Rachel Caine: Prince of Shadows

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Rachel Caine Prince of Shadows
  • Название:
    Prince of Shadows
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Penguin Group US
  • Жанр:
    Исторические любовные романы / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2014
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • Рейтинг книги:
    3 / 5
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Prince of Shadows: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and—if they survive—marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born. Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona—and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona… …And will rewrite all their fates, forever.

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Prince of Shadows

by

Rachel Caine

To Tybalt, and wonderful fellow author Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant, also), whose tweet about him led me to think she was writing a Romeo and Juliet–related story from his POV.

That made me think about this story, but then, of course, I couldn’t write it because she was already writing an alternate-viewpoint R&J story.

Luckily, it turned out she wasn’t writing that story at all, Tybalt was a cat, and I got to write mine. Hence: Prince of Shadows.

Thanks, Seanan. And Tybalt.

You both rock.

Acknowledgments

Besides the props already offered to Seanan McGuire and Tybalt the cat, I have to thank Melissa Marr for listening to this crazy idea and reading the first (very bad) draft of the original chapter . . . and still encouraging me in this risky venture. You’re the best, Melissa.

Lucienne Diver and Anne Sowards had so much faith in this project, and so much enthusiasm, and it wouldn’t have gotten done without their encouragement and support.

And Kami Garcia: Lady, you just rock. Thanks for the love. Sarah Weiss and Janet Cadsawan also gave me much love and support and excitement about this project, as did NiNi Burkart.

Thanks also to the amazing Eloisa James for her recommendation, and to the kick-ass John Ziegler for casting a careful Shakespearean scholarly eye over what I’d done to the Bard, and not weeping (at least, not where I could hear him).

And last, thanks to Mr. William Shakespeare for making me love the English language even more than I already did.

PROLOGUE

I stood in the dark corner of my enemy’s house, and thought of murder.

In his bed, Tybalt Capulet snored and drooled like a toothless old woman. I marveled as I thought of how the women of Verona—from dewy-eyed maids to dignified ladies—fell swooning in his wake. If they could see him like this (a drunken, undignified mess in sodden linen), they’d run shrieking to the arms of their fathers and husbands.

It would make a good, vivid story to retell, but only among my closest and dearest.

I turned a dagger restlessly in my gloved hand, feeling that murderous tingle working its way through my veins, but I was no assassin. I was not here to kill. I’d come stealthily into his house, into his rooms, for a purpose.

Tybalt, the heir of Capulet, swaggered the streets of Verona and used wit like weapons; that was nothing new among our class of young cocks. He was never above offering insults, to low or high, when opportunity came. Today he’d offended my house. House Montague.

The victim was a serving girl. Insults to servants didn’t call for open challenges from those of my station, but still, it pricked me, seeing the self-satisfied grin on Tybalt’s face as he emerged from that rank little alcove where he’d reduced her to tears; I’d seen her run from him red faced, holding the tattered rags of her clothes together. He’d injured the girl only to prove his contempt for my house, and that required an answer.

It required revenge, and that was something that I, Benvolio Montague, would serve him—not in the streets, in open war, but here, in the dark. Tonight I was clad head to toe in disguise, and there was nothing about me to indicate my station, or my house. Tonight I was a thief—the best thief in Verona. They called me the Prince of Shadows. For three years I had stolen from my peers without being caught, and tonight . . . tonight would be no different.

Except that it was different. My hands felt hot and restless. So easy to drag a dagger across that hated throat, but murder spawned murder, and I didn’t want to kill Tybalt. There had been enough of that between our two houses; the streets ran slick with spilled blood. No . . . I wanted to humiliate him. I wanted to knock him from his perch as the man of the hour.

I had the will, and the access. All that remained now was to choose how to hurt him best. Tybalt was the God-crowned heir of Capulet; he was rich, indulged, and careless. I needed to wound him where it counted—in the eyes of his family, and preferably in the eyes of all Verona.

Ah. I spotted a gleam as something caught the light on the floor. I crossed to the corner, where he’d dumped a tangle of clothing, and found the jeweled emblem pinned to his doublet—a gaudy piece in Capulet colors, one that would feed even a well-done-by merchant family for a year. No doubt he’d underpaid for it, as well; Tybalt was more likely to terrify honest men into bargains than to pay fairly. I added the prize to my purse, and then drew Tybalt’s rapier from its sheath, slowly and carefully. It came free with a soft, singing ring of steel, and I turned it in the moonlight, assessing the quality. Very fine, and engraved with his name and crest. A lovely weapon. A personal weapon.

He did not deserve such a beautiful thing.

I sheathed it and belted it on, opposite my own rapier. As the heir of Capulet snored, drunken and oblivious, I pulled off my black cap and bowed with perfect form, just the way I would have been honor bound to greet him if we’d had the mischance to meet on the street. Under the breath-moistened black silk of my mask, I was smiling, but it felt more like a grimace.

“Good night, sweet prince, thou poxy son of a dog,” I whispered. Tybalt smacked his lips, mumbled drunkenly, and rolled over. In seconds he was snoring again, loud as a grinding wheel against a knife.

I slipped out of the door of his apartments, past his equally dozy servant, and considered my exit from the Capulet palace. The obvious way was to return as I’d entered, but I’d come in during the height of the busy afternoon, carrying a box of supplies from a provisioner’s wagon. I’d spent the day admiring the brickwork of the Capulet cellars. Going out the same way was unlikely; the kitchen door was almost certainly locked and guarded now.

Out through the narrow gardens, then. Once I was beyond the wall’s high stone barrier, I would be just another bravo on the moonlit streets, making for my bed.

I went up the stairs, taking them two at a time; my soft leather shoes made no sound on the polished marble. I’d worn gray to blend into the ever-present stone and brick of Verona; in the shadows, there was nothing better in which to disappear. Even here, inside the quiet house, it was a reasonably good disguise. I ghosted past murky squares of paintings upon the walls, and a candelabrum with two still-burning tapers (a true sign of family wealth); the tapestry at the top of the stairs was rich and very tempting to steal, but too heavy, and I had enough trophies already.

Upstairs was women’s country. Lady Capulet would have the largest and most lavish quarters, to the right—the grand palace was almost a mirror of my own family’s, in many ways. That meant the girls would have the smaller apartments to the left—the oldest, Rosaline, said to be studious and bookish, was probably well asleep by now. She’d have the far rooms, since she was only a cousin, not the lady’s own daughter. She was Tybalt’s sister, arrived in Verona only a few months before, and kept shut up hard in the palace. I’d heard a rumor she was nothing like her loathsome brother, at least; that was to her credit.

There was no servant on duty at her door, and when I tried it, I found it unlocked. A trusting lot, these Capulets, at least within their own walls. I slipped the latch and stepped quietly inside, only to find that the room wasn’t as dark as I’d hoped. There was a low-burning fire crackling on the hearth, and a candle flickering on the table. It scarcely mattered if the girl had left lights burning, as the bed curtains were pulled. She’d hear and see nothing through the thick coverings. I took reasonable care not to allow the floor to creak as I crossed it, and I was almost to the window when I realized that I had erred.

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