From Goodreads: "Khantara tells the story of the Den Asaan Rautu's mother and father.
Khantara is a Haanta conquerer, meant to wage war and rule over the enemy nation of Thellis, but after vanquishing Thellis and occupying a construction of a Haanta outpost, he meets Anelta, a woman enslaved by her own people bearing a brand of servitude on her neck. Khantara contrives to save her from a cruel home and bring her to the refuge his people can provide, but how can he do so successfully when the eyes of Thellis are upon him."
From Chapter 4
The instant Khantara began to walk the short path to the barracks he was attacked by swarms of wrens and sparrows from the nearby willows, all of them in a flutter to have their turn to speak to the gentle mountain. The owls and nighthawks had taken his evening and now it was only fair that they should have his morning to themselves. He must hear of their new nests and warbling chicks and horrid neighbors, and they were going to claims their perches on his head and shoulders and tell him whether he wished to listen or to ignore them accordingly. He would listen, however; the quick and nervous conversation of the sparrows was often one-sided and he was therefore required to do nothing but allow them to nest in his hair and continue walking. The wrens, however, were lest content to permit him to be indifferent: they would have him hear of every rude caterpillar and impudent butterfly flitting around trees they knew to be theirs. Theirs was a talk of territory, and they would have Khantara understand their plight. It was wrong of the caterpillars to climb their trees and enter theirnests, and it was so devious of them not to be edible though their bright colours and squirming movements were so enticing. How horrendous it was that the bustle and brilliancy of the butterflies’ wings should be so fascinating. They could hardly capture the creatures to feed to their chicks with such a violent display of beauty. Would only Khantara tell the caterpillars to taste more agreeable, the obnoxious moths to make their cocoons somewhere else, and the owls to leave the worms alone when there was mice enough for them. Khantara, however, would say nothing to the purpose. He only smiled and shook his head at the wrens, and their loud and intricate trills conveyed their indefatigable displeasure toward the giant’s infuriating civilities. He would let nature go its own way, and the birds could do little to convince him otherwise. The wrens threatened to claim strands of the giant’s long molded locks for their nests if he did not comply, but he would not regard their threats as any so troublesome. He simpered at their attempts and silently declared that they could not break his draping tendrils no matter how hard they should try when the giant suddenly found himself at the barracks.
From Chapter 8"She hoped, and did not hope, that what he wished to show her were in a more precarious place, but she realized that in welcoming the giant to her home, she would have to brook watching him remove his cloak. She had a slender idea of what she should discover there; she had felt his form when she fell against him and hardly found what she felt to be disagreeable. He waswarrior, unlike the Thellisian guardsmen she had learned to fear and avoid, and with a companion so colossal and foreboding, she could only conjecture as to what her husband might say upon seeing such a creature in his household. She had some apprehensions on the side of inviting him in; though she lived in the home, it did not belong to her, nor was any possession within its walls hers, but he had been so obliging and forthcoming with her, she could not very well allow him to remain outside the boundaries of the small disheveled gate. As they came to the path that led to the house, she regarded the giant’s features- his scarred skin, his yellow and black eyes, his broad and rounded shoulders- and confessed that she found everything to admire in his aspect. He may not have been absolutely handsome to some, but to her, he was striking. His manner, too, was to handsome and his air so prepossessing and kind- she checked before she could step closer to him due to some unconscious conjuration, but before she had hindered her deliberation, there was a momentary notion of her being hismate. She knew it was little more than a most impossible aspiration, for she was already bound to one, but yet she was beginning to prefer another: one who had openly professed himself her keeper and one who had sworn to remain at her side until the mate more errant should return home. She chided herself for wanting the one she so feared to remain in town for a few days more that she and the giant might spend as much time as was possible under one another’s auspices before the dreaded husband should revisit and all her hopes of flight and salvation diminish with his arrival."