If all that is good thinks you evil... are you?
Once upon a time, the Seven Shapers dwelled in accord and Shaped the world to their will. But Satoris, the youngest among them, was deemed too generous in his gifts to the race of Men, and so began the Shapers' War, which Sundered the world. Now six of the Shapers lay to one end of a vast ocean, and Satoris to the other, reviled by even the race of Men.
Satoris sits in his Darkhaven, surrounded by his allies. Chief among them is Tanaros Blacksword, immortal Commander General of his army. Once a mortal man who was betrayed by King and Wife, Tanaros fled to Darkhaven a thousand years ago, and in Satoris's service has redeemed his honor-but left his humanity behind.
Now there is a new prophecy that tells of Satoris's destruction and the redemption of the world. To thwart it, Satoris sends Tanaros to capture the Lady of the Ellylon, the beautiful Cerelinde, to prevent her alliance with the last High King of Men.
But Tanaros discovers that not all of his heart has been lost--his feelings for Cerelinde could doom Satoris, but save the race of Men...
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Jacqueline Carey is the author of the bestselling Kushiel trilogy (Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, and Kushiel's Avatar) and her epic fantasy duology, The Sundering (Banewreaker and Godslayer). She has won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Her books have been listed on many booksellers' top ten fantasy books lists. Always an avid reader, Carey began writing fiction as a hobby in high school. After graduating from Lake Forest College, she worked for six months at a bookstore in London, and returned to the United States with a driving passion to write professionally. She resides in western Michigan.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
TANAROS WALKED DOWN THE HALLWAY, black marble echoing under his bootheels.It was like an unlit mirror, that floor, polished to a high gleam. The archways were vast, not built to a human scale. All along the walls the marrow-fire burned, delicate veins of blue-white against all that shining blackness. In both, his reflection was blurred and distorted. There was Tanaros; there, and there and there.A pale brow, furrowed. A lock of dark hair falling, so.Capable hands.And a stem mouth, its soft words of love long since betrayed.It had been a long time, a very long time, since Tanaros had thought of such matters, of the sum total the pieced-together fragments of his being made; nor did he think of them now, for his Lord’s summons burned like a beacon in his mind. And beneath his attire, beneath the enameled armor that sheltered him, his branding burned like marrow-fire on his flesh, white-hot and cold as ice, throbbing as his heart beat, and piercing.So it was, for the Three.“Guardsman,” he said in greeting.“General Tanaros, sir.” The Havenguard Fjeltroll on duty grinned, showing his eyetusks. His weapons hung about him like boulders on the verge of avalanche; he hoisted one, a sharp-pointed mace, in salute as he stood aside. Beyond him, the entrance to the tower stair yawned like an open mouth. “His Lordship awaits you in the observatory.”“Krognar,” Tanaros said, remembering his name. “Thank you.”“My pleasure, Lord General.” The Fjeltroll saluted again.It was a long way to the observatory, to the very top of the utmost tower of Darkhaven. Tanaros climbed it step by step, feeling his heartbeat increasing as he labored. A mortal heart, circumscribed by the silvered scar of his branding. When all was said and done, he was a Man, nothing more. It was his Lordship who had made him one of the Three, and deathless. He heard his breath labor, in and out. Mortal lungs, circulating blood. How long had they been at that task? It had been a thousand years and more since Tanaros had answered his Lord’s first summons, his hands red with the lifeblood of one he had once loved, his heart filled with rage and anguish.It felt longer.He wondered, briefly, how Vorax made the long climb.Darkness spiraling on darkness. Broad steps, wrought by Fjeltroll, made to endure their broad, horny feet. Tanaros reached out, touching the spiraling wall of the tower, fingers trailing. It should have burned, the marrow-fire; it did burn, but faintly. Here the veins branched and branched again, growing ever thinner and fainter as the tower thrust upward into the darkness.It was always dark here.Tanaros paused in the entrance to the observatory, letting his eyes adjust. Dark. It was always dark. Even the windows opened onto darkness, and the night sky. There, the stars, that never shone in cloud-blotted daylight.“My Lord.” He bowed, crisp and correct, as he had bowed for centuries on end.“Tanaros.” The voice rumbled, deep as mountains; it soothed, easing his joints, loosening the stiffness of centuries, of honor betrayed and never forgotten. It always had. In the darkness, the Shaper was silhouetted in the windows of night, vast shoulders occluding the stars. A pair of eyes glinted like crimson embers. “You have come.”Tanaros took a breath, feeling his lungs loosen. “Always, my Lord Satoris.”“It is well.”In a carven chair in the corner sat Vorax, his thick legs akimbo, fanning himself and breathing hard. Long ago he had been a lord of the race of Men, dwelling in the cool clime of Staccia, far to the north. Gluttony, greed and a ruthless pragmatism had moved him to answer the Shaper’s summons, becoming one of the immortal Three. He grinned at Tanaros from where he sprawled, his beard fanning over his massive chest. “Grave doings, cousin! Is it not so?”“If you say so, cousin.” Tanaros did not sit in his Lord’s presence. Long ago, he had stood vigilant in the presence of his King as he stood now, in the presence of one far greater. Loyalties changed; protocol did not. He inclined his head in deference. “We await the Dreamspinner, my Lord?”“Yes.” His Lord turned to the westernmost window, gazing out at the night. “Tell me, Tanaros. What do you see, thence?”He made his way to his Lord’s side. It was like standing beside a stoked forge, the might of the Shaper beating against his skin in waves. In the air a scent, coppery and sweet, like fresh-spilled blood, only stronger. “Where, my Lord?”“There.” Satoris pointed to the west, the line of his arm unerring.It could not be otherwise, of course, for westward lay Torath and the Souma, the Eye in the Brow of Uru-Alat—and Lord Satoris was a Shaper. Though his brethren had cast him out, though their allies reviled him and called him Sunderer, Banewreaker and Prince of Lies, he was a Shaper. Day or night, above the earth or below it, he knew where the Souma lay.Beyond the Sundering Sea.Tanaros gripped the edge of the casement and looked west into the night. The low mountains surrounding Darkhaven rose in ridges, silvered by a waning moon. Far, far beyond, he could see the faintest shimmer of surging darkness on the distant horizon where the sea began. Below, it was quiet, only an occasional clatter to be heard in the barracks of the Fjeltroll, a voice raised to break the silence.Above there was the night sky, thin clouds scudding, scattered with pinpricks of stars and the waning moon. As it was since time had begun, since Arahila the Fair had Shaped them into being that the children of Men might not fear the darkness.No.There ... there. Low on the horizon, a star.A red star.It was faint, but it was there. Its light throbbed, faint and fickle, red.Leather and steel creaked as Vorax levered his bulk to his feet, his breathing audible in the tower chamber; louder, as he saw the star and sucked his breath between his teeth with a hiss. “Red star,” he said. “That wasn’t there before.”Tanaros, who had not known fear for many years, knew it now. He let go the edge of the casement and flexed his hands, tasting fear and wishing for his black sword. “What is it, my Lord?”The Shaper watched the red star flicker low in the distance. “A warning.”“Of what, my Lord?” The taste of fear in his mouth. “From whom?”“My elder sister.” The voice was as soft as a Shaper’s could be, touched with ages of sorrow. “Oh, Arahila!”Tanaros closed his eyes. “How can that be, my Lord? With the Souma shattered and Urulat sundered ... how can it be that Arahila would Shape such a thing?”“Dergail,” said Vorax. “Dergail’s Soumanië.”A chip of the Souma, long since shattered; a chip, Shaped by Haomane First-Born, Chief of Shapers, into a gem, one of three. It had been lost even before Tanaros was born, when Haomane sent his three Wise Counselors to make war upon his Lordship. The Counselor Dergail, who had borne the Arrow of Fire, had known defeat and flung himself into the sea rather than allow the gem or the weapon to fall into enemy hands. For over a thousand years, both had been lost.“Yes,” said Satoris, watching. “Dergail’s Soumanië.”Tanaros’ mouth had gone dry. “What does it mean, my Lord?”Satoris Third-Born watched the red star, and the faint light of the waning moon silvered his dark visage. Calm, so calm! Unmoving, he stood and watched, while ichor seeped like blood from the unhealing wound he bore, laying a glistening trail down the inside of his thigh, never ceasing.“War,” he said. “It means war.”Footsteps sounded on the tower stair, quick and light, announcing Ushahin’s arrival. The half-breed entered the chamber, bowing. “My Lord Satoris.”“Dreamspinner,” the Shaper acknowledged him. “You have news?”In the dim light, there was beauty in the ruined face, the mismatched features. The half-breed’s smile was like the edge of a knife, deadly and bitter. “I have passed across the plains of Curonan like the wind, my Lord, and walked in the dreams of Men while they slept. I have news. Cerelinde of the Ellylon, granddaughter of Elterrion, has agreed to wed Aracus Altorus of the children of Men.”When a daughter of Elterrion weds a son of Altorus ...It was one of the conditions of Haomane’s Prophecy, those deeds by which the Lord-of-Thought vowed Satoris would be overthrown and defeated, and Urulat reclaimed by the Six Shapers who remained.Vorax cursed with a Staccian’s fluency.Tanaros was silent, remembering.Aracus Altorus.There had been another of that House, once; there had been many others, and Altorus Farseer first among them, in the First Age of the Sundered World. For Tanaros, born in the years of dwindling glory, there was only one: Roscus Altorus, whom he had called “King,” and “my lord.” Roscus, dearer to him than any brother. Red-gold hair, a ready smile, a strong hand extended to clasp in friendship.Or in love, as his hand had clasped that of Tanaros’ wife. Claiming her, possessing her. Leading her to his bed, where he got her with child.Tanaros trembled with hatred.“Steady, cousin.” Vorax’s hand was heavy on his shoulder, and there was sympathy in the Staccian’s voice. They knew each other well, the Three, after so long. “This concerns us all.”Ushahin Dreamspinner said nothing, but his eyes gleamed in the dark chamber. Near black, the one, its pupil fixed wide; the other waxed and waned like the moon, set in a pale, crazed iris. So it had been, since the day he was beaten and left for dead, and Men said it was madness to meet his eyes. What the Ellylon thought, no one knew.“My Lord Satoris.” Tanaros found his voice. “What would you have of us?”“Readiness.” Calm, still calm, though it seemed the ichor bled faster from his wound, the broad trail glistening wider. “Tanaros, command of the armies is yours. Those who are on leave must be recalled, and each squadron rendered a full complement. There must be new recruits. Vorax, see to our lines of supply, and those allies who might be bribed or bought. Ushahin ...” The Shaper smiled. “Do as you do.”They bowed, each of the Three, pressing clenched fists to their hearts.“We will not fail you, my Lord,” Tanaros said for them all.“My brave lieutenants.” Satoris’ words hung in the air, gentle. “My brother Haomane seeks my life, to end the long quarrel between us. This you know. But all the weapons and all the prophecies in the Sundered World avail him not, so long as the dagger Godslayer remains safe in our charge, and where it lies, no hands but mine may touch it. This I promise you: for so long as the marrow-fire bums, I shall reign in Darkhaven, and you Three with me. It is the pact of your branding, and I shall not fail it. Now go, and see that we are in readiness.”They went.On the horizon, the red star of war flickered.
“SO IT’S WAR, THEN.”For all his mass, the Fjeltroll’s hands were quick and deft, working independent of their owner’s thoughts.“So it seems.” Tanaros watched Hyrgolf’s vast hands shape the rhios, using talons and brute force to carve the lump of granite. It was in its final stages, needing only the smoothing of the rounded surfaces and the delineation of the expressive face. “You’ll order the recall? And a thousand new recruits drafted?”“Aye, General.” His field marshal blew on the stone, clearing granite dust from the miniature crevices. He held the rhios in the palm of his horny hand and regarded it at eye level. A river sprite, rounded like an egg, an incongruous delicacy against the yellowed, leathery palm. “What think you?”“It is lovely.”Hyrgolf squinted. His eyes were like a boar’s, small and fierce, and he was of the Tungskulder Fjel, broad and strong and steady. “There’s some will be glad of the news.”“There always are,” Tanaros said. “Those are the ones bear watching.”The Fjeltroll nodded, making minute adjustments to the figurine’s delicate features, shearing away infinitesimal flakes of granite. “They always are.”Brutes, Men called them; delvers, sheep-slaughterers, little better than animals. Tanaros had believed it himself, once. Once, when the sons of Altorus ruled a powerful kingdom in the southwest, and he had been Commander of the Guard, and held the borders of Altoria against the forces of Satoris; the deadly Were, the horrid Fjeltroll. Once, when he had been a married man deep in love, a husband and faithful servant, who had called a bold, laughing man with red-gold hair his lord and king.Roscus. Roscus Altorus.Aracus Altorus.Oh, love, love! Tanaros remembered, wondering. How could you do that to us?Somewhere, an infant drew breath into its lungs and bawled.So much time elapsed, and the wound still unhealed. His heart ached with it still, beat and ached beneath the silvery scar that seared it, that made the pain bearable. It had cracked at her betrayal; cracked, like the Souma itself. And in that darkness, Satoris had called to him, and he had answered, for it was the only voice to pierce his void.Now ... now.Now it was different, and he was one of the Three. Tanaros, General Tanaros, Tanaros Blacksword, and this creature, Hyrgolf of the Fjeltroll, was his second-in-command, and a trusted companion. For all that he massed more than any two Men combined, for all that his eyetusks showed when he smiled, he was loyal, and true.“You think of her,” Hyrgolf said.“Is it so obvious, my friend?”“No.” Hyrgolf blew dust from the rhios and studied it again, turning it this way and that. “But I know you, General. And I know the stories. It is best not to think of it. The dead are the dead, and gone.”Her neck beneath his hands, white and slender; her eyes, bulging, believing at the last. A crushing force. And somewhere, an infant crying, wisps of red-gold hair plastered on its soft skull. An infant he had allowed to live.Tanaros remembered and flexed his hands, his capable hands, hunching his shoulders under the weight of memory. “I have lived too long to forget, my friend.”“Here.” Broad hands covered his, pressing something into them. Dirt-blackened talons brushed his wrists. An object, egg-sized and warm. Tanaros cradled the rhios in his palms. A sprite, a river sprite. Her delicate face laughed at him from between his thumbs. A rounded shape, comforting, bearing streaks of salmon-pink. It made him think of backwater currents, gentle eddies, of spawning-pools rife with eggs.“Hyrgolf ...”“Keep it, General.” The Fjeltroll gave him a gentle smile, a hideous sight. “We carry them to remember, we who were once Neheris’ Children. One day, if the Sundered World is made whole, perhaps we will be again.”Neheris Fourth-Born, Neheris-of-the-Leaping-Waters, who had Shaped the high mountains of the north and the bright waters that tumbled down them, and Shaped the Fjeltroll also. Tanaros rubbed the rhios, the curving stone polished smooth as satin and warm from Hyrgolf’s touch. It felt good in his hand.“That’s it.” His field marshal nodded. “Keep it in your pocket, General, and it will always be with you.”He stowed the figurine. “Thank you, Hyrgolf....
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