Excerpt from Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Beneath a Marble Sky

by John Shors

Beneath a Marble Sky
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2004, 325 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2006, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Nodding to a pair of imperial guards, Mother paused as they opened a teak door leading into a massive structure, a sprawling room called the Diwan-i Am, the Hall of Public Audience. This chamber was much like our harem in its comforts and décor but even more splendid. The room’s ceiling was covered with beaten silver, and its decorated walls enclosed a crowd of well-dressed nobles and warriors.

In the Diwan-i Am’s center, atop his Peacock Throne, was Father. The throne was a raised dais bearing a cashmere carpet and a sizable red cushion embroidered with golden stars. Father always knelt on the cushion. Around him, twelve pillars supported the canopy. The pillars were inlaid with perfect pearls and the canopy was topped by a golden peacock. Sapphires coated its tail.

Gathered immediately below and in front of the Peacock Throne were high-ranking nobles. These mustached or bearded men wore silk tunics and strings of pearls. Several nobles carried muskets, while others boasted swords encased in jeweled scabbards. On either side of this assembly, servants used long poles topped with tear-shaped fans to cool Father and his audience.

More removed from the Peacock Throne, separated from the nobles by a gilded balustrade, stood officers of the army. A further balustrade, this one silver, divided these figures from several score of foot soldiers and servants, relegated to positions most distant from Father. Nobles, officers and soldiers wore tunics that fell below their knees and covered loose-fitting trousers. The jamas and paijamas were of brightly colored cotton or silk tightened about the waist by a sash.

As we entered the room, heads turned to regard Mother and shoulders straightened at her sight. I smiled at the reaction. Though emeralds, rubies and diamonds graced every spot of Father’s throne, in Mother’s presence men forgot such unimaginable wealth.

She was an orchid placed within a bouquet of poppies. She wore her robe tight enough to boast of the slightness of her body, which lacked none of a larger woman’s curves. Rubies were pinned to her raven locks; her ears were contoured with pearls, and the lobes beneath carried emeralds set in silver. A golden hoop pierced her nose. A delicate diamond necklace fell to just above her navel, and sapphire bracelets adorned her wrists. Like many noblewomen, she wore a miniature mirror on her thumb so she could keep herself in order.

Mother’s face never ceased to capture people despite its familiarity. Her bronze skin was soft and flawless, her lips sculpted. Her walnut-colored eyes were rounder than most of our people’s, and her nose seemed somehow more tapered. If compared to her I knew I’d never be beautiful. My teeth were less straight, my eyes closer together. Yet we had the same skin and the bodies of the same ancestors. My brothers mixed her traits with those of our more average-looking father. The boys were slightly small for their ages, with thick hair and wiry muscles.

"You honor us with your presence," Father announced, rising. Broad in the shoulders as well as the waist, Father stepped down from the dais looking extremely pleased to see us. He wore a yellow tunic, a black sash and a crimson turban. His jewels were as plentiful as Mother’s, though excepting a pearl necklace and a few rings, they were fastened to his garments.

Father said nothing of his children’s arrival but smiled at each of us. I found comfort in his bearded face, which was round and fleshy. His nose had been broken long ago, and his chin was rather expansive. "You remind me, Arjumand, that this morning’s business should end, for don’t even leopards rest every now and then?"

From our left emerged a low voice. "Forgive my impertinence, my lord, but one matter can’t idle."

"And what is that, Lord Babur?"

"A serious subject, with serious consequences."

From Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. Copyright 2004 John Shors. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bones of Grace
    The Bones of Grace
    by Tahmima Anam
    The Bones of Grace completes Tahmima Anam's Bangladesh trilogy. The three novels, which can be ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.