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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
Another amazing series from one of my favorite authors of all time, this time centering around a strange girl from the wild who has a talent with animals. Daine manages to get a job in the stables of the same royal palace that Kinght Alanna trained and serves at. But she has a terrible secret. Daine’s unique way with animals is the reason she had to flee her home in the mountains, and it’s far too powerful to keep hidden from the new friends she makes in the Kingdom of Tortall. Luckily, Tortall is far more accepting than Daine’s old home, and she soon finds that her strange powers fit in with a wizard who turns himself into a bird, a thief made into a lord, and a woman knight under the protection of the Goddess.
However, as kind as the people she meets are, Daine still remembers how the villagers from her home killed her mother and set fire to her house, for fear of Daine’s abilities. Can she really trust her new friends? Or are they just using her, because her powers are becoming very useful with the kingdom overrun by Immortal creatures taking up residence all across the land and causing trouble?
This is another Tamora Pierce book I adore, and it even has many appearances of my most favorite Lady Knight. But Daine herself quickly won my heart over, even as different from the brave Alanna as she is. Daine has the gift of talking to animals–any animals, even immortal beings from the Realm of the Gods. If people weren’t terrible, she likely would have lived a peaceful, quiet life in solitude. But, because the villagers didn’t understand her magic, they claimed she and her mother were evil witches, and drove Daine out with fire. This event changed Daine, making her less trusting of strangers (human ones) and far more secretive and cautious than she was as a child. She eventually learns to trust again, and also to be proud of her power, rather than fearing how people will see her. Which is a good thing, because those Immortals running rampant everywhere? They aren’t just looking for mischief, they’re invading the mortal realms to set up homes of their own, and they don’t want to share with humans. So the Kingdom of Tortall, and all the Kingdoms of men, are in great need of any help they can get, and Daine’s power may be just enough to save them.
The Immortals series was one that I read and reread until the binding wore out, and now those tattered books sit in a treasured spot on my shelf. So give it a try and see if you’ll fall in love with Wild Magic too!
Alanna The First Adventure is the first in a series of the adventures about Alanna- the first woman knight of the realm of Tortall. But before she earns her knighthood, Alanna must disguise herself as a boy and go through years of training as a page and a squire, then pass the Ordeal of Knighthood and survive. As the daughter of a noble, Alanna would normally be out of luck, as everyone at court would know who she is. But fortunately, her father is a recluse, and while everyone knows the Lord of Treband has two children, the most anyone can remember about them is that they are twins, but not that one of them is a girl. Also fortunate, is that Alanna’s brother, Thom, would much rather be a great wizard than a knight. So, the twins switch places, disguising themselves as each other until Thom reaches the Daughters of the Goddess to train in magic, and Alanna (now calling herself Alan) reaches the Palace to train as a page.
Alanna faces a lot of hurdles on her course to become a knight. It’s bad enough she’s the smallest of the new pages and so gets more than her fair share of bullies, but she also has to keep the secret of who she really is from those few people who become her closets friends. Friends like the Crown Prince training a few years ahead of her, and the rugged leader of the capital’s thieves. But she can’t keep her secret forever, because while boys and girls look much alike as children, they start to change right around the ages of a Palace page. More terrible though, is the growing conspiracy to assassinate the Prince, and as one of his closest friends, Alanna finds herself in the line of fire.
I love a lot of Tamora Pierce’s books, and the Song of the Lioness saga is definitely one of my favorites. Alanna is fun, brave, determined, everything I wanted to be when I was a kid. She was an amazing heroine to grow up with, because as awesome as the first book is, the other three get even better.
For some exciting reading, download Callie Kanno’s first novel in The Threshold Trilogy, The Threshold Child.
Adesina has been trained from childhood to serve her nation as a warrior and a spy. When she is selected to combat a group of seditious magic users, she must summon all of her abilities to defeat her enemies—including talents that have been buried in the deepest part of her.
No one ever looked up.
For this reason, a black clothed figure was crouched in the gnarled arms of an ancient tree. In the sparse moonlight she was invisible against the background, waiting patiently for her prey. Her metallic purple eyes, the only visible feature, scanned the ground searching the darkness for every possible detail.
The minutes ticked by slowly.
The whisper of the breeze was chilled by the promise of winter, but she ignored the dropping temperature. Her intense focus even overshadowed the slight ache in her muscles from maintaining her position for an extended period of time.
Every rustle in the underbrush, every stirring of the leaves, brought her sharp eyes around in search for some sign of her quarry.
Finally, a similarly garbed figure passed beneath her tree, slinking from shadow to shadow. She felt a surge of satisfaction as she shifted her weight to the balls of her feet in preparation for the attack.
She dropped down from the branches and brought her prey to its knees before there was any time for her victim to react. She removed the hood and scarf of her opponent, revealing the pale, narrow face of a young woman with short sandy hair. Her features were harsh but blunt, giving her the brutish appearance of one who delights in violence.
The young woman looked up at the strange metallic eyes that were flecked with gold. She clenched her fists, immediately prepared to lash out, and her face contorted in an expression of pure loathing. “Adesina,” she spat.
Adesina didn’t need to ask how she had been recognized. She knew her eyes made her easily identifiable. “I hoped I would be the one to mark you, Basha.”
“I had hoped to kill you.”
Adesina didn’t doubt it. The two young women were part of a class of students training for an elite and selective military group, commonly known as the Shimat. The competition was fierce, and “accidents” happened.
Basha was an unremarkable student, but she was vindictive and unrelenting, which some teachers mistook for determination and strength of character. From the moment she had laid eyes on Adesina, some ten years ago, Basha had hated her. That hate only grew as Adesina excelled among her peers.
Adesina was unusually gifted, even for a Shimat. She had the uncanny ability to sense her surroundings and knew how to use that to her advantage. She was exceptionally agile and her endurance levels were far above normal. These traits, among others, were the reason why she had begun her training five years earlier than any other student.
Adesina reciprocated Basha’s intense dislike. Not only that, but she was aware of her own gifts and Basha’s shortcomings. It rankled Adesina’s pride to see Basha gain distinction through the misconceptions of certain instructors.
A number of sarcastic retorts rose in Adesina’s fifteen-year-old mind, but she ignored them. Basha saw the scornful quirk to Adesina’s eyebrows, and her own eyes gleamed with the desire for violent revenge.
Instead of voicing her thoughts, Adesina drew the dagger from the belt around her waist. “I have unveiled you, Shi Basha. Yield or be disgraced.”
Basha’s expression twisted as she debated whether it was worth the disgrace to defy the person she despised more than anything in the world. When she spoke, it was between clenched teeth.
Adesina stepped forward so she was facing Basha’s kneeling figure and placed the edge of her blade against her enemy’s cheek.
“I mark you, so that all may know of your first failure.”
Her stroke was perhaps harder than it needed to be. Basha swore, but let it bleed freely. Adesina took a small square of white cloth from a pouch on her belt and stained it with some of Basha’s blood. She held it carefully in her hand and returned Basha’s hood and scarf to her.
Basha took them and got to her feet. “A day will come when I will make you pay for this mark. You will rue the day you came into this world.”
Adesina rolled her eyes. Basha had always tended to be melodramatic. “Come on. We have to return to the school.”
Adesina began to turn, but her eyes caught the movement of a sleek shadow several yards away. It was hard to imagine that there was anything more black than the woods at night, but something darker crouched just out of sight. Two golden orbs gleamed momentarily but then seemed to disappear altogether. When she looked closer she could see only trees.
It must have been some sort of animal, for Adesina seemed to be the only human with odd colored eyes. Given the size of the spheres, it must have been an enormous creature. There had never been any beast so large this close to the fortress.
She considered investigating further, but an impatient movement from Basha brought her head around sharply. Adesina’s learned suspicion of Basha overrode her present curiosity. Frowning to herself, Adesina continued on her way.
The autumn leaves lay thick on the ground, but the footsteps of the two young women were muted by the damp soil. They were merely two silhouettes slipping through the darkness, hidden among the crooked trees that surrounded them.
As they walked, Adesina’s mind turned back over the events of the night. It had been a surprise to be shaken from sleep and told that tonight would be the final test for their year of training. If they passed they would be eligible to advance to the next year. If not, they would be put through a remedial course of training.
They had been individually led to different parts of the forest northwest of the school and told that their one objective was to find and unveil one of their classmates. Those unveiled were to be marked by the victor.
Now Adesina and Basha emerged from the forest and approached a small camp. It consisted of two small tents set up on the hill overlooking the forest. The three instructors of Adesina’s group of students stood waiting, robed in black. In the darkness they took on the spectral appearance of the harbingers of death, and the young student felt a chill run down her spine at the sight. Beside the instructors stood a spidery device similar to a brazier, but with flames instead of coals.
Adesina looked at the faces of the men that had taught and trained her since she was five years old. They regarded her gravely as the two young women approached. She greeted them respectfully in order of seniority, bowing to each. “Shar Breyen. Shar Jareb. Shar Per.”
They bowed back. “Shi Adesina.”
Basha went through the same ceremony, but did not receive any acknowledgment in return. Her pale blue eyes smoldered even though she kept them lowered.
Breyen indicated toward the brazier. Adesina took the stained square of cloth she was holding in her hand and gently laid it on the fire. The flames licked at the corners of the cloth, blackening them and curling them as if it were contorting in agony. Adesina watched it dispassionately and wafted the smoke onto her face before stepping back again.
This was a symbolic ritual of the Shimat. The stained cloth represented the victory won, and all that the victory had cost. The sacrifice, the skill, the lessons learned. By breathing in the smoke, it all became part of you. The ritual was also a way to honor those who made you stronger.
Per nodded approvingly. “Shi Adesina, take your prisoner to the medical wing and then you may retire.”
Both students bowed again before walking past their instructors.
The hill leveled out to become flat ground after a few steps. The grass was greyish-green in color and coarse in texture. In the meager moonlight it took on a sickly appearance. This, in addition to the thin mist swirling over the ground, gave a ghostly feeling to the fortress that served as the school and training facility.
The fortress was set on the edge of a cliff that overlooked the ocean. The great outer wall looked harsh and forbidding at night, but during the day it gave a strange sort of comfort in its solitary strength. There were no other cities or villages near the fortress; no other buildings that might call themselves neighbors. The fortress stood alone for many leagues, and it seemed to take power in that seclusion.
The massive gates stood open, which was quite unusual, but several Shimat guards compensated for the lapse of security. Three stood along the wall directly above the gates, and two more stood on the ground on either side. The others were positioned at even intervals along the wall like dark columns, upright and unmoving.
All of them wore the black uniform that Adesina and her peers had been privileged to wear for the night’s activities. Black clothing, knee-high boots, gloves, a high-collared black leather vest, and a hood and scarf that only left the eyes visible. These glittering spheres watched the two young women closely, but the guards remained otherwise still and silent.
Basha fumed inaudibly as they walked. Her burning glare was fixed on the ground and her fists were clenched at her side. When they passed through the gates, she turned to Adesina and said venomously, “I can go to the medical wing by myself.”
Adesina shrugged and walked away. Less time spent in Basha’s presence was always a good thing, and she wanted to get what rest she could before dawn.
Basha took the corridor to the left and Adesina turned right, back to their sleeping quarters.
Each of the rooms that served as sleeping quarters held ten to fifteen students. There were two or three metal washstands per room, and one large mirror on the wall in which they could thoroughly inspect the neatness of their personal appearance.
Every Shi, or student, was instilled with a strict sense of order, which carried over into every aspect of their lives. The uniform had to be meticulous, the hair combed back from the face, proper hygiene attended to, and so forth. All such rules for personal care and general cleanliness were set down in what was casually called “the code.”
Keeping this in mind, Adesina resisted the urge to simply plop into bed fully dressed in spite of her fatigue. She took off the Shimat uniform she had been given for her assignment, folded it carefully, and placed it on the small chest located at the foot of her cot.
Under normal circumstances, a student wasn’t allowed to touch such a uniform. They were only worn by full Shimat, and had to be earned. For certain tests, however, that rule was waived.
Adesina put on her sleeping uniform, unpinned her hair from its tightly braided knot, and climbed carefully into bed. With a weary expression on her face, she settled down for some much needed sleep.
Born together, wed together…
The ancient law is a curse to Brianna, whose twin sister has fallen in love with a man Brianna can’t bring herself to marry. To avoid disappointing her family, she fakes her death and escapes Eryvale to hide in the dazzling city of Bymere…but the city doesn’t live up to its promise.
Lonely and homesick, Brianna regrets her decision until she meets Lyall, a handsome mage. Their instant bond grows deeper, and despite knowing she can never marry him, Brianna accepts Lyall’s offer to leave Bymere before travellers from her village discover she’s still alive. Journeying to the exciting Isla de Magi, Brianna makes plans for a new life and is shocked to find she possesses mage magic as well.
However, when a chilling dream warns of an impending threat to her village, Brianna must leave the Isle and rush home to help her sister. Soon Lyall follows, chasing after the same threat and longing to reunite with Brianna. But can the two work together to stop the danger? Or will Brianna be forced to choose between her love for Lyall and the safety and happiness of her sister?
Brianna threw another pitchfork full of spoilt hay into the wheelbarrow, then glanced over her shoulder. The stable courtyard was as empty as it had been last time she looked. When she realised what she was doing, she scowled. She’d offered to muck out the stables this morning to avoid seeing the young man from last night.
It would be far better for both of them if he headed off to whatever task had brought him to the city without them seeing each other again. There was no point pining over something that couldn’t be.
She forced herself to focus on the task at hand. Though the rain of the previous night had passed, its evidence was left behind in the form of wet, smelly hay. There was more than enough work to keep her busy for several hours.
After a while, the monotony of the task soothed her racing mind. She settled into a comfortable rhythm. Dig, lift, throw. Move onto the next stall, and repeat. Dig, lift, throw. She worked without pause.
Until a voice startled her. “I thought being a serving maid was beneath you—mucking out stables is even more so.”
His voice set her heart racing even before she glanced up and saw the man from last night, leaning against a pole watching her. He was dressed as neatly as the night before, a stark contrast to her muddy and smelly overalls. She turned back to dig one more forkful of hay, trying to give herself a few moments to calm the thumping of her heart before she turned to look at him again.
His dark hair was a little longer than the men in her village, and it arched in even curves on both sides of his forehead. He raised his right eyebrow slightly, his head tilted to one side. It didn’t help her composure any.
Leaning on the shovel, she focused on his words, not his looks. Feeling almost defensive, she said, “Nothing is beneath me. How can you possibly understand a job, or ask anyone to do it for you, if you have not done it yourself at least once?”
He looked taken aback. But after staring at her blankly for a few moments, a smile crinkled the corner of his mouth. “Wise words, beautiful Brianna. In that case, I think perhaps it is time I gave it a go then.”
That was not what she had meant. She couldn’t imagine him mucking out the stable in his spotless breaches and creaseless shirt.
But he was rolling up his sleeves.
“That isn’t what I meant. I…” Her voice trailed off as he came across and took the pitchfork from her. She was too surprised to stop him.
“You’ll have to give me some instruction though. I’ve never done this before.”
He shoved the fork into the muck, straight up, clearly proving her point. She felt a guilty sense of satisfaction as he struggled to force it through the thick hay. For a few moments, she watched him, too amused to offer any help. He wriggled the fork until the prongs went into the hay a little, then tried to lift it, but the prongs broke through the wet hay, and he ended up with only a few strands of hay still clinging to it.
He looked over at her. “Yes, I see exactly what you mean. I realised it was an unpleasant task, but obviously there is some skill to it that I lack. Are you going to teach me, or are you going to stand there and laugh?”
A dangerous secret. A deadly skill.
Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers, Nya’s skill is flawed: she can’t push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden. If discovered, she could be used as a human weapon.
But one day Nya pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. She refuses—until Tali and other League Healers start disappearing mysteriously. Now Nya must decide: How far will she go to get Tali back alive?
Danello lived in one of the better boardinghouses on Market-Dock Canal, in a neighborhood I could only dream of affording. His family had three rooms to themselves—two bedrooms attached to a small kitchen and dining area. Though a woman’s touch still showed, it had been a long time since it showed strong. Two dying plants—possibly coriander—sat on a shelf near the window, holding back faded and singed curtains bunched on one side. A rack of worn copper pots hung above a small stove, its skinny pipe chimney snaking up the side wall. They did have a view, though it was only a grassy corner of a market square. Two people were huddled under a bush, a ratty blanket tucked around them. I looked away.
“Did you find her?” a boy called, running out of the room on the left. “Oh, I guess you did.” His mouth wiggled as if he was unsure whether to be happy I was there or scared that I had come.
“This is—” Danello turned to me and laughed sheepishly. “I don’t even know your name.”
He nodded. “Nya, this is Jovan. The other two are with our da.”
Not knowing what else to do, I waved, and the smaller version of Danello waved back. Same rich brown eyes, same pale hair, same determined yet sad set to the chin.
“Da’s unconscious now,” Jovan said in the measured tone of someone trying very hard to sound grown-up. Saints, he was so young. Too young to carry pain that wasn’t his. “Do we need to wake him?”
My stomach twisted, but I shook my head. “Don’t wake him. I can do it while he’s asleep.”
We moved into the back bedroom, small but cozy. Paintings of flowers hung on the walls, some painted on wood, others on squares of cotton. By the bed, Jovan’s twin brother sat on a yellow stool, his unhappy face pale and tight. Their little sister sat on the floor at his feet. Her blond head rested on his
knee and her arms were wrapped around his shin. Neither looked up.
“That’s Bahari, and Halima there on the floor.”
I backed away. No bed was worth this. I wasn’t healing, I was deciding who suffered. Saints did that, not me. “I can’t do this.”
“Yes, you can. So can they.” Danello squeezed my hand, drew me forward. “What do we do?”
“Change your mind, find a pain merchant who’s buying, drag him here by his hair if you have to, just please don’t make me do this.”
He took both my hands, held them tight. They were warm, and for one irrational moment I felt safe. “What do we do?” he asked.
What we had to, even if we didn’t like it. Hadn’t I always wanted to be a Healer? It might not be what Tali did, but I could help them. The shift was only for a few days, until the pain merchants were buying again. It wasn’t as if I were permanently hurting them. I gulped down air and reluctantly pulled my hands away.
“Nothing yet,” I whispered. “I have to see how badly he’s hurt first.”
His da’s forearm bent the wrong way, so that was broken for sure. The thigh was bloody and gouged, but the leg was straight. I glanced at Jovan and my stomach rolled. Just think about their father . I went to the opposite side of the bed and placed my hand on his forehead. Cold, wet strands of the same pale hair as his children’s stuck to my fingers.
Tali’s voice echoed in my head. She’d been teaching me what they taught her, claiming it was in case the League ever let me in one day, but I wasn’t so sure of that. I figured it was just her way of making it up to me ’cause she got accepted and I couldn’t.
I took a deep breath. Feel your way through the body, to the injury. My hand tingled as I felt my way through blood and bone. Broken arm, as expected. Three broken ribs. Torn muscle on the leg, but not broken. Cuts and bruises all over, but he’d heal that on his own.
“It’s not as bad as you thought.” I explained his injuries as best I could without scaring the little ones. Bahari already looked ready to bolt.
“I’ll take the arm and leg,” Danello said as if ordering dinner. “They can each take a rib. That won’t be too bad, will it?”
Spoken like someone who’d never had a broken rib.
“It’ll hurt to breathe deep. Bending and stretching will be hard.” Three sets of brown eyes went wide. I almost smiled, but figured my grin would scare them more than the pain. “No roughhousing ’til the pain merchants are buying again.”
Bahari jumped up, his fists clenched at his sides. “I don’t want to do this.”
“We have to. It’s for Da,” Jovan snapped back.
“I’ll”—Bahari looked around the room—“do something else to help. Go to the herb sellers.”
“Bahari!” Danello gasped. “Half the time they sell you poisons. I’m not risking Da’s life like that.”
I shuffled back against the wall. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this either, and I didn’t want to shift anything to Bahari if he didn’t want it.
“It’ll hurt,” he said.
“Yes, but you can handle it for a few days.”
“Do it, Hari,” Jovan said in a voice too old for such a small boy. “Da’s never let us down, and we’re not letting him down now.”
Bahari didn’t agree, but he didn’t say no again either.
“Fine, then it’s settled. Me first.” Danello dragged over a chair from under the window and sat down, grabbing the arms tight.