Snippet from Book One

Posted: January 26th, 2010 under Contents.
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This close to the release date, it’s only fair to give you a snippet you’ll soon be seeing in context.   In fact, two separated by only a paragraph or two in the book itself.    They’re both about horses,  and one has Paks as seen from the outside, not as POV.

Location: Chaya in Lyonya

Kieri, Paks, and two of Kieri’s Squires have been chatting; Paks has exercised his gray warhorse  for him that morning, and has handed the horse’s lead back to him.  One of the Squires, Astil, offers to take the horse….

But as Astil reached for the lead, the horse threw up his head and snorted.

“He’s used to me,” Kieri said.  “And he’s trained for war.”

“A gray,” murmured Panin, who had said least so far.  “You know they’re high-strung, Astil.”

Kieri sensed some bias he needed to know.  Stroking the horse’s neck, he said “Grays are high-strung?”

“Everyone knows that,” Panin said.  “They’re air and water–unstable, changeable, capricious.  Earth-fire horses, like that–” he nodded at Paks’s horse, standing like a statue, ears forward and only little puffs of vapor coming from its nostrils in the cool air.  “They’re much steadier.”


“Do you need me, sir king?” Paks asked.

“No,” he said, hoping she meant only “for the present” but knowing he must say the same if she was leaving forever.

“Then I’ll let this fellow stretch his legs,” she said.  Some signal passed from her to the red horse, or the horse took it on himself to disprove the Squires’ beliefs, for he pranced in place, half-reared, then wheeled, and bolted flat out back up the Royal Ride, wet divots spraying up behind him.

“She rides like a horse nomad,” Panin said.

“She rides like a paladin,” Kieri said.  “Horse nomads would worship her as the Windsteed’s bride, if they saw her on that horse.”


Kieri will learn that both humans and elves associate animal colors with temperament and with either elven or human compatibility…this is his first hint.  In Tsaia,  grays are not thought to be flighty–the Royal Guard heavy horses are in fact all gray and he’s ridden grays of Marrakai breeding since his first independent contract with the Tsaian crown, when that Duke Marrakai forced his son to give up his horse to this “upstart” mercenary captain.   (He’s also had bays and chestnuts, of course, but he’s always had at least one gray.  Of course he was also half-elven and didn’t know it, but none of those riding Tsaian Grays were half-elven.

Horse-breeding cultures invariably have beliefs about the meaning of a horse’s color and markings, so it was fun to use that here.

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