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1 Burnside Science Fiction and Fantasy- A to Z

The Hallowed Hunt

by

The Hallowed Hunt Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter One
The Prince was dead.

Since the king was not, no unseemly rejoicing dared show in the faces of the men atop the castle gate. Merely, Ingrey thought, a furtive relief. Even that was extinguished as they watched Ingrey's troop of riders clatter under the gate's vaulting into the narrow courtyard. They recognized who he was — and, therefore, who must have sent him.

Ingrey's sweat grew clammy under his leather jerkin in the damp dullness of the autumn morning. The chill seemed cupped within the cobbled yard, funneled down by the whitewashed walls. The lightly armed courier bearing the news had raced from the prince's hunting seat here at Boar's Head Castle to the hallow king's hall at Easthome in just two days. Ingrey and his men, though more heavily equipped, had made the return journey in scarcely more time. As a castle groom scurried to take his horse's bridle, Ingrey swung down and straightened his scabbard, fingers lingering only briefly on the reassuring coolness of his sword hilt.

The late Prince Boleso's housemaster, Rider Ulkra, appeared around the keep from wherever he'd been lurking when Ingrey's troop had been spied climbing the road. Stout, usually stolid, he was breathless now with apprehension and hurry. He bowed. "Lord Ingrey. Welcome. Will you take drink and meat?"

"I've no need. See to these, though." He gestured to the half dozen men who followed him. The troop's lieutenant, Rider Gesca, gave him an acknowledging nod of thanks, and Ulkra delivered men and horses into the hands of the castle servants.

Ingrey followed Ulkra up the short flight of steps to the thickplanked main doors. "What have you done so far?"

Ulkra lowered his voice. "Waited for instructions." Worry scored his face; the men in Boleso's service were not long on initiative at the best of times. "Well, we moved the body into the cool. We could not leave it where it was. And we secured the prisoner."

What sequence, for this unpleasant inspection? "I'll see the body first," Ingrey decided.

"Yes, my lord. This way. We cleared one of the butteries."

They passed through the cluttered hall, the fire in its cavernous fieldstone fireplace allowed to burn low, the few red coals halfhidden in the ashes doing nothing to improve the discomfort of the chamber. A shaggy deerhound, gnawing a bone on the hearth, growled at them from the shadows. Down a staircase, through a kitchen where a cook and scullions fell silent and made themselves small as they passed, down again into a chilly chamber ill lit by two small windows high in the rocky walls.

The little room was presently unfurnished but for two trestles, the boards laid across them, and the sheeted shape that lay silently upon the boards. Reflexively, Ingrey signed himself, touching forehead, lip, navel, groin, and heart, spreading his hand over his heart: one theological point for each of the five gods. Daughter-Bastard-Mother-Father-Son. And where were all of You when this happened?

As Ingrey waited for his eyes to adjust to the shadows, Ulkra swallowed, and said, "The hallow king — how did he take the news?"

"It is hard to say," said Ingrey, with politic vagueness. "Sealmaster Lord Hetwar sent me."

"Of course."

Ingrey could read little in the housemaster's reaction, except the obvious, that Ulkra was glad to be handing responsibility for this on to someone else. Uneasily, Ulkra folded back the pale cloth covering his dead master. Ingrey frowned at the body.

Prince Boleso kin Stagthorne had been the youngest of the hallow king's surviving — of the hallow king's sons, Ingrey corrected his thought in flight. Boleso was still a young man, for all he had come to his full growth and strength some years ago. Tall, muscular, he shared the long jaw of his family, masked with a short brown beard. The darker brown hair of his head was tangled now, and matted with blood. His booming energy was stilled; drained of it, his face lost its former fascination, and left Ingrey wondering how he had once been fooled into thinking it handsome. He moved forward, hands cradling the skull, probing the wound. Wounds. The shattered bone beneath the scalp gave beneath his thumbs' pressure on either side of a pair of deep lacerations, blackened with dried gore.

"What weapon did this?"

"The prince's own war hammer. It was on the stand with his armor, in his bedchamber."

"How very ... unexpected. To him as well." Grimly, Ingrey considered the fates of princes. All his short life, according to Hetwar, Boleso had been alternately petted and neglected by parents and servants both, the natural arrogance of his blood tainted with a precarious hunger for honor, fame, reward. The arrogance — or was it the anxiety? — had bloated of late to something overweening, desperately out of balance. And that which is out of balance ... falls.

The prince wore a short open robe of worked wool, lined with fur, blood-splashed. He must have been wearing it when he'd died. Nothing more. No other recent wounds marked his pale skin. When the housemaster said they had waited for instructions, Ingrey decided, he had understated the case. The prince's retainers had evidently been so benumbed by the shocking event, they had not even dared wash or garb the corpse. Grime darkened the folds of Boleso's body ... no, not grime. Ingrey ran a finger along a groove of chill flesh, and stared warily at the smear of color, dull blue and stamen yellow and, where they blended, a sickly green. Dye, paint, some colored powder? The dark fur of the inner robe, too, showed faint smears.

Ingrey straightened, and his eye fell on what he had at first taken for a bundle of furs laid along the far wall. He stepped closer and knelt.

It was a dead leopard. Leopardess, he amended, turning the beast partly over. The fur was fine and soft, fascinating beneath his hands. He traced the cold, curving ears, the stiff white whiskers, the pattern of dark whorls upon golden silk ...

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060574741
Author:
Bujold, Lois McMaster
Publisher:
Eos
Author:
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Subject:
Fantasy - Epic
Subject:
Fantasy - Historical
Subject:
Rites and ceremonies
Subject:
Rape victims
Subject:
Fantasy - General
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Love stories
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy-Historical
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Mass Market PB
Publication Date:
June 2006
Binding:
MASS MARKET
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
6.82x4.19x1.20 in. .45 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Fantasy » Epic
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Fantasy » Historical

The Hallowed Hunt Used Mass Market
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$3.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Eos - English 9780060574741 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The absorbing third installment in Bujold's epic fantasy series (after The Curse of Chalion and the Hugo-winning Paladin of Souls) links a disinherited swordsman hero with a beguiling damsel accused of murdering a royal prince in a land worshiping five gods, menaced by encroaching neighbors and swarming with ancient magic and lethal political intrigue. Lord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff, sent by the kingdom's sealmaster to fetch orphaned Lady Ijada to trial, soon learns they both unwillingly bear animal spirits received in forbidden power rites stretching centuries back into the primeval Weald. With the aged Hallow King now dying, Ingrey and Ijada journey toward the king's hall at Easthome, falling into a love that appears doomed, while Ingrey's powerful fey cousin, Lord Wencel, spins a cunning web of bloodthirsty ambition that binds them to him in an unholy trinity. Though the book's complicated magical-religious structure requires considerable suspension of disbelief, Bujold brings to life a multitude of convincing secondary characters, especially skaldic warrior-poet Prince Jokol and his ice bear, Fafa. Bujold's ability to sustain a breathless pace of action while preserving a heady sense of verisimilitude in a world of malignant wonders makes this big novel occasionally brilliant — and not a word too long. Agent, Eleanor Wood. (June 1)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Bujold's third installment...bears testimony to the author's talent for creating inventive and appealing heroes and exotic worlds. Political intrigue, shamanic marriage, and dynastic drama combine for a topnotch addition to most fantasy collections."
"Review" by , "Bujold's reworking of a classic romantic situation is distinguished by its setting in a well-crafted world and masterly creation of characters whose fates will keep readers turning the pages."
"Review" by , "Well worth exploring, offering a new twist on Bujold's addictive mix of suspense, romance, heroism, politics, and unconventional religion."
"Review" by , "The Hallowed Hunt holds the most appeal for Bujold fans. Fantasy readers will love it, especially those into court intrigue. There's enough of a romance thread to carry over into fans of that genre too. Most highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Paladin of Souls is still my favorite of this series...but for a third book in a series, this is excellent. As a confident, page-turning fantasy that avoids being just another map quest, I recommend it; if you liked the earlier Chalion books, I recommend it even more strongly. (Rating: 8/10)"
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