The Skewed Throne (Throne of Amenkor, #1)
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The Skewed Throne

by Joshua Palmatier
Release date: 2006
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasyhigh fantasy

Cover art by Steve Stone.

Amenkor, city of legend, a trading port through which the riches of many lands passed. At its height, Amenkor had been a center of wealth and culture, a place where those of many different backgrounds coexisted in peace and prosperity. Then, a millennium ago, Amenkor was caught in the White Fire, a mysterious force that swept across the land spreading madness, drought, famine, and disease in its wake. With the passing of that first Fire, the ruling Mistress of the era had been found dead on the steps leading up to the palace. And since that time the city had begun a slow, inexorable downward spiral.

Now the Dredge – the bustling market street that snaked between the slums and the prosperous center of the city – marked the dividing line between plenty and poverty; between safety and peril; between those who could walk their streets without fear and those who dwelled in the shadows preying upon the helpless and unwary even as they were preyed upon themselves.

Varis had learned the art of survival as a very young child, when an unexpected act of violence tore her away from her mother's loving protection. Then, when the White Fire blasted through Amenkor for the second time, Varis – along with the entire city – had been trapped in this unstoppable blaze of power. And for this child of the streets and alleys, for Amenkor itself, everything changed.

Though the current Mistress had continued to reign from the Skewed Throne, Amenkor's decline seemed to escalate as the Dredge and the slums claimed more and more of the city and its population.

And once beyond the Dredge, few ever escaped back to more civilized sections. But for Varis the chance unexpectedly presented itself when a guardsman of the Skewed Throne named Erick – one of the elite assassins known as Seekers – enlisted her to work for him, first as a spy and tracker, and later as a trained assassin herself, meting out the Mistress's justice to the worst criminals plaguing the city. Yet gradually, because she had a gift for "Seeing" the true nature of people, Varis began to realize that something was wrong, that some of those marked for elimination were not guilty, not dangerous to others around them. But how could the Mistress be mistaken? Trust in the all-knowing, all-seeing justice and wisdom of their ruler was the very foundation of Amenkor's society.

And then one fateful day, Varis claimed a life that took her beyond the law, and suddenly there was nowhere safe for her in the Dredge. There was only one place left to flee to – into the heart of Amenkor itself.

There, in the center of the city, where the wealthiest citizens dwelled, Varis would face her harshest challenges and greatest opportunities. For whether she knew it or not, she had not escaped the White Fire unscathed. It had marked her for its own, and in the high city, she would either find her destiny or meet her doom...

updated 2017-01-18

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