Havemercy [NOOK Book]

Overview

This stunning epic fantasy debut introduces two exciting new authors—and a world brimming with natural and man-made wonders, extraordinary events, and a crisis that will test the mettle of men, the boundaries of magic, and the heart and soul of a kingdom.

Thanks to its elite Dragon Corps, the capital city of Volstov has all but won the hundred years’ war with its neighboring enemy, the Ke-Han. The renegade airmen who fly the corps’s ...
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Havemercy

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Overview

This stunning epic fantasy debut introduces two exciting new authors—and a world brimming with natural and man-made wonders, extraordinary events, and a crisis that will test the mettle of men, the boundaries of magic, and the heart and soul of a kingdom.

Thanks to its elite Dragon Corps, the capital city of Volstov has all but won the hundred years’ war with its neighboring enemy, the Ke-Han. The renegade airmen who fly the corps’s mechanical, magic-fueled dragons are Volstov’s greatest weapon. But now one of its more unruly members is at the center of the city’s rumor mill, causing a distraction that may turn the tide of victory.

With Volstov immersed in a scandal that may have international repercussions, the Ke-Han devise an ingenious plan of attack. To counter the threat, four ill-assorted heroes must converge to save the kingdom they love: an exiled magician, a naive country boy, a young student—and the unpredictable ace airman who flies the city’s fiercest dragon, Havemercy.

But on the eve of battle, these courageous men will face something that could make the most formidable of warriors hesitate, the most powerful of magicians weak, and the most unlikely of men allies in their quest to rise against it....

Filled with adventure and discovery, treachery and betrayal, Havemercy is a thrill ride to the unexpected—and an unforgettable journey that will linger long after the fire of battle has cleared


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Jones and Bennett vividly convey the testosterone-saturated world of fantasy fighter pilots in this fast-paced debut. When the stereotypically Asian Ke-Han threaten the Volstov empire, graduate student Thom is sent to rehabilitate the Dragon Corps, an ersatz air force of rebellious, violent young men who fly enormous metal dragons animated by magic. As Thom struggles with his task, challenged most by the brutish ace Rook, the Margrave Royston, banished for an illicit homosexual affair, befriends Hal, an innocent but brilliant tutor who eventually becomes Royston's lover. These four join minds and skills to solve the mystery of a devastating plague and defend Volstov from the foreign army. The insular corps culture of combative homoeroticism and masculine archetypes dominates the book, as female characters fade far into the background. Despite few surprises or original flourishes, Jones and Bennett credibly bring the decadent empire and its inhabitants to life. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

At the moment of victory in Volstov's battle over the rival Ke-Han, disaster strikes, crippling the elite Dragon Corps and its crew of reckless riders. Only an exiled mage, a newly arrived farm boy with a love for reading, a harried professor, and the troubled and troublesome ace dragon rider have a chance to use their combined talents to solve the puzzle that could save their country-provided they don't kill one another first. Debut coauthors Jones and Bennett have created a freshly imagined fantasy universe with magically powered metal dragons, a hard-living, tough-talking crew of dragon riders, and tales of hidden identities, long-kept secrets, and loves that prove stronger than magic. Fans of dragon-oriented fantasy may enjoy this unusual take on dragons, which belongs in most fantasy collections.
—Jackie Cassada

School Library Journal

Adult/High School- The cities of Volstov and Ke-Han have been at war for more than a century. Volstov's flying Dragon Corps (think motorcycle gang with wings) is its greatest weapon. Made up of a ragged, motley crew of young men who don't fit in anywhere else in the community, their nightly raids cause havoc and appear to be getting the upper hand, with victory seemingly near. Then things start to change; "the girls"-as the dragon riders call their metal steeds-seem to be "off," unable to communicate, and start behaving as though their riders were complete strangers rather than the almost mind-connected teams they had been. The magicians of Volstov are also plagued with illness and affliction. What is causing the devastating shift in the 100-year war? Who or what is behind the massive change in the balance of combat? Perhaps it is the intruder from the 'Versity who has been stationed inside the Dragon Corps to find out what makes the riders tick; or maybe the Margrave's new lover has thrown the world out of whack, and he is the reason for the magicians' disease? All parties will have to work to save their kingdom, using cooperation and teamwork to do it. Fans of epic fantasy novels will be pleased with this one.-Joanne Ligamari, Rio Linda School District, Sacramento, CA

From the Publisher
"Havemercy is an absolute charmer of a book: at once exciting, romantic, and funny."—Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn

"These ladies write like a house on fire, delivering fantasy's most pleasant surprise since Temeraire himself took wing in 2006...An impressive debut."—SFReviews.net

“Delicious!  The characters are unique, entrancing and believable: dinner-party guests you never want to see go home.   I will gladly walk again in this city, now that I know my way around.” —Ellen Kushner, author of The Privilege of the Sword

“A dazzling cast memorable characters! Havemercy is a wonderful debut from two talented new authors.”—Lynn Flewelling, author of Shadows Return

“[The authors] vividly convey the testosterone-saturated world of fantasy fighter pilots in this fast-paced debut.”—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553905250
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/24/2008
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 249,390
  • File size: 740 KB

Meet the Author

Jaida Jones recently graduated from Barnard College, where she studied monsters in modern Japanese literature and film. She has had poems published in Mythic Delirium and Jabberwocky, and a collection of poetry published by New Babel Books

Danielle Bennett is an ex-Starbucks barista from Victoria, British Columbia, where she studied English literature at Camoson College.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Royston

That morning, I awaited my arrest in Our Lady of a Thousand Fans. I wasn't alone, but it seemed I might as well have been, for the young man in the bed next to me was asleep. He had no particular reason not to be—after all, it wasn't his future upon which fell the shadow of impending arrest—and though I found that I could not look at him, neither did I begrudge him the repose.

It was rather a curious situation in which I'd found myself. Truth be told, I'd considered myself clever enough to avoid such entanglements altogether. Yet the problem with doing foolish things was that it was quite often impossible to tell what was foolish and what wasn't until you'd swum too far out to turn back again. After that point, it was either carry on or drown.

Of course, you were hanged either way if another man stood up to accuse you of doing all manner of things you were relatively sure you hadn't.

And that was the thing about men: They could so easily change their minds, become frightened of what might happen to them, and throw you to the wolves. If you were very, very unlucky, they might even do all three.

At least—if you were more than passably wealthy—you might be able to go out in style.

I was waiting that morning for the footfalls I knew were coming. They were neither the trained, delicate rhythms of Our Lady's skilled professionals nor the uneven steps of sated patrons, but rather those that held all the surety and sharpness of a man of the law. The man who was coming for me was one who did not need to hunt his quarry because he knew very well where it would be. Though my offense was by all accounts a serious one, the way in which it must be handled would demand a touch of finesse. Most political matters did, though it was a philosophy lost on some men.
Despite my assumptions, I couldn't have said quite what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the Provost of the city himself, leaning in the doorframe as though he hadn't a care in the world.

There was a large mirror hanging on the wall opposite the bed—for people who liked that sort of thing, I supposed—ornately framed in dark cherrywood. So I saw the scene as it must have appeared to him: the lines forming thin and faint at the corners of my eyes, gray hairs glinting at my temples more obviously than I'd have liked in the late- morning sun. I thought ruefully of how little I deserved those marks of age, and how well I had won them, for a man just past thirty-five years of age. Next to me the young man slept on, his tanned shoulders smooth, his mouth open and vulnerable. I tilted my head, fingers measuring the dark unkempt edges of the beard creeping over my cheeks and under my chin.

I'd not had the time to shave before—and after, it had seemed like something of a trifle. After my betrayal by Erik, many things had seemed a trifle.

"Margrave Royston," said the Provost. "You're a hard man to track down."

"Not particularly," I said.

His nose wrinkled at the smell of burnt cloves that permeated the air, and I could sense how very badly he wished to tell me to stop smoking. His excellent comportment prevented him from doing so; or perhaps it was his keen attention to protocol. Nevertheless, there were those who believed the Esar had made a grievous error in letting a commoner enforce his laws. The Provost was a man of the Charlotte district, center-born and center-bred. The people liked him because he didn't put on airs, and everyone else liked him because he minded his own business—with the exception, of course, of those rare occasions when the noblesse went out of their way to do something exceedingly imprudent or alarming; and then his intervention was required.

There was a bowl carved from black stone on the nightstand, in anticipation of the possibility that the wealthy patrons of Our Lady might need a place to put their cuff links or jewelry. I myself had adopted it as an ashtray, a purpose for which I felt it was peculiarly suited.

"You'd better get dressed," the Provost continued, removing a round, gold watch from his pocket. "There's a ruling to be had."

"So soon?" I didn't know myself whether the surprise in my voice was feigned or genuine. I decided on the third option, which was trousers, and got out of bed. "Dmitri, I must say the efficiency of this nation in condemning a man is simply astounding."

The Provost continued to examine his pocket watch with somewhat forced interest. "Your duties within the Basquiat will be assumed by another, in accordance with the sentencing."

"Sentencing?" I caught a glimpse of myself again in the mirror, hair dark and sleep-wild, half-dressed, white shirt voluminous and untucked, my nose stark and sharp and the new lines tight around my eyes and mouth. I'd lost my cuff links under a mound of ash. I looked exactly as I felt: a man thrown off center.

"Oh. There's no official trial," Dmitri said quickly, casting a glance upward. Finding me more or less decent, he nodded and tucked the watch away into some invisible pocket. "We just thought it might be time for a little, ah, chat."

His attitude confirmed my worst fears.

We stepped outside together, and I looked about at the city I loved.

Our Lady of a Thousand Fans was situated in the heart of Miranda. Most will tell you it's the palace, or even the Basquiat, that's the real center of the city's uppermost district. In truth, it all depends on where you're coming from, or what attracts you most.

You can tell a lot about people by the details they choose to employ when describing Volstov's capital.

If you ask anybody who's anybody, though, they'll tell you that if you wish to get through the city and not end up hopelessly lost, it isn't at the palace or Our Lady that you want to begin. Leaving from the Basquiat is actually easiest, taking the Whitstone Road, which leads in a counterclockwise direction through 'Versity Stretch, past the Rue d'St. Difference and its countless milliners—elaborate hats being very much in fashion this season, the sort with lace veils, wide brims, and feathers—along with all the other shops. The Rue is just on the edge between lower Miranda and upper Charlotte, so once you're past the merchants' quarter you're smack in the middle of Charlotte herself, teeming and fat-voweled and cocky. No one much cares what you do in Charlotte so long as you're not doing it to a friend or member of the family. Once you accustom yourself to Charlotte's indifference, she will adopt you as her son or daughter, so long as you look after yourself and don't stray too close to Mollyedge.

It was a principle that could be applied to any of the three sister districts, for each had its own boundaries, as well as its own consequences for dealing with those who strayed too close to them.
The Provost's hansom had windows, at least, and for that I was thankful. I had the odd idea in my head—pervasive no matter how I tried to distract myself—that this might be the last time I got to examine the city I so loved with such reverent attention. I'd had the same feeling with Erik the last occasion I'd met with him, though at the time I hadn't paid my misgivings much mind.

In the end I didn't blame Erik. Volstov was accepting of such dalliances, while Arlemagne took the opposite approach. And Erik was an Arlemagne prince. He was under edict, and he did no credit to his royal family nor to the time-honored tradition of diplomacy for which Arlemagne was famous. On top of all that, we hadn't exactly been careful—a fact for which I blamed myself—making eyes at one another in broad daylight, in the streets, in the middle of the Basquiat. My only surprise was that no one had noticed us sooner.

If I were being ruthless in my honesty, I would admit that it was not the only surprise I had felt over the matter, but I had told myself it was pointless to wrestle with such thoughts beyond what good they could do me. Arlemagne had no understanding of Talents: a magician's particular aptitude within a given field. The same man who could pull a stream from its bed could not create enough heat to boil water unless he did it the same as the rest of us, with a stove, or by building a fire with his own two hands.

Likewise, a man whose skills lay chiefly with combustion would have to rely on his own considerable charm, rather than his Talent, to seduce any sort of prince.

Erik had capitalized on the ignorance of his countrymen and saved himself a great deal of grief in doing so. Really, it should not have surprised me. He was boundlessly clever; one almost wanted to admire him.

Now, in the absence of what regret I'd not yet allowed myself to feel, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss concerning Thremedon City herself, her twisting uneven skyline and its gentle sloping toward the sea.

We jostled around a corner, the Provost staring at his watch with the keen interest of a man determined not to be late or one who was extremely uncomfortable with the situation at hand. From the fervor he was devoting to the task, I had to assume that, wherever we were heading, it was certain to be a room full of self-important men, waiting to decide my fate. I normally had nothing against self-importance, but the idea that, at this moment, someone could be settling a sentence upon my head was both disquieting and invasive, as though the private events of my life had all too quickly become public.

I might have considered this fact before involving myself with Arlemagne's heir, but I have always been much cleverer in retrospect.   

There were certain freedoms allowed to men of the Basquiat—men of privilege and wealth. I wondered if this would help my case. But there were some limits to that freedom for which one couldn't be pardoned. I'd never been at the center of an international incident before. On the periphery, perhaps—skirting around the edges like the proper young madames keen on avoiding puddles in the street—but this time was different. Displease the wrong people, and even your connections can't save you. Displease the wrong country, and—well, I would find out shortly.
I refused to blame Erik. Panic was a natural reaction; it could make you stupid, selfish. I'd seen it often enough. It was a rare man who had the natural proclivity to do the right thing when the wrong one might save him a share in the punishment or blame. Erik had been young. In his place and at that age, I might well have done the same.

This was a lie—I knew even as I thought it—but it was a lie that gave me some comfort.

Our carriage halted in front of the Esar's palace: a long, low-ceilinged building of cream and gold. The Provost got out before me and held the carriage door, so I knew that things couldn't be so dire as all that. Still, it was with a sense of slow, settling disaster that I stepped onto the Palace Walk.
For the first time in a long while I felt utterly powerless to shape my surroundings.

"It's this way," said the Provost. He tapped me once on the shoulder, then took the lead. I followed him, for I could go no other way.


Rook

The only reason we got punished the way we did was 'cause th'Esar was spitting mad for too many reasons that had nothing to do with me and what I'd done. All of a sudden and out of nowhere, we were getting slapped with a ruler on the wrist, only there was a whole lot more of a ruckus about it, and it was th'Esar himself instead of some prissy-pants schoolma'am doing the slapping. I mean, we were all called in—me and the rest of the boys—and lined up on these uncomfortable chairs that smelled of old velvet and dust, and made to wait in this place Balfour (his voice reminding us he'd been raised with all the privileges of a thoroughbred bitch) said was Punishment's Antechamber. And even I had to admit it: That seemed about right. Nobody said anything to us, just gave us a couple of dark looks before making us wait, no doubt so we could think long and hard about what we'd done. They were scowling at me in particular, seeing as how I'd been the one to do it, and everyone knew.

I wasn't sorry. None of the boys were, either—I could see it in the way they were scowling right back. Th'Esar was just pissed and looking for someone to blame it all on. Because we were having enough trouble with Arlemagne without all this on top of the rest, Ghislain'd said, and Adamo'd just shook his head like maybe he wished he'd been a part of it and maybe he was real glad he hadn't been, and maybe it didn't matter either way since he was called in for it with the rest of us.

The thing was, I didn't know she was married.

She wasn't so fine and so sweet-curved as I couldn't've found somebody else—and better—to tickle that night. But she was married to a diplomat, which was what made it so bad, so when I tried to pay her like she was a common whore, she got wild as a wet cat on me, screaming and throwing things and breaking vases. I thought she was a whore, the way she'd tarted herself up, but apparently that was just an Arlemagne's way: powder on everything and too many undergarments, the kind of teasing frippery you only see in Our Lady and which I normally don't have time for. Her breasts were incredible, though—big and round and soft and warm—and I spent a lot of time letting her know how incredible I thought they were. Even if I did think it was a commercial exchange, she might've been grateful instead of screaming rape all over, like that's what you can do if you're a woman when things go sour and you feel a slight.

She called me all kinds of things in her raw-edged Arlemagne voice, all kinds of incredible things I passed on afterward to Magoughin, who collected that kind of talk. But then all of a sudden there was a diplomat with some ridiculous mustache knocking down our door like he was going to kill us, and I almost had my knife in him, all the boys laughing and whooping it up, when Adamo got his arms round me and dragged me off, both of us cursing up a storm.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2008

    A breath of fresh fantasy.

    I've been looking forward to reading Havemercy for quite some time now and I've got to say, I was in no way disappointed. I'm not too big a fan of history or war centric novels - the closest I've ever gotten to enjoying them were when I read books from the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell. However, Ms. Jones and Ms. Bennett avoided the pitfalls of what I consider a usually dry subject and made it into something well-worth reading. Their take on magic and dragons is totally fresh and while initially, I thought I'd get confused with the number of characters involved, reading from various perspectives just made the story that much richer. Also, the fact that there's an unexpected and 'unconventional' romance at the center of the story, is a great balance to both the action and the espionage. I can't say too much because I don't want to give anything away, but suffice it to say if you like the Napoleonic era, romance, magic, and interesting, complicated characters, I highly suggest reading this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2008

    Young Novelists Explore Sci-Fi/Fantasy Territory

    The writing team of 'Havemercy' happily exclaim that they wrote this story in 18 days (and by email no less)- and it shows! Though the fortunate duo explain that it took much longer to edit (presumably by way of Bantam Book's stable of Editorial staffers). Surprisingly, it's not the premise - a solid war story featuring mechanical dragons, nor the abundance of over-used cliche's (if you're a cliche-fanatic this book's for you) but it's the writing style that really showcases the lack of maturity - perhaps as these two writers grow and hone their craft over time then we may see something a bit more substantial. I truly believe there is talent, but unfortunately 'Havemercy' falls a bit flat due to the overall writing style, which leaves this reader with the impression that the book is more like a 'pet-project' that was rushed too soon to print. It takes many years to hone the craft of writing and most of it comes through life experiences - one cannot pound on the keyboard and expect to push out a work of literary greatness without having experienced great sorrow (death of a parent) or love's many losses - or even the joy of success obtained through hard work. I am not saying the book is terrible - in fact the storyline is very good, I like a strong read with good militaristic strategem - but it's the immature writing style and the lack of originality that disappoint. Let's hope the next book is better, as with time these two writers will eventually blossom.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Mindful of Naomi Novik¿s brilliant military historical fantasy saga

    Volstov has won the hundred years¿ war with its neighbor the Ke-Han, thanks to its superior Dragon Corps that enabled their side to control the air. However, with these hot shot pilots who soar on the wings of magically fueled mechanical dragons are a bravado bunch that without an enemy causes havoc within the city.-------------- Whereas scandal diverts Volstov from finishing the triumph, the Ke-Han develops a brilliant counter assault with the slight respite the suddenly divided foe has given them. From victory Volstov¿s elite corps has snatched defeat. The only hope the stunned people of Volstov has resides with four champions (Roysten, Rook, Hal, and Thom) three unlikely as an exiled magician, a country boy, and a student seem so heroic while the other is an insane ace airman who flies the deadliest dragon known to humanity Havemercy.------------ Mindful of Naomi Novik¿s brilliant military historical fantasy saga, HAVEMERCY is an enjoyable thriller starring four distinct fully developed ¿heroes¿ and the fiercest dragon the world has ever seen. Filled with espionage plots and counter spying, the action never stops as the two warring neighbors continue to try to vanquish each other through war and stealth. With the fearsome foursome frolicking and fighting each other and while romance flourishes dividing them further, fans will want to soar on the back of HAVEMERCY as Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett provide an enjoyable military fantasy starring a non-heroic quartet and a kick butt mechanical dragon.--------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 6, 2015

     

     

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  • Posted March 31, 2013

    It started a bit slow but had a strong finish. It took me a lit

    It started a bit slow but had a strong finish.

    It took me a little while to get sucked into this book, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. The approach of using four different first person points of view was a bit unsettling at first, but the voices of the characters were quite distinctive and they all had interesting character arcs. The story takes place in Volstov, a fictitious empire that bears some resemblance to czarist Russia and seems to have roughly mid to late 19th century level of social organization, but with magically assisted technologies. Volstov has been at war with its neighbor, the KeHan empire, which has a sort of Mongolian, or possibly even Japanese feel to it, for the past 100 years. Volstov has gained the upper hand in the war through the use of its dragon corps. The "dragons" are magically animated mechanicals, but they are intelligent and form a strong bond with their pilots. Nonetheless, the dragons' magical fuel does not allow them to reach the KeHan capitol, which is why the war has been dragging on for so long.

    The four point of view characters Royston, Hal, Rook and Thom are all very different. There are two storylines, one involving Royston and Hal, and one involving Rook and Thom, and they don't really converge until about midway through the novel. I don't want to disclose too much of the plot, but I will say that of the four characters, I took the longest to warm up to Rook (the dragon corps pilot who flies the dragon Havemercy), as he is a bit of a stereotyped arrogant macho "Top Gun" kind of character. He does become more and more interesting, as the nuances of his relationship with Havemercy and with Thom emerge.

    The two biggest complaints I had were that it took a while for me to get a sense of where the novel was going and how the story lines would converge. It never bored me, however, and the characters were intriguing, even if it took me a while to figure out what each of them wanted to accomplish. I'd say that Hal was probably the weakest of the four. I liked him, but he was the one where I never really felt much of a transformation/change.

    The other complaint was the near complete lack of interesting female characters or perspectives (unless you count Havemercy, who was referred to as "she" in spite of being a machine). In fact, the only women who made any kind of appearance in the first 1/2 or so of the novel were the diplomat's wife (whom Rook had smacked on the butt and called a whore) and Royston's extremely vapid and unsympathetic sister in law. At first I kind of assumed that the authors were trying to present a 19th century level of social organization where women were often simply invisible and pretty much despised by men (and since the pov characters were all male, we were seeing the insignificance of women through their eyes). But later in the book, it came out that women could be university students and magicians too. Perhaps there will be some more interesting women in some of their future books. I hope so.

    I will say that the authors created an interesting world. There were a few small questions I had, like why oh why were books called "Romans." That strikes me a bit of the old "calling a rabbit a 'smeel' thing you see sometimes in fantasy. Not sure what books have to do with Rome, and since this was a fantasy world, there wouldn't necessarily even be a Rome in their history anyway. I also wondered why the dragons were intelligent, since they were essentially machines that had been animated/fueled by magic. But if they were intelligent (because their creators imbued them with a bit of their own souls), why they needed pilots. But it was a cool enough premise, I was able to suspend disbelief there for the most part. I would have liked a little more description of the dragons (what they looked like).

    But overall, the book was a lot of fun and I want to read more by these authors.

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