Fortress of Dragons (Fortress Series #4)

Fortress of Dragons (Fortress Series #4)

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by C. J. Cherryh

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The walls between the worlds are down. A new unfolding has begun...

It started long ago, as a war between the shadowy Immortals that persists today, as the wizard Mauryl's Shaping confronts the Shadows summoned from Chaos. Tristen is that Shaping. Both more and less than human, he successfully fought sorcery's evil tides, a victory that brought his friend

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The walls between the worlds are down. A new unfolding has begun...

It started long ago, as a war between the shadowy Immortals that persists today, as the wizard Mauryl's Shaping confronts the Shadows summoned from Chaos. Tristen is that Shaping. Both more and less than human, he successfully fought sorcery's evil tides, a victory that brought his friend Cefwyn both a kingdom and true love.

But the Lines that hold the world in place are shifting again. A ruthless enemy is preparing for battle. Once again, Tristen will take up the sword inscribed with "Truth" and "Illusion" on its blade. But he faces more than war and a pretender to Cefwyn's throne. The Shadows he sees are straight from Ruin -- a flow of darkness covering the world like ink...

Fortress of Dragons completes the high-fantasy epic begun in Fortress in the Eye of Time and continued in Fortress of Eagles and Fortress of Owls --a powerful tale set in a world of magic, violence, wonder and awe -- a world as vividly real as our own.

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Editorial Reviews

Elegant and moody writing builds a taut atmosphere of omens and prophecies fulfilled and ably evokes a magic of will and wishes and light.
Denver Post
Stunning high fantasy.
Kirkus Reviews
Fourth, and possibly last, of Cherryh's lumbering fantasy series (Fortress of Owls, 1999, etc.). Here, the wizard, Tristen, is a Shaping of the last Sihhe wizard, Mauryl, by nature half Shadow, half Fire. One side of his double-edged sword is inscribed Truth, the other Illusion. Despite all their victories in previous battles, however, Tristen and his friends, King Cefwyn and Queen Ninevrise, are threatened by yet another menace. Cherryh does provide a synopsis, again so dense as to be all but unintelligible—and if nothing else the whole ponderous enterprise demonstrates that even the most talented of writers can churn out pedestrian fantasy along with the best of them.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Fortress Science Fiction Series , #4
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Chapter One

A slow procession passed by night, little disturbing the sleep of Henas'amef. Tristen on bay Petelly, two ladies on horses the lords of Ivanor had lent them, with Captain Uwen Lewen's-son and Tristen's bodyguard attending, all climbed the hill in a lazy fall of fat lumps of snow.

That families were asleep and shutters were drawn and latched up and down the streets lent welcome anonymity to their passage ... for by day the sight of the duke of Amefel riding in company with the red-haired former duchess and her sister would have alarmed the town.

As it was, their small party reached the Zeide's West Gate and dismounted with little fuss. The stableboys turned out dutifully, bleary-eyed with sleep-until they discovered their lord had brought two visitors they never wished to see again. Then young eyes grew wide, and the boys moved fearfully and quickly about their business.

The gate-guards, who had come inward bearing torches to light the stable yard, also recognized the visitors by that light and seemed utterly confounded to know who the women were. So with the west stairs guards, who came down in their turn and stopped in their tracks.

"Here's your own lord!" Uwen Lewen's-son said to the gawkers. "An' he's gi'en refuge to these ladies, on account of some damn godless bandits has burned down the nunnery at Anwyfar. They walked here in the storm, half-dead and near frozen, which ain't their choice, nor His Grace's. Don't gawp, there, man! Help their ladyships inside! An' you, Edas! Run up to master Tassand an' tell him come down an' get 'is orders! Haste about it!"

Tristen himself was only too glad to have turned overPetelly'sreins to a stableboy. Now he climbed the west stairs, taking charge of his guests.

One could-almost-admire her ... but one could never, never yield to her.

"We'll find a place suitable," Tristen said curtly. "Rooms better than the guardhouse, at least." He knew the outrage he provoked by adding that last remark, but it made his point. And turning to Lusin, his chief bodyguard: "Tell Cook to come." Cook, like many of the servants, had served the Aswydd lords before he had taken the dukedom, which was to say only last year; but now he relied on her and trusted Cook as the only woman of his close acquaintance. More, Cook had children, several of them, and might understand Lady Tarien's condition better than a man would.

Regarding that condition, however, Cook's was not thevice he needed now. Master Emuin was awake, and knew, and hadknown about the ladies even before they reached the town gates.

-What shall I do? he asked Emuin now within the gray space wizards used. The Aswydd women might hear him, this Close, but in this moment he did not care. Where do you say should I put them?

-I'm sure I don't know, Emuin said, and as the gray place opened wide, they stood, in their wizardous aspect, in a place of cloud and wind, equally wary of the Aswydds-who were there, unabashedly eavesdropping on them. This is inconvenient.

They had feared the stars, had gotten through the perilous time of change with no worse calamity than the arrival of Owl, who was somewhere about, and they had hoped that Owl was the end of the last troubled epoch and the beginning of a more auspicious age.

But, perhaps on the same night, counting the time it took to travel so far-for so it turned out-Orien and Tarien had left their exile and set out to reach Henas'amef and their former home.

-With child, no less, Emuln said, and turned a fierce and forbidding question toward Tarien Aswydd.-Whose, woman?

It was harshly, even brutally demanded, so uncharacteristically forceful that Tristen flinched. In the same instant Orien flung an arm about her sister, who shied from answering and winked out of the gray space like a candle in the wind.

Orien's was a swift, defiant retreat.

Emuin's abrupt question rid them, if only momentarily, of the Aswydds' wizardous eavesdropping, and for Tristen's part, he was no little chagrined that he had never asked so important a question in all the long walk back with the women. In his own defense, his attention in those hours had all been to the simple struggle with the snow, and with Orien's challenge to him . . . and then with the dismay his allied lords, down in the camps about the town wall, had felt very keenly, simply to see Orien back in Amefel. That Tarien was with child had seemed to him one of those things women could arrange, and one of those states women at times maintained-consequently had he, a wizard's Shaping, born of fire on a hearth, asked himself that one simple, essential question before bringing the women here?

Fortress of Dragons. Copyright © by C. J. Cherryh. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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