The Fallen Queen

The Fallen Queen

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by Jane Kindred

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Heaven can go to hell.

Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia's father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel'sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.

Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with Fallen thieves-fire demon Vasily and air

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Heaven can go to hell.

Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia's father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel'sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.

Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with Fallen thieves-fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda- who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue is soon blurred, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.

Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, Anazakia will have to return to fight for the throne--even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Jane Kindred's The House of Arkhangel'sk dazzles with its surreal blending of worlds. Lost angel Anazakia, last survivor of her murdered family, finds herself in the hands of demons with suspect motives, betrayed by her own kind, stranded in the world of Man--21st century St. Petersburg, Russia, to be exact. Weaving startling visuals with compelling characters, Kindred reveals parallels in the two worlds that are -- Lynn Flewelling, author of The Bone Doll's Twin and the Nightrunner series

Product Details

Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date:
House of Arkhangel'sk Series, #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.47(w) x 8.07(h) x 0.95(d)

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The Fallen Queen

House of Arkhangel'sk

By Jane Kindred, Catherine Kean, Liz Pelletier

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2011 Jane Kindred
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62266-586-0


Pervoe: A Discordant Note in the Music of the Spheres

from the memoirs of the Grand Duchess Anazakia Helisonovna of the House of Arkhangel'sk

As any demon will tell you over a bottle of vodka or a game of preferans, Heaven is not the paradise you have been told. Depending upon the demon who holds your ear, he may also tell you Heaven's last ruler was a tyrant who cared nothing for the lives of the common angel. Never believe it. He was the kindest soul ever born to the supernal House of Arkhangel'sk; Heaven would be blessed to have him now. But put no faith in me, for I am his daughter. I was born within Elysium's pearly gates and have been cast out.

I do not like to think my impetuosity brought down the throne of Heaven, but on the darkest days, it is what I believe. When Elysium fell to a quiet coup, I was at a wingcasting table in Raqia instead of by my family's side.

It is a favorite game in Raqia's dens of iniquity. A fast-moving combination of cards and dice, wingcasting requires single-minded concentration and a certain narcissistic audacity. Challengers who hope to unseat the reigning prince of the game progress from one table to the next until they are opposite the champion.

I only reached this coveted spot on one occasion.

Raqia's reigning prince that night was a dark-haired demon with eyes as sharp as the waxed points of his hair. He played his hand as cool as you please and barely seemed to notice me, but he put nearly every card I discarded into play with his own and soon had me hemorrhaging both cards and crystal.

Smoke burned my eyes while the demon nursed his cigar in a deliberate distraction. When he took it between his fingers, I could not help following with my eyes. Beneath the tattered lace of his cuffs, black crosses and diamonds, interlaced with characters of an unfamiliar alphabet, braced his fingers between the knuckles like rings made of ink.

He followed my gaze. "Prison," he said around his cigar, the first word he'd spoken not directly related to the game.

He was trying to unnerve me; there were no prisons in Heaven. There was no need for any among the Host.

Raqia, for the most part policed itself, preferring to game the crystal from wayward angelic youth rather than take it by force and risk the flaming hand of seraphic justice. If he had really been in prison, he was one of the true Fallen who had spent time in the world of Man — though all demons were Fallen, by the Host's reckoning. Their indiscriminate breeding muddied the cardinal elements by mixing the pure water dominant in the blood of the Fourth Choir with the earth of the Third, the fire of the Second, and the air of the First. Such blending resulted in their sullied complexions and varied hue of hair and eye.

A glance around the poorly lit den revealed half a dozen natural shades of brown and a dozen more who colored their hair and eyes with deliberately wild hues in defiance of celestial purity.

Most who fell to the world of Man bore signs of aging not present in the Host; something in the air of the terrestrial plane made Men's lives short. A fine layer of stubble that could only have been carefully cultivated and trimmed hid any weathering of my opponent's skin, but studying his face, I saw the telltale signs: little lines around his deep-set ebony eyes that said he'd fallen more than once.

I tightened the drawstring on the purse of crystal at my wrist, careful to keep the luminous celestine of my supernal ring turned toward my palm and cupped between my fingers while I played my hand.

The demon raised a dark eyebrow, pierced with a thin bar of metal that accentuated his coarse nature. I had put down a card in my distraction without waiting for him to call the die. I blushed and snatched it up again, furious with myself for making such a stupid blunder. His immodest grin said he thought his ploy had worked, but it took more than a small-time terrestrial thief to unnerve me. No novice to the dens or to demon magic, I never came to Raqia without a protective charm tucked into my bodice.

In truth, I had been distracted since climbing down the trellis to sneak out in the middle of a tedious banquet. My younger brother Azel was sick in bed, and my cousin Kae was acting strangely toward his wife, my sister Omeliea — and both circumstances were in some measure my fault.

* * *

Though I did not know it yet, the die had been cast against the House of Arkhangel'sk by my unbridled impulse on the day I turned seventeen. On a hunting holiday in the mountains of Aravoth, my father had presented me with a blue roan mare. I was eager to take her out, but the first snowfall had ushered in the season and my sisters were keen to head inside the lodge and curl up by the fire.

I sulked while the groom took my horse to the stable. Not even a gift of a gorgeous red velvet riding cap lined with silver fox could coax me out of my bad humor.

When my sister Omeliea admonished me for being moody, I tossed the cap back at her and announced I was taking my horse out by myself. Mama would never have tolerated such willful behavior, but she had stayed behind with Azel, and Papa was so softhearted, it pained him to discipline his daughters.

When I led the mare out of the stable, Cousin Kae was waiting for me.

"Tell her to stop being such a child!" my sister called, wrapped in a fleece on the steps of the lodge. "It's freezing out here!"

Kae caught the reins and drew the mare to him. "Stop being such a child." He winked, stroking the horse's muzzle. "You can't go alone."

I pulled the tether from his hands and swung into the saddle. "Then I suppose someone will have to mount up."

I trotted the blue roan out to the road and into the wooded heights, on a path muted with preternatural quiet. It seemed nothing but my horse and I existed. Here in the North, we were without the oppressive, constant presence of the Seraphim Guard, which Papa could not abide outside the city. In Heaven's hinterlands, he said, there was no need for their protection.

After a minute or two, I heard the light clip of Kae's horse behind me.

"Is Ola angry with me?"

Kae drew up beside me. "Not as angry as she is with me for letting you go." He shrugged beneath his cloak. "It will pass. Sometimes I think it's her job as a wife to be angry. She's very efficient at it."

I laughed at his feigned look of persecution. "Such trials you must endure for the crown."

"Yes," said Kae with a mock sigh. "I shall endure anything to attain the crown. Even bed that shrew of a grand duchess of mine."

I nearly slipped from my saddle for laughing. Kae adored Omeliea and she, him. They were newly wed, and though betrothed at the cradle, he had courted her since childhood as though it were not prearranged. I could not imagine two people more perfectly matched.

Kae stopped his mount in its tracks. "Did you see that?" His grey eyes fixed on a distant point where the trees met over the road. A peculiar fragrance hung on the air, like the freshly peeled bark of an Aravothan cedar, but I saw nothing. I shook my head, and Kae started forward once more.

The bright snow began to dull, shadowed beneath the silver canopy of gathering clouds. Perhaps my sisters had been right. The cold was already making my hands ache within my gloves. I considered turning back, but the thought of Ola's smugness made me stay my course. I knew my way blindfolded along the snow-covered path; I'd ridden it a hundred times. Of course, my horse had not.

As a dusting of new snow began to fall, Kae leaned over his mount and pointed. "There! Do you not see it?" He spurred his horse forward without waiting for an answer.

I followed, urging my mare to keep pace with him, but we were falling behind on the softening road. Heavy flakes melted in my hair, and my cheeks burned with cold. I began to regret throwing the cap at Ola.

The road went higher here, and the clouds were lowering, and soon I had to slow my horse to a walk, surrounded on all sides by grey, hanging damp. I called out for Kae, but I might have been shouting into a wet blanket for all my voice seemed to carry.

After a few more yards, the trees grew close, and I was no longer certain we were on the path. Everything looked different coated in new snow, like some fairy world I'd stumbled into. Maybe I'd veered off in the mist? I bit my lip and glanced over my shoulder, but the fog was so thick I couldn't be sure of the distance.

I opened my mouth to call again, when the sound of approaching hooves broke through the veil of clouds. A moment later, Kae's horse appeared without its rider. I leapt from my mare and ran in the direction the horse had come, heedless of the precipices that might be hidden from view.

"Cousin!" I stumbled over a protruding root and fell headlong in the snow. For a moment, the world was silent except for the dripping branches over my head. Then the clouds thinned and Kae stood before me in an open glade, stiller than the mountain around us. His eyes were unfocused.

"The most beautiful steed," he whispered. "I nearly caught her."

"A runaway?" I got to my feet with no help from him, brushing snow and pine needles from my riding skirt. "All the way up here?"

His eyes cleared. "Not a runaway. She's wild." He seemed angry with me, as though I'd intruded. Brushing past me to rein in his mount, he swung himself up into the saddle with a swift and brutal motion. The horse, too, was intruding it seemed, unworthy next to the imaginary steed.

Kae rode off toward our hunting house without another word.

* * *

I sighed and tossed the die against the wingcasting table. It seemed a trivial thing, that moment in the heights, that trick of the light that must have made my cousin imagine the wild steed, but his temperament began to change when we returned from the north.

My distracted state cost me another round, and the demon grinned and scooped up his winnings. "Had enough?" He knocked the smoldering ash from his cigar against the side of the table and pocketed my crystal.

"Not by half."

At the table beside us, the violet glow of eyes dyed with amethyst oil glinted through the smoke from the player next in line to play the winner. I glared back through the ruby red with which I'd dyed my own. I had a right to play so long as I had crystal to bet, and if I had to play all night to beat this demon at a single round, I would.

If only I had known what it would cost me.

When I think back to that night and the single-mindedness with which I persisted at a game I could not possibly win, I want to shout at my former self, Forget this foolishness! Go home! Go home before it is too late! The irony is that it was guilt that kept me there, while I have been burdened with so much more by staying.

* * *

Ola suspected Kae of unfaithfulness. Upon our return to the city of Elysium, they moved into the Camaeline Palace, built for her wedding present, and we did not see Ola again until she came to us a few weeks later with her suspicions.

"He is not himself." She stood staring at the fire in the drawing room. "I have hardly seen him since the holiday." Ola gave me a strange look. "He hasn't been himself since the two of you came back from that ride." She seemed ashamed of what she was thinking and burst into tears.

"Ola, dearest." I went to her where she sank onto the divan before the fire. Tatia came to her side while Maia hurried to the other, and I knelt before her, resting my head in her lap. We enveloped her in sisterly commiseration, four sets of honey curls draped together while Ola wept. There were no closer sisters than we four were then.

"I'm sorry, Nazkia," Ola whispered after a moment. Tatia held her and Maia stroked her arm. "I must be losing my mind. I know you would never ..."

"Hush, Ola," I said gently.

"Kae would never betray you," Maia assured her.

"He's mad for you." Tatia dabbed at Ola's eyes with her kerchief. "Another matter is preoccupying him. You'll see."

Ola shook her head, on the verge of tears once more. "He rides out every morning before I wake and stays out past dark. I heard him speaking of 'her.'" She pushed Tatia's kerchief away and swallowed. "He has a mistress. I know it."

Little Azel bounded up the grand staircase then and leapt upon us, and Ola recovered herself and caught him in her arms.

Our mother followed from the landing, her stride quick and anxious, and peeled out of her damp furs. "Azelly! I've told you not to run!"

Mama was forever worrying over Azel. At almost twelve years of age, he appeared little older than nine. We also thought of him as much younger than his years because of his delicate health, and I suppose he acted the part we'd given him. He had been better lately, though.

Despite Mama's fear, it warmed my heart to see him running.

I swept my brother onto my shoulders and bounced to my feet. At the sound of Azel's laughter, Mama pressed her gloved fingers to her lips, holding in her customary scolding. Maia rose, hooked her arm in Mama's, and led her away, distracting her from Ola's tears and my reckless behavior with plans for the Equinox Gala.

The Gala occupied our time in the weeks that followed. Maia and Tatia reveled in the excitement. On display in our supernal box at the Elysium Theatre, we endured a prelude of ballets, operas, and symphonies — opportunities to meet potential suitors before my formal presentation to society.

I could not have been less interested.

The trick I had used to sneak out tonight had gotten me out of many a dull occasion. Magic was prohibited in Heaven's capital, but one could find anything in the Demon Market, and I had found a bottle of "twinning spirits" that allowed me to leave a version of myself at home in the form of a corporeal shade.

The twinning spirits consisted of two vials. One contained the separating elixir. The other held the aethereal essence of the shade while its corporeal projection moved about — breathing and speaking and acting with the perfect likeness of the true form until the vial was opened and the essence returned to its source.

My shade-self spent the long nights of winter in rich brocades and velvets, bundled in furs in bright red, horse-drawn sleighs to counter the dreariness of heavy skies and starless nights as we sped over the snow to our engagements.

The rest of me spent them in the smoke-shrouded dens of Raqia. Remembering it all when my shade returned to me was tedium enough.

On the night of the Gala, however, I attended in both body and spirit. Every chandelier in the Winter Palace was ablaze, casting so many reflected glints on the River Neba it looked like a sky full of stars. Carriages arrived by the dozens, depositing celestial dignitaries and wealthy merchants in the grand foyer of our palace.

Ola arrived on Kae's arm wearing a gown of citrine satin and lace, happier than I had ever seen her. Whatever had preoccupied Kae had obviously been resolved. He hovered beside her with the earnestness of a courting suitor, bringing a pretty pink to her cheeks when he leaned in with a whisper to present her with cordials and candies from the reception hall's brimming tables.

The appearance of a dazzling pair of Seraphim between the arches of the enfilade announced the entrance of the principality and his queen. With the hush and rustle of silk, hundreds of skirts dipped as one.

The orders of the Second Choir were beings of pure elemental fire, and while their element could be seen in the glowing countenances of the Cherubim and Ophanim, the Seraphim alone seemed to truly burn with it.

Emerging from between their brilliance beneath a baptism of petals and gold leaf that tumbled like glittering butterflies from the gilded papier-mâché eggs overhead, Papa led Mama into the sea of silk.

In the flash of jewels and sequins and the gleam of polished medals reflected from the mirrored walls in the seraphic light, the whole affair seemed but a fairy dream.

Yet in all its splendor, the event of the season did not dazzle me half so much as the first time I saw the Demon Market.

Just across the River Asheron that divided the noble houses of the city of Elysium from the low houses of Raqia, the lights of the market glittered on the water like a wicked invitation. It was a world away from the dull and ordered life of a supernal grand duchess — a world sparkling with bright paper lanterns and trinkets of blown glass, full of buskers and hustlers, and men who ate fire. In its cobbled alleys, I feasted on prickly fruits that stained my lips and fingers purple and watched rough-looking demon boys play games of dice on the crumbling stone.

The market's inexorable magic had enticed me at the age of thirteen, and its iniquity had kept me coming back.


Excerpted from The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred, Catherine Kean, Liz Pelletier. Copyright © 2011 Jane Kindred. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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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