"We came to stop a war before it came to Cercia. And it seems the war has come to us."
Responsibility and patriotism spur Cercia's new leader, Quentin, to protect his beloved country at all costs and he assigns Asahel and Felix to serve as ambassadors and secret agents to Anjdur. Their journey quickly turns awry and Asahel and Felix barely escape a devastating shipwreck, walk a tightrope of political tension, and rescue an empress before they learn they must face an enemy closer to them than they thought.
Will they be able to uncover an assassin's plot before it's too late? Will Asahel be able to unearth a secret that is vital to their mission? Will Cercia survive its own revolution? In The Jealousy Glass, Perkins boldly continues a series of unforgettable characters and events that will leave you begging for more.
From Chapter 1
The white monster swooped down.
All that Asahel could see was a cloud of pale feathers as the Rukh lashed out at the cannon that had fired. Screams throbbed around him as the Rukh lifted, golden talons now rusted with blood. Broken bodies lay on the wood, ribs smashed by the weight of unearthly claws. The men were too distant for Asahel to put faces to as he fell to the deck, heart pounding at the sound of the wings beating once more.
The Rukh dove again, its beak rending the ship's prow. The heavy timbers cracked like bones against the pressure. A slow tearing sound cut through the haze of chaos settling over the ship as panic took hold. Spice spilled out of the hold the beast had torn open. Pungent scents of oil and cedar clouded the air as chests smashed against the bow, breaking apart into the water below.
Asahel crawled on his knees toward the heart of the battle, his eyes stinging red from the spices in the air. The Rukh thrashed as another cannon fired its shot, black powder belching into the fading light. Angry cries from the monster above filled his ears as it lurched down, plucking a sailor off the deck and squeezing its talons tightly around the man's midsection. Another series of screams began as the ship's port side blazed into flames, but he kept moving toward starboard, trying to reach the first cannon that had been fired.
"Zuane!" He called, hoping that the captain was near. When that failed, Asahel shouted out for others. "Felix! Nicolas!" His knee edged forward as he crawled, the coarse wool of his trousers suddenly damp. He looked down to see the blood of the fallen pooling in the cracks of the boards.
He was near the side of the Serenissma. Asahel stood, crouching each time the Rukh let out another shriek. Black smoke surrounded him, choking his lungs as he turned. The white beast had grown dim as the wall of fire leapt up, flames feeding on the ship's planking.
Asahel turned but did not see who could have called him.
"Where are you?" He whispered, afraid to raise his voice. He saw a pair of hands gripping the railing. He reached out, his own strong fingers clutching them and pulling the man toward the deck. He could feel Felix shudder as he came up over the rail, his thin body battered. The older man began to cough almost immediately as Asahel helped him back to the deck. They stared through the flames at the carnage.
The Serenissma wrenched sharply to the right. The Rukh cawed as it rose, white wings blotting out what was left of the sun. Water splashed across the wood, shooting up from the hold as the lower decks flooded.
"We've got to get out of here," Asahel said.
"There's no rafts." Felix coughed and leaned back against the rail. His eyes were bright with a fear the other man had never seen.
"Aye." The fire was close enough to warm them both. Which will it be? Asahel thought. Burning or drowning?
"I can't swim."
"Sure, and now you tell me." Asahel steadied his expression for Felix's sake, more nervous than he let on. The Soames family had been merchants and traders for generations. Unlike Felix, Asahel had been raised at water's edge.
"I never expected it to come up." Felix grimaced. "I know. We're on a boat. Clearly, I was being an optimist."
"Ship," Asahel corrected gently, looking over his shoulder at the waves.
"Grave—if we don't do something shortly." Felix inhaled, his body clenched as he turned his back on the flames. The Serenissma was moving downwards rapidly. The remaining sailors leapt from the deck, disappearing into the churning tides as they plummeted through the darkness. He looked at Asahel, his mouth twisting into a crooked grin. "No time like the present."
Felix climbed back up on the railing, sweat trickling down his forehead, his skin mottled with bruise and shadow. Asahel followed, his own ungainly body slower to take action. The two men looked at one another a last time, then back at the burning ship.
With one breath, they jumped.
* * *
AMAZON PURCHASE LINKS:
The Jealousy Glass: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AFESVVQ
The Universal Mirror: http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Mirror-Gwen-Perkins/dp/0615596517
In conjunction with the release of The Jealousy Glass, Gwen is running a giveaway for an autographed, first edition paperback of The Universal Mirror through Goodreads at: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/37726-the-universal-mirror
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gwen Perkins is a museum curator with a MA in Military History from Norwich University. She has written for a number of magazines, exhibitions and nonfiction publications. Her interest in history fueled the creation of the world of The Universal Mirror, inspired in part by people and events of the medieval and Renaissance periods.
Website & Blog: http://artifactsofempire.com