OFFICIAL “Unquickened” Excerpt

Four months from last Friday.

That’s when Unquickened will come out.

FOUR FREAKING MONTHS.

via GIPHY

I am not sure it’s done yet. I finished my “final” edit, but then I went back and made notes, and I’m currently just… letting it rest for a minute. It’s been kind of a weird week, and I feel like I’m not 100% right now, so I’m pausing before I decide whether to change anything else or just call it done or what.

In any case, it was time for a new excerpt, so I’m offering up one that I know isn’t going to change any further.

While Unquickened centers on Igraine’s story, Connor figures prominently in the events on Taura, and Mairead remains with the lions, doing her tribal leader thing there. Though they need to be away from each other just a little longer, their parting is not sweet or simple.

So, for your reading pleasure, Connor and Mairead “discussing” his departure.


“But war is coming from inside Taura, and she will need her dukes. The more chaos inside Taura, the faster these new wards will fade.” Phinneas paused. “Taura needs her dukes, but she also needs the rightful heir.”

“My place is here,” Mairead said. The words were reflexive, reactionary. “I belong here, with the lions. I am their traitha.”

“You are heir to the Taurin throne and the Duchess of Kiern,” Connor reminded her. “You also have a duty to Taura.”

She turned to him. “You are not one to lecture me on duty.”

His mouth tightened, and he turned to Phinneas. “Would you wait outside, Phinneas? Mairead and I have some things to discuss.”

The eunuch bowed and left the hut.

Connor turned to Mairead. “I did not expect this of you.”

“What?”

“Throwing my past back in my face.” He stepped closer to her and lowered his voice. “You, the saya who speaks of grace and forgiveness, reminding me of duty shirked.”

She lifted her chin. “The One Hand has a greater capacity for grace than I do.”

“Are you saying I’ve shirked my duty to you?”

She was so shocked by the question that she barked a laugh. “You can’t be serious. You would ask that after that day—after what happened to Trypp?”

He flinched. “I couldn’t help it—I couldn’t stop—‍”

“I needed you!” The tears overflowed. “I needed you with me! I was pregnant and alone, trying to figure out my place here, and you left me, just like you left the first time.”

“You’re being irrational. You speak as if I had any control over—‍”

“I speak as a woman who deserves a husband who stays,” she shouted. Anger rose and overflowed. “I deserve a man who doesn’t leave when things get difficult or painful.”

They stood staring at each other for some time, the weight of all the unsaid emotion and pain and heartbreak straining against them. “Mairead, if I could change things, I would,” he said finally. “If I could bring back our daughter—‍” His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat and continued. “If I could bring back our child, I would do it in a moment. If I could have had the time with the One Hand without hurting you, I would do it. But I can’t change anything, and I wouldn’t change the time I was with him, because that time brought me to my knees. And I don’t think I could be what you deserve if I never bent my knee to his authority.”

She brushed away tears. “And is this what I deserve, Connor?” she asked, her voice breaking. “For you to leave again?”

“I haven’t said I’m leaving.”

She scoffed. “But you will. You will trust the word of that faithless eunuch and prioritize the ambiguous needs of a foreign land over your affection for me and your commitment to the ravens.”

“A foreign land?” He shook his head. “Mairead, Taura is our home. This is the foreign land.”

“No, Connor, Taura is your home. My home is here with the lions and ravens.”

He crossed his arms and turned away. The quiet pressed on Mairead. He finally turned to her. “I thought for a long time that Taura didn’t matter to me, but I think it does. And I have an obligation to her, and to the tribes and my mother.”

“Then you should go.”

“Mairead—‍”

“The Mac Niall name is a powerful one. You have a good relationship with the tribes, and there should be someone on Taura who can protect the interests of the Sidh.”

He wet his lips. “I don’t want to leave again,” he said quietly.

“I won’t make the decision for you.”

“Will you come with me?”

She waved a hand toward the plains. “We stood this afternoon and talked about the threat from the plains, and you would have me leave my people to go to a place that, if Phinneas is to be believed, has switched its allegiance to another bloodline?” She shook her head. “No, I have a duty here. I will not shirk it.”

He flinched again, but his jaw tightened, and he nodded. “What’s your plan?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I suppose it’s time to put my grief aside and figure that out. I’m sure Trypp and Wyll can advise me.”

He nodded again. “Mairead, I promise you, I will come back as soon as I can.”

The words stung. “Your promises don’t mean much at this point,” she said, her voice cracking again. “I’m not sure you need to come back.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that there’s always something else—something bigger or more important than I am—something you have to do, somewhere, that calls you, and I can’t depend on you to really stay, so you may as well leave now.”

“Mairead—‍”

She swiped her eyes, folded her arms, and turned away. “Go to Taura. She will demand your service eventually, so go now.”

He stood silent, contemplating, considering. “I am sorry, Mairead,” he finally said. “I wish I could give you the life you want. But perhaps the life you want isn’t the life you’re supposed to have.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that the One Hand has called us to live a useful life, to do his purpose here, and that purpose may not be comfortable or safe.”

“Do not lecture me on what the One Hand wants,” she said. “Do not speak to me as if you have some long history of following what he demands.”

“That’s not what I—‍” He shook his head and took a deep breath. “This doesn’t have to be permanent,” he said in a voice full of forced calm. “I can go back and forth between Isfyrin and Kiern. I’ll travel on the elements every night, if you wish it, just to be here with you.”

Mairead wiped her eyes and turned. “You said the Ferimin are hunting the Sidh inside the elements.”

“I’ll risk it.”

She stared at him in the faint light of the single oil lamp. The shadows lent him a darkness that she’d always found appealing, and his black leathers and dark skin heightened the effect. He’d started letting his hair grow again, and it was long enough in some places to braid it a bit. He’d grown a beard as well, and though Mairead had thought she would detest it, she found it appealing. This is the man I fell in love with—the man who protected me, honored me, taught me to fight, the only man I’ve given myself to. One Hand, I do love him. But Maeve was right—he ruined me and left me. I can’t risk it again. She took a deep breath. “Do what you must on Taura.”

“Does that mean you don’t want me here?”

She sighed. “It means that you should do what you must, and I will do what I must.”

“I do this for you as well, you know. I do this for your line—for our sons and daughters to come.”

“I can’t promise that we will ever have a son or daughter.”

“There is much time.”

She swallowed hard. “I think we’re out of time, Connor.”


I think it’s safe to say that Connor and Mairead’s “happily ever after” will be hard-won, if they ever get there. But that’s real life. This marriage thing is not for the faint of heart.

Announcements coming very shortly about pre-orders, new editions, and other exciting things. In the meantime, like, subscribe on Substack, and share!

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