Alassa’s Tale–Snippet

15 Oct

This probably merits some explanation.

I’ve got … something, perhaps a cold, that kept me from writing yesterday. But I had this scene running through my head, demanding I write it. It’s the first chapter of Alassa’s Tale, a novella I intend to bridge the gap between Graduation Day (Schooled in Magic 14) and The Princess in the Tower (Schooled in Magic 15). Obviously, this is written from Alassa’s POV instead of Emily’s. Comments would be very welcome.

I have a vague plan for writing the rest of the novella in December, but a lot depends on precisely what happens over the month.

Until then … Enjoy!

Chapter One

Alassa threw back her head and laughed.

The King’s Road opened up in front of her as the horse galloped forward. She heard Jade cry out behind her, his voice lost in the clatter of hooves. He’d only want her to slow down, she knew. Jade was a brave man, but he absolutely refused to allow her to take risks. Her smile grew wider as the horse moved faster, racing down the road. A woman was expected to obey her father, then her husband, but she was the Crown Princess. Exceptions were made for her.

And a sorceress, she thought. Exceptions are made for them too.

The wind grew stronger, blowing through her golden hair. She allowed it to stream out behind her, enjoying the sensation of freedom. It wouldn’t last, she knew, not when they were back home. Her father would expect her to play her role as Crown Princess, Heir to the Throne. He wouldn’t allow her to shirk her duties, not if she wanted to succeed him. It had taken him years to come around to the idea of his daughter following him, rather than a strapping son. And the hell of it was that now, after acknowledging his daughter as his heir, King Randor had a son. A bastard, to be sure, but a son none-the-less.

Forget about him, Alassa told herself, sharply. She knew she’d be seeing too much of the little brat over the next few years, even if her father had promised to keep the boy’s parentage a secret. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts.

The horse neighed as the trees grew closer, casting the road into shadow. Alassa glanced behind her, seeing nothing. Jade was a good horseman, one of the best she’d seen, but she’d been riding practically since she’d been old enough to walk. And Jade’s horse wasn’t quite as good as hers. She’d insisted on the best for herself and got it, too. The rest of the convoy – their guards and attendants – wouldn’t have a hope of catching up with either of them until they slowed down.

Better let him catch up, sooner or later, she thought. The thought of galloping all the way to Alexis was delightful, but she didn’t really want to abandon Jade. I don’t want to get too far ahead.

She smiled at the thought. Jade would be angry, of course, pointing out that she’d put her life at risk – as well as the unborn baby in her womb. If, of course, there was a child. She wasn’t sure herself, not after two false alarms. Jade and she would have an argument, once they reached the castle and established privacy wards, an argument that would end with hot make-up sex. She felt her smile grow brighter. She couldn’t wait.

The King’s Road grew bumpy, the horse catching itself an instant before it could plunge its foot into a pothole. Alassa pulled back on the reins, slowing the horse down … just a little, just enough to ensure their safety. Her lips thinned with disapproval. The local villagers were supposed to keep the King’s Road in good repair, even though they weren’t supposed to use it for themselves. No doubt they’d done as little as they felt they could get away with, so far from Alexis. Peasants rather bothered to think about their betters. Or care, for that matter, that they really weren’t that far from the capital. Her father could dispatch a team of inspectors and soldiers at any point, if he wished.

They haven’t even cut the undergrowth back from the road, she thought, displeased. The King’s Roads were meant to allow horsemen and carriages to race from one side of the kingdom to the other. And they needed constant maintenance or else they would slow passage. Father will definitely not be pleased.

She looked behind her, again. There was still no sign of Jade. She smiled again, knowing that he would be miles ahead of the convoy. They’d have a chance to kiss, a little, before the mounted men caught up with them. It wasn’t something she’d ever seen herself doing in married life, but … Jade wasn’t the kind of man she’d expected to marry. She felt a sudden rush of affection for her husband – and her father, the man who’d accepted her choice. She knew too many princesses and noblewomen who’d been forced into unhappy marriages for reasons of state. Princes and noblemen had been forced to wed too – of course – but they had alternatives. No one cared – much – if a husband had a mistress, but a wife …?

We have to be sure who fathered the children, she reminded herself, sourly. It was just another grim reminder that, if her father had had a legitimate son, she would have been put out of the line of succession years ago. The nasty part of her mind wondered just what she would have done, if her father had had a son. Would I have accepted it? Or would I have cursed the child before he grew into a man.

The surge of magic caught her by surprise. She reacted instantly, drawing on her own magic to hurl herself into the air. Her riding skirt billowed around her, an instant before the horse ran straight into the spell and froze. A trap. She’d almost ridden straight into a trap. Another spell crackled past her, cast by someone on the ground. She shaped an attractor spell of her own, aiming it at the nearest treetop as her levitation spell failed. The tree seemed to bend, just for a second, before she was suddenly shooting towards it. She cancelled the spell an instant before she slammed into the wood, grabbing onto the branch before gravity could reassert itself and she started to fall.

She grinned, savagely, as she peered downwards. There were too many leaves and branches for her to actually see anything with the naked eye, but she could sense at least one sorcerer down on the ground. He didn’t appear to have very good control over his magic. Very few sorcerers would willingly show their full power to the world, which meant she was either dealing with an incompetent or someone too powerful for him to hide his full power. Or someone who wanted her to think he was one or the other.

The tree shook, violently. Alassa glanced up, sighted another treetop and cast a second attractor spell. She flew off the branch, yanked forward by an irresistible force. Jade had explained, in detail, precisely why the spell worked – and why balancing the weights was important – but Alassa didn’t care about the details. She wasn’t Emily, who’d happily spend an afternoon taking the spell apart to find out how and why it worked, then rewrite the spellware to suit herself. All Alassa cared about was how it could be used.

She cast a third spell as she flew through the air, latching on to a third tree. The magic balanced, allowing her to hang motionless in the air. Jade had told her that it was an old combat sorcerer trick, although he was the only combat sorcerer she’d seen use it. Even Master Grey hadn’t used it, in his final duel. But then, he’d been confined to the duelling circle. There had been no room to fly.

One of the spells snapped, cancelled by her unseen attacker. Alassa gasped as she hurled towards the other tree, catching herself an instant before it was too late. She grinned as she crawled around the tree trunk, moving from branch to branch. The sorcerer had assumed, no doubt, that she was levitating. He’d probably expected her to fall out of the air and land at his feet. But instead she’d been yanked out of the way.

She looked down, trying to peer through the leaves. The sorcerer would be able to sense her, she was sure. She couldn’t hide herself and use magic, not simultaneously. And yet, she could easily make her escape. Her fingers reached down and touched her shirt, where the baby was growing … if, indeed, there was a baby. She could turn herself into a bird and hide in the woods, or simply move from tree to tree until she crossed paths with Jade and her guards. It would be the smart thing to do …

Pulling her magic around her, she threw herself down towards the ground. Another spell shot past her, a moment too late. They were trying to capture her, then. A trained sorcerer had no shortage of options if he wanted her dead, rather than locked away in a hidden cell. Not someone who wanted to cause chaos, then. There weren’t that many factions that would come out ahead if King Randor was suddenly left without a heir. The list of suspects was long, but manageable.

She hit the ground, her magic cancelling her fall. Magic billowed out in all directions – she heard a male voice curse – as she landed, looking around quickly. Two men, both dressed as peasants, were forced back by her magic, holding up their hands to shield themselves. She snapped her fingers at them, casting a pair of transfiguration spells. They should have been transformed into frogs, but the magic snapped out of existence an instant before it touched their skins. Not sorcerers themselves, then … yet someone had given them protections. The list of suspects suddenly seemed a little shorter.

A hand fell on her upper arm, swinging her around. Another man stood there, leering down at her. Alassa felt a flicker of contempt as she threw a punch at his jaw, casting the force punch spell an instant before she made contact. The man’s head disintegrated under the force of the blow. She yanked herself free of his grip as his body collapsed, resisting the urge to kick him as hard as she could. What had he thought she was? A pampered princess who’d faint the moment she saw blood? Or a scared little girl who’d be too frightened of the big strong man to fight back? Or … there were women in the court who’d probably surrender at once, if someone grabbed their arm, but not her. She was a sorceress! Didn’t they know she was a sorceress?

She turned back to the other two men, glancing around for the sorcerer. Where was he? Had she landed on him? She didn’t think so, but she couldn’t see him anyway. And there was no time to reach out with her senses. The two men were advancing on her, carefully. One of them was holding a iron net, runes carved into the metal. A good trick, she acknowledged sourly. Once they had her pinned down, they’d be able to stun or drug her before they carried her deeper into the forest. Even Jade would have problems tracking them down before they reached their lair. And then they’d probably use her as leverage to make her father do whatever they wanted.

Hell, no, she thought.

Alassa took a step backwards, studying the men as they advanced. They didn’t seem to be angry that one – perhaps two – of their fellows had died, even though they were clearly a team. Professionals, then. Mercenaries? Or armsmen? They were definitely not peasants, whatever they might be wearing. Their clothes were too clean. It was a dead giveaway, even if they weren’t moving and acting like soldiers. The ambush had come far too close to outright success. It might still succeed.

Hell with that, she thought.

She cast another pair of spells, watching them flicker and die, then cast a kinetic spell on a tree branch. The two men didn’t look impressed as she pushed it at them, clearly not recognising the threat. A normal spell would fail the minute it struck their protections, dropping the branch to the ground, but Alassa hadn’t cast a normal spell. Emily had taught her something better, something guaranteed to take even a trained sorcerer by surprise. The spell might die, the moment it was cancelled, but the motion it had imparted to the tree branch would live on. She watched with grim satisfaction as it slammed into its targets, hurling them backwards. One of them hit a tree hard enough to break his neck. The other was badly wounded. It was a minor miracle that he’d survived.

A spell slammed into her back, throwing her to the ground. The sorcerer. She cursed her mistake as she hit the dirt, trying to force herself to move forward as another spell smashed her back down again. She’d forgotten him … how had she forgotten him? She twisted, fighting the power as it burned through her protections one by one. The sorcerer was bending over her, his face so indistinct that her eyes just seemed to slip over him. A glamour, then, a glamour so powerful that it had caused her to lose track of him altogether … until he’d attacked her.

The last of her protections started to die. She’d be helpless … panic yammered at the back of her mind, panic she ruthlessly suppressed. She forced herself to roll over, slipping the virgin blade from its sleeve and slashing out towards him. He was quick. He jerked back, so quickly that all she did was cut him. But it was enough. His glamour snapped, an instant before he staggered and fell. The poison on the blade was very quick. Only a trained alchemist could possibly have brewed an antidote and none of them could have brewed it in time to save the victim’s life. He tried to lift his hand, perhaps to cast one final spell, but it was already too late.

Alassa stood, returning the dagger to her sleeve and brushing the dirt off her clothes as she looked down at the dead body. The sorcerer was a complete stranger, somewhat to her relief. At least he wasn’t a graduate of Whitehall! But then, someone who’d been at the school would know better than to underestimate her. She glanced up and smiled as Jade’s horse cantered into the clearing, her magic crackling on the air. He’d sensed something, alright. And he’d pushed his horse with magic. The poor creature looked as though it was on the verge of collapse.

Lady Cecelia will not be pleased, Alassa thought, wryly. The Lady of the Stables was one of the most intimidating people in the castle. She’d been one of the very few people Alassa had respected and feared as a child. But he had no choice.

She grinned as Jade jumped off his horse. “What kept you?”

Jade stared back at her. “What happened?”

A dozen mischievous answers ran through Alassa’s mind, but she walked forward and kissed him instead. He kissed her back, hard. Someone had tried to kidnap her, but he’d failed … he’d failed completely. She pushed against him, feeling his muscles start to relax. She’d escaped. She wanted to celebrate …

Someone groaned. She jerked back, one hand reaching for the dagger. One of the attackers was still alive … badly wounded, mortally wounded, but alive. Jade walked towards him, motioning for her to stay back. Alassa followed, studying the wounded man carefully. His legs were a mangled mess and, judging from the way he was struggling to breathe, he had internal injuries too. A trained healer might be able to save him, but who’d want to waste effort trying? He’d committed an act of treason against his king!

She drew the dagger. “Answer my questions and I’ll give you a quick end,” she said. Emily would not approve, but Emily wasn’t the one who needed answers. Besides, there were no other ways to make him talk. No one would send armsmen or mercenaries out on a kidnap mission without making sure they couldn’t be forced to divulge information. The only way to get answers was to make the wounded man talk willingly. “If not … I’ll just leave you here.”

He looked back at her, his eyes filled with horror. There was no hope of survival. He knew it as well as she did. And being left behind … he might die quickly or he might be chewed to death by wild animals. The blood would draw foxes and wild boar to the clearing. Alassa wouldn’t have cared to face a boar, not without proper weapons or magic.

“I …”

He convulsed, sharply. Alassa started forward, but Jade caught her arm and pulled her backwards. The wounded man shuddered, then went limp and unmoving. Jade stepped forward and prodded him, not gently.

“A suicide spell,” he said, finally. “One designed to keep him from talking under any circumstances.”

And one he would have had to have accepted willingly, Alassa thought. It would have been a very complex spell. A simple one wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between being wounded and being tortured. Who are we facing?

Alassa reached out and took Jade’s hand, just for a moment. His warm grip was reassuring, even though she knew she should be worried. Someone had risked an ambush, within a few hours of Alexis. And even though the ambush had failed, the person behind it was still unknown. One of the Barons? Or one of the more radical factions? Or someone trying to cause trouble? Everyone knew the kingdom was on a knife-edge. An attack on the Crown Princess might just start a slide towards civil war.

She let go of Jade’s hand, stepping away from him and standing straighter as the guardsmen raced into the clearing, followed by the four carriages. Her personal bodyguards jumped off their horses, weapons raised … too late. She kicked herself, mentally. Too many people knew she had a habit of galloping off, leaving her husband and bodyguards behind. That piece of predictable behaviour had nearly gotten her kidnapped – or killed. Her father was not going to be pleased.

“Your Highness,” Sir William said. “Are you alright?”

Alassa looked back at him, evenly. Sir William was one of the very few senior knights – he was old enough to be her father – who didn’t appear to resent taking orders from a young woman. And he wasn’t scared of her magic either, as far as she could tell. That made him practically unique, around the court. But then, she had been a little monster when she’d come into her powers. And there was no way she could show weakness now. Too many older men saw her as a foolish female, someone who would allow either her hormones or her husband to guide her. She honestly wasn’t sure which one they found most objectionable.

Probably the prospect of Jade giving me orders, she thought. The unfairness burned in her gut. Even something as simple as holding Jade’s hand would be seen as a sign of weakness, while boys half her age could lead men and win renown on the battlefield. At least my hormones are aristocratic hormones.

She pushed the resentment out of her head. She was Crown Princess – and she would be Queen, in time. The kingdom would be hers until she died, whereupon it would be passed down to her eldest child. That was all that mattered.

“Put the bodies in the carriage,” she ordered. She carefully didn’t answer his question. It wasn’t one he would have asked a man. “We’ll see if we can identify them when we get home.”

“Of course, Your Highness,” Sir William said.

“I don’t recognise any of the bastards,” Jade said, as the troopers hurried to obey. “Not even the sorcerer.”

Alassa nodded, stiffly. There were thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of sorcerers in the Nameless World – and not all of them went to school. The bastard who’d set the ambush could have studied at Mountaintop or Stronghold or … he might simply have been taught by his parents. There was no guarantee that an investigation would turn up his name, let alone whoever had hired him. The unknown backers had worked hard to ensure they wouldn’t be fingered by their servants.

“We’ll find out,” she promised. Anger burned within her, demanding retribution. Someone had tried to kidnap her, to turn her into a pawn in their game. “And then we’ll kill them.”

Sir William stamped back to her. “The bodies have been stowed, Your Highness,” he said, curtly. “I suggest we move.”

Alassa looked at her horse. The poor beast was lying on the ground, dead. Whatever spell had been used to freeze the beast had snapped during the brief fight – or, perhaps, the sorcerer had killed the horse, just to make sure she couldn’t jump on and flee. He definitely hadn’t known her very well, had he?

“Give me one of the spare horses,” she ordered. She was aware of Jade shifting behind her, but deliberately didn’t look at him. “The rider can stay in the carriage.”

Sir William looked, just for a moment, as if he wanted to protest. Alassa didn’t blame him, not really. He would be in deep shit when they got home, if only for letting her get so far ahead of him that she’d run into an ambush and had to fight her way out by herself. Jade was equally guilty, but Jade was Prince Consort. There was literally no one else to blame.

But I won’t let them put me out of the way, either, Alassa thought. They wouldn’t tell a king or a prince to hide.

“As you command, Your Highness,” Sir William said. “Shall we go?”

Alassa nodded. Jade was not going to be pleased, but he’d keep his thoughts to himself until they were alone. And then … they’d argue, they’d fight, and then they’d make up. She definitely couldn’t wait.

“Yes, Sir William,” she said. “We shall go.”

71 Responses to “Alassa’s Tale–Snippet”

  1. Linda Thompson October 15, 2017 at 10:56 am #

    Lovely.. can’t wait..

  2. Michael October 15, 2017 at 11:21 am #

    Wicked!!! It starts now! Good stuff!

    • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

      Well, not for a while. But it will start soon.

      Chris

  3. Hamilton Elliott October 15, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    It looks good!

  4. Daniel October 15, 2017 at 1:50 pm #

    Feel better, I’m fighting a nasty cold too. I like it. The style is different. Getting a glimpse inside Allassa s head is nice. And this could be a good story

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm #

    Looks Good!

  6. FarWalker October 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    A good beginning. Looking forward to seeing how strong she is both as a person and magically. Get better soon. Colds are never fun.

  7. Jensebaum October 15, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

    Looks very nice! Just one minor thing: Allassa is thinking about hormones? Does the Nameless World even know what that is? Seems a little too advanced.
    Speedy recovery!

    • Craig October 15, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

      She has been friends with Emily for a while now and most likely had had boy talks so its not so far fetched that Emily to have brought up and explained the concept even if Allassa did not really understand it at a fundamental level. Honestly i don’t think many people on earth truly understand hormones either. I think most peeps treat is like nanites small invisible magic biology things.

      • Pyo October 15, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

        Yeah, maybe if she was just thinking this about herself, but her thoughts are more a portrayal of how older men see her, and there wouldn’t be this “women can’t do politics because their hormones make them all emotionally unstable” yaddayadda rubbish in a world that has no concept of hormones. They’d use some more outdated expression saying the same thing instead, and I don’t think that’s something Alassa would casually adapt in her own private thoughts 😉

      • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

        It’s something of a problem – if I use a word someone from that sort of world would use, readers won’t understand . On the other hand, using something more modern reads as out-of-place.

        Chris

  8. Roxanne Piotrowski October 15, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

    “Peasants rather bothered to think about their betters.” I was thoroughly engrossed, but here is one for your editors…”rarely” instead of “rather”.

    • Barb Caffrey October 15, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

      We’ll help him, I promise, Roxanne. (I saw it. I’m one of his editors.) When the time comes, though…don’t want him to hear Editor Voice too loudly too early, as that can shut even the most prolific writer down.

      • Roxanne Piotrowski October 16, 2017 at 6:39 am #

        Ah, very wise.

    • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

      Sigh.

      Thanks

      Chris

    • PuffinMuffin October 17, 2017 at 1:37 am #

      I noticed one or two other “I would not do/say thats.” But the idea is interesting.

  9. G October 15, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

    Great Story–can’t wait! One minor note–Alassa doesn’t have anywhere near the combat training of Jade or Emily–should her reaction to the ambush be instantaneous?

    • Wazman October 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

      Don’t forget that she had taken Defensive magic in her fourth/last year at Whitehall. It’s a sure bet that Jade has also taught her how to defend herself he after all is a trained combat wizard. It might even be interesting scene were she and Jade are practicing together in a spell chamber.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 15, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

        Agree.

        Of course, I suspect she got a greater interest in learning to “defend herself” after the rebel attack after her wedding.

    • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

      She’s had a lot of private training from Jade (and she’s a lot quicker on the draw than Emily – better to get out first and sort out the mess later.)

      Chris

      • Stuart the Viking October 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

        I suspect Alassa also doesn’t have the same compunctions against killing that Emily has that would make Emily pause.

        Not saying that Alassa is blood thirsty or anything, she just has a different background where people’s lives are valued differently. Where Emily grew up, killing someone was a HUGE thing. Unless under extreme circumstances (that most people in our world have trouble believing can actually happen to them) killing someone for any reason is a very strong societal taboo. It doesn’t stop Emily from killing if she HAS to, but it does make it harder for her to do.

        Alassa on the other hand was raised in a world where the life of anyone threatening the life/safety of the princess would automatically be forfeit, and that would widely be considered as normal and right.

      • chrishanger October 29, 2017 at 8:20 am #

        That is very true.

        Chris

  10. Rhino October 15, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    Any hints as to Princess in the Tower. Heart’s Eye is so intriguing

  11. Jared October 15, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    Interesting, I was expecting her to be kidnaped. LOL but she’s tougher then I knew, but not smarter. She’s acting in a typically femal fashion. It’s unfair to be treated as a woman. So she rides off and gets into trouble as if it’s just horrible to stay with your bodyguards. LOL
    I can’t wait to read the this!!

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 15, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

      Well, David Weber wrote about a Prince who wanted to go hunting without his bodyguards.

      Fortunately, the head of his bodyguards didn’t let him. 😉

      Seriously, I don’t see “leaving her bodyguards behind” as “just being a woman” but it’s the “standard” young noble/royal wanting to escape one of the burdens of rank. 😀

      • Jared October 15, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

        Ture enough, but with her country in turmoil, on the bring of civil war you would think she would be more cautious. After all she want to be queen.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 15, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

        Didn’t say that it was “the Smart Thing To Do”. 😆

      • Pyo October 15, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

        There’s entire novels centered around the concept. Sometimes they are well done, but most of the time it just feels infuriating as the protagonist needlessly endangers not only themselves but also the ones trying to protect them (even worse, it usually works out alright ^^).

    • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

      It’s a bit harder for her.

      On one hand, she knows she should stay with her bodyguards; on the other, she knows that it will be taken as a sign of weakness, not something she can allow when she intends to be a ruling queen. She just doesn’t have anything like as much leeway as a man.

      Chris

  12. G October 15, 2017 at 8:23 pm #

    What’s interesting is the contrast between Alassa and Emily–Alassa assumes it’s her right to have power over others, Emily (according to Chris) is deeply uncomfortable and doesn’t believe she should have power over others…For future character development, Alassa needs to accept the rights of others and Emily needs to grow to accept and utilize the fact that she has considerable power…

    • Wazman October 15, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

      That is a very good point and I hope that Chris continues to explore it.

    • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

      Yep. They’re very different people

      • G October 23, 2017 at 2:16 am #

        In your plotting out The Princess in the Tower, you might want to have a few scenes showing just how much Emily has changed since she left Zangaria in Wedding Hells–in terms of power, skill, and maturity–and don’t rely on tricks such as the battery…

  13. Dani October 15, 2017 at 9:55 pm #

    Should SiM be classified as young-adult fiction? I’ve been meaning to ask, and this snippet reminded me. It feels like YA fiction – not just because the main protagonist is coming of age, but also there are elements of the writing style that are typical of YA fiction. (YA fiction does not typically “talk down” to the reader, but it has a reduced level of ambiguity and complexity.) It feels like YA fiction, but I’m guessing the people who read these books are older.

    • FarWalker October 15, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

      Not just for YA readers. Chris’s stuff is for all ages and education levels. For example, I’m 62 years old. I have a PhD in biochemistry and I am a patent attorney litigating patents in the states. I have read most of his books because they are good stories and enjoyable reads.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 15, 2017 at 11:12 pm #

      IIRC it’s classified as YA but can be read by 60+ adults. 😉

      • Jared October 16, 2017 at 12:30 am #

        I’m nowhere near 60 but I do enjoy reading all kinds of books!!

    • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

      I’m trying to appeal to several different groups, really .

      Chris

  14. Barb Caffrey October 15, 2017 at 10:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on Barb Caffrey's Blog and commented:
    I loved this, and just had to share it…enjoy!

  15. Bryce October 16, 2017 at 1:58 am #

    It is great I cannot wait to read the rest I take it that it will be out in January or February.

    • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

      Probably.

      I’m not sure how we’re going to publish it yet. Maybe as an ebook first, then bundle it with the paperback of TPOTT.

      Chris

      • Wazman October 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

        Speaking of paperback books the last one for SIM was Past Tense. Any estimate on when the other books will be available in print? I have a family friend that loved fantasy novels but avoids technology like the plague.

      • chrishanger October 29, 2017 at 8:23 am #

        November 15, if all goes well.

        Chris

  16. PhilippeO October 16, 2017 at 4:12 am #

    Nice ! waiting to read this.

  17. georgephillies October 16, 2017 at 4:28 am #

    I could wish I were 60 again. But it won’t work.

    For hormones, read “humors”. A girl’s humors are unbalanced. Perhaps they will propose treating this by bleeding her from the correct blood vessel.

    Her father will lock her in the tower because she has proven she is an idiot who should perhaps be disinherited.

    • G October 16, 2017 at 7:40 am #

      Any bets that King Randor is behind the attempted assasination?? If Alassa is killed by an unknown enemy, he can declare his illegitamite son heir, move to strip Emily of her tittle, and none of Alassa’s friends, allies, or husband will have cause to move against him…whereas if he eventually grows frustrated, and opts for plan B, moving to arrest her, he’ll have a combat sorcerer husband, all his friends, all Alassa’s friends including Emily out for his blood…unless he waits until their engaged in battle elsewhere…say with Fulvia??

  18. Big Ben October 16, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    Great beginning.
    The only thing I’d worry about is characters who never grow up. Adolescent immaturity and childish foibles are okay in small doses, but by every logical measure Alassa should have outgrown such impulses by now.
    Especially if she believes she’s pregnant at this point. Galloping off at full speed and leaving her husband and protection detail behind is so irresponsible that her father should disinherit her. Chris writes about how the road gets bumpy and the horse nearly stumbles in a pothole.
    What mother-to-be would do something so reckless on a whim?
    I hope she grows up fast in this story, or I’ll lose interest quickly. A whole story about a immature spoiled brat who says “woe is me” every other paragraph does not appeal.

    • chrishanger October 16, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

      One who dares not have people think of her as a weak and foolish woman.

      Alassa is in a place where any sign of weakness, even if it is something no one would think twice about if it came from her father, would be used against her. Charging off on horseback looks stupid to us, but to her it’s a way of saying she doesn’t need Jade and/or her bodyguards (and really, it wouldn’t get any prince in trouble as long as he didn’t get himself seriously hurt or killed.)

      This isn’t a place where the boss can get ill for a while, then resume control when he recovers. This is somewhere where an illness could see her lose her grip completely … and power, along with it. Most people expect Jade to dominate her (that’s why the barons were so unhappy about one of them possibly winning her hand, because the others would be in trouble), perhaps even to rule the country through her. She can’t let Jade boss her around openly (he wouldn’t) and she can’t let people think she does either.

      Basically, any hint of traditional female ‘weaknesses’ would be used against her. It’s a very sexist society.

      Chris

    • Jensebaum October 16, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

      Also, don’t forget that Alassa is a capable magician. Falling from horeseback is unlikely to do more than annoy her, and she mentiones several times how close they are already to the capital, in other words: Deep in her own territory. Between that and her magic, it’s not a far fetched assumption for her, that she can ride ahead without unreasonable risk.

      • Pyo October 17, 2017 at 2:16 am #

        But doesn’t it still portray here as an impulsive, foolish woman, exactly what she wants to avoid?

        Taking charge by commanding her people to form up etc and then proceeding in a thought-through manner seems better suited to dismiss such charges 😉

      • Kell October 17, 2017 at 4:05 am #

        If she were a man this kind of a behavior would be taken as bravado In there macho society. And that’s the point. Staying safe with her body guards was wise safe and therefore can be construed as womanish weak. To us it seems wise but this is a different culture. Alssa is trying to go against gender roles

      • Tom S. October 18, 2017 at 8:20 pm #

        @Pyro,

        Don’t forget that the “impulsive, foolish woman” is a stereotype of our own society. It may not exist in the Nameless World, or may be expressed in a different fashion.

        It’s very easy for the “foolish woman” stereotype to exist in societies were women are, as a matter of course, denied access to education. While we can’t speak for the non-magical, the prevalence of female students at magical schools suggests that the upper-class has no compunctions with educating its daughters. With such a visible subset of the female population being educated, I’d wager that non-magical women of sufficient rank receive comparable mundane educations as well.

        In any case, female mages would probably go a long way towards combating some of these stereotypes. But Alassa isn’t just a female mage. She’s a princess, who will eventually be queen. Kings aren’t just leaders of their kingdoms; they’re symbols. And we tend to think of symbols in romantic terms. We praise them, polish them, and hold them up high. Alassa isn’t being compared to “women” or “men” in general. She’s likely not even being compared to her father to a degree; rather, she’s being compared to the platonic ideal of what a king should be.

        If you look at the literature on business and political leaders today, you’ll see that there’s a massive amount of research to support the idea that we view decisiveness positively and that it tends to motivate others. Even if it later turns out to be incorrect. History has plenty of examples of kings and princes leading their men on the battlefield, making decisions that get themselves injured or killed, but wind up honored or well-respected for it. There’s a reason why people say confidence is appealing.

        Stopping and organizing her retinue is a rational response if you suspect a trap ahead. But if people are looking for *anything* they can use to criticize your ability to lead, it’s also easily twisted. Instead of stopping and waiting for reinforcements so you can encircle your opponents for a tactical victory, it can be twisted to suggest that you needed to stop and take your time to figure out an obvious solution. Or that you couldn’t handle a simple ambush on your own, even if doing so is tactically foolish. At the very least, triggering the ambush on your own risks someone getting away, potentially depriving the Kingdom of actionable intelligence.

        It sounds as though Alassa’s fighting against three problems: some general attitudes towards women to whatever extent they exist, ridiculous standards and myths of what a king should be, and probably her reputation from before she met Emily. The same reputation that her enemies (or even just political rivals) would have had years to massage into something more damning. The end result of either (or both) is that she’s held to an incredibly high standard, and is forced to avoid doing anything that could possibly be used against her.

        She may very well be criticized for impulsiveness. But that’s an easier charge to defend against than timidity or cowardice. Even if it didn’t fit her personality, she’d probably find herself jumping feet first when give the chance. If there’s a problem, all the better assuming she survives fighting her way through it. That just means she’s *P*owerful.

        Basically, it’s not about a rational analysis of her tactics.

      • Pyo October 19, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

        That foolish woman thing is mentioned in the snippet:
        “Too many older men saw her as a foolish female, someone who would allow either her hormones or her husband to guide her.”

        My issue is mostly … how to put it? Throughout the series, is feel that this type of stuff is often way too railroaded. Too one-sided.

        The very fact that we’re discussing it shows that people have different opinions on these things. But it occasionally feels, when necessary for the plot, so to speak, as if the novels operate on a strict “if A does X, then everybody will think Y”. Also, that people operate pretty strictly on their social codes. But that’s not anything that ever happened at any point of human history (read some diaries from the Japanese Imperial court or whatever you see as the ultimate conservative society – not even those were ever entirely one-dimensional). Like nowadays, people are hypocrites, people are irrational, they say one thing and do another, profess to believe in something while ignoring that in some areas they do the complete opposite, and so on.

        All that, plus realistically I can’t imagine Alassa ever convincing patriarchal chauvinists and political enemies of anything. It seems pointless to cater to them. It’s kinda like trying to convince a racist that racism is wrong by being a successful foreigner. All that’ll do is make them feel threatened.
        So might as well convince those who are actually still capable of being convinced. And she isn’t going to convince those of her capabilities by being rash.

        Well, at least that’s kinda how I see these things. ^^

      • Kell October 21, 2017 at 6:31 am #

        Pyo Its true what you said whatever she does people will think something about it. Its like there’s no good answer. You said that Alassa shouldn’t cater to them and your right so Alassa doesn’t. Alassa went ahead of her guards because she wanted too. Thats her character. She wants to go fast? She will go fast. She knows people will either see her as rash foolish wise or timid. Well whatever she does she wants to look tough. What I want to say is her rational makes sense to her if not to us.
        There is a part of her that is still naive about the world. She thinks the assassination attempt was an anomal. Despite all of Emilys warnings she doesn’t get emotionally that people want and can bring down the monarchy.
        Peasents can’t do that. I think in this book Alasse is going to be brought up short with reality both with her father and the kingdom. Im glad that chris is going to pull in Alassa’s perspective cause she has a lot of growing up to do.

  19. Vapori October 16, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    I like the difference in fighting style between Emily and Alassa. I doubt that Emily would have much nerve for such a trick. But then Allassa was early on described as the one with more athletic prowess. And she played Ken for a long time.
    Might she be a bit stronger then she should be thanks to her bloodline?

    • G October 16, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

      Your style of fighting is dictated by your strengths & weaknesses. Emily has more raw power than Alassa–she also isn’t the heir to Zangaria. Emily was trained by Sergeant Miles that flying/levitating was dangerous because you could get knocked out of the sky–she was trained to stand and fight under battle conditions going into the air if necessary but otherwise staying on offense, ducking or taking hits on her shields. Alassa was trained to get out of danger at the first opportunity and minimize her personal risk. Had the enemy magician had the power to cast a general cancellation spell, and not just one specific to levitating, Alassa would have come crashing down…

      • Jared October 16, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

        Well said,

      • chrishanger October 29, 2017 at 8:21 am #

        No, she would have kept flying – with a LOT less control – and eventually smacked into a tree. (Not ideal, but better than falling.)

        Chris

  20. Robin Sebelova October 17, 2017 at 12:13 am #

    Rather than “Peasants rather bothered” I´d use “rarely”, otherwise – Interesting indeed.

  21. Kell October 17, 2017 at 4:07 am #

    Alassa is for a rude awakening soon avout hwr betters.

  22. Anita October 20, 2017 at 4:06 am #

    Other then the use of the word “Hormones”, I found it a very exciting snippet and am interesting in reading what you come up with for the rest.
    >>It’s something of a problem – if I use a word someone from that sort of world would use, readers won’t understand . On the other hand, using something more modern reads as out-of-place. <<
    This statement is kind of demeaning to your readers. Your mature readers are going to automatically look it up if they don’t know the word and your young readers need to develop the habit so their reading vocabulary expands.

    But there are other words that would be more relevant to the world and society that you’ve created that all level of readers would know and understand ….

    Hysterics, histrionics, vapors, fits, weaknesses … etc …. but none of those really fit that sentence without some additional changes, actually the part about Hormones “ …. either her hormones or” could be deleted and not loose the meaning of the sentence

    If Emily had mentioned Hormones to Alassa, I doubt if she could have explained what hormones are well enough so that Alassa really understood and adapted her thinking to include hormones. Hormones have really become a catch phrase without many people truly understanding what they are and how they effect a person.

    As this isn’t the first time that I’ve seen a real world reference in one of your books that couldn’t possibly have come from the world that you’ve created I am surprise that none of your editors have called you on it. If they haven’t they need to step up their game a bit, I can see where it is easy to slip up when feverishly writing the story that’s in your head, which is why there is an editing process.

  23. Rolf Hansen October 22, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    Can’t wait for the book!

  24. Bman October 22, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

    I think this story is a great way to juxtapose the growth of both Emily and Alassa. While Alassa is definitely more ruthless than Emily and quicker to use force to achieve her goals I think it is important that the story bear in mind and reflect that Alassa is nowhere near as powerful, experienced or as capable as the battle hardened combat veteran that Emily has become over the course of five years of almost non-stop fighting (even if Emily herself is unaware just how strong she is as was noted previously).

    I think that Alassa’s growth should be show in the acceptance of the changing world and grievances of those she considers beneath her. While she seems to remain somewhat clueless of how strong the common people can become by their sheer mass I think the realization will serve her well. It would also feed well into Emily’s own story of growth as Emily herself comes to accept how strong she has become and the role that only she she can play in getting the Allied Lands to come together to face the coming storm.

    It also is good to see from Alassa’s perspective just how Emily has affected her, others and the world around her as the only real narrative in the series thus far has been Emily herself as a good way to get away from Emily’s self-effacement and demonstrate how some people truly respect, admire, and even love her (maybe show Alassa as a bit jealous of the popularity and respect afforded to Emily over the royal family). Though as this is Alassa’s Tale the focus should remain on Alassa herself

    I would also rebuke those who criticized Emily for not becoming more like the natives. The approach from the people of the nameless world failed misersably so going native is not an option for Emily if she wishes to succeed in the conflicts to come. I said before in the beta forums that there is no one in the Allied Lands who can be blind trusted in a forest fire or firefight, or to put their fellows and friends before their own self-interest.

    • G November 2, 2017 at 5:59 am #

      Emily doesn’t have to lose her earth perspective, but after 6 years in the nameless world, and traveling from the Cairngorms to Zangaria to Beneficience, she should have developed an understanding of its culture and her own power in it…

      • Bman November 3, 2017 at 3:12 am #

        She probably understands it intellectually but it goes right back to her traumatized upbringing and introverted personality that she doesn’t actually believe it as she spent so much time powerless. This is coupled with the fact that she has gone through such a power jump, not just personally but in terms of what she can actually do in the Nameless World. If you think about it with the combination of her nuclear knowledge and her control of nexus points she effectively could dominate the world if she chose. Going from powerless victim to near godlike would be a stretch for even a well-adjusted person let alone a young girl suffering from PTSD. Also some people who go abroad for example never really get over the culture shock regardless of time spent. Now take that feeling of culture shock and ramp it up to a place which doesn’t even have the history of blending cultures between nations like Earth does and you get a place that is fundamentally different in the way it thinks and you are effective cut loose from one of your personality’s most important anchors, your cultural context. Even so I think that Emily’s acceptance of what you describe plays a decisive part in the conclusion of the story

  25. Wazman November 2, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Emily lose her copy of the chat parchment that linked her with everyone in their Quarrel. From the fire that took place in Fist of Justice.

    Speaking of their Quarrel did they ever select a name for it? I think it would be appropriate that it was named ‘Destiny’ or something similar. For starts it would be a subtle poke at Emily’s expense.

    Are we going to see more about this Quarrel too?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 2, 2017 at 10:09 pm #

      IIRC There were only chat-pads for individuals not for the group.

      Oh, while Emily’s chat-pads were destroyed, she’s gotten replacements for them.

      • chrishanger November 3, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

        They’re not hard to replace , just a bit of a headache because everyone needs to be together.

        Chris

      • Wazman November 4, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

        @ Paul IIRC in LLW while they were still at Whitehall Aloha provides the chat parchment for the group herself, Emily, Alyassa, Jade, Imagiah, and the Gorgon.

        While it would be difficult to replace I really don’t think she would have the time or the energy to replace it. Because after FoG she was a rather involved cram session with Lady Bard and Sgt Miles to prep for her fifth year exams. Even if she had thought to take a break and meet the others somewhere to replace it Lady Barb wouldn’t have allowed it.

        Besides if she would have had it Emily would have been asking her friends especially from Aloha about being Head Girl. Granted Aloha would have been busy herself with her apprenticeship.

        Question for Chris did they select a name for their Quarrel?

  26. Lorex December 11, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

    Hey I just finished Graduation day and am looking forward to the nest story and this seems like a good lead in.

    I think Alassa was a little foolish riding off so far in advance of the party but she can clearly take care of herself. There were 4 men lying dead at her feet and another in horrible shape. I think her father might reprimand her for not being cautious enough but I imagine he will understand as he was once in her position as heir. Jade and Sir William will probably get more than an earful from the king though.

    As the Schooled in Magic series is mostly from Emily’s perspective it will be interesting to see things from Alassa’s perspective. Aside from Emily she has had to most character development in the series transitioning from the spoiled brat princess to the more mature crown princess. Add to that she is now a wife and with motherhood on the horizon she had more room to grow in the future.

    Alassa has grown on me over the series. From the beginning I don’t think she was meant to be to the most likable but over time that changed. Now she is one of my favorite characters. In the last few books there is a lot of foreshadowing of potential trouble in Zangaria from civil unrest, aristocratic political intrigue and the Kings potential mental instability. Looking forward to what is coming nexrt

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