Thursday, March 30, 2017

Blog Tour: A Crown of Wishes Excerpt

Welcome to the next stop in A CROWN OF WISHES Blog Tour! It's the sequel to THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, so if you haven't read that yet, STOP READING NOW!

Are we good? You okay there? Great! Today, I'll be sharing an excerpt from the novel, thanks to the fabulous people at St. Martin's Griffin. Y'all, I finally finished this book last night, and it's all that and a box of cookies. So, so good. Without further ado, here's the excerpt!

The guards unbound my wrists and shoved me into a red room.
I waited for them to go before pulling out a small silk bag of
pearl dust I had swiped from the cosmetics table. I repeated
the flimsy plan in my head: Throw the dust in his eyes, gag him, steal his
weapons. If the Prince made a sound, I’d hold the dagger to his throat
and hold him ransom. If he didn’t make a sound, I’d make him free me
for his own life. I knew I couldn’t get far on my own, but most people
could be bribed, and if bribery didn’t work, threats always did.

I was glad they hadn’t taken me to a throne room. The last time I
was in a throne room, Skanda had ripped away my hopes for the king-
dom and destroyed my future.

Arjun did not meet my eyes. And he refused to look up when his new bride
and my best friend was hauled into the room. Nalini sank to her knees. Her gaze
was frantic: leaping back and forth from me to Arjun and the dead on the ground.

Skanda’s knife was pressed to her throat, sharp and close enough that beads of
blood welled onto her skin.

“I know what you want,” said Skanda.

I closed my eyes, shuttering the memory. I looked around the
room, wondering which corner was the best position for attacking. At
one end, a trellis of roses covered the wall. My chest tightened. I used
to grow roses. One trellis for every victory. I had loved watching the
blood red petals unfurl around thorns. Looking at them reminded me
of my people’s love: red as life. A month before Skanda had me thrown
over the Ujijain border, he had set them on fire in a drunken stupor.

By the time I got there, it was too late. Every petal had curled and

“You think these flowers are tokens of Bharata’s love for you,” he had slurred.

“I want you to see, little sister. I want you to see just how easy it is for everything
you plan and love and tend to go up in flames.”

I’ll never forget what burning roses look like. All those scarlet
petals turning incandescent and furious. Like the last flare of the sun
before an eclipse swallows it from the sky.

“You think they love you now, but it doesn’t last. You’re the rose. Not them.
They are the flames. And you’ll never see how quickly you’ll catch fire until you’re
engulfed. One step out of the line I draw, and they will set you on fire.”

I turned my back on the roses.

I chose a corner of the room, and then sank my teeth into the in-
sides of my cheek. It was a habit I’d picked up on the eve of my first
battle. Nerves had set my teeth chattering, so I brought out a mirror
and glowered at myself. The glowering didn’t help, but I liked the way
my face looked. The small movements made my cheekbones look as
sharp as scimitars. And when I tightened my lips, I felt dangerous, as if
I were hiding knives behind my teeth. Biting my cheeks became a battle
tradition. Today I went into battle.

A door in the distance creaked. I ran through what I knew about
the Prince of Ujijain. They called him the Fox Prince. And given the
way some of the soldiers had jealously said his name, it didn’t seem like
a name given because his face had animal features. He spent part of every
year at an ashram where all the nobility sent their sons. Reputedly
brilliant. Not good. Weak with weapons. Excellent. The guards were
fond of retelling the story of his trial with the council. Prince Vikram
had to submit to three tasks in order to be named heir of Ujijain—give
the dead new life, hold a flame that never burns, and deliver the stron-
gest weapon in the world. For the first task, he whittled a piece of bark
into a knife, proving that even discarded things could be given new life
in purpose. For the second task, he released a thousand jars of fireflies
and held the small insects in his hand, proving that he could hold a
flame that never burned. And for the last task, he said that he had poi-
soned the council. Desperate for the antidote, the council named him
heir. The Fox Prince then revealed that he had lied and proved how be-
lief itself was the strongest weapon in the world.

I rolled my eyes every time I heard the tale. It sounded like some-
thing that villagers with a restless imagination would spin beside a
fire. I’d heard another rumor about him. Something about his par-
entage. That he was an orphan who’d moved the Emperor to pity. But
I doubted the vicious Emperor would be moved in such a way. The
guards told me that the Emperor kept great beasts at his side that
could tear the throat out of anyone who dared to cross him.

Footsteps shuffled down the hall. I clutched the silk bag of pearl
dust. The Prince might be clever and eloquent, but you can’t talk your
way out of death and I wasn’t going to give him a chance to speak. All
my intelligence told me that he was no match for me. I’d have him on
his knees and begging for his life in a matter of moments.

A final door opened.

The Fox Prince was here.

What did you guys think? Was it everything you wanted and more? I hope so! It hit the shelves as of this past Tuesday, so be sure to check it out!

Roshani Chokshi proved herself an author to watch with her young adult fantasy debut last spring, The Star-Touched Queen. Debuting at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list, the novel received rave reviews from fans and critics alike and appeared on the most buzzed about lists of 2016. Chokshi once again writes a beautifully crafted story of adventure, love, and magic set in the Star-Touched world with her sophomore novel A CROWN OF WISHES (St. Martin’s Griffin; 3/28/17). Building on her intricate setting based on ancient India and Greek mythology, her follow-up is a novel spun from enchantment with a strong female heroine and a swoony worthy prince who team up to win back the thrones of their kingdoms.

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.
Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.
Early reviews have all agreed that Chokshi has improved on her exquisite writing and lush narrative in her sophomore novel. With an ending that will make even the most cynical New Yorker heart believe in true love, A CROWN OF WISHES takes Chokshi’s talent to all new heights.

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / IndieBound / Book Depository / Goodreads

About The Author: Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, "The Star Maiden," was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.


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