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Wyvernhail: The Kiesha'ra: Volume Five Hardcover – September 11, 2007

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About the Author

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes lives in Massachusetts.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Serpiente who held to the old myths believed that the world began in fire. Out of the numb void came passion and heat, and Will too strong to be denied. Order and chaos--Ahnmik and Anhamirak--began their eternal dance, and from the embers of their battle, the world was born.So perhaps it was not surprising that the world would end of that same heat.I was pulled from my musings as the door opened, drawing my attention to the small two-room building in which I had been sitting cross-legged before the hearth, perhaps for several hours. I looked up as a trio of falcons entered the candle shop, their steps uncharacteristically light and their expressions unguarded."Hanlah'ni-aona'pata'rrasatoth-rakuvra'pata'Diente." Cobras change kings, Spark observed with some amusement, as easily as the white Lady's heir changes lovers.The four falcons who frequented this shop at the edge of the avian hills of Wyvern's Court were in hiding, criminals who would probably be executed if they ever showed themselves in the white city again. Though Spark, Maya, Opal and Gren disguised themselves as simple avian merchants in the public areas of Wyvern's Court, here they switched back to the falcon language ha'Dasi.I enjoyed hearing the language of my home, even spoken by these exiles. Some of the serpents of Wyvern's Court tried to use it, but ha'Dasi always sounded stunted and twisted to me when it came from the tongue of a snake.Opal emerged from the back room, his eyes heavy lidded from sleep. Without sparing a glance at me, he asked, "Hehj' hena?" What happened?Gren, the owner of the candle shop, answered in the same language. "Oliza Shardae Cobriana," he announced, "has just abdicated the throne of Wyvern's Court. She and some wolf have run off in the woods together, leaving Salem and Sive holding the bag."The words stole my breath, not because they shocked me but because they left me with a powerful sense of deja vu. Months before, I had seen a vision of the wyvern princess dethroned. The image had been unclear, and all I had been able to do was go to Oliza and warn her: "You are about to do something that changes everything." I had hoped to make her think through her actions.Instead, I had triggered the very events I had sought to avoid.Around me, the falcons continued their conversation. "Changing leaders like autumn leaves is better than letting one rule for a thousand years," Gren observed."It makes you wonder, though, how easy it might be to put someone on the serpiente throne who would turn this land in a more favorable direction." Maya looked pointedly at me.This was not a new argument, and Opal dismissed it before I even needed to reply. "Makes you wonder, perhaps," he scoffed. "One would think that several days of punishment by the Empress's Mercy would have taught you not to speak treason with every word.""The Heir gave me to her Mercy for conceiving a child," Maya spat. This was the crime that had led to her flee from the falcon island. "If that is treason--""Which it is," Opal said, interrupting, "seeing as the Empress forbids kajaes from breeding."Kajaes were falcons born without magic, freaks in a city whose inhabitants breathed power and worked spells as if they were weaving baskets. But Ahnmik's magic was poison to new life; the royal house had had only one child in the past thousand years: Araceli's son, Sebastian. Kajaes children were conceived more easily.Almost as easily as quemak, mongrels like Opal--whose father was human, leaving Opal with the stigma of mixed blood in addition to no magic--and of course me."If that is treason," Maya said softly, "and is deserving of what I suffered for it, then do you think I fear a cobra's punishment? Besides, I speak only of replacing one cobra with another. It's nothing new for serpents."Sometimes I envied Maya for the fire of her hatred. Though kajaes, and therefore powerless to make any change, she maintained an incredible passion that I was no longer able to feel, no matter how I tried."Sebastian's child guards the new serpiente king," Opal pointed out. "Nicias sees us all for what we are, and don't think he doesn't watch us carefully. You don't think he would stop you if you tried to--"Maya uttered a curse. "Then we get rid of him--""At which point you consign to the Ecl the false queen you wish to place on the throne," I said softly, interjecting. This argument was old, and I was bored of it. "But not until I teach you agony the Mercy never dreamed of."Silence crashed down. Unlike these four, I was not harmless kajaes. I had the full ability to carry out my threat, if I chose."Salem Cobriana is beloved by his people," I said. "The dancers adore him, because he is the first in more than eight hundred years to be raised in the nest nursery. He follows their most ancient traditions and knows them all as well as any dancer. He is supported by the previous Diente, by the beloved princess Oliza, and by the avian Tuuli Thea. Most serpents tolerate me, but only because I do nothing that offends them . . . that they know of," I added. If they knew I spent my free hours with falcons and the white vipers of the outlaw Obsidian guild, they would tolerate me far less. "Sive Shardae, on the other hand, can barely stand to be in the room with me--""Who cares what the hawk thinks?" Maya asked, challenging me."Everyone who does not wish to return to war," Gren answered for me.I nodded. "And as you mentioned, Salem will now be guarded by Nicias Silvermead. I will kill any who touch the falcon prince. That is, if they aren't first killed by either the Wyverns or the serpiente palace guard."Maya tossed her head. "You are forgetting that you are the rightful heir to the serpiente throne. You are Anjay Cobriana's only daughter--""And Salem is his nephew," I said. "You are forgetting two very important things. First of all, the serpiente would rebel and dethrone any who dared challenge their beloved king. No matter what my birthright, they would never allow me to take the throne from the one they want there."Again Maya argued. "There are traditionalists among the serpiente who think you should be queen. I have heard them speaking. Whether or not they approve of you specifically, they think that Anjay's daughter--not the son of his younger sister--should take the throne. You are the oldest and the first in line. Blood may not matter to a serpent as much as it does to a falcon, but a cobra's blood still matters.""The second and most important thing you are forgetting," I said, ignoring the valid but irrelevant argument, "is that I have no desire to be queen. Breathing is a bother to me. Why would I wish to rule?""Think what you could accomplish," Maya said, impassioned. "Imagine a world where the serpiente followed you. Imagine if you could rally your Nicias to our cause, or--""I could, what, topple the white towers?" I asked. "Survive, Maya. That is all you and I can do. And for some of us, survival takes enough effort. Let it be.""If nothing else," Maya said, "you would be able to protect those of us who are here. We would be able to live our lives without constantly fearing that the serpiente will discover us and send us away, or that the Empress will remember us and have us dragged back to the island to be put down like feral dogs. If you would not or could not fight Ahnmik on the island, you could fight the Mercy if they came for us here. The serpiente army would be able to win if you showed them how to fight a falcon. We're all kajaes. Our children would have no magic. They would be no threat to this realm. As Diente, you could give us a chance to have normal lives."Tears glistened in Maya's eyes, no doubt as she remembered the infant the Mercy had ripped from her the moment it was weaned of its mother's milk.Had my own mother ever cried this way? I thought not. Darien of Ahnmik had shown more compassion to these kajaes, whom she had smuggled off the island beneath the veil of her own magic, than she ever had to me, her own misbegotten child."Go to Salem, while he is holding his first child in his arms and feeling how precious it is," I said to Maya. "Or go to the Tuuli Thea Sive, when she is first a mother. Tell that monarch your story, and speak your plea.""Trust a hawk?" Maya replied incredulously. "Or a cobra? What would stop them from turning me in?""Honor?" I suggested."Cobras have no honor."I couldn't help smiling a little, though most wouldn't at that thought. "I am a cobra," I answered Maya. "Quemak, remember? And the other half of my blood comes from one of the Empress's Mercy. Not a good lineage for a woman you would like to place in power.""You're a gyrfalcon," Gren argued. "And your mother isn't just one of the Mercy; she is Darien, to whom we all owe our lives--""Darien," I said, "who tortured your mother, Opal, for her dalliance with a human. Darien, who--""People change. They learn," Opal asserted. "Darien most of all. She wants to--""My mother wants a lot of things," I said. "She speaks about a great many dreams as she stands in the white city, by the right hand of the Empress, while we rot in this mongrel land."I tried to turn away, but Maya gripped my hand."Hai, please, try to imagine--"" 'Try to imagine' a world where she cares," Opal spat. "Imagine a world where our mongrel cobra has the courage and conviction of her mother. But the Empress long ago wrote that a quemak child will have cowardice and treason in her blood--""The Empress says a lot of things about quemak, things that may serve her agenda more than the absolute truth," Maya snapped. I tried to pull away, and she held more tightly. "Hai, l...


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Series: Kiesha'ra (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (September 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385734360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385734363
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, when she was 13 years old. Other books in the Den of Shadows series are Demon in My View, Shattered Mirror, Midnight Predator, all ALA Quick Picks for Young Adults. She has also published the five-volume series The Kiesha'ra: Hawksong, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror List Selection; Snakecharm; Falcondance; Wolfcry; and Wyvernhail. Visit her online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lily on September 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Wyvernhail is the continuation of Kiesha'ra series that began with Hawksong. With each progressing volume in the series, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes introduced and immersed us, to varying degrees, to the world of the avians, serpientes, falcons, wolves, wyverns, and crosses in between. As this is the fifth book in the series, it is assumed that the reader has been following the story from Hawksong (or at least knows the gist of what is going on).

Atwater-Rhodes has a rich imagination and it is most obvious in this book than any of her previous works. Wyvernhail is narrated by Hai, the daughter of the cobra Anjay Cobriana and the falcon Darien. Hai is tormented by visions of the future with different monarchs' reigns and their fates. The story unfolds as the reader experiences with Hai her personal conflicts as she attempts to work toward a peaceful future. Also in this book, the reader is given much more historical background of the falcons and the ancestors of the avians and serpiente.

As in her previous books, Atwater-Rhodes' writing has continued to mature, and her choice of narrating through Hai is a good one; Atwater-Rhodes tends to narrate better through a female character. This book reads like the end after years of conflict, and if it is, it was quite a satisfying close.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Feelah the tigress on October 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
Finally, the conclusion to the Kiesha'ra Series. It's not a bad book in its own right, but still not quite as good as the others.

Warning, there are some SPOILERS in this review; best not to read it if these things bug you.

Firstly, Hai (the daughter of Darien, a falcon, and Anjay Cobriana) narrates this time. She is not at all a likeable narrator. It's difficult to empathize with her; she's just so cold and uncaring. She is torn by magical visions and is not quite here mentally, so that might explain why she seems so distant. Even so, it's really hard to understand her motivation to protect Wyvern's Court or why she even cares. I know the book explains this by way of her love for Nicias (who loves Wyvern's Court) but she seems to much more loyal to the falcons. Unfortunately, despite the love she has for falcon empress and the fact that we find out that the falcons aren't all bad, I still can't find myself being able to like the falcons at all, which means that it's difficult to like Hai.

Another problem with this book is that the plot is a bit muddled. It wasn't really Hai's visions of the future that are difficult to understand, it's just that it feels like the plot just goes this way and that before finally ending. The ending is optimistic and does give you a feeling of closure, but it ends up feeling like the whole book was a little bit unnecessary. I mean, the ending might have happened with or without Hai's involvement...So was this book needed? There is one good thing about it though, Hai is able to look into the future to let us know how things turn out, so we can be certain that the future is good. I suppose that's really why her narration was important, otherwise we may never have known and had that sense of closure.
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By T. Misbach on November 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I envy the author. How can one person grasp such complex magic and still have ability to put it on paper? She is one of the very few. The Kiesha'ra series has been incredible and Wyvernhail is no exception.

Wyvernhail is very different in the aspect of who it is narrated by; it is narrated by Hai, half falcon half serpent. In the past there have very vivid and different characters, but none so much as Hai. I agree with what others have said about her being hard to relate to. The difference there is that I really like Hai. I think she is an excellent character and her difference is very refreshing.

The book starts just where it left off. Oliza has just stepped down from the throne and left her cousin and aunt in charge. One is pure serpent, one pure hawk. But some are upset with this outcome. Some feel that Hai should take the throne, for her father was a prince before he died. Hai does not want this at all and goes out of her way to let this be known.

But soon, Hai begins to have visions. Hai has always had terrible visions of the future. Not one vision is good. Now they are at their worst. Sometimes she sees herself holding the dying prince. In others she sees the child of Oliza running around and destroying the world. Hai tries to find a future that has a good result, but she sees none.

On the night that the Heir to the serpiente throne becomes king, he is almost assassinated. Hai is the one there when he is dying and she knows they are doomed if her visions come true. With the help of falcon prince Nicias, she is able to stop the king from dying.

When the people of wyvern's court call back Oliza to take the throne, Hai knows she will not let them follow through.
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By E. Phillips on January 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Richly imagined, this story is the continuation of the Kiesha'ra series of books, that follow the fortunes of intertwined and opposing peoples, of avian creatures, serpents, and wolves. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes has woven a rich mythology and compelling cultures for all the civilisations we meet in the course of her series, and the characters that inhabit her world are many facetted, realistic and often beautifully flawed.

That same attention to detail holds true in this book in the series, where all that has gone before comes to a head in the confusing conflict between past and future seen through the eyes of Hai, a falcon-cobra hybrid who both embodies, and somehow manages to rise above the age old conflict that has raged for centuries between the two peoples, and which now threatens to tear apart the fragile peace, won at so great a cost during the course of the first four novels.

The writing is fast paced, events coming thick and fast one after another, and the plot twists and turns almost as much as the unstable magic twists the lives of those born of such as union as the one between Hai's parents, and while the ending seems, in some ways, bittersweet – it is an appropriate ending; one that ties up the loose ends and yet – at the same time, could leave open avenues to walk within the world of the series.
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