The Crew of Esher Hill

The second Esher Hill story. The Crew of Esher Hill takes place two weeks after Love is the Reckoning, forty-two years before Tes arrives at the College in The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March.

The Crew of Esher Hill: a Merchverse serial

Cover of The Crew of Esher Hill: A Marchverse Serial by K. A. Cook. Cover shows cartoon-style vines, trees, mushrooms and plants in a swamp theme with lots of aqua and blue-green tones for the plants and leaves, and purple-brown tones for stumps and branches, giving everything an uncanny, unnatural feel. A clear, glowing sphere sits on a stump at the bottom right of the cover. Test written in a white, handdrawn, fantasy-style type.Esher Hill’s dying sister once sold her soul to save Esher’s life. Saving Mara means venturing into the Gast, a dangerous place of magic walled off from the rest of the world, in search of an ancient elfish relic.

He won’t survive the Gast alone.

Faiza Hiba Khalil studied dragons and artefacts to escape the pressures of title and family. They leap at the opportunity to use their knowledge on Esher’s quest—even if they have no idea how to use the sword that accompanies their fire-proof armour.

Marie and Sarie Roxleigh know two things: they are women and they are wed. Astreut disagrees. In the wilds of the Gast, they might find power enough to make their safety—but they have no reason to trust Esher and his crew.

Kit March is a magician and trickster with quick words, an affinity for narrative and a heart filled with guilt—but Kit’s magic is designed to impress and entertain, not protect.

Indigo has mastered horses, weapons and a biting absence of fear, but nothing else about hir life will ze share. Ze serves the Grey Mages, not Esher—but ze alone knows where and how to find the artefact that will save Mara’s life.

Esher can’t risk a single mistake, but his crew may be more dangerous to Esher than the Gast.

Links: forthcoming (exclusive to Patreon supporters)

Prequel Works: Love is the Reckoning, Ringbound

Sequel Works: The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March

Chapters

Language of Absence: A swordsman approaches Kit in a Raugue tavern with the provision of much-needed language and a job that just might give him an escape from Kit’s raft of failures. It’s hard for Kit to refuse Esher’s generosity, but something isn’t right about the story he tells.

Fire-Proof Armour: Keeping Esher’s injury a secret from the others is difficult enough for Faiza without his hiring another divergent man to draw Indigo’s ire. They should talk with the Roxleighs, but Faiza still doesn’t know how to tell Esher that the person he thinks to be a fighter can’t use their sword, never mind hold a conversation with two women who hate them.

Freaks: After Esher added another dead weight to the crew in the magician Kit, Indigo has no expectation that a man so soft of spine and unfamiliar with the Gast will listen to hir. When Esher follows hir into the bush, though, ze must try to convince him: hir life depends on it.

Bones and Bowls: Esher has two days to get his crew working together before they arrive at the Gast, but even the priests’ teachings don’t help him with a thickening fog of doubt and despair. If he can’t tell even Faiza why he stayed at Sirenne, how can he tell the company about the illness that plagues him? How can he avoid it when Kit asks questions about Mara?

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