The Rebels of Caer City
Mara of the League Book 2
by Thomas M. Kane
Throughout five years at a strict boarding school, Mara has turned to her friend Annie-Rose for comfort. Now Annie has disappeared. Mara teams up with two other students – bold Gretchen and soft-spoken Ginny -- to find her missing friend. Together, Mara, Gretchen and Ginny take on a conspiracy involving some of the most dangerous people in their world.
Our school dresses were slate gray, at least there was that. No one walking by on the clifftops was likely to look down and spot us in the gloom. The sun was going down behind the cliffs, and shadows were reaching for the sea. A breaker swept toward us, crested, and fell back with a growl. My friends and I were, I noted with relief, the only people on the beach. Despite the darkness, I felt exposed, hemmed in between the surf and the cliffsides. The path up the cliffs was at least a quarter of a mile behind us. Ahead, the stony shoreline stretched on for perhaps three more miles. And if we continued to the end of the beach, I thought, and rounded Turnbow Head, we would come to the Caer City docks. That was hardly the place for three seventeen-year-old St. Alexander’s girls to be after dark. Gretchen led the way, splashing through a tidepool. Ginny hesitated. Then she lifted her skirts to her knees and followed. I took the rear, pausing occasionally to glance at the clifftops, and at our route back to the path. “Here we are, people.” Gretchen stepped up on a seaworn boulder and faced us. Masses of seaweed clung to the stone beneath her feet. My father had been a sailor, and he once told me that the kind of seaweed grasping at our feet is called knotted wrack. I thought of knots, and of the rack. I was in that kind of mood. Gretchen looked at me. “Well, Mara, you said you wanted to see the place for yourself. What do you think?” All of us turned and gazed at the limestone precipice to our west. The cliffs rose to a peak a good two hundred feet above our heads. A lone tree stood at the top of the cliff, its leafless branches sloping back from the sea. The smell of knotted wrack hung in the air. Ginny shuddered. “I don’t like it.” “If Annie jumped here, that was the end of her.” Gretchen shook her head. “Holy, heavenly Belthor.” “If she jumped here, it would have killed her.” I felt a horrible lump in my throat. “But . . . but look at that.” I turned my head to glance at the sea. “The water is a good twenty yards from the cliffside. And the tide was full when we got to the beach. Mistress Franklin said she jumped at dawn. The tide was out then—there’s an almanac in the school library—I checked.” “So, what are you saying, girl? “I’m saying there’s no way she would have ended up in the ocean. She would have hit the rocks, and the city watch would have found her body.” “You say that girl—” Gretchen gazed at me for a moment. “Maybe she lay there for a while and the tide came in?” “No. I mean, not if Headmistress Franklin told us the truth. The headmistress said the clamdiggers saw her while she was still alive. It was dawn then, and the watch started looking for her right afterward.” “So . . . what do you think happened?” To my ears, Gretchen’s voice had taken on a needling tone. “I have no idea.” I felt as if Gretchen had been trying to force me to confess that, and I was cross about having to gratify her. “But I think the headmistress lied to us. I think Pastor Avery lied to us. Everyone is lying to us—"
The Witches of Crannock Dale
Mara of the League Book 1
When an enemy army threatens eleven-year old Mara’s home, she makes up her mind to save her family, one way or another. But when the knights protecting her village arrest her favorite aunt for witchcraft, she discovers that the difference between friend and foe may not be as obvious as she once thought.
This is a story of war and espionage, set in a low fantasy world. It is also about a child getting to know her mother and father in a new way.
I planted my feet on the worn cobblestones. “Let me go!” “Shut up.” Mr. Vance dragged me forward. “Help!” I turned my head to look at the dyer’s apprentice. His ginger hair was cropped almost to fuzz and sweat had soaked through his shirt. Mr. Vance smiled at the dyer’s apprentice, or maybe it was a snarl. “Hallo, Gus.” “Help me—” “I said shut up.” Mr. Vance’s grip tightened on my shoulder until I gasped. His thumb was inside my collar, and I could feel the sandpaper roughness of his skin. “She’s a bit excited. Lucky I found her, or Bel knows what she might have got into. Dangerous for a kid to be about on her own, am I right?” “Righty-ho, sir.” “Righty-ho.” Mr. Vance grinned again. “Oh, and tell your master I said hallo. Tell‘m I owe him a pint.” Gus hefted the handles on his cart and continued down the street. He looked paler than he had looked before, and he kept his eyes fixed on the cobblestones ahead of him. The cartwheels clattered as he passed us by. Mr. Vance grabbed my other shoulder and shook me. Then he hustled me forward, continuing down the street. He leaned to talk in my ear, and I could feel the heat of his breath. “Who put you up to it? You know I can make you tell me.” I stamped on Mr. Vance’s foot as hard as I could.
Thomas M. Kane is a fantasy author living high on a wooded hilltop. He taught international relations at a British university for close to twenty years and brings his insights concerning real-life war and politics into his fiction. He takes a character-based approach to writing, paying attention to his protagonists' personal relationships and inner lives.
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