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Lord of Snow and Shadows by Sarah Ash
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Lord of Snow and Shadows

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Lord of Snow and Shadows by Sarah Ash
Mass Market Paperback $8.99
Jun 29, 2004 | ISBN 9780553586213

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  • Jul 29, 2003 | ISBN 9780553897807

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“Unusual . . . exotic . . . Well worth the read!”—Katherine Kurtz, author of Crusade of Fire

“Unusually complex [with] a smooth style, breathtaking atmosphere, and a fickle, impetuous plot.”—Dave Duncan, author of Paragon Lost

“A splendid tale . . . Sarah Ash is destined to be one of the bright luminaries of fantasy.”—Dennis L. McKiernan, author of the Mithgar series

Author Q&A

Birth of a Dragon-Lord
By Sarah Ash

A writer’s dream.… Picture the scene: she has just arrived with her family at a charming chalet hotel in the French Alps, with views over flowery meadows to distant peaks, some still white with summer snow. The phone rings. “A call for you, Madame Ash.” It is John, her agent, calling from London with wonderful, amazing news. “Crack open the champagne,” he says. “They love Lord of Snow and Shadows! They want to publish it.”

It really did happen. And in the following months I often had to pinch myself to be sure it hadn’t been a dream. Now I am in the happy position of having seen the first book of The Tears of Artamon published, I have proof positive.

But the tale of Gavril Nagarian, who inherits the kingdom of snow and shadows, had been a long time in the making before that happy day in France.

When I looked back through my notebooks recently, I found the first sketches for a story which I then titled “Drakkhan,” dating back to 1994:

Eerie, keening cry that made the hairs prickle at the back of the neck.
The boy and girl stared at each other without speaking.
Ghost spirit of the forest. The stalking beast whose fangs dripped blood.
It came again, the cry – high-pitched, mindless – the cry of a creature in pain.
Kiukiu began to run…

Re-reading that early outline, I discovered two rival clans locked in a centuries’ old war that had ravaged the country. Here was the Clan Arkhel and its snow owls. And here was Kiukiu, “an insignificant scrap of a servant girl” lovingly preparing the young clan lord’s bedchamber for his return and gazing at his portrait. And as Gavril explores the locked wing of the Kastel, he begins to find evidence of a chilling legacy bequeathed to him. He has assumed the tales told about his father were poetic exaggerations and metaphors. (Breathing fire from his nostrils, flying like a fiend above the battlefield). But his father was not human. And as Gavril grows to full manhood, he too will become like his father. The Drakkhan. Each time that he assumes Drakkhan form, he will lose a little more of his humanity.

The first signs of becoming fully Drakkhan are physical. Small crescents of cobalt blue appear upon the fingernails which begin to thicken and become claw-like. Strands of blue may be detected in the hair. The forehead becomes more prominent and bony. Nostrils flare. Eyes alter – slant beneath the prominent blue brows. Voice deepens. Mental signs – prone to outbursts of uncontrollable, irrational rage. Senses are sharpened.

Sketches are fascinating to explore, if only to see the paths not taken. Azhkendir was to be “a mountainous country, a cross between the Scottish highlands, Japan and the Pyrenees: bleak moors, forests and crags.” Kiukiu was protected by a capricious Fox Goddess. Gavril was named Calhan, then Tian, his mother Tianna and his murdered father Lord Rieuk.

Since that early draft, much has changed and a host of colourful characters have flooded into Gavril’s story, all driven by their own needs, desires and dreams.

But for me the tale really came to life when I set Gavril and his sinister dragon-daemon, the Drakhaoul, in the context of a more rational society. At the enlightened court at Tielen, it is held to be inconceivable that dragons could still exist or that Prince Eugene’s crack troops with their carbines and cannon could be defeated by a creature known only in old legends.

Prisoner of the Iron Tower, the second book of The Tears of Artamon,
sees the bitter rivalry between Gavril and Prince Eugene intensifying. Eugene is growing more obsessed with uncovering the young Drakhaon’s secret. He is even prepared to set aside his rational philosophies and summon the spirit of long-dead Emperor Artamon to learn more about the Drakhaoul’s mysterious origins. This obsession will not just endanger his beloved daughter and his new bride; it may unleash a terrible force of destruction into his rational and well-ordered world.

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