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Sequel to The General's Mistress

A reader asks, "You said there was a sequel to The General's Mistress? What? Where? When?"

There is indeed a sequel -- several, actually. They have not yet sold, though of course I hope they will and that they'll follow The General's Mistress. The immediate, first one is called The Emperor's Companion, and is set mainly on the Channel Coast in 1805. When an old lover's fall from power results in Elza being blackmailed to spy on those who have trusted her most, she has some very important choices to make. Will she betray her friends, or will she risk her life on wild hunches, on dreams of an ancient city and a beautiful eunuch, on irrational hopes and half-remembered connections? Is she what she appears, a pleasure seeking, mercenary woman after the main chance, or is she something more -- a Companion who will risk death to keep faith with ancient oaths? In this time of danger, suddenly the fate of France rests on a courtesan's conscience.

I think the last chapter of The Emperor's Companion is the best thing I've ever written. If I had to pick one single piece out of everything I am proudest of, it's this. And oh I hope you get to read it!

Here is a little piece from it, especially for those of you who love Hand of Isis. I'd love to hear what you think!



Honoré had stopped, and now Lannes took up the narrative, minus poetic Alexandrines. His voice was businesslike, as though he were giving a report. "On the 23rd of August 55 BC we embarked in the third watch of the night, from this place in which we stand, then known as Portus Itius. We sailed through calm seas until at dawn we came to Dobris, where the chalk cliffs guard the seaward watches of Britain. But there were men drawn up upon the cliffs with spears and bows, and so we waited for a favorable tide and until the ninth hour of the day, making our way a short distance up the coast to an open beach which now they name Deal. Thereupon we disembarked into deep water, wading ashore while the catapults of our navy engaged the chariots upon the beach to clear the way for us. Caesar set his foot upon the land, and thus Albion was drawn into his story, an outlying land no more, but part of the World That Is Known." He looked at me and nodded to the mirror. "The seas are Caesar's to cross if he wishes. And by this power we have the right."

I nodded in return, and with careful hands took up the eagle, heavy and solid in my hands. I held it to my breast, feeling its cool weight through the draped linen of my robe. Material correspondence. Our eagles and Caesar's, our forces and his. Caesar had camped here long before Boulogne existed.

But not before we had. Not before we were Companions.

Lannes sat beside me, his shoulder not quite touching mine. "Asinius Pollio," I whispered, and closed my eyes. I could see him so clearly, the lines of his face, his hair grown long like the Celts who served under him rather than cropped Roman short, could see him bending over Caesar's couch in some elegant dining room, a dispatch in his hand. Asinius Pollio, who had ruined himself rather than take arms against Antony.

Imagination, some logical part of me whispered. You are imagining those you know in an old story, making up things to pretend to importance.

Old doubts. I would not give them sustenance, not tonight. I pushed against it, forcing the picture in my mind clearer. It was easier than I had expected. There was Caesar, his mobile face changing as he read the dispatch, one knee forward beneath his scarlet tunic. Behind him stood a massive bodyguard, his arms crossed, blond beard trimmed to a point beneath his chin. I felt a wave of warmth, of friendship and love. I knew him, dear man whose name I could not quite touch! And yet he was here. He felt the same as Subervie in some indefinable way.

Two, I thought. Pollio and the German bodyguard. There should be three. There should be four.

Honoré. Pollio's man. Long brown hair caught back in a tail, the faded leathers of the Celtic auxiliaries, with beautiful long hands….

Michel. A boy on the last couch barely out of adolescence, light brown hair waving close to his scalp, and his eyes on me as though I were something out of a dream….

After all, something whispered within me, nineteen hundred years was such a little time….

And with that I cast myself aloft, flung my winged soul into the sky.

The sea rushed by beneath me, the moon making a path across the water toward Dover. Fast and sure I drove toward it, a white gull made of moonlight and mist, gray water beneath my wings. Power crackled above me and around me, a lone scout, the first line of the advance.

And yet I was not alone. All their strength channeled through me, all their determination. I could feel each of them as though I held separate reins in my hands, a chariot pulled by eleven fine horses, each of them a fillet of silver, a cord slender and shining as steel. Max Duplessis was bright as fire, will and purpose wrought by faith. Michel was solid as the earth beneath my feet, glossy black stone found far underground. Honoré's mind played over mine like light on water, skipping and illuminating. Subervie's stubborn strength, Jean-Baptiste's flashing power, Lannes elusive as mercury, thoughts sliding away from mine, keeping his secrets.

It rose out of the sea a mile off shore, a vast cloud tipped with lightning, winds buffeting at me. Every instinct screamed. I must veer off. I must shear away before it ripped me to pieces. I was only a gull and it was a hurricane. It would catch me up in its power, leave only ragged feathers and a storm-tossed body discarded on the beach.

Not a gull, something whispered inside me. Far away I held it to my chest, felt its power seep into me. Not a gull but a golden eagle, hard as bronze.

Lightning flared around me and did not scar, its power feeding my own. Shadows followed me, dark triremes against the water, ghost ships risen in my wake as my wings beat ceaselessly, driven by the primal power of story, straight into the heart of the storm.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
not_from_stars
Apr. 10th, 2012 03:31 pm (UTC)
Oh wow!
jo_graham
Apr. 10th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
That makes me grin and grin! I'm so glad you like it. This chapter is seriously my favorite thing ever.
not_from_stars
Apr. 10th, 2012 03:59 pm (UTC)
I love it and I hope it finds a home. :)
(Deleted comment)
jo_graham
Apr. 11th, 2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Oh good! I hope so! This is really the climactic chapter.
cadenzamuse
Apr. 11th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Gnuh. It's great to see Elza grown into her own (and the culmination of her selves, too).
jo_graham
Apr. 11th, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC)
Very much the culmination of her selves! One of the big things in the second book is coming to accept her memories as real and to learn to use her abilities on purpose. In the first book she's very much the accidental oracle. She does things, but she herself doesn't believe it can be real. After all, this is the modern world and it's not scientific. She must be a crazy woman with delusions. In the second book she's met others who remember and who use their abilities, and so it's hard to pretend it's not real -- that Charmian's memories aren't true when she's sitting there with Agrippa and Sigismund and Emrys and Asinius Pollio!
linneasr
Apr. 13th, 2012 11:38 am (UTC)
Hah! Hah! Brilliant! Very nice portrayal of the energetic essentials sliding through time into her present. I'm very eager to read these three books!
jo_graham
Apr. 15th, 2012 09:45 am (UTC)
Thank you! I hope you enjoy them.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )