INTRODUCTORY NOTE: I had originally planned to time the last of these posts for To Green Angel Tower with the release of Tad’s new trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard, so that I would go into those new novels with fresh memories of the original trilogy.
So much for the best laid plans for Larry…and Tad…and Mrs. Tad, for that matter. Big book companies merge, schedules change. The first book, The Witchwood Crown, is now projected to come out in Q1 2017 (which is about when the Packers will be winning Super Bowl 51 in Houston!). But the good news is that there will be two other books intermingled with the trilogy, a bridge book now called The Heart of What was Lost – which starts right after the events in this here Part 2 that I am re-reading and summarizing.
Given the schedule, I delayed a bit these final two re-read posts…but now we are back in action!
THE DOOR STOP COMETH!!! This is a big book. In the original hardback it was one of the longest novels ever written. And, of course, it needs to be, since there is a lot to wrap up and a lot of questions to be answered.
This is the first part of the re-read of To Green Angel Tower Part 2, the final book in Tad William’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series.
The introductory post is here, if you are interested.
The re-read post for The Dragonbone Chair part I, Simon Mooncalf is here.
The re-read post for The Dragonbone Chair part II, Simon Pilgrim is here.
The re-read post for The Dragonbone Chair part III, Simon Snowlock is here.
The re-read post for Stone of Farewell part I, Storm’s Eye is here.
The re-read post for Stone of Farewell part II, Storm’s Hand is here.
The re-read post for Stone of Farewell part III, Storm’s Heart is here.
The re-read post for To Green Angel Tower Part 1 part One, The Waiting Stone is here.
The re-read post for To Green Angel Tower Part 1 part Two, The Winding Road is here.
This fourth book (part 2) is 796 pages – paperback. Part One: The Turning Wheel goes from page 33 (after a good thorough “what has come before” section, which should be required of all authors of long series) to 474. So, yes, crafter-of-doorstops-Williams has a part one of a book (which is part 2 of a book so larger in hardback the paperback had to be split in two) which is 441 pages…longer than most mere mortal books.
This also means I have only one more of these re-read posts after this one. Hopefully I have timed it to where there will not be too many weeks until the release of The Witchwood Crown, the first in Tad’s new series. And, yes Tad, this is a strong hint…or wish…or even bribery over adult beverages…to push for an early 2017 release! Or a 2016 Christmas present, dude!
A note on the obvious: if you have not read the book, since this post describes said book…here there be spoilers! And color commentary is in color (mostly in this color).
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.
Chapter 1: Tears and Smoke - Tiamak is sitting by his lonesome, either trying to become one with the world or having a bit of a pity party, when he sees Aditu and a bird or owl hurrying by. Following them, he comes to Camaris tent, where the Talons of Utuk’ku (Norns) are attacking Camaris who is now aided by Aditu and an owl (which we readers all know is Geloë but Tiamak does not yet). Tiamak find that he can’t yell, but stumbles upon Camaris sword, picks it up and smacks the Norn attacking the old warrior. Tiamak gets smacked himself, and pulls himself over to the brazier, dumping the coals on the side of the tent in hopes of alerting help.
Duke Isgrimnur (still one of the coolest names ever. is the Duke Grim?), Binabik, Strangyeard and Josua are having a council, waiting on Geloë, and we get another great Binabik -ism:
“…answers are not like a sheep that is coming when a person calls.” (pg 38)
Do sheep really come when called? Not in my humble experience.
Strangyeard tells them of what he has learned in his research on the three swords, some from Morgenes’ documents and some from Ookekuq’s (Binabik’s deceased mentor). The three swords are “not of Osten Ard” and they go “against the laws of God and Nature.” Josua asks how then were the swords made, and they discuss The Word of Making, which they know little about. The dwarrows/dvernings would seem to understand it, since they forged the sword Sorrow. Then they hear the commotion and they rush for the fire that Tiamek started.
Tiamek comes to after being pulled from the fire, and hears Geloë and Aditu talking. Geloë has been mortally wounded and wants to die in the forest. Tiamak sees Aditu help her up, then sees Valada Geloë turn into an owl and fly away.
After the fires are put out and the wounded seen to, Josua asks for his men to take a head count, and to find Miriamele and Simon to see if they were targeted by the Norns as well. They are found missing, of course, and Simon’s note says they have gone together. Hotvig goes in search of them, but does not find them.
Geloë visits them one more time, talking through the now comatose Leleth. She says Leleth’s spirit is with her somehow, and reminds them to not forget about Simon’s vision of the “false messenger.” She tells them the Norns are playing a “double game. Tonight was not a feint but something even more subtle.” (pg. 55)
Chapter 2: Ghost Moon - Simon and Miriamele are heading north, hiding their hoof prints in the thousands Josua’s horde has just left, unaware of the attack behind them. Simon questions their direction, finds out that Josua knows where they are going and that Simon does not, and that Miri ain’t going to tell him until they are far away. As they stop to hide and rest in the daylight, somewhat-insightful Simon understands a bit about what is in store for him with Miri:
Did all women have a little Rachael the Dragon in them? They certainly seemed to enjoy telling him what he should do. (pg. 60)
Simon dreams of Geloë (with Leleth by her side) yelling the word “false” at him; Miri dreams of darker things. When they awaken and have eaten, Miri tells Simon she wants him to teach her how to use a sword, and she will teach him what she know about using the bow….queue the cover reveal. They head toward the old forest Aldheorte and Simon demands to know where they are going. He had guessed Erkynland, and Miri tells him they are going to the Hayholt. He then assumes after the sword Bright-Nail, but she says her purpose is her own business. They chat around the campfire about being a princess and a scullion back at the castle, and how Miri had followed him around (she’s a stalker!). Then Miri sings a song and they crash. Great camping party!
Chapter 3: Windows Like Eyes - Binabik lets Sisqi know he will be heading after Simon and Miri, keeping a promise that he made. He speaks of it to Josua, explaining his rationale, especially their fear that Miri means to attempt to recover the sword Bright-Nail, which could do her harm.
The story cuts to Eolair, on the road with humans and Sithi to Naglimund. Maegwan is with them, still crazy in Eolair’s eyes (and probably in most of ours!). He sits on a war council with the Sithi, and hears of their dislike for fighting the Hikeda’ya’, and their dislike for humans.
“It is one thing,” spoke up Yizashi Grayspear, “to fulfill an ancient debt, as we have done at M’yin Azoshai. Besides, those were mortals we routed, and the descendants of bloody Fingil’s ship men besides. It is another thing to go to war with other Gardenborn to aid mortals to whom we own no such debt – including those who hunted us long after we lost Asu’a.”(pg. 86)
Jiriki reminds them that the Gardenborn he is citing also invaded their home and killed him father and grandmother, and that puts an end to the argument. They discuss how to attack Naglimund. They ride further and reach Naglimund, the old town around it destroyed and Naglimund shrouded in mist.
A quick look-in on Rachael the Dragon, who checks the food she laid out for blind ole Guthwulf, and sees that it hasn’t been touched in two days. She may have to go look for him. Binabik and Qantaqa take their leave of Joshua and the others and head out to track Simon and Miri.
Chapter 4: A Thousand Leaves, A Thousand Shadows - Simon and Miri are traveling through the forest, and Miri is being a bit introspective. She likes Simon, but believes herself “unclean” because of Aspitis. She thinks about how, since she was the princess, she was rarely around boys…other than we she disguised herself and stalked Simon around the castle.
They eat, Miri decides to cut Simon’s hair. She gives it a good chopping, then rubs his neck a bit. Simon goes to get Jiriki’s mirror from his bag, and realizes that he doesn’t have his White Arrow. He hopes Binabik finds it (Binabik to the rescue…again!). That night, Simon awakens Miri, as he heard someone nearby talking to themselves. Miri is worried that someone might be stalking them (turnabout, eh?). Let’s see…a stalker who talks to himself. Who could that be?
They make the Riverroad, and find many villages abandoned. They reach Stanshire, which has many houses that look abandoned. Simon goes to an inn to get food, as Miri does not want to be recognized. They find a shed, eat, and lay down to sleep. Miri feels the weight of the world upon her, wishes things were they way they used to be and starts to cry. Simon goes over to comfort her, and after at first pushing him away, she relents. One thing leads to another, there’s a kiss…and then she pushes him away again. As always happens…the horses whiney, someone is outside...coitus interruptus! I’m sure it is Gollum again, but Simon storms out to check.
Chapter 5: Flamedance – Simon runs out, quite out of him mind with anger at being interrupted, and catches an old man, who says his name is Heanwig and swears he hasn’t been following them. Heanwig was afraid they were Fire Dancers and they were chasing him; apparently the city Simon and Miri chose to rest in is hosting a Fire Dancer rave down at the local quarry (Burning Man, anyone?). Miri decides the old man should stay with them for the night. Simon has another great Simon-esque introspection:
But what dreadful fate had sent the old man to frighten the horses and break the twigs at the very moment when he was finally holding Miriamele in his arms? They had been kissing! She, the princess, the beautiful Miriamele, had been kissing Simon. … Simon abruptly laughed. The greater part of his anger dissipated like chaff before the wind. The loveliest girl in all of Aedondom, clever and quick – and she had kissed him. Called him by name! He could still feel the shape of her face on his fingertips. What right had he to complain? (pg 123)
When we start to forget that Simon is still a teenager in puberty, Tad smacks us with a 2×4 like this to remind us.
They wake up the next morning, tell Heanwig where they are heading. He tells them not to go that way, that the places are haunted. But, of course, our heroes head that direction anyway. That night, Simon (rather presumptuously) pulls his sleeping pallet next to Miri’s…who then gets up and moves to the other side of the fire.
The duo rides the River Road for several days, getting warnings from the few people they talk with to not go past Falshire. After a while, Simon convinces Miri they should stop at an inn, if not to sleep under a roof then to at least get a decent meal. Simon gets what he needs at the inn, and as he is walking out he hears a commotion behind him. Three Fire Dancers are dragging a woman and man out. Simon, of course, even though they are supposed to be traveling in cognito, turns back into try and save them. Fighting ensues with Simon getting the best of one of the men, while Miri hits a second on the head with a jug of wine (that Simon had just purchased for them). They leave hurriedly as the third Fire Dancer had left to go get help.
Chapter 6: The Circle Narrows - Count Eolair, Isorn, Maegwin and friends are with Jiriki, Likimeya and the other Sithi at Naglimund, confronting the Norns and the Red Hand. Likimeya begins to sing, and is eventually answered by a Norn singing. Zinjadu, the Sithi lore-mistress, explains to Eolair:
“They speak of the Pact of Sesuad’ra.” Her eyes were fixed on Likimeya and her opposite. “They speak of old heartbreaks and mourning songs yet to be sung.” “Why so much talk?” Isorn asked raggedly. “The waiting is dreadful.” “It is our way.” Zinjadu’s lips tightened, her thin face seemed carved of pale, golden stone. “Although it was not respected when Amerasu was slain.” (pg 146).
Trash talking ensues between the Norn (named Akhenabi) and Jiriki. Akhenabi notices the mortals, and begins to taunt Eolair, who responds bravely. The Norn presents two human figures on the wall, asking Eolair if he wants to risk their lives with a siege. Jiriki shoots an arrow into one; they were already dead, their animation proof that one of the Red Hand is within.
Back with Duke Isgrimnur and Josua who are in Metessa, one of the easternmost of Nabban’s outer states. Isgrimnur encounters a young boy named Pasevalles, who leads him on a tour of the castle. The Duke and the boy even spend some bro-time polishing old armor.
At the state dinner, Josua tells the Baron (Seriddan Metessis) that Josua and his army indeed plan on riding to Nabban to wage war on the Baron’s liege lord, Benigaris. Josua reads a letter written by the late Sir Deornoth, which relates the account of Benigaris slaying his father at the battle near Naglimund. The Baron, quite irritated, says this is an old rumor, and it would take many nights swearing to it for it to be true. When he is about to place Josua under arrest, Josua pulls forth his ace-in-the-hole: Camaris, who is the rightful heir to the throne of Nabban. An old woman is called in, and she identifies Camaris. Pasevalles gets into the act, bringing forth a helm for Camaris, one that he and the Duke had previously polished. Josua proceeds to tell him of the other nasty things his brother has been doing, appearing to recruit Seriddan to his side.
Chapter 7: White Tree, Black Fruit - After their fight with the Fire Dancers, Simon and Miriamele end up in a barn a couple of hours outside of Falshire. Miri has a fever dream, and we soon figure out why: she has a fever. Her dream was about a white tree whose fruit was souls. She sleeps most of the next few days (spending part of the time secretly spying on Simon practicing swordplay shirtless) then they move from the barn up to the cottage near it, which Simon had found deserted.
After dinner as they chat, Miriamele tells a questioning Simon how her mother died, by a Thirthings arrow as Josua tried to protect her. Josua lost his hand in the battle. This made her father lonely, she says, and starts crying at the thought of her father. She tells Simon that is why she has to see her father, and finally explains to Simon her reasoning for her journey. Cadrach had told her of Nisses book, and of “Speaking through the Veil”, which is part of the book that Pryrates had tortured him to learn. Miri believes that her father would do anything to speak to her dead mother again…which is what “Speaking through the Veil” is all about.
“…Pryrates must have lied to him and told him that they could reach her….beyond the Veil or whatever that horrible book called it. Maybe the priest even thought that he could. And he used that promise to make my father first his patron, then his partner…then his slave.” Simon pondered this. “Perhaps Pryrates did try,” he said finally. “Perhaps that is how they reached through to…the other side. To the Storm King.” (pg 179)
Miri thinks that speaking to here father might disuade him. Simon tries to talk her out of it, and Miri says that he mind is made up, but he doesn’t have to go with her. They finally go to sleep. It rains, leaky roof, they get cold, one thing leads to another…then Simon drops the L-bomb, tells Miri that he loves her. Miri tells Simon she is not a maiden to try and cool his jets, that she is not worthy of him.
Miri tells Simon about Aspitis, and that she was not forced. “I wanted him to.” she says. A large slap in the face, Simon says. After that, they ride on, not talking civilly to each other. On the trail, they come up the Fire Dancers that Simon saved in Chapter 5. They offer shelter, then lead them into a trap with the other Fire Dancers that Simon fought with to free the original two. There’s gratitude for you!
Chapter 8: A Confession - The Sithi are singing at the walls of Naglimund, driving Count Eolair and Isorn as mad as Maegwin. Jiriki comes to their fire after three days and tells them “The battle will being…it will be dreadful.” Their singing has been part of the siege of the walls.
Tiamak is summoned to one of Josua’s councils. Josua asks Camaris if he had ever been to the Sithi home of Jao é-Tinukai’i. Camaris does not want to say, as he does not believe it would be honorable. Tiamak suggests having Camaris talk to Father Strangyeard under the seal of confession. This is done, and Father Strangyeard, though very disturbed by what he has heard, says that though Camaris was indeed in the Sithi home, nothing he did has affect on the three swords or the Storm King.
Guthwulf is wandering around, blind and starving, feeling the pull of the sword.
The Sithi breach the walls, the fight at Naglimund has begun. The battle is, as Jiriki had forseen, dreadful. They are fighting more than Norns; things such as giants emerge from Naglimund. An orange dust washed over them, making the mortals hallucinate and attack each other. Eolair figures out that the snow washes it and its effects off, and he rallies his troops to the Sithi. Several of them have been slain (including Zinjadu the lore-mistress, “…hoisted on the spears of a group of Norns…”). And Maegwin wanders around it all, dazed and confused.
Chapter 9: The Third House - Trussed up as sacrifices, Miri and Simon are marched up a hill and tied to a tree. Norns, hidden in black robes, come to observe the sacrifice to the Storm King. Miri has the mirror Simon gave her, and she asks him to try and use it to call Jiriki for help. It does not work, so Simon breaks the mirror and tries to get one of the shards to cut the ropes that bind them. If it’s seven years bad luck to break a mortal mirror, what is it to break a Sithi mirror? 700 years?
Simon closed his eyes. Forgive me, Jiriki, he thought. But Morgenes told me any gift that cannot be thrown away is not a gift but a trap. (pg 225)
Meanwhile, the Fire Dancers have taken the two that Simon originally saved and have tied them to a rock to sacrifice them (they need blood to call the Storm King, to call forth his Third House). Their chanting and blood sacrifice bring through a Red Hand astride a white bull. Simon succeeds in cutting Miri’s bonds, but not in time. The Norns grab them and take them forward. The leader of the Fire Dancers had a dream that the Storm King wanted Simon, but the Red Hand says he is “no longer wanted,” and they should add his blood to the sacrifice. The leader of the Fire Dancers comes at Simon, who pulls his bonds apart (Miri had cut them some) and stands ready to fight. Then one of the Norns is shot in the neck, while a “shadowy form” strikes the Norn holding Miri. Binabik and Qantaqa show up to save the day…of course. He has their horses that the Fire Dancers had left. They flee to a cave that Binabik had found and stored all of their supplies.
Chapter 10: A Wound in the World - Simon awakens as Binabik returns to the cave with ‘shrooms (now we’re talking). As always, Binabik puts life into his own kind of perspective.
The troll cocked an eyebrow. “You both did much to make your own rescuing, Simon – and that is a fortunate thing, since you seem to be flinging yourself constantly into odd troubles. You said once that your parents were being common folk. It is my thought that at least one of them was not a person at all, but a moth.” He smiled wryly and gestured toward the fire. “You are always heading toward the nearest burning flame.” (pg 239)
A little hint about Simon’s parentage? Or an infamous Tad Tease? Binabik has brought Simon his White Arrow, and then Binabik does his best Rush impression.
The bones say bad enough things that Binabik throws out a troll curse. Miri tells Binabik she will not be going back, and tells him her rationale for going to talk to her father. Simon says he will go after Bright-Nail. Binabik tells them they are thinking like younglings, but says he will go with them. After they eat, Binabik catches them up on events, including Geloë’s death. He tells them how he followed them, but that he was not the skulking, Gollum-like person they have heard trailing them.
They make their way to King Prester John’s grave though dreary, now-empty country, with a strained distance between Simon and Miriamele. As they camp the night before reaching Swertclif, the hill where Prester John is buried,
Simon has a dream where an angel looking like Leleth comes to him and tells him he must “he must go very deep” and “the truth lies within.” Simon asks why she can’t just tell him, but she says the greatest truths cannot be given, they must be found (which would make a great t-shirt).
There are no guards on Swertclif. They dig open the grave, and find the boat Prester John was buried in, and then Prester John.
But no Bright-Nail.
Chapter 11: Heartbeats - Duke Benigaris is being measured for armor while being insulted by his mother the Duchess. His brother Varellan is trying to hold a pass against Josua’s army and not doing too well. They’ve heard rumors of Camaris leading the army, but dismiss it. Count Stráwe (who helped Miriamele on her escape many pages ago) arrives to meet with the Duke. Stráwe had promised boats and men, and both have been slow in coming. So Duke Benigaris insists that he stay with the Duke…until boats and men arrive.
Josua is distracted about the impending birth of his child by Vorzheva. He, Duke Isgrimnur and others talk of Camaris amazing fighting at the front. When someone says they’d heard that Camaris hated fighting, Josua says:
“The only thing he hates worse than warfare is unnecessary warfare – especially killings which could have been avoided by making a clean ending the first time. So once he is committed, Camaris makes sure he does not have to do the same thing twice.” (pg 275)
Aditu and Gutrun (Duke Isgrimnur’s wife, in case you forgot) are taking care of the very pregnant Vorzheva. Vorzheva allows Aditu to listen to her stomach (children for the Sithi being quite rare). Aditu hears two heartbeats. Prince Josua will have twins
Chapter 12: Sleepless in Darkness - Simon and Binabik argue briefly on who could have took the sword Bright-Nail. Binabik believes King Elias has taken it, and they will simply have to take two swords from him. Simon remembers King Elias’ aversion to the sword when his father Prester John was buried, and does not believe that.
Simon sees a hole on the other side of the ship the King was entombed upon. He (of course) goes to explore, sees something shiny…and Simon falls through into the tunnels…again. Something had grabbed him around the ankles and pulled him in before Binabik could get to him.
Miri hears Binabik calling for her and Qantaqa (who bowls her over in his haste). After fetching rope and torch, she goes into their digging, to find troll and wolf fighting boghanik/bukken (the little ankle-biter creatures that came up from the ground around Naglimund). Miri, Binabik and Qantaqa get out of the grave, but without Simon.
Brief segue to crazy ole King Elias, using Hengfish as his cup bearer. He hears “a change in the music…the great music of the dark.” (pg 291) He is not sure even Pryrates knows it, and the King tells himself he still has secrets, even from Pryrates. The King does not sleep.
I enjoy the circularity with Hengfish, who was somewhat uppity when Simon and Binabik first met him outside the slaughter at St. Hoderund back in The Dragonbone Chair, Part 2, chapter 19. And now he is a cup bearer! Karma, baby!
Simon falls through the dirt quite a ways, into another tunnel. Somehow an ember of one of his torches survives, so he can see that the shiny thing he chased was a belt buckle (what a prize!). He tries to dig back up the way he came, but causes landslides. Then the bukken come after him, six of them. He fights them off, then scrambles deeper into the tunnels.
Chapter 13: The Fallen Sun - Count Eolair and his men, along with the Sithi, have had Naglimund under siege for a fortnight. Of the hundred men who came with him, a little more than two score remain. The Norns had retreated into the inner castle. The Norns had established their defenses by the means of what sounded, when Jiriki described it to him, like pure magic. They had “sung a Hesitancy,” Jiriki explained. There was “Shadow mastery” at work. Until the magic was understood and the shadows untangled, the castle would not fall. (pg 299).
Maegwin is wandering, Isorn calls her mad, much to Eolair’s chagrin. She believes she is dead and walking amongst the gods. Jiriki awakens Eolair and calls him to council with Likimeya and other Sithi. They want to know if Naglimund has secrets. Since Zinjadu the lore-master was slain, a Sithi called Kuroyi gives Eolair background. He asks if there is a Witness (like the Shard) in Naglimund. Kuroyi says that there is a Witness under the Hayholt called the Pool of Three Depths.
“There have always been in Osten Ard certain places,” Kuroyi resumed, “which act much like Master Witnesses… but in which no Master Witness seems to be present. That is, many of the effects are there – in fact sometimes these places exhibit more powerful results that any Witness – but no object can be found which is responsible. Since we first came to this land long ago, we have studied such places, thinking they might answer questions we have about the Witnesses and why they do what they do, about Death itself even about the Unbeing that made us flee our native land and come here.” (pg 305)
There is a lot to digest in this paragraph. Witnesses with no objects could be like ley lines (lines of power that criss cross the land). And there’s that Unbeing that made them flee. And what does this have to do with Death? Eolair asks the obvious question: “Could they be trying to bring the Storm King back to life?”
“It is indeed confusing, Count Eolair,” Jiriki replied. “Ineluki – although he is not truly Ineluki any more – has no more existence than a sort of dream. He is an evil and vengeful dream, one that possesses all the craftiness that the Storm King had in life, as well as knowledge of the ultimate darkness no living thing has ever had…but he is only a dream, for all of that. Trust that I speak truly. As we can travel on the Road of Dreams and see and feel things there, so Ineluki can speak to his followers in Nakkiga through the Breathing Harp – which is one of the greatest of the Master Witnesses – although I would guess that Utuk’ku alone has the skill even to understand him. So he is not a thing, Eolair, with an existence in this world.” (pg 309)
Do they really know?
Josua and company are fighting at a pass held by Benigaris brother Varellan. Camaris is, of course, the star. During a charge, Duke Isgrimnur’s horse takes an arrow, falls on him and he blacks out.
Chapter 14: Empires of Dust - This is a long chapter in the tunnels with Simon again, very similar to chapter 13 way back in the first part of The Dragonbone Chair. The two chapters are somewhat tied together; in the earlier chapter, a very young Simon is escaping up through the tunnels, and is encountering what he feels are old ghosts of a Hayholt time long ago. In this chapter, older (but still a teenager) Simon is encountering similar things going down, but he’s had enough experience with the Sithi to get some glimpses.
Simon wanders about, chasing voices, getting thirsty. He finds a pool which he thinks is water, but his torch lights it on fire. “Perdruinese Fire” he says. He shreds his shirt, dipping them in the oil to save them so he will have light later. He decides to keeps going left, finds some moss to eat (yummy!) and finds stairs to go down.
All throughout, he finds marks of the Sithi who lived in the Hayholt before – their writings on the wall. He walks through a hallway with waterfalls on either side, yet when he throws his shirt out to capture some of the water, when he pulls it in, the water is dust. The boundaries between the past Sithi world and Simon’s present appear to be fading…or the mooncalf is going full-goose bozo.
He starts seeing Sithi, starting with a woman. Is he hallucinating? He tries to talk to her, but she says simply “Go back, little one. Go back and live.” (pg 334). He finds the Tan’ja stairs, the ones Morgenes had told him to find and he had escaped up in his first encounter with the tunnels. Yet he gets part way up and finds them unpassable, damaged due to falling rocks. He finally finds water, and sleeps. When he wakes, he sees a figure with antlers on its head (remember the drawing Simon had at the beginning, from one of Morgenes books if I recall). The figure says “Jingizu. So much sorrow.” into Simon’s mind. The vision recedes and Simon rises to venture on.
Chapter 15: A Meandering of Ink - Binabik and Miri give up on looking for Simon. Miri had copied the maps that Count Eolair brought, and, since she saw Simon emerge from the tunnels (recall, he thought she was a ghost), she believes they can find an entrance to a tunnel.
A quick cut to Rachael the Dragon, who gets misty eyed thinking of Simon, and worries about Guthwulf. She makes plans to go and find him.
Miri and Binabik cannot find the tunnel Simon came out of. That night they look at the maps for another entrance, and find that there is a tunnel that comes out somewhere in the town of Erchester. They disguise themselves (Binabik as a child?!?) and enter the town. In the middle of town is the cathedral of Saint Sutrin’s, where the map says the entrance to the tunnels may be. The church is occupied by a pastor and some homeless people. The pastor is quite mad and preaches to ravens (the pastor turns out to be Bishop Domitis). After he passes out (preaching to Ravens is hard work), they find the entrance to the catacombs, and thence the tunnels. They are still followed (shades of Gollum; is it Cadrach?)
Chapter 16: Roots of the White Tree - Simon comes across a plate with an apple, an onion, bread and water. He thinks it is an illusion (of course it is the food Rachael left for Guthwulf). After several false starts, he takes the food and resumes his trek in the tunnels.
He comes to a huge cavernous room with a large pool and a “shadow tree”, whose leaves he can hear rustling. Could this be the Pool of Three Depths, mentioned most recently in Chapter 13?
After this encounter he hears more voices. “The Conqueror is coming. Soon all will be ready.” Lights are flashing and he thinks he sees a spiral staircase that goes all the way to heaven. When the lights finally die down, he thinks he may be blind. He moves on, then see a bit of light through a crack. He makes his way to the crack, climbs up and into a storeroom…where he can see the sky. He sleeps and dreams of Morgenes, who also tells him to go deeper. The dream road is trying to tell Simon something. “Watch for the angel. She will show you things, both in the ground and far above it.” (pg 377) He walks outside for the first time in a while, but the weirdness of the underworld follows him.
Simon stood uncertainly in the shadows outside Green Angel Tower. The Inner Bailey’s haphazard roofs made a familiar jumble against the night sky, but Simon did not feel at all comfortable. It was not just that he was an outlaw in his childhood home, although that was disconcerting enough; there was also something strange in the air that he could not name, but which he nevertheless could sense quite clearly. The maddening slipperiness of the world belowground had somehow seeped up into the everyday stones of the castle itself. When he tilted his head to one side, he could almost see the buildings ripple and change at the edge of his sight. Faint blurs of light, like phantom flames, seemed to flicker along the edges of walls, then quickly vanish. (pg 377-378)
He finds an army camped in the Inner Bailey, and sees Norns (who aren’t supposed to be able to come back to the Hayholt). He also spies a company of horsemen heading out of the Hayholt, with Pryrates in their midst. Simon entertains the idea of trying to kill Pryrates, but is worried about capture. Since Pryrates is gone, he assumes Bright Nail must be hidden in Pryrates rooms (who would take it if not the sorcerer?). He waits for darkness, and slips into Hjeldin’s tower (the door is unlocked, surprising him). He climbs up through the levels, searching, and ends up in the room with the red windows. He suddenly feels nauseous and stumbles…only to be grabbed by King Elias who had been silently sitting in a chair in Pryrates’ study.
Chapter 17: An Ember in the Night Sky – Leaving Simon in the clutches of the evil-yet-misunderstood King Elias….we return to Josua’s gang.
Benigaris brother surrenders to Camaris (not to Josua, not to a foreign army) who then frees the men if they will fight with him to free Nabban. Tiamak then interrupts Josua to tell him Vorzheva is giving birth.
Count Eolair, Isorn and their remaining men join the final charge into the keep at Naglimund, fighting Norns, giants and all sorts of wonderful creatures. The battle is close to won, and Eoliar goes back to look for Isorn, who he finds knocked out from a giant’s blow. When awakened, Isorn says he was following Maegwin, who should not have been part of the battle. Eolair goes back to search for her, and finds her curled up in the snow, barely breathing.
The Sithi find Maegwin close to death. Jiriki tells Eolair that the Red Hand have sealed the inner keep to where the Norns cannot get out but Jiriki and his people cannot get in. Eolair rails at Jiriki about the lose of life for naught, but Jiriki tells him that they may have delayed the Red Hand’s plans. Jiriki points out the Conqueror Star in the sky, and says it is a omen that signifies that the Sithi must return to Asu’a. Eolair says that he will not go to the Hayholt, that he will take Maegwin back to her home.
Prince Josua’s twins are born. Duke Isgrimnur gets out of bed from his injuries to see them. Aditu holds them, and pronounces the prophecy that should be a large part of THE LAST KING OF OSTEN ARD:
“They will be as close as brother and sister can be,” Aditu intoned, her voice suddenly solemn and powerful, “although they will live many years apart. She will travel in lands that have never known a mortal woman’s step, and will lose what she loves best, but find happiness with what she once despised. He will be given another name. He will never have a throne, but kingdoms will rise and fall by his hand.” The Sitha’s eyes opened wide, but seemed to gaze far beyond the confines of the room. “Their steps will carry them into mystery.” (pg. 411-412)
Chapter 18: The Shadow King – King Elias maintains his hold literally and figuratively on Simon. The King believes Simon is Pryrates’ spy, keeps a hold on him, and rambles on about Pryrates and other things. He talks about loyalty (which Pryrates doesn’t have), needing a son but getting a daughter, Pryrates errand (which Simon saw him leave on), and the swords.
“I should have known that there was something wrong when he told me about the swords,” the King grated. “I am no fool, to be frightened with such kitchen tales, but that sword of my father’s – it burned me! Like it was cursed. And then I was given…the other one.” Although it hung at his hip a few scant inches away, the King did not look at Sorrow, but instead turned his haunted stare up towards the ceiling. “It has…changed me. Pryrates says for the best. Said that I will not gained what he promised unless the bargain is kept. But it is inside me like my own blood, this sorcerous thing. It sings to me all through the night hours. Even in the daytime it is like a demon crouched beside me. Cursed blade!” (pg. 420)
Simon manages to ask the King about his Father’s blade, but the King says it is still in his father’s grave (i.e., he don’t have it and don’t know where it is). The King, convinced Simon knows nothing, lets him go and tells him to find his cupbearer. Simon slowly slides out, dashes down the stairs, out the door…straight into the hands of Norns.
Segue to Rachael, who is in the tunnels looking for Guthwulf but is having to dodge patrols of soldiers. She returns to her hiding place, and finds the plate of food that she set out for Guthwulf empty (we know Simon ate it, but she doesn’t). Thinking Guthwulf has returned, she refills the water and goes back to her hiding place.
Simon is disarmed (he briefly considers suicide, remembers it is an Aedonite sin, and that he has no weapons) and taken deep under the Hayholt and thrown into a cage with a deep hole, inside some sort of cavern. He is surprised to see Pryrates (whom he and the other prisoners hide from) who he’d seen ride out and who the King had also thought gone. One of the other prisoners, named Stanhelm, talks to Simon, gives him some dirty clothes and a mask to wear so that he won’t look like “fresh meat” for the “Doctor”, who apparently is working these prisoners to death.
The Doctor turns out to be Inch (who ratted out Simon and Morgenes for helping Josua and got his face burned in the ensuing fire way back in book one, and who has been supervising Pryrates’ construction projects).
Chapter 19: Cunning as Time – Miri and Binabik are in the tunnels, with Miri feeling guilty about the way she has treated Simon. She also wonders about the Sithi and Ineluki, and whether the Storm King is truly bad or not. They also feel the restlessness of Asu’a.
Binabik nodded. “We Qanuc have a believing that the spirit of a murdered man cannot rest, and stays on in the body of an animal. Sometimes it is following the one who killed him, sometimes it is staying in the place he was loving most. Either way, there is no rest for it until the truth has been discovered and the crime has been given its punishment.” (pg 433)
Miri says “that’s what the Storm King is, isn’t he? A murdered soul looking for vengeance.” As they wander deeper into the tunnels they continue their philosophical thoughts and discourse, from Miri stating that “God isn’t here” (questioning the Aedon belief that God is everywhere, but he ain’t in Asu’a), continuing to wonder about the Storm King (if he was “bad”, then was her father “bad”?), and realizing that she probably loved Simon but may have screwed that all up.
Binabik sees someone else on the stairs, and recognizes Hengfisk (the King’s cupbearer). Hengfisk, still in the stupor he has whilst attending the King, attacks Binabik, and while they struggle, Miri is pulled away by some unknown persons.
Benigaris knows his time is drawing short with Camaris knocking at his gate. The astrologer who predicted victory meets with an untimely end, as Benigaris introduces him to the ground (from the top of the palace), to his mother’s consternation.
Binabik still wrestles with Hengfisk, but briefly breaks free. The struggle awakens Hengfisk from his stupor, and he seems to recognize what has happened to him, what evil has possessed him. He runs away. Binabik looks for Miri with no success.
Benigaris has challenged Camaris to man-to-man combat, where if Camaris wins he gets the city and if Benigaris wins his family gets to go free. In a match closer than anyone thought, Camaris wins in the end. As he is dying, Benigaris tells Josua that his mother poisoned her self, and that hordes of ghants are overrunning the south, while the kilpa will not let anyone travel the seas.
Chapter 20: Prisoned on the Wheel – Simon is doing his best Devo impression.
Simon hides his presence from Inch for a fortnight, while Inch does his best to work the men to death. Simon’s friend Stanhelm stumbles, and Inch starts to beat him. Simon (being Simon) cannot keep his mouth shut, and goads Inch into chasing him. Inch discovers Simon’s identity, and lashes him to the forge’s big waterwheel in the chamber. Inch starts the wheel again, with Simon attached to it.
Simon is starving and in pain and drifts into delirium. He slips over to the dream road, where someone (Leleth? Geloë? the angel his other dreams have told him about?) shows him images of the pool and the shadow tree he saw while lost in the tunnels. Someone comes and gives him water, and Simon dreams more, seeing a man with a spear, where he guide says “Here is a part of your own story…”.
He has a visitor, who feels his face and determines he is a man. Simon asks his name, and the stranger eventually identifies himself as Guthwulf.
This ends Part 1 of the re-read of TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER, PART 2 (say that five times fast). On to PART 2 of PART 2 and the last re-read post of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (with a few months to spare before the new books in the series are published)!!!
Next and FINAL re-read post is here.