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Trickster's Queen

Tamora Pierce


  Title Page



  Cast of Characters



  1. Rajmuat

  2. Dragons, Crows, and Doves

  3. Topabaw

  4. The Pavilion of Delightful Pleasures

  5. The Demands of Rebellion

  6. Spies

  7. Putting Darkings to Work

  8. Plots Hatch

  9. Reports and Conspiracies

  10. Eclipse

  11. A Few Changes

  12. Meddlers

  13. A Change of Plans

  14. Dove Among the Nobles

  15. Rebel Preparation

  16. Dunevon's Birthday

  17. Mourning

  18. Conspiracies

  19. Rittevon Square

  20. Battle Joined

  21. Work



  Notes and Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Other books by Tamora Pierce

  Copyright Page

  To Bruce Coville, divinely tricky, magically inspiring—

  one of the best men I've ever known,


  To Mary Lou Pierce,

  the best Ma in the world

  In a time of fear, the One Who I Promised will come to the raka, bearing glory in her train and justice in her hand. She will restore the god to his proper temple and his children to her right hand. She will be twice royal, wise and beloved, a living emblem of truth to her people. She will be attended by a wise one, the cunning one, the strong one, the warrior, and the crows. She will give a home to all, and the kudarung will fly in her honor.

  —From the Kyprish Prophecy,

  written in the year 200 H.E.


  Acharn Uniunu

  boy noble, member of Dunevon's court


  luarin noble house

  Alan of Pirate's Swoop

  Alianne's seventeen-year-old twin brother

  Alanna of Pirate's Swoop and Olau

  the Tortallan King's Champion, lady knight

  Alianne of Pirate's Swoop

  daughter of Alanna and George of Pirate's Swoop, former slave

  Ankoret Obeliten

  noblewoman at regents' court

  Atisa Libo

  pretty, plump, Guchol's sister, one of Aly's spy pack


  footman for a Balitang neighbor


  darking placed in the palace


  raka warrior, maid to Sarai, one of Aly's spy pack

  Bronau Jimajen

  Rubinyan's deceased brother, murderer of Mequen Balitang


  spy recruit, works for the harbormaster


  free raka head cook for the Balitangs, armorer for rebels


  Nuritin's maid, member of raka conspiracy

  Dovasary (Dove) Balitang

  Mequen's half-raka daughter from first marriage

  Druce Adona

  nobleman, one of Sarai's

  Dunevon Rittevon

  boy king of Copper Isles

  Edunata Mayano

  luarin noblewoman, one of Imajane's ladies-in-waiting

  Eleni of Olau

  Myles's wife, Aly's grandmother

  Elsren Balitang

  Dunevon's heir, luarin son of Mequen and Winnamine


  part-raka warrior, determined, member of Aly's spy pack


  supernatural cat, Alanna's former companion


  darking placed in Teak Sitting Room, Balitang House


  hard raka warrior, member of Aly's spy pack

  Ferdolin Tomang (Ferdy)

  one of Sarai's suitors, count, wealthy luarin

  Fesgao Yibenu

  raka sergeant of Balitang men-at-arms, rebel war leader


  darking placed to spy on Duke Nomru

  Gazlon Lelin

  boy noble, member of Dunevon's court

  Genore Tomang

  dowager countess, Ferdolin's mother, member of luarin conspiracy

  George of Pirate's Swoop

  Alanna's husband, Aly's father, baron and second in command of his realm's spies


  Elsren's manservant, spy recruit

  Graveyard Hag

  trickster, primary goddess of Carthak, Kyprioth's kinswoman


  Topabaw's spy, collector of information

  Guchol Libo

  plump, good-humored, Atisa's sister, one of Aly's spy pack


  former raka ruling house


  deceased former king

  Herbrand Edgecliff

  luarin bookseller, member of raka conspiracy


  soldier, Rittevon Guard


  handsome raka, member of Aly's spy pack

  Huldean Obeliten

  boy noble, member of Dunevon's court

  Hunod Ibadun

  noble executed by the regents

  Imajane Jimajen

  born Rittevon, King Oron's half sister, princess regent

  Imgehai Qeshi

  priestess of Black God of death, member of luarin conspiracy


  female ship captain

  Isalena Obemaek

  luarin, one of Sarai's friends


  Nuritin's secretary

  Jevair Ibadun

  noble, one of Sarai's suitors


  former slave, deadly member of Aly's spy pack

  Jonathan of Conté

  king of Tortall, Aly's godfather

  Junai Dodeka

  Ulasim's daughter, Dove's bodyguard, one of Aly's spy pack

  Kaddar Iliniat

  emperor of Carthak, patron and cousin of Zaimid Hetnim


  noble house, Balitang neighbor


  pert raka, one of Aly's spy pack


  female Stormwing, Taybur's friend


  trickster god


  darking placed in raka meeting room, Balitang House

  Lehart Obemaek

  luarin lord, member of luarin conspiracy


  luarin noble house

  Lohearn Mantawu

  Topabaw, duke, Crown spymaster


  raka hostler for the Balitangs, deceased

  Ludas Jimajen

  second in command of the luarin invasion of the Copper Isles


  Topabaw's agent and information gatherer

  Matfrid Fonfala

  Winnamine's father, lord, member of luarin conspiracy


  soldier, Rittevon Guard

  Meipun Kloulechat

  raka baron

  Mequen Balitang

  deceased duke, father to Balitang children


  luarin noblewoman


  Balitang neighbor

  Myles of Olau

  head Tortallan spymaster, Aly's grandfather, Alanna's adoptive father

  Nawat Crow

  crow who turned himself into a man

  Numair Salmalín

  powerful mage, Daine's husband

  Nuritin Balitang

  great-aunt to Balitang children, unofficial head of extended Balitang family


  luarin noble house
br />   Ochobu Dodeka

  mother of Ulasim, leader of mages of the Chain


  chubby, thoughtful, one of Aly's spy pack

  Oron Rittevon

  deceased king of the Copper Isles

  Otaviyu Lelin

  one of Sarai's friends, parents are members of luarin conspiracy


  part-raka, Winnamine's maid, belongs to rebellion


  darking placed to spy on agent Grosbeak

  Petranne Balitang

  Mequen's first child with Winnamine

  Qovold Engan

  baron, royal astronomer, member of luarin conspiracy


  darking placed with Countess Tomang


  Balitang housekeeper, head of communications, member of rebel leadership

  Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak

  lord, knight-commander of the King's Own, Alan's knight-master


  handsome raka, member of Aly's spy pack


  raka healer, nursemaid to Petranne and Elsren

  Rikash Salmalín

  Daine and Numair's infant son

  Rittevon Lanman

  leader of luarin conquest of Copper Isles

  Roald of Conté

  prince, heir to Tortallan throne

  Roger of Conté

  King Jonathan's deceased uncle, rebel

  Rosamma Tomang

  one of Sarai's friends, Genore's daughter

  Rubinyan Jimajen

  luarin, husband of Princess Imajane, prince regent


  soldier, Rittevon guard

  Saraiyu (Sarai) Balitang

  Mequen's oldest daughter, half raka, from his first marriage

  Sarralyn Salmalín

  Daine and Numair's daughter

  Sarugani Temaida

  Mequen's first wife, raka, mother of Dove and Sarai, deceased

  Sevmire Ambau

  Rubinyan's personal spymaster, luarin


  princess, wife of Prince Roald, heir to Tortallan throne

  Spot (now Secret)

  darking first placed in king's bedroom, then with Aly


  royal governor of Tongkang

  Taybur Sibigat

  captain of King's Guard


  raka noble house, keepers of the Haiming bloodlines, Sarugani's family

  Thayet of Conté

  Queen of Tortall, co-ruler with her husband, King Jonathan

  Thom of Pirate's Swoop

  Aly's older brother, a student mage


  basilisk, immortal and friend of Aly's family


  people's name for Duke Lohearn Mantawu, Crown spymaster


  darking who stays with Aly


  wicked, dangerous, one of Aly's spy pack

  Ulasim Dodeka

  head footman to Balitangs, general of rebellion, raka, Ochobu's son, Junai's father


  luarin noble house

  Vedec Golzai

  young luarin noble

  Veralidaine (Daine) Sarrasri Salmalín

  half goddess, called the Wildmage for her skills with animals, Aly's adoptive aunt


  raka servant, head of raka conspiracy at palace

  Vitorcine Townsend

  double agent, maid to Obemaek family

  Vurquan Nomru

  duke, luarin, popular, member of luarin conspiracy


  raka child, message runner at Balitang House


  luarin noble house, friends of Winnamine's

  Winnamine Fonfala Balitang

  duchess, mother of Petranne and Elsren, member of luarin conspiracy


  cheerful, bold raka, member of Aly's spy pack


  mage of the Chain, mute, member of raka conspiracy

  Zaimid Hetnim

  handsome Carthaki healer, friend of the Carthaki emperor



  In the winter of 462–463 H.E., the brown-skinned raka people and their many allies, part-bloods and white-skinned luarin, prepared for revolution against the luarin ruling house, the Rittevons. The raka plan was to replace the Rittevons with one who had the bloodlines of both the raka queens and the luarin rulers, a passionate girl named Saraiyu Balitang.

  The leaders of the raka rebel conspiracy did not spend the winter months dozing. Throughout the Isles, Crown tax collectors vanished from their beds, never to be seen again. Even more baffling, all the suspects who were questioned in their disappearances swore under truthspell that they had last seen the missing officials alive and well. Property damage on luarin estates that winter far exceeded that expected from heavy rains. Dams collapsed, sweeping away acres of rice fields. Blackrot invaded grain silos, destroying winter stores. Bridges fell. Overseers and a few nobles were murdered. When the Crown sent soldiers to kill the people of the nearest raka village, as the law required, the troops found that the inhabitants had vanished. Many people reported hearing war gongs sounding from deep within the lowland jungles.

  Life for the Balitang family in the highlands of Lombyn Isle had two sides. One was that of a family that had just lost its patriarch and had to get through the winter months before they could return to the capital city of Rajmuat at the behest of the ruling family. Duchess Winnamine Balitang took solace from her two older stepdaughters, Saraiyu and Dovasary, and her own children, six-year-old Petranne and five-year-old Elsren. She conducted lessons, had snowball fights, told stories, and did her best to keep everyone from screaming with boredom. She also helped train Sarai's maid, a twenty-three-year-old raka woman named Boulaj, and Dove's maid, the former slave Aly Homewood from the kingdom of Tortall.

  Beneath this comfortable domestic life lay a second, less visible and more directed. Many of the leaders of the hoped-for revolution were servants to the Balitangs. They guarded the two older girls and perfected their plans. They sent and received information through a network of mages called the Chain, who used their powers to pass messages from island to island. The members of the household practiced fighting arts, from unarmed combat to sword and spear work, in the outbuildings at Tanair Castle. They had an unusual teacher for new ways of fighting: Nawat, a young man who had once been a crow. The duchess saw this practice as much-needed exercise, and both she and her daughters joined in. To the raka's regret, Sarai refused to continue her lessons in swordcraft after she fought and beheaded her would-be lover, Prince Bronau, the night he slew her father.

  Busiest of all the members of the rebel conspiracy was the newest to join, seventeen-year-old Aly Homewood. She was in reality Alianne of Pirate's Swoop, the daughter and granddaughter of Tortall's spymasters, raised from the cradle to compete in the world of international espionage. During the previous summer she had acted as chief bodyguard to the Balitang children. With the arrival of spring and the move to Rajmuat, Aly knew she would become the rebellion's spymaster. Although the Balitangs' former housekeeper, Que-danga, has remained in Rajmuat to collect information from long-standing networks of spies, Aly's specially recruited spies and those they will train have their own unique work ahead. They will collect information for the rebel leaders to use against their enemies, and conduct whatever actions of sabotage and psychological operations required to put the raka's enemies at odds with each other. For sixteen years she studied such work under her father's eye. Now she would do it herself, for the promise of better leadership for the Isles.

  In preparation, Aly used the winter to build a cadre of trained spies, people among the household who could learn and use all she had to teach. The lessons of these raka and part-raka in their twenties and thirties included written and spoken codes and code breaking, lock picking, and climbing. She
also taught them sign language, thorough searches, medicines and herbs, and the detection of other spies. Because she was younger than many of her trainees, Aly treated them in a teasing, grandmotherly way, while they awarded her the raka nickname of Duani or “boss lady.” Aly also spent time with the raka mage Ochobu, creating suicide spells and magic detection charms, and with the rebels' armorer, choosing weapons for her pack and for herself.

  Aly dared not tell anyone why she was so eager to take up the mantle of spymaster. To do so, she would have to reveal her true parentage. The raka would see her as a tool of the Tortallan Crown, while the forces loyal to the Rittevon king and his regents would see her as a spy. Only one being knew her true history: the deposed god of the Copper Isles, the trickster Kyprioth. It was he who had brought Aly to the service of the rebellion that would return him to his seat of power. Although responsible for her presence, Kyprioth did not speak to Aly throughout the long winter. She assumed he was hiding from the god brother and goddess sister who had cast him from his Isles: Mithros and the Great Mother Goddess.