Kids@RandomKids@Random
Kids@Random
.
. KIDS TEENS TEACHERS LIBRARIANS ABOUT US RANDOMHOUSE.COM .
. FAVORITES NEW RELEASES AUTHORS GAMES and CONTESTS .
.
. READ AN EXCERPT .
.
  

Advanced Search

 
NEWS AT THE HOUSE

NEWSLETTER

Sign up for the Read & Play Newsletter for age-by-age recommendations, discounts, news about upcoming books, literacy activities and more!
Click here for more info...

NEW RELEASES


Hot off the press! Check out some of this month's reading highlights...
See New Releases

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT
Author Photo

Meet Jeff Stone, author of Phoenix

Jeff Stone lives in the Midwest with his wife and two children and practices the martial arts daily.

Read more

RANDOM HOUSE RECOMMENDS


Click here for age-appropriate recommendations on our bestselling pre-school, chapter, and middle-grade book series!

For a full list of book recommendations try Search by Theme!

FAVORITES
Seussville


From Dr. Seuss to Dora the Explorer, Random House has books featuring your favorite characters!

.
.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
QUOTES
AWARDS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RELATED LINKS
READ AN EXCERPT
Buy this book online
Buy this book from a local store
Ordering information
Search Again
.
Trickster's Queen

Written by Tamora PierceAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Tamora Pierce


· Bluefire
· Trade Paperback · Ages 12 and up
· October 11, 2005 · $9.99 · 978-0-375-82878-2 (0-375-82878-8)

.
Trickster's Queen
Enlarge View
Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse and search through your favorite titles
  • Add to Barnes and Noble Wish List
  • Add to Good Reads
  • Add to Librarything
  • Add to Shelfari

EXCERPT

There were spells written deep within the walls that surrounded the Balitang home. They appeared as a shimmering silver blaze in Aly’s Sight. As the processsion passed through the gate, she saw magic sunk below the stones, wood, and carvings. It was partially covered by common magical signs for protection and health that any house possessed. They gleamed silver in the carving on the foundation stones and front steps. Unless someone else in Rajmuat had the Sight in the strength Aly had it, no one would see anything but the everyday spells. The raka mages were very good at keeping their work hidden.
Ornately carved pillars lined the long front porch and framed the front door of Balitang House. The roof was layered, each lesser roof sporting upturned ends. After the summer’s heat and rains, and the winter’s cold and rains, with no staff to keep the place up, the house should have looked run-down. But this house gleamed. Not one clay tile was missing from the roof. The stucco was the color of fresh milk. Gold and silver leaf glimmered on the eaves and on the carved wood above the posts.
The staff was lined up on either side of the flagstone road. They wore luarin tunics and breeches or hose, raka wrapped jackets and sarongs, or combinations of styles in an explosion of colors that made Aly blink. Housemaids wore white headcloths; the men wore round white caps. They all looked to be wearing every piece of jewelry they owned.
Aly counted. Nearly sixty people were here, not including the men-at-arms. Balitang House was as fully staffed as it had been the previous spring.
The duchess could not afford this. When King Oron had exiled them, he had made them show their loyalty with gold, emptying Duke Mequen’s coffers. Winnamine had drawn on her dowry to pay household costs. If Prince Rubinyan had not virtually commanded her to return to court, she would have remained at Tanair, which was affordable.
“Fesgao,” Aly murmured. The man had come to stand by her elbow. “Who’s paying for this?”
“Don’t worry,” the raka man told her. “It seems our situation has changed. Ulasim will explain.” He went to help the duchess out of the litter.
Aly looked at the steps. Ulasim waited there on the ground, smiling. He was a hard-muscled man, in his forties with the brown skin of a full-blood raka. His nose had been mashed against his face on several occasions by someone not kindly disposed toward him. A tightness in Aly’s heart loosened at the sight of the head footman. He was the leader of the far-flung raka conspiracy, wise and strong at every trial. He had drawn Aly from suspicion to respect. Back under Ulasim’s wing, the Balitang family seemed much less exposed. Back under Ulasim’s eye, Aly could turn to her specialty and leave him to deal with assassins and alliances.
The big raka bowed to Winnamine. As Aly watched, reading his lips, Ulasim told the duchess that they had not spent money they did not have. He reassured her that all would be explained to her satisfaction. once she’d had a chance to eat and rest. As he soothed her, Aly identified a familiar face at Ulasim’s elbow. Quedanga, the housekeeper since Sarai was born, had stayed in Rajmuat when the family left the city. She had now returned to Balitang House.
“How did they afford this?” Dove murmured as Aly handed her down from the litter.
“It will be a lovely tale,” Aly replied, her voice sweet. “Some parts may even be true.”
Dove looked up at Aly, smiling slightly. “You sound as if you wouldn’t put it past them to have raided the royal treasury.”
Aly raised an eyebrow at her mistress. “Do you think they wouldn’t, my lady?”
Dove sighed. “I hope not. It would complicate things.” Dove had understatement down to an art.
Hands folded in front of her, Aly followed Dove toward the house. They did not get far. A tall woman stepped out of the house. She was a silver-haired luarin with perfect posture. Her luarin-style gown was pale blue with a high collar. Instead of the traditional over robe, she wore a stole like the raka wrapped jacket, made of shimmering white lawn.
Sarai and Dove looked at each other. “Aunt Nuritin,” they whispered in shock.
Aly had heard of Nuritin Balitang–or as Sarai and Dove called her, the Dragon. Though Duke Mequen had been technically the head of the family, it was his aunt who ruled it. When he had sunk into mourning for his first duchess, it was Nuritin who had badgered him into making a new marriage and a new life. Among the Balitangs, her word was law. Among the nobles of her generation, her opinion was the first they sought.
It did not bode well that she looked very comfortable in Balitang House.
Winnamine was the first to recover. She approached the old woman with outstretched hands and an apparently genuine smile on her face. “Aunt Nuritin, it’s wonderful to see you. Girls, come greet your great-aunt. Elsren, Petranne, come.”
Aly looked at Ulasim and made sure the nobles couldn’t see her before she hand-signed: Does she live here?
Ulasim nodded slightly.
Again Aly’s fingers flew. Are we safe with her in the house?
Ulasim came over to whisper, “As safe as anywhere in Rajmuat. We’re stuck with the old Stormwing, and that’s that. She will learn nothing we do not allow her to.”
Aly shook her head. “Well, then,” she said, “we’ll all just be one happy family. What harm could come of that?”
Once inside, the duchess looked at her late husband’s aunt. “Lady Nuritin, may we have some time to settle in before we talk? I’m not at my best so early in the morning, and this is quite a surprise.”
“Of course you need rest, all of you,” the old woman said. “Go. Bathe, change, unpack, take naps if you need to. We shall have our talk after lunch, and I can explain everything then.”


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce Copyright © 2004 by Tamora Pierce. Excerpted by permission of Bluefire, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

.

.
.
. .
.