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Fifth Quarter by Tanya Huff
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Fifth Quarter (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Tanya Huff (Author)

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7761024,644 (3.8)22
Trained to kill from childhood, siblings Bannon and Vree have only known life as assassins in the Imperial Army. The army is both their mother and father, their lives subject to the whims of the Crown. When their latest target steals Bannon's body for his own, Vree saves her brother by dragging his spirit in to share hers. But two assassins in one body is one assassin too many. To save both their lives, they must abandon the only life they've known, risking Imperial ire and possible execution, to regain Bannon's body. It isn't until after they capture Gyhard, the body thief, that they realize they can't force him to do anything while he holds Bannon's body hostage. But Gyhard is willing to trade Bannon's body for their assistance. All they have to do--while being hunted for desertion and dealing with an unknown power able to Sing the dead out of the grave--is betray the oaths they've lived by and help Gyhard secure the body of an Imperial Prince.… (more)
Member:alynnelorenz
Title:Fifth Quarter
Authors:Tanya Huff (Author)
Info:Penguin (1995), Edition: Reissue, 416 pages
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Fifth Quarter by Tanya Huff (1995)

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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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hilarious summary of the book

http://bookelfe.livejournal.com/209656.html ( )
  Litrvixen | Jun 23, 2022 |
{Second in the Quarters series; fantasy} (1995)

In the land of Shkoder, Bards can Sing to the kigh (elemental spirits) of four quarters (air, water, earth, fire). This story takes place in the neighbouring Havakeen Empire where siblings Vree and Bannon are assassins in the sixth army. When the story starts, the sixth army is beseiging the rebel town of Ghoti and decides to assassinate Aralt, the governor, to shorten the battle. But when Bannon finds him, the old man has taken poison so that Gyhard, the person actually inhabiting the governor's body, can jump to Bannon's body. When his sister comes across the dying governor, now inhabited by Bannon, the only way she can save her brother is to allow his spirit to share her body while they desert the army to chase his body.

“Haul your ass out of cover, Bannon, and let’s get going. This isn’t funny.”

Her whisper pierced the shadowed corners, pierced the shroud that dying had wrapped around the governor.

He opened his eyes. Unfamiliar features twisted into a familiar expression. “Vree …”

She stared, not believing.

“Vree …” Cold fingers clutched at her wrist and pressed out a pattern only her brother knew.


In the meantime, there is a mad old man wandering the Empire who can Sing the hitherto unknown fifth quarter which forces the spirits of the recently dead back into their bodies as he seeks to create a family who love him. Unfortunately, he has to keep replacing them as their bodies decay. These two stories are linked and are destined to clash again.

Karlene is a Bard in the Imperial Palace in the Capital of the Empire where she is helping to establish the Bardic profession. And where she has to politely dissuade the love-struck Prince Otavas, youngest son of the Emperor. They are also part of the story since both the mad man and Gyhard have designs on the Prince.

Huff does create awkward relationships, although this is only a background to the story. For instance, Vree has secretly desired her brother (although he seems to be the only one who doesn't realise), despite having had to act as his parents since their soldier mother was killed when she was seven and he was six years old and they have never known who their father was. But then, she's also attracted to Gyhard and to Karlene, who ends up travelling with them as they race across the country to try to rescue the Prince.

The story was alright; I could put it down and come back to it much later (although I never considered abandoning it). I felt that the ending was a bit inconclusive. It didn't fully resolve the issues although it didn't end on a cliff hanger, but it still left things open to continuation.

April 2021
3-3.5 stars ( )
  humouress | May 2, 2021 |
One of the most excessively messed up things I've read in years, and well executed. ( )
  wetdryvac | Mar 2, 2021 |
This novel follows a pair of assassins, sister and brother. Brought up to operate as a close knit team, their bond is tested to the utmost when they are caught in a trap that results in them having to share two minds in one body. ( )
  JudithProctor | Dec 21, 2017 |
not as initially engaging as others in the series, but still wonderful ( )
  shadowdancer | Jun 22, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tanya Huffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee,Jody A.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Fe, once again, because she wanted it so badly.
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There were guards on duty at the entrance to the marshal's tent but they'd expected that and were accustomed to using less obvious entrances.
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Trained to kill from childhood, siblings Bannon and Vree have only known life as assassins in the Imperial Army. The army is both their mother and father, their lives subject to the whims of the Crown. When their latest target steals Bannon's body for his own, Vree saves her brother by dragging his spirit in to share hers. But two assassins in one body is one assassin too many. To save both their lives, they must abandon the only life they've known, risking Imperial ire and possible execution, to regain Bannon's body. It isn't until after they capture Gyhard, the body thief, that they realize they can't force him to do anything while he holds Bannon's body hostage. But Gyhard is willing to trade Bannon's body for their assistance. All they have to do--while being hunted for desertion and dealing with an unknown power able to Sing the dead out of the grave--is betray the oaths they've lived by and help Gyhard secure the body of an Imperial Prince.

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THE SONG OF DEATH - Bannon and Vree, brother and sister, they are assassins of the highest caliber who have long plied their trade for the Havakeen army. But all their skill and experience cannot save them from a magic-sprung trap that will see the two forced to share one body when the very man they've been sent to assassinate steals Bannon's body for himself. How long brother and sister can coexist in one body neither can guess. And so they set out to catch and defeat this foe who has already bested them once.
But when Bannon and Vree confront this master of a magic beyond their comprehension, he offers them a terrible choice - to continue their new dual existence forever, or to betray the Empire they have served all their lives. For it is not control of Bannon's body which is Gyhard's true goal but rather the body - and with it the identity and power - of the Imperial Prince!
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