Where on earth does the time go? Feels like Healer's Touch just came out yesterday, and here I am staring down the gaping maw of another release day.
Bound by Steel will be available on Tuesday. As it happens, BbS shares its release day with another significant event for those of us who live north of the 49th. Yes, Tuesday October 14 is election day for us Canucks. The political choices, they are as lame as ever. The fiction choices, however, are looking much more peachy.
In honor of election day, and in anticipation of Bound by Steel's release, I am going to post an unusually clean excerpt. All right, not clean, precisely, considering the questionable politics. Please remember, the political views expressed in this excerpt are not necessarily those of the blog owner.
"Tell me, Master Gil, do you know much Fjorn history?"
"As much as any man who is neither Fjorn, nor a historian."
"Then you must be familiar with the fall of the Temple Knights?"
Gil frowned, wondering exactly where this was going. "What man isn’t? High Prelate Eddard of Banebury wanted his brother Hillard on the Fjorn throne, despite the fact it was already occupied. His Knights would have succeeded, but for perfidy within the ranks of the Temple priests. After the debacle, it was decided that the clergy had too much earthly power, and the Order of Temple Knights was disbanded."
"A foolish knee-jerk reaction if there ever was one," the chancellor concluded.
The chancellor deftly peeled a prawn and bit it in half. "They disbanded an entire order of elite fighters—fighters who had, up until that one incident, been unerringly loyal to king and country—who then had no choice but to turn mercenary and find positions in the private armies of the Fjorn nobility. In essence, the disbanding of the Templars only increased the chances of civil war."
Gil sat back and took a long sip of his wine, intrigued despite himself by the man’s unorthodox politics. "What would you have done, chancellor?"
"The crown would have been better advised to enact measures to prevent nobility from rising to supremacy within the Temple. I will not need to tell you how such measures would have benefited Fjorg in its more recent troubles with the Dragon’s Head. And they ought to have written legislation consolidating all the armed forces of Fjorg under the aegis of the crown. A king cannot effectively rule if he must always tiptoe around his lords and their personal militias."
Gil stabbed at his salad with a three-pronged fork cast from pure silver. "But allowances must surely be made for a lord to defend his land, his vassals and tenants, and of course his family. Even these days, the world is a dangerous place. The Bal-shar may be gone, but brigands and raiders still victimize the innocent, especially in more isolated regions. You can’t possibly advocate the total abolition of the traditional household guard?"
Chancellor Collin smiled with a dry humor that did not quite reach his eyes. "That is exactly what I advocate."
Gil set his fork down on the edge of his plate, the delectable salad turning tasteless in his mouth. He may not be able to see quite where this conversation was leading, but he was beginning to feel the first stirrings of unease, and he’d learned over the years to trust his instincts.
The chancellor’s smile widened, but did not grow any warmer. "It is my belief that a strong king, with the proper resources, must be the ultimate authority of the land. If he is granted sufficient wherewithal through taxes and manpower, it should be his sole responsibility to govern, and to protect his subjects. And the first rule of good governance is upholding the law."
"And if a man has a grievance with his neighbor?"
The chancellor lifted his glass in a salute. "A king who cannot smooth over a neighborly feud has no business being king."
"And what," said Gil, trying to maintain a certain lightness of tone and not entirely succeeding, "ought a man do when he has a grievance against his king?"
"Then that man has a problem," the chancellor said quietly, his smile gone.
Gil pretended a keen interest in his wine as the serving girl brought in the second course, a roast pork sirloin with pearl onions, baby peas and a loaf of white bread hot from the oven. Everything looked delicious, but Gil’s appetite had fled. Over the course of the long wait in the salon, he had largely discarded the possibility of working with this man, and this…discussion only reinforced that decision.
The girl finished dishing out their meal and retreated. Gil picked up his knife and speared an onion, not with any real intention of eating it. All he wanted now was to finish this ridiculous conversation and get the fuck out of here. "Your interest in the topic seems more than a passing one, chancellor."
The chancellor’s smile was back full force. "I’m a man of ambition. A such, I aspire to change the world for the better."
"Surely you have no royal aspirations? After all, Belthalas has no king."
"Belthalas may be a city-state," the chancellor said affably, "but it is more similar to Fjorg than you might realize. Scaled down, it possesses all those parts that comprise a kingdom—a ruler, his loyal nobility, the civil service, a strong clergy, the commons and a militia. Unfortunately, it also abounds with mercenaries who threaten the stability of its righteous governance."
And there it was, out in the open. Gil stabbed a second onion onto the point of his knife. "The Emissaries."
Chancellor Collin’s teeth flashed, but the coldness of his eyes lent his smile a predatory aspect. "The Emissaries."
Gil’s fingers tightened on the haft of his dagger. Without being too obvious, he made a note of the exits, and where they were likely to lead.
Oh, dear. It looks like someone has an agenda. *sigh* I guess this is what happens when politicians don't get enough action in the bedroom...