Courtesy of Night Shade Book, we are able to bring you this free excerpt from Mazarkis Williams’ new book, The Emperor’s Knife.
What’s it about?
There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon’s law…but now the pattern is running over the Emperor’s own arms. His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon’s agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor’s only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court’s stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an ageing imperial assassin, the Emperor’s Knife. As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Now only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who saw a path in a pattern once, among the waving grasses – a path that just might save them all! Mazarkis Williams is a writer with roots in both the US and UK, having worked in and been educated in both countries. Each year is divided between Boston and Bristol and a teleport booth is always top of the Christmas wish-list. Mazarkis has degrees in history and physics with a diverse set of interests accumulated while misspending a hectic youth. Cooking has always been a passion and in addition to feeding six children and a sizable herd of cats Mazarkis regularly caters for crowds of permanently hungry friends.
Mazarkis Williams himself introduces this free excerpt… himself introduces this free excerpt…
This excerpt features both Eyul and Mesema, and I love it because it shows how similar they are. The grizzled, world-weary Knife and the young, wilful daughter of the Windreader chief share an important trait.
Eyul finds himself in the midst of palace intrigue. A secret meeting in the middle of the night has led to an attack by the fountain, and now he fears Emperor Beyon is not himself; he may carry the marks, and be influenced by them. His death may be imminent, but that is preferable to the alternative. Eyul, now entering middle age, has devoted his life to the empire, but now it is unclear who or what that is. Hundreds of miles away, Mesema burns at the idea her father can sell her away like a stack of skins, one girl for one hundred breast plates. She rides away from camp, imagining she might never turn back. But by the end of the chapter, both agree to do what is asked of them. Eyul puts his trust in Tuvaini, and Mesema puts hers in Banreh, who emphasizes that this is her chance to be useful to her people. Eyul and Mesema share a strong sense of duty that, as things get more and more difficult, holds them together and guides their actions.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt from The Emperor’s Knife.