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The sun was setting, and Lanovar sat slumped against the stone, the last of the sunlight bathing him in gold. There was a little heat in the dying winter sun, and the brightness felt good against his closed lids. Lanovar sighed and opened his eyes. The huge figure of Jaim Grymauch stood close by, gazing down at him.
"Let me carry you to the Wyrd, Lan," he said. "She'll cast an ancient spell and heal you."
"In a while, my friend. I'll just rest here and gather my strength."
Grymauch swore and turned away. Loosening the strap at his shoulder, he swung the massive broadsword clear of his back. The black hilt was almost a foot long, crowned with an iron globe pommel. The curved quillons were beautifully crafted to represent the flared wings of a hunting falcon. Drawing the fifty-two-inch blade from the scabbard, Grymauch examined the sword in the fading light. There were still bloodstains on the blade, and he wiped them away with the hem of his black cloak. Beside him Lanovar lifted clear the wedge of blood-soaked cloth he had been holding to the wound in his side. The bleeding had slowed, and the pain was almost gone. He glanced up at Grymauch.
"That monstrosity should be in the Druagh museum," said Lanovar. "It is an anachronism."
"I don't know what that means," muttered Grymauch.
"It means out of its time, my friend. That blade was created to rip through plate armor. No one wears plate anymore."
Grymauch sighed. Returning the blade to its scabbard, he sat down beside his friend. "Out of its time, eh?" he said. "It is like us, then, Lan. We should have been born in the days of the real highland kings."
Blood was leaking slowly from the cloth plugging the exit wound in Lanovar's lower back, a dark stain spreading across the outlawed blue and green cloak of the Rigante. "I need to plug the wound again," said Grymauch.
Lanovar made no complaint as the clansman pulled him forward, and he felt nothing as Grymauch pressed a fresh wad of cloth into the wound. Lanovar's mind wandered briefly.
He saw again the standing stone and the tall black-clad man waiting there. Regrets were pointless now, but he should have trusted his instincts. He had known deep in his heart that the Moidart could not be trusted. As their gaze had met, he had seen the hatred in the man's dark eyes. But the prize had been too great, and Lanovar had allowed the dazzle of its promise to blind him to the truth.
The Moidart had promised that the turbulent years would end: no more pointless bloodshed, no more senseless feuds, no more murdered soldiers and clansmen. This night, at the ancient stone, he and the Moidart would clasp hands and put an end to the savagery. For his part the Moidart had also agreed to petition the king and have Clan Rigante reinstated to the roll of honor.
Lanovar's black warhound, Raven, had growled deeply as they walked into the clearing. "Be silent, boy," whispered Lanovar. "This is an end to battle—not the beginning of it." He approached the Moidart, extending his hand. "It is good that we can meet in this way," said Lanovar. "This feud has bled the highlands for too long."
"Aye, it ends tonight," agreed the Moidart, stepping back into the shadow of the stone.
For a fraction of a heartbeat Lanovar stood still, his hand still extended. Then he heard movement from the undergrowth to the left and right and saw armed men rise up from hiding. Six soldiers carrying muskets emerged and surrounded the Rigante leader. Several others moved into sight, sabers in their hands. Raven bunched his muscles to charge, but Lanovar stopped him with a word of command. The Rigante leader stood very still. As...
About the Author-
David Gemmell was born in London, England, in the summer of 1948. Expelled from school at sixteen, he became a bouncer by night, working nightclubs in Soho. Born with a silver tongue, Gemmell rarely needed to bounce customers, relying on his gift of gab to talk his way out of trouble. This talent eventually led to a job as freelancer for the London Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, and Daily Express. His first novel, Legend, was published in 1984 and has remained in print ever since. He became a full-time writer in 1986. His books consistently top the London Times bestseller list.
May 28, 2001
The third book in Gemmell's popular heroic fantasy saga, the Rigante series (The Sword in the Storm; Midnight Falcon), puts a host of characters through a load of action without much resolution. Centuries ago, after the capture of the Rigante hero, Connavar, Varlish troops subjugated the Rigante highlanders. In recent times the great-hearted warrior Jaim Grymauch promised to care for the infant son of his best friend, Lanovar, who was betrayed by the local lord, the Moidart. Now with Lanovar's son, Kaelin Ring, on the verge of manhood, the highlanders once again chafe under the Moidart's rule. While even the Moidart's son, Gaise Macon, can see the injustice in the situation, he has little influence over his single-minded father. Then the rape and murder of a young Varlish woman stirs up violence and raises questions. Kaelin and Jaim find the murderer with the help of the sorceress known as the Wyrd of Wishing Tree woods, but when Kaelin gives in to his bloodlust and kills the criminal, his aunt Maev sends him away to distant Black Mountain, near the mighty Rigante clan lord Call Jace. As each man accepts the fate laid out for him by the Wyrd, it's hard not to notice how Gemmell seems more intent on setting up the plot for his next book than on telling a balanced story. Plenty of loose ends—most notably the future of Gaise—clamor for expansion, but this novel seems mostly to be a place-keeper in the series.
- Enigma "The blend of gentle humour and hard, bloody steel combine to give every fantasy fan what they most desire."
PublisherRandom House Publishing Group
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