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Pale Queen's Courtyard (Moonlit Cities Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Marcin Wrona
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Kamvar, a soldier, has lost his way. Leonine, a thief and sorcerer, has forgotten that he had one to lose.

When the daughter of a High Priest finds herself exiled and hunted across the entirety of conquered Ekka, both men will remember who they are, and the country's invaders will learn that memories, unlike temples, are not so easily torn down.

Pale Queen's Courtyard is the first novel by Canadian author Marcin Wrona, and a finalist in SciFiNow's 2009 War of the Words.

Approximate word count: 115k (~450 paperback pages).

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Pale Queen's Courtyard is the first in a series of three historical fantasy novels inspired by Mesopotamia under Persian rule and the sword-and-sorcery pulps. All three novels are stand-alone works with their own characters and plots, but are touched off by some of the same events and are presented in chronological order.

While it is not necessary to read the series chronologically to enjoy any of its entries, please do note that the later novels sometimes make reference to events that happened in previous ones, and as such can reveal some aspects of their plots.

Pale Queen's Courtyard
Golden Feathers Falling
When on High

About the Author

Marcin Wrona is a Polish-born Canadian author, a multiple immigrant, a mustachio-twirling financier, and many other things besides. He lives and works in Toronto.

Product Details

  • File Size: 496 KB
  • Print Length: 323 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,391 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstandingly good February 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I was quite impressed with this book. On the one hand, it has a terrific array of the fun elements that make sword and sorcery novels a pleasure to read. There are battles and chases, narrow escapes, grim villains, and there is action galore. There is a thief out to burgle a magic vase, a mysterious secret society trying to manipulate the thief, a brave soldier determined to do his duty as things get ever more ambiguous, a terrified child being hunted by powerful forces...

But there is a whole other level of beautiful writing and moral dilemma. We see men struggle with their fundamental natures. Some of them grow, some of them just become twisted, but all of them change.

It's also refreshing to find a fantasy tale set in bronze-age Mesopotamia instead of the generic fantasy re-treads of Medieval western Europe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, historical fantasy October 18, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a historical fantasy set in the Near East at the time of the Achaemenid Empire around about 500BC. We follow the fortunes of Leonine, a thief with sorcerous powers; Kamvar, a solider in a company of Hounds, warrior-priests whose mission is to track down and kill sorcerers; and Iasin, an eight-year old girl with extraordinary sorcerous power who crosses both their paths. The conflicts are well set out right from the start, and the characters have strong conflicting motivations: the thief just wants to take his money, but events in his past make him sympathetic to the girl's plight, while Kamvar is a good solider who comes to find the idea of executing small girl for the supposed sin of sorcery troubling.

The historical detail is totally convincing, and the somewhat mundane world of subsistence farming, toll collectors and imperial bureaucracy gives the more fantastic elements a solid foundation in a convincing real world. This makes the characters inner struggles more convincing, as they are rooted in recognisable, real-world concerns; Kamvar's ruminations about leaving his wife and child behind are made all the more affecting as it's easy to imagine them living in another part of the well-imagined world.

As well as this depth, though, it provides a useful hard line for the magic of the setting. There is a low-magic level with simple, and fairly restrictive rules as it can't be so powerful to destabilise the setting completely and lose the benefits of the historical angle. The tight geographical focus of the novel helps here: Wrona concentrates his story on the attitudes to sorcery in one limited region rather than trying to work through the consequences of sorcery on a global scale.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A rich tapestry! June 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This review is cross-posted from Papyrus Independent Author Reviews

The Hounds have picked up a scent and this time it might bring them face-to-face with the Pale Queen.

With "Pale Queen's Courtyard", the author has created a rich and imaginative world in which to set a fantasy tale of intrigue, magic and adventure.

The world is based on ancient Mesopotamia. Impressive cities, multiple cultures and gods, the conflict between politics and religion and a string of different conquerors shaping and reshaping civilisation create the backdrop for this story.

The action takes place in Ekka, one of the conquered empires and one in which the people have bargained with their aggressors to outlaw one of the religions - that of the Pale Queen, goddess of magic and dark arts.

There are elements of this world-building that sometimes make it difficult for the reader to understand immediately what the narrator or character is referring to. Unfamiliar references to passages of time, the moon and the sun, for example, were initially confusing. However, the author resists the temptation to give the reader an essay on what he has created. Instead, comprehension grows as the story progresses.

When Leonine, the minstrel and thief, has to use his powers to steal an artefact for his employer, he knows he is risking discovery from the notorious Merezadesh Hounds. Thus starts a chase that takes the reader across the kingdom of Ekka, a pursuit that leads the religious zealots of Merezad from chasing a simple thief to hunting a young girl of dangerous power.

As Leonine becomes the reluctant protector of the girl, he discovers that the Merezadesh Hunt is not the only party interested in her.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting Start May 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Let me start by saying that I recommend this book. Keep reading for more detail!

Pros: the atmosphere and pacing of the book were engrossing, and the characters were well-rounded (one revelation, in particular, caused my hair to stand on end - in the good way). The story contained tropes, but in a way that reminded us why tropes recur; the characters brought life to the familiar stories in a new setting.

Cons: I occasionally got lost with the names of the different ethnicities, and which folded into which empire bits, and which names were gods or god-like beings. It's worth noting that these were not presented in a way that took me out of the story (as so often happens with non-English terms in fantasy books), but they were sometimes confusing. In addition, while I identified before that the pacing was engrossing, it was also somewhat inconsistent. Some fairly action-y events were given enough space to keep them as notable, but the writing was so understated that they felt more like connectors than legitimate plot points.

Overall: Wrona's talent is apparent, and his stories complex and engrossing - I see that he has kept writing, and I am glad of it! I look forward to reading the next book in this series.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it
The first book of Marcin Wrona's that I read was The Whitechapel Gambit, which I bought because it was free and it looked interesting. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Caroline B
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale to satisfy any fantasy reader
Leonine is a handsome thief with a tragic past and a very special talent - magic, a gift punishable by death in Wrona's version of ancient Mesopotamia. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Brian Braden
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't stop
I am so glad all 3 books are avaliable in the ( Moonlit Cities ) series. I don't want this tale to end.FUN,exciting read!
Published 18 months ago by B. Blair
4.0 out of 5 stars A very unusual fantasy
I got this as a free download after reading a review on THE ECLECTIC BOOKSHELF of the author's next book in the series. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Karen W. Newton
1.0 out of 5 stars Pale queen's courtyard
Not a good read. pale Queens courtyard was not interesting all. I couldn't even get past the fifth chapter and I tried.
Published 18 months ago by June
5.0 out of 5 stars All around wonderful book
Brief Summary: Pale Queen's Courtyard follows two main characters. The first is Leonine, a musician and thief who also happens to be a sorcerer in a land where sorcery will earn... Read more
Published on August 10, 2011 by S Warren
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
The Pale Queen's Courtyard by Marcin Wrona is a story that deals with politics and religion, people's beliefs and magic, and a young girl who is being used as a political... Read more
Published on July 6, 2011 by M. Sellers
4.0 out of 5 stars Great intro to a rich fantasy world
Disclaimer: I received a Kindle version of Pale Queen's Courtyard through a LibraryThing giveaway in return for a review. Read more
Published on July 2, 2011 by Kiki deVil
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More About the Author

Marcin Wrona is a Polish-born Canadian author, a multiple immigrant, a mustachio-twirling financier, and many other things besides. He lives and works in Toronto.

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