Table of Contents
THE SEA JUST AHEAD OF THE SHIP EXPLODED
in a fountain of white spray.The lead mermaid arched through the air, higher than any of the others had leaped.
“Lirea,” Queen Beatrice whispered.
A scream tore from Lirea’s throat, a ragged, furious sound that pierced Danielle’s ears, nearly driving her to her knees. Danielle lurched forward, grabbing Beatrice’s arm and pulling her out of the way as Lirea cleared the railing.
The mermaid twisted to avoid the lines. She staggered as she landed, ramming the butt of her spear into the deck for balance. Her tails were gone, replaced by feet.
Before Danielle could move, Lirea leveled her spear at the queen. She coughed, spitting seawater onto the deck, then said, “You’re trespassing in our waters.”
Danielle started to move between them, but Lirea swung her spear, cutting Danielle’s arm. Blood seeped into her sleeve.
“You’re looking well, Lirea,” Beatrice said calmly. “Where is your father?”
Lirea moved closer, driving Beatrice back until she stood against the railing.
“Your sister?” Beatrice glanced at the main deck, where Armand and the men had already gathered with crossbows and spears.
“Don’t play games with me,” Lirea said. “I hear
I heard you conspiring with Lannadae and my father, just as I hear them planning to attack.” She jabbed her spear into Beatrice’s side, hard enough to make the queen gasp. A small circle of blood darkened Beatrice’s shirt beneath her jacket.
Lirea turned to face Armand and the crew. “Take another step and she dies.”
Armand raised his hand. “Let my mother go, and I will—”
“I am queen of the Ilowkira tribe,” Lirea shouted. “I will speak to your queen and her alone.”
DAW Books presents these delightful fantasy novels by Jim C. Hines
THE STEPSISTER SCHEME THE MERMAID’S MADNESS RED HOOD’S REVENGE*
Jig the Goblin
GOBLIN QUEST (Book One)
GOBLIN HERO (Book Two)
GOBLIN WAR (Book Three)
*Coming in 2010 from DAW Books
Copyright © 2009 by Jim C. Hines.
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Book Collectors No. 1490.
DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
eISBN : 978-1-101-14865-5
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
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First Printing, October
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
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HECHO EN U.S.A.
Douglas Adams once said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
What Adams neglected to mention was the chilling silence that precedes those deadlines. Calm-before-the-storm silence. Cheerleader-in-a-dark-basement-with-the-serial-killer silence. The kind of silence whose only purpose in this world is to give you a few moments to contemplate the horrors preparing to devour you.
At least, that’s what it felt like back in July of ’08, as I scrambled to finish the fifth rewrite of this book. Mere words cannot express my gratitude toward my wife and children, who put up with me during this time, and enabled me to actually make that deadline. Living with a writer is never easy, and they have been far more patient, understanding, and forgiving than I have any right to expect.
Thanks also to my agent Joshua Bilmes and my editor Sheila Gilbert, both of whom reassured me that the world would not in fact come to an end if I was late turning in my manuscript. That’s very good to know, especially as I look ahead to my deadline for
Red Hood’s Revenge
I should also single out Diana Francis Pharaoh, author of the
series, for her assistance. I knew any book about mermaids would have to take place at sea, but my knowledge of sailing was rather limited. Thank you, Di, for rescuing me from a number of embarrassing mistakes. (At this point, it’s traditional for the author to mention that any remaining mistakes are entirely his or her own, but I think I’m going to blame any goofs on the goblins.)
Thank you, Josh, Debra, Marsha, and everyone else at DAW who helped bring this series into the world. Special thanks to Scott Fischer, whose cover art still blows my mind.
Most importantly, my thanks to you, the reader.Thank you for buying the books, for reading the stories, and for sharing them with your friends and family. Thank you for your wonderfully kind letters and e-mails, and thank you for allowing me to continue doing the most awesome job in the world.