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       The White Road: The Nightrunner Series, Book 5, p.1

           Lynn Flewelling
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The White Road: The Nightrunner Series, Book 5


  Praise for THE WHITE ROAD

  “The White Road is an action-packed and terrific read-enjoy. Flewelling is at the top of her game, and her game is very, very good indeed.”

  —PATRICIA BRIGGS, New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series

  Praise for SHADOW’S RETURN

  2008 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Nominee for Best Fantasy Novel

  “The fourth book in Flewelling’s superb Nightrunner series picks up right where the last book left off with nary a hiccup. Seregil and Alec continue to be entertaining, while Flewelling pulls off the near impossible in this compelling page-turner.”

  —Romantic Times (4½ stars)

  “Excellent! … This (is a) terrific fantasy thriller that can stand alone, but is enhanced by the other tales in the Skalan saga.”

  —BookReview

  “Flewelling presents a well-developed fantasy world with faie from many clans, wizards, alchemists, and ambitious humans. Love and jealousies abound and drive the story.”

  —SF Revu

  Praise for The Tamir Triad

  “Some of the most inventive and emotionally gripping fantasy to come down the pike in years … Flewelling’s writing is both intelligent and visceral, with unflinching detail that compels readers to turn pages in wide-eyed fascination.… At the same time, however, a sense of poetry runs through her narration.… Flewelling takes the stock trappings of the sword-and-sorcery genre and turns them into a riveting epic story that is unique, disturbing, and enthralling.”

  —Mythprint

  “Perhaps the deepest psychological novel I’ve ever read—the fantasy makes the unconscious issues real. Gorgeous but dark.”

  —ORSON SCOTT CARD

  Praise for THE ORACLE’S QUEEN

  “A splendidly stirring coming-of-age tale.”

  —Romantic Times (4½ stars)

  “It is a great book!”

  —Affaire de Coeur (4½ stars)

  “I’ve been looking forward to The Oracle’s Queen, the third volume in The Tamir Triad, with eager anticipation and it doesn’t disappoint. Central characters remain true to the previous volumes, and at the same time we see new facets to their personalities. The inexorable flow of events drives the narrative forcefully onward while unexpected twists keep us guessing.… I can recommend it and indeed the whole series to lovers of intelligent contemporary fantasy that nevertheless keeps faith with all the strongest traditions of the genre.”

  —JULIET E. MCKENNA, Emerald City

  “This novel delves deeply into the psychological effects of razzle-dazzle magic, thrones, swords, and the rest, and makes for a terrific read.… Magic, mystery, politics, emotions, and rare golden threads of the numinous all make this book a rich tapestry of a read right through the climax.… There is never an easy answer in The Oracle’s Queen: the characters gain so much dimension that they linger in the mind long after one reads the last page. This trilogy is a must for those who love fantasy with all the Good Stuff stitched together by intelligent world-building and a wise eye for the frailties, and the greatnesses, of the human spirit.”

  —SF Site

  “A fine conclusion to an above-average series … Flewelling does an excellent job of adding depth and texture to the story of a young person thrust onto the throne of Skala.”

  —Contra Costa Times

  “Lynn Flewelling’s The Bone Doll’s Twin, Hidden Warrior, and The Oracle’s Queen are brilliantly original and moving. This story still haunts me, months after reading the books. There’s plenty of gritty realism to make this a book for adults and mature teenagers, but what it definitely is not is ‘escapist.’ This book drags you through so much emotionally painful territory that you’re almost relieved when it’s done and you can escape to your safe regular life.”

  —ORSON SCOTT CARD

  Praise for HIDDEN WARRIOR

  “Stellar high-concept fantasy.”

  —Mysterious Galaxy

  “A rousing prince-in-hiding adventure, with some unexpectedly satisfying developments for a middle volume in a series.”

  —Locus

  “A beautiful, compelling, dark tale.”

  —Booklist

  “A superlative job … The world she has built is complex, and the action nonstop.… Flewelling handles the gender questions with such skill that the reader really feels Tobin’s ambivalence, and gradual change.… Recommended highly for anyone seeking a rollicking good read.”

  —SF Site

  “Satisfying … intriguing … exploring not merely issues of gender and power but questions of honor as well.”

  —Lambda Book Report

  Praise for THE BONE DOLL’S TWIN

  “The Bone Doll’s Twin is a thoroughly engrossing new fantasy. It got its hooks into me on the first page, and didn’t let loose until the last. I am already looking forward to the next installment.”

  —GEORGE R.R. MARTIN

  “Lynn Flewelling’s The Bone Doll’s Twin outshines even the gleaming promise shown in her earlier three books. The story pulled me under and carried me off with it in a relentless tale that examines whether the ends can ever completely justify the means.”

  —ROBIN HOBB

  “Fresh and original—and unlike most fantasies that try to put women in traditionally male roles, hers works. I found the world exceptionally well realized and coherent. I think you have a winner here! My congratulations to Lynn. Books like this are too good not to share.”

  —KATHERINE KURTZ

  “Flewelling’s language never calls attention to itself, and instead she brings us inside the heads of an array of splendid, believable characters. Which is what fiction is supposed to do—give us fascinating people and powerful relationships from the inside out. Flewelling is a master of it. I fell in love with all her characters and hated for the book to end. Fortunately, it has a sequel (Hidden Warrior), but I also hated for it to end and it did. That’s how good books are supposed to make you feel: like you’re living in another world, with people you really care about, and you don’t want to close the book and go home. If these books hadn’t turned out to be excellent, I wouldn’t be reviewing them, of course—because I rarely review books I didn’t finish, and I rarely finish books that I don’t enjoy. I loved these.”

  —ORSON SCOTT CARD

  “The Bone Doll’s Twin is a great read. Lynn Flewelling has outdone herself with this vibrant tale of dark magic, a hidden child, and the demon ghost that haunts it. She builds a convincing, colorful world with carefully chosen details, and her characters are memorable because their dilemmas are vividly drawn and heartbreakingly believable. This is exactly the kind of fantasy novel that will keep you up long past your bedtime.”

  —KATE ELLIOTT

  “A fascinating read, both intellectual and haunting.”

  —BARBARA HAMBLY

  “A dark and twisting enchantment of a book, a story of deception and loyalty and heroism that will magick its readers along with its characters.”

  —LOUISE MARLEY

  “Lynn Flewelling is one of the best at creating complicated stories peopled by diverse characters, each with his own agenda, and each absolutely believable. This tale of a girl disguised by magic and brought up as a boy is engrossing and compelling as it explores the honorable reasons behind dishonorable deeds—and the dark consequences that follow a single desperate act. Flewelling accompanies her skill at storytelling with an exquisite level of detail that brings her entire world to life. A most satisfying tale for readers already familiar with her Nightrunner series—for others, an excellent introduction to the joys of a Flewelling fantasy.”

 
—SHARON SHINN

  “You liked Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series? This novel is even better. The Bone Doll’s Twin is a sharply honed, powerful story where good and evil are as entwined as two children’s lives, and salvation carries a very high price. Highly recommended.”

  —ANNE BISHOP

  “An intriguing prequel to Flewelling’s splendid Nightrunner series and a solid begininng to a new triad of fantasy from a most generous and skilled fantasist, The Bone Doll’s Twin will satisfy old fans and capture many new.”

  —PATRICK O’LEARY

  “Masterful … readers will be hooked.”

  —Bangor Daily News

  “Magnificent, impressive … capture[s] some of the same flavor found in T. H. White’s classic, The Once and Future King, as well as in Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books. Factor in some essence of Mervyn Peake, and you have a winning combination.”

  —Realms of Fantasy

  “Flewelling’s Nightrunner books are popular among fantasy fans for a very simple reason—they’re good. The Bone Doll’s Twin continues that trend, and I look for her to be a major force in the future of fantasy.”

  —Monroe (LA) News-Star

  “An intensely poignant tale that asks the question—how far should one go to change destiny? Lynn Flewelling delivers a tightly crafted narrative with vivid characters and a detailed background that quickly pulls the reader into her world.”

  —Romantic Times

  “It is the death of children that literally haunts this book, giving it a dark edge that takes The Bone Doll’s Twin out of the realm of fantasy and into the world of amoral, ends-justifies-the-means politics.… Most of the characters are presented as people trying to do the right thing, and being caught up in events that leave them questioning just what the right thing to do is.… Flewelling’s storytelling ability and strong prose make it all work.… It’s a gripping beginning to a story that looks to become even deeper, more complex, more political, and more real as the series goes on.”

  —New York Review of Science Fiction

  “Flewelling is the best thing that could have happened to the fantasy genre.”

  —BookWeb

  “Every now and then a book reminds me of why I originally started reading fantasy. The Bone Doll’s Twin … has the buzz. It’s original, well written, and totally absorbing … by turns poignant, spooky, and earthy.… A moving and thoroughly recommended read.”

  —Starburst

  “This terrific tale is dark and exciting, and the magic in it is truly wonderful.”

  —Booklist

  Praise for the Nightrunner series

  LUCK IN THE SHADOWS

  “Memorable characters, an enthralling plot, and truly daunting evil.… The characters spring forth from the page not as well-crafted creations but as people.… The magic is refreshingly difficult, mysterious, and unpredictable. Lynn Flewelling has eschewed the easy shortcuts of cliched minor characters and cookie-cutter backdrops to present a unique world.… I commend this one to your attention.”

  —ROBIN HOBB

  “Part high fantasy and part political intrigue, Luck in the Shadows makes a nice change from the usual ruck of contemporary sword-and-sorcery. I especially enjoyed Lynn Flewelling’s obvious affection for her characters. At unexpected moments she reveals a well-honed gift for the macabre.”

  —STEPHEN R. DONALDSON

  “A new star is rising in the fantasy firmament … I am awed by the scope of the intricate world. It teems with magic and bustles with realistic people and spine-chilling amounts of skullduggery.”

  —DAVE DUNCAN

  “A splendid read, filled with magic, mystery, adventure, and taut suspense. Lynn Flewelling, bravo! Nicely done.”

  —DENNIS L. MCKIERNAN

  “An engrossing and entertaining debut … full of magic, intrigues, and fascinating characters. Witty and charming, it’s the kind of book you settle down with when you want a long, satisfying read.”

  —MICHAEL A. STACKPOLE

  “Exceptionally well done and entertaining.”

  —Locus

  “Lynn Flewelling has written a terrific first novel, a thrilling introduction to this series.… Highly recommended.”

  —Starlog

  STALKING DARKNESS

  “Flewelling is bringing vigor back to the traditional fantasy form. In this highly engaging adventure novel, the most powerful magic is conjured out of friendship and loyalty. The author has a gift for creating characters you genuinely care about.”

  —TERRI WINDLING, The Years’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Eleventh Annual Collection

  “Events move forward in this second adventure.… It’s up to four companions to stop Mardus’s schemes. Things get very violent and there’s also a strong emotional undercurrent … an amusing twist on the old ‘damsel in distress’ scenario.”

  —Locus

  TRAITOR’S MOON

  “What most fantasy aspires to Traitor’s Moon achieves, with fierce craft, wit, and heart. It is a fantasy feast—richly imagined, gracefully wrought, and thrilling to behold. An intoxicating brew of strange and homely, horror and whimsy, lust and blood, intrigue and honor, great battles and greater loves. It is a journey through a world so strange and real you can taste it, with companions so mysterious and memorable you won’t forget it. Lynn Flewelling is a fine teller of tales who delivers all she promises, cuts no corners, and leaves us dazzled, moved, and hungry for more. Traitor’s Moon is a wonderful book.”

  —PATRICK O’LEARY

  “While fans of Dungeons and Dragons–style lore will find enough wizardry, necromancy, swords, daggers, and devilishly clever traps here to satisfy the most avid, this book also provides entry to a complete and richly realized world that will please more mainstream readers.”

  —Bangor Daily News

  ALSO BY LYNN FLEWELLING

  Luck in the Shadows

  Stalking Darkness

  Traitor’s Moon

  Shadows Return

  and

  The Bone Doll’s Twin

  Hidden Warrior

  The Oracle’s

  Queen

  For my terrific kid sister, Susan.

  Thanks for your love,

  support, and enthusiasm

  all these years.

  acknowledgments

  I would like to thank my wonderful editor, Anne Groell, for her insight and care with this book, and my wonderful husband, Doug, for his unwavering support.

  Thanks also to heavy metal cello band (that’s right—cellos) Apocalyptica, for making such great music to write to.

  CHAPTER 1

  Safe Harbor

  DYING—even for just a little while—took a lot out of a person. Alec and his companions had arrived in Gedre last night and Alec had managed to stay on his horse as they rode up from the harbor to the clan house, but he’d spoiled it by fainting in the courtyard. Mydri had taken one sharp look at him and packed him off to bed in a room overlooking the harbor. And when their host saw Sebrahn, Riagil í Molan had ordered that the rhekaro stay hidden, too. Given Sebrahn’s strange appearance, Alec could hardly blame him.

  Winter rain lashed against the window across the room and the wind moaned in the chimney. Gedre harbor was barely visible, the ships anchored there just dark smudges in the mist. After their stormy crossing from Plenimar, it was rather nice to be in a soft bed that didn’t roll under him. He had no idea what time it was. When he’d awakened, Seregil was already gone, no doubt to speak with his sisters or their host, the khirnari.

  Sebrahn was curled up on the cushions of the window seat, gazing out—though at what it was impossible to say. The rhekaro might have Alec’s childhood features, but it was impossible to pass him off as an ordinary child. His pale, silver-white hair hung nearly to the floor behind him. His white skin looked ghostly in the grey light, and his silver eyes were the color of steel. Riagil’s wife, Yhali, had replaced the rags Sebrahn had arrived in with soft Aurënfaie tunics, knitted s
tockings, and shoes that fit him, though Sebrahn seemed confused by the latter and kept taking them off. Just as any little child might do—

  But he’s not a child, is he?

  Pushing that thought away, Alec reached for the mug Mydri had left on the bedside table and sipped the medicinal broth. His hand shook a bit, spilling a few drops down the front of his nightshirt.

  He and Seregil had been in desperate condition when Micum and Thero had found them in Plenimar, but Sebrahn had been even worse. He was made of magic and had used a staggering amount to kill their pursuers in the Plenimaran wilderness, bring Alec back from Bilairy’s gate, and heal both Seregil and Alec. For the first few days of the voyage they feared that the wizened, depleted little rhekaro might have used himself up. Too weak to get out of his bunk, Alec had fed Sebrahn several times a day, squeezing blood from his fingertip onto the rhekaro’s little grey tongue. After a few days of this Sebrahn grew more alert and continued to improve. And today he seemed nearly himself again.

  Alec wondered how long Riagil and Mydri were going to keep him shut away up here. His long linen nightshirt was fresh, but he hadn’t had a proper bath since they’d escaped from the alchemist’s villa almost two weeks ago. He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, which hung halfway down his back—lank and dirty. His fingers caught in snarls and tangles. Stretching out one long blond strand, he wondered—not for the first time—whether he should just cut it off, as Seregil had sacrificed his during their escape.

  Sebrahn was squirming around now. One by one, the borrowed shoes fell to the floor. The alchemist, Charis Yhakobin, had created the rhekaro to be nothing more than a sexless, voiceless tool—one whose unnatural flesh and strange white blood could, according to Yhakobin, be distilled for some kind of potent elixir. But Sebrahn and his ill-fated predecessor had been much more than that. Sebrahn might be sexless, but he was not voiceless, or mindless, either.

  “What do you see?” asked Alec.

  Sebrahn turned to look at him. “Ahek.”

  Alec chuckled. His name had been Sebrahn’s first halting word. Since then, he’d managed a few more for people, things, and a few actions. Understanding was another matter. Strangely, it didn’t seem to matter whether you spoke Skalan, ’faie, or Plenimaran to him. Tell him cup, tyxa, or kupa, and if there was one in the room, he would fetch it.

 
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