A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland

A Conspiracy of Truths

byAlexandra Rowland

Paperback | July 23, 2019

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A wrongfully imprisoned storyteller spins stories from his jail cell that just might have the power to save him—and take down a corrupt government.

Arrested on accusations of witchcraft and treason, Chant finds himself trapped in a cold, filthy jail cell in a foreign land. With only his advocate, the unhelpful and uninterested Consanza, he quickly finds himself cast as a bargaining chip in a brewing battle between the five rulers of this small, backwards, and petty nation.

Or, at least, that''s how he would tell the story.

In truth, Chant has little idea of what is happening outside the walls of his cell, but he must quickly start to unravel the puzzle of his imprisonment before they execute him for his alleged crimes. But Chant is no witch—he is a member of a rare and obscure order of wandering storytellers. With no country to call his home, and no people to claim as his own, all Chant has is his wits and his apprentice, a lad more interested in wooing handsome shepherds than learning the ways of the world.

And yet, he has one great power: his stories in the ears of the rulers determined to prosecute him for betraying a nation he knows next to nothing about. The tales he tells will topple the Queens of Nuryevet and just maybe, save his life.
Title:A Conspiracy of TruthsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:480 pages, 8.25 X 5.5 X 1.1 inShipping dimensions:480 pages, 8.25 X 5.5 X 1.1 inPublished:July 23, 2019Publisher:Gallery / Saga PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1534412816

ISBN - 13:9781534412811

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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From the Author

A wrongfully imprisoned storyteller spins stories from his jail cell that just might have the power to save him—and take down a corrupt government. Arrested on accusations of witchcraft and treason, Chant finds himself trapped in a cold, filthy jail cell in a foreign land. With only his advocate, the unhelpful and uninterested Consanza, he quickly finds himself cast as a bargaining chip in a brewing battle between the five rulers of this small, backwards, and petty nation. Or, at least, that''s how he would tell the story. In truth, Chant has little idea of what is happening outside the walls of his cell, but he must quickly start to unravel the puzzle of his imprisonment before they execute him for his alleged crimes. But Chant is no witch—he is a member of a rare and obscure order of wandering storytellers. With no country to call his home, and no people to claim as his own, all Chant has is his wits and his apprentice, a lad more interested in wooing handsome shepherds than learning the ways of the world. And yet, he has one great power: his stories in the ears of the rulers determined to prosecute him for betraying a nation he knows next to nothing about. The tales he tells will topple the Queens of Nuryevet and just maybe, save his life.

Read from the Book

A Conspiracy of Truths The whole mess began in a courtroom in Vsila, the capital of Nuryevet, where I was being put on trial for something stupid. “What’s all this about?” I said, not for the first time. “Charges of witchcraft,” they said; at least, that was what it boiled down to. “Utterly ridiculous,” I said. “We got some witnesses,” they said. “Your witnesses can go fuck themselves,” says I, although not in so many words. I couldn’t even hear the witnesses from where I was sitting. The guards had stuffed me in an iron cage at one end of this giant fucking hall in the House of Justice, and of course it makes sense to someone to put the witnesses at the other damn end, as far away as possible from the man accused, like I was an afterthought of some kind. Worst acoustics I’ve ever heard! I kept shouting, “What? Speak up!” and, to one of the guards near me, “Is someone speaking over there? What’s happening now?” and generally making a nuisance of myself until the bored lawyer with whom they had begrudgingly supplied me turned around and shushed me. Says she, “Can you prove you’re not a blackwitch?” First thing she ever said to me. Can you prove you’re not a blackwitch? And, of course, that was Consanza. That was how I met her. Don’t like her any more now than I did then. Less, probably. “Can you prove I am?” says I. “The witness just now said you pointed at her cow and it died.” I rolled my eyes. “And the one before that said she heard you talking and felt a chill up her back like the claws of a ghost. She said your familiar is haunting her house now.” “Excuse me?” “Noises at night, something crawling across her bed.” “Tell her,” I said, projecting my voice loud enough to be heard clear at the other end of the damn hall, “tell her that it sounds like some kind of vermin. A cat or a dog would take care of it.” “Hush. You’re confessing? What was it, a plague of rats?” Still bored, cheeky twit! “No,” I says to her, “I’m saying that it’s foolish to accuse someone of witchcraft when there are much more reasonable explanations.” She was shaking her head before I even finished my sentence. “No, she has an icon of Brevo hanging in her kitchen.” Some homely little fireplace god, I suppose, or a saint. I never found out. “And the master of the public house where you were arrested testified too, and he said that the cask of beer he served you from went sour.” “It was sour to begin with!” Consanza shrugged at me and turned back to face the rest of the courtroom. “Just don’t make noise or they’ll add ‘disrespect of the court’ to your charges.” She did something horrible with her face for a moment, and then stuck nearly her entire hand in her mouth. “Oh, finally,” she said, and spent the next ten minutes making a thorough examination of the shard of corn husk she’d extracted on one fingernail. Didn’t pay a lick of attention to the proceedings. I tell you! Still couldn’t hear a damn thing, but I kept my mouth shut. Witchcraft was enough of a hassle; disrespect of the court was something they would actually have evidence for. I’d never been in a Nuryeven court of law before. Completely dull country, Nuryevet, I’ll tell you that now, not that I need to point it out. Wouldn’t have even bothered passing through, but the kid wheedled me into continuing north. He was a little homesick, I think, and we hadn’t seen a proper winter in years. Don’t know why I keep picking up apprentices; more trouble than they’re worth, but it’s part of the job, training the next one. I would have preferred another year or two in Ondor-Urt. The heat does a body good, and they have some basic fucking respect for their elders, once you convince them that you’re hale enough (and have teeth enough) to stomach more than goat-urine soup and that vile tea. I still hold they slipped goat urine into the tea, too, even though Pashafi—my Ondoro host—swore up and down that they didn’t. Nothing but these smelly, muddy gray towns and this dull wilderness in Nuryevet. Not even interesting landscapes, even farther east from here. Just scrubland and rocks and a few halfhearted hills until you reach Vsila and the ocean, and then of course there are those uninspired mountains in the west. Hardly any decent farmland. It’s astounding how superstitious they are, considering there is literally nothing around to jog their imaginations. Even their magic is scanty and twisted, and it only manifests with the blackwitches, common enough to be a problem and to dull the Nuryevens’ sensitivity to the presence of magic, just as a baker’s hands are dulled to heat, but rare enough that no one quite knows how to deal with them, except through rumor, hearsay, and apocrypha—and I assure you, there are rumors aplenty. Stories from the whole region, in this corner of dull, dreary land, are chock full of the creatures. It’s a perverting kind of magic. There aren’t any good blackwitches, you know. When I was first arrested, I’d overheard some talk of just killing me outright, but I suppose that the circumstances were muddled enough and the paperwork for executions complex and tedious enough that the backcountry civil servants of the Ministry of Order preferred to pass me up the food chain rather than endure that ordeal themselves. Nuryeven bureaucracy might have been the one key thing that saved my life, come to think of it. They didn’t quite know whether I was a witch, being unable to sense the presence of foul magics, but what they did know was that paperwork could be evaded if you were clever. Put it off long enough, go to twice the effort you would have spent in the first place, and irritants like doing the paperwork eventually become a problem for other, less clever people. My apologies. I’ve gotten distracted. I reached out between the bars, as far as I could, and just managed to tap Consanza on her shoulder. “What?” she grunted. “I want to be able to hear what they’re accusing me of, at least.” “What for? Curiosity?” “So I can defend myself,” I hissed back. My feet and knees ached from standing in that little cage for so long. There was hardly room to turn around, let alone to stretch my bones. “Defend yourself?” She glanced back at me, eyebrows drawn together. There’s really no expression that would make her face look any prettier. Her nose could fell an entire oak forest, and her eyebrows are on the unruly side, thick and black, with a trail of hair in between. “I’m allowed to speak in my own defense, aren’t I?” She just stared at me with that idiot expression on her face. “It’s not like you’re doing me any good,” I added. “Although I suppose the court would have no choice but to be impressed with your oral hygiene.” “People accused of witchcraft have never been put on the stand. Isn’t done. Well, except at the end, when you go up to receive your death sentence. Technically, you should be gagged, but the guards in the Grey Ward said you’d been very well behaved.” She turned away again, her long robes swishing against the ground. “Except for being unbelievably rude.” “I haven’t got a lick of magic in me!” I roared at her. “And even if I had, I’m from Kaskinen! We don’t have blackwitches in Kaskinen. It ain’t in our fucking water, woman—I’m a goddamn Chant!” “Shut up,” she snapped at me, but the court had fallen silent. One of the five judges behind the bench sighed heavily, audible now even halfway across the hall. “Scribe, add ‘blatant disrespect of the Sovereign Court in the second degree,’ and ‘obscene profanity in the presence of an acting court official in the first.’?” “Let’s table the witchcraft charges for a moment and get the new ones out of the way,” creaked the judge on the far end. “It’s nearly lunchtime.” The panel made some mumbles of agreement and summoned me up before them. Well, that was one thing in my favor. The cage was opened, they clapped chains on me, and Consanza tugged me out by my sleeve, steering me ahead of her towards the bench, across miles and miles of stupid excess courtroom. They have to have miles of stupid excess courtroom: no real schools of law. Students just sit in court and watch hearing after hearing for years. Has to be plenty of room for them. The particularly keen ones fight for seats in the front-most rows. Consanza did not strike me as one who had been particularly keen. She gave me a bit of a shove when we made it to the bench, and I made a show of stumbling. The feeble-old-man show again, you see. “Defendant,” the senior judge said, in a tone that clearly indicated

Editorial Reviews

"An impressive and thoroughly entertaining fantasy that isn’t afraid to pull back the curtain on its craft, providing an insightful commentary about the art of storytelling and the dangerous, enchanting power that stories have to change reality itself...A world of words that readers will be loath to leave."