- Author: Gareth Hanrahan
Read book online «The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan (desktop ebook reader .TXT) 📕». Author - Gareth Hanrahan
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2021 by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Excerpt from The Bone Shard Daughter copyright © 2020 by Andrea Stewart
Excerpt from The Mask of Mirrors copyright © 2021 by Bryn Neuenschwander and Alyc Helms
Cover illustration © Thea Dumitriu
Map by Paul Bourne, Handiwork Games
Author photograph by Edel Ryder-Hanrahan
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First Edition: May 2021
Simultaneously published in Great Britain by Orbit
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Library of Congress Control Number: 2020947393
ISBNs: 978-0-316-70567-7 (trade paperback), 978-0-316-70565-3 (ebook)
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The same dream, again.
That same day, again. More than a year ago, now.
In the dream, Artolo of the Ghierdana swaggers down a street in the New City of Guerdon. Spring is in the air, and there’s a spring in his step, too. He looks across the unlikely vista of the New City, this realm of fanciful spires and bridges, as if the froth of a breaking wave froze and turned to marble. He looks up at the towers, all conjured in an instant by a creation of the alchemists gone awry – or so rumour claims. Across the world, Guerdon’s chiefly known for the wonders wrought by the alchemists’ guild. Weapons from their foundries and cauldrons flow out across the sea to the Godswar and streams of gold and silver come flowing back.
In Artolo’s eyes, this New City is a sieve, straining the city, skimming off gold and silver for him and his family. It was born of chaos and crisis, and chaos always brings opportunity for those with the nerve to seize the moment. That is why Great-Uncle chose Artolo, out of all the family, to oversee operations in Guerdon. He’s got the strong hands needed.
In the few months he’s been here, he’s proved it. He broke the local criminal syndicate, the Brotherhood, operating out of the pisspot district of the Wash – he owns them now.
And he’s dealt with anyone else who crossed him.
Because when you cross Artolo, you cross the Ghierdana, and no one crosses the Ghierdana.
No one crosses the dragons.
This is only the beginning. The New City doesn’t belong to anyone, not really. Half these enchanted spires are empty, or claimed by squatters and refugees who have no one to protect them, who can easily be driven out. Guerdon’s still knitting itself back together after the Crisis. The city watch’s wax golem-things, the Tallowmen, banished off the streets. The alchemists are rebuilding their broken factories, the Brotherhood’s gone, parliament’s staggering around stunned, run by some cobbled-together emergency committee. Even the local gods are moribund.
All wide open. All ripe to be plucked. Artolo runs his big hand along the smooth marble railing of the balcony, delighting in the sensation. He taps the Ring of Samara off the railing, and he can almost feel the whole city tremble, feel it quiver beneath his touch like it fears him. A horse to be broken, a woman to be taken.
It feels good. It feels right. It feels like the first time Great-Uncle took him flying. The New City around him might be a cloud in a shimmering sky, and he’s soaring towards his glorious destiny.
In the dream, he walks down a stairwell. His men bow their heads as he passes, murmur words of respect. Soon, the whole city will bow to him, too. Boss Artolo, Great-Uncle’s favourite. Great-Uncle’s Chosen.
He enters the cellar room. Two of his men wait, his cousin Vollio and Tiske. Loyal men, even if Tiske’s only Eshdana. Ash-marked, not one of the dragon’s kin. They’re holding a prisoner between them. A woman, young, dark-haired, struggling like an alley cat. Yowling like one, too.
“Quiet,” he snaps. He grabs her by the chin, twists her head so he can see her face. Her skin is marked by a dusting of little dark marks, like scars or burns. An ugly amulet of some black metal hangs around her neck. “I’m told that you’ve been spying on me. That you stole from me. That you stabbed three of my men.”
“Three that you’ve found,” she whispers.
“Do you know who I am?” He squeezes her mouth.
“Tolo,” she mumbles.
“Wrong!” he shouts.
He releases her. Takes out his knife. The hilt is gold and studded with jewels. The blade is a dragon’s tooth, given by Great-Uncle. It’s more than a weapon – it’s a symbol of Great-Uncle’s trust, of his authority as a Ghierdana prince. He lifts the knife, enjoying the weight of it, the