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October 26, 2017

#JeffeKennedyEvent: #Excerpt The Pages of the Mind (The Uncharted Realms #1) by @JeffeKennedy #Giveaway

 
I hope you enjoy this yummy excerpt 



An Orphan's Throne

Magic has broken free over the Twelve Kingdoms. The population is beset by shapeshifters and portents, landscapes that migrate, uncanny allies who are not quite human…and enemies eager to take advantage of the chaos. 

Dafne Mailloux is no adventurer--she's a librarian. But the High Queen trusts Dafne's ability with languages, her way of winnowing the useful facts from a dusty scroll, and even more important, the subtlety and guile that three decades under the thumb of a tyrant taught her. 

Dafne never thought to need those skills again. But she accepts her duty. Until her journey drops her into the arms of a barbarian king. He speaks no tongue she knows but that of power, yet he recognizes his captive as a valuable pawn. Dafne must submit to a wedding of alliance, becoming a prisoner-queen in a court she does not understand. If she is to save herself and her country, she will have to learn to read the heart of a wild stranger. And there are more secrets written there than even Dafne could suspect…






Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. She lives in Santa Fe, with two Maine Coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and a Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Jeffe can be found online at JeffeKennedy.com, or every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog.

CHAPTER 1
When histories tell of the glorious dawning of a new era, they typically focus on the grand events — wars won, tyrants deposed, glittering coronations. Much waving of pennants and joyous shouting.
The duller truth is that — even though those histories are usually written by people like myself, the humble, nearly invisible keepers of the books — they never mention what consumes the most monumental effort.
Paperwork.
Really, can you blame us?
Since I'd returned to Castle Ordnung, to serve the new High Queen Ursula as her councilor in the wake of her father Uorsin's death, it seemed I'd done nothing but record keeping. From the smallest details of ticking off the lists of supplies for restoring the much-depleted resources at the seat of the High Throne, to looking up laws new and old — from niggling to sweeping — to keeping notes during the many interminable meetings, I sometimes felt I might be buried under the avalanche of books, scrolls, and parchments.
Not that I minded, exactly. It was my calling and practically only useful skill. I possessed neither magic, nor beauty, nor warrior skills, but I was a demon on documents.
More, seeing Ursula on the throne at last fulfilled a lifelong ambition of mine. Death to the tyrant. Long live the High Queen. She would be a fair and honorable ruler, if I had to make sure of it myself.
The thing I'd learned about realizing lifelong ambitions? Once you're there, life doesn't end. Neither, apparently, did the long hours and paperwork. Fortunately the avalanche of work kept me mostly too busy to think about it.
Or about the dire prophecy the sorceress Queen Andromeda — Ursula's sister — had told me just over a month before of the threat that loomed following the coronation. She'd sworn me to secrecy, then gave me practically nothing to go on.
There are four men, exotically armored. Tall, broad, and fair-haired. Ursula crowned, on her throne. I don't know them, but they are Dasnarians, not Vervaldr. In the great hall at Ordnung.
Not dire in and of itself, but the prospect had troubled her deeply. The only other hint she gave me was to tell me to have things in order. I was doing my utmost, though the chaos of a new reign made it no simple task.
Which is why I found myself searching for the High Queen in the early morning hours, so she could sign off on a set of sensitive declarations. The messengers were poised to depart to the far reaches of the Twelve Kingdoms — now Thirteen, in the wake of Ursula's inadvertent magical acquisition of Annfwn and subsequent treaty with King Rayfe and Queen Andromeda. We'd met until late, arguing the finer points; then I'd spent the night composing the actual text. The messengers should have gone hours ago, but I didn't like for the missives to go out without Her Majesty's final approval.
For form, I checked her rooms first, not at all surprised to find them empty. She would of course be out on the practice grounds, running her sword forms with her Hawks before court. Some things didn't change, no matter what else had.
I had the one correct — she was working out — but not on the practice grounds.
I'd taken the shortcut from Her Majesty's rooms, through the arcade open only in warm weather. Not for many more weeks. The chill of winter stung the air, promising heavy snows to come, if not that day, then soon. The ring of blades clashing echoed through the dimness, Glorianna's sun lightening the sky but not yet high enough to bring warmth. I found the High Queen with Harlan in her favored private courtyard off the family wing. She'd long been one of the few to use the walled garden. By tacit agreement, most in the castle left her to it. Probably we should make it her private space, as she had little enough of that. I made a mental note to pass the word on it.
I disliked intruding when she'd clearly chosen to be away from everyone. Thus I hesitated in the shadows of the arcade, torn between discretion and the urgency of my errand, then fascinated by the scene.
They'd been at it a while, as they both glistened with sweat. She moved fast, with the grace of a dancer, like a fluid blade herself. Harlan, a Dasnarian mercenary, her lover and probably twice her weight, took perhaps one step for every three or four of hers, fending her off with his massive broadsword as she sought to penetrate his guard, spinning in and out again, moving under his strikes with such narrow escapes that my heart felt like it thumped in my throat and I had to relax my tightening fingers to keep from bunching the scroll I held.
Completely and utterly focused on each other, they moved in sync, a study in synchronicity and opposition. For all that they attempted to best each other, they seemed to be two halves of one whole. Harlan laughed, a deep, sensual sound. "Come closer and try that again, little hawk."
And Ursula laughed with him, sounding carefree as I rarely heard her, her smile fiercely exultant. "You wish, rabbit."
"I do wish."
Abruptly, I became excruciatingly aware of seeing something I should not. As if I'd walked in on them in sex play. Which, it became more apparent, this was, in its own way. They circled, tested, and teased each other, their bodies speaking in a profound harmony of visceral intention.
Definitely intruding, urgent timing or no. I took a step, intending to flee.










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