Rakish royal spy, Rustam Chalice, loves his life just as it is, so when his kingdom is threatened from within, he leaps into action.
Only problem is, his spy master teams him up with an untouchable, beautiful assassin who despise him.
Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god – and each other.
Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings – a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, interspecies mistrust, and magic phobia, with a pinch of romance.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always loved James Bond stories, and wondered what might happen if his character was ever allowed to develop. I also love the scope fantasy gifts an author for pitting their characters against extreme and unusual circumstances, so I decided to marry up the two and see what happened!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Rustam is based loosely on James Bond. He needed a strong female foil, so the character of Risada grew out of an amalgamation of several of my strongest female friends.
At the second ring of the bell, Rustam knocked on the door to Halnashead’s study. He glanced uneasily up and down the empty corridor. Where were the guards? Perhaps Halnashead had sent them away to protect Dart’s identity, but the back of Rustam’s neck prickled, and that was a warning sign he never ignored. He slipped his small dagger from its wrist sheath, and eased the door open. The room was mostly in darkness, with just a row of candles flickering on the front edge of the prince’s substantial desk. There was someone behind the desk, though Rustam could not make out who stood there.
Wending his way between the high backed chairs and ornate tables that cluttered the main floor space of the study, Rustam trod as lightly as he could with his injured leg, balancing on the balls of his feet, prepared to dive for cover at the slightest hint of trouble. He held the walking cane poised in his left hand like a javelin ready to throw, the dagger nestling coldly in his other palm. His eyes roved the room for signs of a third person. If that was Halnashead behind the desk, then Dart could be anywhere. And if it wasn’t…
With a rustle of ivory silk, the figure behind the desk sat down, bringing her face clearly into the candlelight. Rustam stopped in confusion, hastily lowered the cane to a more conventional position and made a small bow. “Your pardon, my Lady. The prince asked me to meet him here…”
Rustam’s voice trailed off as the Lady Risada Delgano vas Domn laughed; a resigned, self-mocking sound.
Risada shook her head. “Ah, Chalice. I suppose it had to be you, with your pretty face and your courtly manners.”
The study door opened, and Rustam spun around. Silhouetted against the light from the corridor was Halnashead’s bulky figure. The prince shut the door and strode across the room. “Splendid,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “I see you two have met at long last.”
“What?” blurted Rustam, his famed manners deserting him. “You mean—”
Lady Risada vacated the prince’s chair, and moved around the desk, preceded by her exotic perfume. Rustam’s breathing became rapid, though whether in response to the heavy scent or the lady’s proximity, he wasn’t sure. Halnashead sat down and beamed at them.
“Dart, meet Charmer. Charmer, meet Dart.”
Rustam looked pleadingly at Halnashead. “You’re joking, surely? You must be. She can’t be Dart; she’s—”
“What?” cut in Lady Risada. “A woman?”
“No! Well, yes. I suppose so.” Rustam shifted uncomfortably, his mind reeling as it tried to adjust to the concept of a noblewoman as a player. Female servants on occasion, yes. But a lady?
He glanced aside at the lady in question. She stared coldly back.
“Please, please!” Halnashead drew their attention. “I want you two to get on with each other. Does it surprise you so much, Rusty?”
“Rusty?” echoed Lady Risada derisively.
Taken aback by the lady’s obvious animosity, Rustam considered the prince’s question. “I suppose it shouldn’t. With her court position, the lady has access to all levels of nobility. Certainly a great asset to your Highness.”
“And don’t you forget it, dancer boy,” muttered Risada.
Halnashead frowned. “Be nice, Risada. Rustam is my most skilled agent.”
“Most skilled womaniser, you mean!”
“Risada, enough.” Halnashead did not raise his voice, but his displeasure was clear. The corners of Rustam’s mouth quirked up, but he quickly dropped the smirk when the prince scowled at him.
“You will get on with each other. This is a serious matter and you are both professionals; I expect you to behave as such. Now sit down. This could be a long meeting.”
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