Past and present collide in Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier and we’ve got your first look at the intriguing new YA fantasy‘s first chapter!
About ‘Isle of Blood and Stone’ by Makiia Lucier
Ulises asked, “How can I look at these maps, see this riddle, and do nothing? They are my brothers.”
Elias reached across the table and flicked aside two shells with a fingertip. The map curled into itself. “It’s bound to be a goose chase. You know that?”
“Or a treasure hunt,” Ulises countered, “and you’ve always been good at those.”
Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.
The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side-whether he wants her there or not-Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.
Isle of Blood and Stone is a sweeping historical fantasy full of intrigue and schemes, romance and friendship, and fearless explorers searching for the truth.
A welcoming committee evokes uneasiness in this exclusive excerpt from ‘Isle of Blood and Stone’
He felt her before he saw her, absently touching the back of his neck, then turning fully when he glimpsed pale green silk at the edge of his vision.
She stood in the midst of dust and abandoned feathers, and watched him. Dark hair coiled over her ears like ram horns. A belt made of pearls, looped around a slender waist. A silver circlet above her brow. Her eyes, the green of the sea before a storm.
Unfortunately, also Commander Aimon, who hovered behind her like some enormous dour shadow.
With dark humor, Elias looked down at the feathers stuck to his shirt. He saw the caged rooster disappear around a corner. Well. They had seen him do worse.
“Your ship is a month late, Elias,” Mercedes said when he walked up to them. She pronounced his name the del Marian way, ee-lee-us, and she was soft-spoken. Frequently, it lulled strangers into thinking she possessed a sweet nature. “What happened to your face?”
“Mercedes.” He kissed her on one cheek and the next, a ritual practiced on both women and men after a long absence. Most men, he amended after another glance at Aimon. There would be no kisses exchanged with the commander, today or any day. “It couldn’t be helped. Did you worry for me?”
“I prayed for you, if that is what you’re asking.”
He laughed. “It’s not.” He had missed this, this conversation, or whatever it was they shared. He had missed her. Looking over her shoulder, he said, “Commander, I’ve only just come off the ship. I haven’t had time yet to cause you grief.”
“Don’t disregard your talents so quickly.” Commander Aimon reached out and plucked a feather from Elias’s shirt. He held it up, unsmiling. “And so. You’ve taken up cockfighting for charity?”
They had heard his exchange with Olivier. Elias shrugged. “It’s true. What are you both doing here? Are you lost?”
The commander’s answer was to bring his fingers to his lips in a sharp, piercing whistle.
Elias nearly jumped from his skin. From a side street, three soldiers on horseback appeared and cantered toward them, scattering what was left of the crowd. Like Mercedes and the commander, they wore royal green and silver. Each led a riderless horse. One of them was Pythagoras.
Not a coincidence then. They had come looking for him, if his horse was here. Elias had been away for months with little news of home. Sharply, he asked, “What’s happened? My
“Is well, everyone is well.” Mercedes’s hand on his chest was fleeting, but enough to assure him the worst hadn’t occurred in his absence. “Ulises would like a word.”
Relief turned into puzzlement. That was all? The king would like a word? He was distracted for a short time by Pythagoras, who nudged his ear in greeting. “Fine. I’ll get out of these rags and—”
“No time for that.” Commander Aimon was already on his horse. “The Amaris was spotted on the horizon hours ago. The king has waited long enough.”
Elias looked from the commander to Mercedes. They had been watching for him. Why? There was nothing unusual about a ship arriving late. A month’s delay was later than he would have liked, but it should not have caused too much concern. He thought about that as he helped Mercedes onto her horse. Light green skirts spread about a white mare. Keeping one hand wrapped around her ankle, he asked, quietly, “Since when is a watch put out on my ship?”
“No? Since when am I met at the docks with personal escort? What aren’t you telling me, Mercedes?”
Once, they had been close. When they were children, it had been simple to know how she’d felt and what she’d thought. She’d worn her heart on her sleeve for friend and foe to see. Mostly foe. But that was then. In the years since, Mercedes had become very good at hiding her thoughts, even from him.
She looked at him. Beautiful green eyes. Giving away nothing. “I’m not trying to be mysterious,” she said. “It’s simpler just to show you. Will you come? And let go.”
He stepped away before she could kick him. She rode off with Commander Aimon and his men, and Elias was left with no choice but to follow; up toward the castle, up toward his king, at a complete loss, and with a very bad feeling.
About the author
Makiia Lucier is the author of historical fiction and fantasy for young adults. She grew up on the Pacific island of Guam (not too far from the equator), and has degrees in journalism and library science from the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Her debut novel, A Death-Struck Year, was called a “powerful and disturbing reading experience” by Publishers Weekly. It was a finalist for Germany’s top book prize for children, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, as well as Japan’s Sakura Medal, and was named an ABC Best Books for Children Selection by the American Booksellers Association.
She lives with her family in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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