Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?
| Friday Firsts: February 16 |
Book One of Spellslinger
by Sebastien de Castell
Fantasy | 416 Pages | Published by Hot Key Books in 2017
| First Paragraphs |
The old spellmasters like to say that magic has a taste. Ember spells are like a spice burning the tip of your tongue. Breath magic is subtle, almost cool, the sensation of holding a mint leaf between your lips. Sand, silk, blood, iron … they each have their flavour. A true adept – the kind of mage who can cast spells even outside an oasis – knows them all.
Me? I had no idea what the high magics tasted like, which was why I was in so much trouble.
Tennat waited for me in the distance, standing inside the seven marble columns that ringed the town oasis. The sun at his back sent his shadow stretching all the way down the road towards me. He’d probably picked his spot precisely for that effect. It worked too, because my mouth was now as dry as the sand beneath my feet, and the only thing I could taste was panic.
‘Don’t do this, Kellen,’ Nephenia pleaded, quickening her step to catch up with me. ‘It’s not too late to forfeit.’
I stopped. A warm southern breeze shook the flowers from pink tamarisk trees lining the street. Tiny petals floated up into the air, glittering in the afternoon sun like particles of fire magic.
I could have used some fire magic just then. Actually, I would have settled for just about any kind of magic. Nephenia noticed my hesitation and unhelpfully added, ‘Tennat’s been bragging all over town that he’ll cripple you if you show up.’
I smiled, mostly because it was the only way I could keep the feeling of dread crawling up my stomach from reaching my face. I’d never fought a mage’s duel before, but I was fairly sure thatooking petrified in front of your opponent wasn’t an especially effective tactic. ‘I’ll be fine,’ I said, and resumed my steady march towards the oasis.
‘Nephenia’s right, Kel,’ Panahsi said, huffing and puffing as he struggled to catch up. His right arm was wrapped around the thick covering of bandages holding his ribs together. ‘Don’t fight Tennat on my account.’
I slowed my pace a little, resisting the urge to roll my eyes. Panahsi had all the makings of one of the finest mages of our generation. He might even become the face of our clan at court one day, which would be unfortunate, since his naturally muscular frame was offset by a deep love of yellowberry sweetcakes, and his otherwise handsome features were marred by the skin condition that was the inevitable result of the aforementioned cakes. My people have a lot of spells, but none that cure being fat and pockmarked.
‘Don’t listen to them, Kellen,’ Tennat called out as we approached the ring of white marble columns. He stood inside a three-foot circle in the sand, arms crossed over his black linen shirt. He’d cut the sleeves off to make sure everyone could see he’d sparked not just one, but two of his bands. The tattooed metallic inks shimmered and swirled under the skin of his forearms as he summoned the magics for breath and iron. ‘I think it’s sweet the way you’re throwing your life away just to defend your fat friend’s honour.’
A chorus of giggles rose up from our fellow initiates, most of whom were standing behind Tennat, shuffling about in anticipation. Everyone enjoys a good beating. Well, except the victim.
| First Impressions |
Only a short way into the opening chapter and I’m already hooked! Spellslinger dives straight into the action with a conversational narrator whose self-deprecating humour and frequent asides bring a sense of realism and more than a few laughs to this series opener.
What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?