Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Date Published: Sep 2019
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“Arise, Your Highness. The realm awaits the sun of your presence.”
The ritual words cut through the thick smoke of the nightmare, bringing me awake with a start. A bad omen that I hadn’t come out of the dreams on my own—and which gave the images the power to linger in my mind, stains refusing to be scrubbed clean.
The wolf fought its chains, howling in hoarse rage, shedding fire and ash.
The sea churned, bloodred and crimson dark, bones tossed in the waves, white as foam.
The tower fell into a pile of golden rubble, then to fine sand, the grains sliding against each other with soul-grinding whispered screams.
I loathe dreaming, where I have even less control than in the waking world. Calanthe herself sings sweetly to me of the seas, the plants and the creatures that walk her soil. But outside our fragile island, the abandoned lands beyond cry like frightened children in the night. I can’t help them. It’s all I can do to protect Calanthe, and most days I despair of being able to do even that.
Still, with no one else to hear them, they call to me in chaotic images, the nightmares dashing me from one dark scenario to the next. No matter how the dreams plague me, I usually wake when the light of the rising sun reddens my eyelids. I keep my eyes closed, pretending to anyone who checks on me that I’m still asleep. Pulling the pieces of my composure together, I listen to the morning song of Calanthe. The birds sitting high in the canopy to catch the first warming rays of the sun show me the sky. The fish swimming in the sea speak of clean water and plentiful food. Even the trees, the flowers, the small insects in the soil, all hum to me of their lives.
All reassure me of the balance, that Calanthe at least, is peaceful and vital.
Only I and the land I’m tied to exist in that time after sleep and before true waking, in what I call the dreamthink, an almost enchanted bubble where I belong entirely to Calanthe. The emperor does not own me. The crying lands he’s orphaned are silent. My ladies have not yet awakened me to wrenching reality and the trials of the day ahead.
Dreams always seem to me a terrible price to pay for the succor of sleep. Neither my naturalists nor my physicians seem to be able to explain the purpose of such dreams. And, of course, Anure killed all the wizards, so I have none to tell me if magic can answer those nighttime screams. So, without answers, and like the exorbitant tithes I’m forced to send to the emperor, I do pay the price, and nightly. The dreamthink is my reward, my time with Calanthe. A gift arising from waking Ejarat of the earth welcoming the return of Her husband Sawehl of the sun. In the dreamthink, in Calanthe’s sweet communion, I can believe the old gods are with us still, that they haven’t abandoned us. That I have reason to hope.
“Euthalia, wake up. We’re ready,” Tertulyn whispered in my ear. My first Lady-in-Waiting, doing her duty as always. She couldn’t know she’d wakened me from the nightmare instead of the dreamthink. Or that starting my day this way meant it would be certainly cursed.
No one believes in omens or curses anymore. Or hope, for that matter. In this, too, I am alone.
The Orchid Throne
Book # 1
As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free
The Fiery Crown
Book # 2
The Promised Queen
Book # 3
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