in Flames - Michael Pryor
Since ‘Flames’ was going to be one of the first two books
in the Quentaris Chronicles, I wanted a story that introduced the
scenario. I wanted to do a bit of a travelogue, showing parts of the
city and what it had to offer. But, of course, I did want to have
a story to bind this together, a story that was involving, thoughtful
Writers are, naturally, influenced by what goes on around them. When
I was writing ‘Flames’, the refugee debate was at its
peak, with the Tampa incident and the children overboard. It got me
thinking about fairness, and discrimination, and people who are dispossessed.
What grew out of this was the idea of a population living away from
its home, and how they’d feel, and how those around would treat
Add to this a personal journey of a young Quentaran growing up and
learning to love the city, and then you’ve got ‘Quentaris
When a fire is deliberately lit in the city of Quentaris, Nisha Fairsight
and her minstrel friend Tal investigate and soon uncover a plot threatening
its inhabitants. Adding to the city’s woes is the threat of
invasion from the vicious, insect-like Zolka, who are making it even
more dangerous than usual to pass through the rift caves.
Nisha must discover her fire-magic heritage and her place in Quentaris.
Will she be able to save the city and her friends?
‘Nisha. Don’t move.’
Tal’s voice came from behind her. She looked over her shoulder.
His face was white.
‘I’m all right,’ she
said, and she started to rise.
The floor dropped again with a loud groan. Nisha fell on one elbow
and cried out. Then she realised the floor was tilting towards the
great black hole.
‘Don’t move,’ Tal repeated.
‘Nisha, this is very, very important.’
Nisha tried to find handholds in the damp, ash-slick floor. ‘I
think it’s stopped. I can crawl out of here,’ she called.
A tremor ran through the floor underneath her. ‘Which way should
‘Stay there.’ Tal’s voice
was soft and urgent. His face was even whiter than before.
‘Don’t be silly. Even if the floor collapses, what of
it? I’ll fall a few feet, that’s all. I’m not afraid
of spiders or rats, and that’s all that’s likely to be
under a house.’
A deep groan made Nisha turn towards the hole.
A huge hand was slowly rising from the blackness. It was as big as
a washing basket. Each finger was swollen and round, making the hand
look like a bunch of sausages sewn together. It groped the air for
a moment, then it fell, grasping the side of the hole. Another gigantic,
pudgy hand joined it a moment later.
Nisha was frozen. She watched helplessly as a head the size of a rainwater
barrel loomed out of the pit. It was almost perfectly round. The eyes
were black smears, the nose, ears and mouth simple folds and twists.
It was the colour of clay.