Michelle West's conclusion to her epic fantasy House War series closes a chapter on a beloved world of magic and political intrigue, where new threats are stirring.

Michelle West

When the Sleepers wake.

Once, that phrase meant: never. The Sleepers were a myth, part of a story told to children. But in truth, the Sleepers, ancient princes in the court of the Winter Queen, were imprisoned in slumber by the gods themselves — in the cold, dark ruins of the ancient city that lies buried beneath the capitol of the Empire. And that prison is fraying, at last. 

They are waking. 

The gods no longer walk the world. There is no power that can stand against the princes when they wake — and the city that has been Jewel's home for her entire life will be destroyed when the Sleepers walk. There is only one person to whom they owe allegiance, only one chance to halt them before they destroy everything in their ancient rage.

But that person is the Winter Queen; she is not, and has never been mortal. Jewel carries the last of the surviving saplings that might usher in a new Summer age — but all of the roads that lead to the court of the Queen are closed. 

Jewel Aterafin has faced the Oracle's test. She has control of the prophetic powers that she once considered a curse and a burden. She will find her way to the Winter Queen, and she will ask — or beg — the Winter Queen to intervene to save her kind, her House, and everything she loves.

But she is mortal, and time has never been her friend. The demons are waiting to bar her way, bringing battle to the hidden ancient paths on which she must travel. To win, she must face the true meaning of the Oracle's test, and risk sanity and life to make the choice that has always lurked at the heart of the firstborn's test.

And even then, it might be too late. (From DAW Books)

Michelle West is an author and bookseller who lives in Toronto. She's best known for three interconnected series: The Sacred Hunt duology, the six-volume Sun Sword series and The House War novels

From the book

Jewel Markess ATerafin woke to familiar walls in the morning. She did not appreciate the room in the West Wing her ascension had forced her to vacate because she could barely breathe. Shadow was lying across her chest. Finch was awake and glaring at the great cat, who appeared to be sleeping.

He wasn't. Jewel attempted to push him off. In the halls beyond her closed door, she could hear movement, discussion, minor commotion; nothing in the tone-the words being too muffled to catch-implied disaster. Or at least not the disaster she had been facing recently. She glanced at Finch.

"Permits," Finch said, grimacing. "It's almost the start of the King's Challenge." Her hair, which had always been straight, wasn't the mass of tangle and snarls that Jewel's was. "Don't you dare feel guilty."

"I hate the paperwork of the festival season."

"Of course you do; you're reasonable. It's better than an angry House Council session."

Jewel grimaced again.

Finch held up one hand. "I'd take both for the rest of my natural life if we could dispense with evil gods, demons, and immortals who consider us vermin. I can't do anything about them. You can." Unspoken, but clear in her expression and her tone, was the wish that she could-because then she could help.

What Finch didn't say out loud, Jewel couldn't respond to, not in words. She rose.

"Do you want me to call-"

"No. I'm not technically here yet, and I don't think I'm going to be interacting with people as The Terafin." Jewel exhaled. "We need to go back to the castle."

Finch nodded.

". . . if, in fact, it still exists as a castle."

From War by Michelle West ©2019. Published by DAW Books.



To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?