A pair of reluctant heroes take on a world-ending fae prophecy, a malicious royal plot, and, most dangerously of all, their feelings for each other…
We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from Master of One, the young adult fantasy debut from authors Jaida Jones and Dani Bennett—publishing November 10th with HarperTeen!
Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He’s stolen into nobles’ coffers, picked soldiers’ pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he’s caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.
But Rags could never have guessed this “relic” would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there…
No names were offered, but they were generous with their food. Rags’s manners had the wiry hounds looking away in shame, but no one corrected him or was stupid enough to bring out a knife and fork to help him eat. He ate with his hands. At least they had brought him a basin of clean water and scented soap to wash them in first.
He had caught sight of himself in the surface of the water before he disturbed it. Hollows in his cheeks, under his dark eyes. The split in his lip was worse than he’d thought, definitely going to scar. He took in his sharply angled features, the mouth that felt permanently twisted. The posture and attitude of a magpie, with the bird’s shifty, quick grace. Black hair curling over the curves of his ears. The lobe of the right had been torn, the hoop that once hung there ripped out in his latest tussle with the Queensguard.
All that work, skillfully avoiding every trap, only to have Queens-guard waiting for him at the end of the maze. It still smarted. The Gutter King was laughing in his vault somewhere.
And counting his un-stolen jewels.
The memory offered revelation. “Oh. You want me to steal some.thing for you. Right?” Rags caught the Ever-Noble’s flicker of surprise and kept smug triumph from crossing his own face. “Figures. Even though I got pinned by your guys, you still think I’m the pawn for your special job?”
The Ever-Noble tipped his head back with a faint smile.
Rags’s eyes naturally picked out the shiny first: A shimmer of chain against the man’s dark skin, connecting the gold ring in his ear and the one in his nose. A whisper of metallic thread crosshatching his midnight-blue tunic. The gilt finish of his smoking slippers, the pure silver signet ring adorning his left hand. All these things told Rags that the Ever-Noble was a mover and shaker. Coming up in the world, doing well for himself, and showing off too much, like all new money.
The sorcerer’s eyes showed nothing, reminded Rags of polished stone. Reflecting, not revealing.
Rags’s throat was still dry. He contemplated drinking the water in the basin he’d used to wash his filthy face and filthier hands.
“You did well in the test,” the sorcerer said, and waited for this to sink in. When Rags swore, comprehension dawning, he continued: “Yes, I designed the obstacle course below the bank. You evaded every trap, save for the final one. Had you done that…”
“You would have been in trouble, Morien,” the Ever-Noble said, a flash of fire in his eyes. “No need to withhold names any longer. He’s the one for the job. Let’s treat him well.”
Morien. Morien the Last. Rags recognized the name from rumors only. His mind spun. Last what? Last in his class, or last thing you see before he tears out your still-beating heart and eats it with eggs at breakfast?
Morien shrugged beautifully, heavily. “As your will commands, my lord Faolan Ever-Learning. This thief is the one for the job.”
Rags swore again, curses so colorful that when his voice broke and he fell silent, Lord Faolan Ever-Learning of the Silver Court applauded him for his inventiveness.
Faolan wasn’t just your average lily-soft Ever-Noble. Most thieves worth their spot in the Clave knew better than to steal from House Ever-Learning, because young Lord Faolan worked directly under the Queen.
Poor folk kept track of that kind of thing. Needed to know who was too dangerous to be worth stealing from.
Rags’s old friend Dane from Cheapside would’ve eaten this story up. But Cheapside was a long way from the royal Hill, Dane was long dead, and Rags was in the deep shit now.
Lost-Lands help him, he wanted to know how deep.
Excerpted from Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett. Copyright © 2020 Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Children’s Books.