Summary: Gwynn and Raule are rebels on the run, with little in common except being on the losing side of a hard-fought war. Gwynn is a gunslinger from the north, a loner, a survivor . . . a killer. Raule is a wandering surgeon, a healer who still believes in just--and lost--causes. Bound by a desire to escape the ghosts of the past, together they flee to the teeming city of Ashamoil, where Raule plies her trade among the desperate and destitute, and Gwynn becomes bodyguard and assassin for th
e household of a corrupt magnate. There, in the saving and taking of lives, they find themselves immersed in a world where art infects life, dream and waking fuse, and splendid and frightening miracles begin to bloom . . .
Summary: Gwynn and Raule are rebels on the run, with little in common except being on the losing side of a hard-fought war. Gwynn is a gunslinger from the north, a loner, a survivor . . . a killer. Raule is a wandering surgeon, a healer who still believes in just--and lost--causes. Bound by a desire to escape the ghosts of the past, together they flee to the teeming city of Ashamoil, where Raule plies her trade among the desperate and destitute, and Gwynn becomes bodyguard and assassin for the household of a corrupt magnate. There, in the saving and taking of lives, they find themselves immersed in a world where art infects life, dream and waking fuse, and splendid and frightening miracles begin to bloom . . . ...show less
Edition/Copyright:04 Cover: Paperback Publisher:Bantam Books, Inc. Year Published: 2004 International: No
View Author Bio
K. J. Bishop has had short fiction published in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Serbia. Her work has most recently appeared in The Alsiso Project and Leviathan 4. This is her first novel.
View Sample Chapter
1 There were no milestones in the Copper Country. Often a traveller could only measure the progress of a journey by the time it took to get from each spoiled or broken thing to the next: a half day's walk from a dry well to the muzzle of a cannon poking out of a sand slope, two hours to reach the skeletons of a man and a mule. The land was losing its battle with time. Ancient and exhausted, it visited decrepitude on everything within its bounds, as though out of spleen. In the south of the country, arid scrubby plains alternated with stretches of desert. One road crossed this region, connecting the infrequent hamlets and oases, following the line of a derelict stone wall built long ago by a warlord. Along it, at distant intervals, were the remains of watchtowers and small forts. The greater part of the wall and its fortifications lay in complete ruin, but occasional sections remained intact enough to provide shelter. One evening, late in the Husk Month, as the sun was getting on towards the horizon and the bite was at last starting to go out of its rays, the road brought the physician Raule to a tower with three standing walls. At this promising sight her dark features lifted out of the scowl they had settled into during the stifling, monotonous afternoon. Earlier that day, she had traded tales with the Harutaim nomads whose way took them along the road, or rather beside it, for they held man-made paths in low esteem. They never camped near the wall, and had cautioned Raule not to do so either. They believed the ruins were haunted by evil spirits, the ancient and acrimonious undead. But Raule preferred the stone places to the empty land outside. Inside the tower she found the ashes of someone else's campfire, a bottle, an empty meat can, and a wad of blood-soiled bandages. She alighted from her camel and left it to graze on some thorny plants that had taken root in the gravel around the stonework. After kicking the rubbish into a corner, she pitched her small tent against a wall, and built a fire on the remains of the litterer's. She ate, chewing down some strips of dried goat meat she had bought from the Harutaim. With more relish, she devoured a handful of dates, spearing them on the point of an old knife and cooking them over the flames until they were hot and soft. Her small meal finished, she stayed seated in front of the fire, wrapped in a blanket and her thoughts, tired but unable to sleep, as night came on. The temperature dropped sharply after the sun set, and a fierce wind blew up and went hooting back and forth across the sky. As Raule listened to it she thought it might be easy to imagine djinns and ghouls out in the darkness, or to fancy that you heard the camel bells of a phantom caravan passing along the road. When she slept at last she had dreams about the dead. These days, she saw them whenever she closed her eyes. The wall ended at the town of Proof Rock. The sun was a late-afternoon bonfire, the earth overcooked and flyblown. Raule slouched in her saddle. Sweat glued her shirt and breeches to her skin, and her feet were baking inside her boots. She looked around without excitement. Like most settlements in the Copper Country, Proof Rock was seemingly assembled from the detritus of other, defunct habitations. The only visible souls were a few old men and women, dozing on porches and balconies, as still as pegs of wood. Closed doors and shuttered windows completed the picture of an empty nest. At the edge of the town there was an inn built of motley scrap metal. It had a brick porch, shaded by a tarpaulin and a mangy palm tree. A blanket slung over a wire served as the door, while sacking covered the windows, concealing the interior. Four camels were tethered to a rail in front of the porch. Raule appraised them. They were fit-looking mounts, handsomely caparisoned, but conspicuously lacking bells. Raule dismounted, tied her camel to the
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