Harley Firebird 8.0

Urban Fantasy Novel

More books by Taylen Carver
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Harley is paid to uphold the law in Falconer, which daily grows more difficult…

Harley, a firebird, and Falconer’s Chief of Police, must dash to the wilds of British Columbia to rescue Chaz from the control of the ruthless Old Ones cult and their powerful leader who holds him.  Harley wants to save Chaz for Noel, his now-dead big sister, who was good, kind and the perfect Falconer, even if she was hiding a few secrets.

Harley is forced to bring along unintended companions, to get them out of Falconer and danger. She learns that it wasn’t just Noel who has secrets. How can Harley uphold the law in a town that doesn’t cherish the law as she does?

And despite expert advice about the power of cults, the Falconers are not prepared for what they find deep in the fire-ravaged forests of B.C. …

The Shield of Falconer is part of the Harley Firebird contemporary fantasy series, which is set in the same fantasy world as Taylen Carver’s Magorian & Jones series.

The Harley Firebird series:
1.0: The Dragon of Falconer
2.0: The Orc Who Cried
3.0: The Shepherd of Fire
4.0: The Mad Folk of Falconer
5.0: The Badge of Our Tribe
5.5: Harley Firebird Files
6.0: The Firebird’s Regret
7.0: The Angel Who Wasn’t
8.0: The Shield of Falconer

Contemporary Fantasy Novelettes & Novels

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The Shield of Falconer
Average rating:  
 6 reviews
 by Marjorie
Tourists, Roadtrips, and Explosions

First and foremost an exciting rescue mission with lots of action and some serious big booms! Like if this was a TV episode, it is the one they saved up the special effects budget for. Taylen's not satisfied to leave it there though - this book hits with a big emotional bang too, as Harley is confronted with ghosts from her past life and harsh realities in her new one that don't want to fit neatly into her legalistic code.

Most of the series so far has focused more on Harley and the residents of Falconer adjusting to their new reality as Old Ones and learning ways to adapt. This book shows a whole big world out there and we get to see both the people coming to Falconer and their various motivations as well as Harley and a rather unlikely team heading out and encountering life in Canada outside of Falconer. Some seriously eye-opening and shocking moments for Harley and reader alike as she finds some of her underlying beliefs being challenged in unanticipated ways.

Book 8 in the Harley Firebird Series, these are episodic and can be read as standalones, but the further you get into the series the more the character development and side stories are tied into previous books. There is a lot of depth and nuance build as the series progresses. Highly recommend reading them all in order - then going back to reread and be amazed at just how good of a re-read it is and how much you missed the first time around because yeah, that is what well-honed writing does to you.

 by Susanne Huxhorn
Awesome World

Why do the books by Taylen Carver always appear to be too short?? Especially this series about Harley Firebird and the Old Ones of Falconer only last maximum two days and then the long wait for the next book starts. The world created by the author is just awesome. I especially love the fact that while the story is progressing, the reader will learn something more about the main character Harley Firebird and her former life.

 by Nat
The Shield of Falconer

Read 11/11/23-11/13/23
Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader copy of this book.
A great story as usual. This story is the latest in Harley’s adventures in the town of Falconer. You don’t necessarily need to have read previous books to understand everything going on, but it does help a little. I have read the first book in the Harley Firebird series, but nothing else.
The books in this world always make me feel very strongly, as Taylen Carver deftly makes very valid points about current issues in the world. This is not a bad thing, and can sometimes help people realize that certain things are an issue, that they may not have thought about before.

Harley, the main character, is a bit infamous for being obsessive about following the law, even though the laws don’t necessarily apply to her anymore, since she had the Tutu virus and changed. I think this is a trauma response, as sometimes during chaos in our lives, we cling to normalcy, even if it’s toxic for us, just because we know how to deal with it, and are used to it. And the whole world of this universe has been traumatized like crazy, much like the real world.
Harley is also a person who likes to keep promises, and is finally able to fulfill a promise she made to a friend a while ago, while saving some people in the process. Now, my favorite moment is a spoiler, so be forewarned. [My favorite scene is when they wind up dismantling the cult, through sheer dumb luck, thanks to some explosives. The cult leader isn’t able to hurt anyone, at least for a while, and hopefully those that were under the control of the leader can escape permanently.]
Something that I like about this series, and see in this book, is that characters develop as people, learning from events that occur, and changing things up in their lives as a result. The feeling of healing and growth is a lot less subtle, and more immediate, which makes it a bit more palpable to me, which I appreciate. Overall, 5 stars, and I look forward to more adventures in Falconer.

 by Doug D
The Shield of Falconer

Taylen Carver continues to demonstrate high level, fast paced and intriguing results in the eighth book in the Harley Firebird Series, (The Shield of Falconer). Not only does the main player (Harley Von Canmore) leaad a team of committed community players into danger in the efforts to save a former resident, she has to struggle with her role as Chief of Police. The actions and ideas of the community fly in the face of everything she believes in and goes against the training of her previous life in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This book is without exception a stellar product and leaves the reader on edge from start to finish. The knowledge of procedures, scenic locations of where the book takes place in Alberta and British Columbia, make it believable and let you become part of the story.
Exceptional book and highly recommended.
I have received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 by Bee
The Shield of Falconer

Loved it!
The Shield of Falconer is the 8th book of the Harley Firebird contemporary fantasy series, which is set in the same fantasy world as Taylen Carver’s Margorian & Jones series.

I have received an ARC in exchange for an honest review but I own and have paid for the previous books in both series.

Skip this if you are already familiar with the series: The world in which both series are set has been ravaged by a virus. If you survive the infection it causes a metamorphosis into mystical elementals e.g. hobgoblins, fae, angels, dragons etc aligned to the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water called the Old Ones. Once you survive the transformation you are an outcast, without any official status, no longer have any human rights and in a lot of countries are considered dead. The Old Ones who have amazing gifts and talents are forced to build their own societies to survive.
Harley was a decorated Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer before she changed into a firebird and is hired to police a town by the name of Falconer where without exception everybody contracted the virus and only a few humans remain.

In this book Harley and a group of humans and Old Ones go on a mission to rescue one of the Old Ones who has been kidnapped by a cult of Old Races. The book is captivating and I read it in one go. It did not disappoint. The characters are relatable and get developed further which each book. Like every exceptional hero the main characters, and none more than Harley, struggle with the concept of right and wrong and the inevitable conclusion that there are many shades of grey between black and white. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book but if you have not read any of Taylen’s book I would recommend that you start with the first book in the Harley Firebird series.

You might also want to read the Margorian & Jones series especially if you are Jim Butcher and Tolkien fan.

 by Marilyn Putman
It's fun to fly with Harley von Canmore again

This eighth entry in the Harley Firebird series of paranormal fantasy is set in the gorgeous Canadian Rockies of Alberta Province. In the town of Falconer, residents (80% of them Old Ones) are innovating, using their talents, and they have developed a thriving cash economy in their small community. Why cash? Because the government refuses to accept the Old Ones as people, officially making them non-persons. The upside: the Old Ones don’t have to pay taxes. That’s not so bad. But the downside is far steeper. They can’t have a driver’s license, can’t hold a job, can’t have a bank account, or do much of anything else that a citizen can do — and all of this because the law says they don’t exist. Cottage industries spring up, and business is booming. The town has become a tourist magnet. Buses filled with tourists who come bearing cash, and lots of it, arrive in Falconer daily. All this is just the background of this fascinating and many-layered story. Difficult, and topical, subjects are intrinsic to the story, delicately woven throughout. As the plot progresses lessons are learned, some of them very difficult ones, and this reader, at least, gained some insight right along with the characters.

Although Falconer is a fictional town, it is fully realized and well-populated by memorable people — both Old Ones and humans — through the very capable hands (and keyboard!) of this imaginative author. This is a vastly entertaining story, and an unexpectedly deep one. It is worth reading The Shield of Falconer for the fun of the story alone, which is great. But it’s even more worthwhile when the reader probes a little beyond and enjoys the depth of these finely-drawn characters. It is far more than the usual paranormal novel, and I highly recommend it. This is an honest review of an ARC.

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Going Once, Going Twice…

“This is so stupid,” Harley muttered as she stepped up onto the temporary staging, where Elvis, the orc M.C. was waving toward her.

“And here she is, folks!” Elvis said into his mic. “Chief Harley von Canmore! Give her a welcoming hand!”

The applause was louder than Harley expected and she paused mid-step to take it in. The stage had been built over the top of the old well, which left a nice big open area between the well and the street, paved over so that the tourists and those residents who braved the tourist crush, could stand to watch the proceedings and bid for the dozen or so items that Nika put up for auction each week.

There were a lot of people squashed into the open space, so that they spilled onto the sidewalk, making pedestrians step onto the street itself to pass. Most of them were humans, strangers to Harley, and clearly tourists. Harley was pleased to see Bohdan there, controlling both pedestrians and traffic.

They would have do so something about the cars on market days, Harley realized.

On the other side of the street, touring coaches sat nose to tailpipe, lining the street. There were at least twelve of them, clogging up the street.

They would have to do something about the coaches, too.

Harley flashed a quick, tight smile at the crowd.

“Get rid of the sunnies, Chief,” Elvis murmured to her. “Please,” he added quickly as she glared at him.

She took off the sunglasses once more and put them in her breast pocket. Then, deliberately, she combed her fingers through her hair, pulling it back and letting the red dots display fully. If it helps Falconer, she muttered mentally to herself.

When the applause died down, Elvis said into the mic, “Folks, Harley is Alberta’s first firebird. Falconer has two firebirds now, and one day we’ll introduce you to Pavina, our latest edition. And folks, here’s the thing…there are no other firebirds anywhere in Canada. And the only other known firebird anywhere in the world lives in Spain. Harley and Pavina, now, are the rarest of people you can find among us Old Ones.” He let that sink in for a beat, then added, “Chief…could we see your wings?”

Harley drew in a long, slow deliberate breath, kept her mouth in a smile formation, and flipped out her wings.

Oooooooooooohhhhhh!” the crowd breathed.

Then they were applauding again. Harder than before.

As soon as Elvis could make himself heard above the applause, he went into his patter about firebird feathers. How they could be ground and used as a tea to increase metabolism and halt metabolic disorders. It was thought they could halt aging, and they could light a room, even when plucked.

Harley barely listened. She had heard it all before, and most of it was nonsense, pulled straight off the Internet, where the hysteria about firebird feathers was beyond ridiculous.

But the people in the audience would have seen that same hysteria, and they believed it, or they wouldn’t be here.

In truth, her feathers did give off a pale glow in the dark, but only when she was…well, excited, or animated. Something that she and Tiriaq had learned one long winter night.

And it might be true about the metabolic enhancements ground feathers might impart, but first, the subject had to get the ground feathers into their stomach. Harley couldn’t imagine imbibing them, ground or not. It would be like eating her toenails.

If anyone had dared experiment with eating her feathers, they hadn’t reported back to anyone in Falconer about it.

She suspected that the feathers that had been sold had been mounted, or had become a weird sort of pendant. Or kept in a cardboard box in a drawer, for all she cared.

She looked up and down the street. North and south, for as far as she could see and just on this side of the street, for the sidewalk was too narrow on the other, market stalls stood on the inner edge of the sidewalk, their coverings bright and clean. Red and white stripes, bright orange monotones, rainbow spectrums, and lots of plain white.

Professional signage announced the names of the stalls, or what they were selling. There were a number of produce stands, but the stalls selling kitsch far out-numbered them. Nika had started off the trend, with her bed sheet-covered single stall, sitting about where the stage was now. She had set up her stall every day the coaches arrived, which had been only twice a week, last year.

She had shamelessly sold anything the tourists would buy. Cheap jewelry with plastic beads, showcasing the tip of an orc claw. Angel feathers mounted into silver jewelry, as pendants, earrings. Sealed and polished pieces of rowan, harvested from the mountain ash trees that had been cultivated by Falconer fae, were sold as paperweights, or plain rings, along with cards announcing why the fae treasured the rowan. Pretty sealed pots that, when their lids were removed, bathed the face of the opener with a gentle, cool evening breeze, courtesy of the fae and the angels who breathed into them before sealing them up.

Quickly, other stalls had popped up alongside Nika’s and the range of things on offer exploded.

Kilo bags of orc-treated potting mix, guaranteed to make anything planted in it thrive no matter how black-thumbed the planter, had turned out to be one of the hottest items in Falconer, for the soil really did work. Harley was growing herbs on Mrs. Ulick’s kitchen window using soil Mrs. Ulick had prepared, and they hadn’t died despite Harley’s complete inability to grow anything.

Pots of “curing” air breathed by the fae. Potted plants and flowers, nurtured by dryads and rooted in orc-amended soil, and guaranteed to thrive. Tree seedlings, also guaranteed to grow at twice or three times the rate of normal trees. Avenc purified and certified water, in one, five or ten liter bottles.

Also incredibly popular; statuettes and stone carvings created by any dwarf in Falconer with a skerrick of artistic ability. Pretty stone pendants, too, carved into flowers and abstract patterns, tended to sell out quickly.

There were more mundane products for sale among the Old Ones kitsch, that one could find at any market. Stalls selling freshly made refreshments, and hot meals. None of the food was commercially prepared, for Falconers couldn’t buy prepared food from food companies. They made it themselves, and the smell of meat pies and small fruit pies, cakes and sausage rolls, perogies and more permeated the air in Falconer most evenings, now.

Across the street, obscured by the coaches –which was another good reason to find somewhere else for the behemoths to park—all the stores that had once been empty were now doing a similar brisk trade. One of them, Falconer’s Closet, had opened after Noel ap Tailor’s murder. Noel had provided clothes that Old Ones could actually wear, and the Closet had picked up that service. Falconer’s Closet was a loose partnership of seven or eight Falconer people with sewing abilities; they upcycled secondhand clothing they scrounged from anywhere and everywhere. They were sending the few remaining humans in Falconer as far abroad as Calgary and Edmonton, now, to clean out thrift stores and bring back the bounty.

The clothes they made were unique, put together from a dozen other items in creative ways that didn’t leave the finished garment looking home-made or even silly. They made patchwork coats from dozens of sweaters, which were one of the items the tourists snapped up eagerly, even at five hundred dollars a piece. The Closet team kept raising the price on the coats to slow down demand, so they could keep up.

But the Closet team charged residents next to nothing for their essential clothing. And they kept Harley supplied with uniform shirts that fit over her wings.

Ninety-nine percent of the transactions throughout the market were cold, hard cash. At first, the tourists had complained, but the tour companies who brought them here had learned to warn them to bring cash, and why.

The coach visits had increased from twice a week to five times a week, then to seven times a week, with the weekends more lucrative than the rest of the week put together.

Falconer was, unexpectedly, thriving. This, despite more than eighty percent of its residents being Old Ones and non-citizens in the eyes of the Canadian government, unable to hold down legitimate jobs or open bank accounts. But neither did they pay taxes.

Elvis was winding up his patter about the virtues of firebird feathers. Harley brought her attention back to the moment and gave the crowd another robotic smile, as Elvis came over to her. He lifted up a finger and turned it, and she turned obediently so her wings faced him. “Remember, up by the bone,” she murmured.

“Gotcha,” he murmured back, and carefully plucked a feather. It stung a bit, no more than pulling a hair. She shook out her wings and folded them away, which drew another sigh from the crowd.

Elvis held up the long feather, which ran from white at the base through all the fire colors to bright, glowing red at the tip. “Now, I’m going to set the opening bid at a hundred dollars, folks. Who will pay more for this magical feather, and shake Chief von Canmore’s hand, too? Who will give me one hundred and fifty?”

Dozens of hands rose into the air, all holding numbered cards.

Harley turned back to face the crowd, her interest in the auction fading away. The first time she’d heard the opening bid, she’d choked. But humans seemed more than willing to pay that much and more for one of her feathers. It was baffling. She had given up trying to understand why humans who, anywhere else in the world beyond the borders of Falconer, preferred to pretend that the Old Ones didn’t exist, who let them go homeless rather than deal with them, while withholding any sort of government assistance because they were non-citizens, would compete against each other to pay enormous sums for an Old One object.

She spotted Fiona further along the street, writing a cash-only ticket while a human stood over her with a sheepish expression. The ticket would be for littering, or J-walking, or petty assault upon a local, or some other small municipal offense, payable at the town hall around the corner. Between Fiona, Bohdan and Mojag, over a hundred tickets were written every day. They were constantly ordering new ticket pads from the hobgoblin who had a small printing press in his basement next to his apartment.

The coach drivers wouldn’t leave until their load of passengers swore they’d paid their fines. They’d even pull their coaches up around the corner, in front of town hall, for the convenience of their passengers, because Akicita had warned them that if they didn’t cooperate, they would find the roads into Falconer blocked the next time they came, which would make their paying passengers very unhappy.

As the tickets had the addresses of the offender on them, Akicita also followed up by mail. And once a quarter, Akicita hired local orcs as debt collectors, to chase up the hold-outs who lived within Alberta. They would use a multi-seat van, a human driver, and travel around the province for a few days, visiting the debtors. The collectors got half of what they recovered, and they didn’t have to work nearly as hard as human collectors. They just had to stand on the debtor’s porch and glare at them. An orc glare could weaken the resolve of the most stubborn human.

Yes, Falconer was doing quite well, these days. And no one but tourists seemed to care how they were doing it, even though Harley had been braced for some sort of authority to come down upon the town with heavy, official fists, for months now.

“Will anyone give me three-seventy? Anyone?” Elvis almost chanted into his mic. “We’re holding at three sixty, folks. Anyone for three-seventy?” He twirled the feather in his fingers. Against his black skin, it seemed to glow.

“Three-seventy,” he chanted. “Three-seventy…no? Then we’re holding at three-sixty. Three-sixty. Three sixty. Going once. Going—”

A scream rang out, full of terror.

Everyone looked around at each other, and up and down the street, trying to determine if they’d heard what they’d heard.

Harley put her sunglasses back on.

A second scream, more desperate than the first. To the north, possibly in a side street, but not far from here.

“Chief!” Elvis called out, his tone one of disapproval, as she headed for the other end of the stage.

“It’s my job, Elvis!” she shot back, eyeing the length of the stage. “Out of my way.”

Elvis grinned. He knew what she was about to do and knew it would help his auction. He stepped out of the way with a dramatic lunge back as Harley ran forward, flipped out her wings, and beat down hard. Once. Twice. Then she was in the air and winging for height, while every face below her turned up and watched her, their eyes wide.

Then whoever it was screamed a third time and this time, it was cut off sharply.

Harley forget about everything else and raced as fast as she could toward the source of the screams.

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