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Janet French

Janet French, Author of the Cardanon Chronicles











I live in beautiful Shropshire in the UK and keep a craft shop. Authors like David Gemmell and Anne McCaffrey have always been on the top of my reading pile and are my inspiration to write. I have no interest in stories of the mundanities of everyday life but give me a dragon and a magic sword and I am good to go.

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Congratulations to Janet for being in the 2011 Preditors and Editors top ten Novel Category for The Silver House.

                                 2011 P&E Novel 2013 EPIC eBooks Awards Finalist

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The Silver House by Janet French

 

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The Silver House by Janet French


The Zashran invaders are at the gates of Cardanon. As the city falls the Dragon Mothers take the Silver House and the city’s children into hiding away from the mortal world.

The future of the House, the threads of Power and the land itself are in the hands of a ragbag of escapees. Aric, the new Duke of Cardanon; Agbani, a beggar girl; Marka, a House Sister; Bertran, a merchant’s son; and a group of rescued children are led by Genya, a stranded Dragon Mother. Used to the safety of city life they must evade the pursuing Zashran and find their way through a strange and exciting countryside with only their courage and resourcefulness to rely on.

It is up to these few to face the dangers of the road and find their way to the heroes who can help them save the House and their world.
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                                                                  Excerpt
Word Count:
147,566
Pages to Print: 439
File Format:
PDF                  Price: $ 5.99
Congrats to Janet on being a finalist in the 2013 EPIC eBook Awards!
    



   
   
   

Excerpts 
The Silver House
Chapter One
Duke Coric leaned back into the shifting shadows against the stained and broken wall that used to be a part of Cardanon’s finest inn. Across the broad street, the Great North Gates shuddered under the pounding of the Zashran rams and the noise filled the sooty air.

Coric was tall and well made, of middle years, with an air of inherited stature and grace but the slight stoop to his shoulders and the weakness of his blue eyes betrayed a man used to seeing the world in close up, in books and histories. Three months of siege had not made his armour comfortable nor his sword fit his hand. This was the end of his city. One thousand years of history was coming to a crashing finale under his rule and the last of his dynasty would fall with it.

The ugly glare from buildings left to burn in the night lit the scene with a hellish light. Coric slid sideways toward the deeper shadows and wondered if he could be out of sight.

Even now the Duke was not left unattended, a millennium of protocol was not lost so easily, but the humour of seeing his Steward, Eoc, picking his way through ruin to offer him water had been exhausted many weeks ago. Coric scrubbed at his gritty eyes with the back of his leather gauntlet and heaved himself away from the wall.

He addressed the man, “There are plenty of men who need that more than I do. Give it to someone who can still help this city.” Coric was thankful he could still hear some authority in his voice.

Eoc stiffened, affronted, as much as he was able against a ragged crutch and stood his ground.

“My apologies, Eoc, but I am resolute in this if in nothing else. If there is water left, give it to fighting men. I am of no use to my city now.”

“Don’t say that, Sir!” Eoc pleaded. “There is only you and the House holding us together.”

Coric followed Eoc’s gaze up to where the tower of the Silver House, high behind them, was hidden in the night.

“I still pray Power for help but how can any of us hope to see the morning?” Coric’s voice betrayed him with a tremble.

“We will defend the House, Sir, even if the gates fall.”

Coric shook his head and looked around in the guttering light at the muster of men waiting to meet the Zashran invaders. He could not see more than a handful without signs of injury and those were exhausted and half-starved. The wounded that could bear any weapon at all had been brought from the surgeons’ care and were lining up before the gates. Coric’s eyes misted as he watched the men propped against buildings, their swords strapped to their hands. Women were moving out from the shadows carrying whatever weapons the fallen fighting men had left behind. The Zashran took no prisoners and gave no quarter. Cardanon’s remnants were choosing death in the open rather than waiting to be butchered.

He rubbed at his eyes again and looked up to the walls, searching in the darkness for his son. Aric’s pale face was looking anxiously down at him but turned away as soon as he saw his father was still standing. Coric finally pushed all weakness away and moved to stand at the front of Cardanon’s defenders. He threw his helmet aside to let the firelight catch his bright hair as he raised his sword in a last gesture of defiance. The gates finally cracked and buckled in front of them.

High above the city in the Silver House, children in nightgowns sat in warm groups around the nursery fires waiting for their bedtime drinks. Sisters sat with them, smiling and talking softly while they helped to comb the knots out of long hair, damp from the bath. A Mother gathered half a dozen toddlers to sit with her on the hearthrug for a story and reached out to take one of the latest arrivals onto her lap.

Frieda stood in the doorway for a moment, letting her silver robe blend into the candlelight and hide her from casual eyes. She gazed hungrily at the cosy scene and indulged herself briefly by imagining how the children would snuggle up to her and share their stories if she joined them, but the danger of the night was waiting outside the North Gates. Dark wings were stretching in the blackness beyond the city, yearning to fly. The haunted eyes of the children that had recently come to the House from the city gave her a reminder she did not need. Everything was going to change tonight. She smiled back to the children who noticed her and left them to be soothed by the comfortable winding down of the day.

The Sisters knew Frieda was watching them but preserved the atmosphere of unhurried calm. There was an appointment to keep in the tower room but the bedtime clock had to be allowed to tick its regular routine for the last time. The House Mothers had placed quietness like a bubble around the room to make a gentle sanctuary but the Sisters’ ears, able to reach beyond the glamour, could still hear the sounds of distant battle. These precious children were the city’s last treasures and Silver House’s dilemma.

Frieda turned away from the children and closed the door softly behind her. She stood for a while with her hand on the wall beside the door, feeling herself a part of the life and strength that ran through the stone. The deep currents in the Power beat smooth and strong but little smudges of filth intruded where the Zashran worked their dark magic. Close by, she felt the surface eddies of unease set spinning by the Sisters’ fear sending ripples over the rich fullness of the House Mothers. She reached out into the city, avoiding the little dark spots the enemy was sowing, and assessed the strength of the city walls. The Power the House was holding in the stonework was being pushed back by noisome streaks of filth and fire. She sought out the sparks that were her Duke and her son. She found Duke Coric waiting with the last of Cardanon’s men, watching the inside of the North Gates bowing toward them under the rams of the Zashran horde. Aric was on the wall trying to clear defenders from the last ramparts before they fell. Children were still pelting the heads of the ram teams with whatever came to hand. Frieda’s pride and grief fuelled her resolve. She wrenched herself away from the looming dark beyond the city walls and raised her eyes to look about the hallway.

This House was her; its care was the work of her life. She looked with true love at the grey stone and the bright hangings she had commissioned to warm the corridors and please the children with pictures of animals and flowers. She remembered every set of small feet that had worn the pathways between the doors. All those children had run, hopped and skipped from dining room to schoolroom and bathroom to playroom but always back to the comfortable order of the nursery. How many children had been schooled here in the two hundred years of her rule? How many orphans had been raised with the Sisters’ and Mothers’ own few children? She could name them all. The siege of the city had given her the choice of fighting and perhaps postponing the end of Cardanon or trying to save the children. At the last, there was no choice for her, only the tedious process of going through the motions until the wayward and distracted House Mothers united behind her.

She left the glowing hallway to walk the narrower passages to the small hall by the kitchens. Here some busyness remained as Sisters came and went through the back door that led through the darkened kitchen gardens to the portress’ gate. The siege of the city had made nonsense of the rhythm of night and day. Away from the fragile peace around the children, domestic duties were done at need, not by the clock, but time was running out and the chores of everyday would soon be put aside for the night’s work. Frieda felt an urge to see all of the House, not to say goodbye but to hold its details fresh in her mind before the city fell. She knew she was trying to put off the hazard of the night’s work. She could never know her House any better.

The sounds of the siege were suddenly loud as the door opened. A Mother and two Sisters, their arms filled with babies, shepherded a bedraggled group of youngsters into the light. Welcoming hands led Sisters and children to the comfort of the kitchen fireside and reached out to soothe the bleakness in the eyes of those who had seen the spoiled city. Parents were still sending their children to the House, trusting they would be safe. Frieda wondered at such blind faith. If they knew what she planned to do would they still send the children? They probably would. There was nowhere else.

Velia, the newly arrived Mother, left the children at the fireside and shook out her amber cloak. She passed Frieda in the hallway and offered an empathic caress with her mind and a wry smile.

A group of young Sisters were about to go out but stopped when they saw Frieda.

“Will you bless us, Mother Frieda?” they pleaded. “We have to hurry.”

They already had all the blessing she could give but she would not deny them any comfort. She held her hands out to them and allowed them to see her House tattoos glowing softly from her fingertips and writhing sumptuously up her forearms. The Sisters touched their foreheads to the backs of Frieda’s hands in awe and reverence.

“You know you will not get back in time?” Frieda asked softly. She could see in their faces that their choices were made but she needed to say it. A fair girl, her opalescent cloak glimmering faintly, spoke for them all.

“We think we are still needed in the city more than we are in the House,” she said. She hesitated, then spoke in a rush.

“I don’t want to be here while my family is fighting. I need to go back to them.”

“There is no safety anywhere tonight.” Frieda smiled slightly. “You must choose as best you can. Go well, I hope we meet again.”
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