Scholarly Paula embarks on an adventure – a trip to Istanbul with her merchant father, Teodor, to purchase an ancient artefact known as Cybele’s Gift. Paula’s fervent wish to rediscover the mysterious Other Kingdom, the realm she and her sisters visited as children, has been replaced by a more practical ambition: to become a trader in books and manuscripts. But clues and whispers soon convince Paula that she has been set a magical quest – and that the person laying the trail may be her lost sister Tati.
Competition for Cybele’s Gift is fierce, and Paula and Teodor soon find themselves in deadly danger. Their protector against worldly perils is their hired guard, Stoyan, a young man with secrets of his own. In the great Ottoman city, Paula is delighted to secure the patronage of a wealthy Greek scholar, Irene of Volos. Accompanied by Stoyan, Paula visits Irene’s personal library, where she uncovers further clues to her mission. It appears Tati has a quest of her own, and that it is linked with Paula’s. Paula is distracted by another bidder for the artefact: the charismatic pirate captain, Duarte da Costa Aguiar, a man who operates by his own set of rules.
When the artefact is finally unveiled, Paula finds herself on a wild chase by sea and land, accompanied by an unlikely pair of companions in adventure. Puzzles, riddles, tests of strength and of loyalty lie before them, and the price of failure is death. Along the way, there are lessons to be learned in wisdom, trust and love.
An American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults (2009)
Winner of New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award, given to the best young adult novel (2008)
Finalist in the Aurealis Awards, recognising the achievements of Australian science fiction and fantasy writers (2007)
Finalist in the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards (2007)
See all of Juliet's Awards