"A wonderfully delightful and deeply imaginative tale of struggle and the quest for knowledge, set in a well-developed and complex high fantasy setting.
E.D.E. Bell has created a multi-layered world of mystery, which she slowly and deliciously reveals in this high fantasy novel about worlds in peril." - Goodreads, GS Jennsen
The Banished Craft is a genre-bending fantasy saga that follows the adventures of Cor, a woman caught in a dying world that does not accept her, and Atesh, a dragon scientist who’s been asked to violate his own ethics or put the lives of his family at risk. Follow their trials as they deal with a shattered world, mired in political upheaval, while they try to rediscover a lost magic. The Banished Craft begins the Shkode trilogy: a quirky and modern take on dragons and wizards, exploring themes of identity, prejudice, violence, compassion, and the ways we are all connected.
Francie King, wife of the President of the Unified Government, has been asked to mourn for show at the grave of the first President, next to her husband, while the people watch.
I don’t know why we are doing this,” Francie grumbled.
Greg shot her a pleading look. “Francie, please. Not now. Besides, you know these events are only going to get worse from here out. It shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
Francie’s eyes narrowed, but her face remained the picture of serenity. With an upcoming election, the next year was going to be filled with nothing but this sort of show. There is no time to help the people, after all, when there is an election to win.
“Yes, Gregory, of course I know. We must make every unnecessary public appearance so we look normal. So normal, in fact, that crowds gather to observe it, yet nobody is allowed within arrowshot of us. I expect we will also engage in great acts of charity, staged to give the appearance of selfless benevolence, yet helping no one. After all, the poor are too risky to even be used as props.”
“You know the way that elections work. And why would you suggest using the poor as props? Even if such a thing were proper, remember what happened to Jeffries!”
Francie bristled at Greg’s ignorance. He should know she would never suggest exploiting the disadvantaged. In fact, she had specifically been alluding to the incident involving Mr. Jeffries, an irritating labor chief who had opposed Greg nearly two decades ago in a mayoral election for one of the major cities within Farmstate, just outside the boundaries of Gardenia. During a staged display where he stopped to help a homeless man, the man had been so excited to see the warm, fresh food the candidate had brought he had thrown up on Jeffries’ bleached shirt.
The poor man had been trampled by the crowd that ran to protect the politician. No one bothered to check on him in their rush to escort Mr. Jeffries to clean clothes.
Unknown to Greg—Francie and their driver had returned to the scene, found the man dead by the side of the road, and buried him in the country. She remembered wanting to ask Greg to leave politics forever that night. Perhaps she should have.
Greg seemed to sense her disgust at the reference. “Francie, please. You know we have to do this. You know this isn’t the real me.”
“The real you, Greg?” Francie’s gaze bore into Greg, who flinched, realizing it was a phrase he should have avoided.
“Francie. My love. Not here, please. Not now. We can’t leave; this is such a critical year. We just need to make it to next fall, then the election will be over. Once we’ve won, we can make it our last term. Then we can help people. The way we’ve always planned.”
Francie snorted, staring at the gravesite where they knelt. This was ridiculous. Mourning for a man five hundred years dead, even if he was the famous John Dickenson, founder of the Unified Government. Of course she regretted his death by a crazed anarchist, but even had he survived then, he would still be just as dead today.
The giant tombstone loomed in front of them. On the top was an elaborate miniature of the statue now known as Lady Gardenia, a beautiful woman with large wings. The stone, engraved in flourished lettering, read:
A Firm League of Friendship
Gardenia, In Perpetual Union
Francie, an avid reader of history, knew most people were not aware that John, child of Peter Maude-Dickens and Agnes Jane-Miller, was born Iohn Agnes-Dickens, in the Farmstate tradition. After founding the U.G., he changed his name to disassociate himself from his origins, to seed the idea that all were now brothers under this new banner of unification. The tradition had stuck, with immigrants to Gardenia abandoning their cultural traditions, instead naming their children more generic, unified names.
Poor dead John, accompanied only by the cold engraving of empty words and a name that was not the one his parents had given him. Gods, she did not care about this man. Perhaps he had meant well. Perhaps he had been as unwittingly subservient to the system as she had watched Greg become. Perhaps there was a reason to mourn, after all.
About the author:
Author E.D.E. Bell is a graduate of the University of Michigan with an MSE in Electrical Engineering, and works as an advisor in technical intelligence. A vegan and enthusiastic ignorer of gender rules, she feels strongly about issues related to human equality and animal compassion. Married with three children, she decided to pursue her dream of writing and is excited to share that vision with fans of epic fantasy.
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