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?
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)
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.
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.