Most everyone thinks Ward of Hurog is a simple-minded fool-and that's just fine by him. But few people know that his foolishness is (very convincingly) feigned. And that it's all that's saved him from death at the hands of his abusive father-who's always seen Ward as a bitter rival for powerý When his father dies, Ward becomes the new lord of Hurog until a nobleman declares that he is too dim-witted to rule. Ward knows he cannot play the fool any longer.
"A heartwarming tale delivers a thrilling coming-of-age story."-Romantic Times
"A lot of fun."-Locus"An excellent read for everyone."-Kliatt
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 15, 2002
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Excerpt from Dragon Bones by Patricia Briggs
Wardwick of Hurog
Hurog means dragon.
BREATHING HEAVILY FROM THE climb, I sat upon the ancient bronze doors some long-distant ancestor had placed flat into the highest face of the mountain. The doors were huge, each as wide as I was tall and twice that in length. Because the ground was angled, the tops of the doors were higher by several feet than the bottoms. On each door, worn by years of harsh northern weather, a basrelief bronze dragon kept watch over the valley below.
Below me, Hurog Keep perched on its man-made eyrie. The ancient fortress's dark stone walls rose protectively around the keep, formidable still, though there was little chance of enemy attack now. By the standards of the Five Kingdoms, Hurog was only a small keep, barely able to support itself from the meager harvest the north climate and rocky soils allowed. But from the sea harbor visible in the east to the bald-topped mountain in the west, the land belonged to Hurog. Like most keeps in Shavig, northernmost of the Five Kingdoms of the Tallvenish High King, Hurog was greater in land than wealth. It was my legacy, passed father to son, like my blond hair and large size.
In the old tongue, Hurog meant dragon.
Impulsively, I rose to my feet and opened my crippled mind so I could feel Hurog's magic gathered around me, pulsing through my veins as I roared out the Hurog battle cry.
Mine, if my father didn't kill me first. "HE'LL KILL US" MY cousin Erdrick's voice, though hushed, came from the river side of the trail.
The willows were so thick between the trail I followed and the river, he couldn't see me any more than I could see him. I was tempted to walk on. My cousin and I were not friendly, but the nagging certainty that I was the "he" to whom my cousin referred gave me pause.
"It's not my fault, Erdrick." Beckram, Erdrick's twin, spoke soothingly. "You saw her. She took off like a startled rabbit."
They'd been teasing my sister again. Erdrick might be right; I might just kill them this time.
"Next time, don't tease a girl whose brother's the size of an ox."
"Good thing he's got the brains to match," Beckram said serenely. "Come on, let's get out of here. She'll show up safe and sound."
"He'll know it was us," predicted Erdrick with his customary gloom.
"How? She can't tell him."
My sister was mute from birth.
"She can point, can't she? I tell you, he'll kill us!"
Time to catch them and find out what they'd done. I took a deep breath and concentrated on looking like a stupid ox instead of a vengeful brother before I crashed through the brush to the riverbank where the keep sewer emptied into the river. With my size and features, no one expected me to be intelligent. I'd taken that and played on it. Stupid Wardwick was no threat to his father's position.
They might be twenty to my nineteen, but I was a head taller than either and three stone heavier. I'd been out hunting, so my crossbow hung over my shoulder, and my hunting knife was in my belt. They were unarmed. Not that I intended to use a weapon on them. Really.
My hands worked just fine.
"Who will kill you?" I asked, untangling myself from a branch that had caught my shirt as I'd plowed through the bushes.
Struck dumb, Erdrick just stared at me in mute horror. Beckram was made of sterner stuff. His mobile face curved in a charming smile as if he were glad to see me there.