Fire & Ice is book 1 in the Icefire Trilogy series by Patty Jansen
About Fire & Ice
Where magic is dark and gritty, characters troubled and twisted, and victory comes at a heavy price.
Deep under the City of Glass in the frozen southern land, an age-old machine called the Heart of the City radiates a power which locals call icefire. Most citizens are immune to it, but a few, always born with physical disabilities, can bend it to their will. For fifty years, the ruling Eagle Knights, who fly on the back of giant birds, have killed these Imperfects, fearing the return of the old royal family, who used icefire to cut out people’s hearts, turning them into ghostly servitors.
The old king’s grandson Tandor only sees the good things icefire brought: power and technology now forgotten while the people of the south live in dire poverty. He’s had enough of seeing his fellow kinsfolk slaughtered by ignorant Knights, of Imperfect babies being abandoned on the ice floes to be eaten by wild animals. His grandfather’s diary tells him how to increase the beat of the Heart the first step to making the land glorious once more. Arrogant as he is, he sets the machine in motion. All he needs is an army of Imperfect servitors to control the resulting power.
Isandor is Imperfect, an ex-Knight apprentice, betrayed by his best friend and running for his life.
The queen Jevaithi is Imperfect, living like a prisoner amidst leering Knights, surviving only because the common people would rebel if their beloved queen were harmed.
Both are young and desperate and should be grateful that Tandor wants to rescue them from their hopeless situations. Or so he thinks. The youngsters, however, have no inclination to become heartless ghosts, but while they defy Tandor, the Heart beats, and he alone cannot control its power.
Here is a sample:
JEVAITHI PICKED at her dinner, shoving bits of meat around the plate with a golden fork. They were perfectly cooked to her personal taste, but today even these morsels tasted bland. A feeling of pressure, an underlying thrum, coursed through her, a singing excitement that she didn’t understand. She couldn’t say when it had started, only that she had first noticed it yesterday. When she flexed the fingers of her left hand, sparks leapt off them all too easily. Those sparks her mother said no one must ever see.
Eyes unfocused, she stared out the window, where the glare of the light on the horizon silhouetted the buildings of the city. Directly before her, but lower down, was the Eagle Knight’s eyrie. If she squinted, she thought she could see the great birds moving within. In past years, there had been days she had watched the Knights fly out and wished she could be one of them, but these days the sight of them just filled her with bitterness because she knew she never would. She pushed her plate away.
“Not hungry, Your Highness?”
She glanced up at the dry sound of the male voice. Supreme Rider Cornatan stood a few paces from her, in the middle of her tower room. He was grey haired, stiff and reedy, and his short-haired Knight’s cloak was held together with golden clasps in a never-ending display of status. Why did he always have to be here? Chaperoning her, watching over her as if she were his possession. He was the regent, not her father.
“I have enough of children’s meat.” She put her fork down with a clunk to illustrate her point, then counted the heartbeats before he would say something about her childishness.
One . . . two . . . three . . . four—
“You are still a child, as I am sure I do not need to remind you.”
Five. That was a poor score. He must be distracted. He deserved to work a bit harder for his presence here.
“It’s almost my birthday.”
“That’s true, but until that day, you are a child and you will not eat any organ meat. We must consider your health. You know that, Your Highness, and you need not bring it up. Your birthday will come soon enough.”
A chill crept over her back at his sideways glance and the change in tone of his voice: from harsh to something she couldn’t fathom. One thing she knew: after her birthday, nothing would be the same.
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