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The First Betrayal (The Chronicles of Josan, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – May 30, 2006


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The First Betrayal (The Chronicles of Josan, Book 1) + The Sea Change (The Chronicles of Josan, Book 2) + The Final Sacrifice
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; paperback / softback edition (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553588761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553588767
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,570,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Particia Bray inherited her love of books from her parents, both of whom were fine storytellers in the Irish tradition. She has always enjoyed spinning tales, and turned to writing as a chance to share her stories with a wider audience. Patricia holds a master's degree in Information Technology, and combines her writing witha a full-time career as an I/T Project Manager.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One


The lantern flickered as a gust of wind blew through the lighthouse tower. Then the flame died, plunging Josan into darkness. His right hand searched the floor beside him till he found the sparker, then he groped for the base of the lantern with his left. Using the edge of his cloak to protect his hand from the heated glass, he removed the chimney. His hand trembled so much that it took three tries before he was able to relight the wick. Finally, it caught, and with a sigh of relief he carefully replaced the glass. The soft light illuminated the small platform for a few brief moments before succumbing to another draft. This time, Josan did not bother to relight it.

He told himself that he did not need to see, but could not repress the shiver of unease as the darkness engulfed him. Before tonight this had always been a place of light, the large windows letting in the daylight, and at dusk the three great lamps would be lit, powerful beacons that filled the platform with their radiance as they guided ships far out at sea. But tonight the signal lamps were dark, for not even the most sheltered flame was proof against the howling wind. Now darkness had consumed the light, just as the sea outside threatened to devour the tower.

In the dark, every sound was magnified as the rain lashed against the wooden shutters, and the merciless wind sought the cracks in his defenses. Strange drafts swirled inside the tower and he drew his knees to his chest, pulling his coarse woolen cloak more tightly around him. The wind outside intensified, howling until he could scarcely hear himself think. From far beneath him, he heard a crash. Startled, he began to stand, then common sense reasserted itself and he resumed his seat. There was nothing he could do until the storm passed. Instead he listened intently, and underneath the sound of the wind and rain he heard the relentless crashing of the waves. It sounded as if they were breaking all around him, and he knew the lighthouse was being swallowed by the angry ocean.

He wondered if the ocean would eventually release its prize, or if the stone tower would crumble beneath the fury of the storm. He tried to view his situation dispassionately, the question of his survival as a mere intellectual exercise, but none of the tricks he had learned in his years of study could dispel his fear. He could almost taste the terror as it rose up and threatened to overwhelm him, just as the sea threatened to overtake the tower.

It would be easier if he could pray. If he were one of the fishing folk, with their simple faith in the gods of the sea and storms. Gods that could be placated by offerings and rituals. Gods that were petty enough to care if a single man lived or died.

Josan's faith allowed him no such comfort. He served the true gods: Zakar, the giver of life, and his brother Ata, the giver of knowledge. The twin gods concerned themselves with the affairs of the heavens. They were far too lofty to care about the fate of a simple monk.

He recalled the face of Brother Thanatos as he lectured his young pupils. "Remember, we serve the gods. The gods do not serve us." It was the first lesson he had learned from the monks, and the most important one.

The true gods were the masters of all knowledge, and the Learned Brethren of the collegium served their gods through scholarship and the accumulation of wisdom. Before his exile Josan had served them well, but he knew better than to expect that this had earned him any favors. The gods were indifferent to Josan's peril, as indeed they were indifferent to the fate of all men.

Instead, Josan must put his trust in the skills of those who had built the tower. Two hundred years ago, Prince Txomin's ship had run aground on a nearby sandbar, then broken apart under the relentless pounding of the waves. Forced to swim for his life, the prince had promised his gods he would build them a great monument if he survived.

The lighthouse had been built near the spot where Txomin was said to have come ashore. Nearly a hundred feet high, it was made of massive granite stone blocks quarried far in the south. Wide enough at the base to contain a small storeroom, it tapered as it rose until you reached the platform at the top, which was barely twenty feet across. Starting at the base of the round tower, a steep staircase wound three times around until it reached the first course, which consisted of a half-circle wooden stage and the lowest rung of the iron ladder. As you climbed there were two more courses, each progressively smaller, which were used for storage and as a place to rest for those wearied by the climb. Finally, at the top of the ladder a trapdoor led up to the platform, with its three great lamps. Pulleys at the top allowed a man to hoist heavy or bulky objects up the long shaft, though Josan had seldom found a need for this.

The repetition of threes was a sign that the builders had been followers of the old Ikarian religion, with its belief in the mystical powers of that number. Josan, of course, knew that the only number with true mystical significance was the number five.

Still, despite their quaint beliefs, the builders had constructed a solid structure that had endured for centuries. In some ways the tower was a relic of past glories, when such an extravagant undertaking could be commissioned on behalf of one who was merely sixth in line for the throne.

In the beginning, the priests of the old religion had served as lighthouse keepers, then when Emperor Aitor had assumed his throne, the old religion had fallen out of favor and the Learned Brethren had taken over the task, in return for imperial consideration. Chanted prayers had given way to meticulously recorded observations of the weather and the tides.

Before he had come to this place, Josan had paid no heed to the weather. And why should he? Most of his life had been spent indoors, studying in the great library or visiting with scholars when he had journeyed to Seddon and Xandropol. But since his transformation from scholar to lighthouse keeper, he had developed an uncanny sense for the weather.

He had known this storm was coming since yesterday, when the dawn had revealed long waves breaking on the shore against the direction of the wind. The very air had felt strange against his skin, and he had known that the clear sunshine was a false prophet, giving no sign of what was to come.

Josan spent that morning making his preparations, moving what supplies he could from the storeroom to one of the three courses that bisected the tower, filling every inch of available space. His duty done, he'd then made the long trek to warn the villagers who lived on the island during the summer and autumn. But with the skies still clear, they'd eyed him askance. It seemed incredible that these folk, who had lived here all their lives, could not see the danger signs. They had been polite but skeptical, trusting in their own instincts and the bright sun that shone above.

At last, he'd reminded them that he was a servant of the twin gods. When asked if the gods had sent him this warning he had not agreed, but neither had he denied it. He had salved his conscience with the thought that in a way the gods were responsible for his knowledge, for they had given him the wits to study the weather and read the messages of the wind and tides.

By the time he'd returned to his lighthouse, clouds had covered the sky. The tide that night had been unusually high, and when the dawn came, so too came the first drops of rain. The storm had grown during the day until the skies were so dark that he could not tell when the sun had set. The winds raged so fiercely that there was no point in trying to light the great lanterns. He could only hope that there were no ships caught in the storm.

He wondered how the villagers were faring. Had they heeded his warning and moved to higher ground? They, at least, could flee the storm, leaving nothing behind but their fishing shacks.

Josan had chosen to remain in the lighthouse, despite its proximity to the sea. But what had seemed an admirable devotion to duty was now proven sheer folly as the waves broke around the tower and he swore that he could feel the massive stones trembling under the onslaught.

He realized that he would die here, a victim not of the storm but of his own miscalculation in thinking that the massive tower would be proof against the forces of wind and water. Anger mixed with fear, as the irony of his situation sank in. His life had been spared once, when against all odds he had survived a disease that was nearly always fatal. He had been given a second chance, and now even that would be taken from him.

With morbid fascination, he wondered if he would be crushed to death by the stones as the tower fell, or if he would be swept out to sea and drowned. It was a puzzle that required far more knowledge of engineering than Josan possessed; nonetheless, he began calculating the odds of each event, as if this were an exercise given to him by his tutors.

As minutes turned to hours, he came to the conclusion that it was most likely he would be injured when the tower fell--perhaps even trapped under debris--and only then would he drown, unable to free himself.

Having reached this conclusion, he settled himself to wait until events would prove or disprove his hypothesis. But as he listened, he realized that the wind had changed direction, and had become merely loud rather than deafening. Gradually the wind calmed, and only the occasional wave broke around the tower. He could still hear the rain, but it fell more softly, as if this was an ordinary storm. This time when he relit the lantern, it stayed lit. Cautiously he made his way to the edge of the platform and peered down the shaft, but it was too dark to see what lay beneath him.
He was forced to wait until the rays of the sun crept through the broken shutters on the eastern face of the platform. Rising to his feet, he pushed aside the damaged boards and looked outside...

More About the Author

Patricia Bray is the author of a dozen novels, including Devlin's Luck, which won the 2003 Compton Crook Award for the best first novel in the field of science fiction or fantasy. A multi-genre author whose career spans both epic fantasy and Regency romance, her books have been translated into Russian, German, Portuguese and Hebrew. She's also spent time on the editorial side of the business, as the co-editor of After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar (DAW, March 2011) and The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity (DAW, March 2012).

Patricia lives in a New England college town, where she combines her writing with a full-time career as a Systems Analyst, ensuring that she is never more than a few feet away from a keyboard. To learn more visit her website at: www.patriciabray.com.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Andy Gray on February 8, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The First Betrayal by Patricia Bray is the first book in the Josan Chronicles. The second book called The Sea Change is scheduled to be released in July, 2007. I stumbled upon this gem while looking through Amazon recommendations, and I must say I am quite pleased I took the risk of getting this sight unseen.

There are some things that need to be discussed prior to the actual review. Yes, this is a fantasy book. However, it is not a traditional fantasy novel in the terms of what people expect to see in a fantasy book. Meaning, if you are looking for a book that has wizards hurling fireballs, a vast assortment of monsters rampaging the countryside, and large scale battles with gallant knights - this book may not for you. You will find none of that within these pages.

The plot of this book has a couple different layers to it, which are all written very well. The first plot like follows the monk Josan as he is the lighthouse keeper of a distant peninsula to keep ships from crashing against the sandbars. As the story unfolds we find the reason Josan is there, or shall I say the reason Josan believes he is there. A certain sequence of events takes place that turns Josan's world on its head causing him to make some decisions that have larger consequences. The second plot is one of political intrigue and a group of people trying to give rise to a rebellion and coup of the current queen of Karystos. Throughout the book we learn that there was a similar rebellion attempt six year previous and the ramification of that failed rebellion still linger today. Both plot come to an unexpected conclusion.

The main character of this book is the monk Josan. There is also a myriad of other characters that all play important roles within this book.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By K. Maxwell on August 1, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Josian is a monk and a lighthouse keeper on a remote island who has no reason to doubt his past till an assassin tries to kill him and he responds with deadly skills he knows he never learnt. Forced to leave the only home he has Josian finds there is more to his past than he ever suspected.

This is a good opening instalment to this trilogy. Josian is a likeable, if somewhat conflicted and tortured character. This book is a good introduction to Josian and his world but by the end of the novel you have the clear feeling that this is only a starting point and the main act is yet to come.

My only reservation with this series is how it will end given the very poorly written 3rd novel in the Devlin series by this same author, but based on this book I'm willing to give this a series a chance to prove itself better overall than the last one.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By RG69 VINE VOICE on March 24, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading the Sword of Change series with Devlin, I eagerly waited for the next adventure from Patricia. I can honestly say that this series(so far at least) is better than her first. Her stories are grand kingdom changing stories without having to consult a glossary of hundreds of names of people, places, gods, etc. She writes a nice flowing story that is easy to read, yet still tells a terrific story. I hope she continues to grow as a writer, and I will continue to support her efforts.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Good concept but really a set up book. Looks like the rest of the series will be really good. Interesting twists and great characters just kind of slow moving until the end. But without the detail in the beginning you would be lost. Looks to be a great series as good as the Devlin series.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Vanessa on August 10, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story sets up nicely, the characters promising and interesting as Bray establishes past events and motives. The pace moves along quickly, the narrative smooth.

And then everything just kind of washes out into blah.

Don't get me wrong, Bray is clearly an intelligent person, she uses big words and has some strengths (plot, pacing), but unfortunately, they aren't enough to carry the story.

Her characters start off interesting enough, but as you continue into the story they don't get very deep, and they do contradictory things, leaving me incredulous with all their actions. By three-quarters of the way through the book I just didn't care. Bray tries to make them sound sophisticated with her semi-formal prose, but they just come off sounding silly--her dialogue is dull and her prose cliché.

There is action enough to move the story forward, and a little dialogue here and there, but mostly the characters do a lot of internal thinking. I mean, a lot. So much that they get repetitive and annoying, and their thoughts contradicted their actions enough times that it really got on my nerves.

The climax was not built up very well so when it happened I was thinking, "That's it? Huh? So what?"

The magic was a crutch used to have a story in the first place, it's not explained, and barely mentioned. Makes it less of a fantasy book than a story about queens and kingdoms on a planet not much different than ours. The setting is basic. Bray hardly talks about the envrionment and city that is the setting of her book. You don't get a feel for the place or its culture beyond simplistic comments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joseph A. Kraska on July 24, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I first started reading Mz. Bray's work with her entertaining story of Devlin in a previous series. Patricia showed herself an entertaining storyteller in that series, turning a relatively mainstream fantasy plot into a very easy read, and a likeable character (I recommend it).

Here, in _First Betrayal_, Patricia is proving out herself as a storyteller once again, in providing great entertainment, this time with a decently non-derivative and unpredictable story involving a character with an interesting history who has to make some very hard decisions for himself and his future, when he discover that his past and future both could involve very high human costs indeed.

With this book, Mz. Bray has stepped up a notch as an author in my eyes.
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