In this episode of Book Clips we hear a clip from the audiobook Princess of Dorsa by Eliza Andrews narrated by Elizabeth Saydah.
Listen to the reading here
The fate of an empire lies in the hands of one untested princess.
Rebellious Princess Natasia has always known that her fate is to marry a man her father can shape into his heir. But everything changes after a would-be assassin nearly takes Tasia’s life. Someone with means and connections is obviously trying to destabilize the Empire, but who? No noble family is above suspicion, so the Emperor takes the extraordinary step of naming his daughter his true heir.
Tasia suddenly finds herself saddled with learning to rule an entire Empire. But there are enemies on every side, threatening to disrupt the Empire’s fragile peace — there’s the long-standing and deeply unpopular war in the East, disagreements amongst her father’s closest advisors, angry lords threatening their defiance, and rumors of a faraway kingdom trying to sow discord.
Can Tasia rise to the occasion? Will she be the leader her father believes her to be? Or is the Empire doomed to fall?
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Eliza Andrews Online
please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.
you are listening to book clips a mini podcast in which authors and erasers do readings from novels check out the show notes for the synopsis and by links for this book
sunlight woke Tasha from a heavy slumber some hours later she blinked sticky eyelids open to find Milas still breathing deeply beside her the girl looked innocent and childlike while asleep more like Tasha’s younger sister than a lover before her eyes had opened she dreamed of Nick of the time they’d played in the farthest palace meadow exhausting themselves with running and laughing and daring each other to jump from trees before finally falling asleep in a patch of purple flowers Nick her brother her best friend she felt shame for thinking it but she missed her brother even more than she missed her mother Tasia set up pulled her robe around her to block the chill the candles in the windowsill from the night before had disappeared and the round table where she and Milah usually had their meals was set with fresh pink and white flowers a carafe with tea cups beside it and two dishes with silver covers over them the chambermaids had come and gone then Tasia wondered if the food on the table was the morning meal or judging from the strength of the Sun the noontide meal it wasn’t unusual for her and Milah to sleep through the arrival of the morning meal and wake just before noon tied but given that they hadn’t gone to bed the night before until nearly dawn Tasia wouldn’t be surprised if they’d slept through both meals she stretched winced when her bare feet touched the cold stone of the floor she crossed from the bed to the table lifted the metal cover above her plate the steamy smell of roasted hen garlic and wilted greens struck her nose and made her mouth water definitely the noontide meal Teja replaced the cover and plucked a grape from the bold between the dishes popping it into her mouth while she wandered to the window over the courtyard it was the same courtyard where her mother had kept the exotic birds she’d brought to the palace when she married the Emperor antes I saw one of them now it’s snow-white form flitting from the tree to the cobblestones below it hopped around cocking its head Tasia wondered if it was one of mothers original birds or its offspring did it know that a beautiful woman with golden hair used to glide through the courtyard each morning spreading seeds for her precious pets probably not like so many in the Empire the birds had probably forgotten the Empress Christian years ago a knock at the bed chamber door startled her out of her musings Princess Natasha came a muffled male voice whoever it was knocked again and Milas stirred with a grumpy groan rolling over without opening her eyes Tasia tightened the robe at her waist straightened her hair and walked to the door with an assured step who is it she asked commander coal of East Hook and someone I wish to introduce Taoiseach opened the door Cole stood in the doorway one hand on the hilt of his short-sword scarred face inscrutable as ever next to him stood a tallish serious looking woman she was dressed in one of the black and silver uniforms of the palace guard but Tasia knew there were no women in the guard she’d heard there were a handful of women in the city guard along with a few score in the Imperial Army but there were no women in the palace guard there never had been but there she stood in a palace guard uniform anyway as if no one had informed her of her mistake the black padded leather shining and smelling of oil the silver palm old short sword and silver pommel dagger hanging from her hips appeared equally clean and new like coal she rested her hand on the pommel of the sword but unlike the head Guardsman it was a stance that made her look slightly awkward and uncomfortable the woman stood just behind Cole she took in Asia with inquisitive eyes the same color as her unit eyes that contrasted with her rich bronze colored skin Taoiseach could tell in a single glance that she was an Easterner but not from the northeastern mountain provinces like her mother or even the Far East where the war was being fought the tan skin the gentle folds around the woman’s eyes the high cheekbones they all marked her as a nomads of the desert tribes Tasia tried to decide which was more surprising a woman wearing a palace guard uniform or a nomad wearing one she found herself staring at the woman before her without decorum good midday to you majesty cole said with a perfunctory bow Taoiseach tore her attention from the guard to Cole good midday commander Cole of East Hook Cole indicated the woman this is God joseline of Toronto he said after discussion with your father earlier today it is decided that she is to be your personal guard from now on of Toronto if Tasia had needed any confirmation that the woman was a desert Nomad there it was the barely conquerable barely rule able Territory stood just east of the capital lands consisting mainly of a vast and empty desert and a sparse scattering of nomadic herders who smelled much like the animals they tended to there were a few cities in Toronto nestled against the coastline but these were mostly small dirty places the kinds of cities that pirates and crooked merchants called home and call hadn’t introduced the new guard as being from one of these places she wasn’t joseline of para thene or joseline of Naga stow she was joseline of Toronto to name someone as being of an entire empty territory only the homeless tribal people of the desert wastelands were named in such a way tatius heart sunk so her father and Cole had found a way around the problem of having a male guard in her private chambers after all they’d sifted through the bottom dregs of the Army’s ranks and created themselves a female guard Tasia did her best to hide her disappointment it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance guard Jocelyn she said to the nomads she held out her hand palm down as a royal or noble born woman did when meeting a servant for the first time Jocelyn hesitated she glanced at Cole for the briefest of moments but then quickly dropped to one knee tucked Asia’s hand and kissed it stiffly it is my honor to serve both you and the Empire princess she said the words as stiff as the kiss had been she rose again behind her Tasia herte bed sheets rustle and Jocelyn’s eyes flitted towards what aja assumed was a sleepy half awake Milah it was not good that they had seen the handmaiden tatius bed but it was unlikely that either of them would draw the correct conclusion about the girls reason for being their hand maids were often close to the royalty they served and it wasn’t that unusual for two close girlfriends to share a bed the chamber maids might chatter amongst themselves about the frequency with which they found Milah int Asia’s bed but even they probably simply thought that Milah and Tasia were especially close which was true nevertheless commander Cole was no chambermaid and he reported directly to the Emperor for once Tasia wished Milah had slept in her own bed Jocelyn is a distinguished infantry veteran who has served the Empire well as we fight to protect our borders in the east Cole said Tasha gave a curt nod the Empire’s fight to protect and expand its borders was never-ending of course with war following war for as long as Tasha could remember Toronto itself was a border territory one through one such a war its land declared part of the four realms went Asia was a toddler but although Toronto might be considered a part of the four realms by men like Cole and the Emperor and Ruth the desert people were ferociously independent and some of the more stubborn maduk tribes still gave the imperial army trouble from time to time Tasia studied the woman soldier had she ever had to fight against her own people a nomad slaughtering other nomads but the guards face remained impassive so she was a well-heeled nomad at least domesticated one might say the Empire appreciates your service Tasia told the guard she saved general gold her of house Kell two years life as he lay wounded in a battle with the barbarians only a month ago Cole said Jocelin remained still and silent how impressive Tasia said though there was no mistaking the mocking edge in her voice the muscles of Cole’s jaw clenched almost imperceptibly God Jocelyn is to remain at your side at all times day night by orders of the Emperor Cole continued she will leave your service only upon his order or mine or upon death I see Tasia locked eyes with a guard instead of respectfully looking away as a commoner should the woman held tatius stare without so much as flinching almost as if she was returning Tages challenged with one of her own then it seems she suddenly recalled who it was she stood before shifting her eyes hastily away good the guard knew her place or could be taught it there was that at least the father she is permitted to be from you as in your antechamber Cole said gesturing behind them which is also where she will be staying I already had the chambermaid arrange a bed very well Tasia said to call resigning herself to her fate once you determine there is no immediate triumph to be had you accept your circumstances and begin your probe for other routes to victory said wise man nor X in her head Tasha’s lifelong tutor probably hadn’t intended for his lesson to be used this way or for His Royal pupil to manipulate the very person who had been sent to protect her as the Emperor’s senior advisor Tasia wouldn’t be surprised if old norik self to blame for this new bodyguard scheme of her father’s Cole gave a swift bow good day princess he said and left without further commentary closing the bedchamber door behind him leaving jocelyn of toronto behind to stand awkwardly just inside the doorway although sometimes brusque the curt unadorned politeness was the one thing Tasia liked about cole he understood his role and seemed to have little or no interest in expanding it he didn’t strive to curry Tasha’s favor for his own gain nor had she ever seen him strive to curry anyone else’s favor for that matter not even the Emperor’s Tasia didn’t like him but she respected him with any luck this new handpicked guard would be like him if not Teja would employ the wise man norc’s his advice and search for other routes to victory Tasia looked the woman up and down so she said a female member of the palace guard you might be the first in the Empire’s history Jocelin inclined her head it’s possible my lady I am the princess not a lady Tasia corrected she turned indicated Milah who was sitting up in the bed holding her night robe closed Milah of house har thing my handmaid until she comes of age and marries she is a lady when you meet a princess you call her Princess or Highness or majesty not lady Jocelyn said nothing Tasia locked eyes with the guard but for a second time the woman didn’t flinch she stayed as frozen as a courtyard statue Tasia found the stillness unnerving come Tasha said giving commands always helped her disguise unease you may as well make formal introductions with lady mila as she is with me often as not Jocelin followed Tasia across the room to the unkempt bed too late Tasia realized the harness end of the dildo was half visible sticking out from beneath the sheets she met maila’s eyes glanced quickly at the dildo Milah followed her gaze subtly pushed the leather contraption completely out of sight if Jocelyn saw the exchange she gave no indication the guard gave Milah a rough unpracticed bow and the girl extended her hand in the same manner that aysia had earlier jocelyn kneeled and gave it a swift kiss lady miele said the guard i am pleased to make your acquaintance and i am pleased to make yours Milo said she cocked her head to the side you’re well-spoken for a nomad Tasia thought she saw some kind of emotion flashed through Jocelyn’s dark eyes but it passed so quickly that she would be hard-pressed to say if it had actually happened or if it had only been her imagination thank you my lady Jocelyn said I hope you understand that I expect you to defend the lady maila’s life with the same fervor that you would defend my own should it ever come to that Tasia told Jocelyn the guard gave a single nod Milah giggled so dramatic princess what would anyone ever want with my life Tasia allowed herself a smile I just want our new guard to understand that her duty includes you too one never knows I suppose one never does Milah agreed at any rate shall we eat before our food gets cold they settled in for their meal both doing their best to pretend the guard was not still in the room as they chattered and laughed a guard is just another servant Tasia reminded herself and like any other servant she would be seen and not heard until she could find a way to get rid of her Tasia might as well grow used to having her near tell me about that boy I caught you with in bed last week Tasia said what was his name again Lars Lars Milah repeated her brow furrowing I don’t remember Lars which boy do you mean which boy Tasia left just how many of them are there Milah the open secret of maila’s active love life and Tasia zone was the other reason the princess didn’t worry too much about chamber maids and palace guards coming to any scandalous conclusions about tatius relationship with Milah the men were a smokescreen in a way obscuring the place where Tasia kept her true heart hidden your once it’s hawk Milah said she chewed her lip thoughtfully for a moment Lars oh do you mean Willam the son of Oh bollocks who is the lord from guard red do you mean Lord Berk of house Garten yes yes that’s it Milah said that was definitely Willam not Lars whatever his name is I don’t know why you bother with that one mile he’s terribly dull Milas smirked maybe but he has a great arse point taken Tasia said but honestly house Garten those lords and their sons never speak of anything but horses and hunting dogs how can you take someone so boring to bed it’s never stopped you before my Lee countered playfully as if you chose Marcus for his quick wit Tasia glanced in Jocelyn’s direction open secret or no she wasn’t sure that she wanted the new guard to hear about her various activities with the young men in and around the palace who knew what the guard would say the coal or what coal in turn would say to her father sorry Milah said in a low voice following tatius gaze to where the guard stood a few yards away your highness in milady the guard said into the silence that had followed maila’s mumbled apology would you prefer that I remain in the antechamber until I am needed Tasia paused a moment the guard must have been listening to their conversation which Tasha didn’t like but she had the good sense to offer Tasha and Milo some modicum of privacy which Tasha did like yes actually Tasia said I would prefer that the guard turned to go oh wait a moment Jocelyn have some grapes before you leave Teja broke off a handful of grapes and extended them towards the guard a peace offering a token of appreciation a treat for an animal still being trained when Jocelyn didn’t come any closer to accept the grapes Tasha said they’re fresh from the vineyards just outside the city probably picked this morning perhaps Jocelyn could be won over just as Tasia had won over the nightshift guards at the Sun fall gate Jocelyn shook her head Thank You princess but I ate with Cole and His Majesty the Emperor at the noontime meal already Tiger shrugged suit yourself but they are here if you change your mind she smiled at Jocelyn and plucked a grape from the stem with her teeth you’re going to be late princess Milo said when she finished pinning Tasia second braid into a neat curl on the top of her head I wouldn’t have been except for the girl who insisted on telling me the entire raunchy adventure between herself and Willem the boring dog boy Milo grinned don’t blame me you asked for the details I merely fulfilled your wishes as a good handmaid has meant to do Tasia caught Milo’s eye in the mirror of the vanity you’re so much more than a handmaid to me she said no longer teasing the girl you know that don’t you Milo chuckled I suppose princess she placed her hands on Taoiseach shoulders lean forward and pecked her on the cheek now hurry up or you will truly be late and I don’t want you telling it was my fault again last time you were late he stopped me in a corridor and berated me on negligence of my duties for 10 minutes she rolled her eyes mightily and stared at my breasts throughout the entire lecture I should add Tasia laughed that sounds like nor acts he’s hardly looked me in the eye since my 12th birthday unless my nipples are actually eyes and I didn’t realize it Maile gave a mock gasp and covered her mouth what would your father say if he knew he wouldn’t believe it I don’t think my father knows or cares what a nipple is or what it’s for mmm I knew it it’s for said Milah and she leaned around the princess and dipped her head biting at Tasha’s breasts through her gown until the princess squealed and cuffed her lightly stop that Tasia said through bouts of giggles you’ll leave a smudge on the dress and then everyone will know no one knows anything Milah said tiredly with the air of someone who had said the same words many times before if they did I would have been removed from your service years ago she had a point Tasia didn’t know what to call the relationship she had with Milah but she knew they’d been something more than friends for at least three years now do you think that the guard saw the contraption in the bed earlier today Tasia asked keeping her voice low no and if she did so what I doubt nomads have enough imagination to create such a toy let alone to guess its purpose I hope you’re right Tasia said Milah gave an impatient sigh what are you still doing here you need to get to your lessons already you’re right of course you’re right Tasia said and she hurried from the bedchamber and into the antechamber Jocelyn stood in the centre of the room alert but still hand on the pommel of the short sword you’re to go everywhere that I go correct guard yes Prince said the guard then you’re about to enjoy your first royal tutoring session in which we will be discussing the fascinating topic of the early history of the Empire come along now you have been listening to book clips check out the show notes for the synopsis and by links for this book if you are interested in showcasing your novel then check out the show notes for more information [Music]