Upgrade to a better browser, please.

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

An Autumn War

Added By: Administrator
Last Updated: valashain

An Autumn War

Purchase this book through Purchase this book from Purchase this book from
Author: Daniel Abraham
Publisher: Tor, 2008
Series: The Long Price Quartet: Book 3
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags:
Avg Member Rating:
(23 reads / 13 ratings)


Otah Machi, ruler of the city of Machi, has tried for years to prepare his people for a future in which the magical andat, entities that support their commerce and intimidate all foes, can no longer be safely harnessed. But his efforts are too little, too late. The Galts, an expansionist empire from across the sea, have tired of games of political espionage and low-stakes sabotage. Their general, a ruthless veteran, has found a way to do what was thought impossible: neutralize the andat.

As the Galtic army advances, the Poets who control the andat wage their own battle to save their loved-ones and their nation. Failure seems inevitable, but success would end the Galtic threat.


Chapter One

It had rained for a week, the cold gray clouds seeming to drape themselves between the mountain ranges to the east and west of the city like a wet canopy. The mornings were foggy, the afternoons chill. With the snowdrifts of winter almost all melted, the land around Machi became a soupy mud whose only virtue was the spring crop of wheat and snow peas it would bring forth. Travel was harder now even than in the deadly cold of deep winter.

And still, the travelers came.

"With all respect, this exercise, as you call it, is ill-advised," the envoy said. His hands still held a pose of deference though the conversation had long since parted from civility. "I am sure your intentions are entirely honorable, however it is the place of the Dai-kvo—"

"If the Dai-kvo wants to rule Machi, tell him to come north," the Khai Machi snapped. "He can pull my puppet strings from the next room. I'll make a bed for him."

The envoy's eyes went wide. He was a young man, and hadn't mastered the art of keeping his mind from showing on his face. Otah, the Khai Machi, waved away his own words and sighed. He had gone too far, and he knew it. Another few steps and they'd be pointing at each other and yelling about which of them wanted to create the Third Empire. The truth was that he had ruled Machi these last fourteen years only by necessity. The prospect of uniting the cities of the Khaiem under his rule was about as enticing as scraping his skin off with a rock.

The audience was a private one, in a small room lined with richly carved blackwood, lit by candles that smelled like rich earth and vanilla, and set well away from the corridors and open gardens where servants and members of the utkhaiem might unintentionally overhear them. This wasn't business he cared to have shared over the dances and dinners of the court. Otah rose from his chair and walked to the window, forcing his temper back down. He opened the shutters, and the city stretched out before him, grand towers of stone stretching up toward the sky, and beyond them the wide plain to the south, green with the first crops of the spring. He pressed his frustration back into yoke.

"I didn't mean that," he said. "I know that the Dai-kvo doesn't intend to dictate to me. Or any of the Khaiem. I appreciate your concern, but the creation of the guard isn't a threat. It's hardly an army, you know. A few hundred men trained up to maybe half the level of a Westlands garrison could hardly topple the world."

"We are concerned for the stability of all the cities," the envoy said. "When one of the Khaiem begins to study war, it puts all the others on edge."

"It's hardly studying war to hand a few men knives and remind them which end's the handle."

"It's more than any of the Khaiem have done in the past hundred years. And you must see that you haven't made it your policy to ally yourself with . . . well, with anyone."

Well, this is going just as poorly as I expected, Otah thought.

"I have a wife, thank you," Otah said, his manner cool. But the envoy had clearly reached the end of his patience. Hearing him stand, Otah turned. The young man's face was flushed, his hands folded into the sleeves of his brown poet's robes.

"And if you were a shopkeeper, having a single woman would be admirable," the envoy said. "But as the Khai Machi, turning away every woman who's offered to you is a pattern of insult. I can't be the first one to point this out. From the time you took the chair, you've isolated yourself from the rest of the Khaiem, the great houses of the utkhaiem, the merchant houses. Everyone."

Otah ran through the thousand arguments and responses—the treaties and trade agreements, the acceptance of servants and slaves, all of the ways in which he'd tried to bind himself and Machi to the other cities. They wouldn't convince the envoy or his master, the Dai-kvo. They wanted blood—his blood flowing in the veins of some boy child whose mother had come from south or east or west. They wanted to know that the Khai Yalakeht or Pathai or Tan-Sadar might be able to hope for a grandson on the black chair in Machi once Otah had died. His wife Kiyan was past the age to bear another child, but men could get children on younger women. For one of the Khaiem to have only two children, and both by the same woman—and her a wayhouse keeper from Udun . . . They wanted sons from him, fathered on women who embodied wise political alliances. They wanted to preserve tradition, and they had two empires and nine generations of the Khaiate court life to back them. Despair settled on him like a thick winter cloak.

There was nothing to be gained. He knew all the reasons for all the choices he had made, and he could as easily explain them to a mine dog as to this proud young man who'd traveled weeks for the privilege of taking him to task. Otah sighed, turned, and took a deeply formal pose of apology.

"I have distracted you from your task, Athai-cha. That was not my intention. What was it again the Dai-kvo wished of me?"

The envoy pressed his lips bloodless. They both knew the answer to the question, but Otah's feigned ignorance would force him to restate it. And the simple fact that Otah's bed habits were not mentioned would make his point for him. Etiquette was a terrible game.

"The militia you have formed," the envoy said. "The Dai-kvo would know your intention in creating it."

"I intend to send it to the Westlands. I intend it to take contracts with whatever forces there are acting in the best interests of all the cities of the Khaiem. I will be pleased to draft a letter saying so."

Otah smiled. The young poet's eyes flickered. As insults went, this was mild enough. Eventually, the poet's hands rose in a pose of gratitude.

"There is one other thing, Most High," the envoy said. "If you take any aggressive act against the interests of another of the Khaiem, the Dai-kvo will recall Cehmai and Stone-Made-Soft. If you take arms against them, he will allow the Khaiem to use their poets against you and your city."

"Yes," Otah said. "I understood that when I heard you'd come. I am not acting against the Khaiem, but thank you for your time, Athai-cha. I will have a letter sewn and sealed for you by morning."

After the envoy had left, Otah sank into a chair and pressed the heels of his hands to his temples. Around him, the palace was quiet. He counted fifty breaths, then rose again, closed and latched the door, and turned back to the apparently empty room.

"Well?" he asked, and one of the panels in the corner swung open, exposing a tiny hidden chamber brilliantly designed for eavesdropping.

The man who sat in the listener's chair seemed both at ease and out of place. At ease because it was Sinja's nature to take the world lightly, and out of place because his suntanned skin and rough, stained leathers made him seem like a gardener on a chair of deep red velvet and silver pins fit for the head of a merchant house or a member of the utkhaiem. He rose and closed the panel behind him.

"He seems a decent man," Sinja said. "I wouldn't want him on my side of a fight, though. Overconfident."

Copyright © 2008 by Daniel Abraham


An Autumn War

- Nymeria
An Autumn War

- MaggieK
An Autumn War - Daniel Abraham

- valashain
An Autumn War

- Bormgans


No alternate cover images currently exist for this novel. Be the first to submit one!