Quentaris - Michael Pryor
With Stones of Quentaris, for the first ever time I’ve written
a book with a cover in mind.
I’ve been so impressed with Marc McBride’s art for the
Quentaris books that when it came time to write a book for the 2004
additions to The Quentaris Chronicles, I began thinking of what sort
of a scene would make a good cover. I thought that if I could imagine
with a striking scene, I could write a story that would give rise
to such an image.
On top of this, I’m a fan of old monster movies. I remember
King Kong, The Thing, and, of course, Godzilla. The image of a huge
monster towering over a city, wreaking destruction, has always impressed
me, so I began thinking how I could make this work in a fantasy context.
What sort of a monster could rise over Quentaris, spreading ruin and
panic? Slowly, I began working with the idea of a rampaging elemental,
a special elemental. Other questions quickly presented themselves.
Who commanded such a colossus? Why did they want to destroy Quentaris?
Who defended the city against it? How could you stop such a monster?
Answering those questions was the basis of Stones of Quentaris. A
lot of fun!
Who is stealing the stones of Quentaris? With Quentaris preparing
for the annual Carnivale celebration, Jaq Coblin is thrown into an
adventure with four mysterious strangers, powerful magic and a horde
of barbarians made of sand. What can Jaq do but use his wits and hold
Jaq Coblin hurried his barrow past a trio of musicians who were
haggling at the front door of a hat shop, then he cursed. The way
ahead was blocked by a company from the Leatherworkers’ Guild.
Getting ready for Carnival, they were practising a human pyramid—the
leatherworkers’ traditional Carnival offering – right
in the middle of the street.
Jaq swerved his barrow, setting the trinkets, knick-knacks and cheap
jewellery rattling. An annoyed shout came from a well-dressed woman
carrying a small pig. He grinned at her, then plunged into the nearest
It opened onto a makeshift fish market. Wagons and carts loaded
with trout, cod, flatfish and crabs lined the street, and business
was brisk. Jaq paused. He saw a landmark — the Obelisk of
Mun — at the end of the street and he knew that he’d
nearly reached the Simesian Stairs.
The Simesian Stairs were a wonder in a city full of wonders. Over
four hundred years old, the white marble construction glowed in
sunlight as if it had been built yesterday. The neighbouring city-state
of Simesia had given the stairs to Quentaris in the hope of gaining
favour. The marble had come from a rift and the architect was Tamoleo
Tamminias, whose fame had spread far beyond his Simesian birthplace.
The stairs were a favourite place for artists to gather, sketching
the graceful curve. Poets, too, enjoyed the masterpiece as a source
of inspiration. Many citizens came because it was a pleasant place
to sit and enjoy the sun or to meet friends before a night of revelry.
It was one of Jaq’s favourite places to sell his wares.
He rushed past the Obelisk of Mun and the workers erecting scaffolding
around it, then he flung the barrow around a tight corner, wincing
as his brightly painted barrow scraped brickwork.
The barrow rumbled along a narrow lane, then Jaq heaved it over
a gutter and down a dark alley. If he had worked it out properly,
right turn, then a left, and once he squeezed through the gap between
the two buildings ahead, the Simesian Stairs should be just ahead..
Rounding the corner, Jaq was suddenly confronted by two burly men
right at the top of the Simesian Stairs. They were shuffling along,
wiry black hair standing out on top of their heads, extravagant
moustaches bristling. They were straining to hold a huge slab of
stone between them. Jaq goggled as they spilled sand from their
clothes, leaving a trail of it behind them.
Jaq stopped suddenly barely avoiding them.