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Mara of the League: The Complete Series by @thomasmkane11 is a recommended read #fantasy #bookrec

Title Mara of the League: The Complete Series

Author Thomas M. Kane

Genre Fantasy

Book Blurb

One stubborn woman who sees through the enemy’s plans.

Spymaster Mara warns that her country’s enemies plan to invade. Her words fall on deaf ears. Many in her ruler’s court feel new weapons such as musketry have made war too apocalyptic for either side to consider. To them, her calls for military readiness risk provoking the conflict she hopes to prevent. As her grim predictions come true, she must outwit enemies both foreign and domestic to defend her homeland from the largest army the world has ever seen.

This political fantasy series follows Mara’s life from youth to middle age, showing how her yearning to return to her idyllic childhood home drives her to fight for a society which allows ordinary people like her kinfolk to live freely, and how she matures from a scared little girl into a war leader.

Book One: The Witches of Crannock Dale. Eleven-year-old Mara wants to go on being her pappy’s little girl forever, but when knights of the official church arrest her favorite aunt on trumped-up charges of witchcraft, she leaves her safe childhood world behind. Shocked by adults’ willingness to accept injustice, she runs away from home to rescue her aunt from execution. She finds that respected members of her community are using her aunt as a scapegoat to cover up their own collaboration with foreign agents. As Mara schemes to protect her family from these conspirators, she deduces that they are part of a larger plot which threatens her entire nation, and which her country’s leaders fail to see. That problem is too large for a child to solve, but it will define Mara’s life.

Book Two: The Rebels of Caer City. Teenage Mara’s obsessive friendship with a fellow student at boarding school draws her into activism. When her friend vanishes, Mara risks everything to find her. Her intensity and her questioning nature put her at odds with many around her, but she makes new friends and heals her relationship with her formidable mother. She finds romance, and although the relationship proves stormy, it gives her the contacts she needs to solve the mystery of her friend’s disappearance and help an honorable prince onto the throne.

Book Three: The Hideous Garden. Now in her forties, Mara heads the new ruler’s spy services. After years of rebelling against her country’s injustices, she finds herself responsible for its survival. Meanwhile, the plot against her country seems to be taking shape. Mara returns from an undercover mission convinced a hostile nation’s peace overtures are a trick, and that its authoritarian political ideology will push its leaders to pursue world dominance. Mara must convince a skeptical ruler to prepare for war, and she must also balance her doubts about her deeply flawed society against her duty to defend it.

Book Four: The Rending of the World. Mara guards her ruler’s life on a diplomatic mission as he makes a last-ditch attempt to negotiate a peace treaty. War breaks out, stranding the two of them in a remote northern land. After decades of singledom, Mara grudgingly teams up with her former lover to save her ruler from assassination. The two of them take the ruler on a perilous sea voyage home while the ruler’s fourteen-year-old daughter finds herself leading her country in wartime. Only Mara’s shrewdness and the young princess’ determination can stop the enemy onslaught.

Excerpt from Book One: The Witches of Crannock Dale “Mara Elspeth, you’d best go back to your room right now.” Mamma advanced on me, and she was not smiling anymore.

Jason, who had been eating crumbs from the tart tray, looked up and started to chant. “Mara’s going to get it; Mara’s going to get it.”

As Mamma shooed me out the door, Mr. Vance’s voice filled the parlor. “Seriously. Who cares about these niceties? Was anyone actually surprised that it was Lila? We all heard about that heathen tale she told the children—children for Bel’s sake.”

I looked back over my shoulder. Mamma was between me and the other grown-ups, so I shouted through her body. “It’s from The Book of the Sun!”

“That’s quite enough.” Mamma gave me a push.

“But it is.”

“It scares people, dear.”

That’s how I learned what a witch is. A witch is someone who scares people. I always knew that, sort of, but I was starting to understand it in a new way. You can become a witch without meaning to. You can become a witch by being right.

From Book Two: The Rebels of Caer City Our school dresses were slate gray, at least there was that. No one walking by on the clifftops was likely to look down and spot us in the gloom. The sun was going down behind the cliffs, and shadows were reaching for the sea. A breaker swept toward us, crested, and fell back with a growl. My friends and I were, I noted with relief, the only people on the beach.

Despite the darkness, I felt exposed, hemmed in between the surf and the cliffsides. The path up the cliffs was at least a quarter of a mile behind us. Ahead, the stony shoreline stretched on for perhaps three more miles. And if we continued to the end of the beach, I thought, and rounded Turnbow Head, we would come to the Caer City docks. That was hardly the place for three seventeen-year-old St. Alexander’s girls to be after dark.

Gretchen led the way, splashing through a tidepool. Ginny hesitated. Then she lifted her skirts to her knees and followed. I took the rear, pausing occasionally to glance at the clifftops, and at our route back to the path.

“Here we are, people.” Gretchen stepped up on a seaworn boulder and faced us. Masses of seaweed clung to the stone beneath her feet. My father had been a sailor, and he once told me that the kind of seaweed grasping at our feet is called knotted wrack. I thought of knots, and of the rack. I was in that kind of mood.

Gretchen looked at me. “Well, Mara, you said you wanted to see the place for yourself. What do you think?”

All of us turned and gazed at the limestone precipice to our west. The cliffs rose to a peak a good two hundred feet above our heads. A lone tree stood at the top of the cliff, its leafless branches sloping back from the sea. The smell of knotted wrack hung in the air.

Ginny shuddered. “I don’t like it.”

“If Annie jumped here, that was the end of her.” Gretchen shook her head. “Holy, heavenly Belthor.”

From Book Three: The Hideous Garden The door felt warm to my knuckles. My heart beat faster. I assumed it led to the steam grotto. Since a woman’s clothing cut in the Waanling fashion hung on the rail, I guessed Annie was inside. Either that, I reflected, or someone means for me to think so.

I put out my candle since I no longer needed it in the lamplight. Then I stripped, hanging Mrs. Portius’ linens next to the fuchsia silks. I thought through how I might react if attackers burst in upon me while I was naked. There was a long-necked bottle of heavy green glass by the tubs which I thought I might use as a weapon.

I did not actually expect to be attacked. I trusted the spa staff, to the degree that I found it wise to trust anyone. I am anxious, I confessed to myself, because I am about to see Annie. It had been one thing to exchange letters with her once or twice a year from thousands of miles away. It would be another to look into her eyes.

Nevertheless, I laid my undergarments on the bench and opened the warm door. Vapor rolled out. I entered the room and shut the door behind me, reeling in the heat. Another lantern hung from the ceiling, allowing me to make out pine benches stacked like bunk beds against the rust-colored limestone walls of a compact chamber. Annie reclined on a pallet the height of my shoulders, her body glistening.

From Book Four: The Rending of the World “Right.” Burgess stood. “I shall order a retreat.”

I shook my head.

“My lady, we are overmatched.” Burgess spoke in a tone of authority. “There is naught to do but to fall back. We must trade space for time.”

I glanced at the passing soldiers, watching them file north toward the yet-invisible foe. Then I sighed. “If there was some hope we might use that time to improve our circumstances, I would agree. But there is no reason to think anything will ever get better. Whatever we are going to do, we may as well do here.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub)

Book One: The Witches of Crannock Dale

Book Two: The Rebels of Caer City

Book Three: The Hideous Garden

Book Four: The Rending of the World

Author Biography

I grew up in the woods of Maine, with bears as my closest neighbors. Got started writing by publishing supplements for role-playing games. While studying international relations in California, I took an opportunity to finish my PhD with a noted British scholar named Colin Gray. I ended up living in England for twenty years and teaching at the University of Hull. Since then I’ve returned to Maine and published my Mara of the League series of fantasy novels.

Social Media Links

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Facebook: @thomasmkaneauthor

Twitter: @thomasmkane11

Join the conversation! Discuss the Mara series and other thought-provoking stories in the Facebook group Kane’s Coffeehouse.


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