Blood Ties (The Castings Trilogy)
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A thousand years ago, the Eleven Domains were invaded and the original inhabitants forced on the road as Travelers, belonging nowhere, welcomed by no-one.
Now the Domains are governed with an iron fist by the Warlords, but there are wilder elements to the landscape which cannot be controlled and which may prove their undoing. Some are spirits of place, of water and air and fire and earth. Some are greater than these. And some are human.
Bramble: a village girl, whom no-one living can tame ... forced to flee from her home for a crime she did not commit.
Ash: apprentice to a safeguarder, forced to kill for an employer he cannot escape.
Saker: an enchanter, who will not rest until the land is returned to his people.
As their three stories unfold, along with the stories of those whose lives they touch, it becomes clear that they are bound together in ways that not even a stonecaster could foresee - bound by their past, their future, and their blood.
confidence he had disappeared and he was left, like now, holding his cloak in front of him and feeling like a fool. He clung to that feeling as a bulwark against the memory of the girl sliding down the wall, against the smell of her blood still in his nostrils. They went to an eating house at the side of the square, sat on the bench in the farthest corner (“Never expose your back” had been one of his first lessons) and Doronit ordered cha and honey cakes. There was a piper outside the eating
Turviters ignore it? It called him back with a whisper of many voices saying his name. The voices were cajoling, inviting, familiar, like the voice he had heard in the cradle, the voice he heard in his own head. He had to force himself to go on with Hildie, feeling a cold sweat crawl down his back. As they disappeared into the winding streets, the voices died, disappointed, like a wind dropping. He found himself walking more briskly, as though while he had heard the voices they had drained him,
“You’re her host. It wouldn’t be fitting.” He was flummoxed. “You wouldn’t be back before breakfast,” she said. “You never are. What would I tell Bramble?” It was the first time she had ever alluded to his overnight absences. He thought resentfully that she’d use anything against him, but what could he say? They were skating on thin ice, here, neither mentioning where he’d really be going, neither prepared to acknowledge the truth. If the truth were ever said aloud, they couldn’t go on as
know enough to know that I can only look after myself. That is a lesson you will learn, boy, out on the Road with no skills and no guardian. You will remember. You will regret this.” She opened the door and walked into the slanting downpour. The wind blew in and rain drenched the rug. Martine shut the door and put the knife down on the table, then took him by the arm and led him to the small fire. She built it up until the flame shadows danced on the ceiling. He couldn’t stop shaking. The
savagely but otherwise ignored it. She could see the thoughts move behind his eyes, saw him looking for a way to discredit her before the warlord. It chilled her. “Black hair and black eyes,” he sneered. “You’re a Traveler wench, aren’t you? Is it true what they say, that you’ll go with anyone?” “No.” Her voice was as cold and firm as she could make it. She saw some flicker of reaction on his face and the spark of warning inside her grew stronger. Old Ceouf was famed for allowing his men to