Princeps: The Fifth Book of the Imager Portfolio

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9780765368379: Princeps: The Fifth Book of the Imager Portfolio

The thrilling follow-up in the to Scholar-in which, after discovering a coup attempt and preventing a bloody civil war, Quaeryt was appointed princeps of Tilbor-begins a new episode in the young Imager's life. Now, in L.E. Modesitt's fifth book of the Imager Portfolio series, Pinceps, Quaeryt is second only to the governor, and still hiding his powers as an Imager. He's enjoying his new position, as well as his marriage to Lord Bhayar's youngest sister, Vaelora, when a volcanic eruption devastates the old capital of Telaryn.

He and his wife are dispatched to Extela, Telaryn's capitol city, to replace the governor killed in the eruption. Quaeryt and Vaelora must restore order to a city filled with chaos and corruption, and do so quickly. The regiment under his command must soon depart to bolster Telaryn's border defenses against a neighboring ruler who sees the volcanic devastation as an opportunity for invasion and conquest.

The Imager Portfolio
#1 Imager / #2 Imager’s Challenge / #3 Imager’s Intrigue / #4 Scholar / #5 Princeps / #6 Imager’s Battalion / #7 Antiagon Fire / #8 Rex Regis / #9 Madness in Solidar / #10 Treachery’s Tools / #11 Assassin’s Price (forthcoming)

Other series by this author:
The Saga of Recluce
The Corean Chronicles
The Spellsong Cycle
The Ghost Books
The Ecolitan Matter

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About the Author:

L. E. MODESITT, JR., is the bestselling author of over forty novels encompassing two science fiction series and three fantasy series, including the Saga of Recluce, which begins with The Magic of Recluce. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
 

Quaeryt peered out from underneath the thick—and warm—comforter toward the nearest bedchamber window, its inner shutters fastened tightly. Even so, he could see frost on parts of the polished goldenwood. Supposedly, winter was waning, with spring some three weeks away, except that winter lasted into spring in Tilbor, even in Tilbora, the southernmost city in the province. The harbor in far-north Noira would not ice-out until the end of Maris, most likely.
A lithe figure wrapped her arms around him. “You don’t have to get up yet.”
“I do. It’s Lundi, and I am princeps, you might recall...”
“Dearest ... do you have to?” The excessively pleading tone told Quaeryt that Vaelora knew he needed to rise, but that ...
He turned over and embraced her wholeheartedly, finding her lips on his.
All too soon, he released her, wishing that he did not have to leave their bed. But then, it had been her desire to remind him of that.
Bhayar had been right. Quaeryt and Vaelora were enjoying being married, even if he’d never seen it coming. Vaelora had protested that she hadn’t either, that her brother had insisted she join him on his ride to Tilbora to keep her from the trouble she might have gotten into in his absence. Quaeryt had his doubts about her purported ignorance, but if that was the way she wished to portray matters, he’d certainly respect it. Then ... it could have been that way. She hadn’t brought anything with her but riding clothes, and women who planned on being married usually thought about what they’d wear ... unless she’d wanted to be able to insist she hadn’t known. And that was also very possible. He’d gone over all those possibilities for weeks, and probably always would ... and he suspected she had planned that, as well.
He smiled.
“What is that smile for?” she asked, again in Bovarian, the language in which they conversed when alone—or in dealing with Bhayar.
“I was just thinking about the depths behind those seemingly guileless brown eyes.”
“I cannot believe you are interested solely in those depths.” Her slightly husky voice was both warm and slightly sardonic.
Quaeryt found himself blushing.
“You see?”
“Enough, lovely woman,” he declared with mock gruffness. “Your brother did say that we were to keep each other warm.”
“How, dearest, can I do that if you insist on getting out of this warm coverlet in this chilly bedchamber?”
Eventually, Quaeryt did leave the bed, as did Vaelora, and they washed and dressed quickly. Quaeryt was more than grateful for the warm water waiting in the bath chamber. Just the thought of the cold water in the officers’ quarters made him shiver.
Although Governor Straesyr, when he had been princeps, had lived with his wife and family in one of the row houses along the north wall of the Telaryn Palace, Bhayar had declared that such quarters were not suited to his sister. Quaeryt had suggested that the apartments on the upper east end of the palace proper—those that had been occupied by Tyrena, the daughter of the last Khanar of Tilbor before its conquest by Bhayar’s father—were most suitable for a princeps and that it would be most incongruous—not to mention grossly unfair—for the newly wed princeps to occupy the larger apartments of the former Khanar when his superior was the governor. That arrangement had been accepted by Bhayar and Vaelora and had certainly obviated possible tensions between Governor Straesyr and Quaeryt.
As Quaeryt began to pull on the fine browns of a scholar that Vaelora had insisted that he have tailored—because a princeps needed to look the position, as well as carry it out—he glanced at his left arm. It was still thinner than his right, while the skin was paler, not that his skin, ever so slightly darker than the pale honeyed shade of his wife’s complexion, would ever approximate the near bluish white of the Bovarian High Holders and royal family. Given the beating his body had taken in the battles against the rebel hill holders, he was glad that none of the injuries had been permanent, unlike his left leg, shorter than his right, presumably since birth, since he didn’t recall it ever being other than that.
Quaeryt waited until Vaelora was dressed—in light brown trousers, a cream blouse, and a woolen jacket that matched her trousers—before walking with her down the short corridor to the small cherry-paneled private dining room that had once been graced by Tyrena, who had been Khanara in fact, if not in name. There the ceramic stove radiated a comforting warmth.
Quaeryt seated Vaelora on one side of the table, then took his place to her left, at the end of the table, where Vaelora had insisted he belonged from the very first day of their marriage. In moments, a ranker in a winter-green uniform appeared with a teapot, a basket of warm dark bread, and a platter on which were cheese omelets and fried potatoes—exactly the same fare as in the officers’ mess, if served on porcelain, and if not quite so warm.
Quaeryt poured her tea, then his. “I do enjoy breakfast with you.”
“As opposed to dinner?” She raised her eyebrows.
“No. As well as dinner.” He grinned, enjoying the game, holding the platter so that she could serve herself.
“What will you do today?”
“What I do every day. I have a meeting at eighth glass with Cohausyt—”
“He’s the one with the sawmills who wants to pay to harvest timber on the lands Bhayar got from the rebel hill holders?”
“That’s the one. I put him off because I needed to find out what finished timber and planking goes for in Tilbora.”
“Did you?”
Quaeryt snorted. “In a way. I ended up finding out what the carpenters and cabinetmakers pay for wood. I had to work backward from that. Later, I have to meet with Raurem—he’s a produce and grain factor—to see if he can supply grain cakes for the regiments.” After eating several mouthfuls, and taking a swallow of the tea, he asked, “How are your plans coming for the spring reception?”
“Madame Straesyr has been somewhat helpful ... as has Eluisa D’Taelmyn.”
Eluisa D’Taelmyn? Then Quaeryt realized she was talking about Rescalyn’s mistress, the Bovarian High Holder’s daughter the former governor had introduced as Mistress Eluisa. “She’s still here? I thought she had never married.”
“That’s her father’s name. He’s one of the lesser Bovarian High Holders. She has nowhere else to go, and Emra begged her husband to let her stay and teach their children singing and how to play the clavecin.”
“I heard her play once.”
“You told me. So did she. You upset her, you know?”
“I had that feeling. I was trying to see if Kharst was as terrible as they say.”
“He’s worse, according to Eluisa.”
Quaeryt wasn’t about to pursue that subject. “From your tone, I take it that neither one has been that helpful.”
“They’re really only interested in the wives of High Holders, not the wives of factors.”
Quaeryt wanted to shake his head. “How are your writings coming?”
“I write some every day.” She smiled. “The palace library has so many wonderful books.”
“I know. I even read parts of some of them.”
“You did mention that.” Vaelora took a sip of tea. “I wish this were hotter.”
“They have to carry it up from the kitchen.”
“I know. What do you think she was like?”
“Who?” Quaeryt had no idea to whom his wife was referring.
“Tyrena. The Khanara who wasn’t. You told me about those few scraps of paper you found with her writing.”
“She was too strong in a situation where there were no intelligent men to marry and manipulate.”
“Are you suggesting...?”
“Me?” Quaeryt laughed. “All men react to women. All women react to men. Intelligent men and women react intelligently.” Usually, but not always, unfortunately. “From all the documents I’ve read, none of the men in power after her father fell too ill to understand were intelligent enough to listen to her. Probably the only man in Telaryn who might have been was your brother, and he’s much better off with Aelina.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because you said that, and you know them both far better than I do.” He swallowed the last of his omelet, and the remainder of his tea. “I need to go.” He stood, then moved beside her chair, bent and kissed her neck. After a long moment, he straightened.
“Remember,” she said, “make the factors explain. In detail.”
Quaeryt smiled. “Yes, dearest.”
“You’re close to disrespecting me.” Her tone was bantering.
“Close doesn’t count.” Except in bed.
“I know what you’re thinking.”
He managed not to blush. “I’ll see you later.”
After leaving the third-level apartments, he made his way down the circular staircase to the second level, and then to the princeps’s anteroom and the study beyond. After almost a month and a half as Princeps of Tilbor, he was still slightly amazed when he walked into the study, although the view to the northern walls and the hills beyond was largely blocked in winter by the mostly closed shutters and hangings.
Princeps or not, he still met with Straesyr at the seventh glass of the morning every Lundi, and once he had checked with Vhorym, the squad lea...

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