Table of Contents
“In this lively, accessible follow-up to
Smith dares to resolve several plot lines, in defiance of fantasy sequel conventions. Smith deftly stage-manages the wide-ranging plots with brisk pacing, spare yet complex characterizations and a narrative that balances sweeping action and uneasy intimacy.” —
"The achievement of this writer is only getting more remarkable. Here we have nation within nation, layers of history, and a real sense that there are kingdoms and empires on several continents, with complex interactions among them, and wide variation in their cultures. Every group has its own history, its own objectives, its own grievances. And Smith handles the relationships and machinations among them so deftly that you don’t realize you’re being given a course in politics. Though the international politics is deftly handled, what matters most is that the personal stories are believable and compelling. In the past few months I’ve started reading more than a dozen fantasy novels or series; I haven’t reviewed them here because they were, to put it kindly, a waste of my time, and I didn’t bother finishing them. By contrast, I didn’t want
to end. I savored every paragraph and continued to live in the book for days afterward. I keep thinking that if I write a good enough review, the publisher or author will relent and let me read the next volume early. Like now. Please.”
—Orson Scott Card
“Pirates and plotters fill this swashbuckling sequel to
. This is a middle novel in this series, but it’s full of action, adventure and delightful, larger than life characters, and manages a sneakily sudden, uplifting twist at the end that provides a satisfying conclusion despite looming disasters.”
ALSO BY SHERWOOD SMITH:
Copyright © 2007 by Sherwood Smith.
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Books Collector’s No. 1410.
DAW Books Inc. is distributed by Penguin Group (USA).
All characters in the book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
First Paperback Printing, July 2008
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
HECHO EN U.S.A.
With hearty thanks to Elizabeth Bear, Beth Bernobich, Marjorie Ferguson, Danielle Monson, and with a full bow, scrape, and doff of the plumed chapeau to Hallie O’Donovan, Rachel Manija Brown, and Tamara Meatzie for efforts above and beyond. Music:Pandora.com
has provided an endless soundtrack.
Last note: those who like appendices (timelines, ship terms, glossary, and historical background, etc.), you can find all these things on my Web page atwww.sff.net/people/
IN Sartorias-deles’ long history, only once have we seen pirates enjoy the protection of the strongest naval power in the world. The summer of the year 3910, some of the most notorious pirates made increasingly daring raids— such as Gaffer Walic’s attack on a trade convoy not two days outside of Khanerenth, which had once possessed the leading pirate-fighting navy in the southern seas.
They won after an extremely hard night of fighting, and thus were more angry than triumphant, more weary than celebrative as they transferred their (few) prisoners and what cargo hadn’t been destroyed in the battle.
On Walic’s flagship
one of the prisoners woke to a crashing headache. When he moved his head, his stomach heaved and bile scalded the back of his throat. He whispered the Waste Spell, and the burn vanished.
He let out a slow, shuddering breath as sweat cooled on his forehead.
The relief lasted three heartbeats. Someone was whispering into his ear. “Wake up, wake up. Inda, listen. You have to wake up.”
Marlovan! The language of home.
“Inda. You must act stupid. Gaffer will be calling for you soon. Hear me? Act stupid.”
Inda opened his eyes. His headache crashed again. He could barely see. A shaft of slanting sunlight filtering through shrouds outlined in ruddy morning color the contours of sharp-cut cheekbones and jawline, a straight shoulder, an arm. Green eyes. Familiar green eyes.
“Who are you?” he mumbled through bruised lips.
“I know you,” Inda observed. Memory images cut through the pain-haze like shards of glass: the fight on the deck of the trade ship he’d been hired to protect, surrounded by the fallen; more and more pirates swarming on board.
Those derisive green eyes—the last thing he saw before being struck unconscious with the hilt of a knife.
Struck, not killed.
And wasn’t there an older memory? He could not think.
“We met at my home,” Fox whispered in an urgent undervoice. “Before you started the academy. But you must not know me here. Nor use your name. Or Marlovan. Gaffer Walic came after you—you call yourself Inda Elgar, right? He wanted to sell you to the Venn. He thinks you died on the trade ship.”
“Gaffer . . . ?” Inda began, but even that hurt.
“Walic. Captain. He wants more hands, but not leaders, understand? Indevan Algara-Vayir is dead. You are not from Iasca Leror. You did not lead the marine defense band.”
Inda stared, in far too much pain to catch the sense of that swift run of words. “My band. Some are alive?”
“A handful. Look at me. Listen. We need you,” Fox whispered, fighting impatience and desperation.
Walic would be sending someone to fetch them soon. And he was right: above on the captain’s deck Walic stirred, his mood of irritation twisting inexorably into anger. He said to his first mate, “Where are my prisoners?”
Footsteps thumped on the captain’s deck above; Fox put his lips to Inda’s ears, forcing himself to speak distinctly. “We need you. To take this ship.”