In the Lion's Mouth

In the Lion's Mouth

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by Michael Flynn
     
 

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It's a big Spiral Arm, and the scarred man, Donavan buigh, has gone missing in it, upsetting the harper Mearana's plans for a reconciliation between her parents. Bridget ban, a Hound of the League, doubts that reconciliation is possible or desirable; but nonetheless has dispatched agents to investigate the disappearance.

The powerful Ravn Olafsdottr, a

Overview

It's a big Spiral Arm, and the scarred man, Donavan buigh, has gone missing in it, upsetting the harper Mearana's plans for a reconciliation between her parents. Bridget ban, a Hound of the League, doubts that reconciliation is possible or desirable; but nonetheless has dispatched agents to investigate the disappearance.

The powerful Ravn Olafsdottr, a Shadow of the Names, slips into Clanthompson Hall to tell mother and daughter of the fate of Donovan buigh. In the Long Game between the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery, Hound and Shadow are mortal enemies; yet a truce descends between them so that the Shadow may tell her tale. There is a struggle in the Lion's Mouth, the bureau that oversees the Shadows—a clandestine civil war of sabotage and assassination between those who would overthrow Those of Name and the loyalists who support them. And Donovan, one-time Confederal agent, has been recalled to take a key part, willingly or no.



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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Prometheus Award–winner Flynn follows Up Jim River and The January Dancer with another powerful tale of far-future humanity. Donovan buigh, an amnesiac with multiple personalities, is en route to his lover and their daughter when assassin Ravn Olafsdottr kidnaps him. Ravn plans to make Donovan a rallying symbol in a secret rebellion undertaken by the assassins called Shadows against the Confederation oligarchy. Donovan reluctantly agrees, at first watching from the sidelines and then overturning all expectations in a glorious culminating firefight. The story, which Ravn relates with dramatic oratory, is a marvelously heroic ancient legend reborn in humanity’s future days. Space opera fans will be swept away by the poetic rhythm and subtle plot construction, and the open-ended conclusion will leave them clamoring for future Donovan buigh adventures. Agent: Spectrum Literary Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“A marvelously heroic ancient legend reborn in humanity's future days. Space opera fans will be swept away by the poetic rhythm and subtle plot construction.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“This story weaves love, mystery, music, action, and a change to create a mammoth of a read that will leave readers enraptured in its pages for generations to come.” —Sacramento Book Review on The January Dancer

“Flavored like Celtic poetry, The January Dancer is the first effort in what promises to be a space opera of epic proportions…. Will leave readers both wide-eyed and breathless.” —Interzone

“The January Dancer is an innovative intellectual and stimulating take on the space opera in which, once again, Flynn demonstrates that he is a writer of the highest caliber.” —Interzone

“For fans of… Brainy first-contact tales (Carl Sagan meets Umberto Eco). Lowdown: bursting with pungent historical detail and Big Theme musings, this dense, provocative novel offers big rewards.” —Entertainment Weekly on Eifelheim

“A deeply researched and well-thought-out novel that moves us and makes us smarter just for having read it…. Excellent.” —Orson Scott Card on Eifelheim

Firestar was a mighty hard act to follow, but Michael Flynn has done so, and brilliantly. Rogue Star continues the story, with the same imaginative realism, suspenseful narration, and vivid humanness, plus all sorts of new ideas and insights.” —Poul Anderson

“Another powerful tale of far-future humanity…. Space opera fans will be swept away…will leave them clamoring for future Donovan buigh adventures.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review on In The Lion's Mouth

“The January Dancer is a masterpiece.” —Locus

Library Journal
In the Galaxy's Spiral Arm, the Hounds (special agents) of the United League of the Periphery consider the spies of the Confederation of Central Worlds, known as Shadows of the Name, their deadly enemies. But when the scarred man, Donovan buigh, goes missing, the Shadow Ravn Olafsdottr calls a truce to bring news of Donovan's fate to Hounds Bridget ban and her daughter, the harper Mearana. A new phase in the ongoing rivalry between galactic powers begins—with danger for all involved. Flynn's third series title (The January Dancer; Up Jim River) expands the author's popular space opera to include internal intrigues as well as direct confrontations. VERDICT Flynn's incorporation of Norse and Celtic mythologies into sf adventure and romance makes this a popular choice for fans of David Weber's Honor Harrington series and Patricia Kennealy-Morrison's Keltiad space operas.
Kirkus Reviews
Third entry in Flynn's far-future space opera, following Up Jim River (2010, etc.), wherein two human empires, the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery, struggle for dominance--although, thanks to Flynn's veering, elliptical narrative, it's difficult to deduce even this much without knowledge of the previous books. On planet Dangchao Waypoint, the mistress of Clanthompson Hall, Bridget ban, a Hound or agent of the League, seeks news of Donovan buigh, a scarred former Shadow, or operative of the Confederation, her former lover and father of her daughter, the harper Méarana. The great powers of the Confederacy, Those of Name, tortured Donovan to fragment his mind into seven distinct personalities (though he seems to have added a couple more since), each with its own distinct talents. Powerful Shadow Ravn Olafsdottr ghosts into the Hall to reveal Donovan's fate despite the fact that Hound and Shadow are mortal foes. A civil war, it emerges, smolders in the Lion's Mouth, the control arm of the Shadows, between Those of Name and a rebellious faction that seeks to depose them. Or not, as it turns out. Donovan miraculously escaped the horrors inflicted by the Names, and now the rebels have dispatched Ravn to recruit or at least capture him. Unknown to everybody--except, possibly, Ravn--Donovan's separated personalities have begun to communicate and access their common memories, making him even more formidable than before. Donovan, however, wants only to retire to Earth. While individual scenes are pellucid and logical, with dazzling battle sequences, it's never clear what's going on at any level, not to mention dialogue that strays from standard English into a variety of exotic vernaculars ranging from broad Scots to a sort of comical futuristic hoot. Fascinating and intelligent--at times a bit too clever for its own good--if elusive, the sort of yarn you can appreciate and enjoy if not fully apprehend.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429923552
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
01/17/2012
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
254,125
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

In the Lion's Mouth


By Michael Flynn

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2011 Michael Flynn
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2355-2



CHAPTER 1

RIFTWARD: THE FIRST COUNTERARGUMENT


    Swift we sped, your Donovan and I,
    Toward the Rift that rends the stars
    Apart, we plied the boulevards that bind them.
    Sooner far than I had sought for
    Woke he from those slumbers so awarded
    That he should wake when waking no more mattered.
    Wroth he was at being thus abducted
    And for some time the issue lay in doubt
    Between us. E'en I must sleep,
    And in that sleep lie open to his guile.
    But hold!
    I shall place distance 'tween my tale
    And me, and speak of Ravn as I do of others;
    And thus relate as would a goddess grand
    Who sits benign atop the world and, glancing down,
    Sees all things in her ken with even eye.
    And so ... It begins.


The scarred man awoke muzzy-headed in a dark, close room, confused at where he was, and tangled in wires and tubes. The last clear thing in the jumbled closets of his mind was his buying of a ticket to Dangchao Waypoint, and for a fuddled moment he wondered if he might be within that very ship, already on his way.

But if so, he was grossly cheated, for he had purchased third-class fare on a Hadley liner and, of the many things his present accommodations were not, a third-class cabin on a Hadley liner was one. The room was barely large enough to contain the thin, hard bunk on which he lay and, when that bunk had been stowed into the wall, the room grew paradoxically smaller: a pace and a half one way; two and a half the other. It was the half pace that galled.

It was a room for keeping prisoners.

"Fool," said the Fudir, once he had removed the catheters and intravenous feeding tubes that spiderlike had webbed him in his cot. "We've been shanghaied."

"How long were we asleep?" Donovan asked.

* * *

There is this one thing that you must know about the scarred man; or rather, nine things. It is not his hooked chin, nor his sour humors, nor even the scars that interlace his scalp and leave his preternaturally whitened hair in tufts. It is that he is "a man of parts," and those parts are the pieces of his mind, shattered like a mirror and rearranged to others' whims. It is in the nature of the intellect to reflect upon things; and so a mirror is the proper metaphor, but the scarred man's reflections are more kaleidoscopic than most.

The singular benefit of paraperception is that the paraperceptic can see different objects with each eye, hear independently with each ear, and quite often the right hand knows not what the left is doing. This has advantages; and would have had more had the scarred man's masters not been ambitious or cruel.

Early in Donovan's service to the Confederation, the Secret Name had gifted him with a second personality, the Fudir, which enabled him to live masqueraded as a petty thief in the Terran Corner of Jehovah while Donovan ran Particular Errands for Those of Name. But if two heads are better than one, ten heads must be better than two, and the Names had later, after Donovan had displeased Them in some small matter of galactic domination, split his mind still further. They had slivered his intellect and made of him something new: a paraconceptic, able not merely to perceive matters in parallel, but to conceive ideas in parallel. This was the ambition.

It was also the cruelty. They had imprinted each fragment with a complete, if rudimentary, personality, expert in some particular facet of the Espionage Art. The intent had been to create a team of specialists; though the consequence had been instead a quarrelsome committee. For the hand that split his intellect had misstruck; and the blow had split his will as well.

Though perhaps the blow had been true, deliberate, a part of his punishment. Perhaps at the last Those of Name had flinched from the prospect of too great a success. Those had made an art of punishment, and the connoisseurs among Them would often contemplate the intricacies of a punitive masterwork with something close to aesthetic joy. "Kaowèn," they called it. The scarred man had been conceived initially as a human weapon. But who would build such a weapon without a catch?

* * *

"Fool," said the Fudir. "We've been shanghaied."

"How long were we asleep?" Donovan asked.

I'm not sure, replied the Silky Voice. I seemed to fight the drugs forever.

The Pedant rumbled and blinked gray, watery eyes. If asleep, no more than three days. If suspended, as long as three weeks.

The Sleuth eyed the life-support equipment from which they had so recently disengaged. We were in suspension he deduced, not asleep.

That could be. Suspension would affect even me, back here in the hypothalamus.

remembered Inner Child.

Yeah? said the Brute. And where was you? You're supposed to be the lookout.

Now is not the time for recriminations, a young man wearing a chlamys told them. We must start from where we are, not from where we might have been.

The Brute grunted, unmollified. He tried the door, found the jamb-plate inactive, and struck it in several likely places. Donovan did not expect it to open, and so was not disappointed when it failed to do so. A young girl in a chiton squatted nearby on her haunches, her arms wrapped around her legs and her chin resting on her knees. We can get out of here, she said.

Donovan turned control over to the Sleuth, who went to their knees for a closer study of the jamb.

The Pedant recognized the locking mechanism from his databank. A Yarbor and Chang lock. This ship is Peripheral-built.

"Probably hijacked by our gracious hostess," muttered the Fudir.

Which means this room was not designed as a prison cell, said the girl in the chiton, whom Donovan liked to call "Pollyanna."

So. Retrofitted ad hoc, said the Sleuth, and likely in haste. Yarbor and Chang ... so what?

Its central processor has a design flaw. A notice went out from their corporate headquarters on Gladiola two metric years ago. I remember reading it.

You remember everything, the Sleuth complained. He took the scarred man's right arm and pointed. Pedant's design flaw indicates that an electrical current passed across these two points — here, and here — will set up a magnetic field within the processor that resets the lock to zero.

"That's nice," said the Fudir. "So if we had a generator in our pocket, or a battery, and some wires, and could maybe do a bit of soldering, if we had a soldering gun — and some solder — there's a chance we could get out of this room."

"At which point," said Donovan, "we would find ourselves in a ship. A bigger cell, is all."

Hey. At least we'd have room to stretch.

"And where would we find wiring?"

And it's not pitch dark in here.

He means there is a power source.

"I know what he means. Sleuth always has to be clever and elliptical."

When he ain't bein' obtuse! The Brute laughed.

That the Brute was making obscure geometric puns irritated Donovan. Sometimes he didn't know his own mind. Ever since his sundry selves had reintegrated, they had been learning from one another. The Brute was no longer quite so simple as he once had been; though it was not as though he had blossomed into the New Socrates.

The Fudir climbed atop the bunk, studied the Eye, unscrewed a housing with a convenient tool he kept cached in his sandal, detached the live leads — See? We didn't need a power source — and pulled the cable, while simultaneously Donovan and the others considered what they might do once they had broken free of their prison.

"Take over the ship, I suppose," Donovan said. "Slide to Dangchao Waypoint. See Méarana ... and Bridget ban."

Don't matter.

"Well, it might, a little."

I wonder why she shanghaied us, said the Sleuth.

The lamp that was lit has been lit again.

What's that mean, Silky?

Something she said. Something I remember from a dream. Pedant? You remember everything.

The corpulent, watery-eyed version of Donovan shook his massive head. Facts are my métier, not dreams.

The Fudir applied the leads from the Eye to the doorjamb, one above, the other below the point that the Pedant had identified. This ought to work, the Sleuth commented.

Of course it will, said the girl in the chiton.

Current flowed. Magnetic fields formed. Somewhere inside the door, registers zeroed out and reset.

Or were supposed to. The door remained shut.

The Brute stood and, perforce, they all stood with him. He pressed the jamb-plate — and the door slid aside into the wall. The scarred man felt a huge satisfaction.

warned Inner Child, who took control and peered cautiously into the corridor. To the left it ran four paces, ending in a T-intersection.

To the right ...

To the right stood Ravn Olafsdottr with a teaser in her hand and a splash of white teeth across her coal-black face. The teaser was pointed at Donovan's head. "Ooh, you nooty buoy," she said in the hooting accents of Alabaster. "Soo impatient! I wood have let you oot in the ripeness of time. Now you have brooken my door!"

"You should stop somewhere for repairs, then," suggested the Fudir. "I was on my way to Dangchao, so you can drop me off on Die Bold if you're going that way."

Olafsdottr patted him gently on the cheek with her free hand. "You are a foony man, Doonoovan."

* * *

Olafsdottr fashioned him a dinner of sorts. Food preparation was not her forte, and the results could best be described as workmanlike. However, three weeks in suspension had honed an edge to the scarred man's appetite, and he ate with surprising relish.

The refectory was small: essentially a short hallway with a door at each end, a table running down the center, and a bench on either side built into walls of a dull, ungracious gray. "This is not the most comfortable ship," the Fudir complained.

Olafsdottr stood in the aft doorway, a double-arm's reach distant, and her weapon still ready in her hand. She said, "One seizes the moment."

"And the ship."

The vessel is a monoship, the Pedant decided. Small enough for a single pilot.

She's alone, then.

That's good news, said the Brute.

Why?

Means we got her outnumbered.

There were few personal memorabilia aboard that he could see, but they were not Ravn's memorabilia. Confederal agents traveled light and took what they needed when they needed it.

The Fudir waved a spoonful of a chickenlike puree at the bench across from him. "Have a seat," he told his captor. "You look uncomfortable."

"Do I also look foolish?" she replied.

"Afraid I'd try to jump you?"

"No."

"Then ...?"

"I meant I was not afraid, not that you would not try."

Donovan grunted and returned his attention to his meal. So far, he had not asked the Confederal her reasons for kidnapping him. He was a past master at the game of waiting. Either Olafsdottr wanted him to know or not. If she did, she would eventually tell him. If not, asking would not win the answer.

"I will be missed, you know," he told her.

The Ravn's answer was a flash of teeth. "I think noot. The Bartender, he is already sailing your drinks to oother lips. 'Tis noo skin oof his noose who buys them."

"I was on my way to Dangchao. The Hound, Bridget ban, is expecting me. When I don't arrive ..." He allowed the consequences of his nonarrival to remain unspecified. A Hound of the League could be many things and anything, as adroit and dangerous as a Confederal Shadow, and Bridget ban not least among them.

But Olafsdottr only smiled and answered in Manjrin. "Red Hound missing many years. Some associates claim credit, though I believe their bragging empty."

"You were right to doubt them. She has returned and awaits me even now at Clanthompson Hall."

"Ah. If so, associates much red-faced." Olafsdottr laughed and switched to the Gaelactic that was the lingua franca of the League. "But she hardly awaits you, darling. Detestable in the ears of Bridget ban falls the name of Donovan buigh. Old grudge?"

The Fudir grimaced. "Old love."

"Same thing, no?"

Donovan shrugged and smiled, as if to say that even old grudges had expiration dates. Olafsdottr might not believe that Bridget ban would come looking for him. Neither did Donovan; but why not sow doubts?

The Long Game between the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery might be played on a chessboard of suns, and in it this agent or that might be as a grain of sand on a broad beach; but where the agents stood "in the blood and sand," matters were more particular, and interstellar politics only the medium in which they swam. Personal loyalties mattered. Personal grudges mattered. In the sudden flash of the barracuda's teeth, what significance has the vast and swirling ocean?

* * *

After Donovan had eaten, Olafsdottr locked him in the ward room. It was decorated to resemble the cabin of an Agadar sloop, a sailing vessel much favored on that watery world. It was longer than it was wide, and paneled in light woods. A holostage with a play deck and swivel chair adorned one end. To its right hung a set of wall-mounted nautical instruments that, the nearest ocean being rather distant, were certainly more decorative than functional. Cabinetry and cushioned benches ran along the walls, including a bunk recessed into the wall. Two comfortable chairs occupied the middle of the room. The overall effect was "taut."

"Stay poot," Olafsdottr said, wagging a finger before she closed and locked the door on him. "Plainty in there to amuse you," she added from the other side.

And so there was. The Fudir's primary amusement on Jehovah had involved the opening of locked doors. He set to work. "Not very difficult," he judged.

It's a monoship, the Sleuth reminded him. Why would a one-man ship have high-end locks?

Why would it have locks at all? wondered Donovan.

What is the second-most frequent usage of monoships? asked the Pedant.

What is the most frequently annoying personality we have to share a head with? the Sleuth answered.

Funny that you should ask, the Brute said.

Private yacht?

Second-most frequent, Silky.

Donovan sighed. Sometimes his head seemed a very crowded place. On occasion, he remembered that he had been the original and the others remained in some sense tenants, and he remembered that he had once been alone.

Perhaps, said the young man in the chlamys. But the "I" that cooks up schemes, and the "I" that remembers everything, and the "I" that is master of every martial art, and ... all the rest of us ... We are all the same "I," aren't we? We're closer to you than your skin.

Donovan said nothing. He was not especially fond of his skin, which stretched sallow and drumhead tight across his bones. He still owned that gaunt and hollowed-out look that long years in the Bar of Jehovah had given him. He wondered if he might have always looked that way, even in the flush and vigor of his youth. Assuming he had had a youth, or that it had been flushed with vigor.

We'll remember someday, Pollyanna assured him.

Donovan was less sure. Sometimes matters were lost past all retrieval; and maybe happily so. Some memories might best remain covered than recovered. "I liked it better when you had all fallen silent," he said, and wondered if the drug that Olafsdottr had given him had also upset the delicate truce he had reached with himself the previous year.

"Smuggling," snapped the Fudir, distracted from his inspection of the lock. "Smuggling and bonded courier work. All right? Now quiet down and let me work."

Bonded couriers. Precisely. There is a popular show on Dubonnet's World called Samples and Secrets, in which the unnamed pilot of a monoship brings each episode some package — a secret, a visitor, a treasure — that changes the recipient's life for good or ill.

It's why they're sometimes called "schlepships," the Sleuth said.

The Fudir pulled his special tool from the hidden cache in his sandal and set to work on the lock mechanism. The Pedant had been right. These were not high-security locks. The door opened onto the main hallway.

Ravn Olafsdottr was waiting outside. "Really, Donovan, where do you expect to go?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from In the Lion's Mouth by Michael Flynn. Copyright © 2011 Michael Flynn. 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.

Meet the Author

Michael Flynn is the author of the Firestar series of novels, and is an Analog magazine alumnus whose fiction now appears regularly in all the major SF magazines. He lives in Easton, Pennsylvania.


Michael Flynn lives in Easton, Pennsylvania. He is the winner of the Robert A. Heinlein award, and a Hugo Nominee for Eifelheim. He is the author of the Firestar series of novels, and is an Analog magazine alumnus whose fiction now appears regularly in all the major SF magazines.

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In the Lion's Mouth 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
In the Lion's Mouth by Michael Flynn. It's the third in the January Dancer series but for the most part it can also read as a stand alone novel. I have not read the first two novels in the series so I went into this book completely blind about the story line and characters. I think if I did read the first two books I would have been better prepared for In the Lion's Mouth. However I did manage to keep up with what was going on. Donavan buigh is a hard character to explain. He's not one man but rather a infusion of several different people. At first I thought he was schizophrenic because he heard voices in his head but it turns out these voices are actually people joined together with him due to a scientific procedure. He also is having memory problems as well. Remember this is science fiction so things can get a little crazy. Donavan is being taken against his will by the Shadow, Ravn Olasfdottr. She's also the narrator of this tale. Ravn is one of those characters you can't tell which side she's playing for. The story line in this book is very fast paced. It's also very interesting and entertaining. Overall this is a good story. If you like science fiction and space operas then check this book out. I would recommend maybe starting at the beginning of the series to get the whole picture but if you wanted to start in the middle then you wouldn't be too lost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the universe these characters live in. Good stuff!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm ready for the next book! I want know what happens to Ravn and the Harper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago