Crown of Vengeance

Crown of Vengeance

4.4 23
by Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory, Kate Rudd

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Crown of Vengeance begins a new epic fantasy saga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

She is the unwanted spawn of a mad king and queen, her lands lost before her birth; her family—her very name—erased from history. Cursed by many, yet protected by an even greater curse.


Crown of Vengeance begins a new epic fantasy saga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

She is the unwanted spawn of a mad king and queen, her lands lost before her birth; her family—her very name—erased from history. Cursed by many, yet protected by an even greater curse.

She was born on a night of storm and terror, raised in protected concealment, then banished from the only home she had ever known—an ancient enemy's final stroke in a war begun centuries before.

Secret studies of hidden lore reveal the truth of the prophecy that heralded her coming. Dark dreams teach lessons of war and duty, of strategy and magecraft, that she could not learn in a thousand lifetimes.

She does not have a thousand lifetimes. She has just one—and time is running out. For the prophecy spoke not just of her, but of a great Darkness that would destroy the elven kingdoms. A Darkness that is coming ever closer.

She is Vieliessar Farcarinon and she must save her people. Even if she must shatter custom and destroy the world she was born to rule.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A fantasy fanatic's feast.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The quickly-paced plot has just the right mixture of pathos and levity. A thoughtfully created world, engaging characters, and a tighter plot than many fantasy epics make this new novel a must-have.” —VOYA on The Phoenix Unchained

“[An] enjoyable read.” —RT Book Reviews on The Phoenix Endangered

“Delightful.” —Booklist on The Outstretched Shadow

“Wonderful . . . . Simply a joy to read. With just the right pacing, interesting characters, and sense of danger around every turn, fantasy fans will feel like they have come home. This is a novel about friendship, duty, and the existence of right and wrong. The reader will be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy some good old-fashioned escapism.” —Grasping for the Wind on The Phoenix Unchained

“Entertaining. . . . This beguiling beginning promises a highly readable epic combining vivid characterization with an interesting exploration of how past heroics are twisted over centuries into something both more and less than they were.” —Publishers Weekly on The Phoenix Unchained

“Solidly developed characters, appealing magical companions, and an intriguing tale make this a good addition, along with its predecessor, to any fantasy collection.” —Library Journal on The Phoenix Endangered

“Highly readable. High fantasy fans should appreciate the intelligent storytelling.” —Publishers Weekly on When Darkness Falls

“Readers can rest assured that Lackey and Mallory will not let them down.” —SFRevu

“Lackey and Mallory combine their talents for storytelling and world crafting into a panoramic effort.” —Library Journal on To Light a Candle

Library Journal
The orphaned elven child Varuthir is sent to live as a servant at the Sanctuary of the Star, where those who are magically gifted—the Lightborn—learn to use their magic. There she discovers that she is both the last survivor of House Farcarinon and the Child of the Prophecy, destined to destroy the hundred Kingdoms. When the Light first awakens in her, Varuthir receives her training in secret, but then decides that the time has come to reclaim her heritage and seek out the prophecy's true meaning. The latest collaboration by fantasy authors Lackey ("Valdemar" series) and Mallory ("Merlin" series) launches a new trilogy set in the world of their "The Enduring Flame" and "Obsidian" trilogies in which dueling elven houses are caught up in a war between Light and Darkness. VERDICT The authors demonstrate once again their talents for storytelling on a grand scale. Strong characters and a compelling plot make this a sure selection for fans. [Previewed in Kristi Chadwick's Genre Spotlight feature, "Hungry for SF," LJ 8/15/12;—Ed.]
Kirkus Reviews
Lackey and Mallory (The Phoenix Transformed, 2009, etc.) begin another speculative allegorical series with the chronicle of Elven Queen Vieliessar of Farcarinon. Royal Lady Nataranweiya, pregnant and pursued, seeks safety within the Sanctuary of the Star. There, she's greeted by Astromancers, Lightborns and Mages. At the Sanctuary, Nataranweiya dies birthing Vieliessar, a babe who must fight for her royal birthright. She is renamed Varuthir. Oblivious to her heritage, she grows up as the ward of her family's mortal enemies. Ambitious to become a knight, Varuthir instead is informed of her regal heritage and exiled into servitude. Speculative adventures forever pit good against evil, creation against destruction, and within this narrative, it's the forces of Light against the Endarkened. The plot is universal: a quest. Here, however, it is laced with the magick power of Healing. This power Vieliessar/Varuthir discovers within herself while exiled back at the Sanctuary. There she meets another postulant, Thurion, less-than-royal born, soon to be transformed into a warrior. Varuthir morphs into Vieliessar, warrior queen, one whose saga is sure to appeal to speculative fans who treasure long, complex, gore-filled plots. Amid Sturm und Drang, Vieliessar becomes a conquering lord avenging the House of Farcarnion against the Caerthalien. There are spells and incantations, lackeys and varlets, revenge and remorse. The book is ripe with mythical beasts, complex nomenclature and overwrought descriptive phrasing--"I shall see you drown in your own blood!"--all laced into a narrative motif fit for a Technicolor swashbuckler. With Lightbrothers and Lightsisters, Farmfolk and Landbond, komen and komentai'a, the authors could have made the task easier for readers by adding a history synopsis and a glossary. A fantasy fanatic's feast.

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Crown of Vengeance

Book One of The Dragon Prophecy

By Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2012 Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9286-2



Even as we reckon time, our history is long — so long its beginnings have been worn away by the passage of time. Long before Man came to be, we were. It could be said that our history begins with the Endarkened, for that terrible conflict scoured away all that we had been before it, leaving us one purpose:


— Peldalathiriel Caerthalien, Of the Reign of Great Queen Vieliessar

Perchelion used to tell me the Hunt rode through every storm. When I grew old enough to question I said I did not believe her. I remember how she slapped me, and said I would never become a knight of my father's meisne, for to doubt the Starry Hunt meant I would never wield a sword. I remember I laughed, and said there were not enough storms in all the year for them to do that ...

Ladyholder Nataranweiya forced her mind to focus on such ancient trifles, for to allow it liberty would mean she thought of things it would not be good to think on now. Her child-swollen body shuddered harder than the cold should merit, even as the horse's body shook with weariness.

Lightning stitched the woods to sudden brightness, and in its light she could see Falthiel, his face turned toward her, shouting something. She could not make out the words over the howl of the wind and the thunder of the horses' hooves. Dioniron had given their mounts enough of the battle cordial to poison them: they would run until they died.

They would have to. Caerthalien's dogs were a candlemark — no more — behind them now, and Nataranweiya knew they outnumbered the scant handful of her surviving protectors.

Suddenly her mount put a foot wrong, slipping and staggering through mud and autumn leaves for a handful of terrifying moments before finding its balance and running on. The near-fall jarred her agonizingly, but Nataranweiya did not cry out. She would not shame her Bondmate, even though all her broken soul yearned for was to follow him into the death he had found. Serenthon Farcarinon would have made her queen over all the Hundred Houses. If only Serenthon had never known of Amrethion's Curse. If only he had not taken it into his heart, as if it were a lover's message meant for him alone.

As reasonable to wish he had never known of the sun, or the sky, or the trees.

Why was our Bond not enough for you? Why must you reach for more?

"Near, my lady!" Beleval shouted, his voice loud enough to cut through the roar of the storm. Near to the Sanctuary of the Star.

Near to safety. Near to revenge.

Pain gripped her, this wave coming sooner than the last, and when it passed she tasted the blood from where she'd bitten her lip. She had been upon the birthing couch when the traitors had come. That the child had delayed even from nightfall to nightfall was more grace than she had hoped for; the unborn babe would not grant her yet more clemency. She must be delivered soon or this nightmare ride would have been for nothing.

Only within the Sanctuary of the Star could she be safe.

The bright call of a warhorn sheared through the noise of their flight and jarred her back to full consciousness. Any daughter of the Hundred Houses learned early the strategies and treacheries an enemy might use to gain what it wished. She knew their pursuers had no need to signal an intended attack. It was an attempt to startle the prey into rash action, so they might be easily taken.

The horn called again, closer.

Suddenly Nataranweiya found herself alone. Moments later the full fury of the storm struck her; so much water was flung at her by the wind that she coughed and choked on it. The shock was so great that in her exhaustion it took her precious heartbeats to understand what had happened. Beleval and Dioniron have turned back.

The three of them had been in the lead. If Beleval and Dioniron had turned back to throw themselves against their pursuers, the others had as well.

Farewell, farewell, friends, companions, cousins! We shall meet again in Tildorangelor, beneath the trees....

She would have wept, save that her tears had all been shed long before. Now the sky must do her mourning. She could not open her eyes against the wind to search for the lights ahead, but they must be there. They must.

Her mount's gait was even more jarring now. It had run the sun down out of the sky, its drug-maddened gallop as unchanging as the beat of drums. Even in her exhausted, pain-racked state, Nataranweiya knew the instant that rhythm changed. The horse slowed from a gallop to a jarring trot, forced itself to a gallop again, staggered to a stiff-legged exhausted canter and held there. Nataranweiya could hear the desperate whistling sound it made as it fought for air, for life

The animal lost its fight between one step and the next. She felt its muscles go slack, even as the hot blood of its death sprayed her, she was already kicking her feet free of the stirrups and releasing her cold-cramped grip on its reins. She must throw herself from the saddle or be trapped beneath its body when she fell. Who had first taught her that? She no longer remembered; nor was she the bright slender girl who had learned that lesson any longer. She screamed at another wave of pain that rose just as she flung herself free. Hurry, you must hurry, they will hear, they will follow. ... Then all thoughts were driven from her mind until it passed.

She crawled from beside the horse's body as soon as she could. With shaking fingers she ripped the jeweled clasp of her fine fur cloak open, shedding its sodden weight in the mud.

Hurry. To your feet, witless girl, you must run now. ... She crawled.

Three times she was forced to halt by the agonizing pressure on her abdomen. She barely knew when she reached the Sanctuary gates. They stood eternally open in both warning and promise that no conflict might enter here. She clawed herself to her feet along one pillar.

Beyond the gate. Inside. You are not safe until you are within. Not safe. Not safe ...

* * *

For six centuries Maeredhiel had served the Sanctuary of the Star. Let the children come and go in their season, let a new Astromancer be chosen each time the ever-living Vilya bore its fruit; what was that to her? Maeredhiel had made for herself a place and a peace that none would take from her. Did not Lightborn need to eat and sleep? Did not the workrooms and stillrooms run more smoothly when there was a proper supply of herbs and fruits to hand for decoction and enchanting?

And did not young Candidates tear their tunics and outgrow their sandals, here just as within the walls of the Keep in which she had been born?

The time was late, and tomorrow as always would be a day of much work, yet Maeredhiel found she could not sleep. She had already checked the storerooms and the sleeping rooms for possible storm damage, and even visited the high tower where Celelioniel spent so many nights. The Astromancer had not gone there tonight, for clouds had obscured her beloved stars, but still Maeredhiel was uneasy. Tonight's storm was fierce and unseasonable.

Fool! she berated herself. Are you yourself an Astromancer, to know the stories the stars whisper? What troubles you is indigestion and age, nothing more.

She hesitated in the antechamber of the Shrine, adjusting her hooded shawl. It was always as bright as summer noon here, for the walls and ceiling shone with Silverlight renewed again and again since the day Mosirinde Peacemaker had first set this place apart. The stone floor was inlaid with a silver wheel whose arms pointed the true directions, and the ceiling was inlaid with the star pictures that edged the Hunt-road. It was both promise and warning, as was the depiction of the Silver Hooves themselves upon the great bronze doors at the far end of the chamber. Beyond those doors stood the Shrine of the Star itself.

As if her musings had summoned Them, the antechamber was filled with a sudden blast of cold.

No one would come to the Sanctuary in this storm merely to bid us good greeting, Maeredhiel thought in alarm. She clapped her hands to summon the servants — the simple cantrip she wore on a string about her neck ensured her summons would be heard in their bedchambers — and hurried to open the inner door. Gusts of wet wind skirled around her and she turned her head away.

"... please ..." The word was the faintest of whispers.

How did you come here? Maeredhiel wondered, gazing down at the bundle of muddy rags barely discernible as a living body. She stepped over the body to pull the outer doors back into place, peering out as she did, but if any followed, they were as dark as the storm.

"Mistress, what —?" It was Elithreth, one of the Candidates in his Service Year.

"What else but someone seeking Sanctuary?" Maeredhiel answered. "A woman, and with child," she finished smoothly. "So use care."

With Elithreth's help, Maeredhiel lifted the supplicant to her feet and helped her inside. Many came to the Sanctuary of the Star seeking that which only it could supply. Normally such a one would place a hand upon the bronze doors of the Shrine and make their formal petition before being sent to hospital or resting chamber. Maeredhiel did not think this one had that much strength left in her body — if she and Elithreth had not supported her, she would have collapsed. Every footstep she took left pools of muddy, bloody water upon the stone floor, but in the stronger light of the antechamber, Maeredhiel saw the glitter of silver, moonsilver, and gems.

Noble — and with child — and hurt — and alone. None of these things boded well for the peace of the Sanctuary. "Your name and your House, Lady?" Maeredhiel asked, her voice low and urgent. Celelioniel would wish to know these things — and at once.

The traveler struggled to answer, turning her face toward Maeredhiel — Maeredhiel saw blood-bitten lips, bruises, abrasions — but any reply she might have made was cut off by a gasp of pain.

Best to place her in a retiring room until I can call Mistress Healer's lazy servants to bring a litter. "Come, Elithreth, we will —" she began.

But her words were cut short by the arrival of the Astromancer herself.

"Is it she? Is it now? Oh, this creature has come in an evil time!" Celelioniel Astromancer cried. She looked like a creature demented, with her shorn hair in disorder and her thin woolen robe kilted up past her knees. Her feet were bare and earth-smeared. She has come from the Shrine, Maeredhiel realized with a pang of unease.

"I know not who she is, Lady," Maeredhiel said. "But surely this poor creature cannot be anyone's great enemy?" She struggled with the visitor's full weight now, for at Celelioniel's cry, Elithreth had released his hold on her and backed away.

"'When stars and clouds together point the way — And of a hundred deer one doe can no longer counted be'! It is the Prophecy, Maeredhiel! It comes true — now — for has not Caerthalien a sennight hence led the breaking of Farcarinon? Here — here! — lies the Doom of the Hundred Houses!"

Maeredhiel turned away so that Celelioniel would not see her face. When Celelioniel had begun her research, she had known no more of Amrethion's Curse or the Child of Prophecy than any Sanctuary-trained Lightborn might know. Maeredhiel would never know what steps had led Celelioniel to The Song of Amrethion, and what hints gleaned from ancient histories had led her to decide she alone could unriddle Amrethion's Curse. But whatever she had found there had terrified her. Maeredhiel had watched the obsession — the madness — grow from the day Celelioniel had become Astromancer, nearly a century ago.

I pray the Vilya fruits soon, she thought sorrowfully. And my lady goes far from this place that has done her such harm.

"Lady, no harm may enter here," Maeredhiel said soothingly. "Only let me bring this one to Mistress Healer Nithrithuin before her babe is brought to harm, and —"

"It is the babe I fear!" Celelioniel wailed. "Does not The Song of Amrethion Aradruiniel speak of the birth of a babe who will cast down the High Houses? A babe whose birth will herald the beginning of great Darkness?"

Suddenly Celelioniel darted forward and seized the woman's chin, gazing into her eyes for a moment before springing back and wailing as if she were but a babe herself.

"Sanctuary ... I claim ... I must ..." the Lady whispered. The Astromancer's touch seemed to drain the last strength from the supplicant; rather than drop her, Maeredhiel knelt with her upon the stone floor. As she did, her heart sank further: nestled in the hollow of her throat was a pendant, a Vilya blossom of moonsilver. Somewhere, this woman's Bondmate awaited her. The Soulbond was the greatest joy any alfaljodthi could know, and the greatest sorrow as well, for once the Bond was made, to slay one half of it was to slay the other. Two lives might end this night — if not three.

"Your name, Lady, and how you came here," she asked again, though she thought the Lady might be past hearing. "You lie before the Shrine itself. None will carry you away."

Maeredhiel had nearly made up her mind to send Elithreth for Mistress Healer without waiting for Celelioniel's order, for the Sanctuary Healer would be willing to overrule the Astromancer if Celelioniel's hysterics continued. But Celelioniel's wailings had roused others.

"What disturbance is this?" Hamphuliadiel Lightbrother had obviously been roused from his rest, for his Green Robe bore signs of having been hastily donned and he had bound it with a simple acolyte's cord. "I should have been summoned before you opened our doors!" Hamphuliadiel added.

"You are not Astromancer yet, bold one," Maeredhiel muttered, lowering her eyes lest he should read her words in them. She was saved from whatever reply Hamphuliadiel might have made by the arrival of yet more strangers.

Outer and inner doors slammed open as one and three komen in Caerthalien green and gold stalked into the antechamber. "There she is!" the foremost barked out. "Farcarinon's bitch in whelp!" She reached up and unlatched her helm. "Has she claimed Sanctuary?" she added, the mocking tone in her voice making it clear what she thought the answer would be.

"She has," Maeredhiel answered, her voice bold and loud over the howl of the wind. "Ladyholder Nataranweiya of Farcarinon has set her hand upon the door of the Shrine and set her words aloft for the Silver Hooves to hear!" She could not say why she spoke so, save the long-burning anger in her heart against those who would dice with the lives of innocent folk.

The knight drew back with an angry curse, placing her hand upon her sword.

"Yet if it is her own will to leave ..." Hamphuliadiel began.

"We turn none away who seeks Sanctuary," Maeredhiel said sharply. "Nor do we permit weapons within it," she added, glaring at the swords the Caerthalien knights still bore. "Elithreth, you must lead our guests to the stables, so they may put up their horses, then see them lodged in our guesthouse."

"Yes, Mistress Maeredhiel," Elithreth answered, sounding relieved to be given a task that would take him from the Astromancer's presence. "My lords komentai'a, will you accompany me? And say, perhaps, if there are others abroad who need shelter this night?"

"I thank you, young one," the nameless knight answered. She could do nothing else, for no one would dare to profane the peace of the Sanctuary of the Star — nor rouse the anger of its Mages. "Yet I say I will remain to see what is done here. Nimboroth, take you my sword and blades."

"It shall be done, Komen Harthelin," Nimboroth answered.

"And shut those damned doors!" Harthelin added.

At least someone gives ear to orders this night, Maeredhiel thought sourly, as a loud banging and the sudden absence of wind told her Harthelin's order had been followed.

By now the antechamber was filled with the curious and the concerned. "I would see Ladyholder Nataranweiya beneath the hands of the Healers," Maeredhiel said again, raising her voice.

"Name her Lady-Abeyant, of your courtesy, for her traitor-lord is dead," Harthelin said with a mocking smile.

"Perhaps ..." Celelioniel said, as if speaking to herself, "... perhaps we can yet outrun our fates."

At last Mistress Healer Nithrithuin arrived. She knelt beside Nataranweiya and laid quick hands upon her. "Why lies she upon cold stone?" she demanded, glaring at Celelioniel. "Is it more of your addled prophecy, witless one? Go!" she demanded of the nearest Lightborn. "Summon a litter from the hospital — and bearers."

"I should be honored to bear Serenthon's sow wherever she must go," Komen Harthelin said.

"I know not what cause you have against this lady, but I say to you, you may not bring your quarrel here," Nithrithuin said sternly.


Excerpted from Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory. Copyright © 2012 Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory have written the Enduring Flame trilogy, which includes the New York Times bestseller The Phoenix Transformed, and the Obsidian Trilogy: The Outstretched Shadow, named Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror by VOYA; To Light a Candle, a USA Today bestseller; and When Darkness Falls, a New York Times bestseller. Lackey lives in Claremore, Oklahoma. Mallory lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Crown of Vengeance 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
BibliomaniacWA More than 1 year ago
This book is a superb addition to the Obsidian Trilogy family. I loved the first trilogy, and enjoyed the second. I have been waiting quite a while for this book and it did not let me down! Crown of Vengeance is a great beginning to a new series in a world that is thoroughly enjoyable! Great job again Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. You did not disappoint!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing first book. Great, interesting characters interact in a beautifully crafted world. Though the story may be high or epic fantasy, it isn't your good ol' cliche filled piece of crap. My only problem is that I have to wait for the second installment. Brilliant story!
carock More than 1 year ago
Can not wait for the next installment. I loved the The Obsidian Mountain Trilogy and this is the predecessor. It is something that I will reread.
Kethra More than 1 year ago
An excellent addition to Ms. Lackey's Obsidian Trilogy.  This book lays the groundwork for Queen  Vielissiar Faricarnon's birth and childhood.  A well written and exceptional read!
myappy More than 1 year ago
PLEASE WRITE QUICKLY!!!! Cant wait for the next one!!!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book i can not wait for the next one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When is book 2 out
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Machiavelli is alive and well in the minds of Mr Mallory and Ms Lackey. Great story line, but it's hard to follow because so much effort goes into the pronunciation of names or coming up with "nicknames" to make the reading easier,
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing :) I am already so excited for the next one!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why is it that the series about Elizabeth 1 has a who's who list, but not this book? It's much longer, full of nicknames, & highly interconnected. You shouldn't have to write everything down by hand in an attempt to follow everything! Way too much work!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was long winded and tidious. Not like her other books which i love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring never:(:(: