To celebrate the release of the final book in Mitchell Hogan’s gritty, breathtaking and award-winning Sorcery Ascendant Sequence we’re hosting an exclusive excerpt from the book across several amazing blogs – starting here. Follow along using the links in each installment and get a taste of what’s to come in this explosive story. A new section of the extract will be posted each day – make sure you don’t miss out by following Voyager on Twitter and Facebook!
The following is an extract from A Shattered Empire by Mitchell Hogan which is published by Harper Voyager and available in all good book stores and online now.
To read on, follow the links at the bottom of the page!
Councillor Radgir winced as the Indryallan soldier behind him prodded his back with the tip of his spear. The point broke through his thin nightshirt and his skin, not deep enough to cause serious injury, but enough to send a warm trickle down his back.
He shifted his weight uncomfortably. He should have known to keep his mouth shut, foolish old man.
Radgir shuffled forward, away from the guards. Shackles around his ankles bit into skin rubbed raw, and he gritted his teeth.
He knew the mistake he’d made. The mistake of considering Indryalla first and mentioning his fears to Councillor Tadeas. He should have known the conniving old bastard would use any advantage over him to further his own position. His excuse, one he kept telling himself over and over, was that he was in the right. The God- Emperor
wasn’t Indryalla. Indryalla wasn’t the God- Emperor.
Unfortunately, far too few of his countrymen separated the two.
This war with the Mahruse Empire was madness. Not only was it without purpose, it was futile. Indryalla was prosperous on its own, with trade burgeoning between it and many other countries, and Indryallans’ crafting was the finest in the world. At least that was one thing Kelhak had done: developed their sorcerous knowledge far beyond what had been known, built schools to teach crafting, and made sure no one with the gift of a well went unnoticed.
Except it had all been for his own ends: to develop a fighting force beholden only to the God- Emperor. Most were his own blood, so many generations had Kelhak been among them, spreading his seed to anyone willing.
And plenty were.
Kelhak had changed— from a kindhearted ruler beloved of all his people to what he was now: a despotic tyrant. And Indryalla had been altered along with him. No longer was it the country Radgir had grown up in and loved.
And he didn’t think that just because he was in chains now.
He raised his eyes and looked around, careful not to turn his head and give the guards behind him another excuse. A few dozen others were waiting nervously with him, all with shackled feet and shocked, fearful expressions. Nobles, councillors, and a couple of high- ranking Indryallan sorcerers. Crude bandages covered the sorcerers’ hands, stained red with blood— their fingers had been cut off. One of them was leaking drops of crimson onto the floor, and both whimpered softly, unable to control their sobs.
A purging. That’s what this is. Predawn arrests of supposed traitors and malcontents. This wasn’t justice. This was butchery.
Radgir met the gaze of another councillor, Dorota, also in her nightclothes, although she’d managed to put a robe on before they took her. She was someone he trusted, and the first person he’d brought his misgivings to.
You’ve killed us, her eyes said as she stared at Radgir.
And he had.
He averted his gaze and rubbed his wrinkled, clammy hands together. When had he gotten so old?
To his left, a lock clicked, and double doors opened onto a court- yard. Torches flickered in their sconces as a breeze fluttered in, curling around his bare shins and feet. More soldiers approached from outside, stopping at the entrance and beckoning to the guards holding them prisoner.
“Listen up,” shouted one of the guards from behind him, so close Radgir could smell the ale on his breath. “Form a line outside, single file. You’ll be shown where to stand. Each of you will have a proper trial, overseen by the God- Emperor, may he live forever.”
Radgir squeezed his lips tight but could hear some of the prisoners muttering the response: “May he live forever.” He shook his head. Even now— dragged from their beds, the doors of their homes broken open— they couldn’t shake a lifetime of conditioning.
Once outside, he shuffled across cobblestones to where he was directed and came to a halt. He realized he didn’t care how the next part played out, because he knew he wouldn’t survive it. Somehow, that thought calmed him.
Radgir breathed in the cool night air. Stars twinkled above him. A clear night. Still. As fine a night as any he’d experienced.
Soldiers carried a table and chair, placing them close to a wall. One of the God- Emperor’s Silent Companions came and stood to the left of the table. A beast of a man, even taller than most of the others in his order. Both of his leather- gloved hands clasped the hilt of a massive greatsword, its point resting on the ground. An officious looking man followed, clutching a thick leather- bound book, a sheaf of papers, and writing implements. He took a seat and began setting up. Radgir recognized him: Preben, a magistrate with a weakness for spirits and too-young women.
Radgir’s stomach sank. Preben would do what was best for Preben, and he’d become one of Kelhak’s most vocal supporters as the coins flowing into his pockets had increased over the years.
As Radgir had suspected, this whole thing was a sham.