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Shattered Dance [NOOK Book]

Overview


Once again the Aurelian Empire is in danger, and once again Valeria must risk more than her life to save it. With threats from without, including sorcerous attacks against the soon-to-be empress, and pressures from within--the need to continue the dynasty and Kerrec, the father of Valeria's child, the first choice to do so--Valeria must overcome plots and perils as she struggles to find a place in this world she's helped to heal.

But her greatest foes have not been vanquished. ...

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Shattered Dance

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Overview


Once again the Aurelian Empire is in danger, and once again Valeria must risk more than her life to save it. With threats from without, including sorcerous attacks against the soon-to-be empress, and pressures from within--the need to continue the dynasty and Kerrec, the father of Valeria's child, the first choice to do so--Valeria must overcome plots and perils as she struggles to find a place in this world she's helped to heal.

But her greatest foes have not been vanquished. And they won't be forgotten or ignored. Nor will the restless roil of magic within Valeria herself. Soon the threat of Unmaking, a danger to all the empire, begins to arise in Valeria's soul once more. It is subtle, it is powerful, and this time it might win out!


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426848988
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Series: White Magic Series
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 857,245
  • File size: 363 KB

Meet the Author


I was born and raised in Maine--Stephen King country, no less; my aunt was one of his high school English teachers. I first sat on a horse, courtesy of my grandfather, at age six months. At age seven years, I started taking riding lessons. When I went to the library--which was as often as I could--I raided the horse books, especially the Marguerite Henry books. They scarred me for life.

My grandfather bought me my first horse when I was a freshman in high school. I chose my undergraduate college, Mount Holyoke, because it had a stable on campus and a riding program that fulfilled the phys ed requirement. When I went on to live in England for two years and then came back to alternate between graduate school in Connecticut and teaching high school in Maine, I kept on with the horses, and started pursuing something called classical dressage--which is basically the thing the Lipizzaners do at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

I always had a dream that someday, just once before I died, I would ride a Lipizzaner. I first met these dancing white horses in Marguerite Henry's book, White Stallion of Lipizza, and I saw the Disney movie, Miracle of the White Stallions, and later I read Mary Stewart's wonderful Airs Above the Ground. And, of course, I read all the Alois Podhajsky books I could get my hands on, especially My Horses, My Teachers. In 1983 I had a ringside seat at Madison Square Garden where I saw the Spanish Riding School on tour--and it was pure magic.

What I never knew was that private citizens could own these magical animals. Or that I could own one--until a riding instructor who had ridden and trained them said I should buy one, because "you'll get along with them." That was in 1992, just as I was moving from Connecticut to Arizona. A month after I arrived in Tucson, I bought my first Lipizzan. My trainer had been right on--we did get along. Now I ride Lipizzaners every day, and I have a stallion whom I ride and train (and at the moment five mares and fillies and a wonderfully evil half Arabian, half Lipizzan gelding), and best of all, I get to write books about magical white horses who are almost exactly like the ones in my backyard.


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Read an Excerpt

Shattered Dance


By Caitlin Brennan

Luna

Copyright © 2006 Caitlin Brennan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 037380248X

The ninth challenger was the strongest. He came out of the setting sun, bulking as broad as the flank of Dun Mor that loomed behind the killing ground. The potent animal reek of him washed over Euan Rohe, sharp as a bear's den in the spring.

Euan swallowed bile. For three long days he had been fighting, at sunrise, noon and sunset. Eight warrior princes of the people lay dead at his hand.

Now this ninth and last came to contest Euan's claim to the high kingship. He was the champion of the Mordantes, blessed by the One God with a madness of battle. Fear never touched him. Pain never slowed him.

Euan's many bruises and countless small wounds ached and stung. His arm was bound and throbbing where the third challenger's blade had slashed it open. He looked into those too-wide, too-eager eyes and saw death.

His lips drew back from his teeth. He laughed, though his throat was raw. The seventh challenger had come close to throttling him.

One more battle and he was high king—or dead. He shifted his feet, gliding out of the direct glare of the sun. The Mordante hunched his heavy shoulders and rocked from foot to foot. His hands clenched and unclenched.

One of those hands could have torn Euan's head from his shoulders. Euan was not a small man, but he was built long andrangy, like a wolf of the steppe. This challenger was a bear with a man's eyes.

There were stories, tales told on dark nights of men who walked in beast form and supped on human blood. Time was when Euan would have called them children's tales. Then he had walked on the other side of the river and seen what imperial mages could do.

His mind was wandering dangerously close to the edge. He wrenched it back into focus.

The Mordante was still rocking, growling softly. The crowd of tribesmen blurred behind him, a wide circle of faces, winter-gaunt and hungry, thirsting for blood.

Euan's adversary had no weapon but his massive body. Euan had a knife and a hunting spear and his roving wits. He lifted the spear in his hand, weighing it, aiming for the heart beneath the bearskin.

The Mordante lunged, blindingly fast. Euan's spearpoint glanced off the heavy pelt. The haft twisted out of his hand.

A grip like a vise closed on his wrist, pulling him up against that hot and reeking body. He groped for his knife, but it was caught between them. The hilt dug into his belly, a small but vivid pain.

He went limp as if in surrender. The Mordante grunted laughter and locked arms around him, crushing the breath out of him.

Euan let his knees buckle and his body go boneless. He began to slide down. The Mordante clutched at him. His free hand snapped upward.

Blood sprayed from the broken nose—but Euan had not struck high or fast enough. It had not pierced through to the brain.

Still, it was a bitter blow. The Mordante dropped, blind and choking.

Euan was nearly as far gone, his ribs creaking and his sight going dark and then light. He staggered and almost went down.

Already the Mordante was stirring, drawing his legs under him, struggling to rise. His heavy hands clenched and un-clenched. Euan's death was in them, blood-red like the last light of the sun.

Euan's knife was in his hand. He had one chance—one stroke. He was dizzy and reeling and his body was close to failing.

The Mordante lurched up. Euan dived toward him.

All his focus had narrowed to one spot on that wide and bristling chest. The bearskin had fallen away from it. He could hear the heart beating, hammering within its cage of blood and bone.

The whole world throbbed to that relentless rhythm. Euan's blade thrust up through the wide-sprung ribs, twisting as the Mordante tried to fling himself away from it. But it was already lodged inside him.

Again it was not enough. The man was too big, his body too heavily padded with muscle. His long arms dragged Euan in once more, his hands groping for Euan's throat, to crush the windpipe and break the neck.

Euan had no defenses left. All he could do was keep his waning grip on the knife's hilt and let the Mordante's own weight thrust it deeper.

The pounding went on and on. It was coming from outside now. The tribes were stamping their feet, beating on drums and shields, roaring the death chant.

It was very dim and far away. With the last of his consciousness, Euan felt the knife's blade pass through something that resisted, then gave way. The hilt throbbed in his hand, leaped out of it and then went still.

Euan spun down through endless space. Pain was a distant memory. Fear, desperation—only words. Sweet darkness surrounded him. Lovely death embraced him.

It was warm. He had not expected that. He could almost believe it had a face—a woman's face, a smooth oval carved in ivory, with eyes neither brown nor green, flecked with gold.

He knew that face, those eyes, as if they had been his own. He reached for them, but they slipped away.

The thunder of his pulse had shaped itself into human sense. Voices were chanting over and over.

Ard Ri! Ard Ri Mor! Ard Ri! Ard Ri Mor! They were acclaiming the high king.

The Mordante was dead. Euan had felt his heart stop. He was dead, too. Then how—or who—

A sharp and all too familiar voice filled the world. "Up now. Wake. I'm done carrying you."

Purest white-hot hatred flung Euan back into the light. More hands than he could count lifted him up. He rode on the shoulders of his warband, his most loyal companions.

The sun had died in blood, pouring its death across the sky. The royal fires sprang up around the killing ground and along the hilltops. They would be lit from end to end of the people's lands, leaping across the high places, declaring to all the tribes that there was a king again in Dun Mor.

Euan looked for the man who had dragged him back from the edge of death. All the faces around him were familiar and beloved, his blood brothers and his kin. He had to look far into the shadows to find the slight dark figure with its terrible weight of magic.

By the One God, he hated the man—but there was no denying that Euan owed him a debt. He had brought Euan out of the dark. Euan was awake again, alive and aware.

Euan straightened painfully. The strongest men of his warband lifted a shield and held it high. The rest reached to lift him up, but he had a little strength left.

He snatched a spear from the hand of a man who was shouting and brandishing it. All his aches and wounds cried protest. He ignored them.

A path opened before him. He sprinted along it, grounded the spear and launched himself toward the shield.

He hung in air, briefly certain that he had failed. He would fall. If he was lucky he would break his neck rather than suffer such an omen against his kingship.

His feet struck the shield with blessed solidity. It rocked under his weight but steadied. He stood high above the people, dizzy and breathless, grinning like a mad thing.

He spread his arms wide as if to embrace the world. He had done it. He had won. He was the Ard Ri, high king of all the tribes.

"Now you have what you wanted," Gothard said. "Only remember. Glory always has a price."

"I could not possibly forget," Euan said.

He had danced and drunk and feasted from night into morning, then slept a little and woke to Gothard's face staring down at him. It was not the sight he would have liked to see on his first day as Ard Ri. He would have given much never to see it at all.

But there the man was, squatting in this still unfamiliar tent. Neither the warband nor the royal guard had managed to keep him out.

Nothing in this world could, maybe. Gothard was a dead man, a sorcerer who had been destroyed and his body unmade—but he had come back through the power of his magic to walk among the living. The peculiar horror of his existence was not that he was terrible to look at or speak to, but that he seemed so mortally ordinary.

Euan sat up carefully. While he slept, he had been bathed and salved and his arm newly bandaged.

Except for Gothard's presence, Euan felt remarkably well. His head barely ached and his wounds were no trouble.

Even his badly abused throat was less raw than he might have expected.

He would have been smiling if anyone but Gothard had been watching. As it was, his frown was not quite as black as it could have been. "What do you want?" he demanded— rude, yes, but the two of them were long past any pretense of civility.

"It's tradition, you know," Gothard said. "When the new king first wakes, his most loyal servant admonishes him against excessive pride and bids him remember the price of glory. It's usually a priest who does it. Aren't you glad I came instead?"

"No," Euan said. It was hard not to growl, the state his voice was in, but this was intentional.

"I do smell better," Gothard pointed out. For him, that was rollicking humor. "You're given three days to enjoy your elevation. Then the reality of it comes crashing in. I'm to remind you that these aren't the tribes your predecessor ruled. They've suffered a monstrous defeat and great loss of life and strength. The winter has been brutal and the weak or wounded who did not die in battle are dead of starvation and sickness. It's a raw, bleak spring with a grim summer ahead, while the empire strips us of what little we have left and crushes us under the heels of its legions.

"You are high king of the people, and that's a great thing— but it's also a heavy burden. Even if they were victorious, you would still bear all their ills as well as their triumphs. Now in defeat, it's all on your shoulders. You bear the brunt and you carry the blame."

Euan's shoulders sagged as if they were indeed loaded down with all the horrors of a disastrous war and its even grimmer aftermath. But he was no mage's toy, whatever Gothard might hope to make of him. He shook off the spell with a snap of contempt. "You don't think I know all that? This is mine and always has been. I was meant for it."

"Surely," said Gothard, "but are you prepared for the bad as well as the good?"

"I've ridden out two great defeats," Euan said. "There will be no third. You are going to help me make sure of that."

Gothard's brows arched. "A new plan, my lord?"

"Maybe." Euan rose carefully from his blankets. "Maybe the same one, with refinements. We don't need to destroy the imperial armies if we destroy its leaders. We've known that from the beginning."

"But war is so much more glorious than conspiracy and assassination." Gothard's tone was mocking but his eyes were deadly earnest. "Will the tribes understand, do you think?"

"The people won't be going to war again for a long time," Euan said. "It's not a choice between glory and practicality. There's no glory left."

"You want revenge."

"Don't you?"

Gothard's smile showed an edge of fang. "What do you have in mind?"

"Come to me after the kingmaking is over," Euan said.

"It's time to strike the deathblow against the empire. We've failed twice. Third time will end it—one way or the other."

The gleam of Gothard's eyes told Euan his words had struck home. Gothard was half an imperial. The late emperor had sired him on a concubine, and by that accident of birth denied him the right to claim the throne—a fact for which Gothard hated his father with intensity that had nothing sane about it.

Gothard had raised the powers that destroyed the emperor and almost taken the rest of the world with him. If he had his way, his sister who was soon to be crowned empress and his brother who was something else altogether would be worse than dead—Unmade, so that nothing was left of them, not even a memory.

Gothard said no word of that, nor had Euan expected him to. He turned on Euan instead and said, "You'd die and abandon the people?"

"I'll go down with them," Euan said, "if that's how it has to be."

"Maybe you are meant to be king," Gothard said.

"If I had been king sooner, we would not have lost the war." Euan could feel the anger rising, old now and deep but as strong as ever. He throttled it down. There was no profit in wasting it on Gothard, who was his ally—however unwelcome.



Continues...

Excerpted from Shattered Dance by Caitlin Brennan Copyright © 2006 by Caitlin Brennan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

4 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Excellent conclusion to Trilogy

    Must read Mountain's Call, Song of Unmaking before you read this one. The three were excellent. I could hardly put the books down. Good story lines, excellent characters. She created a world I found to be fantastic.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Summerkit

    WHERE IS THE NURSERY?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Peachkit

    I know.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Enderfur to blade

    Please kill shade at shade flame he is a assassin that might kill me

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Noblekit

    (No prob.) *he tackles Silverkit*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    Bluewillow

    Is bored

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Cottondusk

    Pads to result nine

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Silv

    Mornin

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    Hailkit

    Makes it hail

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Whitekit

    Yes

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    Freeze

    Lol r u in 8th grade? I am....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Nh

    Looks down sadly ad lay back down

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    TO COTTONDUSK

    Cn u rp a she kit. Ravenkit? Result nine.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 4, 2012

    Awesome Read... but be sure to read the series in the correct order!

    Awesome Read... but be sure to read the series in the correct order!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great series for fantasy lovers

    This is a good book about females over males, magic, horses, gods, and romance

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent romantic fantasy

    At the bottom of the Mountain live the horse mages and their horses who are really gods. Valeria is the first female horse mage and one of the most powerful as is her lover First Rider Kerrec. After giving birth to their daughter, Kerrec and Valeria ride to the capital city of Aurelia so the riders and their horses can dance theCoronation dance, a magical spell that shapes the future. Once they arrive in the capital, they sense the foulness of the One God and the Empress falls into the trap of one of her priests. The Empress is rendered sterile which means that Kerrec¿s children will be her heir, but first he must marry a noble woman. Although she understands why this has to be, Valeria leaves the city to go to the outlying edge of the empire where the barbarians still rule. The Ard Ri is Euan, the barbarian prince she loved and whose life she saved twice even though she stopped him from toppling the empire. He wants to make her his queen and she agrees not realizing that if she goes through with the marriage she will destroy all she holds dear. P This romantic fantasy will bring tears to the eyes of the audience as two lovers put the needs of the empire before their own desires. Caitlin Brennan has written a fabulous adult fairy tale in which the audience wonders whether hero and heroine will live happily ever after. The characters are well developed and the setting is reminiscent of the Roman Empire with the barbarians at the gates temporarily restrained. SHATTERED DANCE is a very special story and this reviewer hopes there will be more tales starring these remarkable characters. This is one fantasy readers will hate to see end. P Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews

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