The Shapeshifters: The Kiesha'ra of the Den of Shadows

The Shapeshifters: The Kiesha'ra of the Den of Shadows

by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


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Five shapeshifter novels—one fascinating read!

Danica Shardae, an avian shapeshifter, will do anything in her power to stop the war that has raged between her people and the serpiente—even pretend to be in love with Zane Cobriana, the terrifying leader of her kind’s greatest enemy, and accept him as her pair bond. But will Zane strike as swiftly and lethally as the cobra that is his second form?

A surprising union has brought peace to the avians and serpiente. Soon a child will be born to carry on their royal lines. But Syfka, an ancient falcon, is claiming that one of her people is hidden in the avian and serpiente land. Is Syfka’s lost falcon just a ruse to stir up controversy among them?

Nicias is a falcon, the son of two exiles from Ahnmik, and images of this distant island have always haunted his dreams. When his visions become more like reality, his parents send him back to the homeland—and a royal falcon—they’ve tried their best to forget.

Oliza Shardae Cobriana is heir to Wyvern’s Court, home of the avians and serpiente, whose war with each other ended just before Oliza was born. But hatred is slow to die, and Oliza’s serpiente suitor is found beaten in avian land. How can she be expected to lead a unified society if her people still cannot live peacefully together?

Hai, daughter of a falcon mother and a deceased cobra father, is considered a mongrel by most, an ally by some, and a friend by few. When Hai’s cousin abdicates the throne of Wyvern’s Court, Hai has visions of destruction. Now she will do anything to protect her new home—even if it means betraying the very people who need her most.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385739504
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 01/12/2010
Series: The Kiesha'ra Series
Pages: 976
Sales rank: 245,828
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.06(h) x 2.11(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. Born in 1984, she wrote her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, praised as "remarkable" (Voice of Youth Advocates) and "mature and polished" (Booklist), when she was thirteen. Other books in the Den of Shadows series are Demon in My View, Shattered Mirror, and Midnight Predator, all ALA-YALSA Quick Picks for Young Adults. She has also published the five-volume series the Kiesha’ra of the Den of Shadows, here for the first time in one volume: Hawksong, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and a Voice of Youth Advocates Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Selection; Snakecharm; Falcondance; Wolfcry, an IRA-CBC Young Adults’ Choice; and Wyvernhail. Her most recent books are Persistence of Memory and Token of Darkness.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1    

I took a deep breath to steady my nerves and narrowly avoided retching from the sharp, well-known stench that surrounded me.  

The smell of hot avian blood spattered on the stones, and cool serpiente blood that seemed ready to dissolve the skin off my hands if I touched it. The smell of burned hair and feathers and skin of the dead smoldered in the fire of a dropped lantern. Only the fall of rain all the night before had kept that fire from spreading through the clearing to the woods.  

From the forest to my left, I heard the desperate, strangled cry of a man in pain.  

I started to move toward the sound, but when I took a step through the trees in his direction, I came upon a sight that made my knees buckle, my breath freezing as I fell to the familiar body.  

Golden hair, so like my own, was swept across the boy's eyes, closed forever now but so clear in my mind. His skin was gray in the morning light, covered with a light spray of dew. My younger brother, my only brother, was dead.  

Like our sister and our father years ago, like our aunts and uncles and too many friends, Xavier Shardae was forever grounded. I stared at his still form, willing him to take a breath and open eyes whose color would mirror my own. I willed myself to wakeup from this nightmare.  

I could not be the last. The last child of Nacola Shardae, who was all the family I had left now.  

I wanted to scream and weep, but a hawk does not cry, especially here on the battlefield, in the midst of the dead and surrounded only by her guards. She does not scream or beat the ground and curse the sky.  

Among my kind, tears were considered a disgrace to the dead and shame among the living.  

Avian reserve. It kept the heart from breaking with each new death. It kept the warriors fighting a war no one could win. It kept me standing when I had nothing to stand for but bloodshed.  

I could not cry for my brother, though I wanted to.  

I pushed the sounds away, forcing my lips not to tremble. Only one heavy breath escaped me, wanting to be a sigh. I lifted my dry eyes to the guards who stood about me protectively in the woods.  

"Take him home," I ordered, my voice wavering a bit despite my resolve.  

"Shardae, you should come home, too."  

I turned to Andreios, the captain of the most elite flight in the avian army, and took in the worried expression in his soft brown eyes. The crow had been my friend for years before he had been my guard, and I began to nod assent to his words.  

Another cry from the woods made me freeze. I started toward it, but Andreios caught my arm just above the elbow. "Not that one, milady."  

Normally I would have trusted his judgment without question, but not here on the battlefield. I had been walking these bloody fields whenever I could ever since I was twelve; I could not avert my eyes when we were in the middle of this chaos and someonewas pleading, with what was probably his last breath, for help. "And why not, Andreios?"  

The crow knew he was in trouble the instant I addressed him by his full name instead of his childhood nickname of Rei, but he kept on my heels as I stepped around the slain bodies and closer to the voice. The rest of his flight fell back, out of sightin their second forms—crows and ravens, mostly. They would take my brother home only when it did not mean leaving me alone here.  

"Dani." In return, I knew Rei was serious when he lapsed into the informal and used my nickname, Dani, instead of a respectful title or my surname, Shardae. Even when we were alone, Rei rarely called me Danica. It was an entreaty to our lifelong friendshipwhen he used that nickname where someone else could hear it, and so I paused to listen. "That's Gregory Cobriana. You don't want his blood on your hands."  

For a moment the name meant nothing to me. With his hair streaked with blood and his expression a mask of pain, Gregory Cobriana could have been anyone's brother, husband or son. But then I recognized the stark black hair against his fair skin, the onyxsignet ring on his left hand and, as he looked up, the deep garnet eyes that were a trademark of the Cobriana line, just as molten gold eyes were characteristic of my own family.  

I did not have the energy to rage. Every emotion I had was cloaked in the shield of reserve I had learned since I was a chick.  

Evidently the serpiente prince recognized me as well, for his pleas caught in his throat, and his eyes closed.   I stepped toward him and heard a flutter of movement as my guards moved closer, ready to intervene if the fallen man was a threat.  

With all his various scratches and minor injuries, it was hard to tell where the worst of the damage was. I saw a broken leg, possibly a broken arm; either of those he could heal from.  

What would I do if that was the worst? If he was hurt, but not too hurt to survive? This was the man who had led the soldiers that had killed my brother and his guards. Would I turn my back so the Royal Flight could finish what all these fallen fightershad not?  

For a moment I thought of taking my knife and putting it in his heart or slitting his throat myself and ending the life this creature still held while my brother lay dead.  

Despite my guards' protest, I went again to my knees, this time beside the enemy. I looked at that pale face and tried to summon the fury I needed.   His eyes fluttered open and met mine. A muddy shade of red, Gregory Cobriana's eyes were filled with pain, sorrow and fear. The fear struck me the most. This boy looked a couple of years younger than I was, too young to deserve this horror, too young todie.  

Bile rose in my throat. I loved my brother, but I could not murder his killer. I could not look into the eyes of a boy terrified of death and shaking from pain and feel hatred. This was a life: serpiente, yes, but still a life; who was I to steal it?  

Only as I recoiled did I see the wound on his stomach, where a knife had dragged itself raggedly across the soft flesh, one of the most painful of mortal blows. The attacker must have been killed before he could finish the deed.   Perhaps my brother had held the knife. Had he lain dying alone like this afterward?  

I felt a sob choke my throat and couldn't stop it. Gregory Cobriana was the enemy, but here on the battlefield he was just another brother to another sister, fallen on the field. I could not cry for my own brother; he would not want me to. But I foundmyself crying for this hated stranger and the endless slaughter that I had almost contributed to.  

I spun on Rei. "This is why this stupid war goes on. Because even when he's dying, you can only feel your hate," I spat, too quietly for the serpiente prince to hear me.  

"If I was in this man's place, I would pray for someone to kneel by my side," I continued. "And I wouldn't care if that person was Zane Cobriana himself."  

Rei knelt awkwardly beside me. For a moment, his hand touched my hand, unexpectedly. His gaze met mine, and I heard him sigh quietly with understanding.  

I turned back to the serpiente. "I'm here; don't fret," I said as I smoothed black hair from Gregory's face.  

His eyes filled with tears and he muttered something that sounded like "Thank you." Then he looked straight up at me and said, "End it. Please."  

These words made me wince. I had been thinking the same thing just moments before, but even though I knew he was asking me to stop the pain, I did not want mine to be the hand that ended another's life.  

"Dani?" Rei asked worriedly when a tear fell from my eyes onto Gregory's hand.  

I shook my head and wrapped my hand around Gregory's cool one. The muscles tightened, and then he was gripping my hand like it was his last anchor to earth.  

When I drew the knife from my waist, Rei caught my wrist and shook his head.  

Quietly, so Gregory could not hear, I argued, "It could take him hours to die like this."  

"Let the hours pass," Rei answered, though I could see the muscles in his jaw tighten. "Serpiente believe in mercy killing, but not when it's the other side who does it. Not when it's the heir to the Tuuli Thea who ends the life of one of their two survivingprinces."  

We sat in the field most of the day, until Gregory's grip on my hand loosened and his ragged breathing froze.  

As I had often done for dying avian soldiers, I sang to pass the time, and to distract him from the pain. The songs were about freedom. They were about children, able to play and sing and dance without worrying that they would be harmed.  

The song I loved most of all, though, was the one my mother used to sing to me when I was a child, before I had been given round-the-clock nurses, maids, servants and guards. It was from long before my mother had become a distant queen with too much dignity to show affection even to her last remaining daughter. I would have given up all the pampering and all the respect I had earned those past few years if I could have climbed into her arms and gone back to a time when I was still too young to understand thatmy father, my sister and now my brother had been butchered in this war, which had been going on so long nobody could tell anymore what it was about or who had started it.  

I had heard of avians and serpiente who had lived five hundred years or more, but no one did that now. Not in a time when both sides slaughtered each other so frequently, and so efficiently.  

The only male child left to inherit the serpiente throne was Zane Cobriana, a creature whose name was rarely mentioned in polite avian society, and if he died . . . hopefully the murderous royal house of the serpiente would die with him. Yet now that Gregory Cobriana, the youngest and last brother of our greatest enemy, was dead in front of me, I could not be grateful for the loss. All I could do was sing gently the old childhood lullaby called "Hawksong" that my mother had sung to me long ago.    

I wish to you sunshine, my dear one, my dear one. And treetops for you to soar past. I wish to you innocence, my child, my child. I pray you don't grow up too fast.  

Never know pain, my dear one, my dear one. Nor hunger nor fear nor sorrow. Never know war, my child, my child. Remember your hope for tomorrow.

By the time I found sleep that night, back in the Hawk's Keep, my throat was tight with too many tears unshed, screams unuttered and prayers whose words I could never seem to find.

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The Shapeshifters 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
ADLewis More than 1 year ago
The first two books, Hawksong and Snakecharm, were amazing. They captured my interest and my heart and kept me actively involved in the stories. I couldn't put the book down! The third book, Falcondance, was information overload and was drawn out a little bit, but overall it was still good. The remaining books, however, were a disappointment. These books seemed inconsistent with the happenings in the previous books, leaving the story lacking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been a Rhodes fan for 10 years now, and she has never disapointed me. I must start by saying some of the criticism I've read here is bogus. Most people agree that Hawksong and Snakecharm were the best two of the series, yes I must agree, where I dont agree is that the other books were bad by any means, they were all amazing and keep you wondering whats next almost constantly! Love the anticipation here in each novel. People say falcondance was not necessary to the series?? WRONG! Falcondance delves into the history if everything, you learn the roots of the avian serpiente war, why the falcons are feared so much and it has you fearing throughout the remainder of the series if the falcons will simply kill everyone you grew to love. Wolfcry had even wose criticism... again wolfcry was a major part of the series, Oliza falling in love with a woman, especially one who wasnt avian or serpiente was certainly the safest case scenario here, it was a blessing, we learn that if oliza bears a child its magic would make the child go mad and kill her.. is that what you critics would have preferred? Oliza to have a child that destroys all of wyverns court? Even if oliza didnt bear children with her male mate she could never choose an avian or serpiente, it would have started the war from hawksong all over again. The only part of wolfcry I can critic is that zane and danica, beloved from the first two seem to have a lack of understanding of their daughter, this seems due to the fact oliza never explained to them in detail the reasons her actions were so necessary. Wyvernhail was great, full of twists and turns, I did not appreciate that in the end oliza the wyvern of the courts namesake was unwelcome in her own land, but I understand the feeling of abandonment from their would be queen left them uneasy. Really the only problem with the series is the fact there wasnt a 6th book.
Shawnee Frazier More than 1 year ago
Amelia manages to capture you in a few sentences in this set of novels. I highly recomend anywho who loves the dark side of shape-shifters with the touch of romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first two books held more of a connection for me. The relationship had me completely drawn in and hooked, but with the last three books it fell more into just the after effects and kind of closed the story down. While they weren't bad, they just didn't have me staying up too late reading like the first two.
Anonymous 7 months ago
cattytonks1503 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i loved this series . an amassing read and i never wanted to put it down . the conflict and romance the struggle for power between the cobras and avian and hawk its amassing . i highly recommended this to any one who is thinking of picking it up . i am defiantly going to be on the hunt for more books by her
CNadeau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Shaeshifters is a great series to read. The amount of conflict and romance is well balanced in each novel. The first novel Hawksong does a great job catching the readers interest. As soon as I started reading the novel I never wanted to stop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great from start to finish!
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A female alpha leader of the twilight pack
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I loved the first two books I couldn't put the book down until I had finshed both Hawksong and Snakecharm, Falcondance I was able to read a little of but lost complete interest by Wolfcry and Wyvernhail. I feel like the last 3 had hardly anything to with the story the first two started.  I wish she could have put Danica and Zane into the stories more or continued the series with them as main characters. I stayed up late for hours until Hakwsong and Snakecharm was complete but sadly never had the interest to finish the last 3 so far. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read these several years ago, bought them before the nook age. But i still remembered these. They are truly amazing! :) i really think everyone should read these.. ( big fannnn)
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Goes to the clearing
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