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Authors: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

A Feast in Exile

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A Feast in Exile
A Novel of Saint-Germain
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
New York











By Chelsea Quinn Yarbro from Tom Doherty Associates
Better in the Dark
Blood Games
Blood Roses
A Candle for D'Artagnan
Come Twilight
Communion Blood
Crusader's Torch
Darker Jewels
A Feast in Exile
A Flame in Byzantium
Hotel Transylvania
Mansions of Darkness
Out of the House of Life
The Palace
Path of the Eclipse
Writ in Blood


This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.






Copyright © 2001 by


Chelsea Quinn Yarbro



All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.



A Tor Book


Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC 175 Fifth Avenue


New York, NY 10010



Tor ® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.



eISBN 0-312-70290-6







This one is for
Randall Behr
Frank Corsaro,
the opera connection.
Author's Notes

India has a rich history that is not much understood in the West: the population is comprised of a complex mixture of cultural, ethnic, religious, and language groups which, over time, have taken on an uneasy national identity. This is a fairly recent development. Until the mid-nineteenth century, the many divisions were more sharply defined; today the most obvious segmentation of the population is religious— Hindu and Muslim conflicts being uppermost in that sad antagonism. The centuries before any significant European presence in India were filled with social, regional, and ethnic turmoil that shaped the way in which the population responded to everything from visiting strangers to district warfare to trade.



Trade had long been a factor to the Indian subcontinent— trade with China (both overland and maritime), trade with what is modern Indonesia (maritime), trade with Burma (overland and maritime), trade with Himalayan states of Mustang, Bhutan, and Tibet (overland), trade with Arabs (overland and maritime), with Persia (predominantly overland), with Armenia and Afghanistan (overland), with Russia (predominantly overland), with the Mediterranean world (predominantly overland to the Black Sea and then by maritime ventures to markets from Gibraltar to Vienna and Alexandria), and with east Africa (predominantly maritime). With trade came foreigners, bringing ideas as well as goods to the various states of India. Begun in the first century A.D., by the fourteenth century (Western calendar), a small but steady stream of materials and scholarship ran between Europe and India, and a far more active commerce existed between the Arab-controlled Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.



In the north-west region, the Tughluqs held sway from their stronghold at Delhi, and maintained an empire that at one time stretched across most of India; however, by the time of this novel, the real power of Delhi had shrunk to a small wedge in the corner of the Empire. The Tughluq dynasty still held the throne, but Nasiruddin Mohammed bin Tughluq, the Sultan at the time of this story, did not spend much time in Delhi, leaving it to the care of his relatives while he built a series of fortresses to buttress his borders, such as they were. While the various court officials in this story are fictional, they are typical of and drawn from the actual officials of the period. The Tughluq dynasty followed the Persian tradition and did not use the name of the ruling Sultan unless specifically addressing the man himself; otherwise, his title alone was used as a show of respect.



Timur-i Lenkh, the Turko-Mongol conqueror known in the West as Tamerlane, carved out an impressive Empire for himself between his rise to power in 1364 and his death in 1405 at age sixty-eight; his territory extended from the borders of Ottoman Turkey in the west, through all of the old Persian Empire (modern-day Iran and Iraq), to the southern shores of the Black Sea, all but the northern-most end of the Caspian Sea, to his capital at Samarkand, and south to Delhi and the Persian Gulf. Nominally Muslim, Tamerlane spent most of his adult life on campaign, initially warring against his Jagatai cousins, and then against the Ottoman and Mameluke Empires, both Muslim Empires, in the West, and finally against the Delhi Empire, another Muslim Empire, in the east.



His cavalry tactics were especially formidable: he would dispatch cavalry units, each man with six horses, riding one, leading the other five, and as the ridden horse tired, moving to the next and so on. Traveling at a trot, such units could cover an astonishing eighty miles a day; the army itself, with all its support vehicles and personnel, could, in a real push, cover fifteen to eighteen miles a day, depending on the ground being crossed and the time of year, a remarkable accomplishment for animal-pulled vehicles. I should note that in spite of what Tamerlane's opponents said, his cavalry-men did not actually leap from horse to horse while traveling. Not that the soldiers were not sufficiently skilled horsemen for such a feat— they were. But their saddles could not leap with them, and all their gear, weapons, food, and water were carried on their saddles.



With the erosion of the Delhi Sultanate, which in 1340 had a degree of control of almost all but the southernmost portion of India, central and southern India became rife with rebellions and power-grabs from a number of local Rajputs (Princes: literally, rulers' sons). Gujerat was the first successful break-away from Delhi rule; over the next forty years regional conflicts erupted in many places, and eventually settled down into a number of fairly well-defined principalities, but at the time of this story, that process was just beginning. Beragar and its principal city of Devapur are fictional, as is the Rajput Hasin Dahele, but he is typical of the men who strove to grab a portion of the old Delhi Sultanate for themselves. Most of the Rajputs' territories were not sharply defined except by geographic features such as rivers and mountain ranges; where such clear physical demarcations did not exist, the frontiers were a kind of narrow zone between territories where the Rajputs' authorities were as likely to not exist at all as to overlap. The port cities of Cambay and Chaul are both real, Cambay being at the mouth of the Sabarmati River, and Chaul, immediately south of modern-day Bombay. Both were crucial to trade across the Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, and had been for well over two thousand years.



Military expeditions in central and southern India at the time were ponderous affairs, depending on cavalry and elephants for most of the actual combat. Mounted archers were the preferred soldiers, with elephants used to batter down defenses and remove tactical obstacles. Unlike in the West, mules were not much used at the time except for hauling support vehicles, and even then they did not become as utilitarian and ubiquitous as they were in Europe; asses and ponies were generally used as pack-animals in their place.



Because of the many ethnic groups and regional dialects inherent in this period and locales, I have tended to use Saint-Germain as my reference point for such things as the names of clothing and other every-day items in common usage, using the word he would tend to use rather than to try to select the appropriate word for each ethnic and caste group for that time and region, which would result in a dozen different names for a single item of clothing, such as, for example, the kandys (a kind of caftan-like garment); where multiple languages are being spoken, I have tried to keep defined who is speaking what. Sanscrit was the language of education and some religion, much like Latin in the West, but it was not the spoken language of most of the population, and so is not a useful starting point for ordinary regional language.



Europe and the Middle East were divided differently than they are today: in 1398, the now-tiny Baltic state of Lithuania reached all the way to the Black Sea through much of what is Poland, Ukraine, and Romania today; the Ottoman Empire was just beginning to spread out from modern-day Turkey into the Balkan States of what today are Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary; the Mameluke Empire, centered in Egypt, included much of present-day Israel and Jordan. Cities have changed names, and, in a few instances, locations, since the time of this novel. For example, the trading town of Fustat in Egypt grew into the modern city of Cairo, and Delhi expanded, adding New Delhi to its larger districts.



* * *

Among those who provided insight and help on this project, I would like to thank, in no particular order, Spencer Campbell for the astronomical information he provided; Lucy Shelton for the access to her references on trade-routes and the business of trade between Asia and Europe; to James Bentley for information on the cultures, religions, and languages of fourteenth-century Delhi; to Caroline Sagan for providing information about law, tradition, and domesticity in India in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; to Palmer McKay for showing me his maps on the ecological history of Asia; to Edward Herriton for lending me two terrific books on warfare in Asia from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1500; to Jerri Denning for general information on the movements of Timur-i Lenkh's armies; and to L. G. Hoffmann for letting me read his material on India after Timur-i Lenkh. Errors in historicity or fact should be laid at my door and at none of these good people's.



On other fronts, thanks are also due to Eleanor Guzman, Andrew Hawkins, and Sharon Cho, who read the manuscript for clarity; to Maureen Kelly and Sharon Russell, who read it for fun; to Lewis Bruma, who read it for accuracy; to Wiley Saichek, who made sure everyone on the Internet knew about it; to my agent, Irene Kraas, who took care of it; to my editor at Tor, Melissa Singer, who shepherded it through the publication process; to my attorney, Robin Dubner, who protects Saint-Germain; to Lindig Harris, who keeps the newsletter going (
Yclept Yarbro
, P. O. Box 8905, Asheville, NC 28814, or [email protected]); to the many independent booksellers who keep Saint-Germain on their shelves; to those Internet bookbuyers who continue to order these books; and, by extension, my readers, who have been so good to Saint-Germain for nearly a quarter of a century (not long from his point of view, but still…).



Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
August 2000

La carità è un festin' in esilio.


Charity is a feast in exile.



Venetian aphorism


Text of a civil proclamation given at the Mogul Sultanate of Delhi, on 21 January, 1398, by the calendar of the Roman Church.



* * *

People of Delhi, this is the law for marriage: it applies to all who live in this city, no matter what their customs may require or their religions may preach. In Delhi, this is the law.



Any man seeking to take a woman to wife must pay the bride-price asked by her father or brother, or, if she has no male relatives, to the Sultan. Failure to do this will invalidate the marriage and make any children of such an irregular union illegitimate and entitled to nothing from any member of the father's house.



Any man taking a slave as a concubine will be allowed to legitimize such issue as may come from the union until the child is two years of age. If the child is not legitimized by that time, it will be considered to be illegitimate and without family and may be kept as a slave or sold, on the wish of the father.
BOOK: A Feast in Exile
7.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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