I live in beautiful Shropshire in the UK and keep a craft shop.
Authors like David Gemmell and Anne McCaffrey have always been
on the top of my reading pile and are my inspiration to write.
I have no interest in stories of the mundanities of everyday
life but give me a dragon and a magic sword and I am good to
Interview with Janet
Congratulations to Janet for being in the 2011
Preditors and Editors top ten Novel Category for The Silver House.
New Title(s) from Janet French
Click on the thumbnail(s) above to learn more about the book(s) listed.
|The Zashran invaders are at the gates of Cardanon. As
the city falls the Dragon Mothers take the Silver House and
the city’s children into hiding away from the mortal world.
The future of the House, the threads of Power and the land
itself are in the hands of a ragbag of escapees. Aric, the
new Duke of Cardanon; Agbani, a beggar girl; Marka, a House
Sister; Bertran, a merchant’s son; and a group of rescued
children are led by Genya, a stranded Dragon Mother. Used to
the safety of city life they must evade the pursuing Zashran
and find their way through a strange and exciting
countryside with only their courage and resourcefulness to
It is up to these few to face the dangers of the road and
find their way to the heroes who can help them save the
House and their world.
Pages to Print: 439
File Format: PDF
Price: $ 5.99
|Congrats to Janet on being a finalist in the
2013 EPIC eBook Awards!
|Duke Coric leaned back into the shifting
shadows against the stained and broken wall that used to be a
part of Cardanon’s finest inn. Across the broad street, the
Great North Gates shuddered under the pounding of the Zashran
rams and the noise filled the sooty air.
Coric was tall and well made, of middle years, with an air of
inherited stature and grace but the slight stoop to his
shoulders and the weakness of his blue eyes betrayed a man used
to seeing the world in close up, in books and histories. Three
months of siege had not made his armour comfortable nor his
sword fit his hand. This was the end of his city. One thousand
years of history was coming to a crashing finale under his rule
and the last of his dynasty would fall with it.
The ugly glare from buildings left to burn in the night lit the
scene with a hellish light. Coric slid sideways toward the
deeper shadows and wondered if he could be out of sight.
Even now the Duke was not left unattended, a millennium of
protocol was not lost so easily, but the humour of seeing his
Steward, Eoc, picking his way through ruin to offer him water
had been exhausted many weeks ago. Coric scrubbed at his gritty
eyes with the back of his leather gauntlet and heaved himself
away from the wall.
He addressed the man, “There are plenty of men who need that
more than I do. Give it to someone who can still help this
city.” Coric was thankful he could still hear some authority in
Eoc stiffened, affronted, as much as he was able against a
ragged crutch and stood his ground.
“My apologies, Eoc, but I am resolute in this if in nothing
else. If there is water left, give it to fighting men. I am of
no use to my city now.”
“Don’t say that, Sir!” Eoc pleaded. “There is only you and the
House holding us together.”
Coric followed Eoc’s gaze up to where the tower of the Silver
House, high behind them, was hidden in the night.
“I still pray Power for help but how can any of us hope to see
the morning?” Coric’s voice betrayed him with a tremble.
“We will defend the House, Sir, even if the gates fall.”
Coric shook his head and looked around in the guttering light at
the muster of men waiting to meet the Zashran invaders. He could
not see more than a handful without signs of injury and those
were exhausted and half-starved. The wounded that could bear any
weapon at all had been brought from the surgeons’ care and were
lining up before the gates. Coric’s eyes misted as he watched
the men propped against buildings, their swords strapped to
their hands. Women were moving out from the shadows carrying
whatever weapons the fallen fighting men had left behind. The
Zashran took no prisoners and gave no quarter. Cardanon’s
remnants were choosing death in the open rather than waiting to
He rubbed at his eyes again and looked up to the walls,
searching in the darkness for his son. Aric’s pale face was
looking anxiously down at him but turned away as soon as he saw
his father was still standing. Coric finally pushed all weakness
away and moved to stand at the front of Cardanon’s defenders. He
threw his helmet aside to let the firelight catch his bright
hair as he raised his sword in a last gesture of defiance. The
gates finally cracked and buckled in front of them.
High above the city in the Silver House, children in nightgowns
sat in warm groups around the nursery fires waiting for their
bedtime drinks. Sisters sat with them, smiling and talking
softly while they helped to comb the knots out of long hair,
damp from the bath. A Mother gathered half a dozen toddlers to
sit with her on the hearthrug for a story and reached out to
take one of the latest arrivals onto her lap.
Frieda stood in the doorway for a moment, letting her silver
robe blend into the candlelight and hide her from casual eyes.
She gazed hungrily at the cosy scene and indulged herself
briefly by imagining how the children would snuggle up to her
and share their stories if she joined them, but the danger of
the night was waiting outside the North Gates. Dark wings were
stretching in the blackness beyond the city, yearning to fly.
The haunted eyes of the children that had recently come to the
House from the city gave her a reminder she did not need.
Everything was going to change tonight. She smiled back to the
children who noticed her and left them to be soothed by the
comfortable winding down of the day.
The Sisters knew Frieda was watching them but preserved the
atmosphere of unhurried calm. There was an appointment to keep
in the tower room but the bedtime clock had to be allowed to
tick its regular routine for the last time. The House Mothers
had placed quietness like a bubble around the room to make a
gentle sanctuary but the Sisters’ ears, able to reach beyond the
glamour, could still hear the sounds of distant battle. These
precious children were the city’s last treasures and Silver
Frieda turned away from the children and closed the door softly
behind her. She stood for a while with her hand on the wall
beside the door, feeling herself a part of the life and strength
that ran through the stone. The deep currents in the Power beat
smooth and strong but little smudges of filth intruded where the
Zashran worked their dark magic. Close by, she felt the surface
eddies of unease set spinning by the Sisters’ fear sending
ripples over the rich fullness of the House Mothers. She reached
out into the city, avoiding the little dark spots the enemy was
sowing, and assessed the strength of the city walls. The Power
the House was holding in the stonework was being pushed back by
noisome streaks of filth and fire. She sought out the sparks
that were her Duke and her son. She found Duke Coric waiting
with the last of Cardanon’s men, watching the inside of the
North Gates bowing toward them under the rams of the Zashran
horde. Aric was on the wall trying to clear defenders from the
last ramparts before they fell. Children were still pelting the
heads of the ram teams with whatever came to hand. Frieda’s
pride and grief fuelled her resolve. She wrenched herself away
from the looming dark beyond the city walls and raised her eyes
to look about the hallway.
This House was her; its care was the work of her life. She
looked with true love at the grey stone and the bright hangings
she had commissioned to warm the corridors and please the
children with pictures of animals and flowers. She remembered
every set of small feet that had worn the pathways between the
doors. All those children had run, hopped and skipped from
dining room to schoolroom and bathroom to playroom but always
back to the comfortable order of the nursery. How many children
had been schooled here in the two hundred years of her rule? How
many orphans had been raised with the Sisters’ and Mothers’ own
few children? She could name them all. The siege of the city had
given her the choice of fighting and perhaps postponing the end
of Cardanon or trying to save the children. At the last, there
was no choice for her, only the tedious process of going through
the motions until the wayward and distracted House Mothers
united behind her.
She left the glowing hallway to walk the narrower passages to
the small hall by the kitchens. Here some busyness remained as
Sisters came and went through the back door that led through the
darkened kitchen gardens to the portress’ gate. The siege of the
city had made nonsense of the rhythm of night and day. Away from
the fragile peace around the children, domestic duties were done
at need, not by the clock, but time was running out and the
chores of everyday would soon be put aside for the night’s work.
Frieda felt an urge to see all of the House, not to say goodbye
but to hold its details fresh in her mind before the city fell.
She knew she was trying to put off the hazard of the night’s
work. She could never know her House any better.
The sounds of the siege were suddenly loud as the door opened. A
Mother and two Sisters, their arms filled with babies,
shepherded a bedraggled group of youngsters into the light.
Welcoming hands led Sisters and children to the comfort of the
kitchen fireside and reached out to soothe the bleakness in the
eyes of those who had seen the spoiled city. Parents were still
sending their children to the House, trusting they would be
safe. Frieda wondered at such blind faith. If they knew what she
planned to do would they still send the children? They probably
would. There was nowhere else.
Velia, the newly arrived Mother, left the children at the
fireside and shook out her amber cloak. She passed Frieda in the
hallway and offered an empathic caress with her mind and a wry
A group of young Sisters were about to go out but stopped when
they saw Frieda.
“Will you bless us, Mother Frieda?” they pleaded. “We have to
They already had all the blessing she could give but she would
not deny them any comfort. She held her hands out to them and
allowed them to see her House tattoos glowing softly from her
fingertips and writhing sumptuously up her forearms. The Sisters
touched their foreheads to the backs of Frieda’s hands in awe
“You know you will not get back in time?” Frieda asked softly.
She could see in their faces that their choices were made but
she needed to say it. A fair girl, her opalescent cloak
glimmering faintly, spoke for them all.
“We think we are still needed in the city more than we are in
the House,” she said. She hesitated, then spoke in a rush.
“I don’t want to be here while my family is fighting. I need to
go back to them.”
“There is no safety anywhere tonight.” Frieda smiled slightly.
“You must choose as best you can. Go well, I hope we meet
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