Exclusive excerpt from Kay Kenyon's PRINCE OF STORMS

Prince of Storms, last volume in Kay Kenyon's excellent The Entire and the Rose series, will be released in a few short weeks. I just finished reading the book, and it's a great conclusion to what has been a terrific series which blends science fiction and fantasy elements. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Be sure to check out the first three volumes:

- Bright of the Sky (Canada, USA, Europe)
- A World Too Near (Canada, USA, Europe)
- City Without End (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's a teaser excerpt, with a brief introduction by the author:

In this scene, Titus Quinn has a tenuous hold on the Ascendancy, the former stronghold of the Tarig. He has been reunited with his wife, Anzi, but has been shocked to learn that when they were recently separated, she stumbled into a world where the incredibly advanced race of Paion lived. Being ultra-conservative, the Paion (now called the Jinda ceb), took offense at her demand to be sent home. This seemingly small misstep will have grave consequences, as we begin to learn in this scene.

- Kay Kenyon

Quinn managed to slip past Tai, sleeping at his desk. Outside, he directed the guards to stay at their posts and not follow—freeing him to roam the plaza alone.

Anzi’s words followed him like the voice of his conscience. He didn’t like to admit that he felt some affinity for Lord Inweer. It shouldn’t enter into his decision. It would not. Inweer claimed he could be a counterbalance against the solitaire threat. Ironic in the extreme, that the very lord who once maintained the engine might now assure its retirement. But what was one Tarig against twenty-three? Still, in a weak position, you exploited every advantage.

The ebb was at its darkest hour, the bright tinged with purple in its deep folds. In the deserted plaza silhouettes of bridges arched over the canals like the necks of monsters rising from an adamantine sea. The hill of the lords bulked up before him at one end of the Ascendancy.

Who would occupy those bizarre warrens once the Tarig left? It was even possible that Johanna was a prisoner there. Where had Inweer sent her? But they had the vastness of the primacies to choose from, of course.

The distinctly uncharitable thought came to him that Johanna just wouldn’t stay dead. It made him wince. But she had been reported dead before and he’d believed it, grieving her. And then again. But now, by Inweer’s report, she was alive. Hidden away, perhaps happy to be apart from great events. That would ease his mind, if he thought that Johanna had no need of him. She was no longer his wife. She’d freed him, so she could be free. I’ve moved on, Titus. I’ve had to.

A shadow stirred on the farthest bridge. The bridge near the tower of Ghinamid. Someone was abroad, against his order to leave the plaza empty at ebb time.

The figure was too far away to identify. Chalin? It looked like. He watched. There were, in fact, two of them, if there were not more in the covered portion of the bridge. The figures appeared to be gazing around them, as though looking for someone.

A flash of color suggested that they were functionaries of the Magisterium, with embroidered icons on their backs showing their rank.

Quinn walked toward them. Before he’d even decided to investigate, he just began to walk, his thoughts turning toward an unlikely surmise.

He crossed the nearest canal at the bridge—this one uncovered—and then into the next segment of the plaza, a place that in its geometric layout functioned as a giant matrix for crossing over. He passed the section where the adventurers from Minerva had come through expecting a Tarig welcome, getting a Tarig’s execution. Past the very ground where he had fought Lord Ghinamid, although it had been more a dance of avoidance, Quinn stepping over bodies, sliding in pools of blood, holding an almost useless sword in his one good hand . . .

These thoughts fled as he drew closer to the covered bridge. And gazed for the first time on a Jinda ceb Horat.

He or she stood by the opening to the interior of the bridge, looking down into the water of the canal below. The other individual stood a few paces away, looking at the hill of the lords. They had not seen him yet. They were covered with close-fitting brown-and-cream-colored garments, soft and thick like leather, just as Anzi had described. The one who was turned away had a bright pattern on his back.

So they were here. Without preamble or announcement, standing in the midst of his garrison.

He waited until one of them took notice of him. The nearest one turned.

“You’ve come,” Quinn said.

Now both of them were regarding him. The one who had been looking at the Palatine Hill resumed his watch. The other said, “They live their lives in strips of water.”

The reference must be to the carp in the canal. Perhaps they had not seen fish before. Or canals.

Quinn ventured, since the subject was carp, “It’s home to them, by now.”

“Home is an interesting word. It can mean where you come from or where you feel you should be.”

“I’ve always thought it was where you owed allegiance.”

“Some of these swimmers are machines.”

With a shock, Quinn remembered that some carp were spies. “How can you tell?”

“One of these moves with great precision.”

The Jinda ceb who’d been looking away now directed his or her attention to Quinn. “The Tarig fled. No one kept safe the flying ships.”

“The ships are gone, yes.”

The second individual continued. “What do the Tarig think of our return?”

“I haven’t asked them. It was my decision.” He waited while they absorbed this. If they hadn’t known his identity, they did now. “How many Jinda ceb representatives will be coming?”

The one who had been looking at the canal answered. “Only we two. The rest are needed in the villages. We are making . . . improvements.”

“We stand by to help you.”

“That will not be necessary, Titus Quinn.”

“You can call me Regent.”

The first Jinda ceb now moved off the bridge. As this one came closer, Quinn noticed that the individual’s skull was capped with swirls, almost like petals of a flower. The face was humanoid. Anzi had told him these things. Eyes dark, skin shaded from reddish brown to rust. The hands, exposed beneath the leathery sleeves, were fleshy and five-fingered. They had designed themselves—long ago—to be as close to Chalin as they felt necessary to fit in when they returned.

The one he’d been talking to was lighter in coloration than the other. He would be male, then, Anzi had said. That one approached.

“You will call me Tindivir. And at my side, Ahnwalun.”

Tindivir turned back to Ahnwalun for a moment, giving Quinn a clearer view of the display that Jinda ceb Horat created on their bodies. On Tindivir’s back was an asymmetrical field of color and pattern. A snaking line of dots wound through a field of yellow and gray. In one corner, a magenta saddle-shape of great depth. This would be what Anzi had described to him as the Jinda ceb life art, added to imperceptibly, day by day. He had asked: Is it conscious art or unconscious? Both, she had answered.

A noise behind caught his attention. Turning, Quinn saw his guards, six of them, standing by, nervously fingering weapons. He signaled them to remain at a distance.

The Jinda ceb ignored the newcomers. “You travel in narrow strips. We will do our best to understand you.”

Quinn paused. Had they just compared him to a carp?

He decided on a change of subject. “Where can we set up quarters for you, Tindivir? We have cloth tents over there. It’s not much to offer. But other places might not be as comfortable for you.” He meant not as safe. They couldn’t be unaware of the dangers.

Turning, he saw that Anzi had arrived, dressed in a black silk chemise and, in her haste, barefoot.

She came to his side. “Tindivir, welcome,” she said, “and also this friend whom I have not met.” She nodded to Ahnwalun.

They gazed at her. Rather too long, Quinn thought.

Anzi went on, “We share the Entire, now. As it always should have been. I see you have met my regent husband.”

At this, Ahnwalun said, “You are Ji Anzi, then.”

“Yes, I have that humble name.”

“But not humble actions, to suit.”

Quinn took her hand. “She has welcomed you courteously, Ahnwalun.”

Turning to the other Jinda ceb, Anzi said, “Tindivir. Will you greet me?”

He said, more softly than Ahnwalun had spoken. “Yes, certainly, Regent-wife.”

Quinn had had enough. “That’s not her name. Please call her Ji Anzi.”

Anzi removed her hand from his, and brought out from a fold in her clothes a scroll. “These are my formal words to your people. Please share them, Tindivir. I would like to speak for my actions, since there wasn’t time to do so before.”

Tindivir took the scroll. “You have written an explanation. That is good, Ji Anzi, but it will not make up for what transpired.”

“It’s a start,” Quinn said pointedly.

Tindivir put the scroll in a slit in his clothes. “You cannot know what fell out from your actions, Ji Anzi, so I will explain. Briefly: Nistoth was your teacher. You prevailed on him to create an involution to the Entire, bringing you into the center of the conflict here in the Entire. The justification was that your husband was in danger. But you had many weeks in our time to make your request in Manifest. You chose not to do this, and Nistoth chose not to do this in the mistaken belief that you had to act with immediacy. What transpired from this rash behavior? Did you save your husband? No, he saved himself. Did your actions have consequence in the Rose? No, we watched, and think that you did not greatly influence that outcome. So Nistoth has lost his position. Everything of his life art has been erased. Because of you, although your former teacher graciously takes his own blame. I am sorry to report that you have engendered much resentment among us for your actions and for Nistoth’s sake. I do not share the anger, since I must work with the regent. I am not happy to have told you this news, Ji Anzi, but you should not be the only one who does not know.”

Anzi could barely speak. “Tindivir, I may have been wrong, but I thought the Rose would die.”

“That was of high importance to you. But not to us.”

Quinn let those words settle for a moment.

Tindivir turned to Quinn. “Show us the tents you spoke of, Regent. That would make a better beginning than reciting old mistakes.”

Anzi stood forlorn at Quinn’s side. He took her hand again. It was not a good start, but for now, he and the Jinda ceb had met each other without guards drawing swords and without the Tarig creating an uproar, or any of the hundred things that could have gone wrong by them showing up like this. It might have been worse.

“This way.” Quinn gestured them toward the pavilion. He kept Anzi with him by imprisoning her hand in his, despite her trying to tug away. He would not, by God, let them drive her from his side.

When they got to the pavilion, everyone was awake and standing by—Tai, Zhiya, Ci Dehai—all looking amazed and uncertain, if he read the expressions aright. On the hill, he thought he glimpsed a lone Tarig standing at a railing, watching.

He told Zhiya that the pavilion had to be moved. He wanted it placed away from any canals—unlike its present location. Once that was done, the Jinda ceb could choose their place in the configuration of tents.

Zhiya cocked her head. “I thought you liked the sound of the water as you slept.”

“Yes, but I can do without it.” He added, “Not all carp are carp.”

The Jinda ceb had already made themselves useful, if only inadvertently, by revealing his security lapse. He felt a sense of relief that they had finally come.

It was no longer just him with his mSap holding the Ascendancy by force of a clumsy threat. The Jinda ceb would guide him, and despite his uncertainties about their motives, he most desperately needed them.

2 commentaires:

John Anealio said...

I loved Bright of the Sky. I need to get on the ball and read the rest of this series. Thanks for posting the excerpt. These books have some of the most beautiful artwork.

The Doctah said...

I've followed Kenyon's career from the very beginning (don't remember now how I even found out about her writing) and she does nothing but get better with every book -- and she's set a very high bar indeed with The Entire and The Rose. It is about the best world-building that I've read in my 60+ years, the characterization is superb -- and probably best of all, it is a tour de force of story-telling. There just isn't anything NOT to like about this series.