Leena Likitalo: The Five Daughters of the Moon

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Leena Likitalo The Five Daughters of the Moon
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    The Five Daughters of the Moon
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The Five Daughters of the Moon: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, by Leena Likitalo is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fueled by evil magic. The Crescent Empire teeters on the edge of a revolution, and the Five Daughters of the Moon are the ones to determine its future. Alina, six, fears Gagargi Prataslav and his Great Thinking Machine. The gagargi claims that the machine can predict the future, but at a cost that no one seems to want to know. Merile, eleven, cares only for her dogs, but she smells that something is afoul with the gagargi. By chance, she learns that the machine devours human souls for fuel, and yet no one believes her claim. Sibilia, fifteen, has fallen in love for the first time in her life. She couldn’t care less about the unrests spreading through the countryside. Or the rumors about the gagargi and his machine. Elise, sixteen, follows the captain of her heart to orphanages and workhouses. But soon she realizes that the unhappiness amongst her people runs much deeper that anyone could have ever predicted. And Celestia, twenty-two, who will be the empress one day. Lately, she’s been drawn to the gagargi. But which one of them was the first to mention the idea of a coup?

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Leena Likitalo


For my husband, Matti


I have always loved reading acknowledgments. They tell the story of a dream coming true, that of a writer becoming an author.

Hence, I will start my acknowledgments from the very beginning. I want to thank my family, my mother and father and sister and brother, for reading to me when I was too young to understand letters, but old enough to get lost in the countless stories shared with me during the long Finnish winters.

I want to thank my friends for listening to the stories I made up in my turn and all my teachers for trying to make me pay attention to grammar and correct spelling. Even though I only learned the importance of accuracy (and may have become slightly obsessed with it since then) once I fell in love with mathematics.

At this point, I want to thank Patrick Rothfuss for writing The Name of the Wind, the novel that inspired me to start taking my writing seriously. And then, right after this, I really need to thank my husband for not laughing at me when I told him that I wanted to quit my then day job and become a writer. We gave it a go. It didn’t work out, but I’d like to think we learned a lot not only about writing but also about life in general.

I received my due pile of rejections, hundreds of emails bearing grim news. I was close to giving up on multiple occasions. But there were people who believed in me, who told me to keep on trying. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, thank you for being there for me, for encouraging the novice writer who had big plans to go for it, even though she didn’t yet know how to write properly in English.

Thanks are also due to my Clarion instructors and fellow classmates. During the six intense weeks, you taught me how to see the flaws in my writing and how to address them. For that, I’m eternally in your debt!

I want to thank Writers of the Future, the organizers and volunteers, my fellow contestants (especially Randy Henderson and Megan E. O’Keefe), and of course the judges. Very special thanks go to Kevin J. Anderson who connected me with my wonderful editor, Claire Eddy, whom I shall thank in this very same sentence for being the best editor ever. Thank you!

At this point, I was working on a different novel. When The Five Daughters of the Moon first came to me, I thought it was going to be a short story. The feedback from my dear Clarionites helped me to see that this story was never going to be happy confined in five thousand words. I think I wrote the first full draft in around two months to hit the Codex Novel Contest’s deadline—these thanks are for the Codex writers who helped me to iron out the manuscript! I also want to thank Inka for all the lunch breaks spent talking about twentieth-century building materials and whatnot and being my consultant in everything Rafa and Mufu related.

Big thanks of massive magnitude go to my agent, Cameron McClure, who tells me what I need to hear instead of what I want to hear, and as a result ensures that my stories reach their full potential. I would also like to thank the hardworking people at Donald Maass Literary Agency, especially Donald Maass and Katie Boutillier, all of you, who have been my companions on this wonderful journey.

I want to express my gratitude also to the amazing team at Tor.com that has taken such great care of my duology: Carl Engle-Laird, Kristin Temple, Katharine Duckett, and Mordicai Knode. I love the covers the super-talented Balbusso sisters drew and the design by Christine Foltzer! The covers are beyond stunning!

I’m immensely grateful that I haven’t had to travel this long and winding road alone. There are many more people than I can possibly list without risking tendonitis who have helped and inspired me. Hence, if you’ve ever read or listened to one of my stories, if you’ve ever given me advice or gently prodded me in the right direction, if you’ve been there for me when I’ve struggled to find the right words or chose the wrong ones, if you’ve seen me from close or from afar, but thought of me—this last thank-you is for you.

Thank you!

Chapter 1: Alina

“The Great Thinking Machine can answer every question,” Gagargi Prataslav says as he steps forth from the shadows cast by the huge machine. Everyone in the audience, me included, shrinks back in the wicker chairs, for the gagargi is an intimidating sight in his black robes, with the hood half concealing his heavily bearded face. His dark eyes glow with the secrets from the world beyond this one, and not even Mama, the Crescent Empress, can endure his gaze for long. “It can find an answer to questions that no one has even thought to ask yet.”

There is something wrong, so very wrong, in the way he speaks, the way Mama, my sisters, the guards, and the assembled nobles all listen to him. I don’t want him to utter a single word more, but I’m two months shy of my sixth birthday. I don’t yet have a name, no right for an opinion, even though my father is the Moon.

“Being built to do so”—Gagargi Prataslav motions at the machine looming behind him. The horrendous mechanical creature is as tall as three men standing on each other’s shoulders, as wide as an imperial locomotive. With hundreds of pistons akin to sinewy, spindly legs pressed against its sides, it looks like a giant spider poised to strike. I don’t want to see what sort of web the machine might weave—“it can be said that the Great Thinking Machine can, if not tell, then at least estimate the future very accurately indeed.”

Light fades. The pavilion’s unwashed glass walls and ceiling reveal that thick, gray clouds have gathered in the summer sky. Nurse Nookes would chide me for thinking it an omen, but she’s back at the Summer Palace. Though two dozen guards in the blue and silver of the Moon protect me and my family, I suddenly feel very lonely and vulnerable.

I shift on my chair to nudge Merile, my favorite sister. She’s only five years older than me and remembers what it felt like to not have a name. But now she perches on her seat, brown fingers curled around the linen of her frilly dress. She nods at every word the gagargi says, and the black ringlets piled atop of her head bob with the movement. Only the beautiful dog on her lap, Rafa, turns to look at me. Her other companion, silver-gray Mufu, sleeps curled against her feet.

“Future,” Gagargi Prataslav says, stretching the pause between words as if he could control time, too, “can be pieced together from the clues of today.”

I reach out to pet Rafa’s head. She’s a small, lean dog with chocolate brown eyes and big floppy ears. She meets my gaze with a deep, serious look. In this crowd, she’s the only one who seems to understand my distress. Though gagargis have served the imperial family for a millennium, the way Gagargi Prataslav speaks implies that he wants something more. I have no idea what that might be.

At last Gagargi Prataslav bows. The hood of his black robes cascades to cover his face, and only the tip of his hawkish nose peeks out. Then he straightens his back with a flourish of his hand. His robes shift as though he were facing a storm, and the hood falls to rest against his back. His oiled black hair is braided tight against his skull. “Please let me present to you Engineer Alanov, the father of the Great Thinking Machine.”

As the audience’s focus shifts from the gagargi to a mere engineer, the awful spell lifts. Merile hugs Rafa, glaring at me for daring to pet her dog without permission. My older, even sillier sisters, Sibilia and Elise, resume gossiping. They look almost identical in their white dresses and plumes decorating their red-gold hair, but then again, they’re of the same seed. Celestia, the oldest of us, leans to whisper in Mama’s ear. Out of the Five Daughters of the Moon, she resembles Mama the most, and only she can glimpse the world beyond this one. Even now, the faraway look in her blue eyes reveals she’s seeing more. One day, she’ll be the Crescent Empress, the woman married to the Moon, and then she’ll see what he sees, too.

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