The Fisherman’s Daughter, a short Ahmbren Chronicles novella, is available now for $0.99 on kindle.
If you’ve not read any of the novels, The Fisherman’s Daughter is a fantastic bite-sized entry into Ahmbren, revealing the different tastes of stories you’ll find in the series, from magic and suspense to romance and horror.
This story is a sort of bookends for the high fantasy part of the series, before we amp up the gears in a more steampunk style. The prologue and epilogue scenes feature Eszhira and Tallindra, two elven women from When Dragons Die, discussing how to open the sidhe cities so the high elves can integrate with the outside world. Tallindra reveals a fundamental challenge that must first be overcome: sidhe risk losing their free will to human glamour. She offers Eszhira a crystal which allows her to experience the memories of a fisherman’s daughter named Meiri who caught the eye of an ancient elven prince in the Second Age and became the catalyst that sparked the first sidhe-human war. This story features an appearance from Tal Harun and Desdemona of Artalon, before Artalon made its first pact with Dis, and in the periphery of Meiri’s story we see details that show how the whole messy affair which lead to the Archdragon’s intervention in Artalon (as detailed in the novels) began.
“You are meant for the fair folk,” the shaman with hungry eyes says to the fisherman’s daughter. Meiri dismisses his mutterings as those of a lecherous man trying to lure the beautiful young woman into his cult. She leaves his temple behind, but his words bear the hauntings of fate, and fate punishes her for ignoring them.
Aeons ago in the kingdom of Aradheim, dangers lurked in all forms; humans enslaved humans, powerful wizards manipulated the hapless and even each other, and the High Elf Imperium itself hid a secret that could destroy them. Like the fish Meiri and her father snatched from the water and sold to the temple, Meiri is captured, caged and sold in the slave markets of Fairholm. With her village burned and her father dead, she can never return, but the fight in her spirit will not resign itself to a life of servitude. Through wit and audacity, she escapes the house of the human lord who owns her and becomes lost in the forbidden Sutonian Woods, knowing but uncaring that she will surely face the ire of the elves. She is free.
But her liberty is short-lived. The High Elf Prince Kaladan finds her. Obsessed by a secret glamour he can’t control, he falls in love with the beautiful human and breaks all his people’s taboos to possess her, vowing to never let her go. From bondage to a gilded cage, Meiri is at her prince’s mercy. But desire makes slaves of its owners, and once more calling upon her wit and cleverness she uses the prince as her instrument of vengeance on the lords who destroyed her home—even as she negotiates for her freedom.
The power of the glamour and the price of the prince’s passion are greater than Meiri can comprehend. As she maneuvers for the rule of her own fate, the same obsession that had ensnared the prince spreads throughout his domain, infecting the fair folk with hopeless love for their own human pets. Their depravity becomes a death knell that rings loudly enough for the remaining High Elf Courts of the Imperium to hear. To protect their race from the same fate, the Courts swiftly pass a judgment that promises not only Meiri’s final doom but all of humanity’s. ($0.99 on kindle).