Excerpt: THE LADY by K.V. Johansen (Pyr)

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THE LADY, the second novel in K.V. Johansen‘s two-part Marakand series, is published today by Pyr Books. To celebrate the release, and just in case you weren’t aware of the novel (or series), here’s the first chapter to whet your appetite…

THE LADY

Chapter 1

The man had been like an older brother to him ever since his parents had got him hired into the caravan-mistress Gaguush’s gang, but sometimes Zavel could hate the self-righteous bastard of a Westgrasslander. Like now. All he had wanted was the loan of a few coins, but no, he got a tongue-lashing instead. As if Holla-Sayan had never had a drink or two more than sat well the next morning, or gone with an easy woman. And if that wasn’t what he was up to now, skulking down the street with his eyes running anxiously to those two slim figures who’d walked ahead and were now waiting arm in arm, a Grasslander caravaneer with the long braids of the road and another with her Nabbani-black hair cut short as a Marakander boy’s. That one looked around, wondering where her victim had got to.

Zavel had Holla-Sayan by the arm, stopping the man just walking off on him, and now he dug in his fingers. Gaped wordless a moment. Couldn’t be. And Holla had been right with them, a hand under the Nabbani’s elbow, all friendly, when Zavel had spotted the threesome, the Westgrasslander and the two women, one of whom was—Ivah. The past year hadn’t treated her well. She was gaunt and pallid, but cutting her long hair was no disguise at all; he knew the sly narrow eyes, yellow brown as his own, the delicate features and tight little mouth, bruised black as it was. She knew him, too. He saw her eyes widen in shock, and damn if she didn’t look to Holla-Sayan in some appeal.

“Holla!” He let go Holla-Sayan’s arm, pushed away from him. “Ivah! You murdering, bastard whore of the Lake-Lord, you—” His knife was in his hand and he leapt for her, reaching to grab her by the front of her coat, to jerk her close and into the stabbing blade, but he choked, jerked backwards himself by the hood of his coat, Holla, damn him, and he spun around, slashing. Holla-Sayan knocked his arm aside and a fist hit his jaw. He heard the thud of it, felt the jarring clack of his teeth. Then nothing. Continue reading