Lance of Earth and Sky

Lance of Earth and Sky

4.6 3
by Erin Hoffman
     
 

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In the sequel to Sword of Fire and Sea, Vidarian Rulorat faces the consequences of opening the gate between worlds. Called into service by the desperate young emperor of Alorea, Vidarian must lead sky ships in a war against the neighboring southern empire, train the demoralized imperial Sky Knights to ride beasts that now shapeshift, master his own…  See more details below

Overview

In the sequel to Sword of Fire and Sea, Vidarian Rulorat faces the consequences of opening the gate between worlds. Called into service by the desperate young emperor of Alorea, Vidarian must lead sky ships in a war against the neighboring southern empire, train the demoralized imperial Sky Knights to ride beasts that now shapeshift, master his own amplified elemental magic, and win back Ariadel—all without losing his mind.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Vidarian Rulorat faces the consequences of his actions in 2011’s Sword of Fire and Sea, consequences that include rekindling elemental magic across his world—killing many of the world’s most powerful men as a side-effect—and triggering a war between Qui and Vidarian’s homeland, Aloria. Vidarian’s true challenge is not the sudden change he has wrought but the machinations of an established force: the ancient, powerful, amoral Alorian Import Company. Hoffman is an online gaming veteran with a decade’s experience writing short fiction, but a relative newcomer to novel-length fantasy, and her second Chaos Knight novel suffers from flaws often seen in games: while her execution is competent enough, her world feels too familiar, too parallel to older secondary-world settings. Her obvious strengths promise more than this book delivers. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Praise for the series:

"If you like hard-hitting fantasy adventure with a lot of magic, this is your series."
-Piers Anthony, Bestselling author of the Xanth series

"Sword of Fire and Sea is fantasy adventure in the classic tradition, and Erin Hoffman is a fine storyteller. Read it and be swept away."
-Allen Steele, Hugo Award-winning author of the Coyote series

". . . a thoroughly enjoyable read, with an intriguing new world and civilization."
-Violette Malan, Author of the Dhulyn and Parno books

"A high magic adventure with relentless action, exuberance and occasional over the top scenes that work well here. …A and highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun adventure with lots of magic and a little romance added in the mix."
-Fantasy Book Critic

"An incredibly exciting and compelling read."
-That Bookish Girl

Kirkus Reviews
Sequel to Sword of Fire and Sea (2011), video-game designer Hoffman's venture into text fantasy. Andovar, a world where air, fire, earth and water magic all work, is inhabited not just by humans but various tribes of gryphons, birdlike seridi, dryads, gods and what-all. Vidarian Rulorat, gifted with both fire and water magic he can't control, opened--mysteriously, especially if you haven't read the first book--a gate between worlds, thus allowing elemental magic to reawaken. Now, magically-powered flying ships roam the skies; robots built centuries ago have revived. Trade is controlled by the Alorean Import Company, most of whose directors, rendered immortal through hoarded magics, dropped dead when the gate opened. Numerous conflicts smolder. The spirit of Vidarian's oldest friend, Ruby, also killed when the gate opened and trapped inside one of the gems used to open the gate, wakes up and demands her body back. This might prove difficult, as she was buried at sea a while back. And Ariadel, Vidarian's curiously tepid lover, is pregnant and not speaking to him. Faced with war on several fronts, Emperor Lirien summons Vidarian to help out. Unfortunately Vidarian brings along his gryphon pals, upsetting the Alorean traditionalists. He's also visited by the Starhunter, a mystifying goddess who shows up without warning, quickly grows bored and murders people. Indeed, there's so much going on, not to mention the huge, underdeveloped cast, that it's very difficult to make sense of how, if, what or who are related. And despite the dazzling ideas, Hoffman hasn't mastered the skill of describing a widescreen magical battle rather than programming one. Highly entertaining and baffling in equal measure.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616146160
Publisher:
Prometheus Books
Publication date:
04/17/2012
Series:
The Chaos Knight
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
912,324
File size:
2 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Lance of Earth and Sky


By ERIN HOFFMAN

Prometheus Books

Copyright © 2012 Erin Hoffman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61614-615-3


Chapter One

Managing the Threat

The blast of gale-force wind knocked Vidarian into the brush. He crumpled instinctively, protecting his torso with his arms and knees, leaving his back exposed to the reaching dry branches and rocks that littered the forest floor. With a snarl he leapt back to his feet, using momentum and fury to unleash an arc of fire energy. It sizzled through the brush, leaving smoke and char where it passed. A high-pitched yelp at the end of the sear told him he'd found his target.

Close thunder rattled the sky, and with it the first hissing drops of a cold rain fell through the trees. Tiny candleflames that dotted the brush with fire from his attack crackled their complaints before expiring into steam. Thunder called again, and with it Vidarian heard distant laughter. Her laughter.

It would have been easier if the laugh had been wicked or cruel. Instead it was joyous, the laugh of a little girl riding a horse for the first time, of lovers reunited. The Starhunter's storm was vast, his water sense told him, wrapping Andovar from pole to pole in a dangerous embrace. Her laugh reminded him, as the Starhunter always would, painfully of Ariadel, a searing memory that stopped him in his tracks. She hadn't spoken to him since the gate had opened.

The seridi came hurtling through the charred branches with a shriek, heedless of rain or fire. Her eyes, too large in a feathered but human face, were all pupil and full of hell and madness. Fingers that were elegant on a sane creature were warped into claws, and her wings were a tattered ruin. Worse still were the chaotic thoughts she radiated to anyone within a hundred feet—mad ravings and images of impossible machines, liquids that burned, a terrible light that flashed and devoured whole cities.

// Polyalphabetic substitution, // the creature said, barraging him with incoherent urgency. // Wehrmacht—Tirpitz, model T. Specification is appended! //

It was always more difficult when they talked. The words were mad, poisonously so—but Vidarian always had the disturbing feeling that to the seridi they made perfect sense. Like the others, this one reached out desperately with magic, grasping with elemental hands when words failed her. The rush of wind pulled fire from Vidarian's chest; his own ability wanted to dive into hers and combust, consume the air that gave fire life. It hungered.

But Vidarian had something besides hungry fire. Even as his own soul reached back toward the air, driven to grow, the water in him growled back at it, primally angry, mindlessly intent: water suppresses fire. Vidarian turned the water's smothering force onto the seridi, flinging out an arm. The rain spiraled at his command, making a cyclone of the seridi's energy, then wreathing itself around her throat.

He pushed, setting free more of the water's fury, and the seridi crashed against the oak behind her with a keen like a terrified rabbit, always just shy of human. Vidarian tightened his grip, and her keen stuttered into a choke.

For these creatures he had thrown away everything—his ship, his oldest friend, the only woman he had truly ever loved—and all they were good for was containment. For the past two months he had hunted these mad ones, risking life and limb and sanity to catch them before they could rage through the land spreading senseless destruction. But he had never killed one.

Who was this creature, to demand so much of the world? Of him? Vidarian looked into the seridi's eyes and tightened his grip again.

Branches cracked behind him as something large hurtled through the brush. Altair's presence struck Vidarian seconds before the gryphon appeared, crashing through the space around his mind that he only now realized gryphons always respected as personal. He was so startled that his grip on the seridi loosened, and she sprung free, lashing out with claw and magic—

But Altair was there, reaching out with his own formidable wind mastery and turning the creature's raw assault back against her. With one smooth movement she was suddenly contained, and as the sphere of air that spun around her took sound with it, silence fell in the woods, leaving only the patter of steady rain.

Vidarian almost jumped as Altair's massive foreclaw settled gently on his shoulder. Talons longer than Vidarian's fingers and three times as thick brushed his chest and shoulder blade, and he knew from the gryphon's wash of emotion that they were meant to reassure.

// It isn't her fault, my friend. // The white-feathered face was gentle, pensive. // Two thousand years locked in an abyss with the Starhunter and it's a wonder she functions at all. //

"And what about me?" Vidarian said quietly, releasing his elemental hold on the seridi with as close to kindness as he could summon. "A turn with her in my head and the loss of everything I loved—" a memory: Ariadel, near death, summoning the strength to turn her head away from him. Words died on his tongue, and he fought to summon them again. "How am I to be affected?"

Another rustle from behind them spared Altair from having to answer. Isri climbed over branches and fallen debris, materializing through the rain, her dark spotted feathers the perfect camouflage in the shadowed forest. Guilt flushed through Vidarian as soon as he saw her; her sanity, and the pain that radiated from her whenever they found another of her brethren, whether lost or sane. When her people had come through the gate, half had been insane, lost beyond even her powerful abilities to heal. And yet she had never wavered in their task. He hoped desperately that she had not been near enough, even with her formidable telepathic ability, to witness the weakness in his heart.

But Isri had eyes only for the captured creature. Altair thinned the sphere of his control, allowing her to approach. "She is Alar seridi," Isri said, "storm clan. Their people were among the first to succumb." She closed her eyes, and the wave of peace that spilled out from her, intended for the captured seridi, touched Vidarian as well, chasing away the last of his fury.

It left the guilt untouched. "Am I becoming a monster, Altair?" Vidarian asked quietly.

The gryphon's head tilted toward him, beak parted, but he did not answer.

Frustration welled in him again, threatening to ignite into anger, and Vidarian turned and strode into the forest.

He thrashed his way through low-hanging branches for twenty paces toward their rough camp before realizing there were few places he would rather not be in that moment, alone with the two other mindless seridi awaiting escort back to the gate site.

The Destiny was anchored at a clearing beyond the camp, but Altair would expect him to head there, and so he turned in the opposite direction. It happened to be uphill, and so for the next several minutes he vented his anger by striding upward, kicking rocks behind him as he went.

He made it to the top of the hill exhausted, soul-weary, and, finally, silent of mind. And so the spectacular sunset that spread itself before him struck him dumb, a sky stained red with clouds that had just deigned to part, molten light pouring into the valleys that descended all the way to the sea in the west. Something stirred within his fire sense—it reached out to the sun, recognizing something. It was as if, and so Isri had told him the seridi believed, there were not only five elements, but many arrayed beneath them, storm and sun and river and flame. This, too, was a punishment; the fire within him had come from Ariadel, and the cruelty it turned on him was a constant reminder of her absence.

This strange, hilly country was as beautiful as any he'd ever seen, incongruous with his dark thoughts. It ran through him like a river, but where it should have washed peace, instead it laid bare the desert inside him. Now it seemed as though the chaos behind the gate had hollowed him out, eaten his very will to live. The bounty of the world unfurled before him, but he felt only emptiness.

Heat brushed his thigh, and he looked down—a rounded oval glowed red through the pocket of his trousers. The stone was even warmer to the touch, and it flared as he removed it into the fast-fading light of the sun.

As he slid the sun ruby through his fingers, the pang of another memory echoed through the well of his tired mind: Ruby, smiling, trusting him with their destiny. The gate, opening onto madness, twisting the world. The slightest suggestion would bring all of it echoing back again—the empty space between worlds; Ruby's body, stained with her namesake, dying, one of the greatest captains he had ever known. And one of the truest friends.

No sentiment, she'd said. His hand clenched tight around the hot stone.

Then a voice. A familiar voice.

* Is it really all that bad? *

"Ruby?" Vidarian whispered.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Lance of Earth and Sky by ERIN HOFFMAN Copyright © 2012 by Erin Hoffman. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. 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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Meet the Author

Erin Hoffman is the author of Sword of Fire and Sea and Lance of Earth and Sky. She was born in San Diego, California, and now lives with her husband, two parrots, and a dog in the San Francisco bay area. Her college degree was eclectic and landed her in the strange waters of video game design, where she tells stories using a diabolical combination of character, controller, and math. Her games have been played by over four million kids and adults worldwide, and she is a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writers Workshop.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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