The Memory of Fire, the anticipated sequel to Callie Bates’ The Waking Land, won’t be out until June 5, 2018, but we’ve got the exclusive cover reveal (and an excerpt) right here, right now!
About ‘The Memory of Fire’
The riveting trilogy that began with The Waking Land returns featuring a new narrator: a young man with secret magical powers who’s ready to continue a revolution.
The land has awoken, and news of magic’s rebirth has traveled across the sea. Jahan, a daring noble who has been concealing his powers, is finally ready to stop hiding. Now he returns to the imperial capital, where the use of magic carries a death sentence. There, he must face his dark past, learn to embrace his gifts, and prevent an all-out war across the kingdoms.
Exclusive ‘The Memory of Fire’ cover reveal and excerpt
Most of my childhood is torn into pieces, memories I’ve scraped together, guessing at the whole. But I remember waking up that afternoon, ten years old, on the stone table in Madiya’s cave. I don’t know why she never took the memory from me. Maybe, in the chaos, it was an accident. An omission.
I remember the taste of opium lingering bitter on my tongue. How cold my feet were. How the high, dark ceiling seemed like it could swallow me up. I couldn’t remember what I’d had for breakfast. I couldn’t remember coming down into the cave, or lying on the table. I couldn’t remember waking up the first time, in my own bed, that morning. It was gone, all of it. The way it was almost every day. My memories ripped from my head by Madiya, sacrificed to make me the ideal sorcerer. It’s the patterns of your minds, she told my brother Rayka and me. If I can just rearrange them, I can make you the greatest sorcerers in the world. As great as Mantius of old.
Tears burned my eyes. This once, I should have remembered. I should have resisted her. I should have spat up the laudanum—that bitter tincture of opium and alcohol Madiya fed us every day. But I hadn’t, again. And again, no one had come to rescue me.
Cool fingers pressed my arm. I startled. Madiya leaned over me, a long trail of golden hair swinging over her shoulder. She smiled, gently, though it never reached her eyes. “There you are, Jahan. Let’s try transforming again. I’m sure you can do it this time. Try just your arm.” She leaned closer and said softly, “Think feathers. Think of Mantius.”
Mantius. A tear ran, scalding, down my cheek. How did she know so well how to hurt me? Mantius was my comfort. My ancestor, the greatest sorcerer of his age, who had worn a cloak of black feathers. He had been able to transform himself into a raven. I would imagine him coming for me. Rescuing me. Materializing out of the past and sweeping down into the cave, gathering me up in his cloak, and carrying me far away from here, and my brothers, too. When my mother screamed at my father, saying he had no right to subject her children to Madiya’s experiments, I imagined I was wrapped up in Mantius’s black cloak, the feathers muffling my ears. I was warm there. Safe.
“Jahan,” Madiya said, a hint of impatience coloring her voice. But when I looked at her, she smiled.
If I didn’t do it, she’d drug me with more laudanum and tinker again with the patterns in my mind, and I’d wake up more muddled than ever. But if I cooperated, maybe she’d stop. And if I could get my arm to transform even slightly, she’d take me back to the house and tell my father how well I’d done. He’d puff up his chest and pontificate about how our family used to be sorcerers, back before our islands were conquered by the Paladisans, and how we’d destroy the witch hunters and reclaim our fortune. And later, I knew, I’d find my mother weeping. Saying Madiya was changing me. Saying she couldn’t bear it.
Still, I was here now, with Madiya. I had no choice, even though I shrank from it. I sat up. I reached for the power from the earth, from the waterfall that surged through the cave. I thought feathers. I thought hollow bones and flight and the delights of eating worms. I was only ten and every day I forgot half of what I’d learned the day before. I didn’t know much about birds. I thought Mantius.
But nothing happened. My arm stayed flesh and hair, wrist and bone and knuckles. Madiya was watching me, her mouth growing smaller and smaller. Shame dug through me. And even though I hated her with every fiber of my being, for some reason I still wanted her to like me. I tried to grin at her. “I guess I’m just bird-brained now!”
“You tried so hard,” she said in a soothing voice, and I relaxed even though I knew I shouldn’t. Madiya’s kindnesses always preceded her greatest cruelties.
She walked away toward the shelves lining the cave wall and stopped before a row of shining bells. Not the bells! They were horrible, an endless ringing that left my ears aching and my mind twisted up on itself, even though she claimed they were necessary to protect me from the witch hunters. I scrambled down from the table. I had to think of something, fast, to distract her. “Let me try again to be a bird! Or maybe a badger! I know I can do it.”
“Oh, Jahan.” She ran her fingertips over one of the bells, her voice dispassionate now. “It’s not your fault your mother made me damage you. Your brothers will always be better than you. But at least we can make you immune to the witch hunters’ bells, so they don’t send you mad before they kill you.”
I felt myself shrink inward. Mother had interrupted one of Madiya’s first experiments, when I was just a baby. Madiya had done something wrong; she claimed it had stunted me. And though she always said it wasn’t my fault, it never seemed like she really meant it.
Her head came up. She tilted her head as if she heard something—or felt it. She went still, and then she said in a hard, commanding voice I’d never heard before, “Jahan, stay here.”
She ran for the stone steps. I hesitated. If something was scary enough to frighten Madiya, then it must be terrifying indeed. But something that frightened Madiya might also be enough to redeem my world. I raced after her, up the steps into the blinding sunlight.
I paused at the top, my eyes watering. Somewhere, a bell rang—a bright, shivery sound. A shudder ran through me. I didn’t see how there could be a bell, because Madiya couldn’t endure the sound outside the safety of her cave—but if there was, then it meant my brothers might be in danger, and I needed to save them. The air smelled of orange blossoms and, squinting, I saw Madiya running through the trees toward her neat white cottage. I pounded after her.
At the cottage wall, she stopped dead. I slowed, and then I saw them, just beyond Madiya. My mother and a strange man, walking down the path. I almost didn’t recognize my mother; she hadn’t been out of the house in weeks. She was dressed in a real gown today, and had put up her hair. She kept touching the man’s arm, in a way she never did with my father. And the man . . .
I couldn’t breathe. Everything flared white inside me.
He was facing my mother, his black hat tilted toward her. But even with his back to me, I recognized his blue uniform, strapped with a bandolier covered in clear stones. Even from a distance, even though Madiya insisted she had rendered us immune to their noise, I heard their hum. I knew what the man must be. A witch hunter, here. In Pira. At Madiya’s cottage.
And he had my mother.
About the author
Callie Bates is a writer, harpist and certified harp therapist, sometimes artist, and nature nerd. When she’s not creating, she’s hitting the trails or streets and exploring new places. She lives in the Upper Midwest. The Memory of Fire is the sequel to her debut fantasy novel, The Waking Land.