Lord of Snow and Shadows (Tears of Artamon Series #1)by Sarah Ash
Combining the best of fantasy traditions with her own unique vision, Sarah Ash brings to dazzling life a new saga filled with epic adventure and unforgettable characters. Far-reaching in scope and imagination, Lord of Snow and Shadows embarks on a journey like no other—into a shape-shifting world teeming with political intrigue, astonishing magic, and/b>
Combining the best of fantasy traditions with her own unique vision, Sarah Ash brings to dazzling life a new saga filled with epic adventure and unforgettable characters. Far-reaching in scope and imagination, Lord of Snow and Shadows embarks on a journey like no other—into a shape-shifting world teeming with political intrigue, astonishing magic, and passions both dark and light.
Raised by his protective mother in the sunny clime of the south, Gavril Andar knows nothing of his father—or the ominous legacy that awaits him. But his innocence is about to be shattered. The man who ruled the wintry kingdom of Azhkendir, a man infused with the burning blood of the dragon-warrior known as Drakhaoul, has been murdered by his enemies. It is his fiery, chameleonlike blood that pulses through Gavril’s veins. The news is Gavril’s first taste of death—but it will not be his last. For blood is the liquid that seals his fate.
Expected by clan warriors from the north to avenge his father’s murder—and still his unquiet ghost—Gavril is kidnapped. He soon learns that becoming Drakhaon means not only ascending to the throne of Azhkendir but changing, in subtle ways at first, into a being of extraordinary power and might. A being that must be replenished with the blood of innocentsin order to survive. Ensconced in Kastel Drakhaon with no means of escape from the icebound kingdom, and carefully watched by neighboring rulers waiting to move against him, the untested Gavril must fight to retain his human heart and soul in the face of impending war—and the dark instincts that threaten to overpower him.
Man and beast, spymaster and insurgent, nature and the netherworldall collide in phenomenal twists and turns. A masterwork of adventure fantasy, Lord of Snow and Shadows will leave you stunned—and longing for more.
Read an Excerpt
"Shall I sit over here, Maistre Andar?"
Gavril Andar looked up from unpacking his oil paints and saw Altessa Astasia Orlova in the doorway. She was dressed for her portrait in a plain muslin dress of eggshell blue, her cloud of dark hair tied back with a single blue ribbon.
He glanced around.
"Where's your governess, altessa?"
"Eupraxia? Oh, she's still sleeping off the effects of the fruit punch at last night's reception." Astasia began to laugh. "You meanis it seemly for me to be here alone with you, unchaperoned? But this is Smarna, Maistre Andar! Surely one may relax the strict rules of Muscobar court protocol when on holiday?"
Her laughter was infectious, and Gavril found himself smiling back at her.
"Was I facing this way? Or that?" She fidgeted around in the chair. "I can't remember."
He went over to her. "Your head was inclined a little more to the left."
"Like this? You'll have to help me."
Gently he tipped her chin to the correct angle. Now her shoulders were awry. Carefully he placed his hands on her shoulders to alter the pose. As he moved her, he became aware that she was gazing intently up at him. He could feel the sweet warmth of her breath on his face. Heat flooded through him. If anyone came in and saw them in such a compromising position. . . .
"And my hair?"
Gavril consulted his sketches.
"No ribbon. Loose over your shoulders."
"But if I pull out the ribbon, I'll lose the pose," she said with that little smile again, grave yet oddly provocative.
As he undid the ribbon he felt the dark curls against his fingertips, soft as the strands of sable in his watercolor brushes.
"How long must I sit still?"
"Long enough . . ." Gavril was concentrating on his palette, blending and mixing. The luminous dark of her eyesso difficult to match the shade exactly. It was almost the intense purple of viola petals. . . .
"If the conversation is diverting enough, I can sit for hours. Yesterday you told me all about Vermeille. That was very diverting. But you said nothing about you. Tell me about Gavril Andar."
"I was hoping," he said, "that you would tell me about the Grand Duchess's reception last night."
"Mama's reception?" A slight flush suffused her pale face. Had she met someone special last night? "Well, my brother Andrei flirted outrageously with all the prettiest women, especially the married ones. He has no shame!"
"And," he ventured, "was your fiance at the reception?"
"Oh, heavens forbid, no!" The dark eyes blazed. He must have touched a sensitive nerve to have produced such a vehement reply.
"I beg your pardon, altessa, but when I was commissioned to paint a betrothal portrait, I assumed"
"A natural assumption to make. It's just that there is no fiance as yet; this portrait is to sell my charms to the highest bidder," she said bitterly. "Papa sees my betrothal as a way to bring an end to a difficult diplomatic situation. He's looking for a rich and powerful ally."
Gavril looked at her blankly.
"Haven't you heard? Eugene of Tielen has invaded Khitari. And now his warships are in the Straits. Things are looking a little . . . tricky for Muscobar. That's why Papa has stayed in Mirom."
"I had no idea." Gavril, like most Smarnans, paid scant attention to international politics. Smarna was a sunny summer retreat for the rich aristocracy from the northern countries, too small and unimportant to play a major part in world affairs.
"And of course, my feelings are not to be taken into consideration, oh no!"
All trace of laughter had vanished; he saw how miserable she was at the prospect of this marriage of obligation.
She glanced around guiltily. "But you must never let slip you heard me say such a disrespectful thing. Papa would be so angry."
"Portrait painters are trained to be discreet."
"I feel I could tell you anything."
"Anything?" he echoed, blushing in spite of himself.
For a moment her gaze rested on him and he felt a delicious shiver of danger. Hadn't his mother warned him? Never become involved. The gulf between a Grand Duke's daughter and a young, impoverished artist was so great that he knew he must never dare to think of her as anything more than a wealthy patroness. . . .
And then she began to chatter again, affecting the charmingly light, idle tone of their earlier conversations.
"My dancing partners from last night. Lieutenant Valery Vassian for one. The First Minister's son. Very good-looking, but a terrible dancer." She smothered a giggle. "My poor toes are still bruised. And then there was Count Velemir's nephew, Pavel. He's been abroad on some kind of diplomatic mission about which he would say nothing of interest. I suspect he may be one of Papa's secret agents! I don't think I could marry a spy. One would never know if he were telling the truth. . . ."
Even as she chattered on, Gavril painted as he had never painted before. Her freshness, her utter lack of self-consciousness, inspired and enchanted him. In repose, he noticed a wistful expression darkening her eyes as she gazed out of the window, beyond the breeze-blown gauze curtains, to the blue haze of the sea beyond.
"Ahh. I'm stiffening up."
"Time to take a break, then," he said, laying down his brush.
She came around to his side of the canvas.
"Well?" he said, rather more tensely than he had intended.
"I think you've flattered me, Maistre Andar," she said after a while. "I always thought myself a pale shadow of Mama. She is such a beauty. But you've made me look almost pretty."
"But you are," he began, only to be interrupted as the double doors opened and a stout woman hurried in.
"Altessa! How long have you been herealonewith this man?" The governess was so out of breath she could hardly speak.
"Oh, don't be such a prude, Eupraxia."
"If the Grand Duchess were to hear of this"
"But she won't, Praxia, will she?" Astasia wound her arm around Eupraxia's ample waist.
"And if some impropriety had taken place"
"You've been reading too many romances," Astasia teased.
"That's quite enough portrait painting for today, Maistre Andar," Eupraxia said, ignoring Astasia. "When the arrangement was made, I was told your mother Elysia was to accept the commission. I had not expected a young man. If I had known, I would have made my objections clear at the time"
"Yes, yes," Astasia said, "but Maistre Andar is doing such a good job. Do take a look, Praxia. See? Isn't it coming along well?"
Eupraxia grudgingly admitted that it was a fair likeness.
"So we shall expect you at the same time tomorrow morning, Maistre Andar?" Astasia gave him a smile of such bewitching charm that he could only nod in reply.
He turned back to the canvas in a daze, still intoxicated by her fresh hyacinth scent, her smile. . . .
Gavril painted until the light faded: The sun was setting and the last dying rays deepened the misty blue of the sea to lilac. He had been so absorbed in his work that he had not noticed till now that his back and arm ached. He stood back from the canvas, looking at it critically in the twilight. Yes, he had captured something of her elusively wistful expression, even though it was not yet as perfect as he could wish.
Music came floating on the drowsy summer night. Carriages were drawing up, wheels crunching over the gravel on the broad drive. Gavril took out a cloth to wipe his brush and started to pack away his paints.
Colored lanterns glowed like little jewels on the terraces. The guests were arriving, the women dressed in bright spangled muslins of primrose, coral, and turquoise; diamonds and sapphires sparkled around their throats. The men wore uniforms stiff with gold brocade and brass buttons. The night gleamed with golden candlelight, trembled with the babble of conversation and the frothy dance melodies, light as foam on the waves in the bay.
It was time to leave. And yet he could not go, not yet, not without seeing her one more time.
Servants, resplendent in the blue liveries of the duke's household, hurried past them with golden punch bowls, silver trays of petits fours and crystal dishes filled to the brim with sugar-dusted berries.
The dancers spilled out onto the terrace and Gavril strolled into the gardens to watch, leaning against the pillared balustrade from which the wide, dark lawns rolled down to the sea beneath. The warm night air tasted of sparkling wine, headily effervescent. Little trails of white moths fluttered around the flickering lanterns.
No one challenged him. No one seemed to notice that he was not wearing military uniform or evening dress.
And then he saw her, one hand resting on her older brother Andrei's arm, gazing gravely at the spinning dancers. In her gown of white organdie, trimmed with green silk ribbons, she reminded Gavril of a snow flower, clean and pure among the garish costumes of the guests.
Suddenly he realized that she had seen him and was gazing at him with an intensity that made him shiver.
She moved away from Andrei, rapidly fanning herself with her white feather fan. He caught a few snatches of words as she came closer, smilingly shaking her head as attentive young men offered her ices, sherbets, fruit punch.
"So hot . . . fresh air . . . maybe later . . ."
He watched as she drifted down the marble steps onto the darkened lawns and followed.
"Altessa," he said softly.
She turned to him. "Gavril," she said.
His heart beat faster to hear her pronounce his name without the formality of "Maistre Andar." It had a wonderfully intimate quality, as if they were equals, as if he could hopeagainst all hopesthat a poor painter could . . .
"Do you believe in fate, Gavril?" she said, softer still. "It's as if we were meant to meet. As if we were meant to be together."
The strains of a waltz drifted out from the ballroom.
"Listen," she said, "they're playing 'White Nights,' my favorite tune. . . ."
Before he knew what he was doing, she was in his arms, her head close to his and they were dancing slowly, circling on the dew-wet grass, in a pool of moonlight.
He leaned toward herhe could not help himselfand kissed her. Her lips tasted as cool and fresh as her hyacinth scent, but her mouth was warm. His hands touched her bare shoulders, caressing the soft silk of her skin. . . .
Suddenly he felt her shiver in his arms.
"What is it?" he asked. Astasia was looking up at the sky.
"Can't you feel it?" she said. "Like a storm coming. Far out to sea. Look . . ."
Gavril gazed out across the bay. The moon had dimmed, as if covered by thin clouds, and the stars seemed less bright.
"Odd," he said. He knew the moods and humors of the bay well. And this was not the way a summer storm began.
A strange, chill little breeze ruffled the sea-pines and cedars. It seemed as if the thin veil of dark cloud was scudding along too fast for the breeze to carry it, moving almost of its own accord. A feeling of dread clouded his mind.
"You should go in," he said suddenly.
They turnedbut too late. The Orlov Guards, led by Andrei Orlov, were running across the lawns toward them, sabers drawn.
"Arrest that intruder!"
Two burly guardsmen threw themselves onto Gavril and bore him to the ground.
"Are you all right, Tasia?" Andrei demanded. "Has he hurt you?"
"I'm perfectly all right!" Astasia blazed back. "He was here by my invitation. Let him go!"
Gavril struggled against the restraining arms of the two guards. Andrei came closer and, placing the razor tip of his saber beneath Gavril's chin, peered down in the moonlight.
"So, it's the portrait painter." He sheathed his blade. "You little fool, Tasia. If you must create a scandal, at least try to choose someone of our own class." He turned to the guardsmen. "Throw him out. And you, painter, don't even think of coming backor asking for your fee. Your commission's canceled."
"No!" cried Astasia. "It's all my fault. . . ."
Gavril was hauled to his feet. In spite of all his attempts to break free, the guards began to drag him toward the gravel drive.
"Mama is making a terrible fuss. She thinks you've been abductedor molested by some Smarnan peasant."
"Gavril, I'm so sorry" Astasia cried.
"Come inside, Tasia." Andrei hurried his sister away across the lawn.
At the villa gates, the guards flung Gavril out onto the rough gravel. Bruised and shaken, he picked himself up, brushing the dirt from his clothesonly to find the heavy iron gates clanged shut in his face and locked.
"Hey! What about my paints?" he yelled, grabbing hold of the bars of the gates and shaking them till they clanged noisily.
One of the guards came back, and Gavril found himself staring into the muzzle of a carbine.
"Get out," the man said in heavily accented Smarnan.
For a moment, Gavril felt a dangerous flicker of anger. Was it always to be like this? Was he always to be excluded, always the poor painter, on the outside looking in?
And then he heard a click as the guard primed the carbine and pulled back the hammer.
"All right, all right, I'm going." He let go of the bars and backed away.
The unlit lane, which wound down the cliffside through pines and brambles to the beach far below, was wide enough to accommodate the carriages of the Orlov's wealthy visitorsand dark enough to suit his mood. Humiliated and angry, he stumbled blindly on.
How could he begin to explain to his mother that he had ruined his first prestigious commission?
The beach was deserted and silent, save for the soft lapping of the tide on the pale sands. The cloudshadow that had scudded across the moon had gone, and the waters of wide Vermeille Bay shimmered in the moon's clear light.
Gavril walked slowly along the beach. It was a magical night, a night for lovers. . . .
He turned and gazed back at the Villa Orlova, gleaming high up on the cliffs above. Torchlight and lanternlight still lit the white stucco of the villa; there would be dancing till dawn.
In whose arms was she dancing now? The clumsy young officer who had bruised her toes? Or had she been sent to her room in disgrace? Was she thinking of him now? Would she remember his name when she had returned to distant Mirom? Would she remember how they had moved together in the dance as one? Or would he just be a fading memory of a sunlit summer?
Meet the Author
Sarah Ash is the author of six fantasy novels: Children of the Serpent Gate, Lord of Snow and Shadows, Prisoner of the Iron Tower, Moths to a Flame, Songspinners, and The Lost Child. She also runs the library in a local primary school. Ash has two grown sons and lives in Beckenham, Kent, with her husband and their mad cat, Molly.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
It could have been the best trilogy ever, since it is so fashionable to write trilogies. Unfortunately, Sarah Ash either did not understand her idea or was afraid of making it too difficult to understand for the young readers. Well, there you go. Good books are not for everyone and this one is good for naive 15-year-olds. In order to fix this story I would recommend: * simple transformation of Eugene of Tielen into more Romanov-like-Tzar with a very important for the trilogy motive of blood and hemophilia. * change of geographical and meteorological positioning of the countries - Tielen for Russia, Poland, Ukraine Azhkendir for Finland, Iceland, Siberia Muscobar for Sweden, Norway and Denmark Smarna for the whole Balkan Peninsula (I think Smarna stands for Italy) or even Turkey. I wish descriptions od terrain and flora were just as beatiful and intrigiung as the book cover. * change of Eugene's name to either of Piotr (for Peter the Great) or Ivan (for Ivan IV the Terrible). * change of Gavril's name to Ivan (see above plus it is the most popular male name in Russian tales, a cute boy with blond hair and blue eyes, bullied by big brothers but when given a chance, he succeeds and wins the kingdom, wealth and a princess). It is obvious Ms Ash did not feed her imagination with classic literature. Some plots are not deep enough. Gavril's struggle to fight the daemon could have been like 'Notes from the Underground' By Dostoyevsky. Gavril's fellings toward Astassia are not as romantic as Romeo's toward Julliet. The best written character is Lilias. She is just as treacherous and dangerous as Miledy De Winter. Yet Count Velemir could have been more like Sigismund Dijkstra or Cardinal Richelieu. In other words, the characters are flat and simple, and they think only what Ash makes them think. They do not have their own lives, passions. If you really must read this book, get it from the library, firstly. Otherwise it is just waste of money. P.S. I am still learning English. I apologize for any mistakes.
Deep beneath the tower, an intricate series of tunnels lead to seperate cells, each one filled with tools to torture someone to submission or death.
At first I couldn't get into the story. After giving it a second shot, however, I couldn't put it down. Personally, I feel as though the character development and story arch were well developed. The point of view changes some times confused me, but after a few paragraphs, I was right there with the characters. I loved the entire trilogy.
The First book in the series actually was O.K. Its showed promise for the series. The next two books are awful though so I wouldn't bother reading this one. I wrote a much more longer and thorough review on the next two books in the series.
Oh...my...gosh! This book was amazing! When I first picked it up, it didn't look like much, but when I got into it, I couldn't put it down! I lost hours of sleep over this book. I reccomend this book highly to every reader.
Sarah Ash's 'Lord of Snow and Shadows' kept me glued from beginning to end. Ash goes beyond the standards of fantasy literature and creates a world that can't be matched.
This was a book I picked up on a whim. It must have been the great cover art. I have never read any previous titles by Sarah Ash and I had no idea of what to expect. The book contains a great mix of magic and political intrigue based somewhat on Russian fantasy. The plot is not overly complicated, but has plenty of good material to keep you reading. However, aside from Gavril and to some extent KiuKiu and Eugene, the characters emotions seem fickle and can get lost among the much more entrancing plot. A good start to a new fantasy series. I'm looking forward to the next book.
I really enjoyed the story line, the character development, and the visualizations that occured as I read.
To be fair there is some decent stuff in the book. But the reactions of the characters and how quickly they fall in love, get lost, get tossed out etc. makes for a strange read. Things just kind of pop out of nowhere...ex. When the mother of a character is describing her son's condition, all of the sudden we find out it is an 'age of reason' and she worries she probably be believed. There is some mention of rationality, but the world just doesn't show it. This kind of thing pop up happens about every five or six pages. You are told alot of stuff in the book, but emotions/issues are not really established. Virtually all the fantasy norms are in place with an occasional twist (a dabble of science). i.e. coming of age tale, unknown inheritance/birthright etc... Probably won't read the sequel. A two star from me should also be taken with a grain of salt. On these reviews (they are reviews not fan letters) I actually rate the book in comparison to other books. I can't understand how someone can always rate books with four and five stars. Surely there is a difference between books you just liked and those that are really good.
i picked this book up by chance. thought what the heck i am out of books to read anyway, but i was absorbed right away! this is truely a great book i recommend this to anyone and everyone. i can't wait for the next one
I dont know how anybody could write a better book then this-it had it all--wonderful characters-action-suspense-mystery and a complex storyline that has a brooding war with lots of political intrique with double agents and spies and etc...simplely put it is the best!!I cannot wait for the sequel---OUTSTANDING BOOK!!!
Well I hadnt read a good book in awhile so I picked this one up and i was set ablaze by the wonderful style of this author. The characters are great the basic structure is easy to follow and you will constantly be reading to see what happens next. From loyal Kostya to the treacherous Lilias this book has it all. Once you start you cant stop. I CANT WAIT TIL BOOK 2 COMES OUT!!!