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Other titles in the Kronos Chronicles Trilogy series:

Kronos Chronicles #01: The Cabinet of Wonders


Kronos Chronicles #01: The Cabinet of Wonders Cover





The yellow hills rose and fell in sunny tops and valleys. The Bohemian countryside on this August morning looked almost like a golden ocean with huge, swelling waves.

     A rickety cart was wending its way through a valley. Two men were perched atop the riding seat, watching the sturdy horse as it pulled them along. There was a bundle wrapped in cloth that took up most of the space in the open cart bed behind the men.

     One of them, Jarek, held the reins. He coughed. “I should be paid extra for this,” he said. “What a stench.”

     “What do you mean?” said Martin, Jareks companion. He turned around to look at the bundle.

Jarek saw him do it. “No, not that. Those blasted brassica flowers. They stink fouler than a five-hundred-year-old outhouse.”

     “Oh, that,” Martin replied. “They smell sweet to me.”

     The yellowness of the hills was caused by thousands of flowers, clustered and thick.

     Jarek gagged. “I wouldnt like to be one of you hill people, working the flower fields. My clothes are going to smell rotten by the time we get back to Prague.”

     Too lazy to get offended, Martin leaned back in the cracked leather seat. “Many folks enjoy the smell of brassica. Its just one of those things you love or hate. Like eating asparagus.”

     “Raised with the stink as you were, Im sure youre used to it.”

     “And remember”—Martin wagged a finger at him, pretending he had not heard Jareks last comment—“Bohemia needs those flowers. Bet itll be a good harvest this year. Soon the farmers will be out in the fields to collect the seeds and press them into oil. You can grumble like a goat about the scent, but that brassicas used for all sorts of things.”

     The horse took a turn in the dirt road and one of the cart wheels dipped into a large hole, jolting the cart.

     The bundle in the back groaned.

     “Here now!” Martin craned his neck to scowl at the dark shape. “None of that! Youll give us a bit of quiet.” He made an impatient sound at the back of his throat. He took off his hat and fanned the sweat on his face. “Its very hot,” he said, and sighed.

     “Yeah,” Jarek drawled, staring ahead.

     “Good money, though, this trip.”

     “Hmm.” Jarek flapped the reins. “Were almost there, anyway. Should take us about half an hour.”

     “What, have you been here before? I thought you never left Prague. How do you know this area?”

     “I dont.” Jarek shifted in the seat. “But the horse does.”

     Martin gave him an odd look. “And she told you how long weve got left, did she?”

     Jarek laughed, possibly for the first time during the whole trip. “Nah, course not! I was only joking.”

     But it seemed like a strange sort of joke.

     “Do you know what he did?” Jarek said, jerking his chin toward the bundle, whose breathing had gotten louder and ragged.

     Martin was still looking at Jarek suspiciously. “No. Didnt ask, and thats the honest truth.”

     Jarek nodded. “Its best that way.”

     “The order,” Martin said, “came from the prince himself.”

     This was news to Jarek. Learning this detail made him realize that he had been in a dark mood for the past several hours. Realizing this was like suddenly getting a cramp after sitting too long in one position. And, as a matter of fact, Jarek then thought, he did have a cramp in his lower back.

     “You didnt tell me the orders came directly from the prince,” he said.

     “You didnt ask.”

     Which was true. Jarek did not ask any questions when Martin, who also took care of the princes horses, proposed they make a delivery to the village of Okno (with some of the profit going to Jarek, of course). And Jarek did not ask any questions when two castle menservants met him and Martin in the stables, carrying a man who seemed barely conscious, and whose face was wrapped in a bloody bandage.

     “Ah, there we are,” Martin said, pointing his hand at a nest of buildings. The houses and shops began to distinguish themselves, and the dirt path became the main cobblestone road that ran straight through Okno.

     The village looked prosperous. There were several stone houses. The wooden ones were in solid condition, often with pretty patterns of different-colored strips of wood decorating the window frames, many of which had real glass set into them. Shop signs advertised goods: leather tack for horses, books, carpentry, glassworks, and cloth. Women walked by in full, unstained skirts. Even a passing stray dog seemed rather fat for an independent creature. The road turned into a small square whose center was marked by a fountain that was well designed, its water bubbling over three tiers of stone.

     Martin dug a parchment out of his jerkin pocket and consulted it. “Turn left here.”

     “It doesnt make any sense,” Jarek mused.

     “I am the one with the map, and you should turn left.”

     “No, I mean this”—he tilted his head toward the back of the cart—“doesnt make any sense. What could he have done to deserve that kind of punishment, and get sent home instead of being clapped into the nearest jail cell?”

     “Dunno.” Martin waved his hand airily, chasing away a fly. “Maybe he killed someone.”

     “Then he would be in prison or executed or both.”

     “Maybe he killed the princes favorite dog.”

     “Then he would be in prison or executed or both.”

     Martin laughed.

     “All Im saying is this,” Jarek continued, “if you want to get rid of a weed, you dont just clip some of its stems and call it a day.” The road they turned down had fewer houses. Ribbons of wind passed between the buildings and through the mens sweaty hair. “The weedll grow back. Theres always the chance for revenge.”

     “Him?” Martin laughed again. “Oh, Im glad I picked you to drive. Youre a funny sort, you are. Weed or no, this fellows in no shape for action. Hold on now—” Martin looked at the map again and glanced at a tall, skinny stone house set far apart from the others. As they drew closer, they saw that the ground floor was a shop, its windows crowded with bizarre metal objects, clocks, and tin toys bouncing like grasshoppers. Jarek could not read the words painted over the door, but a sign hanging from the corner of the house showed a many-pointed compass. “Stop here,” Martin said. “This is it.”

     Jarek pulled on the reins. His hands settled in his lap, but they still gripped the leather straps. “He may have sons. Angry ones.”

     Martin thumped Jarek on the shoulder. “No fear, my friend,” he said, and pointed toward the door, which had opened. In the doorway stood a girl, tall for her age, which was twelve. Underneath a long tangle of brown hair her face was wary. She was dressed in a nightgown, but stood defiantly, as if to say that she knew that wasnt normal but didnt care. She stared straight at them. Her eyes were narrowed—but perhaps, Jarek thought, this was because of the sun and not because she already hated them.

     Martin leaned to whisper in Jareks ear. “As I said, dont worry. Hes only got her.”

     It seemed to Jarek that his backache had gotten worse.

     The mare sighed. Then she spoke silently in his mind the way she did with no other human, for she knew none who had Jareks gift to understand her. If you were a horse, she told him, you would be used to bearing such unpleasant burdens.

Excerpted from THE CABINET OF WONDERS by Marie Rutkoski.

Copyright © 2008 by Marie Rutkoski.

Published in 2010 Square Fish.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Product Details

Rutkoski, Marie
Amulet Books
Hardinge, Frances
Action & Adventure - General
Fantasy & Magic
Family - General
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Family/General (see also headings under Social Issues)
Children s-Adventure Stories
Historical - Europe
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Kronos Chronicles
Series Volume:
No. 1
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 5 up to 9
8.25 x 5.5 in
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

Children's » Action and Adventure » Adventure Stories
Children's » General
Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General

Kronos Chronicles #01: The Cabinet of Wonders Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Square Fish - English 9780312602390 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Talking spiders, stolen eyes, a clock that controls the weather—a “heady mix of history and enchantment” (Publishers Weekly).
"Synopsis" by ,
When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry, her sister seems scared of her, and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest to find the truth she must travel into the terrifying underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family—before it’s too late . . .

Set in England after World War I, this is a brilliantly creepy but ultimately loving story of the relationship between two sisters who have to band together against a world where nothing is as it seems.

"Synopsis" by ,
My family has always had a way with metal.

Petra Kronos has a simple, happy life. But its never been ordinary. She has a tin spider named Astrophil who likes to hide in her hair and give her advice. Her best friend can trap lightning in a glass sphere. And Petras father is able to move metal with his mind. He has been commissioned by the prince of Bohemia to build the worlds finest astronomical clock. Then Petras father returns home—blind. The prince has stolen his eyes, enchanted them, and now wears them. Petra doesnt know why, but she does know this: She will go to Prague and steal her fathers eyes back. When she finds out that her fathers clock has the power to destroy the world, Petra realizes she may never make it home alive.

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