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From the book jacket: Young Prince Tayy, heir to the khan of the powerful Qubal clans, a nomadic Mongol-like race is returning home an adored hero from a war between the gods and demons. But what awaits Prince Tayy upon his return is a situation fully as dangerous as anything he has faced in battle. With his own father and mother slain by a treacherous demon who manifests as both a deadly, poisonous green bamboo snake and a beautiful woman, his uncle Mergen-Khan now rules over the Qubal people. But he has named Tayy as heir and sees himself as a custodian, holding the position only until his nephew is fully prepared to assume the leadership of the clans. Yet there are some determined to see that Tayy never claims his rightful place, those with the powers of dark magic who have marked the prince for death and will use any means to achieve this end. Mergen's own blanket son, the warrior Tutula, will prove easy prey for the mysterious seductress who can offer him all he desires if he is willing to pay the price she demands. And that price is Prince Tayy's life! But there are those equally determined to keep Tayy from harm--his own loyal guardsmen, Mergen-Khan. Tayy's grandmother. Lady Bortu, and the powerful shaman, Bolghai. And there is one unexpected champion of the prince, the young maiden named Eluneke, an apprentice shaman and the unacknowledged daughter of Mergen-Khan. Eluneke seems to have been touched by the gods, gifted with powers of prophecy and other, as yet untapped, talents. If Eluneke can survive the tests which the gods will set for her then she may well prove Tayy's best--perhaps his .only---hope to avoid the death which seems to be his destiny. But time is running out as swiftly as a green serpents deadly strike....
From the book jacket: This first novel in a magnificent new fantasy series draws upon the rich legends, cultures, and traditions of the East to create an epic tale of kingdoms invaded, nobles enslaved, a young man's desperate quest to find the family snatched from him by war, and his determination to face the challenge of a destiny which may be beyond any mortal's power to fulfill.... Llesho was only seven when the Hamn invaded his family's mountain kingdom of Thebin. His guards slaughtered before his eyes, he was carried off and sold into slavery on Pearl Island, as far as he knew the sole survivor of his royal family. As with most young Thebin captives, he was trained as a pearl diver, a life with which he had to be content, for as he had been told time and again there was no escaping Pearl Island. When Llesho was ten, the old man called Lleck appeared on the island and secretly began to undertake the boy's education. Everyone assumed Lleck was his real father, and Llesho never revealed the old scholar's true identity as a trusted adviser to the former king of Thebin. But at fifteen Llesho's life was forever changed. For Lleck's spirit, released by death, visited the boy while he worked the pearl beds in the ocean depths and revealed his true destiny to him. All six of his older brothers were still alive, though each, it was rumored, had been sold into slavery in distant lands. Llesho must win his freedom, find and rescue his brothers, and with their help raise an army against the evil Ham, reclaiming his homeland from these seemingly undefeatable conquerors. However, the only way a pearl diver ever found freedom was in death, and so Llesho did the unthinkable. He petitioned his lord to be trained as a gladiator, thus taking the first step on a road that would lead to conflict with sorcerers, encounters with the avatars of gods, and a dangerous journey in search of the widely scattered family he had never expected to see again.... CURT BENJAMIN has a degree in art from Antioch University. After a brief sojourn in Portland, he returned to his hometown on the outskirts of Philadelphia. In his spare time, he is a designer and children's illustrator.
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