I am so excited to be able host the letter ‘U’ in Gillian Bronte Adams Leria Blog Tour! I LOVE the Songkeeper Chronicles. If you haven’t read them GO READ THEM. They are so good and I can’t wait until the last book comes out. Stick around until the end of the post for a chance to win copies for yourself!
Thanks, Hope, for hosting me here and helping me celebrate the (almost) one year book birthday for Songkeeper! It is the second book in the Songkeeper Chronicles, which tells the story of a girl who can hear the song that created the world. If this is your first encounter with the blog tour, we are continuing a series of alphabet posts looking at the world and characters and magical creatures of the Songkeeper Chronicles (follow the tour at gillianbronteadams.com and find a list of all the stops at #exploreleira tour). And we have an awesome giveaway that you can enter below!
Today, we’re looking at the letter …
U is for the Underground
Five years before Orphan’s Song began, the Khelari occupied the city of Kerby as a part of the Takhran’s mission to conquer the Nordlands. Not long after the Khelari arrived, people started disappearing. Taken by the dark soldiers. Those left behind assumed them dead. Far too often, only the children were left abandoned, forced to the streets to fend for themselves.
When the Khelari came for his father, Cade Peregrine fought his way through a burning building to get his sister Aliyah to safety through a secret passageway into the caverns where the outlaws (and his father) had once lived. There Cade planned his revenge on the dark soldiers.
Grieved over the suffering of his city, he gathered children off the streets and welcomed them into the cavern where like Hawkness and the outlaws of old they would make their home, band together into a cohesive unit, vow vengeance, and as their first act of defiance, survive.
They became the Underground.
A dim light appeared ahead, casting flickering figures dancing on the walls. The chatter of voices filled Ky’s ears and brought a smile to his face. Silence might be a good rule of thumb in the tunnels—so shallow and close to the city streets—but in the heart of the Underground, secreted far below the earth in caverns where brave men once fought, laughter and loud conversations reigned.
Here, they were free from fear.
A host of thieves, pickpockets, and street rats, and not a beggar among them, for they must keep their pride. They spent their days apple-bobbing in the market, nicking bread from bakers, swiping wallets from the pockets of shoppers, and helping themselves to whatever various tools and accessories they could find. All “harvested” items were stored together and used for the good of all. Food and weapons distributed under Cade’s watchful eye, other valuable items bartered with select merchants for more useful goods. In the central cavern, the Underground runners lived and ate and slept and fought together around a large fire ring. A network of tunnels provided them with trapdoor entrances and exits throughout the city—perfect for making a quick getaway.
With Dizzier as his right hand man, Cade established the order of the Underground. The young were assigned older “brothers” and “sisters” who taught them the way of the streets. Those old and skilled enough became runners in their own right and eventually were assigned younger siblings. The oldest Cade made “raid leaders” and set them to carry off the more challenging tasks and rob the more difficult marks.
He gave them discipline. The rules of the Underground were learned by each new recruit until he or she could recite them by heart. The rules were the key to survival, and hence the key to everything else.
There were three simple rules in the Underground: be invisible, look out for yourself, and no going back. Ever. They all added up to the same thing: Keep up or get left behind.
Survival, survival, survival. It was Cade’s mantra all through the first years of the Underground. Then nothing else mattered, because they had to survive before they could fight. What began as three kids—Cade, Dizzier, and Aliyah—soon swelled to ten, then twenty, and finally over forty at the time of Orphan’s Song.
Not an army, not yet. But an outlaw band that even Hawkness might be proud of. As a matter of training, Cade established the Ring. Because his father had been a swordsmith, he had been raised around weapons, so he formed a daily practice to train his runners and a system of challenges to keep them in line.
No one wanted to face Cade in the Ring.
In all this, Cade kept his true purpose hidden. None save Dizzier knew that he hoped to make of the Underground a fighting unit of warriors tempered by a life tuned to survival through the hard knocks of the streets, who might one day rise against the Khelari and drive them out of Kerby forever.
“That’s insane. We can’t fight the dark solders—there’s too many of them.”
“It is insane. For now.” Cade’s eyes glittered in the firelight. “Now it’s just a dream, but one day it will be a reality. Even now, every dagger we steal, every purse, every coin is a step toward breaking the soldiers’ hold on Kerby. And when we’re ready, we’ll fall upon them and drive them from the city. Then we’ll be free again.”
And yet the Underground is more than the cavern, more than the army Cade thinks he has built. At its heart, the Underground is the boys and girls that gathered together to be the family that they all lost. That’s something that Ky Huntyr—one of the main characters in the Songkeeper Chronicles—understands, even as Cade struggles to comprehend.
“Now Cade says we shouldn’t even think about leaving, that this—the Underground—is our home.” With a sweep of his arm, he directed their gaze to the cavern with its walls of scored stone, floor worn smooth by the passage of their feet, and a roof that crouched to shelter them like the protective arms of the mothers they had lost. “But I say that this isn’t the Underground. We are the Underground. You … me … all of your brothers, sisters, friends. This cavern is nothing more than a hole in the ground. We make it something more. No matter where we are, so long as we survive and stick together, the Underground is not lost.”
When you sweep away the grime and get down to the bare-knuckled bones of it, the Underground is a bit like Oliver Twist, Peter Pan’s Lost Boys, and Robin Hood’s Merry Men all rolled into one. *grins* Now how can you not love that?
War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent.
Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.
Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran’s fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?
GILLIAN BRONTE ADAMS is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist. She is the author of Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper, and Out of Darkness Rising. Visit Gillian online at her blog, Twitter, or Facebook page.
And before you leave, don’t forget to enter the giveaway! One lucky winner will take home a copy of Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper, and a gorgeous handmade mug. Two lucky winners will take home copies of Songkeeper! Enter through the Rafflecopter below and be sure to visit www.gillianbronteadams.com to continue following the blog tour. You can earn new entries for each post that you visit along the way. Winners will be announced after April 15th.