Pyr, 2014. Cover art by Raymond Swanland.
Death and dark magic follow the caravan road ...
Ahjvar, the assassin known as the Leopard, wants only to die, to end the curse that binds him to a life of horror. Although he has no reason to trust the goddess Catairanach or her messenger Deyandara, fugitive heir to a murdered tribal queen, desperation leads him to accept her bargain: if he kills the mad prophet known as the Voice of Marakand, Catairanach will free him from his curse. Accompanying him on his mission is the one person he has let close to him in a lifetime of death, a runaway slave named Ghu. Ahjvar kows Ghu is far from the half-wit others think him to be, but in Marakand, the great city where the caravan roads of east and west meet, both will need to face the deepest secrets of their souls if either is to survive the undying enemies who hunt them.
To Marakand, too, come a Northron wanderer and her demon verrbjarn lover, carrying the obsidian sword Lakkariss, a weapon forged by the Old Great Gods to bring their justice to the seven devils who escaped the cold hells so long before.
• Included on io9's Most Astounding Must-Read Science Fiction And Fantasy Books In June list (2014), and
• Kirkus Review's Best Speculative Fiction Reads for June (2014)
"An involving and deftly written novel of escape and capture, love and loss, and battles both mental and physical. ... Fans of C.J. Cherryh, Elizabeth Bear, and George R.R. Martin will find the same intelligence, wit, and mastery of language. ... Johansen has written a winner." ~ ForeWord Reviews