In Tilzam, a world adrift from its God—and desperate to get Her back—the Agents of the Fallen act in every corner of every kingdom to bring about Reunion. With fingers in every political pie, they uncover plots, investigate murders, and discover dangerous truths...of which their newest recruit, the secretive Seer Chavali, encounters far more than her fair share.
Factions, religious orders, and cults fight for the supremacy of their vision of Reunion. Hurled into this struggle against her will, Chavali finds her once-sheltered existence ripped apart and burnt to ashes. Only the most stubborn, sharp-witted, and hardheaded of women could survive the aftermath and forge herself a new path in the world...
Good thing Chavali spent her whole life honing those particular qualities.
In the first two books of The Greatest Sin series, Lee French and Erik Kort combine mystery and intrigue within an epic fantasy world. Book 1: The Fallen shows the cascading events that first draw Chavali into the secret world of the Fallen Agents. Book 2: Harbinger sends Chavali and the agents to the coastal city of Ket, which harbors a mystery rife with murder, espionage, and plague...just to start.
"Kort and French insightfully explore staple fantasy elements, such as telepathy and resurrection, to luminous effect...[the authors] are daring storytellers who aren't afraid to yank the rug from beneath the audience's feet. A fast-paced series opener that will make readers eager to know Chavali's next move."– Kirkus Reviews
"[Chavali] is feisty and full of passion, stubborn and wrong-headed at times...This is a book about the human journey of life and death that one woman experiences, and it is gripping...I didn't want it to end."– Connie J. Jasperson, Fantasy Author
"[Chavali] learns that not everything is black and white...she's no saint, but I did love the way her character developed so naturally throughout the book. [The plot is] the best thing because it's much more complex and fast-paced."– The Mad Reviewer
Chavali watched Keino with a frown as he slipped onto the other seat and leaned on the table, mirroring her. It put their faces close together, close enough to kiss her with just a little effort. How much she actually wanted that was distracting. She put her effort into resisting his pull instead of answering him.
Gently, tenderly, he reached out and touched her hair. She let him get to the point of running two fingers along the feather lashed to a lock of hair before leaning away from him with a sigh. Looking away uncomfortably, she crossed her arms. "I don't want you to touch me. I don't want to know what you're thinking. It's bad enough I spend all day wading through the stupid thoughts of all these idiots who traipse through my tent without having to put up with whatever you want, too."
He sighed and pulled his hand back, let it fall limply to the table. "That's not fair."
"Fair?" She almost slapped him for that, but words could handle that just as well as her hand. Better, even, because he might misinterpret her hand. "At what point did you decide life was fair? 'Fair' is for children and morons," she sneered. "No, Keino, it's not fair at all."
His hand darted out and seized hers. Is this really so bad, really so horrible? I want you, Chavali. I've wanted you for so long. To be mine. With the words, she was also privy to the highly explicit images in his head, of all the things he wanted to do to her, most without any interest at all in whether she wanted it done to her or not. I've watched you grow and blossom into the woman you are, and—
"Get out," she snarled and yanked her hand away to get out of that ramble. "Go whine about your tragic heartbreak to someone else. I am not yours, I never will be, and no amount of persistence on your part will change that."
He sat there, glaring at her while she glared right back at him, for a good ten seconds or so, then got up like he wanted to kick something and stormed out.
Chavali drew in a deep breath and let it out very slowly, closing her eyes and covering her face with both hands. Some day, he would give up. Until then, confrontations like this would keep happening. What a wonderful thing to look forward to for the rest of her life. Because she felt certain that growing older would do nothing to change any of this. He was already twenty-six, a year older than her. His fixation wasn't going to go away because of something as trifling as time.
Two more deep breaths solidified her control enough that she could avoid snapping at the paying customers for no reason. Putting her hands down on her table, she made herself as ready as she'd ever be.
She didn't have long to wait before the first sucker poked his head in. The fee for her services was high enough to keep out the merely curious, but low enough that most could afford it if they really wanted to. The clan promised a glimpse into the future, solutions to problems, and answers to questions. She delivered them. In a sense.
"Come in." They did not speak the clan tongue in front of Outsiders, not without dire need, lest someone overhear enough to translate it and learn it. Instead, they spoke Shappan, the dominant language of Tilzam. Nearly everyone knew it, regardless of country or native tongue. Along with the words, spoken in the light accent of the clan, she lifted a hand to gesture to the stool opposite herself. "You are welcome here."
He was timid as a mouse and small like one, too. Keino could probably lift this man over his head with one hand, or break him in half over his knee. Chavali watched him take small steps and dart his eyes all around. "Um, you're the Seer?" His Shappan was obviously better than her own, she could tell even with so few words spoken.
"Yes. No one can see into the tent, it is safe, you are safe here. Sit, be calm." Coaxing a scared little man onto the seat was not her preferred way to spend her time, and she stifled a sigh and a roll of her eyes. "If you do not sit, I cannot help, yes?"
"Oh, right. Of course." He moved quickly, practically jumped onto the stool while shooting terrified looks all around the tent. "I've just never done anything like this before, and, um, I'm worried about…"
Holding out her hand, she kept her tone calm and patient. "Give me your hand. I cannot help if I have no connection to you."
His audible gulp made her want to roll her eyes again, but he tentatively offered her his hand. As she seized it, the spirits rushed him, eager as always for new people to interact with. DearCreatorIhopeyoucanhelpmeI'mdoomedthisissocrazy
"Calm," she told him, shutting her eyes to make it easier to focus on this pile of crap. "If you do not calm down, I see nothing, just a bouncing jumble of nervous. Deep breath in through your mouth, out through your nose. Come, do this a few times."
His thoughts began to settle as he followed her orders. It became less a rushed mush and more actual coherent ideas. Amy is going to kill me for this. I shouldn't be doubting her, but I am, and I need to fix that. She's a sweet girl, this is all my fault.
"I see a name. A-something, Anna? No, Amy. Does this name mean something to you?"
As expected, he gasped a little. How does she know that? Is this the real thing? If she knows that, she must know if she's seeing Marcus or not. "Yes, that's my wife."
"You worry about her, you think she is meeting someone else?"
"Yes!" His mind flooded with images of Amy, who he loved, deeply, but also with images of a man much more virile than himself. That other man wore armor and used a blade for his work. A city guard, perhaps, or a soldier.
"There is another name, with a…'c.' But not at the front, maybe in the end? No, no, the middle. Arcu, Marcus. Yes, Marcus. He wields authority."
"Yes, he's in the Order of the Strong Arm, one of their knights. I need to know." He already knew, of course. That was the beauty of what Chavali did. All the answers were in his mind already, he just needed someone else to say it out loud because he couldn't, the poor fool. People really were the same no matter where she went.
Still, it wasn't good to just say things like this aloud with no feeling or props, or anything to give her an air of more authority than just pulling things out of the air. Her free hand dipped into the pouch tied to the thin belt around her waist, the belt that also held a small blade in a sheath at the small of her back. She pulled out five objects at random and tossed them on the table. Keeping hold of his hand, she peered down at the bones, finding it amusing that all five were actually bones this time. The pouch also had crystals, stones, and even bits of shell and wood, all minimally shaped and etched with ink-stained runes by her own hand.
The bones weren't just props—they had meaning for Chavali. But they weren't tools for divining. In this context, she used them as prompts, as ideas for how to word things. "Mmm." Starting with the one closest to him, because she didn't like having them out of her control for any longer than necessary, she picked up a chicken wing bone, displayed it, then deposited it back into her pouch. "Pain of the soul, for you."
The next was a finger bone, from Seer Marika's dead body. "Betrayal. Face down, the betrayer is a woman." A bone from the paw of a dog was next. She had liked that dog enough to preserve a part of him. "Love, but face down, so actually just lust."
This was all so stupid and predictable. His mind raced as her words confirmed everything he feared. The next, a horse's tooth, was an amusing addition. "Secrets. Many secrets."
The last one almost always turned up when she did this. It was a chunk of unidentified bone, picked up some time ago just because of its odd shape. "Fear. There is much fear through all of this."
She needed nothing more from this man to make her pronouncement, and she didn't care in the slightest if it turned out to be true or not.