Richly-alluring High Fantasy from a Master Fantasist Ripe for Rediscovery!
Have you been looking for a fantasy world-builder on the level of Patricia McKillip, Guy Gavriel Kay, Fritz Leiber or—dare we say it Yes, we dare!—J.R.R.Tolkien himself P.C. Hodgell is nigh.
Welcome to the world of the Kencyrath, where ivory-armored, carnivorous horses travel in herds called "rages," pretty butterflies might very well suck your life's blood, and tree leaves migrate south for the winter. It's a dangerous and beautiful place where it's easy to get yourself killed. And resurrected. And possibly become bound to somebody else's soul in the process.
Not your ordinary high fantasy landscape. And Jamethiel Priest's-bane is far from your average high fantasy heroine. This is one fantasy character who never does the expected.
First of all, Jame's youth was spent in a desert wasteland in the shadow of Perimal Darkling, infested with haunts, where life and death, animate and inanimate, often overlapped. As for food, think in terms of screaming carrots and reproachful potato eyes following you around the kitchen. As for the cabbage heads and what was in them, we won't even discuss that. She hates the Highborn, whom she sees as manipulative and power-mad. She'd rather be a thief (albeit a curiously honorable one), and she'd much rather spend time with her soul-bound snow leopard than in the Kencyrath Ladies House. Unfortunately, Jame discovers that not only is she one of the despised Highborn, she happens to be the long lost daughter of the mad Highlord Ganth and the well-nigh mythic Jamethiel Dream-weaver. As such, she possesses the power to call souls out of their bodies and slay the occasional god or two (as well as resurrect them!).
To say the least, Jame leads a complicated life, not helped by the current Highlord, Torisen, her twin brother who fears her darkling blood and is (somehow) ten years her senior. But one thing is for certain: even though destruction often follows in Jame's wake, she is never, ever passive. This is one heroine whose curiosity and competence (she survived two years in the world of the darkling damned, after all) are always at the forefront. She has two mottos: "Some things need to be broken," and "If I knew what I was doing, I probably wouldn't be doing it." Sometimes cities fall as a result (ask the inhabitants of Tai-tastigon). But, more often than not, Jame finds a way to move one step closer to her ultimate destiny: a confrontation with the unthinkably alien being called Perimal Darkling that threatens existence itself.
Darkly droll, as intricate as many a Medieval tapestry, the Kencyr books are a controlled explosion of carefully-crafted creativity—which is exactly what one would expect from an author who is a) a master stain-glass artist and art knitter; b) an experienced horsewoman (who, nonetheless, holds the stable's record for falling off); and, last but not least, c) an accomplished scholar specializing in the 19th century novel, notably those of Dickens and Sir Walter Scott.
So here they are. The God Stalker Chronicles. Every Kencyrath book and short story ever published, collected in one e-volume and available from Baen Books' WebScriptions (www.webscriptions.net). This volume contains: God Stalk, Dark of the Moon, Seeker's Mask, Blood and Ivory (the highly-sought-after "Jamethiel" short story collection), and To Ride the Rathorn.
The megavolume will be released April 15, 2007, and will be available in the reader-friendly, unencrypted formats WebScriptions is known for. No need to track each volume down on a dead tree (and, in the Kencyr universe, the smarter trees run away from would-be harvesters, anyway!) For the next three months, the complete works will go for $20. As always, we'll let the math do the selling on this one. Try not to faint when you factor in the shipping costs. AFTER the three months is up, this special collection will no longer be available for sale at this price and we'll offer each individual God Stalker Chronicles ebook title for $5 each. (Still a great deal, of course!)
Jame is a Kencyr. Kencyrs are not native to the planet where they now live. For thirty centuries they have been the weapon that their Three-Faced God has used against the power of the Perimal Darkling. And though they have fought well, the Darkling has come to planet after planet, and the Kencyrs have moved on.
Jame knows this as she stumbles out of the hilly, barren Haunted Lands into the city of Tai-tastigon. But she knows little else. She does not remember where she has been or what she has done for the last ten years of her life. Her memory goes back only a week or two—to finding her home destroyed and all her family dead.
In Tai-tastigon Jame begins a new life that seems to be at odds with all that the Kencyrs stand for. Kencyrs are honest and just, but Jame becomes an apprentice to the most renowned thief in the powerful Thieves' Guild. Kencyrs are confirmed monotheists, yet Jame explores the rituals and activities of the thousands of gods, templed and untempled, in this religious center; she even kills a god and then resurrects him. And at the inn, the Res aB'tyrr, where she lives, she finds herself using the most sacred dances of her people, dances she does not even remember learning, for the entertainment and sometimes the destruction of the inn's patrons.
Within herself Jame finds power she does not want and doubts she defies her heredity to harbor. She moves through the rich and bloody stew of Tai-tastigon like a hot spice. Her probings, to find herself and to discover what her powers mean to her and her people, combined with influences already at work, very nearly destroy the city. And yet, they bring her face to face with a destiny she must accept.
This is the first of several books.
Dark of the Moon
Tai-tastigon is burning.
The whole city is in an uproar. And the cause, Jame, and her friend Marc have fled. They are making their way through mountain passes, far too late in the season, hoping to find Jame's brother Tori somewhere on the other side.
Nothing ever goes easily for Jame, least of all this journey. As hints of the past she has forgotten—of dark and horrid years in the house of Gerridon, betrayer of her people, the Kencyrath, and her god—come to the surface, she encounters changers from the house of Gerridon, wanting to bring her back into that dark place. Arrin-ken, catlike creatures who are nevertheless a part of her own people, find and judge her. Bandits, brigands and strange remnants from the past of her people—which suggest a dim future for them, their god and their hope of defeating the great enemy, Perimal Darkling—arise to haunt her. But her determination to find her brother and to avoid falling into eternal darkness only grows stronger.
Meanwhile Tori, who is Highlord of the Kencyrath, leads the wayward lords of the Kencyrath with uneasy grace. He is a compromise for them, a way of avoiding endless battle between them. But he can bind them together only so long as he can tread a narrow way between their varied needs and desires. When a vast and unexpected danger threatens, he must call up the host—the troops that each lord must muster—but in so doing he threatens his own position and his sanity, for he cannot avoid the attention this calls to him, attention that seems to bring changers who want to kill him, and odd nightmares that seem to suggest a future he does not want and the reappearance of a sister he both loves and fears.
Jame and Marc appeared first in God Stalk, where Jame discovered that she had odd powers and that she did not need a past to change forever the future of those around her. In this second book, she is just as hard on her friends, and her enemies, as she was in the first. But knowing her past, knowing how near she is always to the brink of a personal disaster she cannot accept, she must now consider each step she takes more carefully. This does not mean that either she, or for that matter, Tori, will ever be less than wild and unexpected. It only means that both must count and accept the cost of their actions. It is a way of living neither is prepared for.
P. C. Hodgell writes:
It's been nearly four years now since I finished God Stalk. For Jame, my heroine, only three days have passed. In the interim, however, I've written stories set five or six years in her future, notably "Stranger Blood," which will be in Robin McKinley's Imaginary Lands anthology later this year. In other words, life and fantasy are as confused as ever.
For my part, I'm preparing to make one last stab at my doctoral dissertation, although I'd rather be starting the third novel. Well, there will be time for that too. Jame certainly hasn't run out of adventures, and I look forward to chronicling them. Her life goes on, much faster and more furiously than mine. I'm reminded of the Stephen Leacock hero who jumped on his horse and galloped madly off in all directions—except that Jame and I are both going somewhere, or at least I sincerely hope so. At any rate, the
Obedience. Self-restraint Endurance. Silence. . .
These are the duties of a Highborn lady, and like the veils, masks and tight-fitting underskirts female Kencyr students are obliged to wear, Jame finds them damnably constricting. Sent here by her brother Torisen, Highlord of the Kencyrath, she has tried valiantly to fit in, but the unruly girl can't help throwing the quiet Women's Halls into an uproar.
It's not entirely Jame's fault, though. While Tori's vain and vicious consort treats her like an underling, the Kencyr Matriarchs, determined to winnow out her secrets, scheme to use her to their own advantage. And her own brother wants nothing to do with her. On top of this, Shadow Guild assassins have come hunting her, eager to fulfill a long-held contract to dispose of the last of the powerful Knorth clan. It's no wonder that Jame decamps.
In the company of her telepathic hunting cat, Jorin, a runaway priestling named Kindrie, and a chance-met squad of cadets, she sets out to rescue a friend from a cruel and ambitious Kencyr lord who seeks the deadly Book Bound in Pale Leather. Dodging ghostwalkers and shadow assassins, riding weirdingstorms and peripatetic trees, Jame discovers that her life is tangled up in a much larger purpose. For the war against Perimal Darkling cannot resume until three terrible objects of power, and the avatars who will wield them, appear. And she just might be one of them. . . .
The long-sought third book in P.C. Hodgell's intricate and engaging fantasy series follows the warrior-magician Jame as she battles enemies both in and out of the Women's Halls at Gothregor.
"One of the very few true and original voices to write in the field of fantasy."
—Charles de Lint, from the introduction
To Ride a Rathorn
To Ride a Rathorn
P. C. Hodgell,'s latest high fantasy novel, is the sequel Seeker's Mask, which in turn follows "God Stalk and Dark of the Moon (collected in the Meisha Merlin omnibus, Dark of the Gods).
These are the chronicles of Jamethiel Priest's-bane, otherwise known as Jame, as she struggles to find a place in a universe full of danger, intrigue, and more than a bit of downright lunacy. The current novel's title To Ride a Rathron, comes from the Kencyr phrase that refers to someone attempting something insane, but it is too dangerous for them to stop. The reference is also to a certain young rathorn (think of an armor-plated, carnivorous unicorn with a nasty temper) who is after Jame for killing his mother and about to catch up with her.
At Tentir, Jame faces cut-throat competition and finds even more buried, poisonous family secrets. Not only is the Caineron heir sent to humiliate her, but a charming Ardeth Highborn arrives hell-bent on seducing her. Then too, what is she to make of the mysterious White Lady who haunts her dreams, or of the growling monster that prowls Tentir's hallways and is said to eat young cadets for breakfast For she is learning Tentir has secrets of its own, and it is fighting for its soul. Under political pressure that threatens to compromise its independence, it looks to its Commandant, an honorable man; but also a Caineron. As the college tests Jame, so she tests it. "Some things need to be broken."