2016 Nebula Award finalist for Best Novelette
From Fran Wilde, the Andre Norton and Compton Crook Award-winning author of Updraft.
The kingdom in the Valley has long sheltered under the protection of its Jewels and Lapidaries, the people bound to singing gemstones with the power to reshape hills, move rivers, and warp minds. That power has kept the peace and tranquility, and the kingdom has flourished.
Jewel Lin and her Lapidary Sima may be the last to enjoy that peace.
The Jeweled Court has been betrayed. As screaming raiders sweep down from the mountains, and Lapidary servants shatter under the pressure, the last princess of the Valley will have to summon up a strength she’s never known. If she can assume her royal dignity, and if Sima can master the most dangerous gemstone in the land, they may be able to survive.
“The central fantastical idea is pretty cool… nicely written… I suspect the world it’s set in might yield more fine stories.” – Locus
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Wilde's novelette digs into a grim scenario in which guardians become worse than what they guard against. Lin is a Jewel, the daughter of the king of the fantastical land of the Jeweled Valley. Sima is her Lapidary, an advisor and protector who can set, hear, and command the gems that have protected the valley and its Jewels for generations. But the gems can also destroy the minds of Lapidaries. When Sima's father, the King's Lapidary, finally snaps, he shatters the protective gems and then kills the king, Lin's siblings, and the other Lapidaries before dying himself. Now the last Jewel and Lapidary must face or flee an invading army whose commander wants control of the gems, which could enslave the Jeweled Valley and its neighboring kingdoms or destroy them if not used properly. If Lin and Sima stay, both keeping and breaking their vows (which are repeated throughout the text, sometimes distracting from the story) could lead them to Sima's father's fate. Wilde (Updraft) manages to describe many layers of a broad culture and a great loss in a short space, with a satisfying portrayal of how honor and love might survive in a new world born from the destruction of the old.