Tremontaine: The Complete Season 3

Tremontaine: The Complete Season 3

NOOK Book(eBook)

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Overview

Welcome to Tremontaine, where ambition, love affairs, and rivalries dance with deadly results. In this novel Ellen Kushner and a team of writers return readers to the world of scandal and swordplay introduced in her cult-classic novel Swordspoint. Readers familiar with the series will find a welcome homecoming while new fans will learn what makes Riverside a place they will want to visit again and again. Tremontaine follows Diane, Duchess Tremontaine, whose beauty is matched only by her cunning; Rafe Fenton, a handsome young scholar with more passion than sense; Ixkaab Balam, a tradeswoman from afar with skill for swords and secrets; and Micah, a gentle genius whose discoveries herald revolution. Sparks fly as these four lives intersect in a world where politics is everything, and outcasts are the tastemakers. Tread carefully, dear reader, and keep your wit as sharp as your steel.

Originally presented in serial form by Serial Box Publishing, Tremontaine is brought to you by Ellen Kushner, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Paul Witcover, Tessa Gratton, and Karen Lord.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781682101896
Publisher: Serial Box
Publication date: 03/29/2018
Series: Tremontaine , #3
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 300
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Ellen Kushner's paying jobs have included folksinger, book editor, national public radio host (Sound & Spirit/WGBH), writing teacher (Clarion, Odyssey, WRX, Hollins Child.Lit.MFA), audiobook narrator (all three Riverside novels for Neil Gaiman Presents) and pilgrim at Plimoth Plantation. Her Riverside novels begin with Swordspoint, followed by The Privilege of the Sword (Locus Award, Nebula nominee); The Fall of the Kings (written with Delia Sherman) and a growing collection of short stories. She lives in New York City with Delia Sherman, no cats, and a whole lot of airplane and theater ticket stubs she just can’t bring herself to throw away. EllenKushner.com. @EllenKushner.
Tessa Gratton has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. Alas, she turned out too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for a someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in Gender Studies, then settled down in Kansas with her partner, her cats, and her mutant dog. She now spends her days staring at the sky and telling lots of stories about magic. tessagratton.com. @tessagratton.
Barbadian author and research consultant Karen Lord is known for her debut novel Redemption in Indigo, which won the 2008 Frank Collymore Literary Award, the 2010 Carl Brandon Parallax Award, the 2011 William L. Crawford Award, the 2011 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the 2012 Kitschies Golden Tentacle (Best Debut), and was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. She is the author of the science fiction duology The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Galaxy Game, and the editor of the anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean.

Read an Excerpt

Diane, Duchess Tremontaine, stood alone at the highest window of her great house on the Hill, and surveyed her city.

No one would come to her in this high room. Her husband, William, was now far at sea, sailing on the wings of the Bird Between Worlds. The Kinwiinik would carry him to their land, make of him a seer, for they understood the uses of shadowroot far better than she.

Ixkaab Balam, first daughter of a first daughter of the Kinwiinik, had taught her that—and in return, Diane had very nearly killed her. She had sent her finest swordsman against young Kaab in a public duel to the death: Vincent Applethorpe, Tremontaine's first sword, who somehow thought he had the right to pick and choose where and how his talents were deployed. A man who had claimed to know the duchess better than she knew herself. Ixkaab Balaam's friend and teacher.

She had lost her temper—Diane recognized that now—and in doing so had nearly lost them both. But Applethorpe had outmaneuvered her. The girl Kaab had been carried out from the fight hall at Lord and Lady Condell's party to the Balaam compound, unconscious. No one had seen her since. And Vincent Applethorpe had walked away from the Condell duel, presumably back to the rat's nest of Riverside, there to sulk and brood on the wrong Diane had done him.

The duchess drummed her fingers on the stone windowsill. She wanted him back in her employ. She was Duchess Tremontaine in her own right, now, and she must have the best of everything, if she wanted to keep her position and advance. A man of controlled, exquisite violence . . . she'd need him against her inevitable enemies. Particularly the Dragon Chancellor, Gregory, Lord Davenant.

She had mortally offended Applethorpe with her demand that he murder Davenant in cold blood before the Condell duel. She would make it up to him, now, Diane thought, and rid herself of Davenant for good, in one stroke. Tremontaine would formally challenge Davenant as one noble to another, with her swordsman as her proxy. Vincent Applethorpe could find no fault with that.

If her swordsman found Gregory Davenant alone, he might with honor challenge, fight, and slay him, all under Tremontaine's protection. If Davenant providently had a swordsman ready to take the challenge for him, whoever he had would be no match for Vincent Applethorpe, of that she was sure. And then . . . Diane closed her eyes and inhaled the imagined scent of victory . . . either way, Davenant would trouble her no more. His swordsman defeated, he would scuttle off to the country—for this season at least—knowing it was folly to stand against Diane, Duchess Tremontaine. She had friends. She had knowledge. She had a copy of his ledger.

Her breasts pressed against their confines of brocade. She moved her hand to the stone of the windowsill, to cool her wrist, to slow her breathing.

She should not kill Gregory. Probably not. It was too overt, too . . . obvious. She had already tipped the Dragon's claws. Should the chancellor threaten Tremontaine at any time, the duchess would denounce him to the Council for embezzlement, calling his ruin down upon him. But if the Dragon Chancellor did as he was bid . . . if he voted on her behalf, supported her intents, she would be the merciful lady. Diane chuckled. How he would hate that! Gregory, with his strong, hairy hands, so determined to be top man in any room—look at how he treated his poor chief of staff, Basil Halliday, a man of probity and duty . . . Perhaps she would steal Halliday from Davenant, too, unless the Dragon behaved.

And if not, there was always the sword.

---

Somewhere, a cat in heat was yowling incessantly. Ixkaab Balam rolled over on her mat. For a moment she thought she was still in the warehouse, awaiting thieves, awaiting a ship to take her home—

Kaab eased herself up onto her elbows. Not the warehouse. Not the warehouse at all. She was surrounded by luxury: finely woven cushions, polished mirrors, carven seat-backs, and the painted walls of her very own room in the Balam compound in the city of Xanamluum.

But it was in the warehouse that her uncle Ahchuleb had told her that their beloved Ixsaabim was dead.

Ash in my mouth, the poem ran; Ash in my mouth when I sought to chew bread.

Kaab's mouth was all dry and gummy. She reached for a cup of rose-scented water by the bed, and drained it. The cat continued to yowl. Couldn't someone silence that thing?

Kaab hurled her cup at the door.

"Good," said Cousin Ixoen, opening the door. "You're up."

She held the cat in her arms. The yowling filled the room.

Only it wasn't a cat; it was Ixsaabim's newborn infant, red-faced and screaming.

Kaab tried to sound composed. "What's Peapem doing here?" she asked. "I have no milk for her."

Ixoen smiled. "Oh, she's been fed. Twice since daybreak. You're growing like a vine, aren't you, lovey? Take her, Ixkaab; a baby's warmest with a woman just risen from the House of Dreams."

Kaab held out her arms to the howling little monster. What else could she do? She was Ixpeapem's closest woman kin here in Xanamluum. However she felt about babies, she could not ignore her mother's sister's child.

Peapem thrashed as she was moved to a new set of arms. "Little ocelot," Kaab muttered. "Fierce, are you? We'll see about that, then, shall we?"

She wrapped her blanket around Peapem's feet with one hand, bound her flailing fists with the end of her headscarf, and Peapem . . . yawned. The wailing stopped. Her little bud of a mouth made a few sucking noises, and her almond eyes fluttered shut, tears still drying on her face.

"There," Kaab said. "She's perfectly fine. You just didn't wrap her properly."

"When did you become such an expert?" Ixoen said. But she said it fondly. "I'll put her in her cot; maybe she'll sleep now. Can you go to Ahchuleb? He's been asking for you."

When she was gone, Kaab wet a rag in the basin, and wiped off under her arms and between her legs, as lightly as possible. In a house of mourning, one did not bathe. On bare feet, she walked down to the kitchens to eat cold tortillas, cooked without salt while death was in the house.

People watched her as she passed, pausing in their cries of mourning. They never used to look at her like that before—like they expected something from her, like she carried some kind of secret wisdom. Kaab was Ixsaabim's successor, now: the representative of the service, the great network of intelligence that kept the Traders in ascendance.

Uncle Ahchuleb was in his office, sitting at his low writing desk. Kaab stood silently in the doorway for a while, watching him look at the scroll before him, then look out into the distance, then back to the scroll again, over and over, as if neither could hold his attention, or provide what he was looking for.

"Uncle," she said softly.

He turned his head slowly. "Ixkaab," he said. "Come in."

She sat on the mat in an inferior position, not taking a low chair or even a cushion. "Your child is lovely," she said. He nodded slightly. "She seems to like me."

That drew his attention, and a weak smile. "The child has excellent taste."

They could go on like this forever, saying everything and nothing. They had both been careful of each other, ever since Uncle Chuleb had called Kaab back to the compound, away from her dream of leaving behind her this cursed city with its intriguing women and her newest failure as a lover.

Instead, here she was, required to fill a dead woman's place she was in no way worthy of.

"I have reports for you," Chuleb said, leaning across the table. "Ixsaabim was reading them—"

"Ah." Kaab took the reed scrolls and perused them. Inconclusive reports about the Batab's inspector, coming on a ship sometime this season. Kaab waved the scroll jauntily in the air. "No matter. The Xanamwiinik nobles are our allies; their desire for chocolate isn't going away. The warehouse thieves have been balked. We can handle whatever the inspector needs to see."

"You handle it, then," Chuleb said. He reached for his slippers. "I'm going to the counting house."

He looked so much older, she thought, his shoulders stooped, his gait so slow as he left the room. His wife's heart-spirit, lingering in the house until they released her with smoke and fire, as good as said aloud: Look after him.

In the courtyard, people still wailed in mourning, as they would night and day until Ixsaabim made her final journey to the houses beneath the earth. Kaab heard Chuleb's voice joining them there, heard the voices alter in pitch as they crooned to comfort him.

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