As the One Kingdom hangs in the balance, Ellie and the Vestigia Roi must ultimately decide what they are fighting for—and how much they are willing to sacrifice for it.

Advance praise:

“…[an] astounding, imaginative world…” –Readers’ Favorite

Author Bio:

Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Now she is the award-winning author of The Voyages of the Legend fantasy series as well as an educator, editor, and speaker. Her first novel, The Illuminator’s Gift, won a silver medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist in the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book competition and a semifinalist for the BookLife Prize in Fiction. All four Voyages of the Legend books have received 4- or 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite. When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys hiking, crazy socks, and reading under blankets. She does not enjoy algebra or wasabi. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.

Connect with Alina online!


Facebook: alinasayreauthor

Twitter: @AlinaSayre



Amazon purchase link

Goodreads link

Traveling Writer

I have a very special guest on the blog today. My good friend, Alina Sayre, has just released the third book in her Middle Grade fantasy series, Voyages of the Legend. She’s being kept pretty busy bouncing around various blogs for her tour, and was kind enough to take some time to join us here and talk about some of the inspiration behind the book’s settings. So, without further ado…

“Traveling Writer”
Alina Sayre


Photo credit Alina Sayre

Travel is something I’ve always enjoyed (though I also enjoy coming home afterwards). As a writer, though, I don’t just take in sights and sounds when I travel—I also keep notes for future story settings. And in my latest book, The Illuminator Rising, some of those notes found a home. Three major settings in this book are based on real travels I’ve taken.

When I was twelve, my family and I traveled to the big island of Hawai’i, home to some of the most active volcanoes in the world. I remember trekking across the lava fields, the black rock sharp and shiny as glass, to a spot where fresh lava was flowing. The slow, viscous stream of orange, already turning black as it was exposed to air, was mesmerizing—an unfiltered experience with nature that struck me with both its beauty and danger. I remember watching the lava eventually pour off a cliff, clouds of steam rising as it hit the ocean waves. New land was forming before my eyes. It was an arresting experience, and one that eventually became a central setting for The Illuminator Rising.


Photo credit Alina Sayre

One thing that sets this book apart from its prequels is that the crew actually splits up and travels to different islands. One of these islands was based on a family roadtrip across the American Southwest a few years ago. Though deserts are not my favorite places (excessive heat makes me cranky), there was something alien and beautiful about the rocky landscape. One of my hobbies is photography, so I really enjoyed a stop at Antelope Canyon in Arizona. Though you can see very little sky from the bottom of the narrow slot canyon (my claustrophobia was going crazy), the light still filters in and ricochets off the sandstone walls, making these crazy, amazing patterns of light and shadow that change every minute. The vivid colors and textures of that landscape formed the basis for one of the islands in The Illuminator Rising.


Photo credit Alina Sayre

The other island was a blend of two places I’ve been. While studying abroad in college, a friend and I did a weekend adventure to southern Spain, where we saw architectural marvels like the Alhambra in Granada and the Real Alcazar in Sevilla. I loved the Moorish artistic influence, with its keyhole-shaped doorways, intricate tilework, and roofs like spun sugar. Blend that together with a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, and you get something like my other island in The Illuminator Rising. I especially fell in love with Turkish food and had tons of fun describing the banquets here! I even saw a baby tortoise half the size of my palm at an archaeological site. It was so tiny and adorable that I knew I’d have to put it in a book.

Of course, some aspects of every island in the book are purely fantasy. That’s one of the fun things about this genre! But experiences in real life definitely added color—and flavor—to the island landscapes in this book. I hope that reading the book gives you all the pleasure of taking your own travels!

 Illuminator Rising cover
Synopsis of The Illuminator Rising, Book 3 of The Voyages of the Legend:

Driven from their home island of Rhynlyr, Ellie and her friends must solve a riddle to find the survivors of the Vestigia Roi. But instead of a safe haven, they discover a hopeless band of refugees paralyzed by fear. Strengthened by new allies and new gifts, the crew of the Legend faces dangers like never before. Can they escape being shot out of the sky, falling over the Edge of the world, or being engulfed by urken armies long enough to rally the Vestigia Roi? And can they rekindle a fire from the ashes of the One Kingdom before Draaken takes over the world?

Advance praise:
“…a thrilling read…[Sayre] has a flair for being able to capture the interest of a reader and hold onto it.”
-Readers’ Favorite, 5-star review

Get your copy on Amazon today!

Alina photoAuthor bio:
Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Now she gets to work with them every day as an author, educator, editor, and speaker. Her first novel, The Illuminator’s Gift, won a silver medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, and all three books in The Voyages of the Legend series have received 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite. When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys hiking, crazy socks, and reading under blankets. She does not enjoy algebra or wasabi. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.


Catch up on the first two books, The Illuminator’s Gift and The Illuminator’s Test on Amazon.

Interview with Middle-Grade, Fantasy Author Alina Sayre

My good friend Alina Sayre just released her second novel this month, The Illuminator’s Test. As part of her release blog tour, she’s stopping by for an interview. So please welcome her!


Thanks so much for hosting me, Angela!

My pleasure! Let’s start off with talking about writing. What is your ideal writing space?

I’m kind of a nomadic writer. I feel like if I work in one place for too long, I use up the inspiration of that space. But I find I do a lot of my first-draft writing in comfortable places—bed, couch, backyard—and a lot of my editing at the desk in my office. When deep focus isn’t too important, I really enjoy working at coffee shops and enjoying the people-watching, the productive energy, and of course, the coffee.

Change of scenery can definitely be inspiring. How about a change of genre? Would you ever consider writing something different?

Absolutely! While my two current books are middle-grade fantasy, I read a wide variety of genres, both fiction and nonfiction, from fantasy to historical fiction to fairy tales to poetry to theology to biography to psychology. I’d rather follow the range of my ideas than get pegged into one genre. In fact, I’m percolating ideas for a nonfiction book, a book of poetry, and several historical fiction projects as we speak.

Wow, busy, busy! So with all these projects simmering, are you a plotter or pantser?

Hehe, this is the evolving question. For my first book, The Illuminator’s Gift, I was a wholehearted pantser. I had no idea where it was going, and the book was a joyful journey of exploration, but it also took me five years and four complete reworks to write. Then I took a Jami Gold workshop on using “Save the Cat” beat sheets, and it helped me see that I could create a basic outline of my major plot points without taking away all the fun and suspense of pantsing. So I tried out a very skeletal beat sheet for my second novel, The Illuminator’s Test. Things didn’t always go as planned and plenty of surprises still popped up! (My characters have a stubborn habit of insisting on their own way.) But I was able to complete the first two drafts of the book within five months. While I may never be an exhaustive plotter, I do think a little plotting has helped me waste less time on plot holes and spend more time enjoying the characters’ personalities and the twists and turns of their journey.

I’m glad the partial plotting worked out so well! I’m a big proponent of it, especially because I firmly believe plotting and surprise twists aren’t mutually exclusive. What was your favorite part of writing this book?

I really enjoyed the day when I realized I had fallen in love with a character named Kai. He’s thirteen-year-old Ellie’s bodyguard, and he wasn’t even supposed to be in this story. He’s gruff and tough on the outside, but a total softie on the inside. Somehow he elbowed his way into the book, and I absolutely fell for him. I also had a lot of fun creating the island cultures that appear in this book—especially the part where I got to sit at Starbucks across from a mood board full of pictures and attract weird looks.

I love it when stuff like that happens! Now what was your least favorite part of writing this book?

Remember what I said about writing two drafts in five months? Yeah, not the best idea ever. I set out to publish Book 2 by the end of this year, and I’m pleased to say I succeeded. But not a lot of sleeping, socializing, or generally healthy activities took place in the meanwhile. I plan to take my next book a little slower and spend more time enjoying the journey.

Well, congrats on meeting your goal. That’s a huge accomplishment. So can we get a little peek of this book?

That night, Ellie found a beautiful blue velvet dress on her bed. It had a long skirt, lace at the elbows, and sparkling white gems swirling from the bodice to the left shoulder and sleeve. Ellie gasped and reached for it, but Kai held her back. He scraped the blade of one of his daggers across the gems, then checked the stitching on the inside. Finally, he swabbed the fabric with one finger and licked it. After a moment, he waved her forward.

“It’s all right.”

Ellie grabbed the dress and held it to her, spinning around and watching the skirt twirl. She hadn’t owned such a beautiful piece of clothing since the coat Nevin Beswick had given her when she was four. Suddenly she paused.

“Kai, what were you doing? Were you…tasting the dress?’

He shrugged one shoulder. “Checking for poisoned fabric. It’s happened before. Now that you’re involved with the Council, we can’t be too careful.”

Slowly Ellie draped the blue velvet over the back of the sofa, wiping her palms on her skirt. The dress was still beautiful, but now it seemed terrifying as well.

Ooh, both delightfully charming and suspenseful!

We all have favorite books, ones we nag our friends to read, buy our loved ones as gifts, and the biggie, the books we read over and over again. What books have you read more than twice?

I love reading, but I don’t often return to the same books, as there are too many new ones I want to discover. But a few oft-read favorites include The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, a couple of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing by Soren Kierkegaard, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Do I like kidlit? Yes I do.

What is the geekiest thing about you?

I am a very, very geeky person, especially when it comes to words and books (don’t even get me started on etymology!). But in high school I spent my spare time learning to sew cloaks and speak Tolkien’s Elvish—both the Quenya and Sindarin dialects. Geeky enough for you?

Hey, we love geeky on this blog. *g* Is writing your only job?

Definitely not! I am pleased that writing is a part of my career that pulls its own weight. But, like many artists, I wear a lot of hats. Depending on the day, I also work as a private writing tutor, a freelance editor, and a speaker. I’m also a graduate student, just to keep things interesting.

Definitely sounds interesting! If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would give a lot to sit in on a meeting of the famous Inklings, including Tolkien and Lewis, two of my literary idols. I love both of their theological imaginations and the way their work blends the concerns of real life with fantastical storytelling. I also love the camaraderie the Inklings had together.

Excellent choice! Well thank you so much for hanging out with us today. You guys can pick up your illustrated copy of The Illuminator’s Test on Amazon.

TIT Ebook cover small

 Synopsis of The Illuminator’s Test:

As Ellie and her friends start new lives on the flying island of Rhynlyr, Ellie hopes she’s finally found a home. At the Academy, she learns to wield her gift of Sight and discovers her role in the war against Draaken. But Draaken also wants to control Ellie’s gift. With the help of a blind mentor, an elite bodyguard, and a hostile singer, Ellie must navigate a storm of danger and deception that threatens to cut her off from her friends and corrupt her very self. When disaster strikes, will she find the courage to fight for her friends and the future of the One Kingdom?

Alina photoAuthor bio:

Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and is now the author of The Voyages of the Legend, an award-winning fantasy series for readers ages 9-14. Book 1, The Illuminator’s Gift, was a silver medalist in the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and has appeared at a number of schools and literacy events. On December 1 it was joined by Book 2, The Illuminator’s Test, now available on and at select bookstores! When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys photography, collecting crazy socks, and reading under blankets. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.





The Illuminator’s Gift on Amazon:


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Special Feature: The Illuminator’s Gift

I have a special post today featuring my good friend Alina Sayre’s debut release, The Illuminator’s Gift. I love art, so when I found out Alina was having an illustrator hand-paint the entire book cover, I had to post it. And it’s gorgeous. Oh, the colors! But first, here are some work-in-progress teaser shots. All materials copyrighted Amalia Hillmann.

Cover 4

The cover was painted on cold press illustration board with watercolor and acrylic paints and detailed in pen and ink.

Cover 7.5 Cover 12

And finally…

Illuminator full spread

Illustration by Amalia Hillmann

Ellie is a twelve-year-old orphan who desperately wants a family. She just doesn’t expect to find one when she joins the crew of the Legend, a flying ship in a secret rescue fleet. On board, she meets a boy with a pet tarantula, a bully with eyes like mirrors, and a librarian who can read eighteen languages. Unexpectedly, Ellie also discovers a powerful gift that only she can wield. But when the Legend is called to a dangerous rescue mission, Ellie risks losing everyone she loves. Will her mysterious gift be enough to save her and her friends from a deadly enemy bent on destroying their world?

The Illuminator’s Gift is a Middle Grade Fantasy for Ages 9-12 and is now available on Amazon.

AlinapicConnect with Alina on her Website, Twitter, and Facebook.


I hope you enjoyed your visit and come back for more!  You can subscribe using RSSTwitter, Google+, or Facebook.  And if you want to ensure you don’t miss any new releases, sign up for the newsletter!