I’m excited for the release of Tremontaine, a serialized, 13-part prequel to Ellen Kushner’s Riverside novels. Judging by an excerpt released Monday on RT Book Reviews, it should be every bit as excellent as Swordspoint, Privilege of the Sword, and Fall of the Kings (the latter co-authored with Kushner’s partner in writing and in life, Delia Sherman). The art looks gorgeous, too. According to the cover reveal on Tor.com, there will be a different cover for each episode, so the awesomeness just increased by a factor of thirteen.
This excerpt focuses on Diane, Duchess Tremontaine, a seemingly secondary but ultimately important character from Swordspoint. Here, she deals with imminent financial ruin and a wayward daughter who has just given birth to a son. There’s no doubt she’ll employ all the intelligence and political skill we saw in that earlier novel in order to avoid financial ruin, but if events in Swordspoint are any guide, then the situation with her daughter will prove much more intractable. [Update: Ms. Kushner pointed out that the first version of this paragraph could have been a spoiler for those who haven’t read her earlier work. I’d forgotten such readers exist, but if you’re among them, you still have time to rectify the oversight before Tremontaine comes out. Let’s just say that fans of that earlier work may find in this tale a bit of an origin story, or at least background, for one of their favorite characters.]
As you can tell from the cover above, this is a group project, with Kushner sharing the byline with Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malindo Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, and Patty Bryant. Knowing just a bit of Maltese’s and Lo’s work, I’m sure this group of writers will live up to the standards Kushner set in the original trilogy. Swordspoint introduced diverse sexual orientations into fantasy, and this writing team promises a welcome inclusion of other types of diversity in the world of Riverside.
Here’s just a taste, but please do click through to the full excerpt:
In the highest room of their splendid family townhouse on the highest part of the Hill, Diane, Duchess Tremontaine, sat in a window seat and surveyed her city.
Below the sweeping lawns of Tremontaine House the river roiled under the dull grey skies of a windy, rainy day. Across the river, prosperous houses sent up trails of smoke from their many chimneys. But beyond them, in the older part of the city, only some of the ancient buildings of the University bore these flags of prosperity. Many students went cold for their learning. But for a clever man not born to land or riches, what else was there?
Diane smiled. Her husband the duke loved the University. He believed in clever men, and he had some pretensions to learning, as his extensive library testified. He served on the University’s Board of Governors, and was happier there than in the halls of the Council of Lords. She didn’t object. It gave him something to occupy his mind, while she occupied hers with weightier matters.
– Read the full excerpt here.
Serial Box Publishing will release the first installment of Tremontaine on October 28th. Full details are here.
In other Riverside news, Kushner is also at work on the fourth full novel in this series, which will take place “about fifteen years after Privilege of the Sword,” (so before Fall of the Kings). So the series will soon be a tetralogy, or a pentalogy, or something. It’s a great time to be a fan of this writer, who has been such an inspiration for my own historical romance/suspense novel, Daring and Decorum: A Highwayman Novel.