Mortal Suns is a 2003 novel by Tanith Lee.
Hetsa, the Daystar, gives birth to a deformed child with no feet. She names the child Cemira and has it taken away to the Temple of Thon. She is left with other infants to see if she survives. Four years later, Hetsa feels thumping inside her womb, like little feet. Akreon, the Great Sun, sees a vision of two Suns for a moment. Crow Claw tells Hetsa that she must confess what happened to the child. As messengers are sent to fetch Cemira from Thon's temple, Akreon dies, and the Heart stops for a moment. Glardor becomes the new Great Sun, and Cemira comes to Oceaxis. Udrombis summons Hetsa, and poisons her. Cemira is brought unobtrusively to her father's funeral, where she sees Klyton and Amdysos for the first time. Ermias has been assigned as her guardian. Crow Claw appears to her, and tells her that her name here is Calistra.
Amdysos and Klyton go hunting near Mt. Airis, and quarrel over a giant pig that Amdysos will not let Klyton slay. Calistra has developed an infatuation with Klyton. Udrombis tells her that she must learn to shine. She begins an exercise program to keep her shape. Calistra speaks to Crow Claw again, and Kelbalba tells her that the crone has been dead for some months. Amdysos and Klyton go to war against Sirma with Pherox. Klyton kills the chief's son. After they occupy the town, a woman throws apples down on them, and one of them lodges in Pherox's throat and kills him. Ermias resents Calistra and is growing fat, but with Crow Claw's help Calistra befriends her. Ermias brings her to where the women dance on the beach, and she sees Klyton there. Klyton sends Torca to teach her to walk with silver feet.
After some trouble in Ipyra, Amdysos takes an Ipyran bride, Elakti. Calistra begins to wonder if Klyton has forgotten her, but he is keeping track of her through Torca. Klyton wishes to take part in the Sun Race, since Amdysos has been drawn several times but never Klyton. He has a vision of a giant eagle. On his return to Oceaxis, he goes to visit Calistra, and watches her dancing unseen before announcing himself. Calistra attends her first Sunset Offering in the Great Hall, where she speaks with Stabia. Klyton and Amdysos quarrel again, and Klyton takes Ermias as a lover. Crow Claw shows Udrombis a vision of a giant eagle carrying off a sun disk. Stabia circumspectly encourages Calistra in her love of Klyton.
Klyton has finally made his way into the Sun Race. He and Amdysos, as well as other Suns, race their chariots beneath Mount Airis. Ogon is diverted down a side passage by a bat, and Uros follows. Klyton seizes his chance to pass Amdysos and Melendor, and races ahead. Outside, three eagles, one of them a giant, are fighting in the sky. Klyton emerges into a cavern where priests light a bright fire, and is blinded. Amdysos passes him, and Klyton curses him. As Amdysos emerges victorious, the eagle descends and snatches him up. Klyton cuts off his hair in remorse and goes to see Udrombis, offering up his life. Udrombis instead tells him his curse could not have been the cause. Elakti is rumoured to be pregnant by Amdysos.
Shortly thereafter, Glardor dies of a bee sting. When Klyton receives the news in Melmia, he goes to Sirma and takes a Sirmian girl, Bachis, to wife. She is afraid, though, when he finds that her brother took her virginity, but Klyton reassures her. He dreams that Amdysos tells him that his death, as well as that of Pherox and Glardor, was foretold. He brings Bachis back to Oceaxis and soon she is with child. Nexor is proclaimed Great Sun that winter, though he will not be crowned until the summer. Udrombis tells Klyton that his mother, Stabia, is sick. Ogon, Melendor, and Uros conspire to put Uros on the throne. Uros and Melendor ride north to Ipyra, though Ogon reveals the plan to Nexor. Klyton comes to visit Calistra, to tell her that he is going. He kisses her, and says that he loves her, but that they can never be together.
Elakti leaves Oceaxis with her Maiden Phelia and a crone, and goes to the hills. She says that Amdysos is not dead, and she begins working magic to bring him back. Nexor decides to attack the Ipyrans in winter. Klyton has brought a thousand Sirmians with him. He helps the troops cross a frozen river after the ice cracks, and the troops praise him. They try to attack a mountain fortress, but without the cover of foliage they are easily picked off on the path. The next day an avalanche damages the fortress, and Klyton leads troops up the path and into the fortress, taking it. Uros's grandfather, a Karrad, is not eager to war with Akhemony. Survivors from the Akhemon attacks come to the Karrad's fortress, telling of their losses. The Karrad's wife, Evonissa, does an augury, and says that the gods are at play, and the forces are balanced. She advices making a truce, and the Karrad refuses to help Uros. Uros must settle for those Ipyrans who will follow him.
When the forces meet, Nexor wants to attack, though it is almost night, but Klyton says no, supported by Adargon. Nexor gives in against Klyton's defiance. That night, Adargon's men join Klyton's at their campfires, as do Lektos's. The next morning the Akhemonians interrupt the Ipyrans at their sacrifices, and the sun bursts forth from a cloud. The snow collapses under the Ipyran host, and half of them are swallowed, along with Uros and Melendor. Nexor says that they should hang the Karrad when he comes to negotiate, but his troops do not approve, not even when he says they should sack the town. Klyton says that the Ipyrans have suffered enough, and they should let them be. When Nexor says he'll do as he pleases, the sun is blotted out by a cloud of birds, one of them a giant. Nexor protests that he is the king, and he is struck by a large bird dropping from the sky.
Klyton negotiated with the Karrad, and the Ipyrans made homage to him. Nexor had faded into the background. One of the Karrads told Klyton that he considered himself allied to Akhemony, because his daughter, Hetsa, had married Akreon. Klyton returns in triumph with Adargon. Calistra, who has been sunk in melancholy, is summoned by Udrombis, who says that Klyton proposes to consider her a daughter of Ipyra, officially proclaiming her not a daughter of Akreon, so that they may wed. Klyton makes a progress through Ipyra, and returns to find his mother very ill. He visits Calistra and gifts her with a white hound. Klyton visits her in her rooms that night, and they make love.
Elakti lives in the wilderness with a band of girls, one of them a spy for Udrombis. When she finds out that Elakti is in labour, the spy seizes the opportunity to go to Oceaxis for a doctor. The child is born monstrous, and by the time the spy returns, having been instructed by Udrombis to dawdle, they are all gone. Klyton is crowned, and Calistra is his bride and Sun-Consort. Stabia dies that summer, Udrombis making her a painless poison to take her pain away. They make peace with their neighbours, and hear tales of lands beyond the Endless Sea. Klyton carried with him an altar to Amdysos.
In the second year of Klyton's reign, a strange creature, a badly deformed man, appears in the north of Akhemony. News of the creature comes to a garrison near Mount Airis, and a peasant comes and says a woman claims the creature is Amdysos returned. The captain goes to see the creature, and agrees that it is Amdysos. Udrombis's guards go in search of Elakti and her child, but find no sign. Later, Phelia fetches her to join the others. They all take herbs and see visions, except for Phelia. Elakti pronounces that her husband has returned from the underworld. The broken Amdysos is brought to priests of the Sun, who examine him. Elakti comes upon them on the road while he is being transported, and says her husband has risen.
A priestess from the Temple of Thon comes to see Calistra, claiming to be one who was kind to her as a child, though Calistra easily penetrates the deception. The priestess brings a young girl she wishes to place in Calistra's care. As she dismisses them, she hears a crowd outside, and receives word from Udrombis of the man purported to be Amdysos. Klyton comes late to dinner that night, seeming to put on a show that nothing is wrong. Klyton downplays the furor, saying that the wreck of a man cannot be Amdysos. Lektos has gone to guard the Sun Temple. Torca examined and spoke with the man, and finally was satisfied that it was Amdysos. He tells Udrombis as much. Torca tells her of Elakti's second child, which is deformed in almost the same way as Amdysos, and with the head of an eagle. Crow Claw walks the palace that night, speaking with some.
Udrombis goes to the Temple to see the supposed Amdysos. She goes down into the Precinct of Night, where the disfigured man sits with Elakti and the child. The priests begin chanting, and Udrombis sees a flash of Amdysos. Then the child wriggles out of Elakti's arms, hops towards her, clings to her skirt. Then, before anyone can move, it climbs up her and attacks her viciously, gouging at her face. When Klyton hears the news, and that Lektos and the priests have barricaded the Temple, he goes forth. Just then, bolts begin to fall from the sky. Klyton confronts Lektos in front of the temple. When Lektos insists that the true King is inside, Klyton kills him, and his son, and a melee erupts. Chaos descends on the capital and the Palace. In the end, Torca and the priests affirm that Amdysos is alive, and the Council declares him King.
Klyton, Calistra and the others leave, with Adargon and a host of Sirmians. Crow Claw visits Calistra before she leaves, reminding her that she is Cemira as well. They are headed first for Artepta, where a princess has been betrothed to Klyton. When they reach a port on the Lakesea, he sends Adargon on ahead, while they visit the Sun's Isle. Klyton goes to the Sun's Temple in the center of the island, while Calistra waits at a shrine near the shore. The isle is covered with strange and bizarre plant life, with hints of strange fauna as well, giant rats and snakes. Klyton prays at the Temple, but the god only says No. They leave the island; on the ship, Calistra miscarries. They sail through Bulos; Klyton disposes of his old shrine to Amdysos in the river. They put ashore once for a summer festival, and Klyton takes Bachis's child away into the night. It is found with its head bashed in the next morning. Most of Klyton's men desert him after that, and Bachis is left behind.
They arrive on the shore near Artepta, where Adargon says they see Klyton as a foreign prince, not a king. There are also rumours of a vast fleet anchored offshore. They come to Artepta and Klyton weds his Arteptan princess. They hear news that Amdysos has been crowned, with Elakti his Consort, and that the child still roams in the Precinct of Night. That spring came the invaders from Pesh Sandu. They have come to visit the Arteptans and teach them of the True God. They tell Klyton and Adargon that they intend to bring the True God to Akhemony and the rest of the continent, through war. Klyton challenges Battle-Prince Shajhima to combat, and is killed by him. Shajhima then claims Calistra as a battle prize. Her silver feet are taken away. She is brought with Shajhima as the Pesh conquer Akhemony, and still the Heartbeat. In the Precinct of Night, they find the bird-creature, and two child's feet.
Calistra, as Sirai, goes on to be a poetess, and dictate her story to Dobzah.
- Adargon--Akhemon military commander
- Aiton--Great-grandfather of Okos; took the throne from a more deserving heir
- Akreon--Great Sun, father of Calistra
- Amdysos--Youngest son of Udrombis
- Anki--Witch form of Phaidix
- Appidax--Aspect of Thon, as a youth who can be placated
- Arpon--Sirmian boy, Bachis's brother, deflowered her
- Bachis--Sirmian girl, marries Klyton, becomes Daystar
- Bandri--Arteptan birth goddess
- Calistra--Daughter of Hetsa, born without feet; marries Klyton as Sun-Consort
- Cemira--birth name of Calistra; Secret Beast of the moon goddess
- Choras--girl given to Calistra by the Temple of Thon
- Chot--Mother of Prince Shajhima
- Clello--Goddess of love
- Crow Claw--Old woman
- Daia--Goddess of love-desire
- Daia Donis--Same-sex love?
- Daibi--Woman in Elakti's band
- Dobzah--Sirai's female scribe
- Elakti--Ipyran wife of Amdysos, mother of his daughter
- Ermias--Hetsa's Maiden, and later guardian of Calistra
- Evonissa--Wife of Uros's grandfather, the Karrad; priestess of Anki
- Gemli--Ipyran goddess of joy
- Glardor--Eldest son of Akreon and Udrombis, Great Sun after him, called the Farmer
- Gol--Strong man in northern Akhemony
- Hetsa--Sixteenth Daystar of the Great Sun Akreon, daughter of an Ipyran King
- Hylis--Queen Calistra's Chief Maiden
- Ia--God of justice
- Kelbalba--Servant who helps train Calistra
- Klyton--Son of Stabia; becomes Great Sun
- Lektos--Son of Akreon and a Daystar
- Lut--Arteptan dwarf god of the deformed
- Melendor--Akhemonian noble
- Mokpor--Merchant, lover of Hetsa, from Oriali
- Netaru--Arteptan princess who weds Klyton in his exile
- Nexor--Great Sun after Glardor, son of a Uarian Daystar
- Nimi--Calistra's slave girl
- Ogon--Akhemon noble
- Okos--Akreon's father, a Great Sun
- Partho--Sirmian servant of Klyton
- Perpi--Sirmian god, the marriage-maker
- Phaidix--Moon goddess
- Phelia--Elakti's Maiden
- Pherox--Second son of Udrombis
- Rhes--Arteptan king, father of Netaru
- Saberon--Mythical man who died for love of Daia
- Sarnom--Slave man in the palace
- Shajhima (Prince)--Prince
- Shajhima (Battle-Prince)--Father of Prince Shajhima, Battle-Prince
- Sirai--Poetess, another name for Calistra
- Stabia--Daystar of Akreon
- Thistle--Old woman in northern Akhemony
- Thon--God of Death
- Torca--Priest of the Sun, Arteptan, with a wooden leg
- Udrombis--Sun-Consort, with Arteptan blood
- Uros--Byblow of Akreon on a Daystar's Maiden, an Ipyran
- Arteptans--black-skinned, mysterious and scholarly race
- Airis, Mount--Mountain under which the Sun Race travels
- Artepta--Island nation
- Belba--Port on the Lakesea
- Benighted Isles--Savage islands to the southeast
- Bulos--Nation east of Akhemony, where web-silk comes from
- Charchis--Island nation
- Ipyra--Area north of Akhemony, with many volcanoes
- Koi, Mount--Mountain in Akhemony
- Lakesea--Inland sea
- Melmia--Borderland of Akhemony near Sirma
- Mountain of the Heart--Mountain in Akhemony, where the Heartbeat of the Land sounds
- Oceaxis--Capital of Akhemony
- Oriali--the Eastern Towns
- Pesh Sandu--Empire-Continent
- Sin Dhul--City of the Moon
- Sirma--Area south of Akhemony
- The Sun's Isle--Island in the Lakesea, a rock fallen from the sky
- Tithaxeli--River of the Dead
- Uaria--Island nation
- Alcos emai--"So it is"
- colcai--precious metal
- Daystar--Concubine of the Great Sun; lesser sun in the sky
- Demaiya--First celebration of summer
- Heartbeat of the Land--Continuous drumming heard throughout Akhemony
- Immortal Moon--white Pesh steel that can cut through other metals
- Karrad--ruler in Ipyra
- Kepstroi--the verse spoken between the dances
- kitri--a songbird
- marroi--sacred wood
- Muhzum--box containing traces of the dead
- pherom--steel of the Sun Lands
- Sharash J'um--Pesh Sandu, "So it is through God's will".
- Stroia--Akhemony, phrases spoken during the dance
- Telestroion--the words spoken when a dance is ended