Authors: Jude Fisher
Jude Fisher is a pseudonym for Jane Johnson, publishing director of HarperCollins’ SF imprint, Voyager. She holds two literature degrees, specialising in Anglo Saxon and Old Icelandic texts, and is also a qualified lecturer. For the last twenty years, Jane has been the publisher of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and is the author of the official Visual Companions to Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy of
The Lord of the Rings
. Find out more at
‘This tale of magic, mystery, intrigue and feud works well, and the characters are so convincing (including a strong and appealing female lead) that I can’t wait to read the next instalment’
has a plethora of characters. There’s Katla, the rock-climbing swordmaker; Saro, the unwanted younger son; the lusty, vengeful Tycho; and dozens of others. The amazing thing is that author Fisher manages to make each of them integral to the plot. Fisher ultimately pulls it all together to form a compelling and intriguing whole that will have readers eagerly awaiting the next volume’
‘A marvellous tapestry, deftly woven, with a masterfully colourful complexity.
left me breathless and shouting for more’ Janny Wurts
‘Myth blows on the wind, spirit flows in the water, magic crackles in the fire, but the characters are so vibrantly earth-rooted as to be ourselves far away yet the merest moment ago’ Brian Sibley
‘I enjoyed Jude Fisher’s debut very much . . . a well-written work, leading the reader deftly on to fascinating scenes and unusual characters’ Anne McCaffery
‘An impressive debut’ Roz Kaveney, AMAZON.CO.UK
Also by Jude Fisher in the
First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2005
This edition published by Pocket Books, 2006
An imprint of Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
A CBS company
Copyright © Jude Fisher, 2005
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention
No reproduction without permission.
® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
Pocket Books & Design is a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster Inc.
The right of Jude Fisher to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
London WC2B 6AH
Simon & Schuster Australia
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-74344-042-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-47114-145-4
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Typeset in Bembo by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Printed and bound in Great Britain by
Cox & Wyman Ltd, Reading, Berkshire
For their help and encouragement on this long and turbulent voyage, thanks are due to Emma, for brilliant feedback; to Russ and Danny, for seeing it through; to Suzanne for picking up the reins and discovering how exhilarating fantasy can be; and to John, who brought the saga full circle.
What Has Gone Before . . .
The world of Elda has three deities: the Woman, the Man and the Beast. Their magic has long been lost, though legends abound. Some say the god Sur is held captive beneath the crust of the world, awaiting his recall. The goddess Falla and her great cat have not been seen for centuries; but it does not stop the people of the southern continent – the Istrians – from turning their worship into a fanatical religion.
Despite tensions, the people of Elda gather every year on the volcanic waste known as the Moonfell Plain, there to arrange marriages and trade alliances. This year is a special occasion, for the King of Eyra, Ravn Asharson, has come to choose himself a bride. All are outraged when he chooses not a wellborn Eyran woman nor a noble Istrian beauty swathed in her veiling robes; but an unknown nomad woman whose merest glance fires men with desperate lust.
For Katla Aransen, daughter of the Rockfall Clan, sword-maker, tomboy and climber, it is the first visit to the Allfair: the first, and almost the last. From the Moonfell Plain there rises a great rock, called by the southerners Falla’s Rock and by the northerners Sur’s Castle, for their respective deities. Katla does not realize when she scales the Rock that it is a sacred place – all she sees is a perfect climb – but by committing sacrilege she manages to set the spark for a mighty conflagration. Both Eyra and Istria claim the Rock as their own: and Katla is caught in the middle of a furious debacle.
Even her family cannot save her, it seems, from the fires to which the Istrians are determined to consign her. Her dour and obsessive father, Aran Aranson, is distracted by dreams of gold, having bought what purports to be a treasure map. Nor can her brothers Halli and Fent, or her cousin Erno Hamson, who loves her dearly.
For Saro Vingo, too, it is his first visit to the Allfair. He is here with his family to trade horses and see his brother Tanto affianced to the Lord of Cantara’s daughter, Selen. Selen’s father is Lord Tycho Issian, a man of cruel lusts and fanatical beliefs. He must sell his daughter to clear his debts; but when the deal falls through Tanto, as handsome on the exterior as he is corrupt and cruel within, is determined to have Selen by any means. But as he rapes her, she stabs him and flees, only to be found and rescued by Erno Hamson, who had been engaged in helping Katla escape her pursuers: now she is left to face them alone.
In the end it will be young Saro Vingo who saves Katla. He saw her on the first day of the Fair and was enthralled by her; with the aid of a precious stone which has taken on terrifying magical powers, he wades into fires to free her.
A great conflict erupts as the Rockfall Clan escape the Fair with their injured kinswoman and Ravn Asharson flees with his beautiful new bride to his ship for the long voyage north to Halbo.
Unbeknownst to all, including herself, this extraordinary creature, known only as the Rosa Eldi, is the lost goddess Falla, abducted by a mage hundreds of years ago. Rahe, a great king and sorcerer, defeated her brother Sirio (known by the northerners as Sur) and imprisoned him beneath the Red Peak; then stole Falla away to his secret kingdom – Sanctuary, an island of ice at the top of the world – and there extracted all her magic and her memory and used it to gain power over all the world and make her his bodyslave. Until his apprentice Virelai – a strange, tall, pale man raised by Rahe since he was a child – unwittingly steals her away and brings her back to the world.
The Rosa Eldi, Rose of the World, will feel her memory and her magic returning, fragment by fragment: but still she remains in the power of men. In Ravn’s kingdom, she will find herself the subject of intense scrutiny and suspicion. Ravn needs a child to secure his succession: but the Rosa Eldi is not mortal and cannot conceive his child, no matter how hard she tries.
When Selen Issian, now travelling as Leta Gullwing having been rescued by Erno Hamson and a band of mercenaries under the tender care of Mam, arrives at the northern court heavily pregnant with the unwanted child of the man who raped her, it seems the new Queen of Eyra’s wishes have been answered.
In Istria, Selen’s father Tycho Issian, accompanied now by the sorcerer Virelai and a black cat, fans the flames of fundamentalism in the south, whipping up hatred and bloodlust against the old enemy. But his true motive is not religious, but profane in the extreme. At the Allfair, he glimpsed the Rosa Eldi, and was engulfed by desire for her. Now he will not rest until he can take her for himself. He will launch a holy war against the North to quench this lust, and burn a thousand nomads and heretics to assuage his torment.
Forces gather in both realms as the shadow of war creeps ever nearer. But Aran Aranson, safe home at Rockfall, his daughter miraculously recovered from her wounds, has no thought for the coming conflict. All his thought is bent on adventure: a voyage into arctic waters to seek for the legendary island of Sanctuary, where his map tells him there is untold treasure for the taking.
Katla sails with the mummers’ leader, the charismatic Tam Fox, to Halbo and there steals away the North’s best shipmaker, Morten Danson, to fashion a fine icebreaker to sail into the treacherous waters of the far north.
The ship is built; the crew selected. All the able-bodied men in the area will accompany Aran, leaving the women of Rockfall unprotected. It is not long before raiders from the southern continent sail into Rockfall waters. News of the theft of Morten Danson has reached the warmongers of Istria: if they can abduct the finest shipmaker in Eyra they can fashion a fleet with which they can carry the war to the Northern Isles. And taking a few comely Eyran women prisoners to sell in the slavemarkets of Istria can only add to their profits.