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A most unique fantasy, The Falcon of Imenotash rejects the common tropes of the fantasy genre; instead, it is a creative, distinctive, incredibly memorable work that incorporates everything from strict politics to mystical shapeshifting. It is exceptionally well-written, whether the scene is a battle, an act of lovemaking, or one of cruelty and abuse. Holly Bargo’s strong, tactful, and descriptive writing leaves the reader wanting more, chapter after chapter and long after the book is finished. The Falcon of Imenotash is a spectacular novel, captivating from beginning to end, and a most fulfilling read for anyone searching for a great fantasy novel that isn’t just the same old fluff.
Chapter 1 Excerpt
From two steps behind and slightly off to the right, he watched his lady walk with stately grace and ignore the thinly veiled sneers of contempt, jealousy, avarice, and resentment from the provincial kings who sat in their imposing thrones that lined the great hall. Captain Edan Morrellen, captain of the palace guard and all military personnel of Imenotash, regarded his lady only with pride and loyalty. She’d done much good for the province, leading it back to productivity and prosperity after a generation of greedy, shortsighted, and careless rulers.
It mattered not to him that a woman ruled. She’d proven herself more than capable. He served her with pride.
She stopped a respectful distance from the gilded throne and bowed deeply, again showing the proper respect, and murmured, “Your Majesty. I have come as you bade me.”
Giroch, emperor of the Harudin Empire, stroked his bearded chin and nodded.
“Welcome, Aridis. It is good to see you again, sister.”
Edan’s queen nodded and replied in kind, “And it is a pleasure to see you again, your Majesty.”
“We shall speak privately later,” the emperor stated, not bothering to check whether Aridis had time in her busy schedule to accommodate him. He was the emperor; everyone always had time to accommodate him. He glanced at the captain of Aridis’ guard and added, “Do you feel an armed escort necessary within the walls of your old home, sister?”
Her expression remaining serenely impassive, the provincial queen simply replied, “It is law that no woman approach the emperor without male escort. Captain Edan accompanied me on the journey to the capital and is more than capable of serving as my escort here.”
The emperor nodded his acceptance of the captain’s double duty and waved his hand in dismissal. Aridis bowed deeply again and retreated to the empty throne in the great hall, the throne assigned to her province. Maintaining a protective, yet still respectful, distance between himself and his lady, Edan escorted her down the long, marble-floored room. He discreetly pulled a clean handkerchief from a coat pocket and wiped the throne’s surface clean of whatever nasty substance one of her peers had spilled on it. Their resentment, envy, and greed spurred them to such petty, mean-spirited attacks and he despised them for it.
“Thank you, Captain,” she murmured as she shrugged off her cape and draped it over the seat to protect her gown. “Drop the handkerchief on the floor. A servant will clean it for you.”
He obeyed and took his place beside his queen’s seat while the next provincial ruler answered their emperor’s summons to present himself and be acknowledged. He stood straight and tall and attentive. She sat straight and tall and attentive. Both knew their places and conducted themselves with dignity, while keeping keen watch over the proceedings and the powerful men who surrounded them.
When Giroch finally decided to take a break for his midday meal, those assembled, either at his command or in supplication, also departed. Edan accompanied his lady, his soldiers falling into step behind him as she led her company to the quarters customarily reserved for the ruler of the backwater province of Imenotash.
The emperor’s servants had set out a feast of roasted meats, seasoned vegetables, exotic fruits, and sweet cakes. Edan could not help that his belly rumbled eagerly at the heady fragrance.
“Gentlemen, fill your plates,” their lady commanded.
“My lady, you should choose first,” Edan protested.
She turned large, dark eyes upon him and did not smile. “There is more than sufficient here to feed us all. And, truthfully, I am not very hungry.” She gestured toward the tables groaning beneath the burden of comestibles. “Eat, for you and your men are hungry. I shall be content with whatever is left.”
The command in her voice brooked no objection. He nodded and bowed and picked up a plate. Following his example, each of the eleven other warriors served themselves and carried their heaping plates to a courtyard outside where they could breathe fresh air and enjoy the early spring sunshine as they ate.
“Stay, please,” Aridis requested of her captain. “I would listen to your observations of this morning’s events.”
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