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Selling Water by the River

For a thousand years, the cities of Maras and Sund faced each other across an unbridgeable river; Sund wielded its water magic and grew rich, while in Maras, the Sultan's armies made him powerful. Then the Marasi found their own kind of magic, and in one night they built a bridge, crossed it and conquered their neighbours. That was twenty years ago...

But magic has a price, and it is paid by both cities. In Sund, water-magic is forbidden, and the bridge casts a sickening shadow; and what becomes of the children of Maras...?

Selling Water by the River

Selling Water by the River is a fantasy in two volumes by Chaz Brenchley, author of The Books of Outremer, published in the US only, by Ace Books. The first volume, Bridge of Dreams, was published in 2006; River of the World, the second and final volume, published the following year, was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Society Award.

Chaz says: "I've been calling it the Ottoman Empire fantasy, because that's what I do, I have shorthand descriptions that tend to baffle and bewilder real people (my favourite was always the Oscar Wilde book, which didn't have Oscar Wilde in it at all). This one does pull in material from the Ottomans (or possibly Ottomen), but only a sort of background culture, a touch of geography and a bit of pinched history; it's more a feeling than a description. It's certainly not so Ottoman as Outremer was Crusader. But it does - I hope - carry that sense of inherent corruption, the way the empire has been declining since the days of its foundation. And half the story takes place in harems... but it's also about military and mercantile cultures facing off across an unbridgeable river, where the merchants have the water-magic and so they keep control - until the day they wake up to find a bridge appeared in the night, and the legions marching over. I'm not giving anything away here, all that was twenty years ago; the book's about suppression and rebellion, and the prices people pay, and how hard it is to value what comes free."

In the Night Street Baths, a self contained short story, set in the world of Selling Water and featuring some of the same characters, appears in Lace and Blade, published by Norilana Books.

Praise for Selling Water by the River

"Generous of spirit, full of risk and excitement, lucently written, and so real you can taste the street dust."

Elizabeth Bear.

More praise from Elizabeth Bear in her LiveJournal

Cheryl Morgan gave Bridge of Dreams a glowing review: she hopes the wait for volume two isn't too long - she wants it now, or preferably yesterday.
Read the whole review in Emerald City.

"Like all great writers, Brenchley's biggest asset is his gorgeous language, his ability to write prose that captures the reader and creates a new world. Yep, it's worldbuilding, but the world that Brenchley creates is so full of life and detail that it transcends reality and colors the perception of our world. Brenchley eschews the usual sentimentality for hard-edged fear and hard choices that offer equally unpleasant alternatives."

The Agony Column

Read an extract from Bridge of Dreams - and how to buy the book.

Read an extract from River of the World - and how to buy the book.