Lord of the Libraries (Rover Series #3) [NOOK Book]


In The Destruction of the Books, the Vault of All Known Knowledge was destroyed and its learned caretaker abducted , leaving the forces against darkness without resource and leadership.

The world as they know it and all that is good are now threatened by the same shadows that have oppressed the continent beyond the sea.

The only hope for enlightenment and salvation lies in...
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Lord of the Libraries (Rover Series #3)

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In The Destruction of the Books, the Vault of All Known Knowledge was destroyed and its learned caretaker abducted , leaving the forces against darkness without resource and leadership.

The world as they know it and all that is good are now threatened by the same shadows that have oppressed the continent beyond the sea.

The only hope for enlightenment and salvation lies in a lowly librarian adventurer named Juhg who unknowingly brought about the cataclysm. He now must save the day by seeking out his master and another store of knowledge that has been held in secret. In doing so, Juhg will unlock the mysteries of the past so as to allow the emergence of a new guardian....

The Lord of the Libraries.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Odom's winsome Tolkienesque fantasy, the third in a series that began with The Rover (2001), a month has passed since the near eradication of the Vault of All Known Knowledge and the disappearance of its chief librarian, Grandmagister Edgewick "Wick" Lamplighter, in The Destruction of All Books (2004). Now First Level Librarian Jugh, a small halfling and former slave, and his old friend, the wizard Craugh, go in search of Wick, who was last seen in hot pursuit of The Book of Time, a dangerously powerful tome that has been broken into four pieces for the world's safety. Joined by brave elves, dwarves and humans, Jugh and Craugh fight against tremendous odds in an effort to rescue Wick from evil Aldhran Khemphus. They must also discover another mysterious library and find the key to release the vault of true knowledge to all. While the series is best read in order, readers can enjoy this third volume on its own because of Odom's fluid mastery of establishing lovable characters and interweaving prime plot points from earlier books. (July 13) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When goblins destroy the Vault of All Known Knowledge, and the Great Library's Grandmagister Edgewick Lamplighter disappears, First Librarian Juhg must travel far afield from the safety of his home and library in search of the Grandmagister. With a dubious companion, Juhg also searches for the lost Book of Time, hoping to find it before it falls into the hands of evildoers. The author of The Rover and The Destruction of the Books continues his endearing saga of diminutive librarians whose battles against the darkness equal any combat fought with swords or magic. Odom's clear messages about the worth of goodness and the importance of knowledge should appeal to lovers of books, libraries, and heroic deeds. For most fantasy or YA collections. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A bit boggy with back-story, the third but not necessarily final volume nonetheless brings a satisfying end to the chaos that set plucky librarians fleeing at the close of The Destruction of the Books (2004). Beginning with the cataclysmic destruction of the Vault of All Knowledge, Odom then transports us to sea. There, Librarian Juhg nurses his guilt. Juhg brought to the Vault the enchanted book that destroyed it, then he allowed Grandmagister Librarian Edgewick (Wick) Lamplighter to be kidnapped by the evil goblin sorcerer Aldran Khempus. After surviving an attack by a monstrous hoar-worm, the wizard Craugh carves up the beastie and kills an enchanted sorceress imprisoned in a jewel inside the worm's stomach. That's just a prelude to telling Juhg an involved tale about Craugh's role in stealing the Book of Time, a volume so powerful that it can alter the past and future. The wizard also reveals that Wick deliberately let himself be captured as part of a larger plan to help Craugh get the Book of Time before Khempus does. Many, many details, here and later in the narrative, tend to slow the desperate race through wild, scary and occasionally funny fantasy locales to find the Book of Time. After momentarily abandoning his attempt to rescue the kidnapped librarian, Juhg discovers and decodes a diary left by Wick that provides important clues to the locations of the Book's four parts. Odom pulls the last 200 pages to a rousing, if predictable conclusion, with breathless chases, escapes and magical mayhem happening at breakneck speed. Lively, charming and coyly amusing, but much too similar to current and previous genre blockbusters.
From the Publisher
Praise for The Rover and The Destruction of Books:

"Tolkienesque" —Locus on The Destruction of the Books

"A rousing swashbuckling story" — Library Journal on The Destruction of the Books

"Odom's bouncy, funny, cliff-hanger adventure is perfect for the Potter crowd, with enough puns, wry asides, and satirical send-ups to amuse Tolkien fans." — Kirkus Reviews on Destruction of the Books

"In the familiar tradition of The Lord of the Rings" - Publishers Weekly on The Destruction of the Books

"A surefire page-turner" — Booklist (starred review) on The Rover

"Smartly told" —Library Journal on The Rover

" A charming fantasy ...a cute, smartly told pastiche of Tolkien and Terry Brooks"

Kirkus Reviews on The Rover

"Mel Odom really knows how to keep a reader turning pages" —Lynn Abbey

"Odom has created a likable, believable character who will continue his adventures as a newly promoted Second Level Librarian in charge of great books. Fans of the movie version of Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring will be looking for books to satisfy their interest in weefolks. Readers will enjoy the wealth of creatures in this tale of magic, mystery, and self-discovery, and will stand up and cheer for this little guy who reaches for his best shot and saves the day."

School Library Journal on The Rover

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429965798
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 7/1/2005
  • Series: Rover Series, #3
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 573,035
  • File size: 396 KB

Meet the Author

Mel Odom is a bestselling writer for hire for Wizards of the Coast's Forgotten Realms, Gold Eagle's Mack Bolan, and Pocket's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel book lines. His debut SF novel Lethal Interface made the Locus recommended list. The Rover was an Alex Award winner. He has also written a scientific adventure of the high seas set in the 19th century entitled Hunters of the Dark Sea.

The Lord of the Libraries is the second book (the first was The Destruction of the Books) in a duology sequel to The Rover.
He lives in Oklahoma.

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Read an Excerpt

Lord of the Libraries
1"They're Our Monsters!"One-Eyed Peggie lurched hard over to starboard and a horrendous scraping noise drawn out like a banshee's wail filled the ship's waist from prow to stern.Only quick reflexes, a determination not to mar pages, and years of experience aboard a sailing vessel allowed Juhg to keep the freshly dipped quill from the paper before he could render a mistaken stroke. His other hand slapped at the papers, pinning them in place and managing to hang on to the inkwell.Then the fear set in as he, like all the dwarves gathered in the galley, waited expectantly for the sound to be repeated. Or for someone to scream that the ship's hull had been ruptured and she was sinking.He sat alone at a table in the pirate ship's galley working on the journal. Lanterns filled the area with golden light. He was the only dweller among the group seated at the tables. Brown breeches and a maroon shirt, his clothing marked him as different from the others as much as his smaller stature. His fair hair and light-complexioned skin spoke of a life spent mostly indoors with some time outside. He was also, despite a month of travel aboard the vessel, cleaner than most of the crew.One-Eyed Peggie was a pirate ship, one of those given the duty of patrolling the Blood-Soaked Sea so that no ships from the mainland sailed out to discover Greydawn Moors and the Vault of All Known Knowledge hidden there. Juhg had sailed aboard her before, but never with such grim purpose as he did now."That weren't just me, were it?" a dwarven pirate asked in the tense silence that followed the noise. One-Eyed Peggie still rocked as she leveled out again. "I mean, I've had a little grog to drink, but I didn't think I just imagined that kind of cauterwaulin'--""We've run aground," another dwarven pirate cried out in a trembling voice. "We've been skirtin' too near the coast. I knew this was gonna happen. There's too much broken rock and reefs there. The cap'n knew that, too. He knew he orter be more careful.""I didn't think that were just me," the first one replied. He finished his cup of grog and glanced anxiously around."Stow that bilge," another pirate growled. His name was Starrit and he'd been with One-Eyed Peggie under the old captain as well. Most of his life had been spent tending the pirate ship. "Cap'n Hallekk knows whereat he's a doin'. I'll not suffer ye to be a-talkin' behind his back."The accuser glared at the other pirate, but said nothing more.Captain Hallekk, Juhg knew, had the respect of his crew.The other pirates got up from their meals, automatically picking up their plates and cups so they wouldn't slide around unattended if the ship should hit again. Gradually, the ship righted herself, pulled back into position by the ballast she carried.Juhg allowed himself a deep breath as he waited, as every pirate in the galley did, for the fear-filled cry that One-Eyed Peggie had been holed. He'd spent enough time aboard ships while journeying with Grandmagister Lamplighter on errands for the Vault of All Known Knowledge that he felt certain he'd know if the vessel had been damaged and was now taking on water. In years past, he'd gone down in both ships and boats while adventuring with the Grandmagister.I know this ship, Juhg told himself nervously. I've sailed on her many times. If she weren't all right, I'd know.In fact, the Grandmagister had gotten shanghaied aboard One-Eyed Peggie all those years ago and set upon the path that had led him to his destiny.Edgewick Lamplighter had learned to wash dishes and peel potatoes in this very galley, something only cooks did at the Vault of All Known Knowledge.Juhg had seen dozens of drawings and sketches of the galley in the books that the Grandmagister had written that detailed his adventures with the pirates then and later. A lot of time at sea the galley had been a place where councils of war met, where wounds were tended, and where the pirates came for safe harbor during fierce storms or lulls in hot seas."Wasn't a sandbar or a reef," another pirate said. "Woulda hit again if'n it was.""Unless we just got lucky," said a third.Without warning, One-Eyed Peggie lurched again, turning even harder to port than she had to starboard. All of the dwarves who had been standing ended up on the floor, squalling and hollering."Topside!" a raucous voice screeched from the companionway leading to the deck. "Topside! Topside, ye scurvy dogs! Cap'n's orders! Squawk!"In the next instant, one of the ugliest and most malignant birds Juhg had ever seen flapped into the kitchen. The bird was a crimson horned rhowdor, intelligent as any being, some said. Of course, Critter, the bird, maintained that he was more intelligent than most.The bird's harsh hatchet face, bearing its cruelly curved beak, looked merciless. The features matched their owner's disposition perfectly. Bright pink horns, one of them broken off midway, thrust up four inches, each of them curled. He only had one bright emerald eye. The other was covered with a fierce black leather eyepatch that featured a skull made up of shiny brass studs. A gold earring dangled from one feathered eartuft.With a graceful flap of wings, Critter landed on the table where Juhg worked. That was impressive considering that One-Eyed Peggie still lurched back and forth. The effort was doubly impressive because the rhowdor had only one leg. The other was a wooden fork carefully whittled to size and fitted to his leg stump.Whatever we hit, Juhg thought as he held on to the table, or Whatever hit us, was huge. The pirate vessel was large and wide-bodied to handle a lot of cargo and men."Avast there, ye miserable flea-biters!" Critter screamed, flapping his wings menacingly and limping on the fork as he walked across the table."Get yer fannies to movin', ye goldbrickers! Cap'n's orders! Peggie's takin' on water, she is, an' I'll have everyone of ye topside fer orders or I'll keelhauls ye meself!"The dwarven pirates scrambled up and made for the door immediately. Despite the fact that he was a bird, Critter enjoyed all the rank and privileges of a member of the crew. Currently he served as Third Mate under Captain Hallekk.Critter turned his one-eyed attention to Juhg. "Squawk! Ye get movin', too, ye mangy cur!" The rhowdor had few true friends on this ship, but he was a fine Third Mate, proving himself both irascible and unyielding. "Cap'n needs ever' hand. Ever' able body he can get. We're even takin' dwellers."Juhg capped his inkwell, placed his quill into the box of writing instruments he had, closed his book and tied it shut, then shoved everything into the waterproof rucksack hanging from the back of his chair with his traveling cloak. He pulled on the cloak, then hoisted the rucksack over his shoulder."Ye think ye remember how to handle yerself?" the rhowdor challenged."Yes," Juhg answered, loath to get into an argument with the meanspirited bird. "It hasn't been overlong since I was aboard this ship.""Then why are ye here a-jabberin' to me when ye should be topside?"Exasperated, tense, and fatigued from not sleeping well and worrying about the Grandmagister's whereabouts for the last month, Juhg stared at the short-tempered and unkind bird. He was tired of getting pushed around. For the last month, Craugh the wizard had kept Juhg with his nose buried in work, penning one book and making copies of it. The wizard had also ducked every question regarding how the Grandmagister had ended up in the hands of their enemies at the battle for Greydawn Moors.More to the point, Juhg was tired of carrying around the guilt that he was more to blame for the Grandmagister's predicament than any of the others. Perhaps Edgewick Lamplighter and Craugh had schemed together to put the Grandmagister in a position of vulnerability, but Juhg had cost the Grandmagister his way out by getting captured and needing rescue himself. The Grandmagister hadn't hesitated and had immediately given Juhgthe potion that had gotten him free of the goblinkin ship. One-Eyed Peggie had swooped in and picked him up from the sea almost immediately.But the Grandmagister had been left trapped with his foes. The three ships had made straightaway for the mainland, toward the South where the goblinkin forces were strongest. Alone and in dangerous waters, One-Eyed Peggie and her crew of dwarven pirates hadn't been able to effect the Grandmagister's rescue.Then again, with Craugh not talking to him much over the past month, Juhg wasn't even sure that was the plan."What are ye a-starin' at?" the rhowdor demanded.Juhg didn't know what to say. The bird didn't deserve all the rancor he felt compelled to unleash on him."Keep it up," Critter threatened, "just keep it up an' I'll peck yer eyes out for ye, I will."Ignoring the bird, knowing that he could never win an argument with Critter--or, if he did, that the bird would never admit it--Juhg headed for the door.One-Eyed Peggie lurched again, and this time the sound of a timber cracking shot through the waist. The report was enough to cause a sailing man's stomach to knot.Caught off-balance, Juhg flailed for the table. The table, like the benches around it, was secured to the floor by trunnels. The wooden nails made certain the furniture would not move. He fell across the table hard enough to knock the wind from his lungs.Critter narrowly avoided being flattened. He ran awkwardly across the table on his mismatched legs, flapping his wings and cursing the whole way. His fork pegleg slipped out from under him suddenly and he fell in a rolling tangle of feathers. Crimson and yellow down puffed out around him. He flared his wings at the last second and took to the air.The ship lurched back the other way as she was hammered once more. Critter banged into the wall and went down with an undignified plop. He cursed terribly and got himself up once more. He rubbed a wing on his head and his good eye squinted in pain."What's going on?" Juhg demanded as he righted himself. The ship wasn't striking something. He knew that now. Something was striking the pirate ship."Ye'll find out, dweller." The rhowdor flapped for the doorway. "Just ye hurry topside. There's things to be done, an' scribblin' in them books ain't gonna much help keep ol' Peggie afloat."The ship lurched again, twisting violently as she fought the water, the wind, and whatever was hitting her. Critter sailed into a wall, struck his head on a lantern, and cursed in a manner that would have made even the most callous dwarven pirate aboard the ship blush.With the rucksack hanging over his shoulder, Juhg made his way through the hallway to the ladder leading up to the deck. Dwarven pirates ran through the waist, already carrying out Captain Hallekk's orders.Has it come to this, then? Juhg wondered. Have we come all this way only to be sunk in unfriendly waters by the mainland?He tried to put the bitter and depressing thoughts out of his mind. But he couldn't. He knew that back in Greydawn Moors people died every day while defending their island home and the remnant of the Great Library from the goblinkin ships that remained lurking in the Blood-Soaked Sea.And all he'd done was make three copies of a book no one might see. If he hadn't been trapped aboard One-Eyed Peggie and hadn't felt so responsible for the Grandmagister's current situation, he wouldn't have stayed. The feeling of futility filling him was one of the reasons he'd tried to leave the Vault of All Known Knowledge and his life as a First Level Librarian. Only the book he'd found with Ertonomous Dron had pulled him back to the island.All those lives wasted, Juhg thought bitterly, thinking of the sailors aboard Windchaser who had died to acquire that book, only to deliver a trap into the Library.It was too much to live with during the time he worked on the books. All while they helplessly pursued the goblinkin ship that had taken the Grandmagister captive during the battle for Greydawn Moors. So far, the three goblinkin ships had remained together, too strong for the dwarven pirates to take, but neither did the goblin captains know that they were followed by the mystic eyeball that gave One-Eyed Peggie her name. The monster's eyeball, taken by Peggie herself (who had been one-legged), had the power of watching over every sailor who crewed aboardship."Are we holed?" Juhg asked one of the passing pirates who hurried toward the hold that led to the cargo area with an armful of tools."She's cracked," the pirate admitted. He was scarred and thick, a sailingman who'd seen more than his share of rough seas and ill luck. "We're takin' on water, but we'll get her shipshape again soon enough. Long as that beastie don't find a way to smash us to pieces first.""What beast?" Juhg asked. The Blood-Soaked Sea was filled with all manner of creatures.The pirate waved him off, then dropped down the hold.Feeling the impulse to go see for himself how bad the damage was, then reconsidering because he didn't know enough to help and because he really didn't want to know how bad things were if they were bad, Juhg pulled himself up the simple wooden ladder.Rain splashed his face before he reached the deck. The world was dark gray overhead and dull gray all around him. Dwarven pirates ran along One-Eyed Peggie's deck wearing hooded rain slickers and carrying harpoons.When had it started raining? Juhg didn't know. He'd been committed to writing down everything he could remember about Imarish, the city where the Grandmagister had left something, he'd said, for Juhg to find.Craugh the wizard had insisted that be done so others could perhaps find the something the Grandmagister had left there for him in case he got killed along the way. The statement, especially while on a sea full of monsters frenzied by blood, hadn't offered Juhg any comfort. But Craugh, as always, was a rocky shoal of pragmatism."All hands keep a sharp lookout!" Critter crowed from the mid 'yards. "Stick 'im in the eye if ye gets the chance! That thrice-blasted beast won't like that none, I'll warrant!"Juhg gazed toward the stern bridge, thinking he would see Hallekk or Craugh there. Instead, only the helmsman stood at the great wheel. A dozen dwarven pirates flanked him, all of them peering down into the swirling gray-green water that surrounded them.Thick fog pressed upon them, flitting in layers across One-Eyed Peggie's rain-slick deck. Juhg could scarcely see either end of the ship. Lanterns were lit fore and aft so that she might be seen by other ships. However, getting seen was one of the last things anyone aboard the pirate ship wished for. They were in dangerous waters. Goblinkin in their stolen vessels and true human pirates sailed these seas, always searching for the valuable trade shipments the south mainland made with the north."Dreezil," a familiar voice barked, "do ye see anythin'? Anythin' at all?""No, Cap'n Hallekk. I see water boilin', but no hide nor hair of no creature." Dreezil stood watch in the crow's nest high above the deck. He was lost in the thick fog, and Juhg didn't think the young dwarf could even see the deck from where he was.Another blow struck One-Eyed Peggie, rolling her over to starboard. Again, the impact came from below the waterline. Juhg thought about the crew down in the hold working to repair the cracked timber. How fast were they taking on water? He remembered the three times he'd tramped through rising water to help seal a puncture in the cargo hold of a ship. None of those experiences had been pleasant. Twice the ship had gone down despite their best efforts, and Juhg had never gone down once himself."Well," Cap'n Hallekk bawled in frustration, "it ain't gone away, now has it? It's still knockin' us about like we was a child's toy. There's a monster down there, an' I want it found."Holding on to the railing, getting more soaked by the minute, Juhg made his way forward. The ship rolled slowly from side to side as she recovered her balance.On the forward deck, Hallekk stood braced and ready with a harpoon in one massive hand. The dwarven captain was nearly as broad as he was tall, carrying massive shoulders and standing a few inches taller than most dwarves, though still shorter than most humans or elves. His fierce beard trailed down to his belly, woven with bits of yellowed ivory carved into the shapes of fish and other sea creatures. Gold hoops hung from his ears. Scars marked his face and arms, testifying to the long and violent years he had put in as a Blood-Soaked Sea pirate. The pirates' reputations were often earned with a weapon and bravery.When the Builders had first caused the island to be raised from the sea floor so they could hide the Great Library there, they'd also set up lines of defense to prevent its eventual discovery. The first and most fearsome had been the monsters they'd loosed in the waters, and the second had been the volunteers who had taken up lives and battles under the skull and crossbones. Mainland ships stayed away from the heart of the Blood-Soaked Sea.Pirates were plentiful after the Cataclysm. During Lord Kharrion's time, goblinkin had captured ships and harried rescue efforts transportingbooks from the mainland. But those efforts had been few because the Unity Army had known leaving the mainland to the goblin forces would have meant Darkness had prevailed. In the end, they'd managed to stand and bring the Goblin Lord down.Mostly, the volunteers from Greydawn Moors had been humans. Their natures, short-lived and determined ever to be wanderers and conquerors, suited the humans for the sea and the promise of combat. It helped that not a few of them gained substantial wealth from their efforts.Still, a few dwarves and elves had taken to ship occasionally. Generally they tended more toward joining ships for a time. Dwarves liked to go a-roving for gems and chances to work metal in different smithies, and brought back news of the mainland. Elven warders brought back new stock--plants and animals--to keep the island's plant life and wildlife healthy and hardy. None of them talked about the island or the Great Library while they were about. All of them had families there who would be forfeit the first time they let slip the secret they protected. Strangers were seldom welcome at Greydawn Moors because strangers didn't have much investment in the city or the people who lived there.But there had been exceptions. Juhg had been born on the mainland, had never known about the Great Library until Grandmagister Lamplighter had freed him from slavery at a goblinkin gem mine.One-Eyed Peggie was unique, the only ship in all of the Blood-Soaked Sea under a dwarven captain. Captain Hallekk had taken over the ship after Captain Farok had died in the Grandmagister's arms during their escape from the undersea port of Callidell after tracking down and stealing the fabled Gem of Umatura. Callidell had been located in the dead heart of a volcano. The carved facets of the Gem of Umatura, once identified and translated, had unlocked a dead language in books long forgotten that had set the Grandmagister off on another whirlwind quest through the history and dangers of the mainland.Lurching with the motion of the rolling ship, feeling the dreaded heaviness to her now that told she was taking on water, Juhg went up the stairs to the forward deck. The task was made even harder because One-Eyed Peggie bucked and twisted instead of cleanly cutting through the sea. He gazed around, struggling to make sense of the sky and the sea since they insisted on being very nearly the same color."There!" a pirate shouted, pointing to port.Juhg turned at once, staring out at the gray-green sea. At first he saw nothing, then his keen vision tracked the underwater movement despite the rain pinpricking his eyes and peppering the rolling mountains of the ocean.An undulating mass of deep purple and red scales moved beneath the sea. The mass was gone, disappearing under the ocean surface, almost as quickly as he'd spied it."What was it?" Hallekk demanded."A monster," someone replied."What kind of monster?""Big."Hallekk growled a curse as he prowled the prow. "Big? I knowed it was big. From the way it was a-smashin' up Peggie, why I didn't need to see it to know it was big. What I need to know is how we're a-gonna deal with it.""We can throw meat in the water. Maybe the beastie will chase the meat to the bottom an' leave us alone."Juhg stood at the back of the bridge, leaving Hallekk plenty of room to pace. The big dwarf kept the harpoon at the ready."Meat won't help," a calm voice said. "That's a bearded hoar-worm. You can throw every morsel of meat aboard this ship into the water and that creature won't go break away from us. It feeds on live prey, and it lives to hunt."Moving forward to peer around the triangular jib sails straining in the strong winds, Juhg spotted Craugh the wizard on the other side of the bridge.Six and a half feet tall and skinny as a rake handle, Craugh was nevertheless an imposing figure even among the colorful members of a dwarven pirate crew. His pointed hat defied natural laws by staying atop his head in the gale winds. Of course, Craugh--by virtue (and yes, there was some argument about that word being associated with the wizard as well) of being a wizard--would have argued that magic was as natural as the seasons.His long gray beard hung down to his belt and his hair past his shoulders. Of late, his face looked more haggard than usual, but his piercing green eyes blazed with the eldritch forces he commanded. His face was long and narrow, seeming to surface from a sea of iron-gray hair andbeard, and appeared fierce enough to chop stone. His nose was prominent and he used it as a weapon to look imperious or to show derision.He wore simple homespun breeches and a white shirt, covered by a russet colored traveling cloak. He carried a gnarled wooden staff thick as his forearm that was even longer than he and his hat stood together. The end of the staff curved into a hook."I've never seen a bearded hoar-worm," Hallekk said.Craugh joined the ship's captain at the prow railing. His voice was strong and somber, carrying to all of the crew in the immediate vicinity despite the wind and the snapping sailcloth overhead. "You will today.""I heard tell of them, but I thought they was a myth." Hallekk took a fresh grip on the harpoon he carried."No. They're most definitely not a myth.""No one's ever seen one that I can recollect."Juhg stopped behind them, feeling awkward about eavesdropping. But he also knew that Craugh hadn't told him anything more than what he'd wanted him to know even since the attack that had leveled the Vault of All Known Knowledge. Resentment had filled Juhg but he hadn't confronted the wizard about it. No matter what, Craugh was as interested as Juhg was in rescuing the Grandmagister.And irritating Craugh meant running the risk of being turned into a toad. A toad, Juhg was certain, wouldn't be much help to the Grandmagister.The sea remained chaotic and rough. Waves crashed all across the horizon, matching the stormy movements of the gray clouds in the sky. But to one who knew the sea as Juhg did, there were unnatural movements even in the chaos. Huge ripples warred with the natural tide and movement of the ocean, warning of the large creature that prowled below the waves.Evidently, Juhg decided with some growing apprehension, the pictures of bearded hoar-worms in the bestiary books don't do the creature justice when it comes to size."Monsters in these waters," a pirate complained, "why, they ain't supposed to attack us none. They're our monsters.""Not these," Craugh answered."An' why ain't they?""When the island was first constructed so that the Library could be built there in the Knucklebones Mountains," Craugh said, "a number of bearded hoar-worms lived in the waters there. That past history of ships lost at sea to them was one of the reasons that area was picked as the location of the Great Library. Lord Kharrion would never believe that anyone had gone there."Another ripple started to the port side. Just as Juhg turned to observe the movement, he caught a glimpse of dark purple scales."The other gargantuan creatures living there," Craugh went on, "the giant squids and the other things, were all able to be charmed so they would recognize the spells carved into the bottom hulls of the island ships and leave them alone."The wave created by the creature slapped into One-Eyed Peggie. A salty sheet of cold spray lashed over the side and drenched Juhg. He was chilled to the bone instantly."But the bearded hoar-worms couldn't be charmed," Craugh said. "So the Builders chose to put them to sleep. It took considerable doing, you know, because the bearded hoar-worms were not at all amenable. Since that time, they have lain at the bottom of the Blood-Soaked Sea, unmoving and unchanging.""'Cept this 'un," Hallekk growled."Yes," Craugh said. "Except this one.""Which has decided it fancies an interest in us. So why ain't it sleepin'?""Because," Craugh replied ominously, "someone woke it."A thousand questions immediately flew into Juhg's mind. Who had waked the creature? Why? Just to set it on us? How had that been managed? And if this one was awake, were there others awake in the harbor at the Yondering Docks in Greydawn Moors?Before he could frame the questions, or weigh the wisdom of letting Craugh know he was there, Juhg saw the creature rise from the ocean."Look out!" Dreezil yelled from the crow's nest. "It's coming fer us! To starboard! To starboard!"Hallekk roared orders to the helmsman, instructing him to take what evasive action he could, but fighting against the wind and the waves of the storm had limited his ability. The captain bolted past Juhg, carrying the harpoon over his shoulder as he ran to the starboard side.Craugh turned and saw Juhg. The wizard's eyes narrowed and he frowned. "You shouldn't be up here," the wizard said. "This place is too dangerous.""In case you haven't noticed," Juhg shot back, "not only are we under attack, but the ship is sinking. Belowdecks is hardly the place I want to be right now.""You would be better protected there. I do not want to lose you to your impetuosity."Juhg didn't bother to answer. The argument would have been pointless. There was no way he was going belowdecks. He'd gotten tired of not being in a position to take control of his own life this past month. Maybe he couldn't get off the ship, but he could choose where he stood on it. He turned and sprinted after Hallekk.The bearded hoar-worm raised its head clear of the brine. Massively huge, the head carried the wedge shape of a serpent, but had the depth of forehead of a bear. Mottled olive skin covered the face, stretching out to the cheeks and chin where it mixed with a darker color of purple than was on the thing's body. Dark red underscored the big eyes and the flaring nostrils. Mottled, ice-blue tendrils trailed down from the creature's broad chin to its neck, giving it the appearance of streams that had frozen there.Behind the creature, a wake of eighty- and ninety-foot waves suddenly rose up from the ocean. They stayed close to the creature as if it had summoned them.Hallekk set himself to throw the harpoon, but the creature came too fast. By the time the dwarven captain hauled his arm back to throw and loosed the weapon, the bearded hoar-worm had glided back under the water. The harpoon pierced the sea where it had been, but Juhg was certain the throw had missed."Get set!" Hallekk yelled, reaching for the nearest ratline. "It's gonna" ram--The bearded hoar-worm slammed into One-Eyed Peggie's stern so hard the aft section lifted clear of the water and swapped around so fast that for a moment Juhg was certain the stern was going to overtake the prow. The pirate ship reeled, then was immediately caught by the oncoming waves that had trailed the huge monster. One-Eyed Peggie rode up on the first wavesideways, listing hard to port. The successive wave came on, lifting the pirate ship higher and higher, turning her over more and more.Juhg couldn't help wondering if the thunderous power of the waves was going to smash One-Eyed Peggie's fractured side in. Instead, the ship kept climbing the ninety-foot waves. The water came on so fast and so strong that One-Eyed Peggie was helpless, snared in their grip. Incredibly, as she neared the apex of the moving wall of water, the pirate ship rolled over so that it was perpendicular to the ocean and showing signs of rolling all the way over. Her 'yards on that side dipped into the water suddenly as she came over ninety degrees.Feeling the familiar symptoms of nausea in the pit of his stomach as he achieved momentary weightlessness, Juhg lunged for a fistful of ratlines. His hands caught in the rough rope and he held on tight. His body floated free, caught only by his fingers. In disbelief, he clung to the ratlines and stared down at the swirling water a hundred feet below him.Nearly all of the pirates had secured holds in the rigging and on the masts and railing. They hung, dangling over the ocean, then three of them lost their holds and they fell.The screams of the falling men cut through even the sound of the storm and the winds and the ship's sails ripping free. Juhg watched helplessly as the dwarven pirates flailed until they dropped into the sea.They're dead, Juhg knew. We'll never be able to find them in all of this. Moreover, very few of the pirate crew knew how to swim. He clung fearfully to the ratlines.Hallekk's ratline snapped without warning. The big dwarf shot downward as the rope burned through his hands. He struck the mainmast's top-gallant, which luffed in the strong winds, and slid slowly across the sailcloth. He flailed his arms, trying in vain to get a grip on the elusive sail.Almost as soon as the idea hit his mind, because dwellers were so quick thinking occurred at almost the same time as doing, Juhg released his hold on the ratline and dropped. Usually, though, those quick responses came about purely in the act of self-preservation, not what Juhg intended.One-Eyed Peggie continued scaling the tall wave, only now near the peak of it. Once the ship crested the wave, Juhg knew she'd whip away from the pirate captain and leave him to drop into the deadly sea.Juhg pulled his arms in as he fell, plummeting the way a hawk did when it swooped from the sky to take a field mouse. He saw Craugh holdingon to the railing, standing erect despite the ship's position. The wizard saw him, too."Nooooo!" Craugh yelled.Even if I live, Juhg thought, I'm a toad for sure.When he hit the topgallant, the sailcloth burned Juhg as it whisked under him. He spread his hands out like a child playing in a snowfield, keeping his balance as he shot under the rigging across the rough material. He focused on Hallekk as the big dwarf neared the end of the topgallant.Hallekk saw Juhg then. The pirate captain's eyes rounded in disbelief. In the next moment, he was over the edge, beginning the long fall to the ocean. Below, the bearded hoar-worm broke the surface and seemed to be waiting in anticipation.Juhg concentrated on the topgallant's rigging at the edge of the sailcloth. He reached for Hallekk and stuck both feet into the space between the topgallant and the rigging.Catching hold of the pirate captain's coat, Juhg fisted his hands in the material. Then the tops of his feet caught the rigging, which slid back and chewed against his shins above his boots. At the end of his reach, Hallekk came to a stop. Juhg felt as though his arms were tearing free of his shoulders."I can't hold you!" Juhg shouted. He wasn't strong enough. Hallekk outweighed him at least four times. The pirate captain grabbed hold of Juhg with both hands and began climbing along him. Juhg felt like he was about to be pulled apart. The pain was incredible.Hallekk reached the topgallant rigging and found a new hold.Once released from the captain's weight, Juhg tried to turn back on his own body. He bent at the waist in time to see that One-Eyed Peggie had finally crested the immense wave. All of his weight left him as the pirate ship suddenly flipped sideways and started down the wave it had climbed.Before he could get a grip, Juhg was flung away from the topgallant as if from a slingshot. Hallekk reached for him, managing to touch his leg, but couldn't get a grip. Juhg hurtled through the air away from the ship.Then he fell toward the raging sea.Copyright © 2005 by Mel Odom
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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Enchanting charmer

    A month has passed since the Vault of All Known Knowledge was devastated leaving librarians to flee for safety and the chief librarian, Grandmagister Edgewick 'Wick' Lamplighter, was abducted by the evil goblin Aldhran Khemphus. Wick and the wizard Craugh had been seeking the dangerous The Book of Time, a volume broken into four segments to keep anyone from using it to change the past or future............... Feeling guilty for have been the idiotic instrument that razed the library, Halfling First Level Librarian Jugh and Craugh accompanied by elves, dwarves and humans search for Wick. They battle much evil along the way while Craugh explains that Wick¿s capture is part of a plan to regain the Book of Time. As Jugh wonders if he has been manipulated by Wick and Craugh, he begins to consider an alternate plan to search for the Book of Time instead of Wick........... Though readers would be better off starting with the previous two novels (see THE ROVER and THE DESTRUCTION OF THE BOOKS), the magical third tale can stand alone as major references are explained though that can prove irritating to those who read the first two books. Still this is a terrific conclusion to a fine fantasy especially once the story line goes into hyperspeed (about a third of the way into the plot). Fans of action-packed pandemonium fantasy will appreciate this enchanting charmer....... Harriet Klausner

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