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The Dragonbone Chair re-read – Part Three – Simon Snowlock

This is the last part of The Dragonbone Chair re-read. I may have gotten a bit over-zealous with maps and charts this time….but Tad made this section longer than the previous two so it required more notes…

The introductory post is here, if you are interested.

The re-read post for part I, Simon Mooncalf is here.

The re-read post for part II, Simon Pilgrim is here.

This first book is 766 pages – paperback. Part  Three: Simon Snowlock goes to page 473 to 766.

A note on the obvious: if you have not read the book, since this describes said book…here there be spoilers!

Chapter 30: A Thousand Nails - Simon awakens in Naglimund, in the room of Father Strangeyeard and goes in search of his companions (Binabik, Marya and Qantaqa). He finds Binabik, who is bandaged but healing. Simon has a great quote while talking to Binabik that is innocent while wise:

“And you have saved my life,” Binabik pointed out.
“Is that important?” Simon distractedly patted the small hand and stood up. “You have saved mine as well, several times. Friends are friends.” (pg 477)

Simon recognizes Sangfugol, Josua’s harper, who helps him find the stables. He finds Qantaqa being kept in a pit, which he rescues the wolf from and reunites her later with Binabik. Sangfugol takes Simon on a tour of Naglimund, showing him the “nails” that it is named for (Naglimund means “nail fort” in Erkynlandish. The nails were to keep the Sithi out, since the Sithi can’t stand iron.

Sangfugol gives Simon some background on Josua and Elias (Josua was bringing Hylissa, Elias’ wife, to him, when they were attacked by Thirthings; Hylissa was killed and Josua lost his hand). Simon is a bit peeved that Josua has not yet seen him, but Sangfugol says he will mention Simon to the Prince. Simon then sees the giant that attacked him in the last chapter being thrown on a pyre to burn, and thinks he sees Marya in the crowd watching…but it is not her.

Chapter 31: The Councils of the Prince – Father Strangeyeard, who is Naglimund’s historian, asks to see Morgenes’ manuscript. Simon is brought before Josua by Towser, who barley recognizes the boy through years and drink. Josua and Simon have a brief discussion of the defense of Naglimund and Josua’s rescue. Josua instructs Simon to seek out the captain of the guards to be trained on using a sword. Simon asks after Marya, and Josua states vaguely “Even in our darkest hours we cannot keep our minds from them, can we?” but says he cannot help.

Binabik comes to his room the next morning, with a letter from Marya, signed “M”, calling him “friend” and sending his hormones into an uproar.

Simon is given over to Haestan by the captain of the guards, who gets him a bow and then proceeds to train him/beat-the-snot-out-of-him with “cloth-padded wooden poles.”

Binabik takes Simon to the council that Prince Josua calls:

“Grave and troubling times. The High King in the Hayholt – and yes, he is my brother, of course, but for our purposes here he is the king – seems to have turned his back on our hardships. Taxes have been raised to the point of cruel punishment, even as land has suffered beneath fierce drought in Erkynland and Hernystir and terrible storms in the north. At the same time that the Hayholt reaches out to take more than it ever did under King John’s reign, Elias has pulled back the troops that once kept the roads open and safe, and which helped to garrison the emptied lands of the Frostmarch and the Wealdhelm.” (pg 506-507)

“I have no wish to be king, Baron. My brother knew that, yet still he captured me, killed a score of my men and held me in his dungeons. (pg 509)

To give testimony that the King may be “crossing over into madness”, Josua brings in a witness…and, that witness is Marya, Simon and Binabik’s traveling companion who was Malachias, and who is actually Miriamele, daughter of Elias and princess.

Chapter 32: Northern Tidings – Simon drowns his sorrows on feeling betrayed by Miri with Towser (who best to drink with if not a professional drinker?). Towser tells him tales of the Battle of Naarved, where John Prester defeated King Jormgrun and became the high King. Simon perceptively asks if the sword Bright-Nail was there.

Simon runs into Princess Miriamele after training, and young love is once again awkward. She admits to following him around because he was “…on your own, no one telling you what to do, where to be, who to smile at and talk to…I was envious.” Miri is an admitted stalker!

Binabik drags Simon back to the council that evening, and Duke Isgrimnur has returned. He tells of how he was finally let leave the Hayholt by King Elias, then of the ambush at St. Hoderund’s, the attack of the Bukken and his trip north to his homelands. He finds, as suspected, that Elias has named him traitor and given control to Skali Sharp-Nose.

Isgrimnur also picked up Jarnauga (the Duke and his men were whom Jarnauga was waiting for in Chapter 28). Jarnauga, first heckled by the council, explains that he is of the League of the Scroll (Binabik recognizes his name), and he tells them that their real enemy is not Elias, nor Pryrates, but …the Storm King (cue the eerie music).

 “He has waited five centuries to take back what he feels is his, and his hand is colder and stronger than any of you can understand.”

“Your enemy…our enemy…died five hundred years ago; the place where his first life ended lies beneath the foundation of the castle where your life began. He is Ineluki…the Storm King.” (pg 529)

Chapter 33: From the Ashes of Asu’a – Jarnauga tells his tale. The parallels between the mostly dead Inuelki and Tolkein’s Sauron are significant, and would be worth a long article (maybe a three-way comparison between LOTR, MST and ASOIAF…one day after my wife wins the lottery).

I wish I could put the entire chapter here, as it (and the next chapter) gives the history and the background to setup the entire conflict and the paths of the rest of the story.

We learn several pieces of information:

  • King Eahlstan the Fisher King founded the League of the Scroll two centuries earlier;
  • “The Sithi lost their last human allies at the Summerfield, Ach Samrath and with the Hernystiri routed there was none among the Sithi who could stand against northern iron.” (pg 531)
  • The Sithi, sensing defeat, go into mourning for their way of like, except for the Sithi King’s son, Ineluki.
  • About this time, Bishop Anodis leaves the council, not willing to sit and listen to these heretical words.
  • A bit of dragon family tree: Inueluki, together “…with his brother Hakatri he had fought the worm Hidohebhi the Black, mother of the Red worm Shurakai that John Prester slew, and mother as well of Igjarjuk, the white dragon of the north.” Hakatri was injured by the worms fires, and sent over the ocean in hopes that he “might be whole again.”
  • Ineluki, seeking a way to defeat men, turns to the dark side of the Force.
  • He merges black iron with the witchwood trees beneath Asu’a. From this, he makes a terrible sword. His father condemns the sword, but Ineluki in his madness strikes his father down, and, mourning his action, names the blade Sorrow…Jingizu.
  • About this time, Simon says “I think I will have a flashback” and starts to remember what he saw on the Angry stones while running from the Hayholt.
  • With five servants – which have been named the Red Hand by northerners – Ineluki took the battle to the humans, and came close, but they were outnumbered.
  • Ineluki pulls down one final big black magic, killing many of the invaders, setting Asu’a on fire, and burning he and the five to a crisp.

This finally jars Simon’s memory – he cries out, freaks out and passes out. He once again has a vision of the Storm King. He comes to with Miri taking care of him, with several around him. Binabik has told the council of their adventures, and they go back in.

  • Jarnauga tells Simon that it was not the Storm King he saw, but a Red Hand…and he is surprised that Simon survived even that.
  • Jarnauga describes King Eahlstan Fiskerne setting up the League of the Scroll after finding evidence deep in the Hayholt that Ineluki did not completely perish.
  • The council adjourns, and Binabik and Simon remember walking the dream road and seeing the book on the Weird of the Swords.

And, just because this chapter isn’t long enough already, it cuts to Pryrates in the Hayholt, down at the same forge where Ineluki made Sorrow. He now has put Inch in charge of making siege machines. Pryrates speaks of the coming attack on Naglimund to Elias, and of Jegger hunting Miri and Simon (“it has become something of a grudge.”)

Chapter 34: Forgotten Swords – In this chapter, we get the description of the three swords Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. And the start of the search for Thorn based on Towser’s memories.

First, Josua and Vorzheva have a spat. Ok, that’s done.

Binabik, Father Strangeyeard and Jarnauga have searched the Naglimund archives for a copy of Nisses’ Weird of the Swords, but have not found it. Instead, they have found in Morgenes’ book on the life of John Prester, a description of the three swords and how they are tied together.

The first Great Sword came, in its form original, from out of the Sky one thousand years agone….Now from this molten wrack was taken a great piece and Imperator’s swordwrights found it Workable, and the sky-metal was hammered into a great blade. In mind of the scourging branches which had flaid Usires’ Back, the star-sword – as I supposed it to be – was named THORN, and a mighty power there was in it…(pg 552) 

The second of the Great Swords came from the Sea, traveling across the salt ocean from the West to Osten Ard…Thus it went that the keel was given to the Dvernings, a secretive and crafty race, and they separated out the Pure and Significant metal by means unknown, and smithed a long and shining blade…In thought of their coming to this new country, Elvrit named the sword MINNEYEAR, which means year of ‘memory’. (pg 553-554)

The last part quotes from Nisses’ book says the Three Swords must come together.

Tracing the story and path of Minneyear, it  “…went through Elvrit’s line…to his son Hjedlin, and then when Hjedlin fell from the tower – with Nisses dead on the floor behind him – Hjedlin’s lieutenant Ikferdig took it…”. And Ikferdig was fried to a krisp by the red dragon Shurakai. Which implies to the group that the sword Minneyear/Memory is still somewhere in the Hayholt, along with SORROW which Elias has.

That leaves Thorn for them to attempt to retrieve. They thought the sword called Thorn, which was wielded by Camaris (who fought King John and later became his friend) went with him into the ocean. But Towser, who was with King John most of the time, tells them that Camaris gave it over to his squire Sir Colmund. Sir Colmund heard of treasures guarded by the dragon Igjarjuk (shades of the Hobbit and the dragon lording over the dwarves treasures!) and headed to get them.

Josua decides to send a group to search out the sword Thorn, lead by Binabik, with Sludig the Rimmersman, and three of Josua’s men..and Simon, who at first is pissed off at not being asked what he wanted to do, and says he is not going. Since they may be parted, Binabik gives Simon the ring that Morgenes had tied to one of the escaping sparrows, no doubt the same ring his mother dropped while dying while giving birth to Simon (way back in Chapter 3). Simon has a chat with Miriamele, who gives him a scarf and a kiss, and convinces him to go north.

A quick conversation between Lady Vorzheva and someone unnamed about doing something unnamed….more later in the book.

Simon, Binabik and the men depart under cover of night on horseback…observed by Ingen Jegger.

map-osten-ard

This very cool map is from Jonadab the Unsightly One, used with his permission (thanks, Nathan!)

Chapter 35: The Raven and the Cauldron – Another quick trip around the rest of Osten Ard to see wassup. I found the above map online using my Google-Fu, and it helped me visualize the lay of the land. The maps in the book make me squint.

It was about at this point in the book, with all of the different lands and peoples that I felt the need to draw up who’s who and who is on who’s side…though, of course alliances change. There is a glossary and who’s who in the back of the book which describes characters and tells which country/area they are from, but it doesn’t set up the alliances. So, using World War II (for no other reason than the fact that I study it a lot) as structure:

AXIS
Allies
Neutrals (for now)
Erkynlanders: King Elias
- Guthwulf
- Fengbald
Erkynlanders: Prince Josua
- Deornoth
Rimmersmen: Skali
Ingen Jegger
Rimmersmen: Duke Isgrimnur
- his son, Isorn
- Einskaldir
- Sludig
Hernystir: King Lluth
- daughter Maegwin
- son Gwythinn
- Count Eolair
Nabann: Duke Leobardis
- son, Benigaris
- daughter Antippa
PryratesLeague of the Scroll
- minus Morgenes and Ookequk)
Simon
Miriamele
Binabikother Qanuc (trolls)
Norns and InuelukiSithi
Wolves: Qantaqaother wolves who may not yet have voted

Maegwin is helping get the Taig ready for a siege. Count Eolair and his men had an encounter with Skali. Since Elias is marching toward Naglimund, and King Lluth has not accepted his terms, Elias cannot have an enemy like Hernystir behind him (see? maps are good). So he sicks Skali on them, while Gwythinn, the King’s son, is at Naglimund with several Hernystir knights.

Josua tried to convince Baron Devasalles to in turn convince Duke Leobardis to bring Nabban to Josua’s aid, not knowing the Devasalles had already recommended just that. The Baron does say that the Duke’s son, Benigaris, and the Duke’s wife, favor aiding Elias instead. Josua and Isgrimnur go off to find Miriamele to tell her the good news.

Tiamak the Wranman has a copy of Nisses book that everyone is searching for to learn more about the swords.

Josua finds out that Vorzheva sent Miriamele off with Cadrach to go win Nabban to Prince Josua’s side…even though they were already there (this was the unnamed conversation in the last chapter). Cadrach is certainly not who he seems to be to anyone.

Chapter 36: Fresh Wounds and Old Scars – Simon, Binabik and friends are riding north. There is ancient animosity from the Rimmersmen toward the trolls, and this comes out a bit as Sludig questions Binabik’s honor…and then apologizes.

Miriamele and Cadrach come across the dead from the battle between Skali’s Rimmersmen and King Lluth’s Hernystir, seeing that the Hernystiri are retreating back to the Taig. They later find a dying man who calls Cadrach “Padreic”.

As they continue north, Simon has visions/dreams again of the wheel. The group figures out part of the riddle for where they are supposed to look for Thorn, piecing together that it is near the legendary Uden tree, a tree made completely of ice, one that Simon had seen in another vision and then sees again from suggestion.

Check out the map above again. The dashed line shows Simon’s path; pretty sweet, eh? They pass several towns where it looks like the people have been driven out, then they see Ingen Jegger’s dog helm behind them. Sludig recognizes Jegger as the leader of the raid at St. Hodenrund back in Chapter 19. They are outnumbered, they run, they fight. Jegger gets to Simon, says he’s been looking for Simon…and then the Sithi appear.

Coincidence? How do the Sithi happen to show just at the right time? And how coincidental that the same Sitha that Simon saved is in this group, at a location many days north where they met?

Chapter 37: Jiriki’s Hunt – Of course, Binabik speaks a bit of Sitha, and he gets Simon to show his White Arrow. The Sitha have killed the remaining members of Jegger’s band (most of them Skali’s men) but Simon saw one of his team fall, and tells the Sithi they must go back and give him a proper burial.

Deornoth returns to Naglimund with tidings, good and bad. Duke Leobardis has set sail from Nabban to come to Josua’s aid, but the Hernystir have been routed and have retreated to the kills, with King Lluth wounded. His son, Gwythinn, is still in Naglimund, and tired of waiting.

Jegger was not killed when the Sithi saved Simon and his group, buried under snow. This is a bit of a stretch – not only should the Sithi have found him, but why wouldn’t Simon and especially Sludig want to make sure he was dead, given all the havoc he has caused? He gets one of his hounds to drag him to safety, builds splints and crutches, and starts on his way again. His is “Her sacred hunter – he, a mortal”, and the now dented hound’s helm was given to him at Sturmspeik.

The Sithi take Simon and friends into a hidden ice cave, where they bind their hands and take them in front of other Sithi. Simon recognizes Lord Jiriki as the Sitha he freed, who gave him the White Arrow.

As the newly freed prisoners rubbed feeling back into their wrists, Jiriki held up the arrow. “Forgive the wait. An’nai misjudged because he knows how seriously I take the playing of shent.” His eyes moved from the companions to the arrow and back again. “I never thought to meet you again, Seoman,” he said with a birdlike chin tilt and a smile that never quite reached his eyes. “But a debt is a debt…and the Staj’a Ame is even more. You have changed since our first meeting. Then you looked more like one of the forest animals than your human kindred. You seemed lost, in many ways.” His eyes burned brightly.
“You’ve changed too,” Simon said.
A shadow of pain crossed Jiriki’s face. “Three nights and two days I spent hanging in that mortal’s trap. I would have died even if the woodsman had not come – died from shame.” (pg 633)

The Sithi had been hunting giants, and want to know what Simon and friends are “hunting in Jiriki’s father’s hills.”

Chapter 38: Songs of the Eldest – Isorn, Duke Isgrimnur’s son, arrives at Naglimund having escaped Skali and torture by the Black Rimmersmen.

The Nabbani arrive by ship at Crannhyr on the shores of Hernystir; Duke Leobardia is surprised that only his youngest son Varellan is there to greet him; Benigaris shows up later with his friend Count Aspitis Preves (interesting name, that) who were suspiciously riding around after the landing. Leobardis thinks for a moment about turning his army to Hernystir, to hit Skali’s men and break and siege at the Taig (see map) “it seemed to him like something his brother Camaris might have done – swift, forceful, a stroke like a snapping whip”; but Benegaris talks him out of it.

With Isorn back (and telling tales of Black Rimmersmen from Stormspike helping Skali), Josua asks Duke Isgrimnur to go after Miriamele.

Jiriki asks Simon and company where they are heading. They tell him “We go to the dragon mountain for searching Camaris-sí-Vinitta’s sword Thorn”, “It’s to save us from Ineluki the Storm King,” Simon blurted out. The Sithi feed them, give them wine, do some wrist-wrestling (and we never find out who wins) and drink more wine. Jiriki takes Simon up to a viewpoint, where he points out the direction of the peak called Urmsheim, where they go in seek of Thorn.

Chapter 39: High King’s Hand – Simon, Binabik and friends, after checking their horses, make ready to resume their journey. Jiriki, as he gives Simon back his White Arrow.

“I know you cannot read these writings,” Jiriki said slowly, “but I will tell you that they are words of making, scribed on the arrow by Vindaomayo the Fletcher himself – deep, deep in the past, before we of the First People were torn apart into the Three Tribes. It is as much a part of my family as if it were made with my bone and sinew – and as much a part of me. I did not give it lightly – few mortals have ever held a Staj’a Ame – and I certainly could not take it back until I paid the debt that it signifies.” So saying, he handed it to Simon, whose fingers trembled as they touched the smooth barrel.

Three Tribes? The Sitha, the Norns and who? The Dvernings that are in the quote about the making of the sword Memory? Is this a Last King of Osten Ard clue?

Josua, speaking with Jaurnauga on the walls of Naglimund, finds out the Pryrates was once a member of the League of the Scroll. Jaurnaga, with his good eyesight, spots Duke Leobardis approaching.

Benegaris and Aspitis (hence forth known as “I spit this”) convince the Duke to attack a lead force lead by Guthwulf.

Duke Leobardis son, Benigaris, commits patricide, stabbing his father in the neck, just as Josua’s knights and the Nabbani’s are closing with Guthwulf (the King’s Hand) and his knight. Well planned treachery and trap, and Earl Fengbald’s men who were hidden in the woods try to trap Josua’s force. They make it back to the confines of Naglimund.

Chapter 40: The Green Tent – Elias has set up a nice green tent outside of Naglimund, and has invited Josua to parley.

The Hernystiri have headed for the hills (again, see the wonderful map). Maegwin listens to Skali threaten to kill hostages if he is not given “the wizard’s boy and the princess”, and then leaves the mutilated head of Maegwin’s brother Gwythinn in a box. King Lluth of the Hernystir is on his deathbed.

The leaders of the Allies are not faring well. Time for another table that details how the alliances have changed:

AXIS
Allies
Neutrals (for now)
Erkynlanders: King Elias
- Guthwulf
- Fengbald
Erkynlanders: Prince Josua
- Deornoth
Rimmersmen: Skali
Ingen Jegger
Rimmersmen: Duke Isgrimnur
- his son, Isorn
- Einskaldir
- Sludig
Hernystir: King Lluth
- daughter Maegwin
- son Gwythinn
- Count Eolair
Nabann: Duke BenigarisNabann: Duke Leobardis
- daughter Antippa
PryratesLeague of the Scroll
- minus Morgenes and Ookequk)
Simon
Miriamele
Binabikother Qanuc (trolls)
Norns and InuelukiSithi
Wolves: Qantaqaother wolves who may not yet have voted

Simon, Binabik, Jiriki and the others continue into the north toward where they hope to find the sword. The Sitha An’nai is along because he bound Simon’s hands, even though he was a holder of a White Arrow. Jiriki’s speech during camp just north of St. Skendi’s gives perspective; this is not just good vs. evil, for who are truly the victims?

“Then know this,” Jiriki said stiffly. “Though the years that have passed since we were sundered from the Hikeda’ya – those you call the Norns – are as numerous as snowflakes, still we are one blood. How could we take the side of upstart men against our kin? Why should we, when once we walked together beneath the sun, coming out of the ultimate East? What allegiance could we possibly owe to mortals, who have destroyed us as eagerly as they destroy all else…even themselves?”
None of the humans but Binabik could meet his cold gaze. Jiriki lifted a long finger before him. “And the one you whisperingly call the Storm King…he whose name was Ineluki…” He smiled bitterly as the companions stirred and shivered. “Ah, even his name is fearsome. He was the best of us once – beautiful to see, wise far beyond the understanding of mortals, bright-burning as a flame! – if he is now a thing of dark horror, cold and hateful, whose is the fault? If now, bodiless and vengeful, he schemes to brush mankind from the face of his land like dust from a page – why should we not rejoice? It was not Ineluki who drove us into exie, so that we must always hide among Aldheorte’s dark trees like deer, wary always of discovery. We strode Osten Ard in the sunlight  before men came, and the works of our hands were beautiful beneath the stars. What have mortals ever brought to us but suffering?” (pg 686-687)

Elias wants his daughter and “the boy” (Simon is popular). He and Josua almost make a connection in the Green Tent, but Elias touches the sword Sorrow and sends them back: “I will ruin you so completely that God-All-powerful will search for a thousand years and never find your soul.” Truly touching brotherly love.

Chapter 41: Cold Fire and Grudging Stone – The siege of Naglimund begins, with the siege engines that Pryrates was having Inch build in the bowels of the Hayholt finally seeing some action.

All through the afternoon the tide of King Elias’ army dashed itself against Naglimund’s stony cliffs. The weak sunlight struck glinting shards of reflection from polished metal as wave after wave of mailed and helmeted soldiers swarmed up the ladders, only to be repelled by the castle’s defenders.Here and there the king’s forces found a momentary breach in the ring of stern men and grudging stone but they were always pushed back. (pg 701)

 Jarnauga and Father Strangeyeard keep reading Morgenes’ manuscript on the life of Preseter John searching for clues.

Simon is having dreams, and ask Binabik for interpretation. Killing off both of their masters provides “the author” a way to have them have to learn anew many of the things their masters did not get to teach them. Binabik does not know how to traverse the dream road alone. Simon is having one of his “woe is me” moments, wondering why he is there with the group, with Jiriki notices his ring.

“So you are one of your kind who knows the Secret?” Jiriki askd, watching him intently. The depth of his golden eyes, rust-tinged by the fire’s reflection, was frightening.
“S-Secret? N-n-n-no. I don’t know any secret!”
Jiriki stared at him for a moment holding him still with his eyes as surely as if he had grasped Simon’s head in his hands.
“Then why should he give you the ring?” Jiriki asked, mostly to himself, shaking his head as he released Simon’s hand.  “And I myself gave you a White Arrow. The Ancestors have made for us a strange road indeed.” (pg 707)

I don’t remember what “the Secret” is either…but this predates the “think it and it will come true” psuedo-science movie so that can’t POSSIBLY be it!

They reach Urmsheim, at a place to leave the horses. Jiriki says he has never seen the peak’s far side, the southernmost part of the Norns’ realm. “Everything north of the mountains was ceded to them at the time of the parting.”

Duke Isgrimnur, dressed as a monk, finally finds a tavern where Cadrach and Miriamele once were, but they are already on a ship heading for Nabban.

Chapter 42: Beneath the Uduntree – After 42 chapters, 736 pages in…here there be dragons!!!

After a fortnight (that’s fourteen days, ya’ll) of beating on Naglimund, King Elias rejects Guthwulf’s plan for starving them out over months and sells his soul to the devil…or at least to Utuk’ku, the Norn Queen. He makes a bargain for their help, one assumes with Naglimund, but no telling what else Elias will have to pay.

Jiriki shows Simon the mirror, made from the scale of the Great Worm (who all dragons are descended from). Simon had already looked into it when they re-met, and says that he saw someone far away. Jiriki says that Simon is strong-willed or touched by powers to be able to use the mirror. He uses it to show Simon summer in Enki-e-Shao’saye, the last city where the Hikeda’ya and Zida’ya lived together before the Parting.

Simon, Jiriki, Binabik and friends find the Uduntree, the tree made of ice (a particularly “frozen waterfall, the accumulation of years of icy snowmelt captured in a million icicles, a crystalline tracery down the jagged stone spine that formed the Uduntree’s trunk.”). They find the sword Thorn, but two men cannot lift it. Then Ingen Jegger (relentless bastard) puts an arrow in Grimmiric’s back. The two sides trade arrows, then draw swords. Then as Simon races out carrying Thorn (which he can lift), the ice dragon awakens.

A snakelike head as long as a man thrust out of the newly-formed crevice, white-scaled above a toothy mouth, the staring eyes blue and occluded. It waved sinuously from side-to-side on its long neck, as though curiously observing the minute creatures who had awakened it from years-long slumber. Then, terrifyingly swift, it darted out and caught one of the huntsmen in its jaws, biting him in half and swallowing his legs. His crushed bloodied torso fell into the snow like a discarded rag. (pg 736)

An’nai jumps on the dragon, and is thrown away. Jiriki falls with the ice vanishing underneath him. So our hero Simon, weilding a sword two stronger men could not lift, shouts “I am…Simon” and strikes Igjarjuk the ice dragon in the head, spattering himself with black dragon’s blood…which of course knocks him out…because we need another opening chapter with “simon awakens…”

Chapter 43: The Harrowing – King Elias’ army retreats. Josua has a bad feeling about it, Jarnauga has dreams of Simon’s pain. A black storm comes, and with it, an army of Norns (White Foxes), and Hunen (giants)…and the five Red Hand. With arrows passing through them, they use a chant of black magic to blow open the doors to Naglimund. Bukken start digging in, and the slaughter begins.

Father Strangeyeard remembers an escape tunnel, and Josua and a small group get away and head into the forest. Jarnauga stays behind to blow up the passageway and block those who follow. The League of the Scroll is losing members left and right!

Josua swears he will take the crown from Elias.

Chapter 44: Blood and the Spinning World – Yeah, Simon is asleep again, and dreaming. The dragon’s black blood enters him, changes him.

The dragon’s black blood had spilled over him, burning like a fire. In the instant of its touch he had felt his own life subdued. The dreadful essence coursed through him, scalding away his spirit and leaving only dragon-life. It was as if he himself had become – in that failing moment before darkness came – the Worm’s secret heart. (pg 761)

An’nai and Grimmric are dead, buried together. Binabik and Sludig were taken prisoner by the trolls. Jiriki shows Simon how he looks in a mirror:

A long swath of his hair had turned as white as the Urmsheim snows.
“You have been marked, Seoman.” Jiriki reached out and touched his cheek with a long finger. “For better or for worse, you have been marked.”

Thus ends book one, The Dragonbone Chair. I’l stick my old copy back up on the shelf, perhaps to bring it down only to have a family member read it. Next up, Stone of Farewell, another 700+ page paperback.

Here is a link to the next post in the re-read.

These re-read posts and other essays have been collected into an eBook, available by clicking on the image below. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing the eBook.

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Even after you read the re-read, I highly recommend reading the books and Tad’s words. Click on the covers below to find them on Amazon.

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Cloud Storage Options (with pricing table)

There are several options for cloud storage with different pricing options and some slight difference in features. Pricing is changing quite a bit. The table below tries to show for a given amount of storage which option is the cheapest amongst the major players.

Note that I ignored the variety of promotions; for example, I received 50GB for free from Box when I installed their iOS client and signed up for an account in January. I did include extra space that the user gets when doing somewhat simple tasks (like inviting friends as DropBox provides).

I also did not include multi-user (cost per user per month) plans, as a lot of them state “custom pricing”.

There are other options out there like MEGA and BRIGHT COVE which I did not include yet in this comparison.

I’ve tried to note where there are other things which might impinge on the amount of storage (for example, the Google drive storage is shared by several applications.

For the color coding, Green is the best price for the amount of storage, Red is the worst.

For those of you that are more organized that I, take note that you can get a total of 44 GB for free by simply by signing up for all of these (5GB from Amazon, 10GB from Box, 2GB from DropBox, 15GB from Google Drive, 5GB from iCloud and 7GB from MS One Drive); but like your car keys, you just gotta remember where you put everything.

Everybody except DropBox offers at least 5GB for free; one would assume DropBox will change that soon. With recent announcements, DropBox also has the most expensive options in several tiers, so one would assume that will change as well.

Amazon and Google come out as the least expensive options the majority of the time.

I included the iOS 8 iCloud Drive pricing that came out of WWDC; with current pricing, Apple’s options suck…with the iOS pricing (which is not on a price sheet yet, but on presentations) they are actually competitive.

If you see any errors or changes, add a comment. This is from public pricing sheets (except for Amazon’s, which I had to login to find, and iOS8 pricing, which is only from WWDC presentations) as of July 6, 2014.

Long table after the break.

(more…)

dragonbone

The Dragonbone Chair re-read – Part Two – Simon Pilgrim

The names of the three parts of The Dragonbone Chair (Simon Mooncalf, Simon Pilgrim, Simon Snowlock) certainly show the progression in Simon’s character. In this second part, he is outside of the Hayholt for the first time in his life, with all of the people he’s know left behind (or dead). At 15 years old, he is definitely a pilgrim, on his way to Naglimund or other parts unknown.

The introductory post is here, if you are interested.

The re-read post for part I, Simon Mooncalf is here.

Word of warning: This re-read post is LONG (about 5,000 words) as was the first one. This implies that each of these re-read posts are going to take a bit. I haven’t studied a fiction book like this since I studied my Gravitation Physics book (which was published about the same time as this one, and was mostly fiction).

This first book is 766 pages – paperback. Part  Two: Simon Pilgrim goes to page 221 to 470.

A note on the obvious: if you have not read the book, since this describes said book…here there be spoilers! And color commentary is in color (mostly in this color).

 

Chapter 15: A Meeting at the Inn – Simon awakens after witnessing the events at the Anger Stones, somewhere outside the forest Thisterborg, not quite sure what he just saw.

The vivid spring day was now corrupted by a mist of dream. What had happened last night? He had fled the castle, of course – those moments, his last with Morgenes, were burned into his heart – but after? What were these nightmarish memories? Endless tunnels? Elias? A fire and white-haired demons? (pg 222)

Reality slaps young Simon in the face with the fact that he can’t go back to the Hayholt, he has no money, and only skills in the kitchen. He is worried about being caught and returned to the castle for freeing Josua. He comes across a man hanged, with a sign that says he was a poacher, a thief.

Simon stumbles into the “monk” Cadrach again, and they share food and ale at an Inn named Dragon and Fisherman. When the innkeeper asks for payment, Cadrach produces the coin purse that Simon thought he had lost in Chapter 5. Simon accuses Cadrach and goes after him, but the so-called monk escapes, leaving Simon the prisoner of the innkeeper…whom he easily gets away from.

The chapter shows Simon’s frustration; he is alone and friendless, and when he blindly trusts people that trust gets trampled. He has only Morgenes manuscript, and the hope that if he can get to Naglimund that Prince Josua is there and will take him in.

Chapter 16: The White ArrowSixteen chapters in and we have a Sithi sighting. And much more in the evolution of Simon from mooncalf to…something else.

Alone again, with only Morgenes manuscript to keep him company, Simon realizes the camping and outlaw life ain’t everything it is made out to be in song and story. He does the “not fair, not fair” dance, and the “why does God hate me so?” whine.  He’s a not so skilled kitchen scullion alone in the woods. Starving or accidental death is a real possibility. Cold, he becomes a thief:

His heart beat swiftly as he pulled down a wool cloak so heavy with moisture that he staggered when it slid free into his arms. No alarm was raised from the cottage; in fact, no one seemed to be about anywhere. For some reason that made him feel even worse about the theft. As he scrambled back into the tangled trees with his burden, again in his mind’s eye a crude wooden sign bumping against an unbreathing chest.(pg 241)

The narrative says he is a week and a day away from the Inn when he passes near Sistan (kinda in the direction of Naglimund, according to the map which is so small I actually need reading glasses to see it!), staying away from people, eating little. Somehow he makes it through this part (because, you know, he’s like the main character). There is no “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” piece…he really is just stumbling along and surviving, not a natural super hero our Simon. But Tad does have him show persistence, and a stubborn “I won’t give up” attitude.

Five days west of Sistan (so he’s been living off the land for almost two weeks), Simon comes across a woodman’s cottage and meets his first Sitha (one of the Sithi), caught in a rope trap. His first impression:

The Fair One, as Rachel had always superstitiously referred to the race, wore a strange soft robe and pants of a slithery brown material only a shade darker than his skin. Belt and ornaments of shiny green stone contrasted most wonderfully with his hair – lavender-blue like mountain heather, pull back close against his head by a bone ring, dangling in a horse-tail behind one ear. He seemed only slightly shorter, although much thinner, than Simon – but the youth had not seen himself recently in any reflection but murky forest pools, so perhaps now he, too, looked this scrawny and wild. But even so, still there were differences, not-quite-definable things: birdlike motions of the head and neck, an odd fluidity in the pivoting of joints, an aura of power and control that was discernible even while its possessor hung like an animal in the crudest of traps. This Sitha, this dream-haunter, was unlike anything Simon had known. He was terrifying and thrilling…he was alien. (pg. 247)

The woodsman returns, and taking an axe, starts swinging at the Sitha. Even though the Sitha had earlier kicked Simon when he had gotten too close, Simon grabs a rock and smacks the woodsman on the back of the head. After being sick at the sight of the murder he just wrought, Simon releases the Sitha, and is rewarded with a White Arrow (shot at him, but hey, it’s a White Arrow). Then Binabik surprises him.

His first Sitha, and his first kill…followed quickly by a White Arrow, and a troll. A lot for ole Simon to take in in one Chapter and a lot of coincidences/strangeness: how does a Sitha get caught in a trap? what is he doing by himself? why was Binabik so close? Was everyone following Simon, or is this just one of those convenient plot points needed to push the story forward? I’m sure we will see this Sitha again, that I do recall (though I cannot remember his name).

Chapter 17: BinabikNow, show of hands…who is really the coolest character in this series? Binabik the troll, the faithful companion? Those of you that said “the cat” please put your hands down. Of course, it is Qantaqa, Binabik’s wolf companion. Hmmm…GRRM has dire-wolves in A Song of Ice and Firewonder where that idea came from?

After convincing Simon to take the White Arrow (“It is a Sithi White Arrow, and it is very precious. It signifies a debt, and the Sithi are conscientious folk.”), we get an introduction to Binbiniqegabenik, Binabik to his friends, a troll from Yiqanuc. Soon after, we meet Binabik’s “mount”, the wolf Qantaqa. Binabik has a slight accent (English ain’t his first language), but he turns a good phrase:

” ‘Bhojujik mo qunquc,’ as my people say.” Binabik made an expansive gesture around the clearing. ” ‘-If the bears do not eat you, it is home.’ ” (pg 255)

Simon, after a long snooze, shares a meal with his new campmate, who obviously knows a bit more about surviving in the woods that Simon (gee, ya think?), plus he has a wolf as a mount (probably cooler than having a Sithi White Arrow…at least until later in the book).

It seems strange that Simon shows little remorse or feeling over the woodsman he killed (the first man he has ever killed) even when Binabik questions him about it.

As they are both traveling in the same direction (at least, Simon says he is heading to Naglimund and Binabik says he will head that direction as well), they agree to travel together.

Chapter 18: A Net of Stars – This is the Simon-and-Binabik (and Qantaqa) get-to-know-each-other-while-traveling chapter, and Simon’s general attitude shifts upward, as depicting in the initial paragraph:

Blistered, sore-footed and clothed in rags, Simon nevertheless felt the pall of despair begin to lift a little. Both mind and body were badly bruised by mischance and he had developed a startled eye and reflexive flinch – neither of which escaped the sharp gaze of his new companion – but the brooding horror had been pushed back a short way; it had become, for the moment, just another painful half-memory. The unexpected companionship helped to ease the ache of lost friends and lost home – at least to the extent that he allowed it. (pg 261)

We get a common theme between these two, from Binabik:

“It is a difficult thing answering questions when one is having continual interruptions with more questions.”

And yet another Binabik-ism:

“A man’s soul is in peril when his feet are hurting.”

Simon is educated and entertained along the way toward the Knock, a high place on the road to Naglimund. Simon:

  • learns how Qantaga and Binabik came to be together;
  • learns how Binabik catches birds for their meals;
  • learns a bit about trolls; and
  • learns about Sedda, the Dark Woman (who is also Mezumiiru, the Moon Woman).

Binabik sings Simon a song about Sedda, and Simon’s eventual reaction is to fall asleep. I have a similar reaction on lyrics in stories; obviously the author cannot put the music in the paper (this is what enhanced eBooks can do!), but for my reading, a song in the midst of a dialog throws me out of the story, or makes me examine the lyrics for clues about what may happen in future stories…neither of which enhances the reading experience…so I tend to skip the lyrics. Sorry, Tad.

Chapter 19: The Blood of Saint Hoderund – As Simon and Binabik hike toward the Knock, Binabik tries to teach Simon how to “read” (navigate, survive) the forest. Binabik lets slip that “Simon must not have learned much in his castle”, even through Simon never told him he lived in the castle. Why is Binabik not being forthright here? He probably believes Simon would not believe him, or would be wary of him…or it is simply better for the story to wait.

But why can’t we walk straight down across the Knock? Simon wondered. It’s as though Binabik doesn’t want to be so out in the open…so exposed. …And what does he mean about a place no one asks…whatever all that was…is he hiding too? (pg 282)

They reach the Knock and Simon makes a plea for continuing their journey on the main road. But Binabik, while speaking somewhat evasively about the dangers of the road (again, he knows more than he is telling poor Simon) heads them toward a soft bed at a monastery “kind to travelers”, St. Hoderunds at the Knock. Binibik relates the story of battles, including where the man named Hoderund “rushed out on to the battlefield,  between directly the Hernystiri and Rimmersgarders, calling down onto them all the peace of Usires God. Caught between two pagan armies, he was quickly killed very dead.”

They come to St. Hoderunds, burned to the ground, many men, perhaps all, killed all around. Qantaga finds a man alive wearing monks robes, named Hengfish, who says he was away during the slaughter, and was taking care of two other wounded men, Langrian and Dochias. Langrian is injured but Dochias is mad, and he recognizes something in Simon:

“You know!” Dochias cried. “You know who it is! You have been marked! Marked like I was! I saw them as they passed – the white foxes! They walked in my dreams! The white foxes! Their master has sent them to put ice on our hearts, and take away our souls on their black, black wagon!” (pg 296)

Makes you wonder why ole Simon didn’t go mad like Dochias, since he has seen worse things and lived. Made of sterner stuff, the youngster is!

Chapter 20: The Shadow of the WheelWe’ve read passages of Simon dreaming before, and now it gets hard to distinguish his dreams (or nightmares) from reality. I’ve mentioned before that this is a characteristic that I enjoy in writing, and find several instances of it here and in the Shadowmarch series.

Simon wheel dream is a two-fer: he has a vivid dream of a massive wheel that sweeps him up its wake (representing how Simon has been swept up in history?) and maybe one of Morgenes sparrows with a certain ring in its claws?…

Now it was over him, rim foremost, a black trunk stretching to the firmament, raining turf down all round. The ground beneath Simon’s feet pitched forward as the weight of the wheel tipped the bed of the earth. He stumbled, and as he found his balance the black rim was upon him. As he stared, mute and horrified, a gray shadow passed before his eyes, a gray shadow with a flashing core…a sparrow, flying madly past, with some bright thing caught up in its curling grip. He flicked his eyes to follow, and then, as if it had somehow caught at his heart in its swift passage, he fling himself after it, out of reach of the plunging wheel. (pg 297-298)

…and he has a dream argument with Pryrates, who recognizes Simon and says he will find him and something worse.

And then there was a greater darkness, a shadow beneath the shadow of the wheel, and deep in that shadow two red fires bloomed, eyes that must have gazed from a skull horribly full of flame.
No, mortal, a voice said, and in his head it had the sound of ashes and earth, and the mute, unvoiced end of things. No, this is not for you. The eyes flared, full of curiosity and glee. We will take this one, priest.
Simon felt Pryrates hold slipping away, the alchemist’s power withering before the dark thing.
Welcome, it said. This is the Storm King’s house, here beyond the Darkest Gate….
What…is…your…name? (pg 299)

Simon shows that he is much stronger at resisting these dark things that he should be for a inexperienced 15 year old.

Still, he knew that he was caught up in something larger than just the struggle of royal brothers – greater even than the death of that good old man Morgenes or the slaughter of a score of holy men. These were all but eddies of some larger, deeper current – or rather, small things crushed by the heedless turning of a mighty wheel. His mind could not grasp what is all might mean, and the more he thought, the more elusive such ideas became. He only understood that he had fallen beneath the wheel’s broad shadow, and if he were to survive, he must harden himself to its dreadful revolutions (pg 302).

Simon reads a passage in Morgenes’ manuscript about King John and Camaris, who wielded the sword Thorn, whilst getting water for Binabik. Then Brother Dochias (the mad one) dies, and Brother Langrian awakens. He tells the story of what happened at the Abbey, of men lying in wait for a “party of Rimmersmen coming North from Erchester” and the fight/slaughter that occurred.

Simon and Binabik go foraging in the Abbey for supplies or any food, with dead men all around them. I still would have liked Simon to have shown more remorse for his first kill (the woodsman to save the Sitha) especially given this passage as he wanders the abbey:

A part of him was scornful of his weakheartedness – hadn’t he already see violent death, a battlefield full in a few short weeks? – but he realized as he walked…trying to keep his eyes ahead to avoid the sight of other eyes, glazed and cracked in the sun…that death, at least for him, was never the same, no matter how veteran an observer he had become. (pg 310)

Simon finds himself a pair of boots, but gets captured and knocked out by someone speaking Rimmersgard words.

Chapter 21: Cold Comforts – A chapter from old Duke Isgrimnur’s perspective, finally on the road heading to his northern home, out of Elias’ control (he hopes). It was the Duke’s men who were somewhat ambushed at the abbey (although they were warned and gave as good as they got), with the ambushers “countrymen” and “their leader had worn a helmet in the form of a snarling hound’s face.” The Duke is not certain who would have tried to waylay him, though he has many enemies (Skali who the King has sent to rule in the Duke’s place, apparently…but we all know it was Pryrates doing, don’t we?).

We meet Einskaldir and Sludig, two of the Dukes men, who went back to the abbey to retrieve their fallen comrade and captured Simon in the process. The Duke questions Simon, who makes up a good story, and the Duke says he can travel with them to Naglimund.

A strange storm had been approaching, and we get our first sighting of Bukken, sharp toothed creatures that spring from the ground and attack the Rimmersmen. Binabik comes into camp with Qantaga, rescuing Simon, telling him to leave the Rimmersmen to fend for themselves, as Simon is Binabik’s responsibility (“My duty is to get you to safety”…”You are my charge.”).

“It was my bound promise to protect you,” Binabik said dragging Simon along. “That was Doctor Morgenes’ wish!”
“Doctor…?! You know Doctor Morgenes…?!” (pg 329)

Chapter 22: A Wind from the North – we leave Simon’s narrative and see what else is up. This was a bit of a jolt since most of the narrative had followed Simon thus far. But Osten Ard is a big world.

The King (Elias) sends Guthwulf to Hernystir to threaten Lluth into paying taxes. He asks about Fengbald failure in finding Simon (“Did he not have the hounds I gave him? And the master huntsmen?”). Princess Miriamele apparently has taken ill and been sent away…at least, that’s what they say!

Meanwhile, in Nabban, Eolair from Hernystir is meeting with Duke Leobardis (whose brother is Camaris, bearer of the sword Thorn that Simon was reading about in Chapter 20). There is much polite politicking, with Eolair trying to convince the Duke to side with Hernystir and Josua (if it comes to that) while the King’s emissary Fluiren (who is from Nabban) and the duke’s son Benigaris (plus, apparently the duke’s wife, Nessalanta who is also the aunt of Princess Miriamele; the players are getting complicated) all see safety in siding with King Elias.

Chapter 23: Back into the Heart – Back to the Simon and Binabik narrative, and as they run, Simon peppers Binabik with questions about how he knows Morgenes and why he promised to protect Simon. This is a short but informative chapter which reveals the League of the Scroll (which could be called the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Trolls).

Binabik tells of his master, Ookequk, who had met Morgenes before (and had taught Morgenes to use sparrows to send messages; is Binabik careful about which birds he hunts in the forest? He could be eating the messenger!). Binabik and Ookequk were on their way to meet with Morgenes, seeing bad signs along the way (similar to the Bukken that just attacked Simon while in the Duke’s camp). On All Fool’s Eve (same night as the big bang in the Hayholt) Ookequk asks Binabik to stand watch over him while he walked the Road of Dreams, but he dies after telling Binabik a few secrets (maybe the big bang was Ookequk fighting with the Storm King in dreamland?). While waiting with Ookequk’s body trying to decide what to do, Morgenes’ sparrow reaches him with a note and “something else” attached; the note tells of the events at the Hayholt and asks Ookequk to watch out for Simon.

Simon informs Binabik that Morgenes died, which surprises Binabik. Binabik shows Simon a pendant with a scroll and quill pen, which was Ookequk’s, and Simon had seen Morgenes with a similar one. They were part of a group of “learned men” called the League of the Scroll.

Binabik believes, with all Simon has just told him and with the appearance of the Bukken, that they must go back into the forest Oldheart, to avoid the Bukken (they cannot come into the forest, it is alive, but no Ents so far) and to seek the counsel of the wise woman Geloë.

Chapter 24: The Hounds of Erkynland – Simon continues to show evidence that he is connected to the Road of Dreams, as he has a dream of a tree that he mistakes for Green Angle Tower…but it looks like the frozen tree they will be seeking later (I do remember a bit).

Binabik sees campfires behind them, but they decide to eat and read more of Morgenes’ manuscript, this part about King John battling and beating the Nabbani, and the main fight between Preseter John wielding Bright-Nail and Camaris wielding Thorn. Binabik had hoped to prove a point about when to use honor, but when Simon doesn’t get it, we get another Binabik-ism:

” ‘When it falls on your head, then you are knowing it is a rock.’ ” (pg 364)

Pryrates mentions earlier that he is sending special hunters after Simon. They hear hounds and starting running, with Binabik riding Qantaqa. The hounds pursue them, and they finally glimpse the hounds at the edge of a cliff.

Chapter 25: The Secret Lake – The hounds have them pinned at the edge of a cliff (a cliffhanger, eh?). Binabik gets Simon and Qantaqa onto a tree toppled over the edge, as he lures the hounds to him. Binabik jumps off the cliff as the hounds leap at him…but he is tied to a trunk with a rope, and several of the hounds plunge to their death. One stalks Simon on the tree, and Binabik kills it will a poison dart.

On the dog’s chest, burned black through the short hairs, was a slender triangle with a narrow base. It was a branded mark, like the kind the Thirthings men burned into the flanks of their horses with flame-heated spears.
“That sign is for Stormspike,” Binabik said quietly. “It is the mark of the Norns.”
“And they are…?”
“A strange people. Their country is north even of Yiqanuc and Rimmersgard. A great mountain is there – very tall and with a covering of snow and ice – called Stormspike by the Rimmersmen. The Norns do not travel in the fields of Osten Ard. Some are saying that they are Sithi but I do not know if that is a truth.” (pg 379)

They continue their travels, and hear more hounds, but also someone crying. Simon starts to run toward them (not away), prompting yet another Binabik-ism:

” ‘If you wish to carry a hungry weasel in your pocket, it is your choice.’ ” (381)

Qantaqa and Binabik kill a hound circling a tree, and Simon discovers Malachias (who he thinks had been stalking him in the castle) with another child. They hear the horn of a huntsman (supposedly the one handling the big dawgs) and send Qantaqa to draw off the sent while they hide nearby. From their vantage point, they see Baron Heahferth, a “crony of Earl Fengbald” and Ingen Jegger, the huntsman, obviously the “master huntsman” Elias refers to in Chapter 22 (and who Pryrates said he would send after Simon).

“Black Rimmersman, I am thinking,” said Binabik. “They are a rare lot, not often seen except at northernmost settlements where they sometimes come to trade. They do not speak the language of Rimmersgard. It is said they live on the fringes of the lands belonging to the Norns.”
“The Norns again,” Simon grunted, ducking beneath a branch that had sprung from Malachias’ careless hand. He turned to confront the troll. “What is going on? Why should such people be concerned with us?” (pg 388)

Malachias’ companion, Leleth, is in need of medical help, so they hurry to Geloë’s house. Simon swears that he see an owl fly into her house on the lake.

Chapter 26: In the House of Geloë – Qantaqa is already there, and the Valada Geloë seems to know that they were coming, and know them. Binabik relates to her their trip:

“This is far more than the striving of a king and his brother,” she continued. “The contendings of kings can beat down the land, can uproot trees and bathe the fields in blood,” a log collapsed with a pop of sparks and Simon jumped, “but the wars of men do not bring dark clouds from the north, or send the hungry bears back to their dens in Maia-month.”(pg 394)

Simon dreams of Dr. Morgenes, who warns him to “beware of false messengers” and Geloë is interested that he dreams of Morgenes while in her house. Binabik asks about other dreams, but Simon cannot remember. Geloeë and Binabik decide they, along with Simon, should travel along the Road of Dreams, as Binabik’s master had done.

As the travel the road of dreams, they see/experience several things:

  • they see Stormspike, the home of the Norns;
  • it appears the Norns are preparing for battle;
  • Simon sees Utuk’ku, the Queen of the Norns;
  • they see three swords, and runes describing a book, which Geloë identifies later as the Weird of the Swords;
  • the Storm King recognizes Simon again (“little fly”) and Geloeë saves him in the dream world.

This causes Simon to remember some bits of what happened to him on the hill with the Anger Stones when he first saw the Norns. Malachias then admits that he was the one shouting Simon’s name in the lich yard when he came out of the cave and that he (Malachias) is really a she (Marya). Did Simon tell Malachias his name when they scuffled as he was coming down from Green Angel Tower many chapters ago??

Marya says she has a message for Prince Josua from his niece Miriamele, so they all need to get to Naglimund. Geloë tells them they must go through the forest to the old Sithi city of Da’ai Chikiza (which could be Sithi for Chichen Itza…but probably not). Leleth is not well enough to travel and must stay.

Chapter 27: The Gossamer Towers – Their pursuers find them, and thanks to a Geloë-as-owl-distraction, they slip past the men in a boat going down a small inlet. As Simon retrieves the boat they will use, he gets a nice glimpse of the underside of Geloë’s house:

And as he stepped carefully over it, sliding silently through the water toward the shadow that was Geloë, he suddenly realized that what the tree roots – or branches or whatever they were – what they truly looked like was…some kind of monstrous foot. A claw, actually, the claw of a bird. What a funny idea! A house did not have bird’s feet, any more than a house got up and…walked. (pg 418)

As they make their way through the river, Simon starts watching Marya, and semi-trying to flirt with her (semi, because he really doesn’t know how, does he). He also gets a taste of Sithi magic, when he decides to caste his White Arrow away with some choice words, and is unceremoniously dumped into rough water…and emerges downstream with the White Arrow tangled in his clothing.

I’m a willing victim of Peter Jackson. When ever I read descriptions of old civilizations being approached, especially on boat with white stone architecture, my mind replays the scene from The Fellowship of the Ring where the boats go by the large alabaster statues of the Argonath, two warrior kings.

They passed eleven more bridges, or “gates” as Binabik called them, since they had for a thousand years or more marked the river entrance to Da’ai Chikiza.Each gate was named for an animal, the troll explained, and corresponded with the phases of the moon. One by one, the drifted beneath Foxes, Roosters, Hares and Doves, each one slightly different in shape, made of pearly moonstone or bright lapis, but all unmistakably the work of the same sublime and reverent hands. (pg 436)

As they moor the boat and climb out toward the city, Ingen Jegger shoots an arrow at them from the opposite bank, his men and he having caught up with them. He burns their boat and Binabik is hit with an arrow as they flee.

Chapter 28: Drums of IceHoly crap! Binabik shot with an arrow and the narrative takes another detour away from Simon to add more characters. Bad Tad, bad Tad!

In Hernystir, King Lluth is paid a visit by Guthwulf as King Elias’ emmisary. In front of Maegwin and Gwythinn (Lluth’s daughter and son) Guthwulf insults and threatens the King of the Hernystir.

In the Wran, Tiamak gets a sparrow from Morgenes, delayed because the bird was injured.

Count Eolair is still working on the Nabanni, speaking to Father Dinivan, trying to build alliances.

And we get to meet Jarnauga, an old bearded and tattooed man whom Morgenes received a sparrow from in Chapter 7 (as Pryrates was spying on him). Undoubtedly, he too is a member of the League of the Scroll. He had been watching Stormspike, but was awaiting riders he knew were coming to take him somewhere.

Chapter 29: Hunters and Hunted – And now, back to our heroes, into the scene depicted in the cover art (by Michael Whelan, according to my faded copy of the paperback) with Simon carrying an arrow-pierced Binabik (with Marya following behind) which occurs at the beginning of this final chapter of Part II.

Baron Heahferth and some of his men, in full armor, charge across the Sithi bridge, which doesn’t hold them and plunges them all into the river, providing Jegger the huntsman with no way across.

Simon carries Binabik as he and Marya flee, trying to get to the Stile which Geloë said would lead them to Naglimund. They get the arrow out of the troll, and eventually strap him to Qatanqa. They run until they are exhausted (but Simon still manages to tell Marya “I like you”). Then they see torches and hear hounds, and are convinced that Jegger has gotten between them and Naglimund.

Simon prepares a torch to fight with, and then a giant crashes through the woods. The giant smacks Simon around, then the hounds arrive followed by…Prince Josua, who kills the giant and takes them all to Naglimund.

Here is a link to the next part of the re-read.

These re-read posts and other essays have been collected into an eBook, available by clicking on the image below. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing the eBook.

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Even after you read the re-read, I highly recommend reading the books and Tad’s words. Click on the covers below to find them on Amazon.

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Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo

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