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From the PublisherDon’t miss The Dark Glory War
The prequel to The Dragoncrown War Cycle
The incredible new fantasy epic that began with The Dark Glory War continues in...
In an age of treachery and peril, a young thief may be the prophesied savior ... or the betrayer of the world.
From Michael A. Stackpole, New York Times bestselling author and a master of epic fantasy, comes a stirring chronicle of magic, intrigue, passion, and the most ...
The incredible new fantasy epic that began with The Dark Glory War continues in...
In an age of treachery and peril, a young thief may be the prophesied savior ... or the betrayer of the world.
From Michael A. Stackpole, New York Times bestselling author and a master of epic fantasy, comes a stirring chronicle of magic, intrigue, passion, and the most unlikely of heroes...
Once one of the grandest of human cities, Yslin now has a dark heart known as the Dimandowns. And when Will, an orphaned young thief from the Dim, plots to prove himself to his master by stealing a prize from the exiled Elves who share the fetid slums, his theft of the strange artifact snares him in a web of prophecy.
It also brings him together with Kedyn’s Crow, a shadowy human warrior, and Resolute, a Vorquelf determined to redeem his long-lost island home. To them, Will could be the fulfillment of a long-held dream and the last chance the world has to save itself from Chytrine, the northern tyrant who would be empress of the world.
But their belief in Will finds few allies in a world torn by war and magick. Preoccupied with their own internecine struggles, the world’s leaders see Will as a pawn. Only Chytrine seems able to recognize Will’s destiny, and she sends her Dark Lancers to destroy him. For who better to destroy a hero than the ill-fated heroes of the previous generation, survivors of a failed war to exterminate Chytrine, now corrupted to her service?
Yet even as Will is tested, a new generation takes up arms where their predecessors failed. Alexia, princess of a dead nation, leads an army to oppose Chytrine. And the sorcerers of Vilwan have fashioned their own hero, Kerrigan Reese, bestowing upon him powers and abilities no human has held for centuries.
Together these heroes travel to the mysterious Fortress Draconis to stop Chytrine from stealing more fragments of the DragonCrown — a powerful artifact that, once in her control, will guarantee her dominion forever.
Will shivered in the wet and rain, but clenched his jaw so his teeth would not chatter. The drops came down big and fat; colder, too, than he expected even so late in summer. They splashed against the tiled roof, spattering him and pockmarking the shifting surface of the puddles down on the street. The threadbare scrap of a blanket beneath which he huddled shielded him from their buffets, but let their cold soak straight into him.
The youth had no question that being elsewhere would be preferable — certainly warmer, if nothing else — but he refused to move on. Though he risked catching his death of cold by remaining, running away would kill him as well. I do this, and everything will be okay again.
He raised the blanket a mite and shook his head, letting water spray off his long brown hair. Leaning his head to the right, he let some water drip out of his ear and listened. The drumming of the raindrops hid most all sounds, but little bits of laughter drifted up from the public house’s common room down on the ground level. He shifted slightly to his right, making no more noise than a squab might scrabbling for dry amid the roof’s red tiles. Peering down from the roof’s ridge, he could no longer see yellow light peeking out from behind the attic room’s shuttered window.
Will couldn’t help but let a smile blossom on his face. ‘Bout damned time. Throwing off the blanket, he began to unwind the knotted rope from around his waist. As he coiled it on the roof, he nodded slowly and whispered to himself.
Damn the Vorks,
Damn their eyes.
Let them drink,
I’ll have their prize.
As poetry went, he knew it wasn’t much, but felt the little verse was the seed of something larger. It would be a piece of the great saga minstrels would sing about his life. And sing they will, of Will the Nimble, King of the Dimandowns. I’ll make them forget Marcus, Scabby Jack, and Garrow; I’ll even make them forget the Azure Spider.
He crawled out along the roof’s beam to where a piece overhung the alley. He looped the rope over the end of it, then snugged it tight. Tugging on it twice to assure himself it would hold, he started down it, letting the rope slide between his toes until he could rest his weight on a knot. Little by slowly he descended, reaching out to touch the building and kill any swing on the rope. Finally he hung there, right in front of the attic window.
The dagger he drew from the sheath at the small of his back slid neatly into the gap between shutters. Will worked it up, and between two rusty nail heads, his blade met the latch. Lifting easily, he slipped it and the shutters sagged outward, opening with a lazy sigh.
The thief shook his head as he resheathed his dagger. Stupid Vorks deserve to lose their prize. As anxious as he was to get his hands on it, he didn’t reach for the shutters immediately, but waited a bit more, listening. No time for mistakes now.
He’d been pleased with how well the plan had come together, and he was fair certain Marcus and Fabia would be, too. He’d woven it together from things he knew they’d forgotten, like Fabia talking glowingly about the Vorquelf Predator, leader of the Grey Mist, as if he were King Augustus warring against the north. Predator would tell all that he hated men, and he’d only ever showed Will the cold side of a sneer and the fast-hard of a fist; but to hear Fabia tell it, he loved the warmth of a woman. He’d favored her with his attentions forever ago, when she wasn’t so fat that only Marcus would have her.
She told tales of his having a treasure that she’d never seen, but she knew it was there. Once she’d awakened deep in the night, still drunk, and had seen his face backlit in the glow of something he cupped in his hands. Fabia said he smiled wider than he ever had in her arms. When she asked him what it was, he said she was dreaming, and in telling the tale to the younglings she’d allowed as how she likely was dreaming, since Predator would have long ago drunk up anything so precious.
Will always had believed her telling of the story as a dream until there came a time he thought on it for a while. Then he sought out the woman Predator was currently using. Lumina laughed when Will clowned for her, and cooed over the little things he’d steal and give her, be they bits of pastries or a bright button. She’d reward him with a kiss, clearly assuming that he had a crush on her. The fact that he did didn’t keep him from his mission, and eventually she was coaxed into revealing a tale close enough to Fabia’s that Will knew the Vorquelf was hiding something valuable.
It hadn’t been hard for Will to convince himself that whatever the treasure was, it was meant to be his. For as long as he could remember — which went a bit further back before Marcus and Fabia had taken him in, but not much — he’d hated the Vorquelves. The exiled elves had long ago claimed the Downs as their own domain in Yslin. As hard times hit, the area around the Downs began to decay. Beggars and thieves, whores and the halt — most all men — came to live in the shadows of the city heart. Their neighborhoods became called the Dim, and Hightown folks dismissed the whole area as the Dimandowns. The Vorquelves constantly fought against the growing human population, and the only time human officials came into the area was to press-gang the unwary into crewing on galleys sailing the Crescent Sea.
Will’s hatred for the Vorquelves found an ally in Marcus. Will could remember how the man had brought him into their home, a big building in the Dim, and had housed him with other children. Marcus taught them about thieving and worse, then sent them out into the city. In return for bringing back spoils, the children were fed and clothed and not beaten too often. Those who were especially good were taken to the Harvest Festival in the autumn, though the recent affairs in no way matched what Fabia talked about in her stories of festivals past.
Marcus and Fabia had always done for Will, but he did remember that they’d not always done so for everyone. The girls, when they reached a certain age, were trained for other things. Lumina hadn’t been one of them, but plenty of Will’s sisters plied the liftskirt trade. The boys, when they reached what Marcus called “willfulness,” went away, never to be seen again.
Over the years, the age when willfulness manifested seemed to get younger. Beatings and kids getting vanished seemed to come more frequently with every new cycle of songs devoted to the master thief, the Azure Spider. Will could remember the days when Marcus used to claim with pride having been the Spider’s mentor, but of late he’d been bitter and resentful. He took those feelings out on his male charges — many of whom, Will suspected, Marcus believed would betray him and leave for glory as the Spider had done.
Will had no intention of doing that, and hoped pulling off a job like this, which would have been worthy of the Azure Spider, would impress Marcus. He knew that planning and executing this theft would likely brand him as willful, but he hoped that by bringing the treasure to Marcus, he’d show how loyal he intended to be.
He’ll have no excuse to send me away, none at all.
Confident that nothing lived or breathed in the darkened room, Will opened a shutter, grabbed the inside of the casement, and pulled himself in. He kept hold of the rope with his toes, so it slithered in after him. Crouching by the window, water dripping into a puddle beneath him, Will studied the room carefully. He dearly wished his heart would stop pounding so loudly in his ears, but the tumult of drunken conversation from below would have hidden the approach of a dragon.
Staying low, and spreading his weight out on his hands and feet, Will scuttled across the floor. Lamplight from below bled up through cracks between planks, striping chairs, bed, and wardrobe with a soft yellow glow. Small and light though he was, he knew the uneven boards would be creaking with his passage, but he felt certain those sounds went unheard.
He made his way to the wardrobe and carefully felt around the base molding. Lumina said she’d seen Predator kneeling there, his body washed in silver, but had thought nothing of it. Tracing his fingers along the baseboard, Will sought a catch or lever to reveal a hidden compartment. He found nothing so sophisticated.
His fingers caught against a piece of the base that jutted out just a hair. Hooking his fingernails into the gap, he teased it free without so much as a squeak. A little block of wood as long as his hand came free. In the cavity behind it he found a leather pouch heavy enough for a silver or two, and a lighter velvet pouch. The latter had something in it, but he couldn’t tell what.
He slipped the leather pouch beneath his belt and knew he should head out before examining his other find, but he needed to make certain he really had gotten his hands on Predator’s treasure. Slender fingers unmade the knot holding the bag shut, then peeled the velvet away, letting a blinding argent light shine forth.
Will squinted against the brilliance, at once entranced and puzzled. The treasure looked like a leaf — he knew it was from a tree, but what kind he had no idea since trees were few in the Dimandowns. The leaf blazed with a silver light and appeared to be metal, but had none of the heft it would have had if cast in silver. More impressively, it had the supple texture and flexibility of a living leaf.
Don’t know what it is, but it is a treasure! For the barest of moments Will considered tucking it back in its hidey-hole. Just having disturbed it felt somehow wrong — and the idea that taking something that didn’t belong to him was wrong had seldom occurred to him before. At the same time, it also felt wrong for this leaf to remain shut up in a little hole. He sensed another purpose to it, as if there was something he was supposed to do with it.
Suddenly shouting arose from below and something shattered against the floorboards. Ale sprayed up through a crack. Wet as he was he couldn’t really feel it hit him, but he could smell it. In an instant he knew the silver light had been seen by someone below, and that the thundering came from feet on the stairs leading to the upper floor.
Without a second thought, and with skill born of more than a decade’s thievery, Will stuffed the leaf into the bag and tucked it in his belt. He darted toward the window, tumbling a chair in his wake, and dove for the rope as the room’s door burst inward. The rope bumped and slithered, knot by knot, out behind him, chased by the curses of the Vork who hit the chair and fell. Out into the night Will sailed, snapping his legs up, hoping he could loop his way back onto the roof.
Though his feet came up above the level of the roof, he couldn’t get far enough over to land there, so he twisted around as he descended again on a short, tight arc. A waiting Vork smiled, reaching out for him as he returned. Will kicked one of the shutters around, slamming it flat against the Vork’s face, spilling him back into the room.
As quickly as he could, controlling his fall more than actually climbing, he let himself down, and reached the alley seconds before a sword sliced the rope free from above. Will crouched, found a rock with his right hand, and sent it flying up at the window. The pale face that had been leering at him snapped back into the darkness.
Will darted off along the alley, hitting the street and cutting right. That route would actually take him deeper into the Downs, which he figured would confuse the Vorks. He ran as fast as he could, splashing through puddles, leaping over the dead bodies of animals, hoping the battering rain would aid him by erasing all traces of his passage.
Aid him it did in some ways, for nothing could have tracked him by sight or scent as the rain washed away his spoor almost instantly. Even so, the rain betrayed him in more important ways, which he slowly came to understand as he raced past cloaked figures skulking through the streets, and close by soaked curs that barked and howled at him. This is not the way to go.
The Downs had been called the downs because the city of Yslin sunk to its lowest level there. At high tide some of the streets would flood, and although high tide lay hours yet away, the day’s downpour had flooded streets into brown rapids thick with debris. The street along which he ran dipped into a raging torrent.
His course blocked, Will turned north, dashing toward an alley mouth. He could hear his pursuers after him and knew he should toss away his loot. The leather bag with coins he tugged free of his belt and dropped behind him without a second thought. When his fingers touched the velvet bag, however, it felt warm and dry and he knew he wouldn’t let anyone take it from him. Not them, not Marcus. Not anyone.
Will put his head down and started running in earnest when the rain’s second betrayal occurred. He sprinted through a puddle that hid in its murky depths a missing cobblestone. The youth caught his right foot in the hole and stumbled, smashing his right knee into the roadway. The cobblestones, while soaked by the rain, had not been softened, so the blow drove a jolt of pain up and down his leg. His ankle twisted before his foot came free. He rolled over onto his back, clutching his knee in both hands.
Cold rain splashed his face, and colder laughter rang in his ears. A knot of Vorquelves towered over him. The silver moonlight made them into ghosts, and what he could see of their faces indicated they were most malevolent. One bled from a cut on his forehead — Will took some joy in knowing his rock had flown true — and another’s nose looked to be swelling.
Posted November 3, 2005
I picked this series up because I was a fan of the books that Stackpole wrote in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and so it all seemed like a good idea. I can't say that the world Stackpole created has a lot of depth, but that doesn't imply that this book and the others are boring. This fantasy world's history is short and simple, and the characters and country's names are easy enough to remember. I considered it all relief from incredibly detailed worlds such as those dreamed up by Tolkein or Janny Wurts. This story in particular is much like LOTR's fellowship in that it introduces you to the characters that you'll be following through the rest of the trilogy. The personalities Stackpole bestows on each of his are unique enough that the reader will more than likely find they can relate to one of the dozen or so characters. Being the first of the trilogy, it's not terribly exciting, but still a good read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 28, 2005
Posted July 7, 2005
I have read a 900 page book faster than I read the first 50 pages. I tried to continue, thinking maybe it would get better, but another 50 pages later I gave up. I didn't see the plot going anywhere and nothing really eventful happened. I admit I'm more of a girl main character fantasy lover, but it was just too dull. Will just didnt seem up to play the part he was given.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 15, 2003
I have been a big fan of Michael Stackpole's fiction work since his early work on the BattleTech series. He is also the author of my favorite fantasy novel ever, Once a Hero. It had been a few years since I had read The Dark Glory War, which is a prequel to the events of The DragonCrown War Cycle, of which Fortress Draconis is just the first. With all that, you can probably predict that I'm not exactly the most unbiased of reviewers. There is a lot to like here, though there are some problems, which I'll deal with later. First, you get a lot of bang for your buck, as the story itself is over 700 pages long. The characters are, for the most part, pretty interesting, and there are a lot of them to keep track of. You also get a good feel for more of the world at large than you got in The Dark Glory War, which had a more limited focus. You can tell that a lot of time has been spent detailing out the world, especially all the different political affiliations and kingdoms that make up the free people. I definitely found the story entertaining enough, and the author's use of language to describe things is very good. Sometimes when I'm reading a book I have a hard time picturing what is going on because the author uses words that I don't understand, but I have never had that problem with one of Michael Stackpole's books, from what I can remember. That being said, the book did start off poorly, at least in relation to many of the author's other works. The first few chapters felt stilted, as the author introduces a number of new characters but doesn't give any of them enough time to become fleshed out. That does happen eventually, but it takes too long for my taste. Also, the size of the book is a double-edged sword, as 700 pages looked very daunting at the beginning, especially as things weren't flowing very well for the first third of the book or so. I'm glad I stuck it out, though, and if you like fantasy fiction then I can recommend this book, just make sure you have the time to devote to a book this big.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 7, 2003
I've been a fan of Michael Stackpole's fantasy ever since 'Talion Revenant.' And since I bought and read the Dark Glory War, I've been waiting and hoping Stackpole would return to this world. This book more than satisfied my expectations. Stackpole has created a vivid world with believable characters and kingdoms. I was totally immersed in the book from start to finish. I hope it won't take as long to complete this series as it did to return to this world.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 28, 2002
Posted September 27, 2002
I enjoyed this book and thought that the plot was great. I loved the new characters and I liked how the old ones had changed. I loved the way Stackpole developed the world from one of hope in DGW into one of darkness and hoplelessness in FD. I can¿t wait to see were Stackpole takes his creation next.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 5, 2002
This book is full of fun and adventure for anyone who enjoys fantasy war novels. Stakpole has done a great job of incorperating the reader into the emotions of it's characters!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 6, 2002
I was disappointed with the overwhelming amount of new information and all the new story lines. I felt a little cheated as there was no resolution of the questions and story lines from the dark glory war. Also, the war seemed predictable and the enemy invincible as in every other book ever written. The new characters were refreshing, but we never got to know them enough before we were introduced to new ones. I did enjoy the humor and interaction between the characters (nobody does this better than Stackpole), but found myself confused about who was who because of the number of people in the book. I found parts of the story very predictable (Crow's real identity was obvious). The book was a good read, but does not stand out as one of the best like some of Stackpole's other works (Once a hero, Talion, Rogue Squadron series).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 3, 2001
I Have Just Started Reading Fortress Draconis and I love it. Yes Their has Been no direct mention of Tarrent Hawkins But That is Hidden withen the plot at lest until the second book maybe the third. There is mention of him though in this book as a shadowy human warrior who is part of Keyden Crow with Resolute the Vorquelf. Both the readers and the critic have over looked this because they did not retain any detail from the Dark Glory War. Stackpole writes in such a way that the hints to what will happen and what has happened are disguised in the story itself. I recomend those of you who can not see what is going on read Sackpole Battletech trilogy The Warriors Coup. There you will learn how to read a Stackpole trilogy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 20, 2001
If you read The Dark Glory War, then you understand my feeling of impatience while waiting for this book. I enjoyed this book very much. It is definatly leading up to quite a story about the upcoming war, and hopefully more about the caracters and their interactions with each other. I loved having a female heroine(Alyx) as an opposite to Kedyn's Crow(Tarrant Hawkins). She was very intersting and the interaction between the two of them was far too small on the details and how they were feeling. This lack of detail did not detract from the story, however, instead it left a feeling of bigger things to come. Will the next book develop the relationship between these two? I don't know but I can't wait to find out! I greatly anticipate what will happen in the next installment. I am a big fan of Stackpole's writing and I recomend any of his books.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 4, 2001
After I read The Dark Glory War, I happily spent many months working out imaginary scenarios continuing the story. This first book in the continuation of the story starts 25 years later and introduces a whole lot of new characters. This could be the problem: there are too many characters and too much going on, much of it doing little to advance our understanding of the characters. It reads like an overview, introducing so much new material that it doesn't really focus on the story (yet). This book will be appreciated by readers who enjoy intricate battle scenes. The plot, on the other hand, is going somewhere, but I can't tell where that might be. The new characters are still somewhat sketchy. I will read the sequel(s), though, because I want to find out how it ends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 4, 2002
I actually read Fortress Draconis before the Dark Glory War, and as a book, i personally found the characters not too hard to figure out. And it mentions Tarrant Hawkins at the end anyways, jus keep readin if u guys wanna find out ^_^Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2001
Michael Stackpole delivers again. Fortress Draconis is a great journey through a new land. While it leaves its previous book, The Dark Glory War, in the past. It takes up the tale dealing with the results from that eariler war. Stackpole weaves great storylines and dialogue with wonderful descriptions and action sequences. If you enjoyed any of his previous work, you will not be disappointed. If you have not read any of his work, this is one to start with!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 30, 2001
First off I was as dissapointed as the rest when I found out from Stackpole's website that Fortress Draconis (FD) is set decades after Dark Glory War (DGW), with a different set of main characters. This isn't the first time Michael A. Stackpole has pulled a fast one i.e. An Enemy Reborn (reasons were given in the novel). I must say, although I was a tad outraged, I was looking foward to seeing what Stackpole had in store. After grabbing the first book off the first shipment I was practically buzzing with excitement, until that is when I read the novel. I didn't write a review earlier because I felt others would write reviews that would share my dissapointment, but none seemed to voice any objections to this new novel so here I am. This novel was like a jewel and had so much potential due to the fact that this was 25 or so years later. Stackpole could have let the excitement, mystery, and suspense build to a mind-numbing proportion. But in the end I just felt fruastrated and cheated. For all his cloak and dagger we all knew who Tarrant Hawkins was from the beggining, and you would think that his battle skills would have improved over the decades, and Stackpole made it abundantly clear that he was still strong and vibrant. Not only does he seem like a helpless baby in some of the battles, he couldn't even lift a finger against the Queen's champions (this from a guy that defeated the champions from DGW with a bit of ingenuity). I do understand that its the new generations turn to spank the bad guys but give Hawkins a bit of credit. And unlike the ending in DGW which left your hair standing on end, this books ending was a ripoff and left you feeling like someone pulled the rug from under you. Like I said the build up of story and climax just isn't the same as his old novels. Not only can't you relate to the characters, the plot seems a bit stagnant at times. I even found myself methodically skipping pages because of the dryness of Stackpoles warfare, not because it was to boring but because it was TOO MUCH and to indepth that it distracts a reader from the story. I do love reading about historical warfare and strategies but the novel at times read just like that, a dry history book of strategies. In his previous novels he sprinkled just enough to keep things interesting but in DF he went way overboard, btw Michael I think we are all very impressed with your knowledge ;P. Although I had many gripes with this novel Stackpole is still one of my favorites. This is his first 'own' real big-time Epic Story so it's understandable if everything was a bit overwhelming with all those characters, plots, and subplots. I just hope that this was a primer and the next novel will develop the new characters more (enough so that I can actually start to like some of them).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2001
I agree with the other review on this page. We all waited to hear what happened to tarrant after the first book. How can he just write the next book and not even mention the hero from the last book. It's crazy!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 25, 2001
Is anyone else upset that this new book that we have been waiting for so long for is not even going to address 'Tarant Hawkins'. What became of him. Don't do this to us I beg of you. I have waited far to long to find out what happened after his Dad ripped of his mask.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 12, 2010
No text was provided for this review.