Written in red, p.1
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       Written in Red, p.1
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         Part #1 of The Others series by Anne Bishop
Written in Red


  Praise for

  Written in Red

  “Near perfect . . . . Written in Red isn’t just the best urban fantasy of the year—it may be one of the best ever.”

  —All Things Urban Fantasy

  “A stunningly original yarn, deeply imagined, beautifully articulated, and set forth in clean, limpid, sensual prose.”

  —Kirkus Reviews

  “Bishop has a way of making your heart wrench with joy and pain within a breath.”

  —Fantasy Book Critic

  “An amazing novel. . . . . Aspiring fantasy authors could do no better than to follow her lead, and study her work to learn how to build a compelling story set in a seamlessly crafted universe.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “A gripping novel from start until finish. . . . . In the end, Ms. Bishop leaves readers wanting more.”

  —Night Owl Reviews (top pick)

  “Fast-paced action, well-defined characters, and an imaginative story line make for a fine paranormal read.”

  —Monsters and Critics

  “A fantastic start to a new series. . . . . I cannot say enough about this book, as well as Anne Bishop. I marvel how she comes up with these ideas and makes it so real. Bravo.”

  —The Reading Cafe

  Rave Reviews from RT Book Reviews,

  Which Awarded Written in Red Its Seal of Excellence

  “INCREDIBLE. This description applies to everything in Anne Bishop’s newest book. . . . . This novel is one of the best reads of the year!”

  —Morgan Doremus, editor, RT Book Reviews

  “If you pick up one new urban fantasy book this year, make it Anne Bishop’s Written in Red.”

  —Mala Bhattacharjee, editor, RT Book Reviews

  “With a heroine whose power lies not in physically beating back her enemies but in a quiet resolve and a gentle handling of people, Written in Red is a rare gem in the urban fantasy genre.”

  —Regina Small, editor, RT Book Reviews

  Praise for the Ephemera Series

  Bridge of Dreams

  “With a well-paced mystery, likable characters, and fascinating world building, this is a fun read.”

  —Booklist

  “An imaginative world. . . . . I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Ephemera series to anyone who enjoys unique fantasy books with characters you can admire.”

  —Night Owl Reviews

  “Strong on world building.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “An entertaining tale with an incredible, vivid description of the Bishop mythos and a wonderful self-sacrificing hero . . . . a super-fast-paced, exciting thriller.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  Belladonna

  “The work of a master . . . . thought-provoking.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “Those who enjoy sophisticated, mature, and original epic fantasy will be well rewarded by spending time in Ephemera.”

  —SFRevu

  “Mystifying forces of light and dark continue to rend Ephemera, a shattered world of extraordinary interconnected landscapes that can be altered by strong emotions. . . . . Fans of the preceding installment will revel in Bishop’s imaginative powers.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Set against a unique fantasy background and filled with intriguing characters, [Belladonna] is another tale of enchanted worlds.”

  —Library Journal

  “Stunning . . . . wonderful.”

  —Romance Junkies

  Sebastian

  “Erotic, fervently romantic, [and] superbly entertaining, Sebastian satisfies.”

  —Booklist

  “Bishop’s talents lie both in her ability to craft a story filled with intriguing characters and in her flair for smoldering sensuality that recommends her to fans of Tanith Lee, Storm Constantine, and Anne Rice. Highly recommended.”

  —Library Journal (starred review)

  “[Anne Bishop’s] worlds are so fully realized and threedimensional, they jump right off the pages. . . . . Exotic, original, [and] sensual, there’s nothing here I didn’t love.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “[An] impressively unclichéd battle between light and dark. . . . . Pure originality and lyrical prose . . . . will delight fantasy readers.”

  —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  “Highly recommended. . . . . Glorianna is a fantastic presence, a nascent goddess.”

  —SFRevu

  “A wonderful book to get lost in.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “A fantastic book. Bishop has built a compelling world that is filled with fascinating and complex characters.”

  —Romantic Times (top pick, 4½ stars)

  More Praise for Anne Bishop

  “Rich and fascinatingly different dark fantasy.”

  —Locus

  “A terrific writer. . . .The more I read, the more excited I became because of the freshness of [her] take on the usual high fantasy setting, the assurance of [her] language, all the lovely touches of characterization that [she slips] in so effortlessly.”

  —Charles de Lint

  “Lavishly sensual . . . . a richly detailed world.”

  —Library Journal

  “Vividly painted . . . . dramatic, erotic, hope filled.”

  —Lynn Flewelling

  “A darkly fascinating world . . . . vivid and sympathetic characters . . . . lavish and sensuous descriptions, and interesting world building . . . . many compelling and beautifully realized elements . . . . a terrific read.”

  —SF Site

  “Intense . . . . erotic, violent, and imaginative. This one is white-hot.”

  —Nancy Kress

  “Mystical, sensual, glittering with dark magic.”

  —Terri Windling, coeditor of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror

  “[Anne Bishop’s] poignant storytelling skills are surpassed only by her flair for the dramatic and her deft characterization . . . . a talented author.”

  —Affaire de Coeur

  Also By Anne Bishop

  The Others Series

  Written in Red

  Murder of Crows

  The Ephemera Series

  Sebastian

  Belladonna

  Bridge of Dreams

  The Black Jewels Series

  Daughter of the Blood

  Heir to the Shadows

  Queen of the Darkness

  The Invisible Ring

  Dreams Made Flesh

  Tangled Webs

  The Shadow Queen

  Shalador’s Lady

  Twilight’s Dawn

  The Tir Alainn Trilogy

  The Pillars of the World

  Shadows and Light

  The House of Gaian

  ROC

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

  penguin.com

  A Penguin Random House Company

  Published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC. Previously published in a Roc hardcover edition.

  Copyright © Anne Bishop, 2013

  Excerpt from Murder of Crows copyright © Anne Bishop, 2014

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a
vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

  ISBN 978-1-101-61505-8

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  Version_2

  For Blair

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  My thanks to Blair Boone for continuing to be my first reader and for all the information about animals and other things that I absorbed and transformed to suit the Others’ world, to Debra Dixon for being second reader, to Doranna Durgin for maintaining the Web site and for information about cow tongues, to Adrienne Roehrich for running the official fan page on Facebook, to Julie Green for telling me about Bully Sticks, to Jennifer Crow for her role as enabler when I talked about the Others Etiquette column, to Nadine Fallacaro for information about things medical, to Douglas Burke for answering questions about police (and for not asking what I would do with the information), and to Pat Feidner for her support and encouragement. Thanks to Kristen Britain, Starr Corcoran, Julie Czerneda, Claire Eamer, Lorne Kates, and Paula Lieberman for their input about stores for the Market Square and the surrounding neighborhood.

  A special thanks to the following people who loaned their names to characters, knowing that the name would be the only connection between reality and fiction: Elizabeth Bennefeld, Blair Boone, Douglas Burke, Starr Corcoran, Jennifer Crow, Lorna MacDonald Czarnota, Julie Czerneda, Roger Czerneda, Merri Lee Debany, Michael Debany, Chris Fallacaro, Dan Fallacaro, Mike Fallacaro, Nadine Fallacaro, Mantovani “Monty” Gay, Julie Green, Lois Gresh, Ann Hergott, Danielle Hilborn, Heather Houghton, Lorne Kates, Allison King, and John Wulf.

  Contents

  Praise for Anne Bishop

  Also by Anne Bishop

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Acknowledgments

  Geography

  Maps

  A Brief History of the World

  CHAPTER 1

  CHAPTER 2

  CHAPTER 3

  CHAPTER 4

  CHAPTER 5

  CHAPTER 6

  CHAPTER 7

  CHAPTER 8

  CHAPTER 9

  CHAPTER 10

  CHAPTER 11

  CHAPTER 12

  CHAPTER 13

  CHAPTER 14

  CHAPTER 15

  CHAPTER 16

  CHAPTER 17

  CHAPTER 18

  CHAPTER 19

  CHAPTER 20

  CHAPTER 21

  CHAPTER 22

  CHAPTER 23

  CHAPTER 24

  CHAPTER 25

  CHAPTER 26

  CHAPTER 27

  CHAPTER 28

  CHAPTER 29

  CHAPTER 30

  CHAPTER 31

  Special excerpt from Murder of Crows

  GEOGRAPHY

  NAMID—THE WORLD

  CONTINENTS/LANDMASSES (so far)

  Afrikah

  Cel-Romano/Cel-Romano Alliance of Nations

  Felidae

  Fingerbone Islands

  Storm Islands

  Thaisia

  Tokhar-Chin

  Brittania/Wild Brittania

  Great Lakes—Superior, Tala, Honon, Etu, and Tahki

  Other lakes—Feather Lakes/Finger Lakes

  River—Talulah/Talulah Falls

  Cities or villages—Hubb NE (aka Hubbney), Jerzy, Lakeside, Podunk, Sparkletown, Talulah Falls, Toland

  DAYS OF THE WEEK

  Earthday

  Moonsday

  Sunsday

  Windsday

  Thaisday

  Firesday

  Watersday

  LAKESIDE

  This map was created by a geographically challenged author who put in only the bits she needed for the story.

  LAKESIDE COURTYARD

  A Brief History of the World

  Long ago, Namid gave birth to all kinds of life, including the beings known as humans. She gave the humans fertile pieces of herself, and she gave them good water. Understanding their nature and the nature of her other offspring, she also gave them enough isolation that they would have a chance to survive and grow. And they did.

  They learned to build fires and shelters. They learned to farm and build cities. They built boats and fished in the Mediterran and Black seas. They bred and spread throughout their pieces of the world until they pushed into the wild places. That’s when they discovered that Namid’s other offspring already claimed the rest of the world.

  The Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat.

  Wars were fought to possess the wild places. Sometimes the humans won and spread their seed a little farther. More often, pieces of civilization disappeared, and fearful survivors tried not to shiver when a howl went up in the night or a man, wandering too far from the safety of stout doors and light, was found the next morning drained of blood.

  Centuries passed, and the humans built larger ships and sailed across the Atlantik Ocean. When they found virgin land, they built a settlement near the shore. Then they discovered that this land was also claimed by the terra indigene, the earth natives. The Others.

  The terra indigene who ruled the continent called Thaisia became angry when the humans cut down trees and put a plow to land that was not theirs. So the Others ate the settlers and learned the shape of this particular meat, just as they had done many times in the past.

  The second wave of explorers and settlers found the abandoned settlement and, once more, tried to claim the land as their own.

  The Others ate them too.

  The third wave of settlers had a leader who was smarter than his predecessors. He offered the Others warm blankets and lengths of cloth for clothes and interesting bits of shiny in exchange for being allowed to live in the settlement and have enough land to grow crops. The Others thought this was a fair exchange and walked off the boundaries of the land that the humans could use. More gifts were exchanged for hunting and fishing privileges. This arrangement satisfied both sides, even if one side regarded its new neighbors with snarling tolerance and the other side swallowed fear and made sure its people were safely inside the settlement’s walls before nightfall.

  Years passed and more settlers arrived. Many died, but enough humans prospered. Settlements grew into villages, which grew into towns, which grew into cities. Little by little, humans moved across Thaisia, spreading out as much as they could on the land they were allowed to use.

  Centuries passed. Humans were smart. So were the Others. Humans invented electricity and plumbing. The Others controlled all the rivers that could power the generators and all the lakes that supplied fresh drinking water. Humans invented steam engines and central heating. The Others controlled all the fuel needed to run the engines and heat the buildings. Humans invented and manufactured products. The Others controlled all the natural resources, thereby deciding what would and wouldn’t be made in their part of the world.

  There were collisions, of course, and some places became dark memorials for the dead. Those memorials finally made it clea
r to human government that the terra indigene ruled Thaisia, and nothing short of the end of the world would change that.

  So it comes to this current age. Small human villages exist within vast tracks of land that belong to the Others. And in larger human cities, there are fenced parks called Courtyards that are inhabited by the Others who have the task of keeping watch over the city’s residents and enforcing the agreements the humans made with the terra indigene.

  There is still sharp-toothed tolerance on one side and fear of what walks in the dark on the other. But if they are careful, the humans survive.

  Most of the time, they survive.

  CHAPTER 1

  Half blinded by the storm, she stumbled into the open area between two buildings. Hoping to hide from whomever was hunting for her as well as get some relief from the snow and wind, she followed an angled wall and ducked around the corner. Her socks and sneakers were soaked, and her feet were so cold she couldn’t feel them. She knew that wasn’t good, wasn’t safe, but she had taken the clothing available just as she had taken the opportunity to run.

  No sound of footsteps that would confirm she was being followed, but that didn’t mean anything. Blocked by the wall, even the sounds of the slow-moving traffic were muted.

  She had to find shelter. It was too cold to be out here tonight. As part of her training, she’d been shown pictures of people who had frozen to death, so she knew she couldn’t stay out here much longer. But the city shelters that provided a place for the homeless would be the first places the hunters would look for her.

  Was she going to die tonight? Was this the storm that was the beginning of the end? No. She wouldn’t consider that possibility. She hadn’t done this much and come this far for it all to end before she had a chance to begin. Besides, she hadn’t seen other parts of the prophecy yet. She hadn’t seen the dark-haired man wearing a green pullover sweater. She didn’t have to worry about dying until she saw him.

  That didn’t mean she could afford to be stupid.

  The building at the back of the open area drew her attention, mostly because it provided the only light. Peeking around the corner to reassure herself that she was still alone, she hurried toward it. Maybe she could figure out an excuse to stay inside for a few minutes—just long enough for her feet to thaw.

 
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