Happy (belated) third publishing anniversary to our first book, Bargaining Power by Deborah J. Natelson! Reviewers are calling this fantasy thriller “gripping,” “uniquely memorable,” and “brilliant!”
Need a bit more convincing to dive into the book? Then read the ten awesome quotes from Bargaining Power that we’ve compiled here!
1. “He was bound to die eventually,” said the new Prefect Avior. “It’s no secret that he drank like a storm drain. The wonder is that he didn’t totter off a balcony years ago.”
He spoke casually, as if his brother had meant no more to him than a drop of rain to the ocean. My eyes flew up to his, and behind his words I saw the glee of violence, the thirsty self-satisfaction of triumph. And in that moment, I knew as clearly as if he had confessed it in court that this man had killed his brother—and that my life depended on him not realizing that I knew it.
2. The proprietress, like the room, was dressed in white. Pale moonlight bathed her skin in luminescence, dimming the redness of her hair, brightening the silver of her eyes, softening the razor edges of her skirt suit. She was very tall and very beautiful and very regal. Be in awe of me, her aura commanded, and I was in awe.
For about five seconds. That was how long it took me to catch sight of my boss. No, that’s not right: I’d been looking at him this whole time; I just hadn’t realized it. The proprietress held him folded over one arm, like a waiter holds a hand towel. She held him effortlessly, without wrinkling her perfect suit or bending her spine or tottering in her four-inch heels.
3. “I was eighteen when Cipher came to me,” he said. “In my first year of university. I was sitting in class when it descended. Out of nowhere, it invaded my mind—an alien and parasitic intelligence crushing me, filling my eyes and ears with sounds and shapes, battering me with patterns, patterns, patterns. Impossible, maddening!
“Do you think it was easy to deal with it, because I seem well-adjusted to you now? I have had nearly two decades to trap and tame and force my personification to do my bidding, and yet it still slips from my grasp. The more I tamp it down, the more it sprays out the edges, distorting space. Never, Mercedes, never do I know for certain if what I see is what others see. If it is real.”
4. I’d been right about Silvertip: he wasn’t a screamer. His voice disappeared entirely, and if he hadn’t been in bed, he would’ve fainted. His hands scrabbled for the gun on his bedside table, and then he was aiming it at me and squeezing the trigger wildly. The gun clicked empty every time.
I lifted my fist so that he could see it clearly and then opened my fingers. Bullets tumbled to the carpet. “I could kill you,” I said again. “But I’ve been ordered not to.”
Silvertip stilled and Signe grasped his arm. Finally, I was behaving like they expected me to, admitting what they believed to be true. I had them, if ever I would.
5. For the past thirty-three years, Francis has managed to convert lack of sleep and poor eating habits into muscle, but I’d lectured him more than once on what would happen if he didn’t reform. He’d smiled, nodded, agreed, and regressed every time insomnia struck.
By the cavelike quality of his face and the mechanical movements of his arms, he hadn’t slept a wink this night and possibly not the previous one either. Red rimmed his eyes like puckered lips.
“You have blood in your hair,” Francis said.
6. “If you ask me,” I said, “chess is a poor analogy for the conquering of a kingdom. . . . Sure I see a parallel, but battlefields aren’t the only way to defeat the opposing king and put oneself in power. For one thing, the conqueror may come from inside the country instead of the next kingdom over.”
“Careful, Mercedes,” said Sr. Nordfeld.
I shook my head to show him that I wasn’t about to blab anything I shouldn’t, and clarified, “I mean, it’s not how I would go about making myself king—even if I had my own army, which I don’t.”
7. The fluffy white dog trotted up to Edenfield, tail wagging. But the moment it got a good whiff of the air, it changed direction: snuffled around the bed and then jumped up against the side table. Its nails scrabbled against wood, but its twitching nose didn’t come close to the tabletop. It was only a puppy, really. When it realized it couldn’t reach the bird, it whined piteously at its master.
8. “Why did you turn your apartment into a Möbius strip? Added security?”
I was rewarded for my deduction by another of his rare grins. I hadn’t seen him this delighted, this relaxed, in a long time. It must have been a relief, showing someone. “The design is not purposeful,” he said. “Things alter their forms in my presence. The longer I am around a place, the more it changes.”
“By ‘place,’ do you mean this apartment, or—?”
“I have lived in Silvertip City for five years. Have you ever been anywhere more absurd?”
I hadn’t, and another piece of the puzzle clicked into place.
9. The royal secretary’s drama, panache, widow’s peak, and unfortunate taste for red satin-lined opera cloaks gave him rather the look of a cartoon villain. By contrast, the chancellor’s sensible gray tweed and measured tones pronounced him a restrained and honest man.
Strangely enough, this restraint was the very reason Emil did not wholly trust his chancellor. It seemed to him that the man was trying too hard. A truly honest man wouldn’t have to put on a show of steadfastness; he would twirl his mustache and cackle without fear of judgment. Only a man with something to hide would flagellate himself into wearing tweed.
10. I shrugged. “Your guesses are as good as most people’s conclusions. Care to guess at their weaknesses? I need some way to stop them.”
His tapping fingers curled and uncurled, restive, uncomfortable, unconscious—and belying the slow steadiness of his next words. “By ‘stop,’” he said, “do you mean ‘kill’?”
Perhaps some of that despair from Ignorance lingered, or perhaps I was right in having given up my job, knowing he would never allow me back whatever I said. Perhaps I wanted to sever that last tendon of his respect for me, and so make it easier to leave. Or perhaps the hard detachment that had carried me through so many difficult decisions simply had no use for kid gloves when the lives and freedom of an entire nation were at stake. In any case, I made no attempt to soften my, “Preferably.”
. . . Hooked yet? Grab a copy here to see how all these quotes are tied together!
Bargaining Power is perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Stephen King. It’s available in paperback and e-book formats (DRM unlocked) on Amazon, including Kindle Unlimited.
Check out our author interview with Deborah here, our official book review here, and a character interview with the main character’s brother here.
Other articles in our Top 10 Quotes series:
The Blessed (Mythusian Empire #2)
Skate the Thief (Rag and Bone Chronicles #1)
Skate the Seeker (Rag and Bone Chronicles #2)
The Cosmic Turkey
The Disposable (Plot Bandits #1)
The Narrative (Plot Bandits #3)
The Taskmaster (Plot Bandits #4)
Painter of the Dead
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