Legends of the Five Directions
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The Golden Lynx
WHO IS THE GOLDEN LYNX?
Russia, 1534. Elite clans battle for control of the toddler who will become their first tsar, Ivan the Terrible. Amid the chaos and upheaval, a masked man mysteriously appears night after night to aid the desperate people.
Or is he a man? Sixteen-year-old Nasan Kolychev is trapped in a loveless marriage. To escape her misery, she dons boys’ clothes and slips away under cover of night to help those in need. She never intends to do more than assist a few souls and give her life purpose. But before long, Nasan finds herself caught up in events that will decide the future of Russia.
And so, a girl who has become the greatest hero of her time must decide whether to save a baby destined to become the greatest villain of his.
LEGENDS OF THE FIVE DIRECTIONS 1: WEST
The Winged Horse
The mission seems simple: head south, collect the bride promised six years earlier, and ensure that nothing odd is going on among the nomadic Tatars. Ogodai anticipates no problems. In fact, he’s looking forward to the chance to break free of his father and establish himself in a horde of his own.
But Ogodai’s betrothed is wary at best, his half-brother has competing plans for both the girl and the horde, and even the briefest investigation shows that indeed, something very odd is going on in the nomadic camp.
Before long, Ogodai realizes he must secure his betrothed’s allegiance if either of them is to survive. But can he persuade his unwilling would-be queen that an alliance with him offers more than the traditional role of chief wife?
LEGENDS OF THE FIVE DIRECTIONS 2: EAST
The Swan Princess
In the two years since the events that propelled Nasan Kolycheva into marriage to a Russian nobleman, life has become intolerable. She spends every waking minute learning the skills of household management under the lash of her sister-in-law’s tongue and the cloud of her mother-in-law’s perpetual disappointment while pining for her husband, stationed in the western borderlands to ward off foreign invaders.
When Nasan’s mother-in-law decides that a pilgrimage to a distant monastery may be the only solution for her failing heart, the journey sparks memories in Nasan of a life she has almost forgotten, where her interests and skills serve a purpose lost to her in Moscow. What can a Swan Princess do when she no longer wants to return to the nest? Before Nasan can answer that question, she encounters a once-vanquished foe determined to avenge himself on those he blames for his misfortunes—and realizes she has ridden right into his trap.
LEGENDS OF THE FIVE DIRECTIONS 3: NORTH
The Vermilion Bird
Maria Koshkina has spent most of the last three years wishing herself out of her in-laws’ household. So she should feel relieved now that her father has found a new match for her. Alas, he has picked the most annoying man in creation—not even a Russian, but a Tatar sultan who takes it for granted that she will ride at his side, read what he gives her, and advise him on the ins and outs of the Moscow court. And where her first husband had minimal interest in women—or at least in Maria—the new one has a healthy respect for the joys of marriage and no qualms whatsoever about seeking them outside it.
Her husband can’t decide quite what to make of this beautiful redhead who seems both untouched and touchy. Doesn’t she understand that a princess needs more than embroidery to survive? In the assassination-filled politics of the sixteenth-century Russian court, this unlikely pair struggles to find a way to get along before the undercurrents of rebellion sweep them away.
LEGENDS OF THE FIVE DIRECTIONS 4: SOUTH
The Shattered Drum
Nasan Kolycheva has endured more than one crisis since her marriage to a Russian nobleman four years ago. Still only twenty, the Tatar princess welcomes the possibility of a calm and happy life with her charming husband, Daniil, and their adorable baby, even if she silently wishes that the three of them could retreat to the steppe that she still calls home.
But peace has few friends in Russia in 1538. Turmoil roils the steppe, a palace coup leads to Daniil’s arrest, and his father’s decision to retire to a monastery leaves Nasan as the only person who can procure her husband’s release, even if it means dusting off the skills that once won her renown as that legendary hero, the Golden Lynx. Then her infant son falls ill, and Nasan faces a choice she desperately wants to avoid. Who deserves her loyalty more: her husband or her son?
LEGENDS OF THE FIVE DIRECTIONS 5: CENTER