Mist & Dawn paperback edition is book 1 in the Starfire Trilogy series by Patty Jansen
A fisherwoman finds a dead man on a tiny offshore island, with no clue about how the man got there.
A camel driver deep in the northern desert rescues a man who speaks no known language, but is clearly well-educated.
An ancient sect that was considered close to extinct sucks in all the land’s young people and creates tension that may well lead to a civil war.
And the old astrologer to the court, a weaselly and much-maligned relic of old times, might have hidden, for twenty years, evidence that those things are connected.
An epic saga of magic-turned-technology, power and discovery.
Here is a sample:
The king met Kotori’s eyes with his cloud-rimmed irises that had seen much good and evil in a long lifetime.
“You can say it out loud, brother of mine. I look terrible.”
“I wasn’t going to say that at all,” Kotori said.
Making a comment like that would acknowledge his own age, and he was actually older than his brother the king, but for some mysterious reason, his health had remained much better. People joked behind his back that he was indestructible and would probably live until he was well over a hundred years old.
Kotori wasn’t sure if he wanted to live that long.
“I am old,” the king said. “And I am ill, and I probably won’t last much longer.”
“Don’t say such terrible things,” Kotori said.
“Don’t perpetuate any lies,” the king said. “We all know that it is true. No one lives forever, not even me. I’ve had a good life, but I sense in my bones that it won’t last much longer.”
This was all part of the ritual they went through whenever Kotori visited. The king had repeated different versions of those same words for over twenty years, but somehow the words had a real bite today.
“You called for me?” Kotori said. He pulled his bag onto his lap. “I’ve brought my star map and stones.”
“You can put it away. I don’t want a prediction. Heaven knows we’ve all put far too much stock in those in my lifetime.”
Kotori’s heart jumped. This was it. His brother had finally decided to appoint a new court astrologer, one who subscribed to the modern take on astrology: that it merely described the positions of objects in the sky, and not their meaning to daily life. This was the position held by the queen, who—
“I want you to help me keep the kingdom safe.”
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