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The Lair of Bones (Runelords Series #4)

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Prince Gaborn, the Earth King, has defeated the forces arrayed against him each time before: the magical and human forces marshaled by Raj Ahten, who seeks immortality at any cost and has given up his humanity in trade, and the innumerable inhuman insectile hordes of the giant reavers from under the Earth, whose motives are unknowable but inimical to human life. Now there must be final confrontations, both on the field of battle, with the supernatural creature that Raj Ahten has become, and underground, in the ...
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The Lair of Bones (Runelords Series #4)

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Overview

Prince Gaborn, the Earth King, has defeated the forces arrayed against him each time before: the magical and human forces marshaled by Raj Ahten, who seeks immortality at any cost and has given up his humanity in trade, and the innumerable inhuman insectile hordes of the giant reavers from under the Earth, whose motives are unknowable but inimical to human life. Now there must be final confrontations, both on the field of battle, with the supernatural creature that Raj Ahten has become, and underground, in the cavernous homeland of the reavers, where the sorcerous One True Master who rules them all lies in wait - in the Lair of Bones. The survival of the human race on Earth is at stake.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to Farland's Web site, the Runelords series, of which this is the fourth book after 2001's Wizardborn, was inspired by a hallucination. It also reads like one at times, full of rich and brilliant descriptions, but not always making much sense. Magical endowments-attributes such as sight, brawn or endurance transferred between people, leaving one crippled and the other superhuman-permit Averan, a nine-year-old wizard-in-training, to keep pace with the Earth King, Prince Gaborn and his cohorts as they search underground for the Queen of the Reavers. As those above ground prepare for war, Gaborn learns that his elemental powers are nothing compared to those of the Glories, forces of light who exhort their followers to love all men equally and beware the corrupting powers of the One True Master of Evil. The author rushes the action in the final chapters, the last one so condensed it reads almost like the summary of another complete book. Hopefully, the strength of the setting will help Farland to find a better pace for future volumes; this one, despite its promise, is strictly for the fans. (Oct. 27) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In an attempt to free his people from the sorcerous monsters known as reavers, Gaborn, the Earth King, undertakes a perilous journey deep within the earth in search of the reavers' "One True Master." Other enemies await him, as Raj Ahten, the powerful ruler of Kartish, seeks to conquer the lands of the Earth King to add to his growing empire. Farland's latest addition to his epic Runelords series (Wizardborn; Brotherhood of the Wolf; The Runelords) features complex heroes and villains and a unique system of magic gained through sacrifices from both willing and unwilling victims. A good choice for most fantasy collections, particularly those owning the earlier volumes. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"When I reached the end of first volume, The Runelords, and saw grace arise from a devastating battlefield where too many great hearts lay dead, Farland had earned the tears that came to my eyes. It was not sentiment, but epiphany."

-Orson Scott Card

Certain works of fantasy are immediately recognizable as monuments, towering above the rest of the category. They have been written by the likes of Stephen R. Donaldson, Robert Jordan, and Terry Goodkind. Now add to that list David Farland, whose epic fantasy series began with The Runelords, continued in Brotherhood of the Wolf and the New York Times bestseller Wizardborn, and reaches its peak now in The Lair of Bones.

Prince Gaborn, the Earth King, has defeated the forces arrayed against him each time before: the magical and human forces marshaled by Raj Ahten, who seeks immortality at any cost and has given up his humanity in trade; and the inhuman, innumerable, insectile hordes of the giant Reavers from under the Earth, whose motives are unknowable, but inimical to human life. Now there must be final confrontations, both on the field of battle, with the supernatural creature that Raj Ahten has become, and underground, in the cavernous homeland of the Reavers, where the sorcerous One True Master who rules them all lies in wait—in the Lair of Bones. The survival of the human race on Earth is at stake.

"In The Runelords David Farland has created a vivid, detailed, different world that becomes perfectly believable. The characters are real, the action fast, and the sum a brilliant and engrossing novel."

-David Drake

Praise for David Farland

"The author's imaginative approach to magic, coupled with a richly detailed fantasy world and a cast of memorable heroes and villains, adds depth and variety to this epic tale of war and valor."

Library Journal on Wizardborn

up0

"An exciting fantasy adventure that is quite different from the previous two novels as action takes a backseat to understanding the principal characters. . . . David Farland has written an entertaining tale that his fans will enjoy ."

Midwest Book Review on Wizardborn

"In Brotherhood of the Wolf, David Farland continues the intriguing premise he established in The Runelords, but with more intensity in every way. . . .Clearly, this is becoming a masterwork of history-spanning fantasy."

—Kevin J. Anderson, co-author of Dune: House Atreides

"The Runelords is a first-rate tale, an epic fantasy that more than delivers on its promise. Read it soon and treat yourself to an adventure you won't forget."

—Terry Brooks

"David Farland is a consummate stylist, and his characters are so alive they walk right off the page. The Runelords is a wonderful fantasy novel."-Robert J. Sawyer

Booklist
"The apparent conclusion of the Runelords brings the saga's conflicts to a resounding climax in a three-cornered confrontation. . . . The suspense is real, the action is nonstop, and the characterizations continue to convince. . . . [this is] a series that has put Farland on high-fantasy readers' maps."
Sara Douglass
Sometimes truly terrifying, sometimes impossibly sweet, The Lair of Bones is a tale sure to entrance any reader. This is a superb story with deeply empathetic characters.
Kevin J. Anderson
"David Farland's Runelords books are among the best fantasies on the market today. Great characters, a fascinating concept, and some really nasty monsters make each novel a pleasure to read."
Romantic Times
"The Runelords Saga comes to a gripping conclusion in David Farland's The Lair of Bones. . . . Farland's imaginative use of magic and detailed world-building contribute to the impact . . . Gaborn is a flawed but likable hero whom readers will be sorry to leave behind. Fans of Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind will enjoy Farland's Runelords."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441753120
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2010
  • Series: Runelords Series , #4
  • Format: CD
  • Pages: 14
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David Farland is the author of the bestselling Runelords series, including Chaosbound, The Wyrmling Horde and Worldbinder. He also writes science-fiction as David Wolverton. He won the 1987 Writers of the Future contest, and has been nominated for a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award. Farland also works as a video game designer, and has taught writing seminars around the U.S. and Canada. He lives in Saint George, Utah.

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Read an Excerpt

The Lair of Bones


By David Farland

TOR

Copyright © 2003 David Farland
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-765-30176-8


Chapter One

THE MOUTH OF THE UNDER WORLD

Rofehavan has always been bounded by the sea to the north and to the east, by the Hest Mountains to the west, and by the Alcair Mountains to the south. In an effort to assure that no war was ever waged over a desirable piece of land, Erden Geboren reached a concord with kings of Old Indhopal and the elders of Inkarra. He set the southeast border of his realm, where the three great realms met, in the most undesirable place on earth: at the opening to a vast and ancient reaver warren called the Mouth of the World. -from A History of Rofehavan by Hearthmaster Redelph

"Milord, there you are," someone called. "I was growing worried. We've been waiting for hours." Averan woke. She recognized the voice of The Wizard Binnesman. She found herself in a wagon bed filled with sweet-smelling hay, new from the summer fields. For a pillow she used Gadorn's rucksack filled with chain mail and leather padding. All of Averan's muscles felt heavy and overworn, and her eyes were gritty. She lay with her eyes closed. Yet almost by instinct she reached out for her staff, her precious staff of black poison-wood. She touched it, felt the power in it surge beneath her hand.

Gaborn answered, "I hurried the best I could. But the horse was on its last legs, so I turned it loose and left the driver to care for it."

"So, the Earth King pulls a wagon to save a horse?" Binnesman scolded gently, as if worried that Gaborn might be pushing himself too hard. "Even those with great endowments have their limits-both horse and man." Binnesman laughed. "You look like an old farmer, hauling a load of rutabagas to market."

"It was only thirty more miles," Gaborn said. "And my cargo is far more valuable than rutabagas."

Averan found herself startled to greater wakefulness. She had been sleeping so soundly that she hadn't been aware that she slept in a wagon, much less that the Earth King himself pulled that wagon by hand.

Binnesman offered, "Here, let's hitch up my mount."

The wagon came to a complete halt as the wizard got off his horse and unsaddled it.

Averan sneaked a peek upward. Overhead, stars arced through the heavens as if intent upon washing the earth in light. The sun would not crest the horizon for perhaps an hour, yet light spilled like molten gold over the snowy peaks of the Alcair Mountains. To Averan it seemed that the light was sourceless, as if it suffused from another, finer world.

The heavenly display fooled even the animals. Morning birdsong swelled over the land: the throaty coo of the wood dove, the song of the lark, the jealous squawk of a magpie.

Close by, knobby hills crowded the road and the dry wheat growing along their sides reflected the starlight. Leafless oaks on the slopes stood black and stark, like thorny crowns. A burrow owl screeched in the distance. Faintly, Averan could smell water from a small stream, though she could not hear it burble.

She watched the steady rain of stars. The bits of light came arcing down in different directions, creating fiery paths against the sky.

"So, Averan is well?" Binnesman asked softly.

"It was hard for her," Gadorn answered. "She stood before the Waymaker all day, holding her staff overhead, peering into the monster's mind. Sweat poured from her as if she were toiling at a forge. I was afraid for her."

"And has she learned the way to, to this ... Lair of Bones?"

"Aye," Gaborn said. "But I fear that the lair is far in the Underworld, and Averan cannot describe the path. She will have to lead us-that is, if you will come with me."

"If?" Binnesman asked. "Of course I'll come."

"Good," Gaborn said. "I'll need your counsel. I don't want to put too much burden on a girl so young."

Averan closed her eyes, feigning sleep, and took guilty pleasure in listening to them talk about her. She was but a child, yet in all the world she was the only person who had ever learned to converse with reavers, mankind's most feared enemy.

Gaborn had recognized that she went through an ordeal to see into the mind of the Waymaker, but even he could not guess how painful it had been. Her head ached as if a steel band bound it, and she felt as if her skull might split on its own accord. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of scents crammed her mind-scents that gave her the names of places and passages in the Underworld, scents that in some cases had been handed down from reaver to reaver over generations. In her mind's eye, Averan could envision the reaver tunnels in the Underworld, like vast arteries connecting the warrens. There were tens of thousands of tunnels, leading to mines and quarries, to ranches and hunting grounds, to egg chambers and graveyards, to deadly perils and ancient wonders. Given a lifetime, Averan could not have mapped the Underworld for Gaborn.

Even now, she feared that she could not retain so much lore. The brain of a human is a tenth the size of that of a reaver. Her mind couldn't hold so much knowledge. She only hoped that she could recall the way to the Lair of Bones.

I have to remember, Averan told herself. I have to help Gadorn fight the One True Master.

She heard footsteps crunching on the road and tried to breathe easily. She wanted to rest, and hoped that by feigning sleep she could continue to do so.

Binnesman set his saddle in the back of the wagon. "Poor girl," he said. "Look at her, innocent as a babe."

"Let her sleep," Gaborn whispered. He spoke softly, not with the commanding voice one would expect from a king, but with the gentleness of a worried friend.

Binnesman moved away, and wordlessly began hitching the horse to the single-tree on the wagon.

"Have you any other news of the reavers?" Gaborn whispered.

"Aye," Binnesman said, "Most of it good. We harried them all day. Many of the monsters died from weariness while fleeing our lancers, and our knights attacked any that slowed. At last report there were only a few thousand left. But when they reached the vale of the Drakesflood, they dug into the sand. That was about midafternoon. Our men have them surrounded, in case they try to flee, but for now there is little more that they can do."

Averan pictured the monsters at the Drakesflood. The reavers were enormous, each more than sixteen feet tall, and twenty in length. With four legs and two huge forearms, in form they looked like vast, tailless scorpions. But their heads were shaped like spades, and the reavers could force their way under the soil just by pushing down and then crawling forward. That is how they would have dug in at the Drakesflood. The move would afford them good protection from the lances of the knights.

"So that's the good news," Gadorn said heavily, "now what of the bad?"

Binnesman answered, "At the Mouth of the World we found reaver tracks heading in. It looks as if three reavers circled through the hills after the battle at Carris. Somehow they got past our scouts."

"By the Seven Stones!" Gadorn swore. "How soon before they reach their lair, do you think?"

"It's impossible to guess," Binnesman said heavily. "They may have already told their master how you defeated their army at Carris, and even now she will be considering how to respond."

Binnesman let that thought sink in.

"But how did they elude my scouts?" Gaborn wondered.

"I suspect that it would have been easy," Binnesman answered. "After the battle at Carris, the horde fled in the night while rain plummeted like lead. We had only brief flashes of lightning to see by. With our soldiers busy at the front, they left before we ever thought to try to cut them off."

Binnesman and Gadorn hooked the horse to the wagon, and both men climbed onto the buckboard. Gadorn gave a whistle, and the force horse took off at a brisk trot.

"This has me worried," Gaborn said.

Binnesman seemed to think for a long moment. At last he sighed. "Beware the Lair of Bones. Beware the One True Master. My heart is full of foreboding about this creature. No beast of this world could be so well versed in rune lore."

"You suspect something?" Gaborn asked.

"Seventeen hundred years ago, when Erden Geboren prosecuted his war in the Underworld, do you know what he fought?"

"Reavers," Gadorn said.

"That is the conventional wisdom, but I think not," Binnesman answered. "In King Sylvarresta's library are some ancient scrolls, levies for men and supplies written in Erden Geboren's own hand. In them, he asked for men not to fight reavers but to fight something he called a locus. I think he was hunting for a particular reaver. It may even be the one that Averan calls the One True Master, though I cannot imagine that any reaver would live so long."

"And you think that this creature is not of our world?"

"Perhaps not," Binnesman said. "I begin to wonder. Maybe there are reavers in the netherworld, more cunning and powerful than our own. And perhaps reavers here are but mere shadows of them, in the same way that we are mere shadows of the Bright Ones of that realm."

"That is a sobering thought indeed," Gaborn said.

The wizard and the Earth King rode in silence. Averan lay back again, eyes closed. Her mind felt overwhelmed.

The road had been leading down, and abruptly Gadorn jolted the wagon to a halt. Averan stealthily rose up on one elbow, and saw that they had reached a town, a small knot of gray stone cottages with thatched roofs. Averan recognized it as Chesterton. Here the road forked. One highway headed almost due east toward the Courts of Tide. The other road went southwest toward Keep Haberd-and beyond that, to the Mouth of the World.

Overhead, a fireball lanced through the sky, huge and red. Flames streaked from it with a sputtering sound. As it neared the Alcair Mountains, it suddenly exploded into two pieces. They struck the snow-covered mountains not thirty miles away. The ground trembled, and moments later came sounds like distant thunder, echoing over and over.

"The Earth is in pain," the wizard Binnesman whispered.

Averan heard a child squeal in delight. Up the road, beside one of the cottages, a woman squatted on her lawn. Three girls, none older than six, stood with her, looking up at the heavenly display in wonder.

"Pretty!" the youngest child said, as she traced the trail of the fireball with her finger.

An older sister clapped in delight.

"Oh, that was the best one yet," their mother said.

Other than these four, the town slumbered. The cottages clustered in dark, tired mounds. The farmers within would not dare rise until the cows began bawling to be milked.

Gaborn drove the buckboard through town. The mother and her daughters watched them pass.

Now the earth shivered beneath them like an old arthritic dog. Binnesman had spoken truly. Averan recognized the earth's pain by more than just the earthquakes or the fall of stars. There were less definable signs that perhaps only one who loved the land could discern. She'd been able to feel it for days now as she walked, a wrongness in the soil, an ache among the hills.

"You know, Gaborn," Binnesman said at last, "you say that you will lean upon my counsel. Therefore, let me say this: I think you take too much upon yourself. You plan to seek out the Lair of Bones, and hope there to kill the One True Master. But you have not been called to be the Earth's warrior, you are the Earth King, the Earth's protector. You also talk of warring with the reavers, killing ... perhaps thousands. But more than just the fate of mankind hangs in the balance. There are owls in the trees, and mice in the fields, and fishes in the sea. Life, every kind of life, may fade with us. The Earth is in pain."

"I would rejoice if we could heal its pain," Gadorn said, "but I don't know how."

"The Earth has selected you well," Binnesman said. "Perhaps we will find the way together."

The wagon raced over the road, and Averan lay back with a heavy heart, feigning sleep.

And what of me? Averan wondered. As a skyrider, she'd often had to travel far from home, and she had found some special places that she loved. She recalled a clear pool high in the pines of the Alcair Mountains where she'd sometimes picnicked, and the white sand dunes forty miles east of Haberd where she had played, rolling down the hills. She'd perched with her graak on rugged mountain peaks that no man could ever climb, surveying vast fields and the forests that undulated away in a green haze. Yes, Averan loved the land, enough even to live every day in its service.

That's what makes me an Earth Warden's apprentice, she realized.

The wagon rolled through the night with Averan lost in thought. It wound up into the hills. All too soon it came to a halt just outside a vast cavern, where dozens of horses were tethered. A bonfire crackled within the cave, where scores of knights were engaged in rowdy song.

"Averan, wake up," Gadorn called softly. "We're at the Mouth of the World."

He reached into the back of the wagon and as Averan raised her head, he retrieved the sack that held his armor, along with his long-handled war hammer. Binnesman got up and hobbled stiffly toward the cave, using his staff as a crutch.

"I had a dream last night," Erin Connal whispered to Celinor as they stooped to drink at a stream in South Crowthen, nearly a thousand miles to the northeast of Averan. The sun would not be up for half an hour, yet the sky glowed silver on the horizon. The early morning air felt chill, and dew lay heavy on the ground. "It was a strange dream."

She glanced suspiciously at South Crowthen's knights nearby, who were busy breaking camp. Captain Gantrell, a lean, dark man with a fanatical gleam in his eyes, stood ordering his men about as if they'd never broken a camp before. "Sweep the mud off that tent before you put it in the wagon," he shouted to one soldier. To another he called, "Don't just pour water on the campfire, stir it in."

By the surly looks he got, Erin could tell that his troops did not love him.

As the men bustled about, occupied with their work, for the first time since last night, Erin felt that she could talk to her husband with a measure of safety.

"You dreamed a dream?" Celinor inquired, one eyebrow raised. "Is this unusual?" He drowned his canteen in the shallow creek almost carelessly, as if unconcerned that Gantrell's men surrounded them, treating the crown prince and his new wife as if they were prisoners.

"I think it was more than a dream," Erin admitted. "I think it was a sending." Erin held her breath to see his reaction. In her experience, most people who claimed to receive sendings showed other signs of madness too.

Celinor blinked, looking down at his canteen. "A sending from whom?" he asked heavily.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Lair of Bones by David Farland Copyright © 2003 by David Farland. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Why are there dozens of typos and spelling errors??

    Sometimes several per page...very distracting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2012

    The book is wonderful - the Ebook is poorly formatted

    When you pay $9 for an ebook you expect quality. After all, they didn't have to print it, right? This e-book is filled with missing spaces and unnecessary dashes. It does not respect your choice of font. It is a poor conversion of the paper book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2011

    A 6out of 10

    Slow and predictable at times. Finished better than expected

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    Engaging and solid conclusion

    I had read the first three books in this series and found the the fourth to be a solid conclusion to the initial story, though there is still more to come. This fantasy series offers solid character development, a wonderful and inventive world, and a story line that you can't second guess as you wonder what is coming next. A great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    The Runelords Series

    My son has just starting reading this series and has been enjoying them greatly. He purchased this book to complete his series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2006

    Great Series

    Fast paced,interesting series. Someparts seem silly, but the battle sequences and the intricate plot make up for it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2006

    As good as the first three!

    This conclusion of the series lives up to the first three and exceeds them. one of my favorite series of all time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2004

    yes!!!

    I have all three books so far and they are great i love them!!! so i'll definitly will buy this one for sure!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2004

    YAY!

    these books are sooo good. they combine LOTR with some of the best imaginative creativity ever! Farland has esquisite description and detail.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2003

    Can't Wait!

    I've reread the first three books in this series a couple of times and I can honestly rate it amongst the best! What I like most about Farland's books is the investment into character development in an extremely imaginative environment. I'm really looking forward to reading The Lair of Bones!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2003

    finally its comming

    i dont know about every one else but ive been waiting 2 long years for the book to come out and im exciting i expect it to as great as his other works i spent 2 each on his other runelord series books and was facinated so im deffinatly getting this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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