Happy Release Day, readers! Check your e-readers and click some links. Hath No Fury is out at last!
Edited by Melanie Meadors and featuring stories and essays by a slew of amazing authors*, with a foreword by Robin Hobb and an introduction by Margaret Weis, this anthology is all about female characters who defy the stereotypes of the genre.
In my story, “The Mark of a Mountain Poppy,” the spirit warrior guard of a prophetic prince unravels an impossible vision that threatens their homeland. This is the prequel to the book I just finished writing. It’s a little slice of a big fat world, so settle in.
Also: battle yaks and chimeric spirit monsters. Here’s a peek!
Tarji didn’t like children—not her own imaginary ones, not Sakavian’s scattered get.
But Tarji Hellonar Kastelleki was of the vuhenki, sworn to the Speaker and her heir. Which meant she didn’t have a good reason to tell Sakavian she’d rather not deal with his bastards.
In the village of the Aalmeki tribe, a little girl watched Tarji with Sakavian’s eyes, black and sharp as threshold flint. Even if someone had reason to doubt she was Sakavian’s get, the thickness of the air, like the very belly of summer, and the sense of someone whispering without words, announced the interest of the suorinen,the presence of another heir of Vàorem’s bastards.
“Your sword’s made of wood,” the girl said.
“Yes.” This one stared, Tarji recalled. She stared every time Sakavian sent the vuhenki around with links of silver and iron, support without overt acknowledgment. The suorninen were fickle about such things.
“I never saw a wooden sword.”
Tarji kept her eyes on the door to the stone hut the old man had ducked through, insisting on bringing her refreshments.Only a moment, the old man had said. Only the best for the vuhenki. Behind Tarji, near the hold’s gates, another vuhenki—Jere Hemmel Moreteki—waited, still mounted and holding the reins of Tarji’s yak. She wondered if he’d be hauled in, too, before she could get the old man to take the links.
“You didn’t have that last time,” the girl said.
“No.” Last time Tarji came and went in a heavy rain and no one stopped to make her tea or pull conversations and secrets out of her. Last time, the Chalmarais to the south hadn’t been clattering their axes, tearing breaches in the threshold, the edge between this world and the suorninen’s. Last time, she’d ridden alone, and without a suori crouching on her heart, ready to fulfill her oaths and show Chalmar what the spirits of Vàorem were capable of when they were properly honored and heard.
“Doesn’t seem like you can cut much with it,” the girl said. “Doesn’t it break?”
“Why do you carry a sword that sometimes breaks?”
Tarji ran her tongue along the chipped edge of an incisor. A moment’s thirst—she could have made it to the stream. She could have left the links and been well on her way to the next bastard. She could have told Sakavian she wasn’t running this spirit-sucked errand anymore.
No—a vuhenki followed orders. A vuhenki heard the words of the suorinen through their favored Speakers. She blew out a breath and apologized to the spirits, though not to the heir they chose who got her into this.
The girl kicked a flower growing in the gravel, a mountain poppy blooming early. “What’s my father like?”
Enough of that, Tarji thought.
“If it breaks, you can replace it in parts.” Tarji glanced over at the girl—such a skeptical expression for a six-year-old—and drew the weapon from its sheath. The cold sunlight of mid-autumn glowed on the oiled larch baton, the row of chipped stone embedded along the weapon’s edges. Rusty blooms, shimmering with the same strange light of the open gates to the suorinen’s realm, a world on the edge of this one, marred the deep blackness of the rock.
“Do you know that stone?”The girl shook her head.“Threshold flint,” Tarji told her. “The edge it makes is keener than any metal. You can take a man’s head off with this. Two strokes. One, if you aim well and he doesn’t move much.”
The girl’s dark eyes widened. “How do you know?”
Tarji slid the blade back into its sheath. “Because I know.”
*Seanan McGuire, Carol Berg, Lian Hearn, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Nisi Shawl, Anton Strout, Philippa Ballantine, Elaine Cunningham, Gail Z. Martin, William C. Dietz, S.R. Cambridge, Sarah Kuhn, Marc Turner, Dana Cameron, Elizabeth Vaughan, Diana M. Pho, Erin M. Evans, Carina Bissett, Delilah S. Dawson, Michael R. Underwood, Monica Valentinelli, M.L. Brennan, Django Wexler, Shanna Germain, Eloise J. Knapp, and more!