// archives

Tad Williams

This tag is associated with 16 posts
the-heart-of-what-was-lost

book notes: The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams

The long wait for the return to Osten Ard is almost over. I was grateful to be given an opportunity by Tad Williams and his wife Deborah Beale to read an advanced copy of The Heart of What Was Lost (available at the beginning of January). Returning there was indeed the sweet breath of cold fresh icy Nakkiga mountain air that Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (MSantT) fans have been waiting for. And, since it made me want more, luckily the three books in the new series, The Last King of Osten Ard, are not far behind.

Full disclosure: this is based on an advanced copy. Slight spoilers may be below. If you don’t want to read further, the TL;DR of this review is…it sure as hell was worth the wait…but makes the months until The Witchwood Crown seem like an eternity.

I normally include snippets from the book in my notes to emphasize certain thoughts, but in deference to the author and readers of this unreleased book, I will forego that practice here.

After wars there is hatred. If you’ve ever talked to an American veteran of World War 2 who experienced the Pacific battles, many of them had an undying hatred of the Japanese. And that hatred was reciprocated. It may heal over time, but directly after the conflict it is fierce.

Tad Williams captures this (and other points) scarily well in this novel that takes place shortly after the battle at the Hayholt at the end of To Green Angel Tower. Duke Isgrimnur, whose son Isorn was killed by Pryrates and Norns in that battle, leads an army of Rimmersmen and others to chase the Norns as they retreat north, all the way back to Nakkiga. The Duke’s men’s increasingly fervent goal is genocide, to completely exterminate the Norns. Though tired of war, they are propelled by a hatred and an “it’s us or them” mentality (as it was the Norn’s intention to end the human race with The Storm King and Utuk’ku’s plans).

The Norns return the harsh sentiment. In MSandT the reader saw little of the Norn viewpoint, save for small vignettes from Utuk’ku. In The Heart of What Was Lost, as hoped for, the curtain is pulled back to reveal a very complex and developed Norn society, as one would expect from a people who had been around for many human lifetimes. The Norns believe, rightly so, that they are fighting for their very existence. With their Queen Utuk’ku in a deep sleep of recovery after her part in the battle, they are on their own. And their is “court intrigue” as those leaders who would normally bow to Utuk’ku vie for leadership roles and influence in what remains of the Norm kingdom.

There are dark parts of this novel, parts that remind me of Williams’ writing in Happy Hour in Hell (reviewed here on the archived and Hugo-award winning SFSignal) from his Bobby Dollar series (a series I highly recommend, and hope Williams continues to write…AFTER he’s finished The Last King of Osten Ard, of course). There is a viciousness to the battle scenes and tactics not seen in MSandT but appropriate for the enmity of these two armies. In MSandT, when a long-lived Sitha was killed, there was an almost palpable sorrow in the writing…that one who had lived so long and had so long yet to live would perish. In this novel, perhaps because there is so much death for the Norns, that sentiment is different; it is the blasphemy of genocide that permeates each Norn death. 

There is not much character development in the humans (we’ve known the Duke and Sludig through thousands of pages, so not much is needed), other than the view of a Pedruin named Porto who gives the common soldier’s perspective. This is well played, as in any war the common soldier normally wants nothing more than to survive and return home, and desires the same for his brothers-in-arms. Porto portrays this well, as the hatred of the Norns is left mostly for others (save when the Norn violence hits close to him), and Porto stays, committed to his fellow men but constantly pining for distant, warmer places…and survival.

I admit that after the mysteriousness of the Norns in MSanT (which fed their mystique), as a reader I was apprehensive about seeing them as real characters, and losing that veil of unknowing. But that apprehension faded the as the story moved. The Norns are paraded out for all to see, with their family histories and specialities: Singers, Builders, Sacrifices. Simply put – Singers work with magic, Builders build and Sacrifices are soldiers – an interesting but appropriate name for the riskiest job of a long-lived people. Family histories are hinted at and in some cases revealed. The Norns have human slaves as well, unlike the Sithi. One wonders if this was another of the reasons for the split between the two (Sithi and Norn), or if the Sithi learned to survive without the Dwarrows (the other part of the Gardenborn who were used mostly as slaves) better than the Norns. It would be interesting (and perhaps will be revealed?) to learn if the Norn builders learned from the dwarrows how to do their craft of bending stone to will. And, though hinted at here (no spoilers), it will be interesting to see how the Norns and their slaves change in the The Last King of Osten Ard. There are several great new characters to follow into the forthcoming series.  

There is a building suspense in the question of whether the Norns would survive, fed by notes interspersed amongst the novel from a Chronicler of the Norns (Lady Miga). With The Last King of Osten Ard series looming, and the Norns set to play a roll in those tomes, there is little room for such suspense of whether the Norns would be wiped out. But there is uncertainty on which of the long-lived Norns will survive and how the Norns will be changed; and how, if at all, the humans like the Duke will be changed from this last ordeal. One assumes this book would be the Duke’s last hurrah, as the Last King series is said to be set 30-40 years after these events. The Duke is already an old man, and one would assume he would not make an appearance. From my standpoint, he will certainly be missed; his characterization was outstanding throughout the entire MSanT series, as well as in this addition to the canon.

With MSandT there were some glimpses of the Garden, of the time before the Gardenborn (Norns, Sitha and Dwarrows) were driven out by “Unbeing.” And there is a bit more of that in The Heart of What Was Lost. As we are shown a more complete vision of the Norns world in this novel, I hope we see more of the history of the “Garden” and what really drove them out in the next series..

One note on the setting, the descriptions of which show the effort Williams puts into such things: much of the latter half of MSandT took place in the cold, in winter-like conditions, and this book has more of the same. As the locale moves further north, the weather grows colder. It is amazing how Cali-based Williams can write the cold so much that the reader knows, even feels, how much the characters abhor it.

This is a novel that requires an extensive background in Osten Ard (or at least of the events of To Green Angel Tower), but given Mr. Williams’ tendencies in all of his series, this book will be prefaced by a “What had gone before” section to catch up old and new readers. This practice should be the norm among writers on long works and series, other than expecting readers to re-read or catch-up via Internet scraps. There are already (as of December 1) photos around the InterWebs of some spectacular maps that will be included in the book. Hopefully this will be accompanied by “previous events in the series” blurb for new readers…and there should be a lot of new readers. This series influenced the legion of great fantasy writers that are being published today (for more background on this, see this SFSignal article).

It’s been more than two decades since To Green Angel Tower, the last book in MSandT, was released. The 1990s were a different world, or so they seem. But Tad’s books have remained timeless. I, like many, have so been looking forward to this continuation, so much that I hope, in typical Tad fashion, he turns The Last King of Osten Ard “trilogy” into a 4 or 5 book set! (or at least a record setting length for the books).

To Green Angel Tower Part 2

To Green Angel Tower Part 2 re-read – Part Two: The Blazing Tower

To Green Angel Tower Part 2INTRODUCTORY NOTE:  This is the LAST of TEN re-read posts. I had originally planned to time these last re-read posts of 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. I’ve had lots of feedback on them, and appreciate all of the comments (and corrections when needed). These posts will certainly help me to remember details when the first book, The Witchwood Crown, is published in Q1 2017 (which is about when the Packers will be winning Super Bowl 51 in Houston!).

==================

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 second and last 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.

The re-read post for To Green Angel Tower Part 2 part One, The Turning Wheel is here.

This fourth book (part 2) is 796 pages – paperback. Part Two: The Blazing Tower goes from page 476  to 796.

This also means THIS IS THE LAST 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!

EDIT: as of this posting, it looks like THE HEART OF WHAT WAS LOST: A Novel of Osten Ard (which is a bridge novel between the two series) will be released January 2017, with THE WITCHWOOD CROWN released in April 2017.

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 21: The Frightened Ones - Miri finds that the ones who have taken her while Binabik fights with Hengfisk are the dwarrows, specifically Yis-fidri and Yis-hadra. They refuse to take her back, saying that she was in a perilous place, and brought something there that she should not have.

Segue to Count Eolair, who continues to worry about Maegwin. The Sithi tell him that she is still close to death, but also tell him she is muttering in the Gardenborn tongue. She acts like she seeks something to hold, and Eolair goes through her things, presenting them to her in her comatose-state one at a time. The stone that Yis-fidri carved for her calms her, and she again speaks in the Gardernborn language (Kira’athu of the Sithi is taking care of her). Then she is quiet and goes back into her deep coma.

Duke Isgrimnur is watching the show as Camaris and Josua’s victory and dominion over Nabban is recognized by the Lector of the church, and then Count Streáwe. The Duke is observing Camaris:

It’s as if he knows he’s done one of the things he’s meant to do – but only one. He wants to rest, but he can’t yet. The Duke thought he finally understood. I’ve wondered why he was so strange, so distant. He does not wish to live. He is only here because he believes God wishes him to finish the tasks before him. Clearly any questioning of God’s will, even the infallibility of the lector, was difficult for Camaris. He thinks of himself as a dead man. Isgrimnur suppressed a shudder. It was one thing to yearn for rest, for release, but another to feel that one was already dead. The Duke wondered momentarily if Camaris might, more than any of them, understand the Storm King. (pg 487)

Josua states that he knows the wealth that Count Streáwe has gathered while Nabban was under siege (Benigaris told him as he was dying), and tells him he wants ships ready to sail in seven days to Erkyland. The Count mentions that the Clavean Bell barely rang, it was so icy (this was one of the prophecies in Nisses’ book).

Back with Miri and the dwarrows, where she gives them permission to search her bags for the “something” that she brought that shouldn’t have been there. They eventually pull out Simon’s white arrow, saying it is part of a master witness, made by Vindaeomayo, whom the dwarrows had trained. They tell Miri that the tower stairwell is a place where “powers, things that were sleeping, are awakening.” The Tinukeda’ya hear the voices of the stone, and have walked through long forgotten tunnels from where Eolair and Maegwin met them to be under the Hayholt (that’s quite an underground hike! And, yes, as a map geek, I did not suppress the urge to whip out Nathan’s cool map one last time.).
map-osten-ard

This very cool map is from Jonadab the Unsightly One, used with his permission (thanks, Nathan!)
From Mezutu’a (just north and east of Hernysadharc) to the Hayholt (using the scale in the bottom left) is about 50 leagues … underground … with no underground horses with night vision. That’s a long journey. Maybe since they hear the voices of the stone they told them where the subway was.

Chapter 22: A Sleeping Dragon - Simon is on the wheel, talking with Guthwulf, trying to convince him to free him. Guthwulf gives Simon water, and says the voices are telling him to hide (we all have Voices in our Heads!). He leaves Simon on the wheel.

And now we get to the big reveals. Simon doesn’t now recognize what is being shown to him, but we do, don’t we?

Simon drifts again into delirium, and the “angel” comes to him again, to show him things in the past. He sees a fair-haired man with a spear, creeping toward a sleeping dragon. But the dragon was not sleeping, it was dead. Simon recognizes the place the vision is showing – it is the forge, from an earlier time. He sees a skeleton under the dragon, and the man who was that skeleton had slew the dragon, his sword still clutched in his hands and driven into the skeleton’s belly. Simon ALMOST recognizes the fair-haired man, then the thought fades. The fair-haired man pulls the sword from the dragons belly, then cuts the dragon’s claw to carry with him.

He felt the Sithi ghosts,” the angel whispered to him. Simon had been so caught up in the man’s private torment that he was startled by her voice. “He felt them shame him for his lie.” (pg. 504)

Simon doesn’t recognize the men in the vision, but the angel tells him they are part of his story…and that he must “go deeper” (we’ve heard that before). The angel takes him to another vision, of a man sitting in a room, a man Simon had glimpsed in his stairwell dream and thinks that he recognizes. An old woman with a little girl of seven or eight years old comes in, and something passes between the old woman and the man. He gives her a ring from his finger, and says a tearful goodbye to the girl. Then he pulls out a sword that Simon recognizes as the sword he just saw in the dragon’s belly. The angel prods him, asks if he understands, tells him this is HIS story. But Simon is delirious and doesn’t understand.

Simon wants to go back, feels the pull of oblivion, but the angel (who tells him she loves him) wants to show him one more thing. Simon sees a man with the antlers, the enemy, sitting on a pedestal of stone in the Pool of the Three Depths. “This version of the enemy was a living creature.”

The angel, who Simon finally recognizes as Leleth, fades away (finally being pulled into a true death), and Simon is stuck in whatever between-world she brought him to.

Chapter 23: The Rose Unmade - Duke Isgrimnur and Josua are at sea. They have Niskies aboard who are helping keep the kilpa away, but are still having to fight off several attacks a day. Isgrimnur makes the astute observation that if the Niskies are related to the immortals, and asks why they should favor the Sithi over the Norns in this battle? It is a question that is never answered.

Camaris cannot sleep, the sword is ever in his dreams. He says he must unburden himself to Josua, and asks the Duke for privacy. When the Duke returns after Camaris leaves, Josua has “the expression of a man who has seen his own death.” What Camaris and Josua spoke of is unknown.

Miri is with the dwarrows, trying to learn about the three swords. The dwarrows seem “afraid of everything,” cautioning her when she says Ineluki’s name out loud.

The dwarrows tell Miri that they made all three swords, and they can feel them like they felt Simon’s white arrow (which was part of a master witness, as you, dear reader, may recall from a couple of chapters ago).

This is a long excerpt, but pretty important in the history of the three swords. Miri says she heard that Ineluki made the sword Sorrow himself.

The dwarrow sighed. “Indeed. We were the smiths of Asu’a – or at least some of our people were…some who had not fled our Zid’ya masters, but who were still Navigator’s Children for all that, still as like to us as two chunks of ore from the same vein. They all died when the castle fell.” Yis-fidri chanted a brief lament in the dwarrow tongue; his wife, Yis-hadra, echoed him. “He used the Hammer that Shapes to forge it – our Hammer – and the Words of Making that we taught to him. It might as well have been our own High Smith’s hand that crafted it. In that terrible instance, wheresoever we were, scattered across the world’s face…we felt Sorrow’s making. The pain of it is with us still.” He fell silent for a long time. “That the Zid’ya allowed such a thing,” he said at last, “is one of the reasons we have turned away from them. We were so sorely diminished by that one act that we have ever since been crippled.”
“And Thorn?”
Yis-fidri nodded his heavy head. “The mortal smiths of Nabban tried to work the star-stone. They could not. Certain of our people were sought out and secretly brought to the Imperator’s Palace. These kin of ours were thought by most mortals to be only strange folk who watched the oceans and kept the ships safe from harm, but a small number knew that the old lore of Making and Shaping ran deep in all the Tinukeda’ya, even those who had chose to remain at sea.”
“Tinukeda’ya?” It took a moment to sink in. “But that’s what Gan Itai…those are Niskies!”
“We are all Ocean Children,” said the dwarrow gravely. “Some decided to stay near the sea which forever separates us from the Garden of our birth. Others chose more hidden and secretive ways, like the earth’s dark places and the shaping of stone. You see, unlike our cousins the Zida’ya and the Hikeda’ya, we Children of the Navigator can shape ourselves just as we shape other things.” (pg. 515-516)

Tiamak and Strangyeard are on the deck of the boat (no doubt enjoying the nice cool breeze). I would normally embed a vid here, but “I’m On A Boat” is too perfect…and too explicit for this PG re-read! Anyway

They believe that the Norns have been using a strategy of misdirection to keep them from the answer of the three swords. “Either there is something so simple that we could not fail to see it, if we were not caught up in the day-to-day struggle, or there is someone or some place vital to us that we cannot reach as long as this war between brothers continues.” (pg. 523-524). Strangyeard thinks back to the Norns herding them as they were leaving Naglimund, and wonders if they were trying to keep them from the Sithi.

Miriamele dreams of a hand coming up from a grave crushing a rose. She wakes to find the dwarrows shaken; they call it “a very strong one…some change is happening here – a change in the bones of the earth and the heart of Asu’a.” (pg 526). Miri sleeps again (she’s picking up this sleeping habit from Simon) and awakes to find Binabik there, found by the dwarrows and brought to the cave, who tells her of his fight with Hengfisk. He tells her Hengfisk said the Norns were “false beyond believing.”  The dwarrows and Binabik tell her there are Norns and soldiers now in the tunnels. They have hidden the door, but someone with “skilz(my quote!) has found the door and is trying to get in. Miriamele admonishes the dwarrows for being a bit chicken about fighting (okay, more than a bit). As she and Binabik are set to fight whoever comes through the door, it opens and Cadrach falls in.

Chapter 24: The Graylands - Simon is stuck in the “Graylands”, his body on the wheel near death and Leleth his guide long gone. He visualizes himself strapped to the wheel, and tries to push himself out of the void, but cannot.

After a time, he feels another presence, and it coalesces into a woman. It is Maegwin. She says Simon had come to her before, and she says she is waiting…for what she does not know. She believe Simon is dead, but he assures he’s just left his body and can’t get back (what a problem to have). He convinces her that this is a waiting place – “the dead go on” – thinking of Leleth. Maegwin realizes her folly in thinking herself amongst the gods when she was alive (or mostly alive?). They tell each other their stories (they are in limbo, they got the time). Maegwin describes how she ended up in this place, after touching the mind of the “red one” in Naglimund, the one she thought was the god Scadach. Simon asks her to describe it, thinking it may clue him in on what is going on in the Hayholt. She shows him a vision of the White Tree that is always in Simon’s dreams…but this one is Green Angel Tower (that would be a good name for a fantasy book).

She also says it thought of Naglimund as the Fourth House…like the Fire Dancers who captured Simon and Miri had lunatically raved about.

Simon tells Maegwin he must get back to his body, so he can get this information to Josua and company. He tries again, but can’t get there. Maegwin believes that is why she was waiting, and some how she gives her essence, the last of her strength to Simon…who awakens in pain on the wheel…with Guthwulf trying to cut him down.

Guthwulf finally cuts him down, and Inch discovers them. He grabs Guthwulf and begins to push him under the water that the wheel was moving. Simon notices that the wheel is now out of the water; Guthwulf had figured out how to stop it and lift it up. Simon, using the little strength from Maegwin, hits at Inch, but Inch just picks him up and throws him. The other forge workers start watching, and Stanhelm comes to Simon. Stanhelm points him to the lever that controls the wheel, which is how Guthwulf had lifted it up. Simon releases the lever, and the wheel comes down on Inch and starts turning. The wheel catches Inch’s belt and lifts him up. He grabs one of the chains that is above the wheel (which is hanging from something up in Pryrates tower and being driven by the wheel). Inch gets himself off the wheel, but then gets his foot caught in the chain. He is pulled up the chimney, lets out a nice scream, and comes back out as a meat sandwich (of sorts).

Simon follows Guthwulf out of the forge by way of the escaping waters, to a cave Guthwulf calls home.

Chapter 25: Living In Exile - Maegwin dies. Jiriki and Eolair are with her. In spite of Eolair’s protests, Jiriki tells Eolair that what he knows of Maegwin’s last thoughts (he knows this because of Maegwin’s connection with the stone the dwarrows gave her, and Jiriki’s connection to it). Jiriki tells Eolair that Maegwin regained her sanity at the end, and that she thought of Simon (who Eolair says Maegwin had never met). Jiriki hurries off to the Hayholt, and Eolair leaves to take Maegwin home to bury.

Aditu and Duke Isgrimnur are conversing on the deck of a ship, having taken shelter from the storms at the Kynslagh. Isgrimnur is surprised that King Elias has not attacked as yet. He and Aditu speak of age, and how it affects each of their peoples. Aditu talks about how age affected the Norn Queen:

“…something in her was balked and grew bent, and so she curled in toward malice. As the years almost beyond counting rolled past, all that was once admirable became twisted.” Aditu had suddenly become serious is a way that Isgrimnur had not seen before. “That is perhaps the greatest sorrow of our folk, that the ruin of the world should be brought about by two who were among the greatest of the Gardenborn.”
“Two?” Isgrimnur was trying to reconcile the stories he had heard of the silver-masked queen of ice and darkness with Aditu’s description.
“Ineluki…the Storm King.” She turned back to look across the Kynslagh, as though she could see the old Asu’a looming beyond the darkness. “He was the brightest burning flame every kindled in this land. Had the mortals not come – had your own ancestors not come, Duke Isgrimnur – and attacked our great house with iron and fire, he might have led us out of the shadows of exile and back into the light of the living world again. That was his dream. But any great dream can flower into madness. (pg. 560-561)

A lot in that excerpt for the next series, The Last King of Osten Ard. Why were the Gardenborn exiled should be a key question I hope Tad examines in the new series.

A quick look in on the nursery…I mean, on Gutrun with Vorzheva and her twins. We learn their names: Deornoth and Derra. Vorzheva had a dream that Josua would come back to her safely. And it starts snowing (in Nabban….in the south).

Josua’s troops have landed. Tiamak is called to see to Aditu, who was discovered collapsed and seemingly asleep (like Leleth). Tiamak sees something in her hand; it is a mirror, and when he retrieves it, Aditu awakens and tells him not to look into it. She had tried to use the mirror to travel the Dream Road and find her brother Jiriki. What she did find was something waiting for her…a structure. “A construction of the Art….a maelstrom of smoke and sparks and black energies” (pg 568).  When she first encounters it, she hears or feels the word “Sumy’asu”, which means “The Fifth House.”

Count Eoliar and his Hernystirmen part ways with the Sithi. Isorn goes with the Sithi, in hopes of finding his family and Josua at the Hayholt. Eolair returns home to bury Maegwin and help his people rebuild (or survive).

Chapter 26: Song of the Red Star - Cadrach tells Miriamele that he followed her all the way to Sesuad’ra (our own Gollum!) and then followed her to the Hayholt. And then the Norns started following him and he forced open the hidden door. The dwarrows say that forcing the door open has weakened their magic, and that only a lore master could do so. Binabik tells Miri that once Padraic (Cadrach’s old name) was “perhaps the most adept user of the Art in all Osten Ard.” (pg 574). Miri tries to get the dwarrows to fight the Norns, but they are afraid…and Cadrach says it matters not for the end of the world is near…and he has know about it for a very long time.

Simon awakens (ok, this time he deserved his sleep) to find Guthwulf hot with fever, and mumbling about fever dreams. Simon considers taking Bright-Nail and leaving, but stays to take care of Guthwulf.

Pryrates finds out the Guthwulf and Simon were in the forge and have escaped.

Camaris comes to Josua and Duke Isgrimnur, telling them he is being called by his sword Thorn, which is being called by the other two swords. Josua and the Duke calm Camaris down. They two have discovered that Bright-Nail is not in King John’s burial tomb, and they have discovered Simon and Binabik’s digging (though they know not that it was Simon). Sludig comes in, reporting that while patrolling he heard horns from the North.

Miriamele presses Cadrach to explain his claim of “the end of the world.” He recounts some of his activities in his time with Pryrates, a portion of which he has related to Miri before. Cadrach spied on Morgenes, and sent correspondence to Jarnauga about Ineluki, but to no avail. Still seeking to please Pryrates (after lots of torture), and having already told Pryrates of the three swords, Cadrach sets out to get Bright-Nail, which he had figured out was King John’s sword Minneyar before anyone else. The King’s burial ground is guarded, so Cadrach tells Pryrates what he knows…but Pryrates was already aware of the sword’s location. He wants it left there…when the time is right, the swords will come together. Cadrach does not know if Pryrates intends to use the power of the three swords to keep the Storm King in check, or has some other plan.

After this story time, Binabik and Miri make plans to rush the door to try and reach the others.

Chapter 27: Hammer of Pain - Jiriki, Isorn and the Sithi reach the Hayholt where they meet Josua, Isgrimnur and the rest. They decide to send in Camaris with his sword and some of the Sithi while a siege is waged against the Hayholt, not only as a distraction but because they are running out of time. They all know the Conqueror Star is coming, and they do not know what is signifies. Yet they know time is running out.

Elias is wandering the corridors, looking for his cupbearer. Pryrates tells him they doubt they will see Hengfish again, and Pryrates will take care of him. The King talks about going out to his family, but Pryrates continues to tell him that they are the enemy. He gets Elias back into his bed. Elias tells him he can hear the Conqueror Star (there’s a lot of that going on) and it is telling him “it is time.” Elias also tell Pryrates that Elias will do what he thinks is right. As he leaves the King’s room, Pryrates puts spells on the door and hinges.

Tiamak decides he must go into the tunnels with Camaris and the Sithi, since he knows the most about the swords (besides Strangyeard, who is partially blind). They all sleep, intending to head into the tunnels and then start the siege in the morning. But Josua is awakened, seeing Camaris head for the caves in the night. He rouses Jerimiah to go get Isgrimnur, and follows Camaris. Camaris is mad with sword fever, and swings his sword at Josua when Josua tries to stop him. Josua, after lifting himself up, follows Camaris in the caves. When Isgrimnur and his men arrive later, they find that the tunnel Josua chased Camaris into splits into three paths, and they cannot find the prince.

Chapter 28: Abandoned Ways - Miriamele continues to push on the dwarrows to help fight off the Norns so they can escape their cave. She manages to convince them when Yis-fidri pushes her away, and she uses that to convince him he has the strength to push the Norns away (plus his wife, Yis-hadra, says she’ll help…so Yis-fidri is kinda screwed). The dwarrows loosen some stones above the doorway that drop when the Norns storm in. They fight, with the dwarrows showing strength, then turn and run. Miri has picked up a bow, and Cadrach seems to have vanished.

Josua is gone but Isgrimnur proceeds with the plan. Isorn will pretend to be Camaris, and now Brindalles of Nabban, in tribute to what Josua and the others have done to free their country, agrees to pretend to be Josua in the attack on the Hayholt.

Tiamak heads into the tunnels with the Sithi party, made up of Jiriki, Aditu, Likimeya (who Tiamak thought would be too important to venture into the caves), “…as well as Kira’athu, a small, quiet Sitha woman; another woman named Chiya, who seemed to Tiamak inexplicably more foreign than even the rest of the alien group; and a tall, black-haired Sitha-man named Kuroyi.” (pg. 627). They find Josua, whose torch had run out, and who had not found Camaris. Likimeya says if the swords are drawing them together, she knows where they will be going and will taken them by the straightest path.

Miri, Biniabik, the dwarrows and Cadrach (who was missing but just kinda turns up) are still fleeing the Norns. Binabik suddenly asks if all three swords were formed with The Words of Making, and the dwarrows say that they were indeed.

“Yes. It was needful to bind their substance – to bring their being within the Laws.”
“What Laws are these?”
“Those Laws that cannot be changed. The Laws that make stone be stone, make water be water. They can be…” he searched for a word, “stretched or altered for a short time, but that brings consequences. Never can they be undone.” (pg. 634)

This freaks Binabik the heck out, makes him agree with Cadrach that it is the end of the world as we know it.

Chapter 29: Hand of the North - Underneath Stormpike, Utuk’ku has an out of body moment.

The angry Dark One was gone from the Harp. He had moved himself to the place – if it could be called a place – where he could act in concert with her to enact the final step of their centuried scheme, but she could still feel the weight of his hatred and envy, personified in the net of storms that spread across the land above. (pg. 636)

She reaches out to see if the power that she needs is accessible in Venyha Dos’ae (the Three Pools?), and it is.

The rest of this chapter focuses on the attack on the walls of the Hayholt, told from multiple changing perspectives.

After reading a Writ (i.e., Elias is a bad boy), they send in the battering ram. Isgrimnur wonders briefly if the enemy’s only goal is to delay them, then why didn’t they parley to delay? Sludig and Isorn (who is dressed as Camaris) see Norns on the wall. The Sithi start singing, as they did at Naglimund. The battering ram is at the gate, and the winter storm is making it hard for archers on both sides.

Strangyeard, who is in the back watching with Sangfugol, realizes something about the tunnels, and leaves his safety to find the Duke.

The battering ram brings down the gate. Isorn, dressed up to imitate Camaris, charges through. A second gate, hidden, is raised behind them, trapping them. As the Duke is trying to muster troops to get them out, Strangyeard warns him that the Norns must know of the tunnels as well…just as the Norns come up behind them…trapping them like Isorn and his troops are trapped.

Chapter 30: Beside the Pool - My notes on these next four chapters are long, so I apologize in advance (you think Tad was wordy?). But there is a lot happening here near the end.

Guthwulf is still feverish, mumbling about the flaming tree. Simon finds the cat (Tad, what is it with cats? What about a dog or two?) that was leading Guthwulf around.

Simon wonders if the sword Bright-Nail had made Guthwulf come after him.

The thought was a frighteningly seductive one. If Bright-Nail was being drawn to the great conflict that was coming, then maybe somehow it knew that Guthwulf would never willingly go up into the light again. As Thorn had chosen Simon and his fellows to bring it down from Umrsheim and back to Camaris, maybe Bright-Nail had chosen Simon to carry it up to Green Angel Tower to fight the Storm King.
Another dim recollection surfaced. In my dream, Leleth said that the sword was part of my story. Is that what she meant? The details were strangely misty, but he remembered the sad-faced man who had held the blade across his lap as he waited for something. The dragon? (pg. 653)

Simon pulls Bright-Nail away from Guthwulf, and it feels “right” in his hands. He sleeps with it. When he awakens, Guthwulf is cold and dead. Simon wraps the body, and starts to head blindly through the caves. But the cat stops him (by tripping him; a dog would have barked, or panted, Tad!), and Simon follows the cat.

The dwarrows show Miriamele and Binabik the way up to the tower. The dwarrows go down into the tunnel, away from the light, and Miri, Binabik and a reluctant Cadrach go up toward the tower.

Josua and Tiamak are with the Sithi, awed by the wonders of Asu’a (all this time, sitting underneath the Hayholt). The reality is shifting for all of them, in waves it seems to pass and the mortals see many other people in those waves. They had stopped for a while in the Hall of the Five Staircases, and Aditu tells Tiamak that is where her mother’s mother, Briseyu Dawnfeather, died.

The waves come stronger, and Jiriki says they must hurry. They reach the Pool of the Three Depths, which Jiriki tells them is a Master Witness. They find Camaris there, quite wild-eyed. Likumeya tells him they can help ease his pain, but Camaris has his sword Sorrow out. The Sithi Kuroyi pulls his, but Likumeya tells him to put it away.

“Pity.” Kuroyi sounded genuinely regretful. “I have always wondered what it would be to cross swords with the greatest of mortal warriors…” (pg. 665)

Tiamak hears a voice in his head. “How you do love mortals…You cannot leave them alone.” It is Utuk’ku, who forms in the mist above the Pool of the Three Depths, using the Master Witness to amplify her presence. Likumeya and the Sithi begin a mental battle with Utuk’ku, silent except for the singing. Camaris heads away and the Sithi tell Josua and Tiamak to follow him.

“Go!” said Aditu urgently. She tugged at Tiamak’s sleeve, pulling him off-balance and sending him stumbling towards Josua. “We will call on the power of the Oldest Tree and hold her at bay as long as we can, but we cannot defeat their plan here. Utuk’ku is already drawing on the Master Witness. I can feel it.”
“But what is she doing? What is happening?” Tiamak heard his voice rising with terror.
“We cannot see that,” Aditu moaned. Her teeth were clenched. “We have all we can do to hold her back. You and the others must accomplish what remains. This is our battle. Now go!” (pg. 666)

Tiamak sees something else forming in the pool, something tree-like that begins entangling the Norn Queen’s image. She destroys Kuroyi and staggers Aditu, but the Sithi recover and sing stronger. Josua pulls Tiamak after Camaris.

Simon is still following the cat, feeling stronger for having survived the wheel and the void, and using that strength to resist the strange images that he sees around him (like the rest of our merry troupe). He gets back to where Rachael had left the food, and finally gets back out of the tunnels. He starts up a staircase, which the cat refuses to follow.

I suppose there’s no cat in the world stupid enough to go where I’m going. (pg. 671)

Simon comes up out in the storeroom where he had found Prince Josua held captive long ago. He goes up the ladder to the refectory. Bright-Nail is pulling him towards Green Angel Tower, but as he looks out the door he sees the battle raging in the yard between him and the tower.

Chapter 31: The False Messenger - As Binabik, Miriamele and Cadrach are climbing (and catching their breath), Binabik puts 18 and 18 together and believes he has figured some things out, not the least of which is the “false messenger” they have been repeatedly warned about.

Binabik reminds them that the Words of Making must be very powerful, as they are holding the swords together, swords that were made from materials that should not been together. That means there is a LOT of pent up energy in there. His theory is that the book of Nisses, and the rhyme they have been following were given in glimpses to Simon and others along the Dream Road. But the Dream Road was compromised.

What if the Storm King put those dreams there, directing all to bring him the swords, so that, instead of the power of the swords being used to destroy the Storm King, that the power of their un-making could be used for something else?

Then, a theory of my own: since the swords are made from things not of Osten Ard, are the Sithi actually from another planet? The ship they refer to could be a space ship, and one of the swords was made from it keel. If true, this could be great fodder for the next series of books. If not…well, forget I mentioned it. The Niskies seem to have great affinity for the sea, not space…so possibly a theory without merit.

Duke Isgrimnur tries to rally his forces outside of the gate, fighting giants and Norns in massed chaos.

Miri, Binabik and Cadrach make it to the King’s chambers, and find them empty (and disgusting). They look out over the lower bailey and see the same battle that Simon was viewing through the door of refectory. But they see who they think are Camaris and Josua (we know that it is Isorn and Brindalles of Nabban imitating them), and the Norns are slowly but surely driving the two and their troop to Green Angel Tower. Binabik suspects it is to get the swords there.

Josua and Tiamak are still climbing after Camaris. After climbing through multiple storerooms, they catch him, standing in a sort of daze. At the bottom of a staircase leading to the room is Pryrates, surrounded by seemingly dead soldiers…and holding a Camaris look alike (which is, of course, Isorn dressed as Camaris). Isorn is dead, and Josua rushes Pryrates with his sword drawn. But Pryrates, having already dispatched Isorn, Brindalles (who was dressed at Josua) and their soldiers, easily surrounds Josua and his sword with magic, grabs both and slings Josua into a wall where he falls motionless. Tiamak, who was running behind, slides into the shadows, and watches Pryrates lead the real Camaris with his sword up into another chamber. As they are leaving, Camaris tries to resist. Then a door explodes inward, people rush in through the haze, and a black arrow is shot at Pryrates, piercing his neck, dropping him like a red rock.

Miri leads Binabik and Cadrach through back passages she used to play in as a kid (only a few short books ago!).  They collect arrows along the way, including some black Norn arrows (yes, we can see where this is going). They get to a door that is locked, and too strong to force. Cadrach senses that Pryrates has also built some kind of a magic dome barrier. The threesome are now trapped inside this barrier, and the barrier is shrinking, forcing them against the locked door. Miri asks Cadrach to force the door with magic but he says he cannot. While Binabik pulls something out of his ever-present pack and starts working on the door, Miri tries to go back the way they came, but the ever shrinking barrier stops her. She returns, and Binabik blows the door. They step through and see Pryrates, who Miri instinctively shoots with an arrow (aiming for the body, but hitting the neck…a nice miss!).

They see Josua stirring, and he is dazed and surprised to see Miriamele. Camaris is still being pulled to go up the stairs with his sword. Miri, Binabik and Tiamak all try to stop him, and Miri asks Josua to run him through, to do anything but take the sword up (since they have now determined and have told Josua that is just what the enemy wants). Josua cannot bring himself to fight Camaris, but has figured out who waits at the top of the stairs. Begging the trio to stall Camaris, he runs up, sword out, to face his brother. Miri asks Tiamak to follow him, and asks him to make sure Josua and her father (who is surely at the top of the stairs) don’t kill each other. Tiamak drags his alligator-munched leg up the stairs, still wishing he was back home.

Then…Pryrates springs back to life, pissed at Miri for using a Norn arrow to shoot him. She notches another but he destroys it with magic. Pryrates calls Cadrach/Padreic to him, and, to Miri’s dismay, Cadrach crawls over and kneels in front of Pryrates. Miri asks Pryrates what he has to gain from all this.

“Gain? Why, everything. Wisdom such as you cannot even imagine, child. The entire cosmos, laid naked before me, unable to hide even its smallest secret.” He extended his arms and, for a moment seemed almost to grow. His robe billowed and eddies of dust whirled away across the chamber. “I will know things at which even the immortals can only guess.” (pg. 705)

Camaris can no longer resist, and marches upward. Pryrates goes as well, even though Binabik shoots him in the neck with one of his poison darts.

Tiamak reaches the top in time to see the confrontation between Josua and Elias. Josua tried to reason with Elias, then tries to fight him with his sword. But when Elias begins to fight back, Josua is overwhelmed. Elias grabs Josua’s sword, and as the King is about to deliver the killing blow, Tiamak jumps on him…but only slows the blade, which hits Josua across the neck, knocking him down and out.

Chapter 32: The Tower - Simon makes his way up to the throne room, intending on using one of his old paths to get across the chaos of battle and to Green Angel Tower (that would be a good name for a book!). And, as always, even here at the end, Simon is introspective: in the throne room, he sees the six figures of past Kings in the throne room, and stops before Eahlstan Fiskerne’s likeness.

He’s the one I saw, he realized suddenly. In the dream Leleth showed me. He was reading his book and waiting for the dragon. She said: ‘This is part of your story, Simon.’ His eyes dropped to the thin circlet of gold around his own finger. The fish symbol scribed to the band looked back at him. What was it Binabik had told him the Sithi writing on the ring meant? Dragons and death?
“The dragon was dead.” That was what Leleth had whispered in that not-place, the window onto the past.
And King Eahlstan is part of my story?  Simon wondered. Is that what Morgenes entrusted to me when he sent this ring to me? The greatest secret of the League of the Scroll  - that its founder killed the dragon, not John? (pg 713)

Simon goes out a window and crawls across a wall through the blizzard above the battle. He has to leap across to a roof, almost falls, and  as he leaps into a tower window, makes his way through something invisible that tingles and stings him (Pryrates invisible magical dome, no doubt.). Bright-Nail is singing to him, pulling him up the tower. When he hears people and footsteps, he tries to hide, almost falls through a hole in the floor but drops the sword through it instead.

Miri and Binabik climb the stairs to the top of the tower, Miri adding a dagger from one of Isorn’s men to her bow and arrows. When they reach the room on top, they find Tiamak and Josua unconscious or dead on the floor, with Pryrates, Camaris and Elias in the room. Camaris is still waging his internal war with the sword.

Miri tries to talk to her father, but Pryrates uses magic and flings Binabik and Miri against a wall, pinning them there. Elias tells Pryrates to send them away, but Pryrates wants them to watch. From his responses (or lack thereof) to her pleas, Miri realizes that her father is lost to her, and that her attempt was futile. She tells her father she did it for love, but he rejects the concept.

Elias goes to the center of the room, and holds Sorrow aloft. Camaris, through no will of his own, joins him, holding Thorn in the same manner.

A point of blackness began to pulse where the tips of the two blades crossed, as though the world had been ripped open and some fundamental emptiness was beginning to leak through. Even through the bonds of the alchemist’ spell, Miriamele could feel the air in the high chamber grow hard and brittle. The chill deepened. Traceries of ice began to form in the arches of the windows and along the walls, spreading like wildfire. Within moments the chamber was furred with a thin surface of ice crystals that shimmered in a thousand strange colors. Icicles were growing on the great bells, translucent fangs that gleamed with the light of the red star. (pg. 723).

Simon climbs down and retrieves Bright-nail, then resumes his climb to the tower. The sword pulls him on, filling his mind with thoughts of glory, telling him that the time is now and the time is right. A part of Simon knows he is being controlled, and, like Camaris, he fights that control. But in the end, he is pulled into the room. Camaris sees him, and apologizes, saying everything is his fault. Simon sees Miri and Binabik pinned to the wall, but can do nothing. Pryrates acknowledges the “kitchen boy”.

Before he knew it, he was stepping forward. Bright-Nail clicked against the other two blades. The shock of contact traveled not just through Simon, but through the room as well. The black emptiness where the swords met deepened, a hole into which the entire world might fall and perish. (pg. 730)

Simon fights to break free and smite Pryrates with his sword but can’t. Elias is whining about how much it hurts, asking Pryrates if immortality is in reach. Pryrates calls upon the five houses and starts to say the Words of Unmaking.

Here’s where the five house are located; is there any significance to this arrangement? Any pattern? There is some discussion on the Tad Williams forum about it. (thanks to Ylvs for the tip!)

TheFiveHousesMST

  • 1st house  - on Thisterborg, one of the Red Hand is waiting.
  • 2nd house – Wentmouth, one of the Storm King’s servants
  • 3rd house – above Hasu Vale
  • 4th house – Naglimund, and we all know what happened there
  • 5th house – in Asu’a

Utuk’ku has apparently defeated Jiriki, Aditu and company using the Pool of the Three Depths, and there the Fifth and final house is created.

Rage and anger escape Simon, up through his sword arm and into “an unending emptiness, a gate into Unbeing.” (pg 735). Pryrates says he is funneling fear through the patten of the Five Houses. King Elias is burning away, though Pryrates continues to promise him immortality.

Pryrates begins chanting the Words of Unmaking. Elias begins to change; he is being used as a vessel for the return of Ineluki, the Storm King.

“I have prepared the way!” Pryrates called. “I have crafted the vessel. Now, in this place, let Time turn backward! Roll back the centuries to the moment before Ineluki was banished to the realms beyond death. As I speak the Words of Unmaking, let him return! Let him return!” He lapsed into a bellowing chant in a language harsh as shattering stone, as cracking ice. The blackness spread out over Elias and for a moment the king vanished utterly, as thought he had been pushed through the wall of reality. Then he seemed to absorb the blackness, or it flowed into him; he reappeared, thrashing and shrieking incoherently. (pg. 736).

Pryrates tells Elias he will live forever, but in his own body dominated by Ineluki. Simon watches helplessly as “something too horrible to exist” forces its way through the void and into Elias. The walls of the Hayholt vanish, and Simon sees that Time has indeed rolled back. He imagines the battle outside from five centuries earlier when Fingil’s army were attacking Asu’a, and wonders what happened to his time.

The Storm King somewhat solidifies, and Pryrates greets him, but tells him that Ineluki will bow to Pryrates will. Pryrates begins chanting again, supposedly a spell that will allow him to control this powerful undead Sithi. 

He chose…poorly.

A brief battle (well, more like Pryrates groveling for his life), and Pryrates realizes he has lost. He tells Ineluki he can be of service, but the Storm King, now somewhat solid, burns him to a crispy critter.

Sensing that Pryrates had weakened Ineluki, Simon tries to break free of whatever is holding him, and earns the attention of Ineluki. With it comes fear, and a glimpse into Ineluki’s soul. Simon has another one of those “Simon-introspections” that we’ve come to expect:

Staring helplessly across the short distance between them, watching as the thing regathered its strength, Simon remembered the vision Leleth had shown him of Ineluki beside the great pool. Such shattering unhappiness had been in that face, but the determination had been a mirror of Eahlstan’s as he sat in his chair and waited for the terrible worm he knew he must meet, the dragon he knew would slay him. They were somehow the same, Ineluki and Eahlstan, doing what must be done, though life itself was the price. And Simon was no different. (pg. 741)

Simon empathizes with the hatred and fear that Ineluki felt, and the hold through Bright-Nail lessens. As if he can sense what Simon is doing, Camaris regains his feet, and seems to shake off the hold of his sword a bit as well.

With Pryrates down and gone, the hold on Miri and Binabik is released. Miri calls to her father, and Elias is able to surface through the weakened Ineluki. But the King knows he cannot hold. Simon sees Miri put an arrow through Elias/Ineluki’s breast, and the beast begins to die. For a moment, the thing that is/was Ineluki tries to get into Simon, but he repels it. The spell on Simon is broken, the world returns to its normal time and the tower begins to collapse. A piece hits Simon in the head, thus ending his point of view (and this chapter!).

Chapter 33: Hidden From The Stars - Tiamak recounts the destruction of the tower and the survivors escape to Duke Isgrimnur, who continues to mourns the loss of Isorn.

Tiamak tells Isgrimnur that he believes Josua was killed by Elias sword, in spite of Tiamak’s intervention. Josua’s body was not found in the rubble.

Tiamak was awakened by Binabik as the tower was collapsing. The two of them and Miri grabbed the unconscious Simon and hightail it out, only dropping Simon twice. As they go down the stairwell, they encounter Cadrach covered with ash. They go down further together, the tower crashing around them, and reach a point where the stairwell is completely gone, with no way across. Cadrach sits and employs some magic, and urges Miri to trust him. She does and, as Tiamak describes it, walks across the air. The rest cross, but Cadrach says his energy is spent, and he stays on the other side as the building falls on top of him. The rest get down, Simon awakens and leads them to a window from which they can jump. Tiamak says the tower completely collapsed so nothing could be recovered…but Isgrimnur says that at least they were able to get Isorn’s body out.

Simon is wandering the destruction, two days after the collapse of the tower (which he slept most of; even after all he has been through, Simon is still a world-champion sleeper). He went to see Miri but, after checking out each other’s wounds and scars, she was distant. Simon goes into the throne room, trying to put the last pieces of what Leleth and his experiences were trying to tell him. He puts it together in front of the Fisher King, Eahlstan Fiskerne…his ancestor. He is still there contemplating when Duke Isgrimnur and others come in. The Duke says simply: “So you know, do you?” (pg. 756)

Simon has questions (Tad’s method for tying all the strings together, and very welcomed here!). He asks for more explanation about:

  • The “false messenger” warning, which Binabik had told him about. Simon asks why Pryrates and Elias needed he and Camaris to bring the swords, instead of just taking the swords. Jiriki explains, using what his mother Likimeya gleaned from Utuk’ku during their battle at the Pool of the Three Depths:

“The swords were almost living things. That will come as no surprise to anyone who bore one of them. A large part of their might was, as Binabik of Mintahoq suspected, the unworldly forces bound by the Words of Making. But almost as much of their power was in the effect those Words had. Somehow, the swords had life. They were not creatures like us – they had nothing in them that humans or even Sithi can fully understand – yet they lived. This was what made them greater than any other weapons, but it was also what made them difficult for anyone to rule or control. They could be called – their hunger to be together and to release their energies would eventually draw them to the tower – but they could not be compelled. Part of the terrible magic the Storm King needed for his plan to success, perhaps the most important part, was that the swords must come to the summoning themselves at the proper time. They must choose their own bearers.” (pg. 759-760)

  • Why go after Camaris (the burning tent and mortal wounding of Geloë incident) if the sword had already chosen him?

Apparently, he was a wild card. Utuk’ku knew he’d been with the Sithi and met with Ameresu, but didn’t know why. So they just decided to try and take him of the board.

  • Is it truly over? The Duke had told how the Hideka’ya fled when the tower fell. Aditu relates more:

“Even after Utuk’ku wrested control of the Pool from us,” Aditu said, “we fought her still. And when Ineluki began to cross over, we felt it.” The long pause was eloquent. “It was terrible. But we also felt it when his mortal body – King Elias body – died. Ineluki had abandoned the nowhere-place which had been his refuge, and risked final dissolution to enter back into the world. He risked, and he lost. There is surely nothing left of him.”
Simon raised an eyebrow. “And Utuk’ku?”
“She lives but her power is destroyed. She, too, gambled much, and it was through her magics that Ineluki’s being could be fixed in the tower during the moment when Time was turned withershins. The failure blasted her.” (pg. 762-763)

So Ineluki won’t be in the next series…but Utuk’ku might?

  • They speak of Simon’s heritage, that he is of the blood of Eahlstan Fiskerne, last king of Erkynland in the centuries before Prester John, and found of the League of the Scroll. Jiriki knew of Simon’s heritage, as Ealhlstan Fiskerne was the first mortal king after the fall of Asu’a to reach out to the Zida’ya. Jiriki was a messenger between Amerasu and Fiskerne. Jiriki knew the motto on Simon’s ring was King Eahlstan’s, but didn’t tell Simon because he thought it might distract him (ya think?).

Then the Duke drops the bomb – they want Simon to become King. Not just because of his heritage, but because of the respect in which he is held because of his actions and deeds. Simon points out that Miri should be the heir, but Isgrimnur and others point out that she is somewhat of a pariah – not quite trusted or respected based on her actions (always leaving some places right before bad things happen) and the rumors that Aspitis has been spreading. The kingdom needs a strong leader. They ask Simon to think about it for a couple of days.

Simon is sitting by the fire and Miri shows up. She is distraught about killing her father, and worried that the Duke et al are going to ask HER to take the throne, and marry some pig! Hah! She asks Simon to run away with her, asks him to never leave her. They confess their undying love for each other, and then hop into the sack…er…tent. Finally!

Hours later (I guess it could have been 15 minutes), someone interrupts. Simon thinks it is Binabik come to talk…but it is Josua!

Chapter 34: Leavetaking - Josua luckily is too late to do a coitus interruptus (that would have been a drag since we’ve been waiting a gazillion pages for Simon and Miri to get together) but does surprise Simon and Miri with the fact that he is indeed alive, just stunned by Elias’ sword blow – which he partially blocked with the manacle around his arm from being Elias’ captive. Camaris apparently pulled Josua to safety out of the collapsing tower.

Josua tells them he is leaving, and Simon argues with him, that even though Simon is a descendant of Saint Eahlstan that Josua is John’s heir. But then Josua tells them that Camaris, not King John, is Josua’s father. John was old when he married Josua’s mother (Efiathe of Hernysadharc), and Camaris was her protector. When she died giving birth to Josua, Camaris went mad.

“At last, he took the horn Ti-tuno and went in search of the Sithi, perhaps to expiate the sin of participating in John’s persecution of them, or, perhaps, like Elias, he hoped the wise immortals could help him reach his beloved beyond death. Whatever the aim of his pilgrimage, Amerasu brought him secretly to Jao é Tinukai’i, for reasons of her own. I have not discovered all that happened; my father was so distraught when he told me it was hard to make sense of anything.” (pg 777).

Josua says he will go in search of his father, after he has seen to the safety of his wife and new twins. He tells Simon and Miri they are fools not to wed, and Miri calls Simon on it…after asking what this heir of Eahlstan stuff is all about. Apparently we have ourselves a new King and Queen!

The Sithi are leaving. Even way back when this book was published, either Tad or Jiriki (maybe both) knew another series was coming:

“Do you remember I told you once that it took no magical wisdom to say we would meet again? I will say it once more, Seomon Snowlock. The story is not ended.” (pg. 781)

But it took Tad more than two decades to get back to it!

Duke Isgrimnur and Binabik also tell Simon they will be leaving soon, and Simon and Binabik claim they will always be besties (not sure how to say that in troll). They all go to the party bonfire.

Rachael the dragon finally emerges from hiding, and eventually wanders toward the bonfire. Jerimias sees her, and takes her to a happy reunion with Simon (who she did not know was alive).

Afterword – A year has passed, and most of the remaining company re-gather at the Hayholt for a Feast. Tiamak and Father Strangyeard observe the rebuilding of Green Angel Tower, which will be an archive and a school. Gutrun and Duke Isgrimnur stop at Isorn’s tomb, now adorned with jewels. Binabik and Sisqi could not come, as they are performing the Rite of the Quickening.

Count Eolair arrives, and greets King Simon formally…until Simon tells him of seeing Maegwin at the end, that she was herself and loved Eolair. That breaks the ice, and they walk back to the party.

THE RE-READ DOTH ENDETH!

These re-read posts and other essays (close to 50,000 words…not as wordy as Tad, but…) have been collected into an eBook, available by clicking on the image below. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing the eBook. Thank you!

To Green Angel Tower Part 2

To Green Angel Tower Part 2 re-read – Part One: The Turning Wheel

To Green Angel Tower Part 2INTRODUCTORY 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 SkyLeaving 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.

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 this eBook. Thank you!

To Green Angel Tower Part 1

To Green Angel Tower Part 1 re-read: Part Two: The Winding Road

To Green Angel Tower Part 1THE DOOR STOP KEEP ON COMETHing!!!

This is the second and last part of the re-read of To Green Angel Tower, Part 1, the third 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 I, The Waiting Stone is here.

This third book (part 1) is 796 pages – paperback. Part Two: The Winding Road goes from page 523 to 796 (making this second part of a very large book a lot shorter than the first part).

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).

==================

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 17: Bonfire Night - The battle is over, the dead have been counted and the Prince mourns his friend Deornoth. As Simon is walking to join Prince Josua, he thinks of the Storm King:

Why hadn’t the Storm King sent help to Fengbald as he had to Elias at the siege at Naglimund? Survivors’ stories of the horror of the Norns’ attack were almost as vivid in Simon’s mind as the memories of his own strange adventures. If the swords were so important, and Josua was known by the Hikeda’ya to have one of them – which according to the Prince and Deornoth was almost certainly the case – why hadn’t Sasuad’ra’s defenders found themselves staring down an army of ice giants and armored Norns? Was it something about the Stone itself? (pg 525)

Simon goes with Josua to pay his respects to Deornoth, and then has the Prince tell him stories of his dead friend as they walk to confront the prisoners. Josua asks Simon if he thinks the Sithi would mind if they buried their battle dead on the Stone. Simon remembers that Jiriki buried his kinsman An’nai with Grimmric. Josua asks Simon what Jao é Tinukai’i was like.

They play a bit of good cop-bad cop with the Erkyguard prisoners that were fighting for Fengbald, and end up setting them free, perhaps with them joining Josua’s army. Simon voices his opinion about not treating the mercenaries so lightly, and Josua tells him he appreciates the counsel.

Simon is admired by three young girls while he is trimming his beard in Jiriki’s mirror (and shows his naïveté by not understanding what they are asking). They ask if he will be at the bonfire celebration and if he has a lady.  This causes him to daydream and moon over the absent Miriamele.

Josua mentions to Vorzheva that they must strike Elias now, to keep their momentum going.

Then, the dead are buried, and the living celebrate their victory, Simon with much wine. I do believe the young knight gets hammered …trashed …loopy.

Simon is snogging (yes, snogging) with Ulca, one of the girls from the party, which a voice interrupts them, eventually saying “I am a fairy woman. What are you doing with my husband to be?” Of course, it is Aditu. Ulca runs away screaming, and Aditu gives greetings from Jiriki.

Chapter 18: The Fox’s Bargain - Eolair and Isorn are camped with their growing company of men, when they hear a great commotion and singing. Venturing out, they see it is the mounted Sithi, riding fast in the same direction Eolair and company were heading – toward Hernysadharc. They give chase, and Eolair laughingly remembers “The Fox’s Bargain”:

“We will never forget” the Fair ones said,
‘Though time may ancient run,
You will hear our horns beneath the moon,
You will see our spears shine in the sun…” (pg 558)

They stop short of the town, so they can approach during the day, and find Skali and his men gone, and colorful Sithi tents everywhere. Eolair finally finds Craobhan, the old advisor, who finds them food and brings Eoliar to Maegwin. Maegwin has a bruise on her head, and tells Eolair that she “made the gods come” (and her caretaker agrees with her). They let her rest, and, as Eolair leaves her room to rejoin Isorn, Jiriki walks in, introduces himself,

“I am Jiriki-i-Sa’onserei. At this moment, I speak for the Zidya. We have come to repay our debt to Prince Sinnach of Hernystir.” (pg 567)

and asks to speak with whoever is in charge. After regaining their kool, Eolair determines that he is in charge, and follows Jiriki to the Sithi tent-city. As they are following, Eolair and Isron ask questions:

“Do you mind my asking,” Eolair ventured, “what happened to the wall that Skali built around the city?”
Jiriki seemed to ponder for a moment. “Ah, that,” he said at least and smiled. “I think you are probably speaking of the handiwork of my mother, Likimeya. We were in a hurry. The wall was in our way.” (pg 568)

Jiriki predicts many harsher battles and many more lives lost than were lost surprising Skali.

Then the story moves to mad King Elias. He has had a bad dream, in fact of the Sithi driving out Skali, and goes to see Pryrates. Pryrates tells him this is true, and that Elias is having these dreams because he is close to the Storm King, having accepted his gift. The King and Pryrates almost come to blows, with the King saying he would not have accepted this bargain if he would have known the changes he had to go through.

Eolair, Isorn and Ule are brought before Likimeya, Queen of the Dawn Children. After teasing Eolair with the idea that there was some Sithi-human wango tango in his past bloodline, and determining that the two Rimmersmen were indeed not enemies, they eat and talk about next steps. Those next steps are to not join Josua in his fight against Elias, as Eolair entreats, but to turn to Naglimund, now a lair of the Storm King, and bring it down.

Chapter 19: A Broken Smile - Cadrach has been trying to revive Tiamak and the other Wrannman after their escape from the Ghant’s nest (last chapter in the previous part). After a while, Tiamak finally awakens, thanks them for rescuing him and tells them of his time as a captive in the ghant’s nest.

The ghants had let the other Wrannman go, and, after covering Tiamak with “ooze”, they put a mirror in his hand (probably like the other shards to the dream road). He started having “words” and “visions” in his head that were not human. He began speaking like a ghant, and the visions showed him the ghants rising up out of the swamp and swarming the cities (no doubt the Storm King trying to use the ghants).

They decide they need to leave the Wran with all haste. Tiamak’s fellow Warnnman dies, and he provides a semi-formal ceremony.

As they are leaving the Wran, Cadrach believes he understands some of what happened to Tiamak.

“…there were once things called Witnesses, which were made by the Sithi in the depths of time. These things allowed them to speak to each other over great distances, and perhaps let them show dreams and visions to each other. They came in many forms – ‘Stones and Scales, Pools and Pyres,’ as the old books say. ‘Scales’ are what the Sithi call mirrors. I do not know why.” (pg 598)

We know what they are called ‘Scales’ thanks to Sir Seoman the dragon slayer.

Miri speaks to Cadrach, asks him if he “knows magic”, and about helping Josua against Pryrates and the Storm King when they get to Josua. This scares the crap out of Cadrach. Tiamak, visibly nervous about what he has hidden in his pack (Nisses’ manuscript), falls back into a fever. Miri, and then Tiamak, catch Cadrach sneaking into Tiamak’s pack.

They finally emerge from the Wran, only to be surprised and surrounded by Aspitis Previtis, whose land they are now traveling through. Aspitis is horribly deformed, and tells Miri she will wake up next to his hideous face everyday. Miri begins to taunt him, telling him he is a weakling who takes advantage of women. She goads him into a sword fight, and gets Isgrimnur to throw the sword in front of Camaris. Camaris fights unwillingly, and then shows skill, ultimately defeating Aspitis and knocking him out. Miri demands horses from Aspitis men as she holds him at sword point.

They camp for the night, and Cadrach runs off with a horse, leaving a note for Miri that says he does not belong with Josua, and that things are worse than she knows.

Chapter 20: Travelers and Messengers - Aditu and Simon are at the “Observatory”, a place Aditu says she has not visited for a “very long time.” Simon asks her a bit about the place. Aditu says “This was the place of the Rhao iye-Sama’an – the Master Witness.” She explains further:

“You know what a Witness is, Simon. Jiriki gave you his mirror. That is a minor Witness, and there are many of those still in existence. There are only a few Master Witnesses, each more or less bound to a place – the Pool of Three Depths in Asu’a, the Speakfire in Hikehikayo, the Green Column in Jhiná-T’seneí – and most of those are broken or ruined or lost. Here at Sesuad’ra it was a great stone beneath the ground, a stone called the Earth-Drake’s Eye. Earth-Drake is another name – it is difficult to explain the differences between the two in your tongue – for the Greater Worm who bites at his own tail,” she explained. “We built this entire place on top of that stone. It was not quite a Master Witness – in fact, it was not even a witness by itself, but such was its potency that a minor Witness like my brother’s mirror would be a Master Witness if used here.”
…”What does that mean, Aditu?” he asked…
“A minor Witness will lead you onto the Road of Dreams, but will usually show you only those you know, or those who are looking for you…A Master Witness, if used by someone who knew the ways of it, could look on anyone or anything, and sometimes into other times and…other places.” (pg 624-625)

So, there is a Master Witness in Asu’a, probably near where Pryrates is messing around with things he shouldn’t be messing around with. And there is a large tail-eating dragon (or the magic or remains of one) buried underground, but providing ley lines of power for those who know where to look. More on this in The Last King of Osten Ard, Mr. Williams.

Aditu, as playful as ever, teases Simon about being kissed and then gives him a nice passionate one….just to addle his brains over females a bit more. Simon asks about the Norn Queen, and Aditu tells him that Utuk’ku is the Eldest, the oldest living one of them, and that she desires oblivion for her and everyone else. Then Simon asks why the Norns went north. When Aditu tells him of the parting, Simon tells her that he saw that during his overnight vigil to become a knight (way back in Chapter 1 of this book). Aditu asks him questions, alarmed that he could have such a vision without the use of a Witness like Jiriki’s mirror.

Cut to Josua’s tent the next morning, where Geloë brings him a message that came from one of Dinivan’s birds…suspicious since Dinivan is dead. The message suggests it is time for Josua to march on Nabban, and tells him a messenger will come to him in a fortnight. Then…Simon walks in with Aditu, surprising most everyone.

Aditu gives the message from her mother that the Sithi have ridden to Hernystir, and from there plan to go to Naglimund to drive out the Norns and the rest of the Storm King’s forces. Other than the fact that Naglimund is too close to their homeland, Aditu will not divulge the full reasons for going there. She tells them the Storm King cannot enter Asu’a, but his minions can….and that it seems that Ineluki desires to rule the humans through Elias, and give his ex-family grief at the same time.

Vorzheva befriends Aditu, and they spend quite a bit of time together. Aditu, whose people have few children, is fascinated with Vorzheva’s pregnancy. The rest of the folks there are fascinated with Aditu, and, because of her association with Simon, lots of stories and fantasies about Simon spread.

The messenger referred to in the message Dinivan’s bird carried arrives. It is Lenti, and the message is from Count Streáwe of Perdruin, saying that he can deliver Nabban to Josua. Josua decides to call his council soon to discuss.

Simon and Aditu are playing shent, when Jerimias rushes in to tell them Duke Isgrimnur and Princess Miriamele, and others, have come.

Chapter 21:  Answered Prayers - The story flashes back a bit to track Miriamele and company’s journey back to Josua and company. Tiamak reveals that he believes he has Nisses book in his bag. One night while camping, when Isgrimnur talks about how he will greet his wife, and how she is a part of him, Miri has a ‘eureka’ moment, and decides that the reason her father is doing these heinous things with Pryrates is to somehow get back with his dearly departed dead wife, Miri’s mom Hylissa.

They finally make it to Sesuad’ra, and are greeted by all.

Another who stood silently by seemed oddly familiar. He was bearded, and streak of white marred his red hair and capped the pale scar on his cheek. He looked at her as though he would memorize her, as though someday he might carve her in stone. (pg 663)

Chapter 22: Whispers in Stone - Utuk’ku sees a problem with her long-laid plans. Jegger is dead, so she sends out three minions to take care of this problem. Then she sees another problem, one “from Amerasu’s line” messing with one of the Master Witnesses. She almost smiles as she plans to take care of him.

It is, of course, Jiriki, the most impetuous of the Sithi (if there is such a thing as an impetuous Sithi). He has gone down with Eolair into the caves of the dwarrows, a place Jiriki calls “Mezutu’a – the Silverhome.” He tells Eolair a bit about their past:

“When the Tinukeda’ya severed their fates from ours, Jenjiyana of the Nightingales declared in her wisdom that we should give this place to the Navigator’s Children, in partial payment of the debt we owed them.” He frowned and shook his head, hair moving loosely about his shoulders. “Year Dancing-House, at least, remembered something of honor. She also gave to them Hikehikayo in the North, and sea-collared Jhiná-T seneí, which has long disappeared beneath the waves.” (pg 669)

Jiriki also tells Eolair that the folks Eolair knows as dwarrows and niskies are all Tinukeda’ya, the Ocean Children, that they can “change themselves over time to fit better into the place that they lived; there is a certain mutability in their blood and bones.” (p670). Lots of fertile ground here for the next series, including several questions around the Garden Born, their treatment of the Tinukeda’ya and these other places with Master Witnesses that are supposedly lost.

They come upon the other Master Witness, the Shard of Mezutu’a, which Eolair and Maegwin on their first visit heard the voice of Amerasu coming through to the dwarrows. Upon somewhat communing with it, Jiriki states that another Master Witness, the “Speakfire of Hikehikayo”, is close. Jiriki decides he needs to reach this to use it to determine what is going on (he doesn’t actually say what he hopes to find out, but one would assume to see if he can determine Utuk’ku and the Storm King’s plans.

At this point, this comes to mind:

Of course, Jiriki gets stuck in the trap. He told Eolair not to touch him while he was communing with the Shard, but Eolair determines that something is wrong, and pull Jiriki away…and then blacks out. He does revive, and Jiriki says he should give Eolair his white arrow, but he already gave it to Simon, so…he just gets thanks.

A quick aside to Rachael feeding a cat in the Hayholt, which I suspect is the author’s small ploy to get me to read his cat book, the only one I have not read. It will not work. Dogs rule.

Eolair and Jiriki are coming down from the mountains after being in the caves of the dwarrows, and they find Maegwin, planting flowers. She believes she is dead and in heaven, and that Jiriki is one of the gods. Jiriki says he may have a healer that can help.

And…back to Rachael. She’d fed the cat, and, as she wanted, the cat leads blind Earl Guthwulf (who saved her from Pryrates when she attacked him) back. She tells him there will be food there for him if he returns.

Chapter 23: The Sounding of the Horn - Lenti the messenger, still afraid of Duke Isgrimnur who smacked him around on Perdruin, leaves with Josua’s message. Towser the Jester passes away. Simon moons over Miri, but she leaves him abruptly when she finds he has kept the scarf she gave him when he left Naglimund long long ago (their conversation reminds us readers that they are both only 16 years old).

Tiamak and Father Strangeyeard take oaths as Scrollbearers, and then they, Binabik and Geloë try to solve the riddle of the three swords. Tiamak presents his copy of Nisses’ book, which gives them more clues. After much discussion, they believe this passage holds some keys:

“…Bring from Nuanne’s Rocke Garden,
The Man who tho’ Blinded canne See
Discover the Blayde that delivers the Rose
At the foote of the Rimmer’s great Tree
Find the Call whose lowde Claime
Speak’s the call-bearer’s name
In a Shippe on the Shallowest Sea -
– When Blade, Call and Man
Come to the Prince’s right Hande
Then the Prisoned shall once more go Free...” (pg 697)

They deduce that this involves Camaris, the horn Simon brought from Aditu, and the sword Thorn (found near the Rimmersman’s tree). After re-finding the horn (Sangfugol had taken it as a reminder of Towser, who had stole it), they all gather with Camaris and the items. At first, he will not touch them, even pushing Josua away with force. But, after a passionate plea from Josua where he described Deornoth’s sacrifice, Camaris blows the horn, and his awareness returns…along with some despair.

In an interlude, Miri asks Josua to promise him that she can see her father King Elias alone when the eventually lay siege to the castle…but she will not tell him why. He denies this request as much too dangerous.

Chapter 24: A Sky Full of Beasts - Count Streáwe (he of the bird message to Prince Joshua) is in Nabban meeting with Nessalanta (the Dowager Duchess (which sounds like something from Downton Abbey), mother of Benigaris. Nessalanta has an astrologer on the roof, and Benigaris joins them, cursing the future of feeding his people and slipping out “I should never have trusted Pryrates.” (which Streáwe pretends not to hear). After some reading of the stars, Steáwe says he wants to impart some things he has heard about Elias and Joshua (playing both sides against each other, eh?).

Eolair is summoned to the Sithi camp. A Sithi healer is with Maegwin but says he body is healthy, her soul is sick from seeing too much death. As Eolair head to the Sithi, Maegwin rises and goes with him. As they walk, she asks him how he died; she is convinced she is dead and with the gods, so since she sees Eolair he must be dead as well. When they get to the Sithi tent, Likimeya shows them Skali’s head – and with that defeat, they entreat Eoliar to join them with a troop of his men to fight at Naglimund. Eolair agrees, and Maegwin tells him she will come too…as she cannot die a second time.

Simon and Miri are off having wine, trying to celebrate the birthdays they missed. Simon tries to give Miri his White Arrow from Jiriki as a present, and when she refuses, he goes and gets his sword and, as a knight, pledges his life and sword to her.

Prince Josua calls his Raed, his war council, and they argue and discuss. It comes down to this:

“Here are my choices. To remain here – to build up this place, New Gadrinsett, and hold out against my brother until his misrule turns the tide in our favor. That is one possibility.” Josua ran his hand though his short hair, then held up two fingers. “The second is to go to Nabban, where with Camaris to march at the head of our army, we may quickly gain adherents, and this eventually field an army capable of bringing down the High King.” The prince raised a third finger. “The third, as Miriamele and Freosel and others have suggested, is to move directly to Erkynland, gambling that we can find enough supporters to overcome Elias’ defenses. There is also a possibility that Isorn and Count Eolair of Nad Mullach may be able to join us with men recruited  in the Frostmarch and Hernystir.” (pg 744).

Josua decided to march to Nabban, much to the dismay of Miriamele.

Cut to King Elias, who tell Pryrates he has heard of Fengbald’s defeat, and believes his brother Josua will come against him…not knowing what he truly faces. “I have friends, now – powerful friends.” he says, even taking Pryrates aback with his forcefulness.

Chapter 25: The Semblance of Heaven - The Talons of Utuk’ku ride out from Stormspike “bearing death for Utuk’ku’s enemies” (remember, she had a vision of something screwing with her plans in chapter 22), similar to Ingen Jegger (which somehow reminds me of Mark Twain’s villain Injun’ Joe).

Josua and company are on the move toward Nabban. Binabik and Sisqui share some time, talking what they will do after “this” is all over.

Simon and Jeremias spar, with Jeremias teasing Simon about mooning over Miriamele. Sir Camaris comes upon them, and asks Simon about his training (or lack thereof) towards being a knight. Camaris lectures them on what knighthood means (with quite a Christian leaning), and then leads them through some basic sword exercises.

Afterwards, with Carmaris’ words about a knight taking care of his horse as if it were a part of him, Simon proceeds to the stables, where he catches Miri acting guiltily around the horses. He convinces her to accompany him back to the camp to hear singing.

Meanwhile, the three Talons of Utuk’ku are watching the camp, waiting for an opportunity.

Chapter 26: A Gift for the Queen - The great company of Josua camps at old Gradrinsett, where most of them were before moving to Sesua’dra. They decide to stay for three nights. Josua, Duke Isgrminur, Camaris and others debate the path they will take to Nabban, citing needs for food and water.

Meanwhile the Talons of Utuk’ku decide they will attack “tomorrow night” when the clouds hide the moon.

Aditu and Simon are playing shent, which usually means Aditu will tease Simon or teach him. This time, as he tells her about Miriamele and his worry that he is not worthy, that he comes from a low house, Aditu tells him the story of why the Sithi and the Norns broke apart, which is why she does not believe any one is beneath another…a good lesson. This is a long excerpt, but important not only for this story, but I believe for the one to come (The Last King of Osten Ard).

“A…bad house?” Aditu looked at him carefully. “Do you ask whether I would consider another of my folk to be beneath me? We have long been too few for that, Seoman. And why must you marry her? Do your people never make love without being married?”
Simon was speechless for a moment. Make love to the king’s daughter without a thought of marrying her? “I am a knight,” he said stiffly. “I have to be honorable.”
“Loving someone is not honorable?” She shook her head, mocking smile now returned. “And you say you do not understand me, Seoman!”
Simon rested his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands. “You mean that your people don’t care who marries who? I don’t believe it.”
“That is what tore asunder the Zida’ya and the Hikeda’ya,” she said. Where he looked up, her gold-flecked gaze had become hard. “We have learned from that terrible lesson.”
“What do you mean?”
“It was the death of Drukhi, the son of Utuk’ku and her husband Ekimeniso Blackstaff, that drove the families apart. Drukhi loved and marries Nanais’u, the Nightingale’s daughter.” She raised her hand and made a gesture like a book being closed. “She was killed by mortals in the years before Tumet’ai was swallowed by the ice. It was an accident. She was dancing in the forest when a mortal huntsman was drawn to the glimmer of her bright dress. Thinking he saw a bird’s plumage, he loosed an arrow. When her husband Drukhi found her, he went mad.” Aidtu bent her head, as though it had happened only a short while before.
After she had gone some moments without speaking, Simon asked: “But how did that drive the families apart? And what does that have to do with marrying whoever you want?”
“It is a very long story, Seoman – perhaps the longest that our people tell, excepting only the flight from the Garden and our coming across the black seas to this land.” She pushed at one of the shent-stones with her fingers. “At that time, Utuk’ku and her husband ruled all of the Gardenborn – they were the keepers of the Year-Dancing groves. When their son fell in love with Nenais’u, daughter of Jenjiyana and her mate Initiri, Utuk’ku furiously opposed it. Nenais’u’s parents were of our Zida’ya clan – although it had a different name in those long-ago days. They were also of the belief that the mortals, who had come to this land after the Gardenborn had arrived, should be permitted to live as they would, as long as they did not make war on our people.”
She made another, more intricate arrangement of the stones on the board before her. “Utuk’ku and her clan felt that the mortals should be pushed back across the ocean, and that those who would not leave should be killed, as some mortal farmers crush the insects they find on their crops. But since the two great clans and the other smaller clans allied with one or the other were so evenly divided, even Utuk’ku’s position as Mistress of Year-Dancing House did not permit her to force her will on the rest. You see, Seoman, we have never had ‘kings’ and ‘queens’ as you mortals have.
“In any case, Utuk’ku and her husband were fiercely angry that their son had married a woman of what they considered to be the traitorous, mortal-loving clan that opposed them. When Nenais’u was slain, Drukhi went mad and swore he would kill every mortal he could find. The men of Nenais’u’s clan restrained him, although they were, in their own way, as bitterly angry and horrified as he. When the Yásira was called, the Gardenborn could come to no decision, but enough feared what might happen if Drukhi was free that they decided he must be confined – something that had never happened this side of the Ocean.” She sighed. “It was too much for him, too much for his madness, to be held prisoner by his own people while those he deemed his wife’s murderers were free. Drukhi made himself die.”
…”So you can see,” Aditu finished, “why we of the Dawn Children are careful to say that someone is above someone else. Those are words that mean tragedy to us.” (pg 778-781)

Aditu goes to Vorzheva’s tent, to give the pregnant woman something to help her rest. Geloë, Gertrun and Miri are there, with Miri thinking herself ugly next to Vorzheva and Aditu. Miri thinks of Simon and her heart goes flutter.

Aditu leaves with Geloë to  speak with her. Aditu believes that Camaris was in the presence of Amerasu and with the Sithi (Amerasu did say, when Jiriki brought Simon to her, that Simon was not the first mortal to have been there). Aditu also believe that Camaris knows more that he will tell, but she cannot get him to come clean.

As they are walking, Aditu says that she smells Kei-vishaa. With no time to explain, she rushes toward something, with Geloë in owl-form following her.

Simon, once again tending his horse, once again finds Miri, who this time confesses that she is leaving (though she will not say where she is going). Simon declares that he will go with her, and makes her wait (under threat of revealing her leaving) while Simon goes and gets his sword and other things. The two leave that camp, seeing a fire that is more than a cook fire, and hoping everyone is all right. This is no doubt what Aditu and Geloë were running toward.

 This ends Part 2, and ends TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER, PART 1. On to PART 2!!!

Next re-read post is here!

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 this eBook. Thank you!

To Green Angel Tower Part 1

To Green Angel Tower Part 1 re-read – Part One – The Waiting Stone

To Green Angel Tower Part 1THE DOOR STOP COMETH!!! This is a big book. In the original hardback it was one of the longest novels ever written. Thus, in turn, this is the longest re-read post in the history of re-read posts. And, of course, it needs to be, since there is a lot to wrap up and a lot of questions to be answered:

  • Who is Simon really? Or, maybe better stated, what is his heritage? Hints no doubt pertain to the ring he wears that came from his mother.
  • What do the three swords do together (besides supposedly stop the Storm King)?
  • What happened in the Garden to make the Sithi, Norns and dwarrows/niskies travel across the sea to escape? What was this Unbeing? Did it have anything to do with them not sharing the secrets of near immortality with the dwarrows and niskies? This may be a subject for the next Osten Ard series.
  • Ineluiki’s brother, Hakatri, has to play a roll in this…or maybe not. May be another Last King of Osten Ard character.

This is the first part of the re-read of To Green Angel Tower, Part 1, the third 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.

This third book (part 1) is 796 pages – paperback. Part One: The Waiting Stone goes from page 33 (after a good thorough “what has come before” section, which should be required of all authors of long series) to 512.

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).

==================

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.

==================

Foreword: Guthwulf is in the King’s hall at a dinner. He feels the call of the King’s sword strongly. Sir Flurien is reporting back from a visit with Duke Benigaris, frustrating the King.

“I helped Benigaris to his throne, Aedon curse him! And I gave him a lector who would not interfere!”
This said, Elias paused. Guthwulf, alone of all the company, heard a sharp intake of breath from Pryrates, who was seated across from the blind earl.
<snip>
The King’s words about the lectorship and Pryrates’ gasp of alarm echoed over and over in his mind. The others would no doubt assume that Elias referred to influencing the selection of the pliable Escritor Velligis to succeed Ranessin as lector – but Guthwulf knew better. Pryrates discomfiture when it seemed the King might say to much confirmed what Guthwulf had already half-suspected: Pryrates had arranged Ranessin’s death. And now Guthwulf felt sure that Elias knew it too – perhaps had even ordered the killing. The king and the counselor had made bargains with demons and had murdered God’s highest priest. (pg 27)

Guthwulf decides he must leave, but when the blind earl attempts it, he gets lost in the Hayholt as it shimmers between the past and the present.

Chapter 1: Under Strange Skies - Simon is at the Stone of Farewell and is going through the ritual to become a knight, spending a purposefully sleepless night at “The Observatory”. Simon is introspective (again, as always) and  is thinking whether this is what it means to be a man:

Was that what growing up meant? Having lots of scars? He supposed it also meant learning from the wounds as well – but what could he learn from the sort of things that had happened to him during the last year? (pg. 36)

As always, he easily sees visions of the past, this time apparently of the breaking up of the Sithi and the Norns.

A Sitha woman in a sky blue robe leaned toward the table and deftly scribed in trails of finger-flame her own additions to the glowing thing. Her hair was blacker than shadow, blacker even than the night sky above Sesuad’ra, a great cloud of darkness around her head and shoulders. For a moment, Simon thought she might be a young Amerasu; but though there was much in this one that was like his memories of First Grandmother, there was much that was not.
Beside her stood a white-bearded man in a billowing crimson robe. Shapes that might have been pale antlers spouted from his brow, bringing Simon a pang of unease – he had seen something like that in other, more unpleasant dreams. The bearded man leaned forward and spoke to her, and she added a new swirl of fire to the design.
Although Simon could not see the dark woman’s face clearly, the one who stood across from her was all too plain. That face was hidden behind a mask of silver, the rest of her form beneath ice-white robes. As if in answer to the black-haired woman, the Norn Queen raised her arm and slashed a line of dull fire all the way across the construct, then waved her hand once more to lay a net of delicately smoking scarlet light over the outermost globe. A man stood beside her, calmly watching her every move. He was tall and seemed powerfully built, dressed all in spiky armor of obsidian black. He was not masked in silver or otherwise, but still Simon could see little of his features. (pg 41)

Simon is celebrated at a feast for Sir Seoman, and, among other gifts, his horse Homefinder is returned to him. Towards the end of the feast, it is announced that Count Eolair has arrived, and brings new information about the three swords.

Chapter 2: Chains of Many KindsI often do not pay much attention to the chapter titles in books I am reading. But most of the ones in this series are quite relevant and often clever, including this one. Miriamele on Aspitis ship, trapped and wrapped up in Aspitis’ charms. Cadrach gets the ship’s Niskie, Gan Itai to get a message to Miri warning her that A-spit-on-us is a creature of Pryrates…but there is nothing she can do.

Back in the Hayholt, Pryrates tries to talk King Elias out of sending Fengbald out after Josua, but the King insists. They have brief exchange as the King asks Pryrates what he gets out of all this…he gives the obvious answer “Power” , then tells the King the truth:

“I want to know everything. For that, I need power, which is a sort of permission. There are secrets so dark, so deep, that the only way to discover them is to tear open the Universe and root about in the very guts of Death and Unbeing.” (pg 67)

Maegwin, after sending Count Eolair away, tends to her people by judging disputes. She still feels finding the dwarrows in the underground city was a failure. She has a stone Count Eolair gave her that was a gift from Yis-fidri. One night she hears a message in her dreams, which tells her to Climb – Go to the High Place. Either gifted or nuttier that a Christmas fruit cake, she assumes this is a message from the Gods.

Miriamele goes to see Gan Itai, who explains that she knows Miri is the princess and not Lady Marya as she has claimed to be. She takes Miri through the sides of the ship to see chained-up Cadrach, who tells her to send a note to the inn called Pelippa’s Bowl. She learns a bit about the Niskies from Gan Itai, and returns to her room…only to have Aspitis come in, and proclaim that they will be married since they are already lovers.

“They bound Ruyan Ve’, did you know? The father of our people, the Great Navigator. When he would have taken the ships and set sail once more, they seized him in their anger and bound him in chains.” The Niskie rocked back and forth. “And then they burned the ships.” (pg 83)

Chapter 3: East of the World – The sword Thorn and Count Eolair have come to the Stone of Farewell. Simon, adjusting to being a knight, is included in the council. Eolair catches them up on what has been happening with Hernystir, and tells them of the dwarrows they have found. He also tells them what the dwarrows revealed: that King John’s sword Bright-nail is actually Minneyar (the third sword Memory).

“The passage that troubled Jarnauga so, the passage from Morgenes’ book! It told how John went down to face the dragon – but he carried a spear! A spear! Oh goodness, how blind we were!” The old priest giggled like a young boy. “But when he came out, it was with Bright-Nail!” (pg 101)

Eolair also brought them maps of the tunnels and burrows under the Hayholt, copied from the dwarrows’ stone walls.

Pryrates visits the water wheel and iron works, deep under the castle, guarded by Norns (Norns in the Hayholt!). The water wheel is connected to chains that go up in the darkness, toward Pryrates workroom. Inch is the foreman, and Pryrates gives him work to be completed.

A quick look-in on Duke Isgrimnur, still in Kwanitupul, with no luck in getting Camaris to speak, let alone remember who he is.

Simon, Jeremias and Leleth are searching for the source of a spring. Leleth still does not speak since her run in with the hounds, but hangs around Jeremias. Binabik comes to retrieve Simon as the council meeting resumes. Josua presents the council with three questions to answer, and Geloë adds a fourth:

  • What does King Elias plan to do?
  • How can they assemble a force to stop it?
  • How can they retrieve the other two swords to stop the Storm King?
  • And how much time do they have?

In the end, Josua sends Isorn and others with Count Eolair back to Hernystir. Simon proposes sending himself, Binabik and Sludig to sneak in and get Bright-Nail, but Josua shoots it down as too dangerous. As Binabik tries to comfort a frustrated Simon, Binabik lets loose with another quality Binabik-ism:

“Winter is not being the time for naked swimming.” (pg 122)

Chapter 4: The Silent Child – Miriamele sees the kilpa “pawing” at the ship, apparently trying to get on. She tells Aspitis this, but he says they will not board while Gan Itai is aboard to soothe them with singing. Miri tells Aspitis that she cannot marry him, that she is promised to another, but Aspitis starts laughing, tells her he knows she is the Princess, and that they will be married, so that he can be in line for King Elias’ throne. Sneaky and Cheeky bugger, ain’t he?

Tiamak is wondering around Kwanitupul, angry at being there as he did not follow his elders instructions, and upset that he cannot leave. Three Fire Walkers stalk him, taunt him, and when they start to attack him, Camaris shows up and beats the three of them unarmed…but still says nothing. That night, Tiamak dreams of Miri on the boat (the dream road appears to be still easily opened).

Maegwin takes her dream to Diawen the scryer. After having Maegwin concentrate her vision into a “worm glass” (maybe another Norn/Sitha stone?), Daiwen tells that, as her dream tells her, she should go to the “high place.” Maegwin, in spite of weather worthy of Lambeau Field in January (GO PACK GO), climbs to the top of the mountain and yells for the gods to come and talk to her.

Miri is in bed with Aspitis (tsk tsk), and a shipman knocks on the door. Miri is ashamed that the crew knows Aspitis is in her room, in her bed. She decides to take her own life, and goes to Aspitis quarters to look for a weapon to commit suicide with. She discovers that he has a Fire Dancer robe, and has been giving money to Fire Dancers at all of their ports to encourage them (the little wimp keeps records of this!). She takes the dagger back to her room, but Gan Itai the Niskie navigator comes to her, asking if the rumors of her impending marriage to Aspitis are true. Gan Itai sees the dagger, and Miri confesses her plan, and tells her that Aspitis is not only a Fire Dancer and instigator, but he knows Miri is the princess. Gan Itai say that Fire Dancers burned a Niskie village, and she asks Miri to give her some time to work on a way out.

Chapter 5:  Wasteland of Dreams – Simon, now a knight, continues his training with Sludig. His brain is obviously wired differently, through experiences and through heritage (still not revealed!):

As they sparred, he thought of shent, the intricate game of the Sithi, with its feints and puzzling strikes, and wondered if the same things might work in swordplay. He allowed his next few strikes to carry him farther and farther off-balance, until Sludig could not help but notice; then, when the Rimmersman swept in on the heels of one of Simon’s flailing misses with the aim of catching him leaning too far and smacking him on the ribs, Simon let his swing carry him all the way forward into a tumbling roll. The Rimmersman’s sword hissed over him. Simon then righted himself and whacked Sludig neatly on the side of the knee. The Northerner dropped his blade and hopped up and down, cursing. (pg 156)

Geloë gathers Simon, Binabik and Father Strangeyeard to join her and Leleth on a quest through the Road of Dreams, to see if they can reach Tiamak and Miriamele before “another Storm comes”, as Geloë says. They are able to reach Tiamak in his dreams, and he tries to tell them of Camaris, and of the Duke, but cannot…but he does communicate “Nisses book” to them. They are stumped trying to reach Miriamele, running into a barrier. Leleth, who moves most freely in the dreamworld, pushes hard with Simon but they cannot penetrate whatever is keeping them out. Simon almost gets lost in the dream world by continuing to push.

Geloeë meets with Josua and tells him what they learned on the Dream Road, but also tells him she has been talking to the birds and discovered that a large force of men has left the Hayholt heading in their direction. After the initial shock of the fact that she can talk to birds, Josua and Deneroth start planning for defense.

Simon has a dream where he was “seated on a massive throne made of smooth white stone.” Some foreshadowing of who Simon really is, perhaps? He awakens from his dream and finds Josua come to see how he is feeling. Josua tells him Geloë’s news about an army coming. Josua also expresses worry for his future child, if Josua does win the throne from his brother:

…one day I would have to send my son off to do something I could not do – something dangerous and glorious. That is the way of kings and their sons. And I would never sleep again, waiting to hear that he had been killed.” (pg 175)

Simon reminds him that daughters are no safer, citing Miriamele and Vorzheva’s perils. A bit of foreshadowing on Josua’s desire to not put his children through that…LAST KING OF OSTEN ARD, where are you when we need you?

Simon, frustrated by not being able to reach Miri, takes the dragon mirror that Jiriki gave him (while noticing the package that Aditu gave him at the end of the previous book to give to Josua, and having an “oh crap, I forgot moment“). As usual, Simon goes in with bluster and confidence, but is quickly grabbed by something more powerful than he (most likely the Storm King). He asks for “help” and Jiriki comes to him on the Dream Road and pulls him away from the big baddies, admonishing Simon for traveling the Dream Road alone. Jiriki says his father is dying, and all of the house of the Sithi are gathering, but he cannot promise to help. He shows Simon a glimpse through the mirror.

“Look. The members of all the Houses are joined at Jao é-Tinukai’i. Cheka-’iso Amber Locks is here, as is Zinjadu, Lore-Mistress of Lost Kementari, and Yizashi Grayspear. Even Kuroyi the tall horseman has come, who has not joined with the House of Year-Dancing since Shi’iki and Senditu’s day. The exiles have returned, and we will fight as one people, as we have not done since Asu’a fell. In this anyway, Amerasu’s death and my father’s sacrifice will not be in vain.” (pg 183)

Any of these characters going to be in The Last King of Osten Ard?

Jiriki helps Simon off the dream road.

Chapter 6: The Sea-Grave – Gan Itai hatches a plan to get Miriamele and Cadrach off of Aspitis ship…at much risk to Gan Itai. The Niskie tells the Princess to sneak some bags into the landing boat, and to find tools Gan Itai has hidden and break Cadrach’s chains…and then to make for the landing boat that evening, making sure nobody bolts her into her room.

Tiamak tells Duke Isgrimnur of the message he received from Geloë on the Dream Road. They argue about going to the Stone of Farewell now (Tiamak’s desire, as he carries the copy of Nisses’ lost book) vs. waiting for Miri (as the Duke wishes). Tiamak packs, as though to head out on his own, and reads a piece of the Nisses book he carries:

“…Bringe from Nuanni’s Rock Garden
The Man who tho’ blinded canne see
Discover the Blade that Delivers the Rose
At the foote of the Rimmer’s great tree
Find the Call whose lowde Claim
Speaks the Call-bearer’s name
In a Shippe on the Shallowest Sea
- When Blayde, Call and Man
Come to Prince’s right Hande
Then the Prisoned shall once more go Free…

A nice little prophecy on Camaris and one of the swords. Tiamak describes hypothetically how he alone or with the Duke and company would make it to the Stone.

Maegwin’s people find the crazy lady on the mountain freezing in the snow and leaning off the mountain like she was ready to jump. Apparently they had been looking for her for three days. She believes her vision from the gods told her they are coming, but she does not know what to do next. After coming down from the mountain, she talks to the scryer Diawen, who tells her “The gods help those who are bold”. Maegwin thinks this means she should take her very small army and take up arms against Skali, but she goes off to think on it.

Miri sneaks the supplies into the boat undetected, then goes down to free Cadrach. She finds tools where Gan Itai said they would be, and works with Cadrach to free his arms and legs. They tie the chains back together to give the appearance of them still be in working order, then Miri leaves, asking Cadrach to work the blood back into his legs. Feigning sea sickness in the storm to keep Aspitis out of her bed (or her in his), at the appointed time Miri dons her monk traveling clothes and sets out.

The Niskie’s song, rising above the storm noises, had a weird, unsettling quality, far less pleasant to the ear than usual. Perhaps it was the Niskie’s obvious unhappiness coming out in her song, Miriamele thought. (pg 209)

Gan Itai singing draws the kilpa up to the deck of the boat, instead of keeping them away as usual, thus revealing her plan to help Miri and Cadrach escape. After fighting off their own kilpa, they get to the boat. Miri goes back for Gan Itai, who tells her she is not coming, that she must save the boat after Miri and Cadrach have made their escape. Miri gets back to the landing boat and Aspitis arrives as they are leaving. He threatens her with his sword, so Miri tosses his dagger at his feet. When he bends to pick it up, she hits him in the stomach with the oar, and then whacks his pretty face with it. Cadrach and she jump over board toward the landing boat, and, they hope, a kilpa-less freedom.

Chapter 7: Storm King’s Anvil – The storm, after a bit of a layoff, has started again in earnest.

Like a tide moving toward some unimaginable high water mark, the storm spread further than ever before, bringing frost to southern lands that had never felt its touch and draping a great cold shroud over all of Osten Ard. It was a storm that numbed hearts and crushed spirits. (pg 223)

Fengbald and his army, along with some Thirthing mercenaries, have captured all of the folks who stayed at old Gadrinsett and have torched the town. Fengbald has designs on King Elias’s crown (who doesn’t?), noting that Elias is obviously sick. He interrogates the “Lord Mayor of Gadrinsett” for information about Josua and how many folks he has on the Stone of Farewell. The Thirthing leader is irritated by his delay, but Fengbald tries to teach him how to be treacherous.

Rachael is moving about the castle using the passageways behind the walls (Now I know where that rascal Simon used to disappear to!) While searching for food, she overhears King Elias looking for his cupbearer, and suffering…and then hears Pryrates. She is almost discovered. Pryrates assures the King that his suffering is worth “the greatest gift.” They leave without seeing Rachael.

Guthwulf is blind and thinks he is going mad (and he is probably right). He hears and feels the ghost-like presence of “others”, most likely either the dream road barriers falling down, or Pryrates experiments making the barriers between time and space transparent. A cat finds him, and returns a bit of his sanity.

The Queen of the Norns awakens sensing an uncertainty that has entered into the pattern of events she has crafted over centuries.

Chapter 8: Nights of Fire – Sir Seoman (or Simon, as I like to call him), at Josua’s request, leads a party (which includes Sludig and Hotvig) to determine the size of Fengbald’s army (folks fleeing from Old Gadrinsett have come to the Stone of Farewell bearing tales of this army). Simon’s first command gets him excited, even though he believes Josua sent Hotvig along to keep an eye on him. The storm is fierce and covers their approach. They count campfires, then sneak closer and count bodies around campfires to do the math. As an act of defiance, Simon borrows one of the Thirthing men’s bows and sends a flaming arrow into one of the tents.

Josua is worrying about the pregnant Vorzheva whilst she is trying to get him to stop worrying (this could go on for a while!). Apologies to Tad for turning five pages of prose into a one-liner.

Simon is introspective on his way back to the camp on the Stone, thinking about what knights do, warring or ruling over their fiefdoms.

So which was better? To flee war, or to try to make yourself so strong that no one could hurt you? Morgenes had told him that such problems were the stuff of kingship, the sort of questions that kept goodhearted monarchs awake at night when all their subjects were sleeping. (pg 259)

Binabik meets them at the shores of their “moat” and tell them the lake is mostly frozen, a hit to their defensive plans. As they make their way on the flatboats across the un-frozen parts, Sludig thinks he sees lights on the far shore.

Sir Deornoth admires the way Simon gives his report to Josua. Freosel, who was the constable of Old Gadrinsett, informs Josua the the Lord Mayor (whom Fengbald was just coincidently interrogating) has escaped and says he knows Fengbald’s attack plans. Geloë warns that she sees a “shadow” in the eyes of Helgrim, the Lord Mayor. Josua decides to speak with him. Feosel also informs the group that they are running out of food, and that folks are leaving for fear of starvation.

Simon dreams (that boy is always asleep) of Morgenes, who tells him once again “beware of the false messenger” and “you must fight for something…hate is not enough.” Binabik awakens him, asks him to get dressed and leads him toward the lights that Sludig was seeing. It is a group of trolls led by Binabik’s girl friend Sisqi. Simon and Binabik dance the night way with them, forgetting about war for a bit.

Chapter 9: Pages in an Old Book – Miriamele and Cadrach are in the landing boat, slowly rowing to shore. Cadrach tells his tale to Miri, slowly but surely. Cadrach says he overheard Dinivan saying they should make for Kwanitupul.

Cadrach tells how he met Morgenes in a library in the town Cadrach grew up, and how Morgenes put him forward as a member of the League of the Scroll and how he met the other Scrollbearers.

This is one of those chapters where the entire chapter should be recorded, as Cadrach’s story tells the story of Pryrates’ origin and of the League. But in the interests of brevity I will only enter snippets.

“…he told me of the League of the Scroll, which was formed long ago by Saint Eahlstan Fiskerne, the Hayholt’s Fisher King. Eahlstan inherited Fingil’s castle and his sword Minneyar but he wanted nothing to do with the Rimmersman’s heritage of destruction – especially the destruction of learning. Eahlstan wanted instead to conserve knowledge that otherwise might vanish into shadow – and to use that knowledge when it seemed necessary.” (pg. 289)

He is introduced to Xorastra, one of the other Scrollbearers, who has two candidates of her own (like Cadrach is Morgenes’ candidate).

“Both of them were younger than I was. Dinivan was a mere youth at the time, studying with the Usirean brothers. Sharp-eyed Xorastra had seen the spark in him, and thought that if he were brought into contact with Morgenes and the others, that spark might become a great and warming fire by which the church she still loved could greatly benefit. The other that she put forward was a clever young priest, just ordained, who came from a poor island family, but who had made his way into a small sort of prominence by the swiftness of his mind.” (pg 290)

This second candidate is Pryrates. Cadrach says that he made him the man he is today. The fact that Pryrates and Dinivan were candidates together makes Pryrates murder of Dinivan all the more despicable, doesn’t it?

Cadrach descended into drunkenness, and left the order, taking with him some treasures, including a copy of Nisses’ rare book. Miriamele asks about Nisses.

“He was a man who came out of the North beyond Elvritshalla, from the land of the Black Rimmermen who live below Stormspike, and presented himself to Fingil, King of Rimmersgard. He was no court conjurer, but it is said that he gave Fingil the power that enabled him to conquer half of Osten Ard. That power may have been wisdom, for Nisses knew the facts of things that no one else even dreamed existed. After Asu’a was conquered and Fingil died at last, Nisses served Fingil’s son Hjeldin. It was during those years that he wrote his book – a book that contained part of the dreadful knowledge that he had brought with him when he appeared in a murderous snowstorm outside Fingil’s gates. He and Hjeldin both dies in Asu’a – the young king by throwing himself out the window of the tower that bears his name. Nisses was found dead in the room from which Hjeldin leapt, with no mark upon him. There was a smile on his face, and the book was clutched in his hands.” (pg 296)

Cadrach is affected when he reads Nisses’ book and it drives him to “oblivion” and drink. He doesn’t sell it to Pryrates, for he knew him to be evil, but sells it for money to buy more drink. But Pryrates knew he had a copy, finds Cadrach and tortures him into telling him the parts that he remembers, and then into to telling Pryrates who he sold the pages to.

Cadrach thinks Miriamele will no longer wants his company, but she tells him to rest and they will row to shore in the morning.

Chapter 10: Riders of the Dawn – A welcoming party is given for the trolls that have come to the Stone of Farewell. There is much drink and talk, and Binabik and Sisqui have a nice reunion. As one point, talking about Josua, Towser says “He is his father’s child, that’s for certain.” and it is obvious he is not talking about Prester John (oh the foreshadowing of it all).

Simon helps Binabik take the rafts apart so that pieces of them (nails) can be used to help in the defense against Fengbald. Binabik also teaches Simon the Qanuc language so that Simon can communicate with Sisqi’s troll army during the battle.

Simon is dreaming of the three swords when Sludig awakens him with news that Fengbald is preparing to attack. As he is looking for his gloves he find the bundle that Aditu had given him to give to Josua (which he had forgotten to do!) in the last chapter of the previous book (which means it was quite a while ago) and remembered again in Chapter 5 of this book…but this time he takes it to Josua. Josua, surrounded by a war council of sorts, listens to Simon’s story. Though the horn has runes on it which are Sithi, there is a letter with the horn, written by Amerasu, which is in Westerling. It reads “May this horn be given to its rightful owner when all seems lost.”

Of course, they all try a blow (some of them several) but none of them are “its rightful owner.” Even though they are certainly in a time of need, they set the horn aside.

Binabik gives Simon a shield hand-painted with his coat of arms. Josua gives a speech that is very much like the one below (both groups have a drunk at least! and if you replace “Earth” with “New Gadrinsett“), and then they are off to get ready for battle.

Josua and Fengbald meet on the ice, exchange a few threats. Geloë throws out the threat of the Sithi coming to protect their rock. Then Fengbald’s army pushes forward a sledge, perfect for the ice. Simon watches with his troll army, and waits.

Far from Sesua’dra, Jiriki calls the Sithi to ride to war. Are they coming to the aide of Simon and friends?

Chapter 11: The Road Back – Miriamele and Cadrach after another three weeks “living like beggars” finally make their way to Kwanitupul, and make their way to the Inn called Pelippa’s Bowl (which used to be owned by Soria Xorastra of the League). They finally meet up with Duke Isgrimnur.

Tiamak comes back to the Inn, and warns them that he saw soldiers, including Aspitis, looking for them and the Inn. They decide to bug out quickly and follow Tiamak’s suggestion to go through the Wran to get to Josua (who, much to Miriamele’s surprise and relief, is rumored to be alive north of the Thirthings). They set about patching a boat, gathering food and water from the inkeeper, who they take with them as they paddle away just in advance of Aspitis and his men.

Eolair, Isorn and four Thirthings men, traveling back with Eolair have met a Rimmersman “from Skoggey” who takes them into a camp of a few dozen men. Isorn rallies them to their cause.

Maegwin shares her plan, based on what the gods told her on top of the mountain. She has one of the scribes who was under the mountain describe the wonders he saw, and has Crohban, her fathers counselor, describe her being found on the frozen mountain where she had been for three days, unharmed and in a deep dream state talking to the gods. She whips her people into a fervor, and then says she will tell them what to do…and then we fade to another scene.

Isgrimner, Miriamele and the rest drop off the captive innkeeper and head for the Wran, with Tiamak warning them of dangers ahead.

Chapter 12: Raven’s Dance – The battle for Sesua’dra begins, with Simon awaiting patiently while Deornoth leads the defender’s first sally. Josua exclaims that he hopes “Fengbald will take the feint” and, in the absence of Binabik, uses Jerimiasas a runner to Freosel and his archers and to ready Hotvig and his riders. Deornoth has his remaining men retreat.

Binabik is missing, and Simon discovers Sisqi is missing as well. Jerimias takes Josua’s message to Simon to have him wait a bit after the horn blows. Simon wants to run off and look for Sisqi, but Jerimias reminds him that he is a “trollish war chieftain now” (which is a very cool title).

Binabik returns, stating he dislodged several of Fengbald’s men from the cliffs by rolling stones upon them. He and the others with Josua think they see Fengbald’s red cape behind his men. Josua has Sangfugol blow on his horn the signal for Freosel, whose men loose arrows from hidden places at Fengbald’s forces. Then he gives the signal for Hotvig’s riders.

Hotvig’s riders have better traction on the ice than Fengbald’s, thanks to Binabik’s innovation with the nail and the horses hooves. Fengbald and Lehzdraka, the mercenary Thirthings leader, see this, and attack with greater numbers. Fengbald says to kill everyone, while the mercenary tells his people in their language that a live prince will bring a better ransom.

Josua comes down to the front to Deornoth, putting the iron shoes on his horse. He will joint the battle over Deornoth and everyone else’s objections.

Sisqi rejoins Simon, and he leads his troll horde down into the battle, them on rams, him on his horse Homefinder.

Hotvig’s initial attack had split Fengbald’s line and scattered it away from the safety of the sledge-scrapped track. Deornoth’s soldier – all but a few on foot – had then surged our from behind the barricade and flung themselves on those Erkyngaurd who had been cutoff from their own rearguard by Hotvig’s action…Simon’s troop struck the mercenaries from the blind side; those closest to the on-coming Qanuc had only a moment to look around in amazement before being skewered by the short spears of the trolls. A few of the Thirthings-men seemed to regard the onrushing Qanuc with a shock that seemed closer to superstitious terror than mere surprise. (pg 388).

Simon kills his first man in combat, then another. Then gets into a sword fight with a third.

It was only as he and this other were hacking at each other that Simon abruptly realized that to these enemies he was no child. He was taller than this particular mercenary, and in his helmet and mail shirt, he doubtless seemed a large and fearsome fighter. Abruptly heartened, he renewed his attack, driving the Thirthings-man backward. Then, as the man stopped, and his horse came breast-to-breast with Homefinder, Simon remembered his lessons from Sludig. He feinted a clumsy swing and the mercenary seized the bait, leaning too far forward with his return stroke. Simon let the man’s sword carry him well off-balance, then slammed his shield against the man’s leather helm and followed with a sword thrust that slide between the tow halves of the man’s chest armor and into his unprotected side. The mercenary stayed in his saddle as Simon pulled Homefinder back, tugging loose his sword, but before Simon turned away his opponent had already fallen awkwardly to the bloody ice.

Panting, Simon looked around him and wondered who was winning. (pg 391-392)

Williams does an excellent job in this chapter of telling the strategy of the battle, but making us realize it is only about individual conflicts in the midst of the chaos. And Simon finally realizes that he is large!

Josua calls everyone back behind the barricade as the sun goes down. Simon sees Sisqi looking over her dead ram, and grabs her. They see a knot of their own surrounded, unable to retreat, and go back for them, rescuing a few and retreating behind the barricade.

Fengbald is not pleased with the outcome of the day’s fight. But Helfgrim, the old Lord Mayor of Gadrinsett, comes back from Josua’s camp. With his daugther’s threatened by Fengbald, he tells them of another way up the Stone, through on old poorly guarded Sithi trail. Fengbald says he will take Helfgrim with him to show the way.

Chapter 13: The Nest Builders – Miriamele, Tiamak and company are making their way through the Wran. Miri draws Tiamak out a bit by asking him about the local plants, and adding them to their cook pot. Tiamak shares his fears with the company: their best route is through his village but since he went to Kwanitupul instead of doing as his elders wished, he is concerned that he will be detained. After much debate, they decide they must proceed to his village.

They pass the pool of Sekob, who is a croc or gator or dinosaur(!) as long as ten men. Isgrimnur was skeptical before, but now he be a believer!

Tiamak tells them of the ways of the Wran, a people without a king where a man can become an elder by providing feasts for others. Duke Isgrimnur is again skeptical, and Cadrach sarcastically says that “passing lands down to sons” or “winning lands by hitting people with axes” is just as daft. Sometimes Cadrach is insightful and funny.

Miri watches Camaris.

Miriamele could stare without embarrassment: the tall man seemed quite uncaring, no more interested in the business of his fellows than a horse in a paddock might be with traders talking by the fence. Observing his bland but certainly not stupid face, it was almost impossible to believe that she was in the presence of a legend. The name of Camaris-sá-Vinita was nearly as famous as that of her grandfather Prester John, and both of them, she felt sure, would be remembered by generations yet unborn. Yet here he was, old and witless, when all the world had thought him dead. How could such a thing have come to pass? What secrets hid behind his guileless exterior? (pg 416)

They enter Village Grove, Tiamak’s home city. They stay the night and have a sleepover at Tiamak’s place, as he checks in on his birds (ably assisted by Camaris). In the morning, he finds some old buried flour (!) to cook with. Miri has him take her to a freshwater pond where she can bathe. On the way back, she sees her first ghant.

They get to the center of Village Grove and everyone is gone. Tiamak takes a boat and goes off by himself to look for Old Mogahib, the village elder…but Tiamak does not return. They go after him, find his boat and find not Tiamak but an old Wranman, assumably Old Mogahib.

The group travels aways while Old Mogahib sleeps (not unlike Simon’s snoozing). When the round a bend and see a giant ghants nest capable of holding hundreds of the critters, Old Mogahib is awake enough to yell something in Wran-lang akin to “Tiamak is in there.”

Chapter 14: Dark Corridors – Rachael is roaming through the Hayholt, gathering provisions for the hiding place she has found and made her home. She barely avoids some Norns/White Foxes, and runs into Guthwulf, who she realizes is blind and mostly mad.

Guthwulf is roaming, trying to keep his sanity, and he feels the sword that Elias made him touch, always drawing him. He feels the fires of the forge.

Inch is in the forges, explaining delays to King Elias (obviously the source of the sword Guthwulf senses). Inch tells the King that they only see parts of the plans…just as Pryrates shows up. After a bit of back and forth (“we don’t have it all”, “it is secret, you don’t need it all”), Pryrates spell seems to fall on the King and he leaves, after giving a lackadasical order of when everything should be done.

Back to Rachael, who is making her way back to her hiding place and runs into Hengfish. Hengfish (who, you may recall, has appeared and disappeared in several chapters; he was originally a monk but stumbled into Naglimund after the Norns had taken it, and now serves the King as one possessed) appears to be dazed and lets loose with some foreign words. Rachael escapes him, and runs back to her hidey hole.

Chapter 15: Lake of Glass – The Sithi were riding.

Long the Peaceful Ones had hidden from the eyes of the world, nursing their sadness, living only in the memories of other days. Today the rode in armor as brilliant as the plumage of birds, their spears shining like frozen lightning. They sang, for the Sithi had always sung. They rode, and the old ways unfolded before them, forest glades echoing to their horses’ hoofbeats for the first time since the tallest trees were seedlings. After a sleep of centuries, a giant had awakened.  (pg 456-457)

What a tease! The Sithi are not coming to help the 2nd day of the battle at the Stone of Farewell.

Simon cannot sleep, and wanders over to where Josua and the others are discussing the upcoming battle. Freosel informs them that Helfgrim, Gradinsett’s mayor, is gone. They hope he is not hurt (if you recall, dear reader, that he went to Fengbald in Chapter 12 to trade information for his daughters).

Freosel hopes that Simon can summon the Sithi. Sludig hears this, and says “God gives a man what he deserves, no more, no less.” After Sludig leaves, Simon asks Binabik and Strangeyeard if they believe this is true.

“Because my friends Morgenes and Haestan certainly didn’t get what they deserved – one burned, and one crushed from a giant’s club.” Simon could not keep the bitterness from his voice.

Strangeyeard tells him God has plans, which Simon says that is what priests always say.

“He may have chosen to forget the more painful things,” Strangeyeard said gently. “If you lived forever and experienced every pain in the world as though it were your own – died with every soldier, cried with every widow and orphan, shared every mother’s grief at the passing of a beloved child – would you perhaps not yearn to forget to?” (pg 460)

Binabik asks why Sludig’s words struck him so.

Simon shook his head. “I just don’t know how to… to be. These men have come to kill us – I want them all to die painfully, horribly…But Binabik, these are the Erkynguard! I knew them at the castle. Some of them used to give me sweets, or life me up on their horses and tell me I reminded them of their own sons.” He fidgeted with a stick, scuffing at the muddy soil. “Which is right? How could they do these things to us, who never did them any harm? But the King is making them, so why should they be killed, any more than us?”

Binabik says

“The questions you are asking are important ones, but they are also questions without answers. This is what being a man or woman means, I am thinking, instead of a boy or girl child. You must be finding your own solutions to questions that have no true answers.” (pg 461)

They read a bit of Morgenes book, which says Camaris had similar questions, then try to sleep before the battle.

The battle starts again:

Those who survived this battle would call it by many names: t Josua and his closest company, it was the Siege of Sesua’dra. For the captains of Fengbald’s Erkynlandish troop, it was Stefflod Valley. To the mercenary Thirthings-men, it was the Battle of the Stone. But for most who remembered it, and few did without a shudder, the name that was most evocative was Lake of Glass. (p 467)

Helms’ Deep, anyone?

Simon fights, and begins to feel his oats a bit, seeing fear in his opponents eyes. He cleaves a man’s head nearly off after seeing one of his troll friends run through. Sisqi finds him and says his “Crohook friend” is in trouble, and they rush in and save a surrounded Sludig. Sludig asks where Deornoth is, says he slew the mercenary leader. They find Deornoth nearly dead. Simon helps Sludig put Deornoth on this horse, then Simon sees the red cloak of Fengbald. Thinking to end it all, he rushes him, captures him and lifts his helm…to find it is not Fengbald.

And then we cut out of the excitement to Maegwin, who is leading her people (mostly the old, the young and the unable to fight, singing uplifting Hernystir national songs) out of the mountains. They encounter Skali’s men, who say they are too many to surrender. Maegwin says they are there to take back their homes, with the gods help of course, and they keep walking (now with a north Rimmersmen escort). When they get to the Hernysadharc, and make their way to the former King’s residence the Taig, Skali waits them on the steps. He listens to Maegwin’s demands from the gods that they leave, then tells his men to put them into pens. Maegwin despairs, and calls for the gods.

And then we cut back to the big battle.

Simon has the false Fengbald, but the real Fengbald is being lead up a back trail by Helfgrim, the ex-Lord Mayor of Gadrinsett. As they approach the top, Helfgrim asks that the men carrying his daughters be allowed to ride next to him.

At the top of the trail, they are stopped by a handful of men. One of them, Freosel, Freobeorn’s son, hails them, offering to let them live if they retreat. He says they are from the village of Falshire, which Fengbald burned to the ground (along with these men’s wives and children, way back in Book 1, The Dragonbone Chair). Fengbald orders his troops forward. Freosel and his group draw heavy mallets and start pounding the ice. They, along with Helfgrim (whose brother was mayor of Falshire and killed by Fengbald) had prepared this trap for Fengbald. The ice cracks and Fenbald, Helfgrim, his daughters and the majority of Fengbald’s troops, fall in and drown.

And back to Maegwin.

Maegwin screams for the gods, Skali says her gods are dead and makes to grab her. Then a horn sounds and a troop comes riding in with various colors of armor (must be the Sithi). Skali’s men scramble and one of them konks Maegwin on the head.

And back to Simon.

Binabik, Qantaqa and Sisqi find Simon, sitting beside the guy who was pretending to be Fengbald. Simon is spent, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Binabik tells him it is over, the real Fengbald is dead, “though the price was high” and they get Simon up to walk him back. Simon says “I want to go home.”

Chapter 16: Torches in the Mud – Duke Isgrimnuer and Miriamele plan to rescue Tiamak from the ghants nest. Cadrach says he cannot go into the nest, that in reminds him too much of a place he has been before. They have Cadrach pole their boat out toward the nest where they capture and kill one, examining its armor to see how they can defend themselves against an entire nest of them.  They find that the shells can be pierced, and that ghants have no stingers or pincers. Instructing Cadrach to pole the boat to the middle and wait for them (with lots of threats from the Duke about hunting Cadrach down if he abandons them), Isgrimnur, Camaris (who I’d forgotten about, he hadn’t been mentioned in this chapter until this point) and Miri find an entrance big enough and they enter.

It stinks.

They go through tunnels that seem to loop back on each other, kill one ghant, and then get stuck and un-stuck in the ooze. They scare and follow a group of ghants, and come to a vast center chamber with hundreds and hundreds of ghants, humming. And in the middle is Tiamak, in some kind of trance with strange words coming out of his mouth.

As Isgrimnur tries to think up a plan, Camaris heads toward Tiamak, swinging his torch. Isgrimnur goes after him, telling Miri to stay near the tunnel with her torch held high so that they can find their way back. But of course, MIRI NEVER LISTENS. She puts two torches near the entrance and heads after the Duke, nearly getting overwhelmed by ghants before Isgrimnur grabs her on the way back, Camaris trailing him with Tiamak in tow.

They are pursued, lose their way, and then are surrounded by ghants. Isgrimnur decides to go through the walls, and kicks a hole through the nest. Miri gets the Duke and Camaris’ shirts, lights them from their torches and sticks them in the hole, which scares the ghants from following them.

The group follows tunnels that lead up, kick a few more walls in, and then find daylight and are out. Cadrach and the boat are nowhere to be found. The ghants surround them again, and, just as they are about to fight, fiery balls shoot toward the ghants. Cadrach used some of his alchemy skilz and made weapons out of the palm oil leaves. After a few well places missiles, the crew jumps down, gets into the boat and escapes, leaving the flaming nest behind.

This ends Part 1, the longest re-read post in the series (as this part has more pages than any other). The re-read for Part 2 of this book starts here.

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 this eBook. Thank you!

Review of SLEEPING LATE ON JUDGEMENT DAY posted on SFSignal

Review of SLEEPING LATE ON JUDGEMENT DAY posted on SFSignal

My review of Sleeping Late on Judgement Day, the third novel in Tad Williams’ Bobby Dollar series, was posted at SFSignal on Christmas Eve. Does that make it a Christmas miracle?

An excerpt:

In this the third (but doubtfully final) novel in the Bobby Dollar series, Williams has propped up many questions to be answered:

  • Who in Heaven has it in for Dollar and why?
  • Who is Bobby? Or rather who was he when he was alive? And does who he was in real life have anything to do with Why these things keep happening to him?
  • Who is Clarence really and who is he spying for?
  • Why don’t the all knowing powers of Heaven smite him down for his recent trip to Hell.

It is difficult to do world building in a known world. The tropes of Heaven and Hell are well known and have been written to death (poor pun intended). But Williams does create a unique vision where Heaven is not all knowing, is certainly not perfect and is prone to insurgencies just like any other Kingdom.

He’s built this world around a rouge angel who is now an advocate for the dead but used to be in the Navy Seal part of the angel corps. Dollar curses, drinks, is sometimes irreverent and always sarcastic.

“That’s not an excuse, or rather it is an excuse. Yes, I drink more than I should, and if I didn’t have a very fit angel’s body which could heal a deep wound in twenty-four hours or less, I’m sure my liver would be in a jar somewhere in a medical museum, next to Rasputin’s famous kielbasa and Einstein’s deli-sliced brain.” (pg 197)

The rules of this world and the character of Dollar are what makes this series interesting. The closest character that I’ve seen to Dollar is Constantine though there are some marked differences. Both are irreverent but Dollar shows a certain respect and fear for what those in charge in Heaven would do to him if he’s caught breaking the rules. Their motivations are different as well, as Dollar gets in trouble just trying to save his demon girlfriend, and trying to have more hot demon sex (can I say that out loud here on SFSignal?)

Henceforth details of the first two books will be included, thus noted for spoiler avoidance.

Dollar has survived Hell only to have lord of Hell Eligor trick him and keep both his girlfriend and the angel feather. The angel feather was part of a pact with some unknown angel and Eligor to create a “Third Way”, a place outside of Heaven and Hell for souls. And Dollar’s best friend Sam, who has made himself scarce as of late due to his own involvement in the “Third Way”, could have the answers that Bobby seeks.

After a drunken stupor, Dollar realizes that Eligor must have exchanged something to the angel for the feather and that whoever the angel is that is Eligor’s partner in crime has been sending nasty things Bobby’s way to try and kill him. Dollar tries to figure out both mysteries: who is the powerful angel doing these things behind Heaven’s back and where is the item Eligor traded for the feather? And can Dollar use it to get his girlfriend back?

Click here for the entire review.

Stone_of_Farewell

Stone of Farewell re-read – Part Three – Storm’s Heart

It has taken me a while to do this part three re-read post. I must confess…I read ahead. I got into the story and slammed through the rest of it, re-read notes be damned! But persistence is key!

This is the third and last part of the re-read of Stone of Farewell, the second 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.

This second book is 727 pages – paperback. Part Three: Storm’s Heart goes from page 447 to 727.

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

==================

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 18: The Lost Garden - Simon hears voices, halfway between waking and sleeping. Though the voice is not identified, it is Amerasu, mother of Ineluki (who has become the Storm King) and Hakatri (who was burned by dragonfire and sent back across the sea)

In some ways, it seems only the turning of a handful of moon-faces since the Two Families left Venyha Do’Sae, the land of our birth across the Great Sea. Ah, Hakatri, if only you could have seen our boats as they swept across the fierce waves! Of Silverwood they were crafted, with sails of bright cloth, brave and beautiful as flying fish. As a child I rode in the bow as the waves parted, and I was surrounded by a cloud of scintilliant, sparkling seafoam! Then, when our boats touched the soil of this land, we cried. We had escaped the shadow of Unbeing, and won our way to freedom!
But instead, Hakatri, we found that we had not truly escaped shadow at all, but only replaced one sort with another – and this shadow was growing inside us. (pg 448)

This Unbeing…is that what Ineluki is looking for as the Storm King?

Simon hears someone calling his name (most likely Sludig or Binabik), but passes out again. That boy sleeps a lot! This is a means for the author to relate some back story by him eavesdropping more on Amerasu, most of which I think will be needed for The Last King of Osten Ard series, so I’ll put them here so I can remember.

I spoke a moment ago of the Two Families, as though we twain were the only survivors of Venyha Do’Sae, but it was the boats of the Tinukeda’ya that brought us across the Great Sea. Neither we Zida’ya nor our brethren the Hideka’ya would have lived to reach this land had it not been for Ruyan the Navigator and his people – but to our shame, we treated the Ocean Children as badly here as we had in the gardenlands beyond the sea. (pg 451)

You know that your brother blamed himself for your terrible wounding. When you went away at least into the West to search of heart’s-ease, he became cold and discontented. (pg 459)

Simon awakens, calls for Binabik and Sludig who are long gone, and then grabs the mirror that Jiriki gave him and asks for help.

Guthwulf is losing faith in Elias. His people in Utanyeat are leaving, as the White Foxes/Norns migrate south, headed for the Hayholt.

Tiamak, still injured from the bite of the gator on his leg, fights off a ghant, surprised that they would come this close and be this aggressive. He finally makes it to Kwanitupul, feverish from the wound, and makes his was to Pelippa’s Bowl, the inn Dinivan had told him about through sparrow-mail. When he can’t reach a ladder, an old man who sleeps in the courtyard of the inn (and seems quite addled) helps him out.

Ingen Jegger is back, pulled from Death’s door by Utuk’ku and given “weapons and wisdom no other Queen’s hunter has had.” He sets off on his unknown (at least to us readers) mission.

Chapter 19: Children of the Navigator - Miriamele and Cadrach are running away again, this time on a boat. Miri wakes up after being hit on the head by Cadrach and finds herself on a boat at see. Cadrach is awakened from his drunken slumber, and tells Miri of Father Dinivan and the Lector’s fiery demise at the hands of Pryrates. Gan Itai, a Niskie (one of the Tinukeda’ya, the Navigator’s children) discovers them and must tell the ship’s captain.

They find out that Aspitas Preves (yes, that  scoundrel who conspired to kill the Duke Leobardis with Benegaris) is the ship’s captain.

Maegwin is despondent to find the dwarrows in the caves, and not Sithi to help in the battle. But Eoliar speaks with them, and learns a bit about them after the Shard (the Witness) finishes speaking about Josua.

“No, Hern’s Child,” he <Yis-fidri is the speaker> said slowly, “we are not immortal. It is true that we are far longer-lived that you mortals be, unless your race has much changed. But unlike Zida’ya and Hikeda’ya – our old overlords, Sithi and Norn – we do not live on and on, eternal as the mountain. Nay, Death comes for us as for your folk, like a thief and a reaver.” Anger touched his face. “Mayhap our once-masters were of a somewhat different blood since back in the Garden of our old stories, whence came all the First-born; mayhap then we are just of shorter lived stock. Either that or there was in truth some secret kept from us, who were after all deemed only their servers and vassals.” (pg 479)

Norn and Sithi (supposedly Utuk’ku and Amerasu) had spoken through the Shard, looking for the whereabouts of the sword Minneyar/Memory. Yis-fidri tells them that the sword is the same named Bright-Nail, carried by Prester John. And he also tells them that one of the dwarrows weaken and spoke to the Shard with Utuk’ku was asking and threatening.

They then show Maegwin and Eolair maps of tunnels, not only of their own area but of tunnels around and under Asu’a/the Hayholt. Maegwin, slightly maddened, wants Eolair away and orders him to take these maps to Josua.

Chapter 20: A Thousand Steps - Simon is lost; Binabik and Sludig are looking for him, going back to the abbey where Skodi almost killed them, and the wolf almost will not go. They decide to give it two more nights, and then must take the sword to Josua.

Guthwulf visits King Elias in Green Angel Tower. The King wants him to lead a group of men after Josau. Guthwulf please with Elias to kill or send away Pryrates and briefly considers pushing the King out of the tower. But neither occurs.

Rachel over hears/spies on the King and Guthwulf, sees Miriamele’s name carved in the closet wall where Rachel is hiding, and continues to plot to revenge for Simon’s “death”.

Simon is alone, hungry and cold. He tries to get back to Binabik and Sludig, but ends up by himself in the snow for several days. In the end,  Aditu, sister of Jiriki, finds Simon to take him to Jao é Tinukaí’i, “home of their people.”

This part of the chapter, and those of previous “Simon is alone” chapters, are somewhat tedious, and no doubt what provides fodder for some readers who say that this series drags. There is quite a bit of character development here, where Simon declares “I will not die here” and other self-development statements. But as a reader who enjoys a faster pacing, this section of this chapter, and the chapter in The Dragonbone Chair where Simon is lost in the cave, and all of the other introspective chapters, certainly affect the pacing. As a reader, I tend to skim them (but did not for this re-read…one reason it is taking me longer than usual); as an author, I do not employ them, mainly out of my own reading tastes; I much prefer dialog to description and action to introspection. But Mr. Williams is the professional here, not I.

Chapter 21: Prince of Grass - Josua, Deornoth and the others take the horses won from Josua’s duel (Chapter 17, the end of Part II), while Hotvig tells Josua of other “stone-dwellers” who have settled near the area Josua wants to go to search for the Stone of Farewell. Josua and Vorzheva decide they will marry before they leave the Thirthings. Josua, sensing danger in the future, makes Deornoth swear that he will protect Vorzheva and their unborn child.

As Josua and Vorzheva are being married by Father Strangeyeard, Hotvig rides in to say knights lead by Fengbald are coming (apparently summoned by Fikolmij, Vorzheva’s father who hates Josua.

Josua and crew look for the Stone of Farewell and find a large number of settlers relocated from Erkyland to where two rivers come together, almost in the shadow of where the Stone of Farewell is supposed to be.

Chapter 22: Through the Summer Gate - Twenty-two chapters into the second book, Aditu finally arrives – next to Qantaqa the wolf my most favorite character (and sometimes the most enjoyable). She gives the perspective of a young Sithi who seems more interested in the humans (and Simon in particular) than the rest of the Sithi, like she has been told stories of the terrible things humans did to Sithi but treats them just as stories.

Simon goes where no mortal has gone (supposedly) as Aditu leads him through the Summer Gate and ultimately to Jao’é Tinukai’i. Simon notices the wind, weather and sky changing as Aditu “sings” there way there, and asks her if this is magic:

“I am not sure what you mean,” she said. “It is how we find a hidden place, and Jao’é Tinukai’i is indeed hidden. But there is no power in the words themselves, if that is what you ask. They could be spoken in any language. They help the searcher to remember certain signs, certain paths. If that is not what you mean by ‘magic’, I am sorry to disappoint you.” (pg 547)

Their passage from the wintery world into the Sithi world (the “real world”) is one of the most enjoyable passages in the book, especially with Simon’s reactions not only to the transit but to Aditu.

Staring up past the trees into the featureless grey sky, Aditu’s hand clutched in his, Simon wondered if he might indeed have died. Might this solemn creature beside him – whose eyes seemed fixed on things he could not see – be escorting his soul to some final destination, while his lifeless body lay somewhere in the forest, slowly vanishing beneath a blanket of snow?
Is it warm in Heaven?, he wondered absently.

Simon comes out of his funk and noticed how gorgeous Aditu is and tells her so, much to his embarrassment. But she has words of warning for him as they pass through the Summer Gate:

Despite the power and beauty of the great hemlocks, Simon was surprised. “This is the gate? Two trees?”
Aditu looked very serious. “We left all monuments of stone behind when we fled Asu’a the Eastward Looking, Seoman. Now, Jiriki bade me tell you something before you entered Shao Irigú. My brother said that no matter what may occur later, you have been given the rarest of all honors. You have been brought to a place in which no mortal has set foot. Do you understand that? No mortal has ever walked beneath this gate. (pg. 557)

They come into the Sitha city, which is a marvel of colorful cloth and rope. Aditu leads Simon to Jiriki’s house, where they encounter Jiriki’s uncle Khendraja’aro (whom Simon knew from the hunting ‘lodge’ when they met Jiriki while trying to find the sword Storm). Khendraja’aro is not happy to see Simon there (to say the least). Simon is ecstatic to see Jiriki and gives him a big bro-hug. Aditu exchanges winter clothes for sheer summer ones (much to Simon’s hormonal fascination) and the three head for Yásira, the butterfly tent.

The picture on the cover depicts Simon in the butterfly tent, but he does not actually have all of the items depicted in the cover with him when he is in the butterfly tent in this chapter. Binabik and Sludig have the sword Thorn.

Simon sniffled and wiped his eyes. Faced with the Y ásira, he suddenly thought he could understand the bitterness of Ineluki, the Storm King’s hatred for childish, destructive mankind. (pg 567)

Simon is taken in front of Jiriki’s father and mother, “Shima’onari, King of the Zida’ya, Lord of Jao’é Tinukai’i and Likimeya, Queen of the Dawn Children, Lady of the House of Year-Dancing.” Though Shima’onari tells everyone assembled that Simon is not to be harmed, Simon is told by Jiriki’s father that he can never leave, that he will grow old and die there.

Chapter 23: Deep Waters - Miriamele and Cadrach are on Aspitis Preves ship. It doesn’t seem that they know he is working with Benigaris, who is working for King Elias, Miri’s crazy dad. Miri is pretending to be Lady Marya from a small house and believes they are safe. Cadrach, of course, believes otherwise.

Eolair sets off on his task assigned to him by Maegwin. He skirts Skali’s troops, noting that they are building more, probably due to all of the folks fleeing from the strange winter. He hears from a drunken priest rumors that Josua is in the grasslands, and considers traveling there.

Miri is falling for Earl Aspitis charms, even as the seas are churning with kilpa (big ugly depressed looking things, as far as I can tell) which the Niskie sings away from the boat. Aspitis puts a move on Miri, which she almost accepts (he probably put a drug in her wine), but she goes outside feeling woozy, and speak with the Niskie, who provides some interesting background.

“It means we always lived on the ocean. Even in the far-way Garden, we dwelt always at land’s end. It has only been since we came to this place that some of the Navigator’s Children have been changed. Some have left the sea entirely, which is as hard for me to understand as if someone were to stop breathing and claim that were a good way to live.” (pg 591)

Background on the Niskies and the dwarrows and how they came to separate, and why they were treated as servants in the Garden is high on my requests for Williams’ next series.

Chapter 24: Dogs of Erchester - Josua and his party are off looking for the Stone of Farewell when they see horsemen behind them. They flee thinking this is Fengbald and his men chasing them. They turn to make a stand and Deneorth is about to loose an arrow when something joggles his bow and shouts not to shoot; the men are Hotvig and some of the Thirthings men, and the voice was that of Geloë, who appears mysteriously and stops what could have been a big mistake.

Rachael is running around Erchester salvaging items she needs, avoiding the wild dogs. It isn’t hard to determine why the story keeps bringing her up, since book 3 is called To Green Angel Tower we know that she will be in the mix again.

Guthwulf is on the balcony with King Elias, discussing Guthwulf’s soon-to-depart campaign to find and kill Josua in the Thirthings, and Guthwulf wondering if Elias means to have him killed. Pryrates joins them, freshly back from burning the Lector and Father Dinivan, though Elias does not seem to realize the he did so. Rachael jumps out from behind the curtains and stabs Pryrates between the shoulder blades. As Pryrates is about to retaliate and blow Rachael to pieces, Guthwulf for some reason intervenes, and his burned and blinded.

Hotvig and company tell Josua why the split from Fikolmij, Vorzheva’s father and march-Thane of the Thirthings. Fikolmij had let Fengbald and his troops onto Thirthings land, which is against the rules. Hotvig and others pointed this out, and made Fengbald go the long way around. Fikolmij lost a lot of face on this and on Josua’s winning the fight against Filkolmij’s man and thwarting his plans. Many left with Hotvig to join Josua.

Gelo leads them to the Stone of Farewell…which is more of a mountain.

Chapter 25: Petals in a Wind Storm – Simon is learning the Sithi game of shent while ogling Aditu;

Simon shook his head. He had struggled for days to learn the complex rules of shent, only to discover that what he had been taught were the rudiments. How could he learn a game that people did not play to win? But Aditu did not play to lose, either, as far as Simon could tell. Instead, it seemed as though the issue was to make the game interesting, by introducing themes and puzzles, most of which were as far beyond Simon’s comprehension as the mechanisms of the rainbow. (pg 625)

Simon tries to escape from Jao é-Tinukai’i  but he cannot pierce the magic way to find the Summer Gate. He asks Jiriki how he can change Jiriki’s parents decision, and asks why Jiriki broke the rule and brought him there:

“There was no rule to break. Not truly….It was always an unspoken law, but that is different from a Word of Command. It is traditional among the Dawn Children that we may do what we please unless it goes against a Word of Command, but this business of bringing a mortal here cuts to the heart of the things that have divided our people since time out of mind. I can only ask you to forgive me, Seoman. It was a risk, and I had no right to gamble with your life. However, I have come to believe that for once – and hear me, only this once – you mortals may be right and my folks may be wrong. This spreading winter threatens many things besides the kingdoms of the Sudhoda’ya.” (pg 631)

Binabik and Sludig re-appear, heading for the Stone of Farewell and being pursued by giants; they wonder at the fact that the sword is light, so light even Binabik can wield it.

Ingen Jegger is hunting but we are not sure who, though he is near the Aldehorte Forest. It could be Binabik/Sludig and the sword, it could be Simon, or Josua…or someone else.

Aditu is as fascinated with Simon as he is of her. Their game of shent and tickle is interrupted when Simon is taken in front of Amerasu Shipborn, First Grandmother, who he heard in his dreams and saw in the mirror Jiriki gave him. As he walks to meet her, Simon has some interesting introspection:

But the strangest thing, he suddenly thought, was that no matter where he went or what he saw, he always seemed to remain the same old Simon – a little less mooncalfish, perhaps, but not very different from the clumsy kitchen boy who had lived at the Hayholt. Those distant, peaceful days seemed utterly gone, vanished without hope of reclamation, but the Simon who had lived them was still very much present. Morganes had told him once to make his home in his own head. That way, home could never be taken from him. Was this what the doctor meant? To be the same person no matter where you went, no matter what madness occurred? Somehow that didn’t seem quite right. (pg 648)

Amerasu says that Simon is “one of the first mortals” there, perhaps not the first? Simon speaks to her of her two sons, one burned by dragon fire like Simon, the other being the Storm King. When he tells her he heard this through he speaking in his head, she grabs him, asks for forgiveness and basically mind rapes his memories. She says their meeting on the dream road and in Simon’s mind were not a chance of fate.

“I mean only that the bounds between those worlds and ours are beginning to weaken. Someone like this manchild, who has been pulled one way and another, who through true chance or some unimaginable design has been dragged into many powerful and dangerous connections between the dream world and the waking world…” She trailed off, seating herself carefully once more before continuing. “It is as though he lived on the edge of a great wood. When the trees began to spread outward, it is his house that first has roots across the threshold. When the wolves of the forest began to grow hungry, it is beneath his window they first come howling.” (pg 654)

Amerasu says she has learned much of Ineluki’s plans from Simon’s head, but must think on it more.

Chapter 26: Painted Eyes – The boat carrying Miri and Cadrach is ashore, and Aspitis takes them on a tour…only to have Cadrach escape.

Duke Isgrimnur, still disguised as a monk, drafts a boatsman to take him to Kwanitupul. Timak is there with his crocodile leg, running out of cash, sleeping next to a large old beggar man named Ceallio (who must be more than he seems, given the word space used on him in these pages!).

Miri is feeling in the dumps about Cadrach running away (‘his betrayal’) and her inescapable situation. Aspitis takes advantage of her state and seduces her. Cadrach is found, drunker than snot, and put in confinement. When Miri protests to Aspitis, he shows a bit of his real self, forcing her to return to her cabin where he will come to her later. Tsk, tsk!

Chapter 27: The Black Sled – Sludig and Binabik come upon the area surrounding the Stone of Farewell, and find that the storm has flooded it. With the giants hot on the trail, they quickly make a raft and push off into the moat, with the giants just missing them and floundering in the water behind them.

Eolair (lest we forget him) is still heading east to seek Josua, not knowing if he is alive or not. He had A LOT of alone time in the saddle, so he stews about Maegwin sending him away, and wonders about the riddle of the swords, especially with what the dwarrows told him about Bright Nail (that it is in fact, one of the three swords they are seeking). He sees Norns and other creatures he has never seen before.

Our old pal Ingen Jegger and his pet hound call the rest of the Stormspike hound/wolves together to attack “the Queen’s enemies.” (this would be the mad Queen).

Duke Isgrimnur finally makes it to Kwanitupul and the inn called Pelippa’s Bowl. He finds Tiamak, and is off to speak with him in private, when he spies the old man Ceallio, whom has been given much page space to day. And here’s why:

The duke felt the world tilt, as if giant hands had lifted it. It took long moments before he could speak, moments in which the landlady, the little Wrannaman and the old doorkeeper looked at him with varying degrees of fascination. When Isgrumnur spoke, it was to the old man.
“My Lord Camaris,” he said, and felt his voice catch in his throat. The world had gone mad: now the dead lived again. “Merciful Elysia, Camaris, do you not remember me? I am Isgrimnur! We fought for Prester John together – we were friends. Ah, God, you live! How can that be?” (pg 699-700)

Chapter 28: Sparks – All of the Sithi in Jao é-Tinukai’i  are gathered in the Yásira (the butterfly house) where Amerasu is making a rare appearance. On their walk over, Jiriki tells Simon that one day he will tell him of the responsibilities of the Year-Dancing house…sounds like an Osten Ard preview!  Jiriki’s mother and father are there, as well as a device like the Shard called ‘the Mist Lamp’ that helps bridge the real world to the Road of Dreams.

This entire chapter should be captured here verbatim as it is not only important for this story going forward, but it seems to me to lay a lot of the groundwork for Williams’ next series. But I’ll only put the bits that I want to recall going forward.

“We fled out of the Uttermost East, thinking to escape that Unbeing who had overwhelmed our Garden-land. That story is known to all but the mortal boy – even those of our children born after the flight from Asu’a take it in with their mother’s milk – so let it not be told here again here.
“When we reached this new land, we thought we had escaped that shadow. But a piece of it came with us. That stain, that shadow, is a part of us – just as mortal men and women of Osten Ard cannot escape the shadow of their own dying.
“We are an old people. We do not fight the unfightable. That is why we fled Vinyha Do’sae, rather than be unmade in a fruitless struggle. But the curse of our race is not that we refuse to throw down our lives in purposeless defiance of the great shadow, but that we instead clasp the shadow to ourselves and hug it tightly, gleefully, nursing it as we would a child.
“We brought the shadow with us. Perhaps no living, reasoning thing can be without such shadow, but we Zida’ya – despite our lives, besides which the spans of mortals are like fireflies – still we cannot ignore that shadow which is death. We cannot ignore the knowledge of Unbeing. Instead, we carry it with us like a brooding secret.
“The mortals must die, and they are frightened by that. We who were once of the Garden must also die, although our span is vastly greater, but we each embrace our own death from the moment we open our eyes, making it an insoluble part of us. We yearn for its complete embrace, even as the centuries roll by, while around us the death-fearing mortals breed and drop like mice. We make our death the core of our being, our private and innermost friend, letting life spin past as we enjoy Unbeing’s grave company.
“We would not give Ruyan Ve’s children the secret to near-immortality, though they were stock of the same tree. We denied eternal life to Ruyan’s folk, the Tinukeda’ya, even as we clasped death tighter and tighter to our own bosoms. We are haunted, my children. The mortal word is the only correct one. We are haunted.” (pg 707-708)

As Amerasu uses the Mist Lamp to show the gathered Sithi what she has learned by sifting through Simon’s brain, the Norn Queen speaks through the device. They argue…and then one of the Red Hand forces his way through the Mist Lamp, and Ingen Jegger and his wolves appear, attacking the Sithi. Jiriki’s father is badly wounded by Jegger’s big hound, and Jegger slays Amerasu….and is then pincushioned with Sithi arrows right before Simon bashes his head in with a rock.

Jiriki tells Simon that this as a long planned war attack that took a lot of energy, and to not blame himself thinking Jegger had followed his tracks. Simon pushed Jiriki to have the Sithi go to war with the Norns, but Jiriki tells him they must decide in their own way. He has Simon follow Aditu out of Jao é-Tinukai’i – Amerasu’s last wish was that he be allowed to leave. Aditu gives him a package that Amerasu said is for Josua, kisses him good-bye (we’ll miss you, Aditu!!!) and Simon gets in a boat and finds his friend Binabik.

This ends the re-read of Stone of Farewell. Now on to the third book, which in Tad fashion is actually two books, To Green Angel Tower, Part I.

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

These re-read posts and other essays have been collected into an eBook, available by clicking on the image below.

Stone_of_Farewell

Stone of Farewell re-read – Part Two – Storm’s Hand

This is the second part of the re-read of Stone of Farewell, the second 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.

This second book is 727 pages – paperback. Part Two: Storm’s Hand goes from page 263 to 444.

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 11: Bones of the Earth - Eolair looks for Mad Maegwin in caves.

Of all mortal men, the Hernystiri had once known and loved the Sithi the best. They learned much from them – although the things they had learned were now only mentioned in ballads. They had also traded with the Sithi, bringing back to their own grassy country articles of workmanship beyond anything the finest smiths and craftsmen of Imperial Nabban could produce. In return, Hernystirmen offered their immortal allies the fruits of the earth – nightblack malachite, ilinite and black opal, sapphire, cinnabar and soft, shiny gold – all painstakingly mined from the thousand tunnels of the Grianspog Mountains.

The Sithi were gone now, vanished absolutely from the earth as far as most men knew or cared. Some of the Hernystiri knew better. It had been centuries since the Fair Ones had fled their castle Asu’a, deserting the last of the Nine Cities accessible to mortal men. Most mortals had forgotten the Sithi entirely, or saw them only through the distorted veil of old stories. But among the Hernystiri, an open-hearted and yet secretive folk, there were still a few who looked at the dark holes that pitted the Grianspog and remembered. (pg 263)

Maegwin is one of those Hernystiri who remember…or she is full goose bozo. She believes the gods have spoken to her, that their old allies the Sithi will come and help. Eolair finds her deep in the caves, not having eaten or drank in a while, but she is in front of a large wooden door. Eolair says he will help her open the door if she agrees to go back with him afterward. They force open the door to find a great city, “hewed directly from the mountain’s heart”…and quite abandoned looking.

Duke Isgrimnur is at Sancellan Aedonitis looking for Miriamele, still disguised as a monk.

Tiamak decides at last to go to Nabban as his elders have asked, instead of going to Kwanitupul as he thinks Morgenes wished. He hooks a large fish, but sees a crocodile enter the water. Afraid of losing his only fish hook and his dinner, he goes in the water after both, but ends up fighting with the croc and getting bit on the leg for his troubles.

Duke Isgrimnur decides to go directly to the Lector (who he obviously knows from before) but sees Pryrates entering the castle.

Chapter 12: Birdsflight - Simon, Binabik and Sludig leave the rest of the trolls and head toward the Stone of Farewell with the sword Thorn. Sludig continues Simon’s warrior training as they go, with Simon using Haestan’s death, Duke Fengbald’s slaughter of a city and Pryrates as motivation to get up when Sludig knocks him down.

From the previous chapter’s quote, I was wondering about the Nine Cities. As the three are riding, Binabik points out the ruins of Tumet’ai in the distance.

Asu’a, Da’ai Chikiza, Enki-e-Shao’saye and Tumet’ai you are knowing. Jhiná T’seneí lies drowned beneath the southern seas. The ruins of Kementari stand somewhere on Warinsten Island, birth-home of your King Prester John, but no one, I think, has seen them for years and years. Also long unseen at Mezutu’a and Hikehikayo, both lost beneath Osten Ard’s northwestern mountains. The last, Nakkiga, now that my thought is upon it, you have already seen as well…or have in a way…”
“What does that mean?”
“Nakkiga was the city the Norns built long ago in the shadow of Stormspike, before they were retreating into the great ice mountain itself. On the dream-road with Geloë and myself you witnessed it, but doubtless you overlooked its crumbling remains beside the mountain’s immensity. (pg 303)

So our man Simon has visited and seen more Sithi cities than probably any mortal alive, eh?

Once again, I’m inserting the map of Osten Ard. You can find all nine cities mentioned in the excerpt above (click on it to just see the image, then click on it again for a mo’ bigga’ version).
map-osten-ard

This very cool map is from Jonadab the Unsightly One, used with his permission (thanks, Nathan!)
Guthwulf is talking to Elias about Pryrates, trying to pry him away, when Elias orders Guthwulf to touch the sword Sorrow. It affects Guthwulf so much that he crawls away from his King. Guthwulf may not be having a change of heart, but he’s certainly beginning to have his doubts.

Simon, Binabik and Sludig see a flock of ravens attacking a sparrow, and save it thinking it may be one of the messenger birds. It is, but the message is scrambled.

“Two bits only can I read,” he said. “This, saying..’..ry of false messengers’…and this ‘Make haste. The Storm is spr…’ Then it is signed below with the League’s mark.”
“False messenger,” Simon breathed, dread creeping through him. “That was the dream I had in Geloë’s house. Doctor Morgenes told me beware the false messenger. (pg 312-313)

Chapter 13: The Stallion Clan - Josua’s band wanders out of the forest and into the Thirthings (which is a vast plain Josua calls “God’s Tabletop”). Einskalder, who bought them time by drawing off the Norn’s arrows, apparently did not make it and was buried in the woods. The Thirthings are where Vorzheva, Josua’s lady is from.

Father Strangeyeard finds information about the three swords in Morgenes manuscript.

Other objects take their power from the stuff of their making. The great swords alluded to in Nisses’ lost book are examples here. All seem to derive their worth from their materials, although the crafting of each was a mighty task. Minneyar, King Fingil’s sword, was made of the iron keel of his boat, iron brought to Osten Ard by the Rimmersman sea raiders out of the lost west. Thorn, most recently the sword of Prester John’s noblest knight, Sir Camaris, was forged from the glowing metals of a fallen star – like Minneyar’s iron, something foreign to Osten Ard. And Sorrow, the sword that Nisses claims Ineluki of the Sithi used to slain his own father the Erl-king, was made of witchwood and iron, two elements long thought to be antithetical and unmixable. Thus such object derive their strength primarily, it would seem, from the unearthly origins of their substance. Stories tell, however, of powerful spells of Making were also wound in the forging of all these three blades, so the power of the Great Swords may come both from their substance and their making.” (pg 320)

Deornoth, upon waking one night, finds Geloë in a trance, trying to reach out to Amerasu.

The group is eventually surrounded by Thirthings men, horse riders of the plains, led by a rider named Hotvig (kinda rhymes with Sludig) and taken to meet their march-thane. All but Vorzheva who has slipped away.

Flash over to the Hayholt and Rachael has been awakened by a scratching and pleading at the door. It is Jeremias, Simon’s old mate. He has been a prisoner in the forges, beaten and abused by Inch. “He beat me and…he used me.” Tad implies some sexual abuse, not unheard of in a book written in 1990 but certainly more forward than most fantasy since Lord of the Rings and before A Game of Thrones. Jeremias tells Rachael that he heard Pryrates bragging about how he burned down Morgenes study killing Morgenes and supposedly Simon.

Meanwhile Josua and crew are taking before the March-thane, somewhat the elected leader of all the Thirthings horse riders. It is Vorzheva’s father, named Fikolmij

Chapter 14: A Crown of Fire – Simon again enters the Road of Dreams, and sees Shem and Ruben talking like Pryrates begging for the “Words of Changing.” But he assumes it is all a true dream.

Simon, Sludig and Binabik are traveling from sunup to sundown, with Simon and Sludig continuing their sword training. The storm runs them over, close to where Old Tumet’ai Road crosses the White Way, where the town of Grinsaby used to be. They come across a boy named Vren, who should be freezing to death, but he takes them to a building where a lot of other children are being taken care of by a strange woman named Skodi.

Alarms should be going off here, right? They haven’t seen anyone for a long time, but find children and a weird woman/girl about Simon’s age taking care of them. Maybe they were cold, tired and hungry but they certainly walked into this one. Other than splitting Simon up from Sludig and Binabik (which, sorry for reading ahead, happens in a couple of chapters) which is a rather important plot line, not much going on here.

But they eat, drink, get poisoned. Simon awakens, paralyzed to Skodi caressing him and says Lady Silver Mask told her in her head that they were coming, bearing a sword the she wanted. They would give Skodi presents and she would keep Simon. It could get weird and kinky, but Tad keeps it clean.

Chapter 15: Within God’s Walls – Whereas the previous chapter had small events, this chapter ups the ante in showing the depravity of Pryrates, and the character of others.

Pryrates and the new Duke Benegaris are delivering King Elias ultimatum to the Lector, as Dinivan watches and listens.

“…all that King Elias wishes is your acceptance of one fact: Mother Church’s provenance may be men’s souls, but she has not right to interfere with the disposition of men’s corporeal forms to their legitimate monarch.”  The hairless priest grinned in self-satisfaction. Dinivan’s heart sank to see the lector smile dully in return. Surely Ranessin must know that Elias was as much as declaring that God’s shepherd on earth had less right to power than an earthly king? (pg 363)

Pryrates does a bit of parlor magic to remind Dinivan that he knows he is a member of the League of the Scroll, and Dinivan reflects the mistake of the League in bringing Pryrates into their counsel, and Dinivan thinks on all he has done:

Was there anything more he could do? He had sent messages to the two scroll bearers still living: Jarnauga and Ookequk’s apprentice, though he had heard from neither in some time. He had also sent suggestions or instructions to others of good faith, like the forest-woman Geloë and little Tiamak in the marshy Wran. He had brought Princess Miriamele safely to the Sancellan Aeondonitis and made her tell her story to the lector. He had tended all of the trees as Morganes would have wished; all he could do now was wait and see what fruit might come…(pg 366)

Then the lector tells Pryrates where he can stuff it:

“You have opened doors that should have been closed for all time, Pryrates,” the lector proclaimed. “In your pride and folly you and the High King have brought a ponderous evil into a world which already groaned beneath a might burden of suffering. Our church – my church – will fight you for every soul, until the very day of Weighing Out dawns. I declare you excommunicate, and King Elias with you, and also banish you from the arms of Mother Church, any who follow you into darkness and error.” (pg 368)

Yeah, buddy.

Cadrach saw a bit of this, and he tries to convince Miriamele to flee the Sancellan. When she won’t he eventually bonks her on the head and drags her out.

Duke Isgrimnur is still in the Sancellan, and he means to speak to the lector.

Dinivan leaves the lector reading and about to sleep. He has him bolt the door. When Dinivan goes out, he sees that the guards have been bewitched. Pryrates is there, and, marking Simon’s dream from the previous chapter as true, he says that he now knows the Words of Changing, changes into something and beats the crap out of Dinivan. Then he goes and burns the lector alive.

Duke Isgrimnur comes upon this, and Dinivan tells him with several dying breaths that Miri is there somewhere, tell Josua to beware of false messengers and to find Tiamak in Kwanitipul at Pelippa’s Bowl. Then dies.

Cadrach is carrying Miriamele, and hears guards coming. A spell is blocking a doorway, and Cadrach, who knows more than he lets on, breaks the spell and hides them, unseen by Pryrates and the guards.

Chapter 16: The Unhomed – Skodi has Simon under a spell of some kind, making his body do what she wants even while his mind (and mouth) resist. Binabik and Sludig as tied up and similarly paralyzed, and Qantaqa is kept away by some spell.

Skodi reached into the basket and lifted out a skull who mandibles clung by only a few knots of dried flesh, so that the eyeless face seemed to gape in surprise. The bulging basket, Simon now saw, was full of skulls. He suddenly felt sure he knew what had happened to the parents of all these children. …Simon remembered with a sinking heart how Skodi had said that besides his other chores, Vren butchered and cooked for her. (pg. 388).

Skodi calls the Red Hand with blood and spells, but they won’t come all the way. Vren, who is jealous of Simon, can’t lift the sword Thorn, so she spells Simon to go and pick it up. Still the Red Hand won’t come all the way. Skodi wants Vren to get some more blood (from Sludig, of course), but Vren goes after Simon with the knife. Simon manages to avoid the stab but it slices his back, spills his blood on the magic circle and chaos ensues.

MEANWHILE (yeah, cliff hanger, thanks Tad), Eolair and Maegwin have gone through the door to find what appears to be an abandoned Sitha city. They see a glow and head for it, and find a crystal. As they get near, they hear a voice coming out of the crystal. WE know it is Amerasu of the Sithi, but Eolai and Maegwin do not. The voice is looking for Ruyan’s Children, the Tinkeda’ya, and tells them to come to Jao é-Tinukai’i, and mentions the three Great Swords. The voice fades, but a procession of lights marches toward Eolair and Maegwin. It is the Dwarrows, led by Yis-fidri, and they name the city Mezutu’a (mentioned as one of the nine cities in Chapter 12). They name themselves Dwarrow, Dverning, Domhaini, Tinukeda’ya, from the Garden. And they provide a glimpse at old animosities that have been previously hinted at:

“If you came searching for the Zida’ya – those who you name Sithi,” Yis-fidri said carefully, “then that is of deep interest to us indeed, since we brought us here to hide from them.” He nodded slowly. “Long ago did we refuse to bend any longer to their will, to their over-weening injustice, so we escaped. We thought they had forgotten us, but they had not. Now that we are weary and few, they seek to capture us once more.” A dim fire was kindled in Yis-fidri’s eyes. “They even call to us through the Shard, the Witness which has been silent for many years. They mock us with their tricks, trying to lure us back.” (pg 409)

Yis-fidri tells them the voice in the Shard (First Grandmother, but we knew that) mentions Josua without a hand, and the Great Swords.

Then back at the burning of Simon…when Vren stabbed Simon, it put blood in the circle. Skodi strangles Vren with magic, and either her lack of attention or Simon’s blood breaks her hold on him…and the blood summons the Bukken, which attack all three. The spell keeping Qantaqa away is also broken, and he plows into Skodi like Clay Matthews (had to make this Packers commentary green – GoPackGo). Binabik calls Simon to free them as the Bukken are attacking, while the Red Hand, taunts Simon; the doorway is not all the way open, and it needs Simon’s blood to come through. Simon resists, but rides off a bit crazed from the voice in his head before Binabik and a dazed Sludig can get mounted.

Chapter 17: A Wager of Little Value – Prisoners of the March-thane (and Vorzheva’s father), Sir Deornoth berates Josua for being his own worst enemy. Then Josua is called before the March-thane Filkomij, who beats him up in front of Utvart, who was to be Vorzheva’s husband before Josua took her away, and who swore to kill the one who took her. for her hand in marriage and for horses. Hotvig brings in Vorzheva, who was captured. Geloë gets herself free, and when she cannot intimidate the March-thane or reason with him, makes certain that Filkomij doesn’t break Thirthings law/rules, telling him he cannot kill Josua on a whim because he is betrothed to Vorzheva, due to the fact she is preggers (which is a surprise to Josua). Utvart challenges Josua to combat to the death, winner gets Vorzheva.

They fight in the morning, even though Josua has had the crap beat out of him.

And, of course, somehow he manages to beat a man much bigger than he is, who has two hands and hadn’t been beaten up. Oh, and he wagers before that with Filkomij thirteen horses.

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. Thank you!

==================

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.

==================

Stone_of_Farewell

Stone of Farewell re-read – Part One – Storm’s Eye

This is the DREADED MIDDLE BOOK of the trilogy. And young master Robert Paul Williams has left the appearance that the forces of “good” are in a heap o’ trouble, with King Elias defeating or beating most of his enemies:

  • the heads of Nabban and Hernystir are dead;
  • Naglimund has been taken down by Norns, leaving Josua and a scant few knights (with women, one old jester and a historian!) running through the forest, and
  • even though Simon smote the dragon down (good lyric for a rock song) and got Thorn, the sword they were looking for, Binabik and Sludig are prisoners of the trolls.

Tad dug a big hole indeed.

This book also moves its perspective around much more than The Dragonbone Chair, where of the 44 Chapters, 41 of them featured Simon. In this second book, the perspectives of Miriamele, Prince Josua and his group, Duke Isgrimnur, Maegwin and even King Elias get an opportunity to be the focal point.

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.

The re-read post for part III, Simon Snowlock is here.

This second book is 727 pages – paperback. Part One: Storm’s Eye goes from page 3 to 260.

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

==================

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.

==================

Foreword: Brother Hengfisk makes it to Naglimund from St. Holdenrud, and gets properly greeted by the Norns. Tad likes it when the smart mouth know-it-all monk gets his!

Chapter 1: The Music of High Places - Simon awakens (and, I note here for the record, that many of these chapters start with Simon awakening. Either the boy sleeps a lot or he gets knocked around a lot; probably a bit of both) in a cave, weakened after getting spewed with dragons blood after he smote the dragon down (yeah, liked it, used it twice). Binabik and Sludig are in a hole prison, and Jiriki is ready to leave. We learn a bit about Jiriki’s place in the Sitha world:

“I have no right or power to make the Qanuc do anything. Also, I have other responsibilities and duties you cannot understand. I only stayed as long as I have because I wanted to see you on your feet once more. My Uncle Khendraja’aro has long since returned to Jao é Tinukai’i, and my duties to my house and my kin compel me to follow.”
“Compel you? But you’re a prince!”
The Sitha shook his head. “That word is not the same in our speech as it is in yours, Seoman. I am of the reigning house but I order no one and rule no one. Neither am I ruled, fortunately – except in certain things and at certain times. My parents have declared that this is such a time.” (pg 6)

Simon, Haestan and Jiriki go to a meeting of the Qanuc/trolls at the Ice House (Chidsik Ub Lingit, the House of the Ancestor; when they said Ice House I thought beer and pool) where they address (or at least Jiriki does, since he is the only one of the three that speaks the language) the “Herdsman and Huntress of the Qanuc”, Uammannaq and Nunuuika. Jiriki requests a delay in Binabik’s trial for the “terrible crime” he has committed for two days so that Simon can recover enough to speak on Binabik and Sludig’s behalf.

Chapter 2: Masks and Shadows - Prince Josua, Sir Deornoth, Isorn and the others are retreating through Aldheorte Forest, pursued by Norns. Their group includes Vorzheva, Gurtrun (Isorn’s mother and Duke Isgrimnur’s wife), the Rimmersman Einskaldir, plus Towser and Sangfugol…and others that are wounded and/or dying. One of the knights, Ostrael, comes crashing through the forest, and Einskaldir quickly identifies that he is dead, possessed by one of the Red Hand Norns who would have killed them in their sleep.

Miriamele and Cadrach have found a ship and are almost to Perdruin, still unaware of all that has happened (to see where Perdruin is, see the very cool map here; you can click on the image to zoom in). There is quite a bit of back and forth between them, where first Miri trusts Cadrach, and then she does not. Cadrach is, as stated before, obviously more than he seems. They are making their way through Ansis Pelippé, the capital, during the Midsummer Festival, only to be threatened by a costumed “Death” with a knife, and take before Count Streáwe, Perdruin’s master.

Chapter 3: Oath Breaker – Simon is rousted out of the cave (and slumber again!) by Qantaqa, whom he has briefly forgotten (how could he?). Qantaqa leads him to the hole that Sludig and Binabik are in. Binabik will not speak out of despair, and Sludig thanks him and tells him he was “very brave on the mountain.”

Jiriki has to leave. Simon comes up with a plan (which ends up being that Binabik, who won’t speak, is honor bound to speak because he is the only one that can translate after Jiriki leaves).

Jiriki gives Simon the mirror from the scale of the Great Worm as a gift.

Binabik’s trial, and why he is twice called Oath Breaker: one – because he did not return to perform a ritual that his master traditionally performs (and obviously could not) (“the singing man Ookekkuq did not appear at the Ice House on the Winter Lastday, as has been the law of our people since Sedda gave us these mountains”) and two – because he abandoned Sisqinanamonk, youngest daughter of the Huntress, after proposing marriage (Binabik, you sly troll you!).

Just as he is speaking for Binabik (telling what they were really doing) Simon gets a vision from Geloë that tells him to seek out the Stone of Farewell.

Chapter 4: A Bowl of Calamint Tea – Guthwulf, the King’s Hand, begins to recognize that everything has changed with the end of the siege of Naglimund and how it was accomplished. King Elias is irritated that more people did not show on his victorious return.

“Of course,” the earl repeated, “but our…allies…were bound to cause rumors.”
Elias turned to Pryrates. The king’s pale brow was furrowed, as though he were genuinely puzzled. “We have acquired mighty friends, have we not, Pryrates?”
The priest nodded silkily. “Mighty friends, Majesty.”
“And yet they have served our will, have they not? They have done what we wished done?”
“To the exact length of your intent, King Elias,”  Pryrates shot a glance at Guthwulf. “They have done your will.”

King Elias is clueless.

Miri is with Count Streáwe, who keeps her as a guest/prisoner. A “religious friend” to whom the Count is in debt does not wasn’t Miri and Cadrach to go to Nabban just yet. So he keeps them in one of his houses. After she had been there a week, the Count tells her of the death of Duke Leobardis, making Benigaris the leader of Nabban. Three days later he tells her of the fall of Naglimund, though the story is that there were no survivors.

Those survivors are still in the forest. Prince Josua’s group numbers only nine. Deornoth determines that the Norns most certainly could have captured them by now, and they determine that they are being herded, attacked only when they move in a particular direction. Josua takes them that way, deeper into the forest, and the Norns attack, with Deornoth fighting and wounding one.

Miri and Cadrach are released and sent by boat to Nabban to the man the Count owes.

Chapter 5: Singing Man’s House – As Simon and Haestan try to determine how to rescue Binabik and Sludig, Sisqinanamook, who called Binabik oath breaker, asks them to help her rescue him. Troll love runs deep!!!  They get Sludig out of the hole, and Sisqi must convince Binabik to come out, saying that Simon’s story about the world changing events they were doing rang true. Simon convinces Binabik that they cannot find the Stone of Farewell without him. They head to Binabik’s master’s cave to get maps and documents which might help them determine what the Stone of Farewell actually is (besides the name of a good second book).

They get to Ooqequk’s house and Qantaqa the wolf is guarding it, greeting Binabik like a long lost friend. They search through the Singing Man’s collection of documents, taking some, and Sisqi finds one tied with the Singing Man’s knot, signifying a document of some significance. As they are leaving, they are stopped by a large party of troll guards, including the Herdsman and the Huntress (who happen to be Sisqi’s parents; star-crossed lovers they are).

The knot signifies that it is Ooqequk’s “death testament and the Herdsman opens it and reads aloud:

I must warn those who remain after me that I have seen the coming of a great cold darkness, the like of which my people have never seen. It is a dreadful winter that will come from the shadow of Vihyuya, the mountain of the immortal cloud children.It will blast the lands of Yiqanuc like a black wind from the lands of the dead, cracking the very stone of our mountain in cruel fingers.
My student, Binbiniqegabinik, I will bring with me on my journey. In the time that remains I will instruct him in the small things and long stories that may help our people in this foul time. There are other ones beyond Yiqanuc who have prepared lamps against this coming darkness. I got to add my light to theirs, small as it may shine against the storm that threatens. If I cannot return, young Binbiniqegabinik will come in my stead. I ask that you honor him as you would me, for he is eager in his learning. One day, he may grow to be a greater Singing Man than I. (pg 111)

This convinces the trolls to release them, and send them on their mission, with a guard of trolls led by Sisqi. They give them all parting gifts, giving Simon “a humble Qanuc knife”. And now his ensemble is complete with the cover of this book. Simon has his White Arrow, the sword Thorn, the mirror, his knife from the trolls…and where the heck is the blue scarf from Miriamele? And where do all the butterflies come in? As with the cover from The Dragonbone Chair, this awesome cover is from Michael Whelan.

Chapter 6: The Nameless Dead – Lady Maegwin decides to move her people further back into the caves, with her advisors thinking her just a bit mad.

Guthwulf sees the Hayholt changing, different rooms and walls. He goes to talk to Elias, hears someone with him in addition to Pryrates, and glimpses “a  smear of white face.” When he goes to confront them, only Pryrates is there.

Ingen Jegger, who apparently cannot be killed, makes his way to Stormspeak, to silver-masked Utuk’ku, Queen of the Norns. He asked to be killed for his failure, but she invades his mind, painfully pulling out what she needs. She gives him back his hounds helm and his name, putting him in a deep sleep to rest, telling him “…this time I will give to you a quarry such as no mortal as ever hunted.”

The Norn that Deornoth fought in Chapter 3 is apparently not dead. Josua tries to interrogate it, to learn why the Norns haven’t killed them. The Norn only tells them that “his fellows discovered all that we need to know” and “Your time – the time for all mortals, shifty and annoying as insects – is nearly over.” Einskaldir squishes the Norns head with his axe and they bury it. Josua believe that the Norns were trying to determine if they had any of the two swords that Elias does not have, and takes heart in that knowledge.

Chapter 7: Spreading Fires – Miriamele calls Cadrach a traitor and pushes him off the dingy into the water. She is convinced that he sold her to the Count and thus to whomever they are heading to meet. Miri has some despair, knowing that she can go home to Meremund, knowing that her father the King has “let such ugliness loose on the land.”

The person who has been controlling the Count turns out to be Father Dinivan, who works for the Lector, the head of the church. He too recognizes Cadrach as Padreic, whom he thought was dead. He tells her that Padreic and Dinivan were “…members of the same…order, I suppose you would say.”

Which leads me to think they both are (or in Padreic’s case, were) members of the League of the Scroll.

Supposedly there are seven in the League of the Scroll:

  1. Erkynland rep – Morgenes (now dead)
  2. Qanuc rep – Ooqequk (now dead) – passed his scroll and quill to Binabik
  3. Rimmersman rep – Jonauga (now dead) – passed his scroll and quill to Father Strangeyeard
  4. Warannamen rep – Tiamak
  5. Church rep – Father Dinivan
  6. unknown (I suspect Pryrates used to be a member, but wouldn’t they replace him?)
  7. unknown (I suspect Cadrach/Padreic, but, again, wouldn’t they replace him?)

Dinivan brings Miriamele up to date on some of the fun facts: Josua is still alive (but he doesn’t know with whom) and Benegaris actually killed his father Duke Leobardis to take his throne (and throw in with Elias).

A brief side track to Tiamak, who is asked/ordered by the elders of the Wrannamen to make the long journey to Nabban to express their extreme displeasure to Benegaris who is following King Elias’ lead and taxing them more and more. He has not heard back from birds he sent to Morgenes or Ooqequk (for reasons obvious to us readers but not to him). As his is getting ready for his long journey by releasing his birds (no one will be able to feed them in their cages) he finds one dead in the back of the cage, with a note from “his wise friend in Nabban” (who I assume is Father Dinivan, though he is not mentioned by name) asking him to go to the inn they have spoken of in Kwanitupul. It is signed with the symbol of the League of the Scroll.  Tiamak has to decide between doing what the Elders ask and doing what the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Trolls asks.

Another brief look in on Duke Isgrimnur, who is still following Miriamele, has made his way to Perdruin, where he is met by the same men who work for the Count. After punching one of them in the nose, they take him to see the Count.

Miri, Father Dinivan and Cadrach get into the town of Granis Sacrana on their way to the Sancellan Aedonitis (the Church HQ). They are almost kept out by the guards warning of Fire Dancers. They see the Fire Dancers talking of the Storm King coming, and being in their dreams…and then the Fire Dancers set themselves aflame.

Chapter 8: On Sikihoq’s Back – Simon evolves. Not just because he is growing up, but probably because of his unrevealed heritage mixed in with the things he has seen.

But moments like that were not what the dragon had brought him. Pondering as he waited for his damp gloves to dry, he looked to Binabik and Sisqi, saw the way they touched even when they did not touch, the long conversations that passed between the two of them in the shortest of glances. Simon realized that he felt and saw things differently than he did before Urmsheim. People and events seemed more clearly connected, each part of a much larger puzzle – just as Binabik and Sisqi were. They cared deeply for each other, but at the same time their world of two interlocked with many other worlds; with Simon’s own, with their people’s, with Prince Josua’s and Geloë’s…It was really quite startling, Simon thought, how everything was part of something else! But though the world was vast beyond comprehension, still every mote of life in it fought for its continued existence. And every mote mattered. (pg 175)

It’s the Force, Simon! Use the Force! Wait…didn’t that come decades after this book?

Binabik determines where the Stone of Farewell is…it is the “Leavetaking Stone”, Sesuad’ra. It was once part of the Sithi city Enki-e-Shao’Saye, the Summer City of the Sithi, which Jiriki showed to Simon in the mirror he gave Simon as a present.

Since Sesuad’ra is toward the south part of the forest, they continue trudging down the mountains in the snow. The winter is getting harsher, a present from the Storm King they assume.

And either because the Storm King is pushing south, or because the feel the pull of the sword Thorn, Giants follow the trolls and men out of the mountains and attack them. The Giants kill Haestan, who has been training Simon since Naglimund, shortly after he saves Simon from a giant’s club swing. Simon returns the favor by stabbing a giant in the back as it attacks Sludig, then jumping on it and stabbing it in the neck with a knife when the darn thing just won’t die.

“This is the first day in a thousand years that Qanuc and Utku – troll and lowlander – have been fighting at each other’s side, have been blooded together and have fallen together.” (pg 200)

Chapter 9: Cold and Curses – Geloê and Leleth find Josua and his band being herded by the Norns. She tells them once they cross the hill in front of them the Norns/ Hikeda’ya will no longer be able to follow (because on the other side is Sitha land). They walk through what used to be the ancient river of Re’Suri’eni which carried goods from  Da’ai Chikiza (the city Simon, Binabik and Miri row to in Chapter 27 of The Dragonbone Chair) to Asua (the Hayholt).

“This was a fairy river?” Isorn’s attention had been wandering. Now, startlement on his broad face, he peered around as though the streambed itself might exhibit signs of treachery.
“Idiot!” Geloë said scornfully. “Yes it was a fairy river. This entire land was – as you put it – a fair country. What sort of creatures do you think pursue you?”
“I….I knew that,” Isorn muttered abashed. “But I had not thought of it that way. Their arrows and swords were real, that was all I could think of.”
“As were the arrows and swords of your ancestors, Rimmersmanne, which accounts for some of the bad blood between your folk and theirs. The difference is though King Fingil’s reavers killed many Sithi with their blades of black iron, Fingil and your other ancestors at last aged and died. The Children of the East do not die – at least, not in such a time as you can understand – and neither do they forget old wrongs. If they are old, they are all the more patient for it.” (pg 207)

The Norns close in and Einkinsaldor runs ahead with his torch as a distraction, leading them all into the river bed which goes under the hill but getting an arrow in the back for his trouble. Deornoth is also wounded.

The narrative returns to Rachael the head of the maids in the castle. She thinks Simon died in the fire that killed Morgenes four months ago and still mourns him. She sees Pryrates and a plan begins to form in her mind.

Geloë tells Josua of her contact with Simon and her suggestion to go to the Stone of Farewell. She reminds them that pursuing the three swords is the only path they have. She also welcomed Father Strangeyeard into the League of the Scroll since Jarnauga  gave his pendant to Strangeyeard.
Miriamele, Cadrach and Father Dinivan finally get to the Sancretum, with Cadrach and Dinivan arguing divinity and belief in Usires along the way. Dinivan takes Miri to speak with the Lector (head of the church) to whom she tells of her experiences. He informs her that Pryrates is coming for a visit but does not know that Miri is there.

Chapter 10: The Mirror – Simon is mourning Haestan and cursing the gods and feeling small against battling the Storm King. Binabik, as always provides counseling for his friend. These types of self-examination from Simon as he grows, asking questions that we all tend to ask ourselves from time to time, connects the reader to Simon, even though he is in a fantasy.

“…I thought it would be like a story. That we would find the sword and it would be a powerful weapon, that we would destroy our enemies and things would be right again. I didn’t think any more people would die! How could there be a God who would let good people die, no matter what they do?”
“Another question I cannot be answering.” Binabik smiled, but gently, mindful of Simon’s pain. “And I cannot be telling you what is right for belief. The truths that become our stories of gods are faraway in the past. Even the Sithi, who live for eons, do not know how the world began, or what began it – or at least not for certain, I am thinking. But I can tell you something important…”
The troll leaned forward, touching Simon’s arm, waiting until his young friend had raised his eyes from the moss once more. “Gods in the heaven or in the stone are distant, and we can guess only at what they intend.” He squeezed Simon’s forarm. “But you and I, we are living in a time when a god walks the earth once more. He is not a god who intends kindness. Men may fight and die, they may build walls and break stone, but Ineluki has died and come back: that is something no one else has ever been doing, not even your Usires Aedon. Forgive me, because I am not meaning blasphemy, but is not what Ineluki has done a thing like a god can do?” Binabik gave Simon a little shake, staring into his eyes. “He is jealous and terrible, and the world he can make will be a terrible place. We are having a task of great fear and very great difficulty, Simon – it may even be that there is no possibility of succeeding – but it is not a task we can be fleeing.”
Simon tore his gaze from Binabik’s. “That’s what I said. How do you fight a god? We’ll be crushed like ants.” Another stone went flying out into the darkness.
“Perhaps. But if we are not trying, then there is no chance of anything but this antlike crushing, so we must try. There is always something beyond even the worst of bad times.We may die, but the dying of some may mean living for others. That is not much to cling to, but it is a true thing in any case.” (pg 242-243)

Sludig decides to take up Simon’s training. Simon also contemplates the riddle of the three swords.

Whether because of the changes wrought by the dragon’s blood (see the above quote in Chapter 8), or through some heritage of his parents that has not yet been revealed, Simon sees many things in Jiriki’s mirror. He is able to easier see the Dream Road than other mortals. Simon, missing his friends, decides to try and use Jiriki’s mirror to see Miri again. Instead he stumbles into Amerasu of the Sithi, searching for someone.

“I come to you a second time. Do not ignore me again! Please forget your ancient grievances, however justified. Ill will has stood too long between our house and that of Ruyan Vé.Now we have a common enemy. I need your help!”

Ancient grievances? The Ruyan Veé must be the third house (in addition to the Norns and Sithi) that was mentioned by Jiriki. Then Amerasu senses Simon, as does an enemy.

“You are traveling in places not meant for you,” the voice said. “You do not belong here. Who are you?”

A new voice spoke, harsh and chilling.
“Who is he? He is a meddler, Amerasu.”
The first face was now entirely gone. A gleam of silver swam upward through the mirror’s grey depths. A face appeared, all gleaming metal, expressionless and immobile. He had seen that face on the Dream Road and had felt the same sense of dread. He knew the name: Utuk’ku, Queen of the Norns. Try as he might to look away, he could not. He was held in an unshakable grip. Utuk’ku’s eyes were invisible in the mask’s black depths, but he felt their stare on his face like freezing breath.
The manchild is a meddler. Each word came sharp and cold as an icicle. As are you, granddaughter. And meddlers will not prosper when the Storm King comes…” (pg 251-252)

Simon, Sludig, Binabik and the trolls reach the place where the trolls will stay and the other three will depart to take the sword Thorn to the Stone of Farewell.

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.

dragonbone

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.

==================

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.

==================

Re-reading MSandT

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

click on the image for more info and to support this blog

Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo

Archives

%d bloggers like this: