The Poisoned Garden

The ancient city of Chamaris is governed by powerful families. Chief among them is the House of the Leopard, headed by Lord Karkis, the Master of the City. Karkis is ageing and going blind, and he must look to his succession. He has two sons. The elder, Ragul, is the child of his first wife, Vancia. The younger is Peglar, who is two years Ragul’s junior and whose mother is Karkis’s number two wife, Chalia. Karkis and Vancia also have a daughter, Malina, but in Chamaris women are the property of their menfolk and have no rights of their own, so the estate will go to the boys. However, the division may not be equal and will depend on their father’s assessment of their merits. He thinks highly of Ragul but has a low opinion of Peglar.

In order to inherit, Ragul and Peglar must qualify as adult citizens, and that means successfully meeting three gruelling challenges of strength and courage. Ragul completed them some time ago, and now it’s Peglar’s turn. But whereas Ragul is sturdy and athletic, Peglar is bookish and not given to physical pursuits and has reconciled himself to failure.

However, he receives assistance from an unexpected quarter. His father’s Steward takes pity on him, and with his coaching and help Peglar manages the challenges, although not without problems.

Peglar and Ragul are now both entitled to receive the family inheritance. The question is, which of them will be given the larger share. Vancia is determined it will be Ragul, and together with her daughter, Malina sets out on a plot to neutralise Peglar and destroy his mother. Matters come to a head when Peglar must face Ragul in the dreaded cage, an enclosure in which they are locked and must fight until one of them is unable to leave.

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