The Charmed Sphere

The Charmed Sphere

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by Catherine Asaro

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Once Chime had been the most promising mage in the land, feted and celebrated for her potential and future role in the kingdom. Then Iris, her young competitor, made a stunning leap in skill and turned Chime's world upside down.

Now no longer the most powerful, no longer promised to a prince-- and still unable to harness her magic properly-- Chime was


Once Chime had been the most promising mage in the land, feted and celebrated for her potential and future role in the kingdom. Then Iris, her young competitor, made a stunning leap in skill and turned Chime's world upside down.

Now no longer the most powerful, no longer promised to a prince-- and still unable to harness her magic properly-- Chime was set adrift. As was the new king's cousin-- and former heir-- Lord Muller. Yet when the neighboring kingdom threatened war, Muller and Chime were tasked with uncovering the plot. Both were flawed, yet unwilling to accept a lesser destiny than they had once known. Could this quest be the opportunity for redemption-- or would it lead them to their deaths?

Award-winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire, creates her first full-length fantasy novel in a world rich with magic and power. Fans who caught a glimpse of the kingdom of Aronsdale in "Moonglow" from the Charmed Destinies collection are...

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Nebula Award–winning author Catherine Asaro, renowned for her epic science fiction saga of the Skolian Empire (The Quantum Rose, Spherical Harmonic, et al.), has penned her first full-length fantasy novel with The Charmed Sphere -- a story about insatiable greed, wild magic, and untamed love.

Originally a novella entitled "Moonglow" in 2003's Charmed Destinies anthology, The Charmed Sphere is the much-expanded story about a reluctant mage and an equally reluctant heir. Chime is living an idyllic life with her family in the rural hamlet of Jacob's Vale. But her life is turned upside down when one of the King of Aronsdale's most trusted advisers, searching the kingdom for shape-mages, identifies her as a promising mage with powerful undeveloped ability. Chime reluctantly agrees to travel to Castle Suncroft, where she is to be trained in the art of magecraft -- and also groomed for her marriage to Prince Muller, the heir to the throne of Aronsdale! Muller is the nephew to the king, and the last thing he wants to do is get married and rule a kingdom. He's more concerned with fashion than affairs of state. When the King of Aronsdale dies and Muller continues to postpone his royal ascension, the leader of a neighboring kingdom -- along with an insane mage bent on destroying Aronsdale -- sees the transition as the perfect time to strike.

Simply put, The Charmed Sphere is a novel of superlatives. If a reader were to choose only one new romantic fantasy to read, it should be Catherine Asaro's unforgettable gem. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
In Nebula Award-winner Catherine Asaro's romantic fantasy The Charmed Sphere, set in the land of Arondale, four fallible mages-outgoing young Chime, adviser to the dying King Daron; introspective Iris; Chime's fiance Lord Muller, heir to the Arondale throne; and sense-deprived Jarid-must learn to navigate the geometric web of power that rules this inviting realm. A physicist, Asaro is the current president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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The Charmed Sphere

By Catherine Asaro

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-80203-X

Chapter One

Chime hid when the king came to town.

Everyone in Jacob's Vale knew the royal party would arrive today. Fast messengers traveling the country kept citizens apprised of the king's progress through the realm of Aronsdale. Chime had hoped he might skip a hamlet as small as Jacob's Vale, but apparently she wouldn't be so lucky.

A pack of boys raced into town, hair flying, yelling that King Daron was coming. So Chime hid. She ran to her family's orchard and climbed her favorite apple tree. At her age, almost eighteen, she was supposedly too mature for such pastimes, ready instead to settle down and bring a husband into the household. She had no wish to marry, however, and didn't care in the least about her supposed lack of interest in climbing trees. She scrambled up the trunk, dressed in tunic, leggings, and kneeboots, all the hue of yellow apples, her favorite color. She didn't stop until she was deep into the leafy cover of the branches, screened by spring foliage from curious eyes. Royal eyes.

Actually, it wasn't the king who inspired Chime to flee the town and stash herself in a tree. She feared a far more imposing person - Della No-Cozen, one of Daron's top advisors. Della served as the Mage Mistress for Castle Suncroft.

"Pah," Chime muttered. Although the idea of a castle being a croft for the sun appealed to her sense of whimsy, she had no wish to go there. She knew why Mistress No-Cozen was searching the countryside, visiting towns large and small. Oh, yes, she knew. They were looking for shapemages, the adepts who used circles, cubes, spheres, and other shapes to create spells. Well, they wouldn't find any here, not if she had any say in the matter.

Although Chime's parents realized she carried the shapemage gifts, neither had ever pressured her to reveal her talents. Besides, if she left Jacob's Vale and went to Suncroft, her family would have one less person to help in the orchards. Chime loved her family and she loved tending the trees, especially when they blossomed and brought forth fresh, succulent apples.

Thinking of fruit, Chime spotted a particularly juicy apple. She plucked it and settled herself more comfortably in the branches. Then she peered through the leaves at the dusty road beyond the trees, and past it to the hills. In the distance, the first riders of the king's party had appeared over a ridge outside the town. Taking a bite of her apple, she sat back to watch them arrive.

The stately procession crested the ridge like a wave of people. Chime had to admit they made an impressive sight. Warriors rode great horses with golden bridles. Their pennants snapped in the breeze, dyed the king's colors, indigo and gold on a white background, showing a castle silhouetted on the disk of the sun. An honor guard rode with them, officers in blue uniforms. As they drew nearer, riding at the edge of the trees and even under some of them, Chime saw the gold insignia of military officers.

Then King Daron appeared. At first Chime mistook him for a royal advisor. He made a spectacular sight, to be sure, tall on his great black charger, his gray hair swept up from his brow. And his chiseled features certainly had a kingly aspect. But he seemed so old. She had seen his image on the hexagonal coins people used to buy the apples, quinces, and pears her family grew. It made her expect a much younger man, one hale and hearty, full of vigor. This man's advanced age suggested his era of rule might end sooner than she, and most people, expected.

The thought perturbed Chime. King Daron had been a constant all her life, a good sovereign her parents said, steady and certain. He had no son to assume his crown; the prince had died years ago, lost in an orb-carriage accident with his wife and their young child, a boy named Jarid. Rumor claimed their loss had destroyed the king. He had been widowed himself years before, and he had never remarried. Instead he had chosen his nephew, the son of his brother, as his heir.

Chime took another bite of her apple, studying the king's retinue. Several nobles rode with him, the men in gold trousers and white shirts under brocaded vests; the women in pale tunics and leggings tucked into riding boots.

As the procession drew near, a woman looked up at the tree. Her full cheeks had a ruddy color and gray curls framed her lined face. Chime could see her eyes, gray perhaps, though she was too far away to be sure. What struck Chime most was their intelligence. The woman stared straight at her hiding place as if she saw the truant girl.

Chime held still, praying to escape notice. It seemed to work. The woman rode on with the king's party,passing below the tree with no more indication she knew someone was watching them. Chime hoped that were true, because she had no doubt who she had just seen - Della No-Cozen, ShapeMage Mistress of Suncroft.

* * *

Chime climbed in a window at the back of her house, sneaking into her mother's workroom. It was here that Bell recorded the sale of fruit from their orchards, writing the numbers on parchments in beautiful inks with designs of vines around the edges. Bell had gone to the village earlier, so this entrance was safer for Chime than going in the front door, where someone might catch sight of her and prod her to go greet the king's party.

She was clambering over the sill onto a rickety wooden chair when a young voice said, "Hey!"

Chime jerked around and lost her balance. As she flailed her arms, she jumped off the chair and landed with a thump on the plank wood floor. Stumbling, she grabbed the wall shelves to keep from falling. Knickknacks rained over her, wooden harvest dolls that clattered all over the floor. She managed to avoid the ignoble fate of sprawling on the floor herself, but she winced at her undignified entrance.

Drummer, the younger of her two brothers, stood in the doorway smirking, his gold curls tousled over his ears and collar, his blue eyes full of delight at embarrassing her. Chime knew people thought she and Drummer resembled each other, both in appearance and behavior, but at this moment she had no doubt about the truth: imps had taken her true brother at birth and put this vexing creature in his place, leaving him to bedevil his poor sister.

Chime drew herself upright and brushed out her tunic. "Well, so why aren't you doing your chores?"

He stopped grinning long enough to glare. "Why aren't you doing yours?"

She spoke with dignity. "I was busy."

Drummer crossed his arms, for all the world resembling a nine-year-old version of their father, though Drummer had far less brawn. "Busy climbing trees?"

"Hah." She thought hard and fast for an excuse, or at least hard, anyway. Fast thinking had never been her forte. At a loss for good response, she fell back on sisterly disdain. "Little do you know."

Curiosity flashed in his gaze. "Know what?"

She brushed a leaf off her sleeve. "Oh, nothing."


She had to relent, seeing his eyes bright with excitement. "The king's party has arrived."

"Hai!" With no more ado, he spun around and took off. After two steps, though, he skidded to a stop and swung back to her. "Well, come on!"

Chime smiled at his enthusiasm. He had always been that way, full of energy. "You go and see, Drummer. I really do have chores to finish."

"Mother and Father won't mind." His eyes were as round as the moon. "This is special."

"I'll come soon."

"See you there!" He whirled and dashed off. A crash came from somewhere, a chair falling over it sounded like, following by a breathless apology from Drummer, either to a person or the chair. The front door opened and slammed, and then it was quiet again.


Excerpted from The Charmed Sphere by Catherine Asaro Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Catherine Asaro was born in Oakland, California, and grew up in El Cerrito, just north of Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in chemical physics and M.A. in physics, both from Harvard, and a B.S. with Highest Honors in chemistry from UCLA. Among the places she has done research are the University of Toronto in Canada, the Max-Planck-Institut Astrophysik in Germany, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Her research involves using quantum theory to describe the behavior of atoms and molecules. Catherine was a physics professor until 1990, when she established Molecudyne Research, which she currently runs.

A former ballerina, Catherine has performed with ballets and in musicals on both coasts and in Ohio. In the 1980s she was a principal dancer and artistic director of the Mainly Jazz Dancers and the Harvard University Ballet. After she graduated, her undergraduate students took over Mainly Jazz and made it into an organization at the college. Catherine still teaches ballet in Maryland.

Catherine's fiction is a successful blend of hard science fiction, romance and exciting space adventure. She has published nine novels, seven of which belong to her Saga of the Skolian Empire. Catherine has been nominated for many awards. Among those she's won are the Nebula Award for best novel of 2001 for The Quantum Rose and the Romantic Times Award for Best SF Novel for both Spherical Harmonic and Ascendant Sun.

Her husband is John Kendall Cannizzo, an astrophysicist at NASA. They have one daughter, a young ballet dancer who loves math.

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The Charmed Sphere 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
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Mickey29 More than 1 year ago
Charmed Sphere is the first book by Catherine Asaro I ever read. I love this book so much I have read it repeatedly. Story about a girl who isn't the best mage but the best mage with emotions. Ends up falling in love with someone she can't have and saves her kingdom because of her special ability. A different look at a genre that has been done over and over again. Recommend to anyone who loves fantasy, and great conflict and explosive endings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book sparked my imagination to a world I've never known before. I never wanted the story to end. I cried in some parts, I'll admit it. But the love was so strong I felt like I was Chime herself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A captivating romance with battle and passion, this book is so good I had it finished in two nights. There is not one part of the book that is boring and lacking in action. Chime is a doll and a classic charactor. The author tries to make you feel for the other charactors but she's just so incredable and misunderstood, except by Muller, whom if a real person would totally be my guy. He's sweet and honestly pretty boy, but that's o.k. If I could I'd make sure everyone in the world had the chance to read this because it is charmed from begining to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I took this book with me over seas. I could NOT put it down. It took a while for me to get into it at the start, but once I got past that, I wasnt going to stop. On a bus, while the way to another part of the country I read it for a full five hours, then I was sad that I had finished it, so I started it again. It's an amazing book that puts you into a whole different, enchanted world, where dreams can come true, and the impossible can happen. I cant walk by my book shelf and see it, and not want to pick it up and read it again. IT'S AMAZING! READ IT!!! lol...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book captures the reader from start to finish. The second you open the book you are thrown into Aronsdale without a second glance. You simply fall in love with the characters and the plot, you even find yourself laughing out loud or at the edge of your chair trying to decifer what will happed next. Asaro makes it as though your reminising on your own life looking back on a memory, the discriptions are so vivid and alive! A truely wonderful tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading 2 of the skolian novels, I had to try something else Mrs. Asaro also wrote. The world is simple and easy to learn, which is nice after so many decades of worlds from so many other authors, but the characters were far richer and deeper than expected, and the point of view storytelling was artistic and enjoyable. I anticipate greatly the next read in this series. Thank you so much for a wonderful 3 days. I hated going to work instead of reading this novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From first page to last, I couldn't put this book down! Quickly you were engaged with the characxters and the plot was very intriguing. If you love magical worlds with a great storyline, then you will love this book. A must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Trying to find new authors, since I have a habit of reading faster than new books are published, I was enchanted by this book. Having never read anything by Ms. Asaro, I was immediately pulled into the story and fascinated by the world that she had created. The pace of the book is excellent. The only troubling section is the lack of complete character development - especially in the secondary figures (Iris and Jarid particularly). Overall, I recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chime was not princess material, and even less queen material. Yet it was this wild country girl who attracted Della No Cozen's attention. Her power was the strongest she had ever felt, and therefore, no matter what Chime herself wanted, she was destined to marry the heir apparent to the throne, Muller, the king's nephew. Despite her reluctant consent, Chime escapes at her first opportunity, heading into the forest where she meets an enigmatic young man. The two feel an almost instant attraction, though neither gives the other their true name. That makes for an awkward scene when they find out that they are betrothed to one another. ....................... Though their meeting was rocky, soon Muller and Chime discover they do love one another, but their romance is complicated when a second young woman with even greater potential is found. Fortunately, Muller's long lost cousin is also found. Jarid may be blind, deaf, and dumb, but he is the true heir; and he will have to face a war with enemy kingdoms who will stop at nothing to defeat his. ............................ **** The two lead couples of this unusual romance form a strong set of characters to guide the story. Each one faces challenges and matures in ways that complement the other three. Friendship and love are proven to be the most powerful charms that will save the day. ****
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this up because it looked interesting, and I had never read any of Catherine Asaro's works before, except for the novella in Charmed Destinies, which was also excellent. Anyhow, I bought it, took it home, and started to read it that night . . .when I looked at the clock it was somewhere around 2:30 and I had to stop reading so I could wake up for work. I finished it the next afternoon. This is a wonderful novel with very real characters and a superb plot. I loved the way Muller and Chime meet for the first time and the way she, Iris, Jarid, and their servants interacts with each other. The shape-magic theme is well-done also, an interesting new take on magic. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good fantasy interspersed with a good love story, actually two good loves stories--for Jarid and Iris' romance is just as compelling as Muller's and Chime's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When the King and his retinue came to Jacob¿s Vale searching for mages, Chine tried to hide since she didn¿t want to leave the family orchard and go to Castle Suncroft. Della No-Cozen, the mage-mistress immediately saw how much power she had and persuaded her to come to the castle to learn how to use her abilities properly. The king¿s nephew and heir, Prince Muller is expected to marry Chine, but he doesn¿t want to wed anyone nor become king..................................... Chine also doesn¿t want to be queen and the thought of marrying the prince is ludicrous until she comes to know him. Muller quickly falls in love with his betrothed but Della finds Iris, another mage more powerful than Chine and Iris locates Javid the king¿s grandson thought to have died fourteen years ago. Muller and Chine are both chagrined and happy to realize they won¿t be monarchs but they still have a very important role to play in the kingdom. King Varquelle of Harsdown plans to invade and annex the land of Aronsdale with the help of his powerful mage, Anvil and it will take the special powers of Chine and Muller to stop them if they can learn to control their magic................................ Readers will love this epic romantic fantasy that reads like an adult fairy tale. There are two couples who must overcome many obstacles before they can admit their love for one another and it is fascinating watching them slowly mature into heroic figures to be admired. This is a very different kind of work than Catherine Asara¿s science fiction novels involving the Skalian Empire, but this novel is just as engrossing and enthralling............................. Harriet Klausner