until Mama jabbed me in the back again, and I spat out one of the questions she made me memorize: “Have you got a ship yet?” Tarrin beamed. “A sleek little frigate, plucked out of the Emperor’s own fleet. Fastest ship on the water.” “Yeah?” I said. “You got a crew for that ship or we just gonna look at her from the wall over there?” “Ananna,” Mama hissed, even as Papa tried to stifle a laugh. Tarrin’s face crumpled up and he looked at me like a little kid that knows you’re teasing him but doesn’t get the joke. “Finest crew out of the western islands.” It sounded rehearsed. “I got great plans for her, Mistress Tanarau.” He opened his eyes up real wide and his face glowed. “I want to take her out to the Isles of the Sky.” I about choked on my own spit. “You sure that’s a good idea?” “Surely a girl raised on the Tanarau doesn’t fear the Isles of the Sky.” I glared at him. The air in the garden was hot and still, like pure sunlight, and even though the horrors I’d heard about the Isles of the Sky seemed distant and made-up here, Tarrin’s little plan set my nerves on edge. Even if he probably wasn’t talking truth: nobody makes a path for the Isles of the Sky, on account of folks going mad from visiting that little chain of islands. They’ll change you and change you until you ain’t even human no more. They’re pure magic, that’s what Mama told me. They’re the place where magic comes from. “I know the difference between bravery and stupid-
An extract from the debut novel by Cassandra Rose Clarke, about a pirate girl and an assassin who find their lives inextricably linked.