Lens of the World [NOOK Book]

Overview


This is the story of Nazhuret, an outcast, the dwarfish offspring of unknown parents. Yet his story is a great one, filled with surprising rewards and amazing adventures. By the hands of Powl, mentor, madman, and lens grinder, Nazhuret is put to extreme mental and physical test and is blessed with knowledge. He embarks upon a journey to his destiny through war, darkness, and death. He is determined to emerge beyond the tiny status he was given at birth. 
...
See more details below
Lens of the World

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$5.49
BN.com price
(Save 8%)$5.99 List Price

Overview


This is the story of Nazhuret, an outcast, the dwarfish offspring of unknown parents. Yet his story is a great one, filled with surprising rewards and amazing adventures. By the hands of Powl, mentor, madman, and lens grinder, Nazhuret is put to extreme mental and physical test and is blessed with knowledge. He embarks upon a journey to his destiny through war, darkness, and death. He is determined to emerge beyond the tiny status he was given at birth. 
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the absorbing, realistic world depicted in this first volume of a projected series, MacAvoy The Book of Kells introduces Nazhuret who, looking back from middle age, tells of the adventures of his youth. Half-student, half-servant in the military Royal School of Sordaling, where he appears short and ugly to his tall Velonyan companions, Nazhuret is forced out at age 20. He is taken on by Powl--a mysterious individual learned in arts such as astronomy, war and languages--who teaches Nazhuret, above all, to control his body and mind. After several years, Nazhuret begins to find his own way, traveling around Velonya as an itinerant optician and befriending a wolf. Going south, he works as a bouncer in a tavern, where he discovers his mixed heritage: he is part Rezhmian, of a neighboring country often at war with Velonya. When he discovers a plot to kill King Raduf, Nazhuret's training, both of body and mind, is sorely tested. MacAvoy's complex realm is full of confusion and ambiguity, in which, as Powl says, ``You, Nazhuret . . . are the lens of the world: the lens through which the world may become aware of itself. The world, on the the other hand, is the only lens in which you can see yourself.'' June
Library Journal
Raised as a ward of the Sordaling military academy and apprenticed--almost by happenstance--to a master of optics, the orphan Nazhuret embarks upon his life's journey with little to recommend him, except for his ability to see clearly the path he must follow. Deceptively slow in its pacing, MacAvoy's latest novel, the first in a new fantasy series by the author of the Damiano trilogy, patiently and persistently describes the progress of a young man destined by fate to be a hero. Enticing in its careful world-building and graceful writing, this fantasy is highly recommended.
School Library Journal
YA-- In this, the first volume of a fantasy series, MacAvoy does not merely set the stage, hint at a plot to be unveiled later, or tease readers with suggested themes. Instead, she presents a fully developed novel that preserves interesting territory to be explored in the future. The plot crosses the classic quest fantasy with the bildungsroman, and the novel is composed in the epistolary style. Nazhuret, a child seemingly without family, is the ward of a military school for the sons of nobility. As an adolescent, he finds himself propelled into a weird relationship with the mysterious Powl. Their meeting is a memorable set-piece worthy of Poe. Nazhuret's re-education under Powl involves trials to make the most hardworking student shudder. At the end of it, Powl sends Nazhuret into the world, a kind of beggar/philosopher, a lens-grinder on tour. It is here that MacAvoy's intent becomes clear, because Nazhuret is indeed, for readers, the lens of the world, the optic through which they see the mysterious, shifting ambiguities that create a reality. This is a plot and a theme and a character so rich that revelations would be unforgivable. Add to these one of the most surprising supporting characters and plots in years and a fantasy setting that is always intriguing but never intrusive and you have a book that readers won't want to end. --Cathy Chauvette, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781497602700
  • Publisher: Open Road Media
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Series: Lens of the World , #1
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 594,627
  • File size: 358 KB

Meet the Author


R. A. MacAvoy is a highly acclaimed author of imaginative and original science fiction and fantasy novels. Her debut novel, TEA WITH THE BLACK DRAGON, won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She has also written the DAMIANO trilogy, the chronicles of a wizard’s young son, set during an alternate history version of the Italian Renaissance; THE BOOK OF KELLS, and TWISTING THE ROPE, the highly acclaimed sequel to TEA WITH THE BLACK DRAGON. She is also the author of the beloved and much-praised LENS OF THE WORLD trilogy. 
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Lens of the World

The Lens of the World Trilogy: Book One


By R.A. MacAvoy

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1990 R.A. MacAvoy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-0270-0


CHAPTER 1

Lens of the World


You are the lens of the world: the lens through which the world may become aware of itself. The world, on the other hand, is the only lens in which you can see yourself. It is both lenses together that make vision.


My king,

I have ruined three clean sheets and broken a pen nib in writing this salutation of two words. I had not thought I was nervous, but how can I deny this image the world throws back at me: four smears of black ink and one broken bit of brass?

I have been used to writing histories at your command, sir, such as that of my first visit to the court of the Sanaur Mynauzet of Rezhmia, where the king is a demigod and the court spends half its time trying to kill him. This narrative, set in its climate of rolling grass, high mountains, dusty spices, murder, and roses, seemed to have an intrinsic interest beyond my ability to spoil in prose, but I am not so certain that the story of my own forty years of life will stand so well.

If the subject of an autobiography is insipid, the narrator can only be the same, and where does that leave me? I imagine you yawning behind the reading lens I ground for you fifteen years ago. Still I scratch by your own order, so yawn away, King of Velonya; though you are a courteous monarch, the paper takes no affront, and my refuge is in true obedience. In this thing at least, complete obedience.

Seeking a beginning that might attach interest, I consider the incident of the wolf that might have turned into a man, or the man with the nature of a wolf, since that episode was astonishing and full of proper theater, but though it was bloody it was also ambiguous, and it occurred after my childhood and schooling were over.

My initiation into the ranks of the peculiar and rightfully unpopular Naiish nomads is more instructive in the usual sense of the term, and it has its share of blood, battle, and unexpected changes of allegiance, but it also happened much too recently.

I must first retreat to a time where I may describe the disinterested craftsman Powl and what he made of an odd-shaped piece of material. This, too, is ambiguous; I begin to see that the theme of this whole story is ambiguity, but I must start somehow.

I will try to describe myself.


My first memory is dimness and movement: the heavy boots of soldiers and the great, white, flailing limbs of a cook in my uncle's kitchen. They grunted and heaved and she cried out, not in terror but in weary disgust as they flopped her onto the rough wooden chopping table.

This interpretation is the redraft of the incident, through the mind of Nazhuret, forty years old. At the time, the collected sounds had no more meaning to me than the cries of animals outside the door at night.

Those cries can terrify children, too.

When some waggish man-at-arms lifted me off my feet and made to drop me on her belly, on the piled wet and dirty skirts, I almost peed onto the poor woman, and my screams were much more the usual sounds of outraged innocence than her own.

Of that house I remember no more than this. Of my uncle—I was told I had an uncle—nothing.

My first real memory of myself was that of my own remarkable ugliness, revealed in the great, badly silvered practice mirror at school.

It surprises me always, how early children learn what they look like. Had I not had the name Zhurrie the Goblin thrown into my ears every day I think I would still have known I looked like one. You, sir, have been kind enough to deny that there is anything daunting in my features, but then you are a very liberal man in matters of taste, and I have known you to show enthusiasm over the lines of a camel. And then, remember that I have grown into my face, as all men do, until now it is more my years than my birth I expose to the world. In the mirrored wall I saw a white oval wider than long, widest just below the great, staring, lashless eyes. My nose, which would someday arc out and then tilt up (like water frozen on a windy lake), hardly existed in those years, and my mouth was very small. My ears attempted to make up for the inadequacies of my lower features, however. They stood out so wide that I looked as though I had my hands cupped behind them, straining for some sound. My hair was pale, pelty, and weightless, like the down of a day-old chick. Even then I was undersized, though mostly through having short legs, slightly crooked by some infantile disease. It was only later I discovered how unambitious my growth was to be.

As a boy I spent many stolen moments staring at my reflection, hating it but fascinated, as many people are by spiders. I don't remember any particular feeling of self-pity—self-pity is not one of the original flaws of children—but rather I hugged my repulsive peculiarities to me. Unlike many young boys, I knew who I was: Nazhuret of the goblin face, Nazhuret of no family, Nazhuret of Sordaling School.


My king, I know you will grow angry merely to read again that the Royal School at Sordaling has had masters and even boys who used the youngsters sexually. The school is under your own sponsorship, certainly, and was founded by your family, but still no king can be responsible for human nature being what it is. Your own education was very noble, good, and private, and I remember your saying that your greatest stumbling block as a child was that your tutors couldn't wallop you as you needed.

Most of us are not princes-heir, and we have to come by our learning in any way we can. We have different stumbling blocks, and randy masters were one of mine.

In Sordaling, all sorts of boys and men meet, most not staying beyond a year or two, and I have spent so much of my life there that I cannot judge its good and evil as simply as a stranger might, though I knew both very well. Being the youngest boy at Sordaling for my first four years and the smallest for two more, I was frequently held down and brutalized. Had the drillmaster (usually it was the drillmaster, ironically) done this to me in exchange for favors, or had he petted or praised me, I probably would have had my honesty or my independence of spirit ruined, but although there was buggery in my childhood, there was very little catamitery.

I disliked being buggered, but I also disliked being bashed about the head with wooden swords by boys twice my size. No one ever led me to think the two experiences were of different quality, and when I finally learned to avoid them, it was in the same manner.

By the time I was nine years old, it was rare for any but the most proficient students to be able to rap my skull with the practice bat, and the masters found whatever enjoyment my small form provided (thank God I was ugly) unworthy of the struggle.


The yellow brick buildings of the military school make a sort of city within a city, and the fact that students are denied the rest of Sordaling is of minor interest, especially to the young. To spend eight of the ten months of the school year in a loose confinement made up mostly of boys one's own age is no hardship, as long as one does not carry the mark of the victim on his brow. The usual two years spent in training and study are a bright memory for many of the most boring lords of Velonya.

Of course, I spent not two years but fifteen years at the school, but the routine did not wear as thin as might have been expected. The fact that I was as much a servant as a student meant I had frequent access to the outer city, and even when there was no errand to be run, I knew a dozen inobvious ways out, and could be trusted to carry messages from students to young-cock town-bred rivals, or to these rivals' sisters.

I was never betrayed, though the hotbloods were frequently caught. That says something about the character of the students at Sordaling. Or perhaps of their recognition of my usefulness. Or of their fear of me.

Can a strapping young lord be afraid of an undersized boy without family whose job it is to change the young lord's sheets? Yes he can, when the boy has friends among both schoolmasters and cooks. Especially among cooks. And when the boy is so habituated to use of the stick that he can strike his enemy up the crotch in full view of the class in such a manner that all the students and the master will miss seeing the illegal blow and mock the injured fellow for self-dramatization.

This is a very poor thing to be proud of, isn't it, sir? Perhaps I was not proud of it; that I can't remember.

I can hear you saying that there is no such thing as a young lord at Sordaling School, since all students are treated equally, called by their prenom only, and forbidden to tell anyone their lineage.

This rule is a beautiful one, my king, and your great-grandfather did nobly in devising it. It is sometimes even obeyed, at least in public, but I reply that there was rarely a boy whose right name and titles I didn't know by the threshing frolic of their first year.

Except my own name, of course. About myself I knew only that my uncle had convinced the headmaster that my birth was genteel enough for the school's standards, which are moderately high. Unless this unremembered uncle returned to claim me or the headmaster broke the king's rule, I should never know more than I knew when I came, which was that my name was three odd syllables in a row, accent on the first: Nazhuret.

Heimer, friend of my years ten through twelve (my friendships were neatly packaged in two-year intervals), said that my name sounded like the sneeze of a cat. Sometimes I dwelled upon the idea that my birth was quite exalted, but that my parents could not stand the sight of me and so stored me away at Sordaling until the time I might grow into (or perhaps out of) my features. It was as useful a daydream as that common one of being switched in the cradle.

When visitors of some grandeur toured the school, I watched carefully to see whether they were looking at me out of the corner of their eye. Often they were, of course. It was hard not to look at something so exceptional.

Later, when my unremembered uncle stopped paying, this fantasy of birth became harder to maintain.

By all rights the bursar should have sent me home when I was ten and the tuition did not appear, but the death of the headmaster, combined with my own ignorance, meant they had no idea where to send me. Six years had passed since my arrival at school, and my tenure was longer than that of many young masters, trainers, and deans. All were very used to my presence, and I had drifted into the role of school orderly before anyone could decide how to show me the door.

The next year the money resumed, along with a lump of delinquent tuition, so I was paid for a whole year's worth of cleaning and carrying and sitting up with young fellows whose crying awoke the dorms.

With this money I began to swagger a bit myself, and visited both the bakeries of King Gutuf's Street and the entertainments of Fountain Park. I was very fond of the swanboat ride down the slanting canal shunt, which has in the past few years (I find) been dismantled and replaced with a mill. I was also very fond of Charlan, daughter of Baron Howdl, whose honors surround Sordaling and who owns a number of the commercial buildings as well. Charlan did not act like a baron's daughter. She scarcely acted like a girl at all, but I rode the swanboats with her and tossed old bread to the real birds.

For a fee of a tuppence I taught little town-boys how to spring over the old broadsword and the bonfire (which activity is considered very dashing and auspicious among their set), and I taught basic rapier work to Charlan free.

Unlike many students, I did not fight with the townies. I was too jaded with sparring in the halls to do it for sport, and the satisfaction of flattening ten burghers' sons would not have been worth the inconvenience of a single split lip.

But the money I had been given ran out, and Lady Charlan was deemed too old at twelve to be a boy-daughter anymore and was locked away. I moped around the river for a few weeks until Howdl's old nurse took pity and told me how things were. I spent another week dreaming mad escapes in which I would spring the girl from her father and her fate and we would take to the woods together and live—I don't know how. As brigands, I suppose. Luckily I did not have much free time for mad dreaming and so never attempted to carry out the scheme.

I returned to the more sedate life of the school and when, two years later, the money stopped again, there was no talk of sending me away. I was recognized as a son of Sordaling School itself: part master, part servant, part imp.

Remember the school with me, sir, as the bricks glow in evening sunlight, or the snow of the drill field lies etched with diagrams of war. The buildings are solid and they loom with a certain presence. The quadrangles are restful, arbored, and well planted, regularly mowed by junior boys and sheep.

All my duty at school was reasonable and regular, though not exciting, and the food was good. I'm sure I would have grown tall on the meals dished into our tin plates if I had that growth within me. Most of the masters were very companionable, at least to me. I learned two languages; a simplistic geography; a minimal art of courtesy (which I have now lost again, my king is well aware); skill with the broadsword, the rapier, and the spear; the cleaning and maintenance of the powder catapult and harquebus; practical horse ménage; the making of beds; the sanitation of latrines; wrestling and pinching and threatening other boys to good effect; and a hundred other martial skills, which I will never use. I also developed a manuscript hand that is better than I deserve and an accent in speech purely Old Vesting, owing nothing to the Zaqueshlon influence, which has sullied the pronunciation of most of the people of Velonya.

(Or should it be said that your Vestingish ancestors, sir, have imperfectly imposed their language upon a people largely Zaquash by birth? And does it matter which of these explanations is true, or both? The accent has served me well, and I digress again.)

In short, I had the education of the usual rural lord. I was no lord, however, and had only my acceptance long ago into Sordaling School to testify that my birth was more or less gentle. My destiny was the common one—to be remitted as knight-contract into the forces of whatever school donor came to the school to recruit and who fancied me.

I was eligible for such remission when I turned fifteen, but at that time I looked twelve, and as I felt a great reluctance to enter into the service of Baron Howdl, Sordaling's most intimate neighbor and patron, I stood at attention with the younger boys and no master betrayed me.

Howdl was a handsome man—though he had not so good a face as his daughter—and he sat a fine figure on a horse, but he was a black and surly employer who refused to follow the government of Velonya into the modern age and who made himself tyrant to his dependents. Though his honors were all near Sordaling and therefore secure both from Rezhmian incursion and the coast raids of the Falinkas, he was always recruiting, because he could not hold on to his men. I disliked the thought of owing allegiance to such a man and feared he would someday find out how I had aided his daughter to misbehave.

Howdl was either fooled by my tactics of concealment or, as is more likely, found that my personal inadequacies overcame the good reports of my instructors. He did not look at me more than once.

The following summer a rumor came that he had killed his daughter in a fit of rage. Grief and fury nearly led me to challenge the man when I heard that, but he would merely have had me thrown into prison for my temerity, and I'd be digging the baron's own fields in a checkered burlap coat with a chain around my leg. Besides, it was only a rumor. Another rumor had it that she was not dead, but had been spirited away to deliver a bastard baby. A third had it that he had killed her because of the bastard. I did not know which of these was more probable; it had been three years since I had seen her, and the years between thirteen and sixteen are very long. Whatever had happened to take Lady Charlan out of our sight, it made me very grateful to have escaped Howdl's winnowing and more resolved against falling into any lord's power at all.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Lens of the World by R.A. MacAvoy. Copyright © 1990 R.A. MacAvoy. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    All time favorite

    Dont understand why there arent more reviews about this trilogy.

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

    Posted September 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)