The Novel Approach welcomes Rebecca Cohen today for a Backlist Bump of her book Servitude to prepare all of you for Idolatry, the sequel coming this fall from Dreamspinner Press. We’ve got excerpts from both books below, and the chance for you to win an e-copy of Servitude.
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Lornyc Reagalos, future High Lord of the city of Katraman, enjoys his life as a student, even if he has to keep his relationship with Methian Hadral, heir to the throne of Xenetra, a secret. Unfortunately, Lornyc isn’t just any royal student—he’s also the grandson of an infamous magic user named Romanus Reagalos, and his grandfather’s wild youth is about to catch up with him. Unknown to anyone else, Romanus saw fit to sign his grandson into the life of a valet. Specifically, Methian’s valet.
The contract—and the strain it puts on his relationship with Methian—is just the start of Lornyc’s troubles. Though the Reagalos family was once famous for its magic, Lornyc’s father never showed any aptitude, and Lornyc hasn’t either—though that doesn’t make the next contract, the one that says Lornyc must learn to use his latent powers, any less binding. When Lornyc learns of a plot to remove his father from power, he finds himself racing against time. If he can’t master his magic and identify the leader of the plot, he stands to lose everything he knows and loves: his parents, his rank, and Methian.
The excerpt below is Lornyc and his mentor, Kat Warrenger. Lornyc is in training to try and reach the magic within him, and Kat wants Lornyc to investigate the magical tattoo that appeared on Lornyc’s arm as a result of the contract.
Except from Servitude:
Lornyc stood to leave, but Kat stopped him. “One last thing.”
“Have you tried to investigate the crest since you connected?
Lornyc shook his head. “I have no idea what you even mean by that.”
“Take off your jacket and roll your shirtsleeve up far enough to expose the crest.”
Lornyc obeyed and rolled the soft fabric up his arm to reveal his marked bicep. “Good,” said Kat. “Now place your hand over it, take a deep breath, and just relax.”
“I really don’t think this’ll work, I’ve hardly—”
“I’ve not asked you to think. Just do it.”
Although Lornyc wasn’t convinced about Kat’s teaching technique and he was running out of time to get to College, he did as he was told. As his fingers brushed his flesh, a bolt of static shot through his body, creating a circuit of power racing up his arm, across his shoulders, and then back down into his fingertips. The sensation was electrifying, rampaging through his body, like something alive and untamed.
“See, they are willing to cooperate, Lornyc,” said Kat. “They just might take some coaxing to do as they’re told.”
“Cooperation” wasn’t the word Lornyc would have used to describe it. His powers darted wildly through his body, snaking and writhing, causing pleasure and exhilaration. They explored the alien marking on his arm, darting and diving in and out of the spell-weave.
The room was fading out of focus, and his mind’s eye began to picture the crest. The body of the crest was still in one piece, but woven through it were five intertwined ribbons, each of a different color. They moved, tangling and untangling themselves together to create a knot of strands, a convoluted ball of red, blue, purple, green, and yellow strings.
A strong hand closed around his wrist and pulled his hand violently away from the crest. The vision dissipated slowly, morphing into Kat’s face.
“Are you with me?”
“I…. It was….”
Kat grabbed his shoulders and shook him roughly. “Better?”
Lornyc fazed back into reality. “Yeah, thanks.”
“It was a jumble of five colors,” said Lornyc, still a little dazed.
“Five? Are you sure?”
“Of course I am.”
Kat leaned forward and placed his hand over the crest. “You’re right.”
Lornyc pulled his arm away. “What?”
“When I first examined you, I thought there were only three mages involved in the spell’s casting, but Liam Hadral was determined not to let the Reagalos get away with anything.”
Lornyc looked puzzled. “Kat, I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Each of those pretty colored strands is the signature of the mage whose magic left it there. It is a form of identification; no two mages have the same color, even if the difference is minor. I thought it was bad enough seeing the red, blue, and green, but the addition of the purple and yellow is even more of a problem.” Kat sounded irritated, his hands gesticulating wildly.
“Is it just because there are more, or is it the colors themselves that are the issue?” Lornyc tried his best to keep his voice calm, but Kat’s reactions unnerved more than the news of the complexity of the spell.
“Bit of both. How much do you know of magic theory?”
“Probably as much as you do about paradimensional analysis.”
Kat rubbed at his chin. “I’ll stick to the basics, then. Thousands of years ago, there were three main aspects of magic, and these were reflected by three colors of various shades. Those with a natural affinity for nature and the land had a yellow signature, and likewise those of significant strength and… er… potent fertility had a red one. The final branch, the blue lot, were healers and had the ability to ward off bad spirits. As the number of generations increased, the types of magic mingled to give the different colors. The problem is, to remove the crest, we’ll need to remove each of those signatures. And while I was confident we might remove three, five will take longer—especially since two of them were hidden well enough for me not to spot them in the first place.”
“I see,” said Lornyc stoically. “And because each is different, they’ll need a different method of removal?”
Kat shrugged. “Only a slight variation is required, but it is time-consuming nonetheless.”
“Fantastic,” said Lornyc, unimpressed. “Look, I have to go. I’ve got to get to College to see the Dean.”
“Take this.” Kat handed him a thin booklet that had been sitting on the table. “It’s just a meditation guide. I want you to read it and try some of the exercises to help you focus your powers.”
Servitude was published in June 2012, and I’m happy to announce that its sequel Idolatry is due to be published in the Fall by Dreamspinner press. In Idolatry, Lornyc is dealing with the fallout of his errant grandfather’s scheme to set up cult. Romanus also created a mysterious figure he called The One who would be the Cult’s future savor. In the below pre-publication extract, Lornyc attends the Sanctification Ceremony of the Cerulean Cult, and things do not go to plan.
Excerpt from Idolatry:
Halm stared around the congregation. “My spiritual siblings, I beseech you to hear and understand our Holy Profit’s words. From this day forth, the Cult will change for the better. The One is amongst us and he will be our guide on the long path ahead. Do not be fearful, there is no need to be scared. Our future is assured and—believe me—it is in safe hands.” Halm bowed his head respectfully toward Lornyc.
“Bring forth the holy implement, the Orb of Declaration and Renewal,” cried Halm.
From the back of the glass orb, two gold-robed figures approached, standing out against the sea of blue. Between them they carried a giant blue casket that was ornately carved with gold icons that Lornyc couldn’t make out from where he was sitting.
Halm gestured toward one of the bearers of the blue casket to open it. The blond-haired man dropped to his knees in front of the chest. He closed his eyes and allowed himself a few moments of reflection before reaching out and opening the lid.
The hair rose on the back of Lornyc’s neck and he had a terrible sense of foreboding as he watched the blond lift an orb aloft. The young man reverently stroked the smooth surface of what he obviously believed to be a sacred relic.
The other casket-bearer walked forward carrying a blue cushion. The blond bowed to him and placed the orb gently on the pillow. Halm too caressed the orb. “The final act is upon us.”
Lornyc’s unease grew as he watched the blond return to the casket and remove a hammer and chisel. Halm took them from his fellow cult member and placed the sharp edge of the chisel against the orb.
The hammer fell as Lornyc jumped to his feet. “No!” he cried, extending out his hand as if to reach out and stop the scene before him. There were rules for the orbs, rules these idiots didn’t know, and one of them was not to break open an orb without asking its permission.
A blinding white light erupted from the fissure in the orb created by the chisel. The cult member holding the cushion dropped it quickly. The impact of the orb hitting the plinth caused the crack to widen and the orb split in two.
Lornyc watched with awestruck horror as the particles of light seemed to coalesce, forming a tight white ball with tail following behind. The comet circled around the plinth weaving and darting in an irregular pattern.
The room was filled with cries of amazement and wonder as the light escaped the fragmented orb. All eyes followed the path of the light as it swam randomly around the plinth. Gasps of astonishment and delight came from all quarters and the light seemed to fly faster and toward the noise as the volume increased.
With no warning the comet dived toward the crowd. The throng scattered and the light rose back into the air only to hurtle downwards again. Time and time again the comet rose and dived, skirting past the cult members, eliciting shrieks and screams.
The congregation was now wild, pouring out of the exits and away from the light. Screams of panic and fear ripped through the air.
The comet stopped in midflight. It hung in the air then hurtled toward Lornyc.
Too late Lornyc realized the comet’s trajectory. The light hit him full in the chest. His head rolled back and his arms flailed outward. A hot stream rushed madly through his body. Delving and searching, looking for something that Lornyc couldn’t recognize. His body shook, his body convulsed, an unwelcome presence violating him, pulling and pushing, wrapping itself around him, demanding something from him Lornyc didn’t understand.
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and baby son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
Buy links Servitude: