There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the telltale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon’s law…but now the pattern is spreading over the Emperor’s own arms.
His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon’s agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor’s only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court’s stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an ageing imperial assassin, the Emperor’s Knife.
As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Now only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who saw a path in a pattern once, among the waving grasses—a path that just might save them all.
Mazarkis Williams is a writer with roots in both the US and the UK, having worked in and been educated in both countries. Each year is divided between Boston and Bristol and a teleport booth is always top of the Christmas wish-list. Mazarkis has degrees in history and physics, and a diverse set of interests accumulated while mispending a hectic youth. Cooking has always been a passion, and in addition to feeding six children and a sizeable herd of cats, Mazarkis regularly caters for crowds of permanently hungry friends. The Emperor’s Knife is Mazarkis’ first novel.
Here's the blurb for Knife Sworn:
After a lifetime locked in his tower room, Sarmin has come into his own. He is the crowned emperor; he has wed Mesema of the horse tribes; the Pattern- Master is dead. Everything should be happy ever-after.
But war ignites in the north, and in the palace, Sarmin’s new baby brother is seen as a threat to Mesema’s unborn child. Scheming courtiers surround the Petal Throne, and when a peace envoy is invited, their plots blossom. Sarmin has no royal assassin as proof against their treachery: no one to whom he can give the twisted Knife.
Those whom Sarmin saved from the Pattern- Master’s curse, unsure how to live without the Many, turn to Mogyrk, the god of their ancient foe, for comfort. And Sarmin has not been left alone: the remnants of the Many haunt his thoughts; he hears their voices in the darkness of his room. The worst damage left by the Pattern-Master is about to take Sarmin unawares…
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