Darkwitch Rising (Troy Game Series #3)
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Darkwitch Rising (Troy Game Series #3)

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by Sara Douglass
     
 

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Darkwitch Rising is the third title in Sara Douglass's compelling Troy Game series, a riveting historical fantasy series of love and revenge set against the very fabric of time itself.

Britian. An ancient land. Most think they know its history. But few suspect and fewer still know the truth.

For back in the mists of time came Brutus, last of the Trojan

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Overview

Darkwitch Rising is the third title in Sara Douglass's compelling Troy Game series, a riveting historical fantasy series of love and revenge set against the very fabric of time itself.

Britian. An ancient land. Most think they know its history. But few suspect and fewer still know the truth.

For back in the mists of time came Brutus, last of the Trojan kings, who was armed with the knowledge of how to construct a magical Labyrinth that could rival the might of the gods. He was drawn to this place by the alluring sorceress Genvissa and together they almost succeeded in creating the Labyrinth. But in the end they were thwarted by Brutus's wife Cornelia, who understood the danger to the land. Her actions however trapped them all into a endless cycle of death and rebirth until the magic of the Labyrinth is completed.

Ages pass. Time and again the players have come close to victory but each time there is a new wrinkle to stay the fulfillment of power.

The Now that these soul travelers arrive in is a most unique one. The English are at war, not with a foreign power but amongst themselves; a mighty Civil War that threatens to destroy a nation. A great pestilence is upon the land and the newly restored Charles II sits upon the throne trying to hold chaos at bay...and he is one of the major players in this drama.

And he is not alone.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The prolix third book in Australian author Douglass's Troy Game historical fantasy saga (after 2004's God's Concubine) exhibits the same powerful imagination as its predecessors, but is not the place to start for newcomers. Brutus, legendary king of Troy, is now incarnate in 17th-century England as one of Charles II's companions, while Charles himself is the Stagking from Celtic folklore. Cornelia, Brutus's wife and a moderating influence, is now a young woman named Noah, while the sorceress Genvissa is now Kate, a prostitute and sex slave to Weyland Orr, the reborn Asterion (the original Minotaur). Asterion's sister, Ariadne, reappears as sharp-tongued as ever, revealing that the Labyrinth is now in the parallel universe of Faerie, while the Troy Game itself is incarnate, and still dangerous, in Noah's daughter, Catling. The stakes rise further when the Game sows plague in England, against which Charles has to unleash the Great Fire of London. Though enriched by the author's historical and folkloric expertise, the somewhat jumbled narrative with its many characters, their shifting alliances and frequently unsympathetic sexual encounters may weary even established fans. Agent, Jim Frenkel. (May 12) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The true history of England begins with the arrival of Brutus, last of the Trojan kings, on the island of Britain. Along with the sorceress Genvissa and his virtuous wife, Cornelia, he is caught in a cycle of death and rebirth that involves the construction of a mystical Labyrinth. Now the three eternals are brought together in the 17th century, as a civil war divides England and eventually leads to the restoration of the rightful king, Charles II. Continuing her epic saga of the mystic history of Britain (Hades' Daughter; Gods' Concubine), Australian Douglass depicts historical and fictitious characters with a thoroughness that brings them to life. Her grand concepts and personal drama combine to deliver a large-scale story of love and deception that belongs in most fantasy collections. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“Combining history, myth and fantasy, Sara Douglass introduces her new Troy Game series with the first book Hades' Daughter...Ms. Douglass recreates the Aegean world and a Pre-Celtic England in a sweeping epic that grabs your attention at the first page.” —Romantic Times BookClub (4 ½ stars) on Hades' Daughter (Book One of the Troy Game series)

“There is sex and violence aplenty...the taste for this mythic fantasy saga must be acquired, but acquirers will relish it keenly.” —Booklist on Hades' Daughter (Book One of the Troy Game series)

“An ambitious fantasy series.” —Publisher's Weekly on God's Concubine (Book Two of the Troy Game series)

“A rich and complex novel full of rich and complex characters.” —SF Chronicle on God's Concubine (Book Two of the Troy Game series)

“The prolix third book in Australian author Douglass's Troy Game historical fantasy saga (after 2004's God's Concubine) exhibits the same powerful imagination as its predecessors...[and is] enriched by the author's historical and folkloric expertise.” —Publishers Weekly on Darkwitch Rising

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765305428
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
05/01/2005
Series:
Troy Game Series, #3
Pages:
608
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Darkwitch Rising

Book Three of the Troy Game


By Sara Douglass, Claire Eddy

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2005 Sara Douglass Enterprises Pty Ltd.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-1166-5



CHAPTER 1

Gog Magog Hills, Cambridgeshire, and Oatlands Palace, Weybridge, England


SIMON GAUTIER, MARQUIS DE LONQUEFORT, gripped the armrests of the wildly rocking carriage and grinned lasciviously at his current mistress, Mademoiselle Helene Gardien, sitting across from him. She was sixteen, with the face of an angel and the body of a whore, and she was shrieking with feigned terror, although whether at the wild movement of the carriage or at the wanton expression on his face, Lonquefort didn't particularly know — nor did he particularly care. Outside the driver had whipped the team of horses into a frenzy, and they plunged recklessly down the forest track, their hooves and the abused wheels of the carriage marking each dip, each hole, and each rock that pitted their way.

Lonquefort was a man who disdained sedateness, in every aspect of his life.

His uncle, and his guardian since the death of his father, had sent Lonquefort for a season to the austere colleges of Cambridge in an effort to wean him from the fleshly delights of his native Paris. But Lonquefort was a man not to be outwitted, and in July of this year of our Lord 1629 he arranged for the passage of Helene across to England. She was young, pliable, tender and fresh, and she shrieked delightfully whenever Lonquefort buried himself within her pleasures.

Which explained why Lonquefort had hired carriage and driver for this day expedition to the Gog Magog Hills four miles south of the university city: the Cambridge dons were starting to complain about the noise. What better to calm their shattered nerves and to indulge his own wanton desires than to take Helene in the center of some stubbled field, or the incline of some gentle hillside slope, where she could scream to her heart's content and he could ...

Oh, God, he was going to have to stop the carriage soon!

As Helene pursed her sweet lips for yet another shriek, Lonquefort glanced outside. He'd been told the Gog Magog Hills were gentle rolling hills, cleared by years of grazing, yet the view which met his eyes contradicted all reports he'd heard.

Forests crowded about, thick and dark.

Lonquefort frowned.

Helene shrieked.

Lonquefort looked at her.

She gave another cry, and jumped slightly in her seat, her breasts jiggling just enough that her nipples slipped briefly, tantalizingly, into view above the frothy lace of her bodice.

Lonquefort forgot the strangeness of the forests.

"Stop!" he cried, his voice so thick with desire he could barely manage the word. "Stop, I command you!" He lifted his cane, banging its golden head against the roof of the carriage.

Outside the driver swore as he hauled on the reins in an effort to stop the violent, plunging motion of the horses.

Lonquefort couldn't tear his mind away from the violent, plunging efforts he would soon be engaged in. As the horses finally came to a halt, he leaned forward, grabbed Helene by the hand, flung open the carriage door, and hauled her outside.

"Wait here," he said to the driver.

Lonquefort managed to get Helene twenty or thirty paces inside the tree line before his lust overcame him. He pulled her to him and tore her bodice apart. He grabbed at her breasts, bruising them, then pushed her first against the broad trunk of a tree, then down so that she lay beneath him amid the leaf litter of the forest. He bit at her neck, and her breasts, and his hands grabbed at her skirts, fumbling in his haste.

Oh, God, oh, God, he'd never wanted her this badly. Never! Never!

Helene cried out, but he took no notice, and did not realize that the tone of her voice had changed from the provocative to the terrified.

She beat at his back and his shoulders, trying to push him away.

He took no notice.

Helene grabbed at his hair, intending to pull it until he pulled away from her, but instead her fingers encountered not fine, powdered brown hair, but the soft velvet of antlers.

Lonquefort thrust deep, and Helene, gasping with horror, felt not her lover, but the heat and strangeness of a wild beast. No, no, of a beast so untamed she felt as if she would die from the force and horror of it.

Lonquefort's movements became frenzied, and Helene lay quiescent beneath him, shocked beyond resistance. Her face was devoid of its usual rosy color, her eyes wide and staring, her injured breasts heaved, her breath whistled in her throat, her hands now clutched behind her at the bark of the tree, preferring to find comfort there before the pelt of the creature that was mating her.

Then, suddenly, wondrously, she was at peace, and she sighed and closed her eyes. While the beast above and inside her still felt wild, he no longer seemed strange, or frightening, and she lifted down her hands from the bark of the tree, and buried them within his pelt, and she whispered, "Anything for you. Anything."

And she felt then, within the pit of her belly, the beginning of something incredible, and Helene knew that her life as a girl was done for.

She sighed once more, and was replete.


"MADAM?"

Henrietta Maria, queen of England, looked up from her embroideries, and put a practiced smile on her face.

"My good lord," she said, rising, then sinking in a deep curtsy, "I had not expected you."

Charles I looked at his wife, repressed a sigh, then instantly hated himself for his impatience. Other men managed with wives they found difficult to love, and so must he. Besides, she had been ill, had miscarried of a child, and doubtless some of her coolness could be ascribed to her aches both of body and of spirit.

At this thought Charles looked a little more closely at his wife. Sweet Lord Christ, she was only sixteen, and yet her face was drawn and lined almost as if she had lived through twice those many years. There were shadows under her dark eyes, her cheeks were pallid, and her hair had lost the luminosity that he remembered from their awkward, fraught wedding night.

What kind of man were he, then, to have brought a girl to this extreme of weariness? What kind of husband, to look in irritation on a woman, and judge her unkindly, when she had just lost a precious child? What kind of king, if he could not care for this most important of his subjects? What kind of lover, if he could not make her smile?

Now Charles smiled himself, and the expression was unexpectedly kind and warm, wiping away much of the aloofness which Henrietta Maria found so intimidating.

"You and I have made a poor start to our marriage," he said, "and I am sorry for it."

The false smile froze on Henrietta Maria's face, and Charles could see the confusion in her eyes. They had spoken nothing but banalities to each other in the entire first year of their marriage. This degree of forthrightness, and spoken so winsomely from a man prone to the most frightful bouts of stuttering, patently had caught her off guard.

Charles suddenly felt a most unexpected wave of mischievousness wash through him. She was but a girl, after all. Why had he not remembered that? His smile warmed, his entire face relaxed, and he was rewarded with the slightest of thaws in his wife's own expression.

Charles glanced behind him. "We would be alone," he said, and with those words, and a wave of his hand, he dismissed from the royal presence the entire bevy of ladies-in-waiting, valets, diplomats, secretaries, and courtiers who normally attended every waking moment of king and queen.

Henrietta Maria's face grew uncertain.

"Am I so unkind a husband," he asked, holding out his arm for her, "that you must look so suspiciously upon me when I seek a moment or two alone with you?"

"You are not unkind," she said, slipping her arm through his as he led her for a gentle stroll down the splendid gallery of Oatlands palace.

"Then, if I am not unkind then I have most certainly been —" He paused awkwardly, his speech struggling to master the word. "— ungracious."

She did not reply.

He stopped, and turned to her, cupping her small face between his hands.

Her muscles tensed beneath his fingers.

He lowered his face until it was but a finger's distance above hers. "I have no doubt that as I speak, our courtiers and ladies, indeed, half the realm, stand huddled against the other side of the far door, ears pressed against its hardness, wondering what we do alone in here. What do you think they imagine?"

His voice was light and teasing, and as its reward, he felt her face relax slightly.

"Perhaps that we discuss great matters of state," she said, her voice low.

"Perhaps, but, no. I think not. What else might they consider?"

"Perhaps that you rebuke me for some childish wrong."

"I hope not," he said, his voice and face now sober, "for that would be a stain on my soul, and I am most sorry I should ever have given them the fodder to imagine such a thing.

"I think" — he lowered his face that final distance between them and planted a soft kiss on her mouth — "that they imagine we sit in silence on our cold thrones, and stare out the windows at the stiff, formal gardens, and wish to ourselves that we were anywhere else but in each other's presence."

"I sincerely hope not," she said, "for that is not what I wish right now."

"Then perhaps they imagine that I have been so overcome by my desire for you —"

Her cheeks stained even rosier.

"— that I have begged for solitude so that I might enjoy my wife's love."

"My lord —"

"Perhaps even now they think I have borne you to that bench by the window —"

She giggled.

"— and there avail myself," his voice grew deeper, a little hoarser, and she could hear real admiration within it, "of your sweet, wondrous white flesh. What say you, wife? Shall I?"

"My lord! It lacks but an hour until noon. We cannot —"

"Parliament may plot to make my life a misery," he said, "but it has not yet passed that act which forbids the nation's monarch from making love to his much-admired wife during the daylight hours."

"You admire me?"

"Most particularly during this beautiful hour before noon. What say you, wife. Shall we? That bench looks right inviting."

"But ... But they'll know!"

His only answer was to kiss her neck, and lay his hand on her bosom.

"Charles ..." she said, and he heard the weakness in her voice, and it encouraged him to turn tease into reality.

And so, atop a beautiful brocaded bench set into one of the great windows of the gallery at Oatlands, Charles I of England made love to his young wife while their courtiers crowded the door outside and a shaft of sunlight broke through the clouds and clothed the couple's soft movements in gold.

Although this was not Charles and Henrietta Maria's marriage night, it was the day on which they made their marriage, and it was also the day during which they conceived one of the greatest kings that England would ever know.


FAR AWAY IN LONDON A FAIR-HAIRED, HAZEL-EYED boy in his midteens raised his face to the sky. He was tall for his age, and too thin for his height, but he held himself gracefully nonetheless, and his face already held hints of the handsomeness it would assume in maturity. He stood in one of London's innumerable back alleys, hidden in shadow. At his side stood a solemn-faced toddling girl of some eighteen months. She was a pretty little thing, with soft brown eyes and silvery hair, but her prettiness was marred by a blank look of terror in those dark eyes, and she stood tense and fearful, as if expecting a blow at any moment.

The boy held her by the hand, and, as he lowered his face, he gave her flesh a squeeze, painful enough that the girl gave a low gasp, her eyes filling with tears.

"Do you feel it, Jane?" said the boy. "Do you know what has happened?"

She made no reply save for two great fat tears that rolled down her cheeks.

The boy squatted so he could look directly into her eyes. "You do feel it, don't you? Brutus is back, your lover when you were Genvissa. He's reborn, and growing contentedly in a queen's womb. Not a bastard, this life. Tell me, pretty Jane, do you think he'll want you? Do you think he'll ever stoop to love you, dirty street urchin, Asterion's whore?"

More tears flowed, and the boy nodded slowly. "Aye. You know he's back, and you know he'll never touch you. So sad, pretty Jane."

She spoke, this tiny girl, with the voice of a child much, much older. "Let me go, Weyland."

"Never," Weyland whispered. "You're mine, now. You and all your talents."

CHAPTER 2

Paris, France, and st. James's Palace, London


ON THE TWENTY-NINTH OF MAY IN 1630 HElene Gardien went into labor at daybreak, delivering her child six hours later. Her lover, Simon Gautier, the marquis de Lonquefort, was in residence at the Parisian townhouse where he'd installed his mistress and visited Helene two hours after he'd been informed of her safe delivery.

This was his first child, and he was curious, if somewhat apprehensive and more than a little annoyed. All he'd wanted from Helene was sex, not responsibility.

"Well?" he said as he inched up to the bed.

"A boy," Helene said, not looking up from the child's face. "See, he has neither your eyes, nor mine, but those of a poet."

Neither your eyes nor mine. Lonquefort instantly seized on her words. Could he claim the child wasn't his? Not his responsibility?

Then he looked at the baby, and was lost. The baby's eyes were different, for while both Lonquefort and Helene had blue eyes, this infant had the deepest-black eyes Lonquefort thought he'd ever seen in a face. But it wasn't their color that immediately captivated Lonquefort. The boy's eyes were those of a poet, Lonquefort decided, for they seemed to contain knowledge and suffering that stretched back aeons, rather than the two hours this boy had lived in this painful world.

"He will be a great man," Lonquefort pronounced, and Helene smiled.

"I will call him Louis," she said, then hesitated. Poet or not, the boy was a bastard, and Helene was not sure whether she should name him for his father.

But who was his father, she wondered as the awkward silence stretched out between them. Lonquefort, or that strange beast she'd envisioned riding her in the forest?

"Louis," Lonquefort said, then he grinned. "Louis de Silva, for the forest where we made him."

Helene laughed, her doubts gone. The forest had made him, indeed, and so he should be named.

"I shall settle a pension on him, and you," said Lonquefort. "You shall not want."

"Thank you," Helene said softly, and bent her head back to her poet- son.


AS HELENE RELAXED IN RELIEF, ANOTHER WOMAN, far distant, arched her back and cried out in the extremities of her own labor.

Henrietta Maria, queen of England, lay writhing in the great bed draped with forest-green silk within her lying-in chamber off the Color Court of St. James's Palace. About her hovered midwives and physicians, privy councillors and lords, all there either to ensure a safe delivery or to witness the birth of an heir.

Elsewhere within the palace Charles I paced up and down, praying silently. He was riven with anxiety, more for Henrietta Maria than for concern over the arrival of a healthy heir. Over the course of the past nine months, as his wife's body had swelled, so also had waxed Charles's regard and love for her. Now he could not bear the thought that she might suffer in childbed.

As the palace clocks chimed noon, one of the privy councillors hurried toward Charles.

"Well?" demanded Charles.

"You have a healthy son," the man said. "An heir!"

"And my wife?"

"She is well," said the councillor, and Charles finally allowed himself to relax, and smile.

"A son," he said. "He shall be named Charles."

"Of course," said the councillor.

Charles went to his wife, assured for himself that she was indeed well, then turned to look at the child one of the midwives held.

He studied the baby curiously, then folded back his wrappings.

"By Jesus!" Charles exclaimed, and looked back at Henrietta Maria. "Are you sure you are well, my love?"

She grinned wanly. "He was an effort, my lord. But, yes, I am well. He did not injure me."

Charles looked back to the baby. By God, look at the size of him! He was a giant, surely, with great strong limbs and a head of long, tight black curls. Charles reached down a hand and, as he did so, the baby reached up his own right hand and snatched at a golden crown embroidered on Charles's sleeve.

"Observe!" said the midwife. "He was born a king, truly! See how he grasps for what shall be his!"

Then both the midwife, and Charles cried out, for the baby's hand tightened about the crown, and tugged at it, tearing it away from his father's sleeve.

"I shall have to watch my back, surely," Charles said with a forced laugh, "in case this son of mine decides to snatch my crown before his time."

The midwife prised the torn piece of material out of the infant's fist, and he began to wail.

"You shall surely die abed, an aged and beloved king," murmured one of the physicians. "This is no omen to be feared."

"Of course not," said Charles, but at that moment the room darkened as a cloud covered the sun, and the only one in the chamber who did not shiver in dread was the baby.

WEYLAND ORR BROUGHT HIS LITTLE SISTER JANE to stand outside the octagonal-towered gatehouse of St James's Palace among the other crowds awaiting news of the queen's delivery. Most of the crowd prayed for a prince; Weyland and Jane knew the child would be a prince. A king reborn.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Darkwitch Rising by Sara Douglass, Claire Eddy. Copyright © 2005 Sara Douglass Enterprises Pty Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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.

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Meet the Author

Sara Douglass was born in Penola, a small farming settlement in the south of Australia. She has a Ph.D. in Early Modern English History. Since 1995 Sara has been Australia's leading author of fantasy and one of its top novelists. She lives in Tasmania.

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Darkwitch Rising (Troy Game Series #3) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
In the third book of The Troy Game, we once again see all the old players, plus a few new ones that got caught in the game during book two.  Cornelia and Genvissa make quite an astonishing discovery about themselves and their history, as do Brutus and Coel.  The Troy Game itself even plays a new bigger role in all that happens.   A great addition to the story, it propels the characters forward in a journey with an as yet unclear ending. 
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Sara Douglass weaves a tale that will get a hold of you and not let go. I found her book on the discount counter and I will buy each forth coming book no matter the cost. Do yourself a favor and read this book. Be warned that you will not want to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book made my head spin! It was well-written and easy to get into, but the plot twists constantly had me saying 'WHAT?' Though that's not a bad thing. A superb addition to another wonderful series by Sara Douglass.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Douglass is an incredible story teller. her books are an exellent escape - you completely loose track of time reading them
Guest More than 1 year ago
my friend got me into reading these troy game books and i got totally hooked on them so i hope she makes another one for that series
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who has reads this book probably understands why I now love Asterion!!And Grace, poor Grace. I am on pins and needles for the next of Douglass' books, which no doubt will be better than the last!!! This book, and the two preceding are a terrific read if you like fantasy with a sweet betrayal-laced love story.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Troy Game continues with reincarnations in seventeenth century England. English King Charles II was once the Celtic Stagking of folklore. Former King of Troy Brutus has become the English monarch¿s companion and his Trojan spouse Cornelia is a young commoner Noah. The sorceress Genvissa is currently the sex slave Kate controlled by her master Asterion the first Minotaur while his sister Ariadne the Darkwitch seems unchanged. --- The Labyrinth exists in the Faerie universe while the Troy Game remains dangerous with its plans to win at all costs. Even deadlier is the aspirations of Asterion who schemes to win over the Game and to defeat her Ancient battle weary foes. His sibling abets his efforts to triumph over the regal band as well as The Game while Genvissa as Kate finds her master not as evil as she once thought. Soon plague devastates London forcing Charles to react with a fiery response to save the many at the cost of the lesser. --- The third Troy Game is exciting but complex as the players switch roles from the previous books (see GOD¿S CONCUBINE and HADES' DAUGHTER). The story line is loaded with twists that play out in a finely detailed seventeenth century English stage. The ensemble cast is put through the ringer by the Game with the two camps still far apart yet beginning to understand the ¿enemy¿. Fans of Sara Douglas will appreciate this complicated some what convoluted spin, but newcomers would be better suited starting with Game One as the reincarnations are clever but difficult to follow.--- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you read and loved the first two books read this!!!!!! The whole plot lines twists, charactors you hated you'll love, and the ones you loved you may hate. For instance, everyone who hated the charactor Genivessa will be shocked at how she's changed. Coel becomes sweeter after earning place as a king, while sadly Brutus is as stubborn as ever. Cornilia is Asterins whore in this book but what she expects to be a life of misery really isn't. Aeridane is back and a total b****. Why she was put into the books i don;t know. This isn;t the best of the series but it will leave you with your jaw wide open and tears in your eyes.