To Feyana Belmaron, heir to her war-torn country's throne, "princess" is just a synonym for "prisoner." After a traitor disfigured her and killed her mother, Feyana’s father confined her to an isolated castle to keep her safe. Ten years later, Feyana gives up hope that her father will ever let her go—and with a face like hers, no storybook prince is likely to come to her rescue.
But perhaps she can come to his.
But perhaps she can come to his.
When a volkarei witch foretells Feyana’s marriage to an enemy prince—a marriage that would not only end the war, but unite the feuding countries for good—the princess seizes the chance to put her castle walls behind her. Eager to finally serve her people, Feyana disguises herself, scales the wall, and ventures out to find and court the prince.
But reaching him means crossing hundreds of miles of enemy territory with only a pair of criminals, a gentle monster and a roguish, gay thief, to guide her. Worse, her handsome prince has an ugly secret—and an even uglier mean streak. Facing a lifetime in thrall to a prince far more alarming than charming, Feyana must make a bitter choice: plunge her country back into a devastating war, or give up her hard-won freedom forever.
PRINCESS OF SWANS is an 84,000 word YA fantasy in the vein of Rae Carson's THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and Kristin Cashore's GRACELING.
Tavor Castle is beautiful, for a prison. The white stone castle is small but well-kept, and its fields and woods cover almost a square mile. Even the looming, twenty-foot walls enclosing the grounds have an odd charm to them. To protect me, Father says, but I know better. It’s to hide me. The only ugly thing in Tavor Castle is its princess.
I jam my foot into Lulari’s stirrup and glare up at the walls, wishing my hate could melt them. Only a little longer, until the war ends, and I’ll be free.
Father promised that much, at least.
I turn away and cluck Lulari to a walk. The warm breeze ruffles my hair and fills my nose with the ripe scent of horse. I smile. Outside, there may still be walls, but at least there’s no ceiling. I turn my head—and an ashen, black-cloaked woman unfolds like a blanket in mid-air.
The ground rises up to punch me before I can scream. Pain jars my shoulder and back, sharp enough to cut. I lie still a moment, gasping.
A stablehand races toward me, her face white with horror. I draw a long, steadying breath, then probe my ribs and limbs for tenderness. Nothing broken, praise Dal. I sit up and groan.
“I’m fine,” I say. “Is she all right?”
The mysterious woman lies crumpled beneath her cloak, her face unnaturally gray. I crawl toward her, my shoulder throbbing, but the stablehand pulls me back sharply. The black mass I took for a cloak is a vast, dark wing.
I shudder and back away. How can a corbie be here? The stablehand tugs at my arm again.
“Back to the castle,” she whispers. “Quickly.”
The corbie raises her head and looks at us. The stablehand screams and covers her face, but I freeze in horror. One of the corbie’s eye sockets is empty and oozing, and her face is a swollen mess. She reaches a taloned hand toward me.
“Furo akanei, Feyana, orei…”
Her one eye rolls back, and her head drops. I stare at her, bewildered. She said my name. Somehow, this creature knows me. The stablehand tugs at my arm again, but this time I shake her off.
“Go get Nurse,” I say.
“But the curse—”
She hikes up her skirt and flees toward the castle. Alone, I crouch beside the naked corbie. One partly plucked wing still enfolds her, but the other lies flat, broken in at least three places. Her fingers, too, jut off at cringeworthy angles. Lash-marks criss-cross the soles of her swollen feet, and a long strip of scaly gray skin hangs off her thigh like a partially peeled fruit. Countless burns, cuts, lash-marks and bruises—some healed, some fresh—mar her muscular, nipple-less chest. Whoever attacked her must have tormented her for days. Who would dare to torture a corbie?
I step on the hem of my skirt and rip upwards, tearing the silk into long bandages.