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Winter Moon: Moontide\The Heart of the Moon\Banshee Cries [Mass Market Paperback]

Mercedes Lackey , Tanith Lee , C.E. Murphy

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2009
New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey

In an isolated land where the lure of the "Moontide" leads to shipwrecks, a woman is torn between obeying her father or her king. When she chooses to follow a Fool, she discovers magic she'd never expected… at a price that might be too high….

World Fantasy award winner Tanith Lee

Struggling under the curse of a dead comrade, Clirando, a warrior priestess unready to face the powers trapped within her, must face "The Heart of the Moon" to reveal what has been hidden….

C.E. Murphy

In "Banshee Cries," ritual murders under a full moon lead Jo Walker to confront a Harbinger of Death. Maybe this "gift" she has is one she shouldn't ignore— because the next life she has to save might be her own!


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Luna; Reprint edition (Oct. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373803028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373803026
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 10.4 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #491,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Tanith Lee is one of the most prolific of modern fantasists, with more than a hundred books to her credit. Her most recent books are two new collections, Tempting the Gods and Hunting the Shadows.

C.E. Murphy was born and raised in Alaska, and now lives in her ancestral homeland of Ireland, which is a magical land where it rains a lot but winter never actually arrives. Her first published title was URBAN SHAMAN, and she's since written eight more novels and two novellas featuring Joanne Walker. She's also published The Inheritor's Cycle, the Worldwalker duology, a graphic novel and various other projects. Check her out on Twitter @CE_murphy or at http://cemurphy.net/

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Lady Reanna watched with interest as Moira na Fer-son took her chain-mail shirt, pooled it like glittery liquid on the bed, and slipped it into a grey velvet bag lined with chamois. It was an exquisitely made shirt; the links were tiny, and immensely strong; Moira only wished it was as featherlight as it looked.

"Your father doesn't know what he's getting back," Reanna observed, cupping her round chin with one deceptively soft hand, and flicking aside a golden curl with the other.

"My father didn't know what he sent away," Moira countered, just as her heavy, coiled braid came loose and dropped down her back for the third time. With a sigh, she repositioned it again, picked up the silver bodkin that had dropped to the floor, and skewered it in place. "He looked at me and saw a cipher, a nonentity. He saw what I hoped he would see, because I wanted him to send me far, far away from that wretched place. Maybe I have my mother's moon-magic, maybe I'm just good at playacting. He saw a little bit of uninteresting girl-flesh, not worth keeping, and by getting rid of it he did what I wanted." Candle- and firelight glinted on the fine embroidered trim of an indigo-colored gown, and gleamed on the steel of the bodice knife she slipped into the sheath that the embroidery concealed.

"But to send you here!" Reanna shook her head. "What was he thinking?"

"Exactly nothing, I expect." Moira hid her leather gauntlets inside a linen chemise, and inserted a pair of stiletto blades inside the stays of a corset. "I'm sure he fully expected to have a half-dozen male heirs by now, and wanted only to find somewhere to be rid of me at worst, and to polish me up into a marriage token at best. He looked about for someone to foist me off on—which would have to be some relation of my mother's, since he's not on speaking terms with most of his House—and picked the one most likely to turn me into something he could use for an alliance. You have to admit, the Countess has a reputation for taking troublesome young hoydens and turning out lovely women." The ironic smile with which she delivered those last words was not lost on her best friend. Reanna choked, and her pink cheeks turned pinker.

"Lovely women who use bodkins to put up their hair!" she exclaimed. "Lovely women who—"

"Peace," Moira cautioned. "Perhaps the moon-magic had a hand in that, too. If it did, well, all to the good." An entire matched set of ornate silver bodkins joined the gauntlets in the pack, bundled with comb, brush, and hand mirror. "There can be only one reason why Father wants me home now. He plans to wed me to some handpicked suitor. Perhaps it's for an alliance, perhaps it's to someone he is grooming as his successor. In either case, though he knows it not, he is going to find himself thwarted. I intend to marry no one not of my own choosing."

Reanna rested her chin on her hands and looked up at Moira with deceptively limpid blue eyes. "I don't know how you'll manage that. You'll be one young woman in a keep full of your father's men."

"And the law in Highclere says that no woman can be wed against her will. Not even the heir to a sea-keep. And the keep will be mine, whether he likes it or not, for I am the only child." Moira rolled wool stockings into balls and stuffed them in odd places in the pack. She was going to miss this cozy room. The sea-keep was not noted for comfort. "I will admit, I do not know, yet, what I will do when he proposes such a match. But the Countess has not taught me in vain. I will think of something."

"And it will be something clever," Reanna murmured. "And you will make your father think it was all his idea."

Moira tossed her head like a restive horse. "Of course!" she replied. "Am I not one of her Grey Ladies?"

Moira's midnight-black braid came down again, and she coiled it up automatically, casting a look at herself in the mirror as she did so. As she was now— without the arts of paint and brush she had learned from Countess Vrenable—no man would look twice at her. This was a good thing, for a beauty had a hard time making herself plain and unnoticed, but one who possessed a certain cast of pale features that might be called "plain" had the potential to be either ignored or to make herself by art into a beauty. Strange that she and Reanna should have become such fast friends from the very moment she had entered the gates of Viridian Manor. She, so dark and pale, and Reanna, so golden and rosy—yet beneath the surface, they were very much two of a kind. Both had been sent here by parents who had no use for them; daughters who must be dowered were a liability, but girls schooled by Countess Vrenable had a certain cachet as brides, and often the King could be coaxed into providing an addition to an otherwise meager dower. Especially when the King himself was using the bride as the bond of an alliance, which had also been known to happen to girls schooled by the Countess. Both Moira and Reanna were the same age, and when it came to their interests and skills, unlikely as it might seem, they were a perfectly matched set.

And both had, two years ago, been taken into the especial schooling that made them something more than the Countess's fosterlings. Both had been invited to become Grey Ladies.

It sometimes occurred to Moira that the difference between girls fostered with Countess Vrenable and those fostered elsewhere, was that the other girls went through their lives assuming that no matter what happened, no matter what terrible thing befell them, there would be a rescue and a rescuer. The Grey Ladies knew very well that if there was a rescue to be had, they would be doing the rescuing themselves.

There was a great deal to be said for not relying on anyone but yourself.

"You're not a Grey Lady yet," Reanna reminded her, from her perch on the bolster of the bed. "That's for the Countess to decide."

A polite cough beside them made them both turn toward the door. "In fact, my dear, the Countess is about to make that decision right now."

No one took Countess Vrenable, first cousin to the King, for granted. And it was not only because of her nearness in blood to the throne. She was not tall, yet she gave the impression of being stately; she was no beauty, yet she caused the eyes of men to turn away from those who were "mere" beauties. It was said that there was no skill she had not mastered. She danced with elegance, conversed with wit, sang, played, embroidered—had all of the accomplishments any well-born woman could need. And several more, besides. Her hair was pure white, yet her finely chiseled face was ageless. Some said her hair had been white for the past thirty years, that it had turned white the day her husband, the Count, died in her arms.

"You are a little young to be one of my Ladies, child," the Countess said, in a tone that suggested otherwise. "However, this move on your father's part holds… potential."

The older woman turned with a practiced grace that Moira envied, and began pacing back and forth in the confined space of the small room she shared with Reanna. "I should tell you a key fact, my dear. I created the Grey Ladies after my dear husband died, because it was lack of information that caused his death."

She paused in her pacing to look at both girls. Reanna blinked, looking puzzled, but too polite to say anything.

The Countess smiled. "Yes, my children, to most, he died because he threw himself between an assassin and the King. But the King and I realized even as he was dying that the moment of his death began long before the knife struck him. We know that if we had had the proper information, the assassin would never have gotten that far. Assassins, feuds, even wars—all can be averted with the right information at the right time." She passed a hand along a fold of her sable gown. "My cousin has kept peace within our borders and without because he values cunning over force. But it is a never-ending struggle, and in that struggle, information is the most powerful weapon he has."

As Reanna's mouth formed a silent O, the Countess turned to Moira. "Here is the dilemma I face. There is information that I need to know in, and about, the Sea-Keep of Highclere and its lord. But conflicting loyalties—"

Moira raised an eyebrow. "My lady, I have not seen my father for more than a handful of days in all my life. I know well that although my mother loved him, he wedded her only to have her dower, and it was her desperate attempt to give him the male heir he craved that killed her. He cast me off like an outworn glove, and now he calls me back when he at last has need of me. I have had more loving kindness from you in a single day than I have had from him in all my life. If he works against the King, it is my duty to thwart him." She met the Countess's intensely blue eyes with her own pale grey ones. "There are no conflicting loyalties, my lady. I owe my birth to him— but to you, I owe all that I am now."

What she did not, and would not say, was a memory held tight within her, of the night her mother had died, trying to give birth to the male child her father had so desperately wanted. How her mother lay dying and calling out for him, while he had eyes only for the son born dead. How he had mourned that half-formed infant the full seven days and had it buried with great ceremony, while his wife went unattended to her grave but for Moira and a single maidservant. She had never forgiven him for that, and never would.

The Countess held herself very still, and her eyes grew dark with sadness. "My dear child, I understand you. And I am sorry for it."

Reanna sighed. "Not all of us are blessed with loving parents, my lady," she said.

The Countess's lips thinned. "If you had loving parents, child, I would be the last person to remove you from the...


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two excellent stories, one very confusing story Dec 25 2005
By Deborah Wiley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked this anthology up due to the inclusion of C.E. Murphy- and I was not disappointed! Murphy's tale, "Banshee Cries", continues the saga of Joanne Walker, the central figure in "Urban Shaman". In "Urban Shaman", Joanne was a police mechanic for the Seattle Police Department until the department replaced her while she was in Ireland with her dying mother. Consequently, she became an unwilling police officer who also has a spirit guide, Coyote. In this story, Joanne communicates with her dead mother, Sheila MacNamarra, to thwart a serial killer who had also tried to kill her mother. "Moontide" by Mercedes Lackey was an unexpected surprise for me. Moira na Ferson has been trained to be one of the Grey ladies- able to appropriately interact at court and yet have the skills of an assassin. Her father sent her away many years ago and has shown no interest in her until he mysteriously demands she return home. Once home at the Highclere Sea-Keep, she discovers her father, Lord Ferson, has befriended the pirate, Massid, Prince of Jendara. I won't spoil this intriguing story by revealing the nefarious plot Moira and Kedric the Fool uncover and ultimately thwart. "The Heart of the Moon" by Tanith Lee was the weakest of the three stories and a disappointment to me as I had previously read and enjoyed some of Lee's work. Clirando, a warrior for the goddess Parna, discovers her lover, Thestus, and her sister-friend, Araitha, have betrayed her by having sex. She challenges and beats both in duels and both are banished. Before Araitha leaves for her banishment, she curses Clirando. Clirando then receives word that Araitha died in a shipwreck, thus cementing the power of the curse. Clirando and a band of her warriors are then sent to the Moon Isle, a mysterious Isle where selected individuals were sent for the Seven Nights. From there, the story is a series of hallucinations/dreams where Clirando meets her true love, Zemetrios, and both earn their redemption. Perhaps others will enjoy the underlying meaning behind the story (such as the pigs representing Clirando's evil faces) but I felt it was too confusing. Overall, I recommend this anthology based on the strength of the stories by Murphy and Lackey.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two great reads and one okay one Aug. 21 2006
By marymuse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'd been trying to get a hold of this anthology for a while, so I was pleasantly surprised when Luna included it as the "free" book I received for trying their services. The three novellas in this volume, I believe, epitomize the blend of rich fantasy, strong female characters, and romantic elements offered by the books in the Luna line. Being a bit of a romantic myself, I prefer a solid "happily ever after" type ending, or at least a strong "happy for now" one. So, the first two novellas in this collection did deliver more solidly on that promise than did the last, but that in no way diminished my enjoyment of this collection, and each story within it.

Moontide by Mercedes Lackey starts off this anthology. In this story, the author takes us back to her Five Hundred kingdoms, only this time, it tells the tale of the daughter of the lord of a Sea-Keep sent off to fosterling. Her father wants her back, and she's certain it's for a marriage proposal. However, the proposal doesn't exactly materialize, and what she discovers means treason against the crown. She has only the skills she learned as one of the Countessess' "Grey Ladies" and a Fool, on which she can rely. Will it be enough to stop a threat to not only the King's person, but his very kingdom?

Having been disappointed with the author's work of late, I'm very pleased to have found a story which drew me in and kept me turning pages. Our heroine is a strongly drawn character, with a strength of will and a keen mind, which makes her the perfect foil for her father's plans. With the Fool, a man who is never quite completely drawn, we're shown that in him, she has a partner to help save the king. While the romance is understated, it is there, and is satisfactorily wrapped up in the story. I certainly hope we see more of the Grey Ladies in future stories.

The Heart of the Moon by Tanith Lee is the middle story. A warrior, wounded by the betrayal of a man she called lover and a woman she called friend, finds herself cursed. When she's sent to the Isle of the Moon she finds herself on a spiritual journey and meets a man similarly betrayed. As they work through their issues, they discover a love for each other. Except once their time of the isle is over, they're torn apart, and have to find their way to each other.

I'll be honest, I hadn't been impressed with Tanith Lee's contributions to romance anthologies in the past, and I didn't expect much this time around. However, this story with is poignant characterization and the emotional trails of the characters, created a compelling read, and once that impressed this reader. The Heart of the Moon is a journey of the heart.

Banshee Cries by C.E. Murphy, ended the anthology. An author whose work I wanted to read, I found myself eagerly looking forward to this story. A reluctant beat cop has to come to grips with her shamanic power, her dead mother, and her position within the police department.

I found the characterization and sense of place in this story; however, I kept looking for romantic content and found it lacking. This was mentioned as being book 1.5 of the series, so perhaps reading the first book would help ground the reader in the world and the sense of place. However, as an urban fantasy story, this tale does its job in creating an otherworldly sense to our day-to-day lives, and the narrator's unique and strong voice makes it a page-turning read.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A widely varied trio Jan. 6 2006
By Kate Kirby - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's hard to really 'rate' a grouping like this, where I had divergent reactions to the three works.

The Lackey novella I found to be boring and obvious. Yet another plucky young girl who, through the power of feminism, can walk circles around the rest of her society, solving a barely transparent plot against the kingdom. I suppose fans of hers will like it well enough, as it's fairly typical of her work.

I'd been meaning to read some Tannith Lee for some time, and I can see the appeal. I liked her writing style, and the character-centric story. It was okay, even enjoyable, but fairly forgettable.

But I loved the C.E. Murphy story. She's got such a strong and clear voice. This ties directly into last year's "Urban Shaman" novel, and is a nice continuation of the story. I'd recommend reading that instead, but if you do and you want more, this is a large enough chunk to make it worth the trouble. Ultimately, I hope that this causes fans of the more popular Lee and Lackey to discover this exciting new author.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars three fine romantic fantasies Oct. 25 2005
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Moontide" by Mercedes Lackey. At Sea Keep Moira na Ferson must choose between what her father wants of her and what her king demands of her, but she has always been independent and strong. Whichever sire she obeys will cause harm especially to her so being independent and strong and strictly adhering to the laws of marriage as they pertain to her, Moira heeds the advice of the Fool.

"Heart of the Moon" by Tanith Lee. Warrior priestess Clirando once sought love, but instead received pain and a curse. She wears a mask to hide her inner hurt until she meets Zemetrios. As she begins to feel love again, she expects him to betray her as the curse will surely intercede unless he can get her to join him in questioning what they hold to be true, the greater truth of love.

"Banshee's Cry" by. C E Murphy. Joanne Walker has vowed to never use her powers as a shaman, but soon has no choice but to rely on her "gift" for the good of her people. She must solve ritual homicides that have occurred under the full moon and can only do so by using that which she detests employing.

These three romantic fantasies are well written tales of love between strong protagonists with the powerful females having the more obvious flaws; in fact the men seem underdeveloped in comparison. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy each novella that has a different spin making for a fine anthology.

Harriet Klausner
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two good novellas and one OK one Oct. 28 2005
By Hannahzarah Avarraschild - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
But then being a spiritual person I'm bias. C.S. Murphy does a good job continuing her Walker papers. I did enjoy her dedication to her mother who wanted to know about Jo's mother. Considering how Jo's mother treated her in Urban Shaman you could almost hear C.S.' mother saying "are you trying to tell me something?". Her novella does continue Jo's growth as a shaman and does get her mother off the hook so to speak. (I always invision Jo as Angelina Jolie--if they ever made Urban Shaman into a movie she'd get my vote for the part) Anyway the story was well done but didn't quite seem to make it to the same level as Urban Shaman. Perhaps when her novel comes out next May it will be back up there.

I enjoyed Tanith Lee's story as well. It was well done with a suprise ending about what the journey on the Island she was sent to was all about.

Mercedes Lackey's story was OK but more of a romance than the other two with no particular spiritual depth to it. But if you like supense it is well worth reading.

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