QSFer Amy Rae Durreson has a new MM fantasy book out:
Resistance, exile, plague. Raif has survived them all, but now he finds himself in search of a new purpose. Traveling north to wake the dragon Arden, he hopes he has finally found a leader worthy of his loyalty, but Arden turns out to be more of a frivolous annoyance than an almighty spirit lord. Now bound to Arden’s side despite his frustration, Raif follows the dragon to the rich and influential lagoon city of Aliann, chasing rumors of the Shadow that once cursed his homeland.
With the election of a new duke at stake, Raif struggles to make sense of the challenges he meets in Aliann: a conspiracy of nixies and pirates, selkie refugees in desperate need of a champion, a monster that devours souls, a flirtatious pirate prince, and a machine that could change the world. For nothing in the city of masks is what it seems, from the new friends Raif makes to the dragon he follows—or even himself.
Reawakening Book 3
THE FIRST time Raif drowned in Aliann was almost an hour after he stepped off the ferry.
It had been a busy and rather expensive hour. First he had paid the ferry captain and then had to pay again to get their travel packs released from the hold. After that had come the quarantine doctor, which had just been a quick nod and coin for his traveling companion Esen, but had proven more complicated when Raif explained that he had come from Tiallat and even worse when he pointed out that he had already had the plague and recovered. Even arguing that he had spent three weeks on a ferry and would certainly be dead already if he were plague-ridden made no difference, and his certificate of health from the most experienced physician in the world was greeted with a little chuckle.
“Not an Aliannese physician, I see,” the chirurgeon remarked, peering over his spectacles with disdain.
“The dragon Halsarr—” Raif started.
“Ah, dragons,” the chirurgeon said, his eyes lighting up with what could have been interest—although Raif was pretty certain by now that it was greed. “Tell me, do you have a certificate of sanity? Whilst Aliann welcomes all travelers, there is a fee for—”
“There are dragons in the world,” Raif said, standing up. He had been in here long enough. He was increasingly aware that Esen was waiting outside with their packs, alone in a city bigger than either of them had ever seen. “Dragons who trust me to fight by their side and have sent me as their personal emissary to the north.”
He wasn’t proud of himself, but he made an effort to loom over the chirurgeon a little, closing his hand over the hilt of his sword. He was considerably taller than the man, and although he had almost recovered his full strength, the plague had left him gaunt. He knew he looked fiercer than he had ever felt, and he used it now to say softly, “I am fit to enter Aliann.”
The chirurgeon stared up at him, suddenly silenced. His hand tightened on the certificate of health, crumpling it slightly.
Neither of them moved, and Raif felt a twitch of amusement. To hide it, he prompted the chirurgeon, “Now you need to declare it and sign the register.”
The chirurgeon breathed out, shoving the certificate back at his chest. “Yes, absolutely. You’re quite fit. You may enter the city.”
“Thank you,” Raif said politely. He made his escape before anyone else could demand money from him.
Outside, the noise and stink of the city hit him, and he stopped in shock. He had gotten a sense of the city from the ferry as it glided in along the Grand Canal, but he had been looking at the ornate faces of the buildings, the bridges, and the boats—little gondolas nipping between the taller sailing ships. He hadn’t realized how many people there were on the dock.
He had seen crowds this huge in his home city of Taila a few times, during festivals, markets, and when they had gathered to celebrate the end of the plague. Those had been Tiallatai crowds, though—veiled, grieving, still wary from years of tyranny. This crowd was loud, vibrant, varied—people dressed in every color and fashion shoving past each other or arguing loudly, people whose skin tones, hair, and frames were as varied as the clothes they wore. There were fat merchants with velvet hats slumping over their brows, swaggering sailors with their ships’ badges pinned to their caps, Myrtiline sisters striding through the crowd with their swords at their hips, hollow-cheeked girls with low-cut blouses calling promises to the sailors, porters carrying baskets of goods on their heads, teenage couriers leaping from boats to go skidding through the crowds, hollering to warn people out of their paths.
A brush against his hip made him look down in time to see a small hand working at the ties of his purse. Raif took a step back, bumping into someone behind him, and the would-be pickpocket, who couldn’t have been more than eight years old, looked up at him, squeaked when he saw Raif staring back, and bolted.
Raif retied his purse and looked around frantically for Esen. The sooner he found her, the sooner they could move away from this madness.
Amy Rae Durreson is a quiet Brit with a degree in early English literature, which she blames for her somewhat medieval approach to spelling, and at various times has been fluent in Latin, Old English, Ancient Greek, and Old Icelandic, though these days she mostly uses this knowledge to bore her students. Amy started her first novel twenty-one years ago and has been scribbling away ever since. Despite these long years of experience, she has yet to master the arcane art of the semicolon. She was a runner up in the 2014 Rainbow Awards.