A double treat for SF Signal readers. A cover reveal and an exceprt for the upcoming fantasy novel The Dragon’s Legacy by Deborah A. Wolf, hitting shelves in 2017.
Here’s the synopsis:
The last Aturan King is dying, and as his strength fades so does his hold on sa and ka. Control of this power is a deadly lure; the Emperor stirs in his Forbidden City to the East, while deep in the Seared Lands, the whispering voices of Eth bring secret death. Eight men and women take their first steps along the paths to war, barely realizing that their world will soon face a much greater threat; at the heart of the world, the Dragon stirs in her sleep. A warrior would become Queen, a Queen would become a monster, and a young boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay.
The cover was illustrated and designed by Julia Lloyd. A larger version appears below.
- Series: Dragon’s Legacy Book
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Titan Books (
November 29, 20162017)
- ISBN-10: 1785651072
- ISBN-13: 978-1785651076
“I am stronger than they know”
Daru’s legs were trembling again.
He tried to take a deep breath, to fill his lungs all the way down to the bottom of his belly, as the dreamshifter had taught him. He looked over to where the First Warrior was speaking with the newest ja’Akari, Hannei foremost among them. Hannei had been his minder when he was tiny and nobody expected him to remember that, but he did, just as nobody had expected him to survive when his mother had died of last-laugh fever and he had been born early and weak.
Daru especially remembered a night when his lungs had been sick again, and he was moved into a little room by himself. The healers had filled the room with fragrant steams and herbs, and told him it was for his own good, but he had believed–and still believed-that he had been hidden away so that he could die without upsetting the other children. He had heard one of the boys say as much, and Hannei’s sharp words were forever etched upon his heart.
“He will live,” she had insisted. “He is stronger than you know.”
Now he stood very still, silencing the tremble in his legs, worried that the First Warrior would notice that he was still there and send him away. He was not supposed to be overhearing the words she spoke to these girls. This was a secret and sacred time for them and he was just a boy. But he could hardly be expected to play aklashi with the other boys, to race horses or parade himself in front of the vash’ai in the hopes that they may consider him as a companion for one of their cubs.
He did not wish to draw the attention of the vash’ai, at all. Daru could feel the great cats watching him, always watching, and he knew what they thought of allowing a weakling to live. Khurra’an was bad enough-the huge sire ignored him as if that alone would cause him to cease to exist-but Paraja was a million times worse. She had looked at him once, when he was very young, and she had gotten into his head, and told him to die. That was when his lungs had gotten sick and they had hidden him away.
But he was stronger than they knew.
He pretended to be studying his fingers, and peeked at Hannei out of the corner of his eye. She was tall, and proud, and beautiful like a hero in the old stories. Not a trickster like Zula Din, but a real hero, living a life of truth ja Akari-under the sun-in service to her people. Some day, he knew, Hannei would be the First Warrior, foremost warrior of the pride. She would wear a cloak of serpent’s hide and lionsnake feathers in her hair. He, Daru, would be First Warden and kneel at her feet during the Feast of Daylight Moons. Never mind that this was an impossible dream for a weakling boy, the child who was born to die. He was stronger than they knew. And he had seen it.
Hannei saw that he was watching them, and gave him a wink and half a smile.
One of the other girls noticed him standing there, and elbowed her, smirking. Hannei pretended not to notice, but when the girl attempted to jostle her again, she stepped back so that the other lost her balance and nearly fell.
The First Warrior stopped midsentence and turned her head to the girls. “Is there a problem here, Annila?
Annila, a pretty curly-haired girl, turned red as a sunset. “Apologies, First Warrior. I was… there was… this boy should not be here.” She jerked her chin in his direction.
The First Warrior did not turn. Daru realized that she had known full well that he was standing there. “Does the presence of one small boy interfere with your concentration, then? Perhaps you would like to join the dance next year instead.”
“No, First Warrior.” The words tripped over themselves in their haste to get out. “I am sorry. I just… ah.” She bowed low, face still aflame. “These are no words for a boy to hear.”
The First Warrior regarded Annila for a long, heavy moment. The girl remained bent as she was, obviously wishing that the warrior’s attention might be directed elsewhere. After a few heartbeats’ time, she turned her face so that he could just see one cheek and the corner of a dark eye. Her face did not move, but Daru thought she was laughing on the inside.
Laughing at him.
“Annila has no manners, but she does have a point. Unless you have also decided to become ja’Akari?”
Daru started. What was she talking about… a boy, become a warrior? He shook his head, and saw her mouth twitch. She was laughing at him.
“Good. I do not have time for more than one troublemaker today. Go on, Daru, see if your mistress has something for you to do. Or go find something to eat before a strong wind carries you away to the Edge.”
Annila, straightening, did not bother to hide her mocking smile. Hannei gave him a look of sympathy, but one of the other girls laughed out loud. Daru turned and fled, tears welling in his eyes and threatening to spill over.
He had no intention of seeking out his mistress, who had hardly spoken to him at all since those outlander ships had come to Aish Kalumm, except to send him running for the root of this herb or the stomach of that lizard, and some of the things she had asked for gave him a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Worse, Paraja would be there staring at him with her yellow eyes and thinking he ought to be dead. Tammas ja’Sajani would be sitting there in the stands, watching Hannei, and she would watch him back.
She would choose him, everyone could see that. They said that Tammas ja’Sajani would never allow himself to be hayatani, but Hannei was no ordinary girl, and the warden was just the sort of man she should choose. Strong, and handsome, and whole. The vash’ai did not see him as a weakling cub unworthy of the food on his plate or the breath in his lungs.
I am stronger than they know, he thought, dashing the tears from his face with the side of his hand, hard enough to hurt. I will be stronger than him, some day. I have seen it.
End of exceprt