Fortress of Owls (Fortress Series #3)by C. J. Cherryh
"I Dreamed of Owl. That Means Wizardry is Near."
Tristen is a weapon in an ancient war between wizardry and sorcery. He is a summoning and a shaping, brought to life by a wizard. And his sword is a weapon as well. Its keen blade, marked Illusion on one side and Truth on the other, once helped Tristen win the throne of Ylesuin for the young/em>/em>
"I Dreamed of Owl. That Means Wizardry is Near."
Tristen is a weapon in an ancient war between wizardry and sorcery. He is a summoning and a shaping, brought to life by a wizard. And his sword is a weapon as well. Its keen blade, marked Illusion on one side and Truth on the other, once helped Tristen win the throne of Ylesuin for the young king Cefwyn, gaining Tristen the stewardship of the brave country of Amefel.
Tristen's rule in Amefel is blessed with two extraordinary friends: one a stalwart and simple warrior, the other a young rebel with royal blood. But the scarlet banners of war are unfolding again, and far more than a kingdom is at stake. Now Tristen must take up the sword--as well as the Sihhë magic he has forsworn. He is destiny's own, created a combatant in a far older and more fearsome conflict than any ever imagined by mere mortal man. And he is about to do battle once more. . . .
Rich with magic, intrigue, and adventure, this high fantasy series from the acclaimed C. J. Cherryh brings to life an enchanting world as real as, yet far more wondrous, than our own.
Read an Excerpt
Master Emuin had packed in a night, when His Majesty in Guelemara had decreed a new duke for Amefel. Baskets, barrels, and bundles had gone out of master Emuin's tower room in the Guelesfort in the heart of Guelemara and into wagons that night of storm and departure, and after a slow transit between provinces, up they had come, a week and more later, into the appointed tower in the fortress of Henas'amef.
But when master Emuin's new tower room had reached its apparent limits, as it had on the day following his arrival, why, baskets and bundles coming up for the week afterward had necessarily accumulated on the stairs and on the very small landing, hardly more than a step, that gave a servant, a petitioner, or the new duke of Amefel himself scant place to stand and knock for admittance.
"Leave it on the stairs! Gods bless, fool, there's no more room!"
"Master Emuin, it's Tristen, if you please."
Footsteps crossed the floor. The door opened. The old man peered out, hair disarrayed and gusting past his face in a cold wind and a white daylight that said the shutters were open despite the snow sifting down outside. "Master Emuin, you'll freeze." Tristen pushed through door into the round tower room, where, indeed, shutters were wide to the winds and windows were blazing white with winter sky. Emuin was wrapped in a heavy traveling cloak, and so was Tristen, but for different reasons, Tristen was sure. Master Emuin had kept his room in the Guelesfort in similar state, but in the milder days of autumn, and, however new to his authority over the old man, Tristen was certainly not disposed to tolerate that stateof affairs here.
Consequently, he began closing shutters.
To Emuin's clear indignation: "And how am I to see, pray?"
"Candles. Lanterns. As other people do, sir! People count me the simpleton, and you the wizard and wise man, and you have the hall full of I this tower so cold it gusts cold wind into the lower hall. Whence this notion not to have candles?"
There followed a small, uncomfortable pause in which Emuin looked elsewhere.
"It is that?" Tristen asked, surprised to have happened on the truth. Then he added that favorite, persistent question that always found so little patience among ordinary folk: "Why, sir?
"Plague and bother of lighting fires! Leave my shutters alone! The place is dark as a cave."
"If you'll not have Tassand arrange this, then I shall, sir. I will, with or without your leave." It was a great impertinence to defy the old man, but he had learned of Cefwyn how to argue, and argue he was prepared to do.
"The duke of Amefel will not carry baskets and build shelves! There are simply too many baskets to fit! They used to fit! I don't know how it came to be so much. Leave one shutter, I say! How can a man see?"
"Then you'll accept Tassand's help." He faced an obdurate, weary old man, one who had not planned to reestablish his workshop twice, a man at his wits' end after a hard journey ... an old man who still, a week after coming all this journey specifically to advise him in his new office, at least as Emuin had said to him, continually found reasons not to speak to him frankly on far more important matters than baggage obstructing the stairs. "And you shall have it, sit, his help or mine. You may choose which, but the lower hall is full of drafts, and the candles blow out when someone opens the east doors."
A tremor of weariness had come into Emuin's mouth, and more wrinkles than usual mapped the territory around his eyes. He trembled on the verge of yielding. Then: "No! No, you will not be arranging baskets or carrying them."
"Then Tassand, sit. His Majesty set me in charge. I must have the baskets up the stairs and the shutters shut. "
A second surly glance.
" I'll have them set in whatever order you wish," Tristen said, "a fire laid, candles lit. Please have all the windows shut by this evening, sir, at least by the time the sun goes down."
"Beeswax. None of your tallow candles, young lord, nothing stinking of slaughter. I will have beeswax. "
Then there was more in it than candles, as there was more in Emuin's insistence on open windows than a desire for daylight by day and a view of the stars at night. Master Emuin was not a man who chose luxury or spent money profligately, beeswax being the luxury, above tallow. But he was a wizard, and the question of beeswax or tallow passed not without note and not without significance in Tristen's thoughts.
"Beeswax," Tristen said, "you shall have, sir." He was pressed for time in this small foray up the stairs, and let the precise reason of the candles escape comment, but he marked it for inquiry at some quieter moment. "You'll have Tassand's earnest attention to whatever things you need, clothing for attendance in hall ... and all set in order in a proper clothespress." He saw that the one that did exist was crammed so full of bottles and papers the doors stood open.
"Tassand need not retrieve your robes out of baskets. "
"I have no room, I say! Hang them on a peg. For a peg, I have room!"
"Join me at supper this evening, where it's warm. Cook will have meat pies."
"When I have found my charts, young lord! If I have found my charts, which at the moment seems unlikely!"
Emuin shouted in frustration, and Tristen found his own amiability tested. "They might be in those baskets on the stairs, sit. Dogs might come at them. There was a dog about. I saw him below." That this had been far out in the yard, from the window, he failed to say. Whatever moved master Emuin to accept help and hasten his baskets up the steps was a benefit.
"Perish the creature! Very well, very well, send Tassand! Gods bless!" Master Emuin cracked his shin against a bench in the dimmed light. "Leave me one window, if you please! I have old eyes. Gods, what a contentious lad you've become!"
"For your health's sake, sir, and the servants', and the downstairs candles, and to have your advice for a long time to come, without your taking ill up here, yes, I have become extremely contentious." Tristen relented, leaving one leeward shutter ajar on stiff metal hinges so that the room was not altogether in twilight. He had had a fire laid in the hearth and wood provided in advance of his teacher's arrival, and it had burned far too fast, thanks to the gusts, he was sure.
Meet the Author
C. J. Cherryh—three-time winner of the coveted Hugo Award—is one of today's best-selling and most critically acclaimed writers of science fiction and fantasy. The author of more than fifty novels, she makes her home in Spokane, Washington.
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C. Cherryh paints such beautiful pictures with her prose for so many pages that one is usually very near the way end of her book before one realizes that nothing is happening, has happened, & might not happen until the last few pages. I think wonder is Ms. Cherryh and Mr. Jordan have the same editor...