Stone of Farewell re-read – Part Three – Storm’s Heart
It has taken me a while to do this Stone of Farewell 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.