If you haven't heard already, Fearsome Journeys, Jonathan Strahan's new anthology of adventure & military fantasy, has just been published by Solaris. The volume contains stories by thirteen fantasy writers:
Ellen Kushner, Glen Cook, Jeffrey Ford, Saladin Ahmed, Ellen Klages, K.J. Parker, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Kate Elliott, Scott Lynch, Trudi Canavan, Daniel Abraham, Elizabeth Bear and myself.
I'm very pleased to be in this company. Here, by request, is a teaser in the form of the first page of my story.
When Majka stepped out through the kitchen door at dusk she found a huge white weasel in the garden. Brazen, it locked eyes with her: a rare chelu, a ghost weasel, halfway between the garden wall and the little ramp by which the chickens entered the barn. Majka hissed. The chelu answered with a growl. The animal was nearly the size of a wolverine.
The door stood open behind her. From within came the eager thok thok of her mother-in-law’s knife as she battled a turnip, then a chord from the mandolin her son was learning to play. They had borrowed the instrument from a neighbor; it was scratched and worn, and the neck felt slightly loose, but the family treated it like the relic of a saint. It had changed their evenings, brought life to those shadow-swamped rooms.
Majka closed the door. She would face the chelu with the axe from the wood-splitting stump. Never taking her eyes from the creature, she backed along the side of the whitewashed house. A fierce wind was rising. The warmth of the day was ebbing fast.
She had guessed that a predator was about. The chickens had gone early to roost, and Bishkin, the family’s smoke-gray cat, had slipped upstairs after his plate of buttermilk instead of rambling through the village or the ravine. Of course what they needed was a dog. Just days ago she had worked the village, opening her lean little purse. Sell me that mongrel, that runt in the corner, that toothless bitch. Any goddamned dog. She’d come back with nothing. They’d wanted twice what she could pay.
And now the axe was gone. Beside the stump lay only the small spade they used to bury ashes from the stove. Majka snatched it up and advanced on the chelu. The weasel only narrowed its eyes.
Suddenly furious, Majka charged, brandishing the spade like a madwoman.
“You want this, thief? You want me to split you in half?”
You can now start feeling glad you're not Majka Chamsarat. Happy reading!
By the way, if you want the ebook version of Fearsome Journeys, you can buy it from the monopolistic death-force that is Amazon, or from Kobobooks (works on ipad, android devices, koboreaders & computers, and can even be converted to Kindle if you're determined enough).