Strong heroines and riveting storytelling are the hallmark of groundbreaking fantasy author Kate Elliott (Crown of Stars, Crossroads). Her long-awaited first collection showcases twenty years of her finest work. Captured here are many of Elliott's previously out-of-print tales, four previously unpublished essays, and a brand new Crossroads story, "On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and the Birthing Winds of the New."
Elliott's bold adventuresses, complex quests, noble sacrifices, and hard-won victories shine in classic, compact legends. In "The Memory of Peace," a girl's powerful emotions rouse the magic of a city devastated by war. Meeting in "The Queen's Garden," two princesses unite to protect their kingdom from the blind ambition of their corrupted father. While "Riding the Shore of the River of Death" a chieftain's daughter finds an unlikely ally on her path to self-determination.
Elliott's many readers, as well as fantasy fans in search of powerful stories featuring well-drawn female characters, will revel in this unique gathering of truly memorable tales.
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From the original story to this collection, "On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and the Birthing Winds of the New"
Out on the water, paddling a canoe, the four women could speak without fear of being overheard. It was a windy day, sloppy water instead of steady swells, and their canoe battled an east wind blustering in over the bay. Mai set paddle to water, pulled, and lifted it out and forward to cut back in again, following the rhythm of the woman in the first seat.
“There’s a spy in Bronze Hall,” said the woman in the seat behind Mai.
“What makes you think so, Tesya?” Mai called the question back over her shoulder.
“Yesterday Marshal Orhon’s courier bag went missing. The bag contained his orders for which reeves were to shift station, which to come home to roost, and which to stay where they were and what routes they were to patrol. Good information if you were wanting to trap reeves stationed out in isolated eyries.”
“Orders can be changed,” said the woman in the first seat, Zubaidit.
“Neh, it’s worse than that,” said Tesya. “There are eyries which are well hidden. Observation posts known only to Bronze Hall reeves. Not even fawkners like me know them. Those places have been kept secret for generations. Furthermore, the marshal’s cote is locked and guarded at night. There’s no shoreline to bring up a boat, and no lights anyway. No one could have stolen it except someone who lives on the island.”
Mai blinked eastward into the wind. The barrier islands lay too far away to be seen except for scraps of cloud caught on their low peaks. “So you believe a reeve, a fawkner, or one of the hall-sworn stewards stole it. If that’s so, then who is the spy working for?”
“I think we all know the answer to that, don’t we, Mai?” said Tesya too sharply.
Before Mai could answer, a set of choppy waves rocked the canoe. The long float lashed by wooden arms to the left of the canoe skipped twice on the water’s surface.
In the last seat, steering, old Fohiono spoke brusquely. “Get your minds back in the boat, sisters. Weather’s coming up. Best we turn back to shore.”
The steerswoman angled her paddle against the curve of the hull. The canoe swept a wide half circle. Mai called a change, and they each swung their paddle over to the other side, Mai paddling opposite Zubaidit and Tesya. As the canoe straightened, Zubaidit set them a steady pace for the town of Salya, barely visible as a scar of brown walls and white stone against the vibrant green of the mainland.
They paddled for a while in silence. Sweat and sun and spray glistened on Zubaidit’s brown back. Out on the bay Zubaidit usually stripped down to just her linen kilt. It was easy to see her muscles working as she cut the paddle in and out of the water.
Eventually Mai felt obliged to speak.
Table of Contents
"The Queen's Garden"
"Leaf and Branch and Grass and Vine"
"Riding the Shore of the River of Death"
"The Gates of Joriun"
"Making the World Live Again"
"With God to Guard Her"
"A Simple Act of Kindness"
"To Be a Man"
"The Memory of Peace"
"My Voice is My Sword"