by Holly Bennett
Published: September 2005
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Cover Art: Cathy Maclean
The Inside Story
Life or death?
If you like the character of Tristan, Gabrielle’s brother, you can thank my son Aaron that he made it through the first book. When I first imagined the story, Tristan died on the battlefield. But I was reading the pages to Aaron as I wrote them, and when
I got to Tristan’s death he said, “That’s it. If you’re going to kill Tristan, I’m not reading any more.” I tried to argue with him – you know, once you imagine a story a certain way it starts to feel like an unchangeable Truth – but he was so adamant I started to think that other readers would feel the same way. And he was right, I needed Tristan. His humour and lightheartedness is an important contrast to Gabrielle and the more serious elves.
Read an Excerpt from The Bonemender
GABRIELLE CONCENTRATED DEEPLY, summoned the light, channeled and directed it through her hands. It was infinitely more difficult than healing Philippe’s shoulder: the boy had been full of life and health, the tissue damage minimal. This man was weakened, the wound lethal and angry, the vein gaping apart. Speed was vital, yet she couldn’t rush.
The work was painstaking: cell by cell, she had to rejoin the ends of the severed blood vessel, and it had to be strong enough to hold while the injured man was jostled off a horse and onto a stretcher. He hadn’t enough blood left to withstand a mistake in judgement.
Time passed, but Gabrielle was unaware of it. She barely seemed alive herself, so motionless and quiet was her trance. The servants with the stretcher shuffled their feet and fidgeted; they knew her reputation and knew better than to disturb her, but inaction in the face of emergency galled them.
Féolan, however, was almost as still as Gabrielle. He support Danaïs patiently, though his back and arms began to burn with fatigue. At times his own eyes were closed, his expression one of deep concentration rather than sleep. Other times he watched Gabrielle intently, though there was little to see. His horse too could have been carved in stone. It was only later that onlookers remarked on how strangely the horse had behaved.
Nearly two hours passed before Gabrielle lifted her head and looked around, her expression glazed. The world rushed back as her senses awoke, and she nearly fell off the stool as the cramping in her calves – she had been standing half on her toes the whole time – took her by surprise. Yves had to jump forward and help her down, keeping an arm under her elbow as she stamped her feet, wincing.
“All right,” she said, looking at her waiting helpers. “Thank-you for waiting. We need to slide this man off the horse and onto the stretcher. He mustn’t be jostled or his leg pulled, or the wound will re-open. Can—“ she broke off, looking up at Féolan. “I’m sorry, I don’t know your name. I am Gabrielle DesChênes, and this is my father’s castle.”
“Féolan, of the Elves of Stonewater,” he replied. “My companion is Danaïs. We are deeply in your debt.”
A muttering broke out among the men, but Gabrielle merely gazed at the young man gravely. “You are most welcome here,” she said, “but I’m afraid further courtesies will have to wait. I was about to ask, Can you support your friend off the horse? Your muscles must be even stiffer than mine.”
He smiled ruefully. “They will do anything required, I think, to move freely again.” Still, Gabrielle made sure there was a man at each of Danaïs’ shoulders to take his weight, with the others supporting his hips and feet. As Danaïs was eased from the horse, one of the servants cried out.
Gabrielle’s attention snapped to his face: “What happened?”
The man mumbled an apology, but his eyes, and those of his fellows, never left Danaïs.
“His ears, m’Lady. I couldn’t help myself.
”The Elf’s blond hair had fallen back from his brow, revealing delicate ears that ended in a subtle but distinct point.
Gabrielle’s mouth tightened in disapproval. “We have more important things to worry about right now.” A quick check showed the bleeding still under control. “Let’s go,” she said shortly.
What do you think of this Gabrielle? This is the first draft of the cover. I really liked her, and was surprised when the cover model was changed to another girl. There are more subtle differences in the two covers too, from how close Gabrielle’s figure is and the detail on the rider to the background landscape. Overall, I think the design of the final cover is better — but I have to confess the first Gabrielle is closer to how I imagined her!