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Shara's father called her a whore the day she left home. After ten years, that was what she remembered most about her parents. She could still hear the hate in her father's voice as he passed his final judgment, could see him scowling in that chicken-scratched yard while her mother stood by, head bowed, saying nothing in Shara's defense.
Shara would soon be worth her weight in jewels, but somewhere deep inside she was still a hog butcher's daughter. Despite a decade of training, the smell of pig still drifted into her mind whenever she was scared, whenever she felt lost and out of place.
For the thousandth time, Shara let go of those too-familiar thoughts. They would not serve her, not tonight. She opened her eyes and looked out the window. The sun was setting behind the Windmill Wall on the far side of Ohndarien. The dying light made the Free City's harbor and canals shimmer like liquid gold.
Shara sat on a teak window seat, leaning on silken pillows. She kept her breathing slow as her fingers brushed the tip of her nipple. Her other hand was nestled warm between her thighs. She could feel the energy expanding beyond the edges of her body. Her skin, her white cotton robe, the pillows, the dying light were all becoming one. But that word, "whore," kept her from dissolving completely.
She painted the scene in the air outside her window. Her mind's eye conjured a three-dimensional portrait of her parents. She saw her father's face, swollen fat through the jowls and pinched tight around the eyes. She saw her mother, shoulders habitually curled forward, a strand of her wispy brown hair fluttering in the breeze.
Shara let the accusation build within her. "Whore," she breathed, blowing the word back at her parents, scattering their images like pipe smoke. They swirled away, and she was free of them.
"If I am a whore," she said to herself, "what a magnificent whore I will be."
She shuddered as the last of her resistance fell away. The power hung about her like a haze and she lost herself in it. Reveled in it.
Standing up, she dropped her robe. The woven cotton whispered off her shoulders and down her arms. As it brushed her skin, she gasped and felt her control lurch again. She was on fire. The spell would be powerful, if she could hold the reins.
She walked to the door and ran her sensitive fingers across the dark oak. Beyond her chambers, the school was quiet. The servants were gone for the night. Her fellow students were sleeping in their rooms. Victeris was alone in his tower. She had a brief urge to test her strength against the Zelani Master, but she let that go also. With a smile, she breathed her hubris into the spell along with everything else.
A thrill ran through her, and she nodded.
Shara opened the door and stepped naked into the hallway. Her bare feet smacked softly on the cool stones. Through the open colonnades, she could see the gardens in the courtyard below. Reaching out with her mind, she brushed the water in the fountain. It felt cool and moist in the hot night, but her thoughts made no ripples on its surface.
At the end of the hall, she turned and headed down the stairs. Her hair slid across her bare shoulders, and she closed her eyes. If this is what the Fourth Gate felt like, she couldn't imagine the Fifth.
Lost in her trance, she almost walked straight into Sybald. The old man cleared his throat to catch her attention. Shara fought to maintain control as her cheeks reddened and her ears burned. The old man looked her up and down disapprovingly. Sybald was Victeris's manservant. The acerbic man was as rigid in his thinking as he was crooked in his body. Like the other students, Shara had feared and hated him while growing up. Now, within a hair's breadth of her full power, she couldn't imagine being terrified by such a tiny little man. He was so old he must have been born ancient.
"What are you doing out of bed?" Sybald asked, holding his candle closer to her face.
"I'm going to the Night Market. Perhaps I'll see a show," she told him. Her voice sounded hurried and nervous, but she stood defiant, chin out, shoulders back, breasts pushed forward. She continued blushing but did not move.
Sybald's wrinkles deepened in his confusion. "Out? At night? What's this nonsense?"
Shara exulted. He didn't see! He didn't know.
Her triumph turned smug. With a wicked smile, she laid a hand on the old man's arm. "But I'm no longer a student, am I?" she said, feeling her power swirl around them.
Sybald nodded as if half-asleep. "No, I guess you're not."
"Would you please open the front gate for me?"
She might be pushing the limits of her influence, but she was on fire. Nothing could stop her.
The old man headed down the stairs. She followed his shuffling steps through the arched doors and across the rose marble walkways to the front gate. As he fumbled for his keys, she looked down at her naked body. Her smooth skin glowed in the darkness. Smiling, she turned back to Sybald as he opened the heavy iron gate.
"Leave that unlocked, would you?"
"Of course," he mumbled, and shuffled back inside.
Shara slipped through the gate, barely able to contain a grin at the power she had, the influence. She couldn't wait for the life she would lead in the next few years. Tonight was her final lesson. After this, she would be ready to pass through the Fifth Gate, into true power and influence. She would escape from under the thumb of any father, husband, or cruel-eyed Zelani-Master and owe fealty to no one. The whole world would open to her. She would walk with kings, whisper in their ears, and change the course of nations.
Excerpted from Heir of Autumn by Giles Carwyn Copyright © 2006 by Giles Carwyn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted November 13, 2006
Posted February 7, 2006
¿Heir of Autumn¿ is one of the best fantasy novels I¿ve read in ages! Carwyn and Fahnestock are a vibrant, fresh new voice in a genre that has grown stale with ¿LOTR¿ knock-offs of late. The book combines all the swashbuckling and magic every fantasy-junkie looks for, but adds a new layer of depth to the genre. And the Game of Squares is absolutely brilliant! Bravo to the two new authors, and I look forward to reading the sequel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 7, 2006
This book has everything! ¿Heir of Autumn¿ is an exceptional novel, I can¿t believe it¿s Carwyn and Fahnestock¿s first. An evil mage who enslaves the lovely Shara through his devious sexually-inspired magic. A unscrupulous king who willingly frames young Brophy and throws him to the mercy of the desert. A dark and mysterious spy complete with a secret love he can never reveal or fulfill. An unspeakable malevolence held in check by a sleeping babe. And the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance! What more could you ask for? ¿Heir of Autumn¿ swept me up from page one and never let me put the book down. The breadth and depth of characters portrayed in this debut novel prove beyond a doubt that we¿ll be seeing a lot more of Carwyn and Fahnestock in the future. And good thing, too! I can¿t wait to read the sequel. The writing is alive, the characters made me want to scream alternately with rage and joy, and the plot relies just enough on convention to make the long-time fantasy reader feel right at home. But the innovative plot twists make this novel a one of a kind read! All the reality shows on TV can¿t hold a candle to the gripping tension of the lethal game of Nine Squares created for this book. ¿Heir of Autumn¿. A must read book for every fantasy fan.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 7, 2006
I loved ¿Heir of Autumn¿! The writing is great, a real page-turner. And it has everything I like in a good book: a beautiful seductress, an evil over-lord, a main character I can relate to, royalty, sword fights, magic, wars, and an unspeakable evil threatening to destroy the world. The book starts a little slow ¿ lots of character building ¿ but once Brophy gets banished, I literally couldn¿t put the book down! I didn¿t get enough sleep, I read through my meals, and I was late for work. Twice! What I thought was going to be another typical fantasy novel about kings and queens squabbling over their kingdom, turned into a novel of deep intrigue, unstoppable action scenes, and characters I fell in love with! Even the minor characters are packed with vitality and a personality all their own. You¿ll absolutely love the spunky Lawdon character. She¿s the best! Can¿t wait to read about her in the next book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 8, 2006
It's so refreshing to find a new fantasy that doesn't try to recreate Tolkien's format, but instead challenges its readers and surprises them with complex characters, vivid world-building, and electrifying action. Carwyn and Fahnestock give us heroes who have to overcome the very real perils of their own characters as well as the perils around them. From the very first pages, Heir of Autumn whisks you away into a world of bustling night markets, sensuous rituals, lush cities, and vicious bloodsports. The action never lets up and the characters compel you to keep the pages turning. I can't wait for more from Fahnestock and Carwyn!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 19, 2006
If you're tired of book-mill fantasy full of authorial intervention and pasteboard heroics, you're gonna love Heir of Autumn. Get ready for unforgettable characters, beguiling plot twists, and a richly imagined world rivaling the best of high fantasy. Not to mention, the writing is darn good. These authors know how to build suspense, and they never take the easy way out. The characters never act, well, out of character, and as with the best of literary fiction, there are real consequences to their actions. Whether sorceress or swordmaster, queen or assassin, these characters are utterly recognizable as parts of ourselves, and I dare you to not care what happens to them next.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 5, 2006
This book is one of the most well-written in the fantasy genre. Alive with richly developed characters, beautifully described scenery, and a page-turning plot, Heir of Autumn stands out as one of the finest novels I've read in years. For those who love to feel transported to a faraway land without feeling bogged down by pedantic historical prose, this book is for you. I loved the heroes, despised the villains, and never felt like I was reading stereotypes or well-worn paradigms. One of the highlights of the book is the game of Nine Squares, brilliantly conceived and described by Carwyn and Fahnestock. I could literally feel the heat of the desert, the parched lips of the characters, the importance of their struggle. The creative talent of these two is hard to come by in today's literary market. This duo is definitely up-and-coming in this field, and I can't wait for the sequel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
Ohndarien is a city of peace where little crime exists and freedom abounds. The realm is governed by the Children of the Seasons, men and women who took the Test of Stone and those who are found worthy of the Heartstone. They wear a diamond in their chests that grant them magical powers. Prince Krellis of Physendria came to Ohndarien to conquer but instead but was persuaded by one of the Children Baelandra to take the test and when he passes it he becomes one of the Children.------ Krellis trains the army and governs justly so that the people and soldiers become loyal to him. When his son with his dying breath tells his father that Brophy was the one who raped a Faradan girl, Krellis exiles him. He is shipped to Physendira who intends to invade the Ohndariens. He becomes the Queen¿s champion in the deadly game Nine Squares. From there he travels to the island of Cinder to ask the Opal Empire to help them in the upcoming war. On the island is a potent weapon that if let loose could destroy the world. Once the Opal Empire realizes that Ohndariens were preventing the Legacy of Efflen from being used, they change sides and agree to help. However it will be Brophy who will be the one to save his homeland if he is willing to pay the price.------ HEIR OF AUTUMN is a terrific and spellbinding work of high fantasy. There is enough political intrigue, battle scenes and romance to keep readers¿ attention at an all time high. Told from the perspective of various characters, fans becomes so involved with the tale that they are unable to stop reading even for one moment because they want to see what happens next. The authors have an excellent sense of place that allows the audience to believe these locales actually exist.----- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 5, 2005
Heir of Autumn is fabulous! Engaging from the beginning, I didn't want to put it down. It was so easy to enter the characters' worlds -- you really felt like you were a part of the story. Without reservation I highly recommend it. When's the next Carwyn/Fahnestock masterpiece coming out?!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2009
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Posted January 23, 2012
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