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The Dawn Star [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Asaro
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

High in the Misted Cliffs lives a magic unlike any other.

With no teacher to guide her, no mentor to discourage her from the impossible, Mel Dawnfield pushed her magic to its limits-- and surpassed them. Only to find that her powers aren't enough to halt burgeoning rebellion within her husband's fledgling realm-- or a plot devised to strike at the very heart of Mel's family.

The lines have been drawn.

Mel's mage strength has become greater than any power ever known, but dare she forge her spells into weapons to protect her people, her husband? For her magic might transform the brutality of war into the birth pangs of a peaceful empire... unless it proves the death blow to her world.

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Editorial Reviews


"Catherine Asaro is one of the reigning queens of brilliant romantic fantasy." -- Midwest Book Review on The Misted Cliffs

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Drummer was in trouble. Again.

He had strolled into town earlier today, his clothes covered with dust and his frayed pouch slung over his shoulder. His glittar was packed in his good travel bag, carefully protected by layers of soft cloth.

He soon found the town's inn. In many towns, such inns also served as gathering halls where townspeople could enjoy shows by traveling theater groups, acrobats, dance troupes — and minstrels.

Drummer smiled. Especially minstrels.

That night, he played in the inn's common hall, on a platform at one end of the room. As he warmed up with his glittar, a few patrons glanced his way, but no one showed much interest. When he launched into a medley of Aronsdale folk songs, some people moved closer to the stage. Several fellows asked him to sing love songs for their ladies, which he obliged.

Within an hour, people had filled the room. Drummer could feel their moods. Glancing at a wooden cube that adorned a post by the door, he concentrated on its shape. It allowed him to create a mood spell that gave his love of his music to his listeners. It was a minor spell, of course; he had never done any of consequence. But it heightened his joy in singing to offer his pleasure to his audience.

The customers seemed to enjoy his singing and his music. The longer they stayed in the common room, buying food and drink, the more the innkeeper beamed. He kept Drummer supplied with ale. The townspeople didn't have many hexa-coins, but they left Drummer other things — breads and beads and a fine leather pouch. All in all, it was a good night.

He was singing the "Crystal Maker's Lament" when a fiery-haired girl arrived with some other young people. As she glided to a table with her friends, Drummer glided over the high notes of his song:

My heart shatters as easily,

As these vases drawn of crystal, Don't leave me even teasingly, I live only as your minstrel.

He sang the last line to the fiery girl. One of the young men in her group frowned, a big fellow in the homespun garb of a farmer.

Drummer waited until the farmer got his dinner and was focused on wolfing it down. Then Drummer sang a ballad to the girl. He drew out the dulcet notes for her, until her pretty cheeks turned the same color as her tousled curls. The big fellow noticed, though, and started looking irritated again, so Drummer switched his attentions to three matrons, who clucked and chuckled at his song. When they left, they set a hefty meat pie on the stage for him. He grinned and they laughed, waving as they made their way out of the inn.

It was growing late, and Drummer didn't want to strain his voice. He rarely had trouble hitting even the highest notes, but they were the first to go when he tired. He finished his song and bade his audience a pleasant night amid calls of appreciation. As he left the stage, he winked at the fiery girl.

Drummer was upstairs, headed for his room, when a sweet voice called from a recessed doorway. "Gentle sir, you do surely sing like an angel."

He peered at the girl in the shadows, wondering if this was a trick to rob him. He was carrying his glittar, his most expensive possession, and he had his take for the night slung over his shoulder in his new pouch.

"And who might you be," he asked, "so shy and sugar-voiced?"

The fiery girl stepped forward, her blush as becoming now as it had been downstairs. "My name is Skybell, handsome sir."

Handsome, eh? His thoughts softened as he ambled over to her. "Dear Skybell," he murmured. "Why are you hiding up here?" He couldn't resist teasing her. "Do you plan to knock me over the head and steal my possessions?" It wouldn't be the first time it had happened to him. However, he had learned to judge such matters, and he suspected the only thing on her mind was far sweeter than thievery. Smiling lazily, he added, "Or perhaps your nefarious cohorts lurk nearby, waiting to do me in."

"Oh! Never." She was aghast. "I would never do such." Drummer ran his fingers over the strings of his harp, evoking a sensuous ripple of notes. "How can I be sure?"

Her shy smile dimpled her face. "You play with me, sir." He quit strumming and traced the tip of his finger down her cheek. "Such a vision, with cheeks like blossoms and lips that surely men sing of everywhere. Are you playing with my poor, helpless heart, only to break it tomorrow?"

Her eyes widened. "I would never hurt you, truly." She touched a curl of hair that had fallen into his eyes. "You have nice hair. The color is like corn kernels."

"It's to match your skybell eyes." He wasn't much more than her height, so he didn't have to bend his head far to brush his lips across hers.

"Oh." Her mouth opened like a small O.

He smiled, charmed. "Has no man kissed you before? Surely every fellow in town must be wooing you."

"Only you have been so bold." Tentative, she touched his cheek. "You looked so beautiful singing tonight."

He thought of the glowering farmer. "Your young man didn't think so."

"My who?"

"The big farmer with the straw hat."

"Plowman?" Her laugh rippled. "He's not my young man."

"No?" Drummer slid his arm around her waist and pulled her well-curved body against his. "You aren't spoken for?"

"Never." She sounded breathless.

"Then I am a lucky man." He held her close as he kissed her again. A thought in the back of his mind warned that such a pretty girl would be this inexperienced only if she was barely out of childhood, which would make her too young for him. But she was warm and sweet, her body supple against his. Surely it was no harm if he dallied just a little — 

Someone yanked Drummer away from the girl and slammed him against the wall. He found himself staring up, and up, at the man Skybell had called Plowman. The farmer swung a gnarled fist, and Drummer barely ducked in time.

"Hey!" Drummer slipped out of the man's grip and backed down the hallway, raising his hands to placate the giant.

"Stop it!" Skybell cried from beyond Plowman.

The farmhand lumbered after Drummer. Muscles rippled under his worn shirt, and his footsteps thudded on the wooden floor.

Drummer kept backing up. "Listen, I'm sorry. But she can choose who she wants."

Plowman lunged at him, and Drummer dodged out of the way. He held tight to his glittar, more concerned about protecting it than himself.

"Stay put!" Plowman roared. "Fight like a man."

"Why?" Drummer frowned at him. "She doesn't want you. What good will fighting do?"

"Want me?" For some reason, that enraged Plowman even more. He strode forward, and Drummer backed right into a wall.

"Stop this right now!" Skybell had somehow got herself in front of Plowman. "Honestly, Plow, behave yourself."

"I saw him kissing you," he snarled. "You don't even know him at all. No one dishonors my little sister."

Drummer groaned. Irate brothers were worse than rejected suitors. In earlier days, he might have reacted the same way on his sister's behalf, except she was eight years older and had bedeviled him no end in their childhood —  until the day she had wed a prince. He wondered what Plowman would say if Drummer announced that his sister was queen of the country Harsdown and that her daughter had married the notorious despot, Cobalt the Dark. Probably Plowman would pound him into the ground for telling tales.

Drummer spoke in a conciliatory voice. "I have the greatest respect for your sister. I would never dishonor her fine name." He wanted to add, She has a right to choose her men. Women did all the time here in the country of Aronsdale. Staring up at the massive Plowman, though, he kept his mouth shut.

Skybell gently grasped her brother's arm. "We should get home before father starts to worry."

"I'm not done with this puny songster," Plowman grumbled.

"You can finish tomorrow," she offered. "I can?" He seemed confused.

"You can," she assured him. Drummer wished she didn't sound so earnest. But she was buying him time to get out of town.

Plowman glowered and rumbled a bit more, but Skybell soon had him on his way. Unfortunately, that meant she went, too. She glanced at Drummer with a look of apology so sincere he wanted to embrace her. He wanted to live even more, though, so he stayed put. He offered Skybell his most regretful look until Plowman shot him another hard, angry glare.

Within moments, brother and sister were gone. Drummer exhaled, relieved he hadn't been pummeled. He wasn't safe yet, though.

It didn't take long to pack his belongings and settle his bill at the inn. He hated to leave so soon; the audience here had been generous. But he couldn't sing if Plowman flattened him.

Drummer was soon on his way, sneaking out of town in the middle of the night.

Cobalt Escar stood alone. He had sought refuge on a walkway of an onion tower in the Alzire Palace. His palace. It had become his when he conquered this country of Shazire. He had done it for his father, Varqelle Escar. But Varqelle lay in his grave, killed a year ago in battle. The conqueror had been conquered, and he had left his son to rule in his stead.

Cobalt's hair blew across his face and shadowed him from the streaming sunlight. Far below, succulent grasses carpeted the hills and waterways sparkled. Wildflowers grew everywhere, swirls of color in blurs of pink, gold and blue. Spring filled the world with a profusion of life, and it was too much. He had spent most of his life in the spare, utilitarian Castle of Clouds high in the cliffs of his home, where just growing enough crops to feed the staff and animals was a challenge. The wealth of life here mocked his lingering grief. Today, on the anniversary of his father's death, the memories were poignant.

A door opened behind him. He turned as a woman came through the archway. She was a lovely vision with yellow hair, blue eyes and an angelic face. Cobalt wasn't fooled. As a sword fighter, she trained with his bes...

Product Details

  • File Size: 290 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Luna (September 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000W4RFOS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,932 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Desert Romance July 22, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Dawn Star (2006) is the third novel in the Misted Cliffs series, following The Misted Cliffs. In the previous volume, Princess Melody Dawnfield of Harsdown was married to Prince Cobalt Chamberlight of the Misted Cliffs. Cobalt and Varqelle -- the former king of Harsdown -- led the Misted Cliffs army against Blueshire and Shazire and conquered these lands.

Varqelle was felled in the final battle against Shazire. Mel used her magics to try to heal him, but failed. Still, Varqelle died knowing that Cobalt loved him.

In this novel, Drummer Headwind is in trouble again. He has been abducted by foreign agents. They take him to the Topaz Palace in Taka Mal and install him in a suite. Drummer is now a hostage against the good behavior of Cobalt Chamberlight, the husband of his niece Mel.

Vizarana Jade is the queen of Taka Mal. She inherited the throne as her father's only child, but she has rivals for the position. Her cousin Baz loves her and wants to marry her, but believes that a woman has no business being the head of state. The Atajazid D'az Ozar of Jazid also wants to marry Jade, but he too would take away her throne after becoming her husband.

Meanwhile, King Stonebreaker of the Misted Cliffs dies from a stroke and Cobalt is now King and Mel is Queen. After receiving the news about Drummer, Cobalt wants to invade Taka Mal immediately and totally raze every village and town. Mel talks him out of this course, but he tales most of his army with him to the border for the negotiations.

Naturally, Ozar has the Jazid army arrayed along the border when the Misted Cliffs troops march toward Taka Mal.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite there.... August 5, 2006
After the lead up from the previous novel, I was looking for a culmination of the previous stories in this one. Although she did a great job in exposing the emotions felt by Cobalt and Mel, I feel like she fell short in completing these events - unless she has another novel planned. We never really hear about Mel's parents again and the other members of her family, except for a new look at Drummer, who hadn't been mentioned since the first novel. I can understand that this novel is mainly centered around the journey that Mel has to undergo, but it would have been interesting if the other mages that we had come to love through these stories made a final appearance in this novel. I enjoyed this story, but it just seemed anti-climatic in its ending.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but missing something... July 13, 2006
Mel and Cobalt are back at their finest. Cobalt still has problems containing his anger and yearns to get along with his grandfather and his growth in this novel is pretty amazing. Two more characters, Drummer and Jade enter the picture and their story is relatively interesting.

Asaro never seems to write a bad book, but in this book I was looking for something more. I started the series with Charmed Destinies and I was just waiting for Jarid to make an appearance. However he has no significant role in this book. Drummer was probably the biggest disappointment, however. His character seemed really shallow to me.

But Asaro pulls out with four stars due to Cobalt's role in the novel, the amazingly amusing war conference, and the believeability of the majority of the characters (well, as believeable as a fantasy story can be, anyway).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT March 19, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
love cobalt's character and feel he is the strongest one for me anyway. He shows strength from both ends of the emotional spectrum. To love someone so deeply you would level the lands to find her, avenge her death. That's a lot of passion. So much so that it barely believable that it can be contained in one human being. Mel as certainly released something in him. I hope there is more about cobalt and Mel to come. I really enjoy reading about them.

I haven't found an author that has given me so much enjoyment out of reading till now and I hope she continues with this line of writing. I love the fantasy fairytale. It's just what I love to read. It has the magic and fantasy that I love but it also draws in that fairytale that princess, castle, old world time life that takes you away and lets your imagination roam. The best of both worlds come together in one story. I haven't found anything else like it and I love it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part 4 of a great series March 15, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'The Dawn Star' is closely connected to part 3 of the series, 'The Misted Cliffs', which should be read first.
Cobalt and Mel have found love and happiness and there has been peace for a year after Cobalt conquered the countries that had been split off his grandfather's realm 200 years ago. But his relationship to his grandfather, the man who raised him and mistreated him as a child, is still ruled by the old man's hatred and jealousy, so Cobalt's emotional wounds haven't completely healed. Things get worse when the queen of Taka Mal, who fears Cobalt and his strong army, decides that the best way to prevent a war is to take Mel's uncle hostage. She achieves the opposite when a spiteful neighbouring king, who thinks he can force her into an unwanted alliance if there is a war, kidnaps Mel and lets Cobalt know that she was tortured and murdered in Taka Mal. Soon the armies of four countries assemble near the Borders of Taka Mal, while Mel is desperately trying to get back to Cobalt before it's too late. And while war looms and intrigues threaten their lives, her uncle and the queen of Taka Mal are falling in love against all odds and dangers...
This is another wonderful addition to this fantasy romance series - a definite winner and a real pleasure to read. It continues Cobalt's and Mel's story and introduces a new couple in Jade (the queen of Taka Mal) and Mel's uncle Drummer, a minstrel and mage.
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More About the Author

Catherine Asaro: Renassaince Woman

Propped against the bookcase in Catherine Asaro's home office is the framed diploma of her Harvard Ph.D. in chemical physics. Nearby, dangling from the doorknob, is a bag stuffed with the tights and leotards she wears when she pulls herself away from her writing for ballet classes. A former professional dancer, this California native has little time for the ballet barre these days. Instead, she's fielding speaking offers and meeting deadlines for her novels.

Winner of the Nebula (R) Award for her novel, THE QUANTUM ROSE, and her novella, "The SpacetimePool," Catherine blends exciting adventure, science, world building, romance, and strong characterization into her fiction. Her latest publication is The Nebula Awards Showcase 2013, for which she served as editor. Her latest books are the novel Carnelians (Baen) and the anthology Aurora and Four Voices (ISFiC Press). Her story "The Pyre of New Day," which appeared in the anthology The Mammoth Book of SF Wars, was nominated for the Nebula Award. She also writes thrillers, including ALPHA and SUNRISE ALLEY.

Catherine's short fiction has appeared in Analog magazine and various anthologies, including "Walk in Silence," "A Roll of the Dice," and "Aurora in Four Voices," which all won the Analog Readers Poll for best novella, and were nominated for both Nebula(R) and Hugo Awards. Her novella, "The Spacetime Pool" (Analog, March 2008), is currently up for the Nebula(R). Catherine has also published reviews and essays and authored scientific papers in refereed academic journals. Her paper,"Complex Speeds and Special Relativity" in the The American Journal of Physics (April 1996) forms the basis for some of the science in her fiction. Among the places she has done research are the University of Toronto, the Max Planck Institut für Astrophysik, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She was a physics professor until 1990, when she became a consultant and writer.

Catherine also has two music CD's out and she is currently working on her thirds. Her first CD, Diamond Star, is the soundtrack for her novel of the same name, performed with the rock band, Point Valid. She appears as a vocalist at cons, clubs, and other venues in the US and abroad, including as the Guest of Honor at the Denmark and New Zealand National Science Fiction Conventions. She performs selections from her work in a multimedia project that mixes literature, dance, and music with Greg Adams as her accompanist. She is also a theoretical physicist with a PhD in Chemical Physics from Harvard, and teaches part time in the physics department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In Catherine's youth, the arts were her focus. She studied ballet from age of five, trained in classical piano, and spent hours curled up with books. She successfully pursued London's Royal Academy of Dance syllabus through the first professional level and enrolled at UCLA as a dance major. Then she discovered she loved math and science. "I hadn't studied it much in high school, but at UCLA I ended up taking a lot of science and math," she remembers. "I struggled at first and sometimes I felt like I had no clue. Then one day I read the chapter in my chemistry book on quantum theory--and I was hooked. It felt more right than any other subject I had studied." She went on to earn a BS with Highest Honors from UCLA, a masters in physics from Harvard, and a doctorate in chemical physics, also from Harvard.

Catherine attributes her ability to entertain a broad reading audience in part to her upbringing. "My father is one of the four scientists who postulated that a comet hitting the earth caused mass extinctions, including the demise of dinosaurs. My mother was a student of English literature who loved to write, so from the beginning I was influenced by both the sciences and arts." While pursing her degrees, Catherine continued to dance, founding the Mainly Jazz Dancers and Harvard University Ballet. Perennially on deadline, she now focuses more on her writing than research, but she often speaks on the intersection of science and art at venues such as the Library of Congress and Georgetown University.

Catherine is also proud to coach the Howard Area Homeschoolers, whose students have distinguished themselves in numerous national math programs, including the USA Mathematical Olympiad, MathCounts, and the American Regional Mathematics League. She has served two terms as president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA).

Born in Oakland, California, Asaro grew up in El Cerrito, north of Berkeley. A challenger of rules since her childhood, she explores the boundaries of genre fiction in her novels. "It's like stretching different muscles for dance class," she says, adding that dancing and math aren't as dissimilar as people may think. "There is a beauty in seeing a math problem come together just as there is in performing a ballet. And the discipline it takes to do ballet well is similar to that needed to do math." But no matter what the style of her novels, she writes from the heart. "The flashy adventure is fun," she says, "but the characters mean the most to me, both as a reader and as a writer."

Visit Catherine Asaro Visit her at

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The Dawn Star Misted Cliffs Book 3
It was out of print for a while. I found it again on and it looks like it's back in print. You can get it there for MUCH less.
Sep 6, 2007 by HMelon |  See all 2 posts
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