First Daughter

By: Susan Kaye Quinn

(The Royals of Dharia, Book Three)


Summary

The war has begun, and with the Queen of Dharia on her deathbed, Aniri’s excessively-proper eldest sister, First Daughter Nahali, finally sees her chance to claim the crown. Aniri and Nahali have never seen eye-to-eye, not since they were girls running through the palace courtyard, but with Prince Malik and Second Daughter Seledri kidnapped, Aniri can’t afford to fight with her sister.





So she follows the First Daughter’s orders and prepares for a war she fears will destroy everything she loves. Her sister has spent her entire life preparing for this job—Aniri prays to the gods Nahali knows what she’s doing.





But when the Queen calls the two Daughters to her bedside, she sends Nahali off to prepare for war… and tasks Aniri with a secret mission. She must go after the power-mad prince of Samir and stop his deadly skyship. It may cost Aniri everything, including a chance to ever return home, but she defies the First Daughter’s orders and embarks on a desperate mission to save the people she loves from a war that will tear all three Queendoms apart.





FIRST DAUGHTER is the final book in the Royals of Dharia Trilogy. It is told from Aniri’s point of view.





It says we’re at war.

Aniri’s own words haunted her. How could she wage war with a single, limping skyship, when the enemy supposedly commanded an armada? How could she fight the Samirians at all while they held her sister and husband captive? It was too great a price. It was too much to ask of anyone. But as she gazed out over the snow-dusted mountain peaks gliding thousands of feet below her skyship, she knew the answer: she couldn’t betray her husband’s country while saving his life. She couldn’t exchange a crown she didn’t want for a man she loved more than anything.

He would never forgive her for it.

Aniri gripped the edges of the skyship bridge window with both hands, crumpling the sheer netting that had replaced the glass blown out by the Samirians’ bombs. Her Jungali sailors had hastily patched the ship, using steel beams and wooden planks and yards of royal tablecloths when necessary to stem the loss of the lighter-than-air navia gas that kept them afloat. Their skyship, the Prosperity, was hardly living up to its name—the gas bag was still leaking, the command center was a laughable skeleton, and there was only a half-load of fuel on board.

“We’re well into Dharia now, Captain,” Master Tinker Karan said from his station at the plotting table.

“Very good, Mr. Karan.” He had fallen into the habit of calling her captain, even though she was no such thing, and her ship was barely afloat. Yet she had no choice but to hurry aloft as soon as Natesh, Second Son of Samir, made his demands:

SURRENDER NOW AND I WILL SPARE EVERYONE

He wanted the crowns of both Jungali and Dharia. In exchange, Aniri could win the lives of both her sister, Second Daughter of Dharia, and her future husband, Prince Malik of Jungali. But Aniri knew it was a fool’s choice: any royal would soon find the point of a saber through their backs, regardless. She would be no exception, being the Third Daughter of Dharia, but more importantly, she knew Natesh would kill whomever necessary to win the crown in his own country of Samir—waging a war was just a means to that end.

Besides, his message could easily have been meant to stall them, keep them grounded while he brought his Samirian skyship, the Dagger, back to Jungali to bombard the capital with death once again. Aniri hadn’t bothered with a reply—she simply dropped everything and bundled her injured mother, the Queen of Dharia, aboard the Prosperity. The Queen’s Jungali healer made a fervent protest about moving her, but her loyal raksaka protector, Janak, didn’t argue. Given that he loved the Queen and could easily enforce his will with lethal assassin skills, she knew he understood the danger all too well. Once her handmaiden Priya and Master Tinker Karan had boarded, Aniri ordered them up into the sky, where the ship would no longer be a sitting, wounded target for Samir’s black, bullet-nosed bombs. Those bombs had already blown holes in the streets and hearts of the Jungali people. She wouldn’t let them take the only weapon they had left to fight this war—or the few royals left with the authority to wage it.

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