The Waters Rising
Sheri S. Tepper
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The long-awaited and much-demanded sequel to A PLAGUE OF ANGELS, continuing the story of Abasio, once a farmboy, now, so Blue, his talking horse, is happy to inform people, a man who goes hither and thither helping orphans in this world where renascent mythical beasts and fairy tale 'archetypes' now live.
... And when he comes agross little Xulai from Tingawan, one of the Ten Thousand Islands, far across the western Sea, she informs him that she too is an orphan, and implores his help carrying out the last request of the Princess Xu-i-lok, who has been dying since the day she married Duke Justinian, who refused the royal order to marry Alicia, the Prince's sister.
Xulai is Princess Xu-i-lok's Soul Carrier, and the task she must complete means visiting the scary forest in the dead of night - but it is the only thing that will bring the princess a measure of peace. Abasio, helper of orphans, promises though she must do this alone, he will be near, to aid her if necessary ... and it is, for there are dark things abroad ...
And Xulai's job is not yet done, for with the princess now dead, the grieving Duke is left a widower - and Alicia, Duchess Altamont, still wishes to marry him. It's not just the man she wants, but his lands too ... and her plans do not bode well for anyone except her ...