Unbelievably, the Empire’s Legacy trilogy is done. Here are the covers, the links, and an excerpt from the third and final book.
Fifteen years of my life, these have taken: twelve for Empire’s Daughter, because I was still working and busy with other commitments as well; two for Empire’s Hostage, and a shocking less-than-one for Empire’s Exile, considering it is the longest (420 pages, more or less).
Am I done with my Empire? No! But the next book(s) will have different narrators and different points of view.
Here’s the link: amazon.com/author/marianthorpe
And here’s the excerpt.
You shall leave everything you love most dearly: this is the arrow that the bow of exile first lets fly. Dante
I did not turn back to look at the land I was leaving, after Galen brought us to the path into the Durrains. I began to climb, always looking forward, and up. Anger fueled that climb, at first, cold fury at the sentence of exile. Perhaps I should have been grateful; I hadn’t been executed, as I’d expected to be. My Emperor had given me a chance, small as it was.
“Take it slowly,” Galen had said. He’d been further into the Durrains than anyone, but even he had no idea how high they were, or how wide. After a couple of hours of climbing, I needed to stop. I’d recovered from serious illness, including an infection in my lungs, not many weeks earlier. I hated showing weakness in front of Cillian, but if I were to have any chance of surviving in these mountains, I could not let pride override pragmatism.
We reached a small grassy meadow, scattered with boulders patched yellow and orange with lichen. I made my way to one of them, sitting down thankfully. I eased my pack off. Cillian had chosen a boulder a few paces away.
“Sorry,” I said. “But I need a rest. I’m not as strong as I should be, after the illness.”
“No matter,” he answered. “Galen told us to take it slowly.” He drank from his waterskin, sparingly. “Perhaps we should talk.”
“What we can expect from each other, as travelling companions,” he said evenly. “I can build a fire, and pitch a tent, and use the stars to find my way, fairly well. I cannot use a bow, or butcher an animal. Or cook food, beyond a simple porridge and tea.” His words were precise, with just enough difference in pronunciation to remind me our common tongue was not his native language.
“I can hunt,” I replied, “and butcher what I kill. I can’t cook much, either, but I can roast a rabbit over a fire. And I can navigate by the stars, too.”
“I will be more dependent on you than you will be on me,” he observed.
“That’s not a good situation,” I said. “You can’t hunt at all?”
“No. Except to fly a falcon.”
“I should teach you to use a bow, then,” I decided. “If I am injured, or worse, dead, you need to be able to feed yourself.” We had two small bows meant for birds and small animals, and a dozen arrows each. I hadn’t realized that Cillian had no idea how to use his.
“That might be best,” he agreed. He glanced up the mountain.
“Another few minutes,” I said. He nodded.
“You should decide,” he said, “as you are the one recovering.” He drank another small mouthful of water. “One more thing, Lena. I would like this to be understood from the beginning. I am used to travelling on my own, rarely with a companion and never with a woman. I will respect your privacy, and you are in no danger from me.”
“Nor are you from me,” I said drily. I’d meant it to be amusing, but what flashed across his face looked like relief, to me. What had he thought I expected? “Seriously, Cillian, thank you,” I said. “It is good to be clear, from the beginning. I have travelled alone with men, and even in the Empire there can be moments of awkwardness. Shall we go? When we stop at mid-day, I’ll give you a lesson with the bow.”
The climb grew steeper. At one particularly difficult spot, Cillian went ahead, reaching down to offer me a hand several times. I cursed my frailty silently: I should be good at this. The game trail levelled out, but he stayed ahead of me. He moved with grace, balancing easily on the rocks. Watching him, a memory tugged, but stayed hidden.
Only when we stopped to eat did I realize what that memory was. He’d crouched to open his pack, straightening after finding what he wanted in one fluid move.
“Cillian,” I asked, “Do you dance?”
“An unusual question to be asked on a mountainside,” he observed. “But yes, I do. Why do you ask?”
I had flushed at his tone. “Our potter, Tice, was from Karst, where they dance from earliest childhood. You move like her, a bit.”
“Do I? I did not learn from earliest childhood, but from about twelve. Dancing is a necessary ability for what I was ordained to become, by Perras’s and the Teannasach’s decree.” Food in hand, he sat on the grass. I did the same, a comfortable distance away.
“What did you do, in Linrathe? Jordis said you were a student, but that can’t be right, can it?”
“Why would you concern yourself with what I did? It is in the past.”
“It may be,” I answered, ignoring the rebuff, “but we’re going to be travelling companions for the gods know how long. We probably should get to know each other, don’t you think?”
“If you wish, although I do not see why it matters.” He ran a hand through his hair, already unkempt. “Jordis was not incorrect. All ti’achan, even Perras and Dagney, are students for all our lives. But primarily I have been, or rather I was, for a dozen years now, a travelling teacher, to the estates of any Harr or Eirën who wished their nearly-grown sons, or sometimes daughters, to have a winter spent in learning. But that duty was almost an excuse for the second, which was to be a toscaire. An emissary, you would say. I brought news and ideas to the Harr or Eirën, and gathered their thoughts, and the news and rumours they had heard, and took them back to the Ti’acha, and our leaders.”
“What sort of ideas?”
“Whether they supported Donnalch for Teannasach, for one, and then after he had been chosen, what their support for his plans were.”
“Why didn’t you fight?” I asked abruptly.
“Fighting is not required of all men in Linrathe,” he said. “Those of us attached to a Ti’ach are exempt, and as a toscaire I had to be seen as impartial, or I would not be trusted with honest thoughts.” There is something evasive in his answer, I thought, even though it sounds plausible.
“So, like our young officers, as a…an emissary…you were trained in protocols, in how to behave and act around all ranks of people?”
“Yes. Even to the halls of King Herlief, in Varsland.”
“That training wasn’t evident the first week or so I knew you.” I hadn’t planned to say that. “I’m sorry, Cillian,” I said. “That was rude.”
“As to that, an apology is due you, for the way I treated you when you first came to the Ti’ach, if not for later as well.”
“Apology accepted,” I said lightly. “But why? Will you tell me that?”
He shook his head. “Not at this moment. It is not something I would have spoken of, except to Perras or Dagney, and I lost that opportunity.”
That had sounded honest. We might be together in exile, but that didn’t mean we needed to be privy to each other’s secrets, or innermost thoughts and feelings. I finished my cheese and oatcakes. “Shall we begin with the bow?”