Monday, April 27, 2015

Priestess of the Dragons' Temple (Anamat Book 2) by Amelia Smith

Release date: April 27, 2015
Subgenre: Epic fantasy

About Priestess of the Dragons' Temple:

Once, Iola flew with a dragon. She might fly again, but only if she can become ambassadress to the dragons' realm. First, though, she must navigate life as an ordinary priestess, which is not quite what she'd hoped for. Some of her fellow priestesses dragon-blind and corrupt. Worse, they see Iola's devotions as evidence of greed.

Then the ambassadress returns, too sick to fly again. Iola and three other young priestesses are chosen nurse her, and to have a chance at taking her place. Iola's main rival, Tiagasa, was raised in a prince's palace. She thrives on political intrigue and gossip, and her lover is about to become governor of the city.

Iola is just a village girl dazzled by dragons. Her few friends and allies aren't much more savvy than she is. Still, they hope to persuade the new governor – whoever he might be – to make Iola ambassadress, and to choose faith over scheming, one way or another. 



As she stepped up, she felt the weight of Ara’s inheritance descend on her. She was heir to the movement between the realms, to transcendence of the earth and sea, to seasons and growth, to all that makes the earth whole and good, to all that can compel the dragons to bless the places in which they dwell. The force of the priestesses’ task and the dragons’ presence was in her, as it was in all of them. She set down her offering and her surroundings faded away. She drank from the cup she found on the shrine just as she had been told to do. Somewhere, far away outside, a drum beat. She touched the floor and felt the earth spreading out around her in all directions, the paths of its dragon-lines beneath the surface, the bulk of the mountains, the inexorable rhythm of the sea.
Someone touched her shoulder and a fraction of her mind returned to the present. The two priestesses made her stand in the middle of the room and stripped off her novice robes, turning her in a spiral around the center, invoking the dragons who were already there in every fiber. Myril felt the dancing-skirt slide onto her naked hips, over her bare legs. She felt every stitch and weave, felt the dragons embroidered there like living things, twining around, reaching into her, pausing only at her gates, waiting for the appointed time to hasten on. The scarf around her shoulders teased at her neck, shadowed her breasts from the thin lamplight. It was loose-woven, fluid, shimmering.
The priestesses led her back up into the courtyard, back out into the open air. She didn’t even see the others when they emerged from their chambers, not even Darna and Iola. All she could see was the sky. At some point, she sensed their bodies beside hers as if from some unbridgeable distance. The sky was fiery with sunset, smoky at its fringes with burning torches. Their flames flashed against the polished stone walls shining in the light of the rising moon. The priestesses, all but the Most Blessed One herself, processed to the stage to dance, Myril's eyes were drawn to the horizon, far out beyond the harbor, beyond the temple’s walls. They were all one together, she thought, unbound, undifferentiated, whole. A starting rhythm beat up from the drums below. For the first time, Myril wondered who held those instruments. She didn’t know.
That was her last coherent thought. The dance began. A sea of faces spread below them, petitioners great and small, curious country folk and admirers. Fire flowed through her, stronger than the torchlight. She spun through the rounds, bending low, honoring the crowd and the dragons who dwelt within the earth and beyond the edge of the sky. They danced on the horizon, unnamed dragons. They swirled among the gold and purple clouds in a flowing meditation of their own. As Myril stepped alone across the stage, she felt their power crash down on her, but she did not fall. The other priestesses’ stomp and sway drew her back into their ranks, and she relaxed into that backing rhythm as another and another crossed the stage before her.


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About Amelia Smith:

Amelia Smith takes an odd-jobs-and-adventures approach to writing. She has written volumes of unpublishable journals, magazine articles, and a variety of fiction, most of it with historical and/or fantasy elements.

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