Friday, February 6, 2009

"Flight Into Darkness"

Sarah Ash's fantasy novels include Children of the Serpent Gate, Lord of Snow and Shadows, Prisoner of the Iron Tower, Moths to a Flame, Songspinners, and The Lost Child.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Flight into Darkness, and reported the following:
Flight into Darkness is the second of the two books of my fantasy series ‘Alchymist’s Legacy’ which tell the story of Celestine de Joyeuse, the daughter of a magus who was burned at the stake for practicing the Forbidden Arts. His legacy to her is a guardian spirit whom she calls the Faie… but the Faie has yet to reveal her true identity to her young mistress.

A reader recently emailed me, mentioning how intrigued he was at finding a fantasy series in which gunpowder and eighteenth century weaponry can be found alongside dragons and daemons. I really appreciated that comment! Because in writing this series I wanted to evoke an Age of Reason not unlike our own and confront the enlightened thinkers and scientists with the raw forces of an ancient and powerful magic that they can neither explain away nor begin to understand.

If you open Flight into Darkness at page 69, you’ll find Celestine very far from her native Francia. She and her fellow agent, Jagu de Rust├ęphan, have come to the remote kingdom of Azhkendir. Disguised as a priest and his servant boy, they are traveling on a secret mission to visit the Monastery of Saint Sergius. But they’re playing a dangerous game in venturing into territory so recently conquered by Francia’s oldest enemy: Tielen.

It took a good quarter hour’s tramp up the cliffs to reach the Osprey’s Nest – a dilapidated little inn overlooking the White Sea. The keen breeze off the rough sea below was a constant reminder that the spring thaw had only just melted the ice and Celestine was soon shivering.

“It’s rather remote,” she said, gazing at the single lantern glowing in the gathering dusk.

Jagu set down his bag on the rocks and took out two of the books of prayer he was carrying. “Let’s not take any risks,” he said. Concealed within a secret compartment in each book lay a pistol, powder, and shot. “Here.”

“Lucky the Tielens didn’t search us too zealously,” Celestine said, priming the second weapon. “Or should I call them Rossiyans now? That officer was a Tielen; I could tell from his accent.”

“According to our sources, the troops currently occupying Azhkendir are from Field Marshal Karonen’s Northern Army.” Jagu finished loading his pistol and tucked it beneath his priest’s robes. “Let’s hope we’re not obliged to use these.”

There’s another underlying tension which Celestine and Jagu have yet to acknowledge: his feelings for her, which, as they venture into the wilds of Azhkendir together, may be increasingly hard to hide. She’s still hurting from the heartbreak of losing the love of her life, and has thrown herself into her work.

So how representative of Flight into Darkness is this extract? Celestine and Jagu are about to make a disturbing discovery at the monastery. It seems that they are not the only ones interested in the secrets concealed within its ancient walls, secrets that will draw untamable forces of darkness into their world unless they dare to make a stand against them.
Read an excerpt from Flight into Darkness, and learn more about the author and her work at Sarah Ash's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue