Blog Tour: Kill The Queen by Jennifer Estep
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The paddlewheel boat churned on past the domed arena and disappeared from sight, so I walked on.
Sunlight streamed in through the windows and reflected off the gold, silver, and bronze threads that ran through the tapestries that covered the dark gray granite walls. The floor was made of the same stone, although it had been polished to a high, slick gloss. Wooden stands topped with glass cases lined the walls, each one boasting some historic statue, sword, or other treasure. The jewels on the artifacts burned as brightly as gargoyle eyes in the sunlight.
But the most impressive things inside the palace were the columns.
They used to be the supports for the old mining tunnels, although they had always seemed more like the bones of some great mythological creature to me. A few of the columns were slender enough for me to wrap my arms around, but most were massive monoliths that were larger than seven men standing shoulder to shoulder. Whether they were narrow or wide, short or tall, all the columns were covered with figures celebrating Bellona’s history.
Gladiators clutching swords and shields. Spears that shot up from the floor or dropped down from the ceiling as though they were zooming toward targets. Stone gargoyles stretching their wings out wide and pointing the thick, curved horns on their heads at the strixes, enormous, hawklike birds with metallic feathers and razor-sharp beaks and talons. Caladriuses hovering above them all, their tiny, owlish bodies hiding their true power.
All the columns were made of tearstone, which was unusual in that it could shift color, from a light, bright starry gray to a dark, deep midnight-blue, depending on the sunlight and other factors. The tearstone’s shifting color brought the gladiators and creatures to life, making it seem as though they were circling around the columns in a continuous battle for victory and supremacy. Similar columns also adorned the outside of the palace, supporting the structure.
I had only been twelve when I’d first arrived here from my parents’ estate in the north, and I had been terrified of the flickering figures, despite the steady glow of the fluorestone lights embedded in the walls. I hadn’t realized back then that the columns were just columns—and that it was the people inside the palace who could truly hurt me.
On a normal day, everyone would be out and about, conducting their business. Servants carrying food and drinks to meetings of palace stewards, guilders, and district senators tasked with running everything from Seven Spire to the city of Svalin to the rest of Bellona. Guards patrolling the hallways. And nobles, of course, lords and ladies with money, power, privilege, and access, trying to worm their way into better favor and broker better deals with whatever steward, guilder, senator, or royal they were targeting.
But it was Saturday, which meant that the week’s work was done, and the only scheduled event was the luncheon. So the hallways were empty, except for a few guards and servants making their rounds, although the area would fill up later.
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Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.
Jennifer writes the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series. Kill the Queen, book #1, will be released on Oct. 2.
The Crown of Shards series focuses on Everleigh Blair, a member of the royal family who is distantly in line for the throne of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. But when the unthinkable happens, Evie finds herself fighting for her life—both inside and outside the gladiator arena.
Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Bigtime, and Black Blade fantasy series.
For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit www.jenniferestep.com or follow Jennifer on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. You can also sign up for her newsletter.
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