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Mistress of the Pearl (Pearl Saga Series #3)

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Overview

Kundala is Miina's world, created by that Goddess with the help of the dragons. But Miina is missing, and her people have been enslaved by the alien V'ornn. Now a savior has come, the Dar Sala-at, a messiah promised by prophecy yet unlike anyone's expectations: within the body of a beautiful young woman is the mind and spirit of a unique Kundalan female who is joined in mystical partnership with the mind and spirit of Annon Ashera, a V'ornn male, the last survivor of a noble family. Together the two adolescents ...

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Mistress of the Pearl (Pearl Saga Series #3)

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Overview

Kundala is Miina's world, created by that Goddess with the help of the dragons. But Miina is missing, and her people have been enslaved by the alien V'ornn. Now a savior has come, the Dar Sala-at, a messiah promised by prophecy yet unlike anyone's expectations: within the body of a beautiful young woman is the mind and spirit of a unique Kundalan female who is joined in mystical partnership with the mind and spirit of Annon Ashera, a V'ornn male, the last survivor of a noble family. Together the two adolescents have matured and merged into a new joint identity. Now their common destiny, and Kundala's, is in their own hands.

In Lustbader's richly imagined saga The Pearl, magic and science clash on an epic scale. As in the Midkemia novels of Raymond Feist, the juxtaposition shows that neither is inherently good or evil. It is the people using magic or science who give them meaning, and Lustbader has created people you will never forget:

Riane, the Dar-Sala-at; Eleana, the woman she loves twice over; Kurgan, the V'ornn usurper who raped Eleana and sired her child; Marethyn Stogggul, Kurgan's defiant sister, an artist who joins the Kundalan resistance; Marethyn's lover, chief trader Sornnn SaTrryn, who secretly helps the resistance as well; and the fabulous Krystren, the Sarakkon woman from the mysterious southern continent, who comes north on a secret mission and will change the lives of everyone she meets. All the while, the evil Sauromicians threaten the world as they seek to use banestones to bind a dragon.

With each new volume, The Pearl has bloomed and ramified like a gorgeous flowering vine. The Mistress of the Pearl is the best yet, and those who have read the previous books will find new sources of excitement and enlightenment, but this is also a great place to begin catching up with the series, as the Pearl shines ever brighter.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
A fantasy more epic in scope than J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. A saga more thematically multilayered than Frank Herbert's Dune sequence. A realm more vividly described than Robert Silverberg's Majipoor. One of the rare series worthy of such acclaim is Eric Van Lustbader's The Pearl, a literary tour de force that is redefining the term epic.

Set on a mystical world where a technologically advanced race of alien conquerors known as the V'ornn -- a male-dominated society based on a strict caste system -- have struggled for decades to rule over the native Kundalan, the saga of The Pearl is essentially the story of Riane, the Dar Sala-at, the prophesized savior destined to lead the Kundalan uprising against their militant oppressors.

In Mistress of the Pearl, the third volume of The Pearl (following The Ring of Five Dragons and The Veil of a Thousand Tears), the Kundalan resistance against the V'ornn is growing stronger, as more and more disgruntled V'ornn secretly join in the rebellion. As this already bloody struggle intensifies, the V'ornn technomages desperately search for a way to escape an unstoppable race bent on ferreting out and annihilating all V'ornn in the universe. The answer, they believe, lies in bioengineering hybrid V'ornn/Kundalan beings; but thus far they have only succeeded in butchering innocent natives. Meanwhile, Riane must somehow unlock the doors to her forgotten past and unravel the mystery -- and much-needed wisdom -- of the Pearl.

Simply put: This series, which encompasses both science fiction and fantasy elements, is an absolute must-read for any serious fan of the genre. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Fans of bestseller Lustbader will welcome the third hefty installment in his Pearl fantasy series (after 2002's The Veil of a Thousand Tears), with its wildly complex plot, breathless action and jaw-breaking nomenclature (Khagggun, Mesagggun, etc.), though newcomers might wish they had a roadmap. On the planet Kundala, the conquering V'ornn are having trouble subduing the natives, who have a champion in the woman Riane, aka "the Dar Sala-at, the fabled savior, destined to lead the Kundalan uprising against their alien V'ornn oppressors." Meanwhile, Annon, a dead V'ornn whose consciousness survives within Riane, shows that some V'ornn are worthy of the reader's sympathy. Riane's friend Eleana, who loved Annon, finds herself strangely attracted to Riane. The Kundalans' ultimate salvation, however, rests in securing the mystical Pearl. Tolkien's rings (reflected in the Pearl's "banestones") and the pseudo-Islamicism of Herbert's Dune are among the author's many obvious literary influences, while in a display of tongue-in-cheek humor three V'ornn admirals act a bit like the Three Stooges. Lustbader keeps scene-setting to a minimum ("Sapphire evening spread its wings over the great steppe") amid all the fighting and skullduggery. A surprise twist at the end serves as a springboard to a fourth volume. (Mar. 25) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As Riane, the prophesied Dar-Sala-at destined to deliver the people of Kundala from their V'ornn conquerors, continues her search for the legendary Pearl believed to hold the key to deliverance for her people, other forces for change are at work within the world. A Resistance movement unites Kundalans with sympathetic V'ornns even as a group of V'ornn scientists conduct ruthless experiments to master a rare radioactive substance. The third volume in Lustbader's fantasy epic (after The Veil of a Thousand Tears and The Ring of Five Dragons) continues a heroic woman's journey to fulfill her destiny in a world in which science and magic war for dominance. Colorful characters and an intriguingly detailed world make this a standout addition to most fantasy collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The third in the megalogy The Pearl, thus far a 1,836-page fantasy epic (The Ring of the Five Dragons, 2001; The Veil of a Thousand Tears, 2002), returns to Lustbader's favored la-la-land of Kundala. The advanced alien race, the V'ornn, besiege the spiritual planet of Kundala for a hundred and one years. Kundalans believe that a messiah (the Dar Sala-at) will be born-from both ends of the universe-to lead them out of captivity in the manner of savior Paul Atreides in that sandworld series. Indeed, Riane, a Kundala female, is psychically joined to the soul of Annon Ashera, dead son of a Gyrgon lord of the V'ornn, to save the spirits of both Riane and Annon. Thus Annon (from the far end of the universe) finds himself in a girl's body, and in love with Eleana, a Kundalan female (later raped and impregnated by power-hungry Kurgan, the Regent of Kundala and the intriguing V'ornn usurper who is the novel's most complex character), while women now play strong roles in the story. Why the Gyrgon techno-mages have led the V'ornn from their distant star system to this planet remains a mystery, although various fabled spiritual artifacts-the Ring of the Five Dragons, the Veil of a Thousand Tears (which turns back demons from the Abyss)-project mystical secrets pointing to the greatest secret of all, in The Pearl. Meanwhile, as the Kundalans lose faith in their gods, Lustbader blends religion and sorcery to lend a detailed sociological grip to each society's superstructure of myth and magic. So what is The Pearl? Well, the Goddess Miina protects it from falling into the wrong hands, since it's a storehouse of knowledge with a potential for power so vast that Dar Sala-at alone may possess it. (Fansshould not miss the remorseless assassin Lujon inveigling Kurgan into eating a week-old dish of maggoty jellied cephalopod.) Set at 3,500 pages, the end is far from sight. But sales worldwide? Monumental.
From the Publisher
"Enjoy a breathtaking ride."

—Bookreporter.com

 

Praise for The Veil of a Thousand Tears

"The sequel to The Ring of Five Dragons plunges deeper into the history of the land of Kundala, unlocking new secrets in a fascinating world of forbidden sorceries and alien technomagic. A solid choice . . . "-Library Journal

"Another highly enjoyable, fast-paced, exciting fantasy from Lustbader." -Booklist

"Lustbader creates a unique tale with the compelling style that has distinguished his writing since his renowned Sunset Warrior fantasy cycle in the 1970s. . . .Lustbader fans will be thrilled . . ."-Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765333421
  • Publisher: St. Martins Press-3pl
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Series: Pearl Saga Series , #3
  • Pages: 734
  • Sales rank: 503,311
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Van Lustbader is the author of numerous New York Times bestselling thrillers and fantasy novels, including Last Snow, First Daughter, Blood Trust, The Ninja and The Pearl series. Lustbader was chosen by Robert Ludlum’s estate to continue the Jason Bourne series, and his Jason Bourne novels include The Bourne Legacy and The Bourne Betrayal. Born and raised in Greenwich Village in New York City, Lustbader worked in the New York public school system and in the music business before turning to writing full-time. He lives in Manhattan and on the South Fork of Long Island with his wife, Victoria, who is also an accomplished author.

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Read an Excerpt

Mistress of the Pearl


By Lustbader, Eric Van

Tor Fantasy

Copyright © 2005 Lustbader, Eric Van
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780812572353

Chapter 1
 
Mirror
 
 
An exceptionally frigid winter was at last drawing to a close. The low, dense cloud cover that had spread itself like a bird of prey over virtually all of Kundala's northern continent was being slowly rent by the sun, in which had begun to burn of late the glowing ember of spring. The basaara, the ceaseless north wind that had its origins in the lethal permafrost of the Unknown Territories beyond the Djenn Marre mountain range, had raged for a full six weeks, disgorging a suffocating stratum of snow on the bustling towns, the barren fields, the forested hillsides, and ceaseless strip mines, inconveniencing Kundalan and V'ornn alike. Though the technically superior V'ornn had occupied the planet for over a century, they had never adjusted to snow and ice from which, like seas and deserts, they could derive no profit. But of late the wind had shifted, meandering indolently from the southwest, bringing with it the sharp tang of the Illuminated Sea along with tantalizing hints of the southern continent's tropical climes.
The lower-lying areas were already shrugging off winter's punishing grip, the snow grudgingly receding like an aging glacier, but here, high in the rugged massif of the Djenn Marre, it was still as thick as ever it had been in midwinter.
The windowless chamber in which Riane stood was not large, but itsceiling, invisible in its extreme height, lay shrouded in the shadowed cavern, bearded with stalactites like upended candles, their wax cold, calcified with rheumy age. Amber light poured from reed torches bound in copper wire, and the polar stink of minerals seeping made the room reek like the hold of a ship. A mirror, tall as it was narrow, beveled like cut gemstone, gilt-framed, here and there cloudy as the sky, hung from a bare black bolt driven into naked limestone. Riane moved until her reflection appeared like a wraith from predawn mist. She stared at herself, wondering.
She was known to her friends and compatriots as the Dar Sala-at, the fabled savior, destined to lead the Kundalan uprising against their alien V'ornn oppressors. Her image--an oval face framed by long blond hair braided in the mistefan, the Druuge symbol of battle, startling blue eyes, a strong nose pierced with a gold stud, and a wide, generous mouth--looked back at her. Even three months ago she had felt a stranger. But lately she was coming to realize that the male V'ornn persona of Annon Ashera and the female Kundalan known as Riane had in many ways fused, becoming a single entity, capable of drawing on both Annon's V'ornnish knowledge and Riane's formidable physical prowess and limited memories. The result was becoming each day more comfortable for both of them. Now, most of the time, they thought as one.
Riane shifted the two leather-bound books, gold-stamped, thick, ancient, precious beyond imagining. Utmost Source and The Book of Recantation, the two most sacred texts of the Great Goddess Miina, rescued by her, their right and true keeper, from oblivion, as it had been written in prophecy. "I am ready," she said to Giyan.
The tall Kundalan--sorceress, priestess, seer--came and stood at her side, nodded and gripped her hand. She had a face to make the heart melt, powerful and lovely, thick copper-colored hair cascading past her shoulders, and large whistleflower-blue eyes.
From a small distance, Thigpen's whiskers twitched in her copper, black-and-white-furred muzzle. Though they were not far from her home--the home of all Rappa--a gigantic cavern deep within the bowels of the Djenn Marre, Thigpen had never been in this chamber before, never even knew of its existence. But the Ramahan did. Typical.
"I like this not, little dumpling," Thigpen said anxiously. "We Rappa have a healthy fear of mirrors. Their sorcerous power is legendary."
"Yes," Giyan responded, not unkindly. "Mariners fear whirlpools, Rappa fear mirrors."
Thigpen shuddered. "Shall I tell you tales of Rappa sucked into the Other Side by ensorceled mirrors?"
"No need," Giyan said. "There is nothing here to fear."
Still, the Rappa backed away on her six furry legs, wickedly curved nails skittering on rock. Her whiskers twitched ferociously.
"I don't understand," Riane said. "What is the Other Side? Not, surely, Otherwhere?"
"Oh, no," Thigpen called. "The Other Side is a squirming pit, a shallow grave, nasty, nasty."
"Think of a pinhole in our Realm," Giyan said in a far calmer voice. "Necromancers--when they once walked Kundala--would use their foul sorcery to shove those who displeased them through the mirror, through the pinhole, into the null-space that exists between Realms."
"No one ever returns from the Other Side," the Rappa said.
"Is this true?" Riane asked.
Giyan shrugged. "I have heard of none."
"That is because there are none!" Thigpen howled, causing Giyan to turn to her with a finger across her lips. "You may leave, if you wish, dear Thigpen. No one is holding you here."
"No one is holding any of us to life," the Rappa said shortly. "That does not mean we all won't be swept aside by Anamordor, the End of All Things."
"Anamordor is a Dragon's tale," Giyan said.
"It is not inevitable?"
Giyan smiled. "None of us may use that word, dear Thigpen. What is inevitable and what is not is for the Great Goddess Miina to determine."
Thigpen grumped and fussed with her fur, as if she had suddenly discovered a colony of nits.
Giyan smiled and turned back to Riane. "All right, then. Let us begin."
Solemnly, she held the sacred texts, back straight, eyes shining while Riane intoned the Venca spell. Then Riane saw her reflection in the mirror come toward her, and it seemed now to have all the appearance of a shell, a carapace much like the Gyrgon wore to hide themselves. Annon, too, was hiding inside Riane's body. Only Giyan knew the secret, and she would never tell another soul.
Riane raised her hands, pressed them against the mirror, into it. She felt a coolness, as if she had dipped her hands in a lake.
"All is in readiness," she said.
Giyan placed the heavy texts on her arms.
"Are you sure this is the wisest place to store them?" Thigpen piped up.
"It is by far the safest place," Giyan said. "There are at present too many enemies who would stop at nothing to destroy these texts." She was, of course, speaking of the sauromicians.
"And if by chance the banestones should--"
"That is enough!"
It was not wise to anger Giyan, but the Rappa were an obstinate species, as it was often enough said, none more so than Thigpen. Once she got going, she was difficult to derail.
"She does not know about the banestones, does she?"
"Why would she need to?" Giyan snapped. "The banestones are ancient history, lost for eons."
"Ever since the fall of Za Hara-at, yes. But the banestones can penetrate the Other Side. I have heard that this is where they derive their enormous power."
"Why are you talking about me as if I am not here?" Riane addressing them both at once.
Giyan sighed. "I apologize. But you have more than enough on your plate without concerning yourself with banestones. There are all manner of ancient artifacts I could make you aware of, but what would be the point?"
"Forewarned is forearmed," the Rappa said portentously.
"It is true that the banestones use another kind of energy, one that even Ramahan have failed to understand. They are very dangerous, should not be touched, for to do so connects you to them, alters you subtly on the atomic level."
"Strange things happen when you acquire a banestone," Thigpen could not help adding. "Not what you wish for, and with the bane-stone--believe me--you wish for plenty. Because they were originally mined, dug out of the bowels of Kundala, by the daemons. Nine banestones, they found, and nine are needed, linked, to unleash all their power."
"Are you satisfied now?" Giyan asked her.
Thigpen sat up on her four hind legs, her forepaws crossed in stubborn anger. "Satisfied? No, it would take a great deal to satisfy me, or any Rappa," she said somewhat sullenly.
"You forgot to mention that the banestones were used in the foundations of the nine major temples at Za Hara-at. They were its power."
Riane looked from one to the other. "Can we get on with it now?" Her voice clipped with impatience. "There is much to be done." And that, for the moment at least, seemed to settle the matter.
"Pay attention." Giyan spoke softly but sternly. "We do not want any mishaps now, else the sacred texts will be lost in null-space, drifting like a ship with a broken rudder, impossible to track or retrieve."
Riane focused all her attention.
"Concentrate on the reflections only," Giyan told her, not for the first time. "They will show you the exact spot in null-space where the books will be stored."
Riane moved in a continuous motion until her arms vanished up to her shoulders. Then she backed away slowly and smoothly until the tips of her fingers reappeared. The books, however, were gone, with another Venca spell, safe in their repository in the place Thigpen called the Other Side.
* * *
And the sea comes, comes and goes, rocking like a cradle. The sea is leagues wide and fathoms deep, rocking like a cradle. The sea is a stern mistress and a gentle lover, rocking like a cradle. Into the deep we consign the mortal remains of our beloved captain: Courion, first son of Coirn, of the House of Oronel--"
The sonorous voice broke off and Kelyx, ship's surgeon of the Omaline, looked at Kurgan Stogggul, whose face glimmered like a newly honed hatchet, beautiful and deadly, eyes like obsidian cabochons, blood in them; and if he was any judge of V'ornn, no remorse in them, none at all. Kelyx said, "You see what we mean? How can we give Courion a proper burial--how can we pay him the respect we all feel for him when we do not even know where his mortal remains are?"
The Omaline, Courion's sleek Sarakkon vessel, lay at its slip at Harborside. The high prow, carved into a figure either fantastical or grotesque depending on your esthetics, arched elegantly into the night sky. Its beaten-bronze running lamps were lit. Its full complement of crew stood at attention in a shallow semicircle. Kurgan knew them all by sight. Some, like Kelyx, Chron, the first mate, Kobon, the quartermaster, he knew through his friendship with Courion. This friendship--hard-won and prickly at the best of times--meant everything, for Kurgan was quite certain that he was the first V'ornn to be invited to attend a Sarakkon funeral service.
Kurgan had fought Chron in the Kalllistotos, had played warrnixx with Kobon. With Kelyx, he had surprisingly debated the pros and cons of religion versus a state of godlessness. It was the Sarakkon's contention that a belief in a supreme being of whatever nature provided a needed sense of hope. It was Kurgan's contention that science--or techno-magic, as the Gyrgon preferred to call it--provided a needed sense of order. It seemed to astonish both of them that they agreed on the essential chaos of the Cosmos.
"I am sorry," Kurgan said. "I promised to find Courion, but his body has vanished." This was not true, and Kurgan knew it very well, for he had seen Courion dead, knew how he had died, knew where even now he lay.
"No blame accrues to you." Chron in his gruff manner.
"We owe you a debt for trying," Kelyx said, he of the delicate face and watchful eyes and quick smile.
This was typical Sarakkon thinking. They valued the attempt--and therefore the intent--more than the outcome.
"It was my duty to try," Kurgan said. "It was the least I could do."
"Still, it is passing strange, Captain disappearing like that," Chron said darkly. He was overmuscled, with glowering eyes and a hatchet jaw overrun with a wicked slash of waxed mustache, a triangular black beard from which were strung lacquered sharks' teeth and mica cubes.
"Captain had dealings with the Gyrgon," Kobon said, even more ominously. Big, though not overly tall, he, like all Sarakkon, was covered in tattoos, over skull, shoulders, arms, tattoos that told a story if one knew how to interpret them. "He was warned not to trust them."
"He dealt only with Nith Batoxxx," Kurgan said, "who now, too, is dead. Of the Gyrgon's death the Comradeship refuses to speak."
Kelyx shifted his feet. "And of Captain's?" His reddish curling beard was shot through with turquoise cubes and tigershell spheres. The tattoos across his shaved skull and glistening shoulders were tiny and intricate curls like the crooked fingers of babies.
"They profess to know nothing," Kurgan said.
Chron grunted. "Even though you are regent, you kowtow to Gyrgon."
Kurgan knew he meant no offense. In fact, it was a simple statement of truth. And yet, Kurgan found himself offended, as if he had been belittled in the crew's eyes.
"This is our caste system, the way it has always been," he said. "Your council, the Orieniad, do they not also sometimes give you orders which you are bound to follow?"
"Enough," the first mate said, stepping forward. "We are here to perform the Last Honors for our captain and our friend." He held out his hand. "The winding-shell."
Kelyx shook his head. "We believe Captain would want Kurgan Stogggul to have that responsibility."
A leaden silence reigned aboard the Omaline. Water slapped against the curved hull, sluiced through its scuppers. The onshore wind rocked the ship. Grey clouds studded the noonday sky like alloy bolts. The crew shuffled while Chron's face went pale. His fists clenched and unclenched.
Kurgan knew he must quickly break the impasse. "Courion has bade me help say good-bye, Kelyx, from across the Great Sea of Death. I am honored to comply."
There was a palpable sigh from the assembly as Kurgan responded the way a Sarakkon would. No one would oppose him now or even think ill of him, even Chron, whose face had returned to its normal rich pomegranate color.
Kelyx nodded. "Spoken well and true, as is a friend's duty." He opened his hand to reveal a heavily banded sienna-and-cream-colored shell, long and spiraled. The whorl inside a delicate pink. "Hold out your hand."
Kurgan did as he was asked. From inside the winding-shell emerged a pink tongue. But when touched it felt cool and smooth and hard, just as a shell would.
"The winding-shell is used to shroud the body before it is consigned to the deep," Kelyx explained for Kurgan's benefit. "In the absence of Captain's body, we will use this." He produced a beautifully made dirk with a curved forged blade and a handle of pebbled shagreen. A cabochon star sapphire capped the butt end. "Captain's favorite sea dirk."
He placed the weapon on the band of pink shell, and it immediately turned sienna and cream. In an instant, it began to spiral around the dirk, winding it in its peculiar shroud.
"From the sea we came, from the sea we return," Kelyx intoned. "In the bosom of the ocean, where all life begins, there is no ending, there is no regret, there are only new beginnings."
He nodded to Kurgan, who threw the shrouded dirk into the waves. It sank out of sight without even the vestige of a splash, vanishing as its master had vanished, without a trace.
Kurgan, watching the rolling sea, tried to think of Courion, as he had done for the entire time he was on the ship, but his thoughts were tangled up in the lies he was bound to tell the Sarakkon. If he had known himself better, he would have understood that he was caught up in the lies he had been telling himself ever since he returned from Za Hara-at. But he was a Stogggul; he could not know himself better. And so, instead of thinking about Za Hara-at and what had transpired there, instead of thinking of her, he had come down to Harborside, to Courion's funeral, to get away from feelings that were, in the end, impossible to deny. That did not stop him from trying. But, of course, even among the Sarakkon, he could not elude them. They darted, silver and gold, like fish beneath the waves, and made it difficult for him to feel anything for the Sarakkon captain he had called friend.
"It is over," Kelyx said. "Now our captain is part of history."
The crew dispersed, taking up, in twos and threes, their appointed chores.
"We sail within the half hour," Chron said.
Kurgan nodded. "I understand." And turned toward the gangplank.
"You are welcome to sail with us, Kurgan Stogggul," Kelyx said.
Kurgan paused. "My regrets, Ship's Surgeon." He gave a fastidious smile. "Another time it will be my pleasure." There was nothing he wanted less.
* * *
What are they doing in there?" Eleana stalking back and forth in the enormous cavern that led to Rappa territory. They looked out on semidarkness, overflowing with the murmurous conversations of the Rappa, so curious about everything, not the least of which this gathering of folk of neither their kind nor kin.
The Nawatir, thick blond hair and close-cropped beard, high cheekbones and wide mouth set in a globular Kundalan skull, glanced at her. "We will find out soon enough."
Her grey-green eyes clouded over. "If they tell us anything."
"Did you have such impatience when you were in the Resistance?"
"In truth, it is the Resistance I cannot get out of my mind," she said simply. "Each day that goes by the Khagggun kill more of them. What are we doing here?"
"I do not know."
"Neither do I, and that is my point." A swirl of luxuriant nut-brown hair, this is what defined her, and a full, generous mouth, leading to a face, overall, of defiance, of crafty stratagems, of moving forward in the advent of adversity. It was so bold you could not help but ask yourself what lay beneath. "Doesn't it ever concern you that the two of them--Riane and Giyan--keep so many secrets?"
"Yes. When it comes to Giyan it bothers me deeply." He was clad in dark red crosshatched tunic and trousers of a supple and lustrous fabric unknown on Kundala. From a thick belt hung two swords, their scabbards incised with Miina's runes. The long, gleaming blades, etched down their lengths, thrummed like beaten bass drums when he drew them.
"What is it, then? Do they not trust us enough?"
The Nawatir, his tongue seized up, said nothing. But Eleana, who knew his silence for brooding, would not let him be, and at length he gave in, not because he was weak, but because he did not want to keep secret the thorn in his heart.
"Perhaps it is a matter of love. I love Giyan so, and she says she loves me." He started out slow and halting, feeling his way, and Eleana stepped closer to him, and his strange, semisentient cloak curled around her protectively. He had told her that it was like a companion or a familiar. "But I ask myself how it can be so. I was a Khagggun Pack-Commander when she met me. I had pursued her charge, Annon Ash-era, into these very hills, to her home at Stone Border. And when Annon died, she brought him out to me so that I would stop the killing of innocent Kundalan. I wonder now how I could have done those things. But having done them, I wonder how she could love me. Were our situation reversed--were I the Kundalan and she the V'ornn--I could not."
He stopped, a little dazed by how much he had revealed.
"And now you wonder whether her love for you is real?"
"How can it be?" he asked, anguished. "How can she forget who I was, what I did to her? No sooner had she delivered her dead charge to me than I took her as concubine. How she fought me. How she...."
But he could not go on. He turned away from Eleana, and she put her hand out to reassure him, but thought better of it, and dug a hole in the pocket of her jerkin instead.
Eleana sighed to herself and shook her head. It pained her to see her friend in such an agony of despair. She understood all too well his longings and desperate fears. In Za Hara-at, she had said to Riane, We must not be afraid to say what is in our hearts. When I see you I cannot cool my body down. I have never felt this way about anyone. For she had come to know with the ineluctable surety of those in love that her beloved Annon was still alive, that somehow, by whatever sorcery, he abided inside Riane.
"I wonder at what you say because of late the question of love has been much in my mind." She spoke softly to the Nawatir's broad back. "Love is an insolvable mystery, where it comes from, why it strikes us, how it grabs hold and never lets go. We will never understand its nature. And here is all that can be fathomed of it. It is love that transforms us, not V'ornn technomancy or Kundalan sorcery, because it does so completely from the heart. But I also know the longing that springs from wanting to go back to the way you once were. As much as I love being a member of the band of outsiders, that very name triggers desires in me, for I miss desperately my life in the Resistance, where every day I could see the difference I was making in the cause of Kundalan freedom against the V'ornn."
He said nothing, his back and shoulders a heavily defended wall.
"We never know what we will become, Rekkk. Look at you, born a V'ornn of Khagggun caste, trained from birth to be a warrior, to kill and maim, to do the bidding of the Gyrgon. And yet you stopped. You questioned everything. Your love for Giyan transformed you. From that moment on, you were in a sense no longer truly V'ornn. Why do you question the similar transformation in her?"
She knew the answer, of course. His guilt at what he had done plagued him. If she had learned anything during her time with the Resistance is was this: the spectre of the past made the present unendurable.
"It is true that I have been transformed again. When I look into a mirror I do not even recognize myself. I am the Nawatir, but I am only slowly beginning to explore the powers I have been given. This cloak is sorcerous, yet I do not yet know the extent of its magic." He shook his head in bewilderment. "It is all so new, all so mysterious, and I am not comfortable with secrets and mysteries." He was huge, and yet now he seemed to have been swallowed by his cloak. His face was a clenched fist, cheekbones like bared white knuckles, ready to put someone, anyone, on their back. "What if she doesn't love me, after all. What if she is just using me, if this is some sort of revenge she has schemed."
"Surely you cannot believe that."
"It is what, above all else, I fear."
He frightened her when he was like this. She worried he was digging a grave for himself but felt helpless, unable to grab the shovel from his grip.
She turned with relief at the sound of nails clacking on stone. Thigpen was trotting toward them across the cavern floor--Thigpen, made voluble by her own anger, her own sense of abiding injustice that ran through the entire species like a rip current. Thigpen, who started telling them about banestones and couldn't stop.
 
Copyright 2004 by Eric Van Lustbader


Continues...

Excerpted from Mistress of the Pearl by Lustbader, Eric Van Copyright © 2005 by Lustbader, Eric Van. 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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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

Explorations Interview with Eric Van Lustbader

Paul Goat Allen: Your three Pearl novels thus far have ignited more buzz and spirited conversation than any other series in recent memory. The numerous themes -- technology vs. mysticism, the significance of women in V'ornn and Kundalan societies as well as their relationship (or lack thereof) with the males in their respective cultures, love and tolerance vs. hatred and violence -- had me talking into the wee hours of the morning with a group of science fiction/fantasy fans at a recent gathering. One slightly inebriated man (your No.1 fan, according to him!) stated quite vehemently that the major overriding theme of The Pearl was the absolute domination of societies with technological supremacy over other societies. I thought the most significant theme was about love, friendship and acceptance -- overcoming cultural and physical differences to help one another coexist and make it through the hardships of life. Am I correct, or do I owe an apology to your No.1 fan?

Eric Van Lustbader: You are absolutely correct, Paul. As a matter of fact, though the overarching theme of the series is the struggle between technology and spirituality, that neither are superior to the other, that the more fundamentalist your mind-set the more crippled you are and unable to deal with the facets of the universe, each volume has a sub-theme. In Mistress of the Pearl that sub-theme is precisely what you say, the many paths, joys, and dangers that are the consequences of love. Don't forget that one of the things that makes love unique is that it entails the act of "letting go," being totally irrational, which often leads you to do things you otherwise would never attempt. Sometimes this is a glorious thing (as in Krystren's quest or Leyytey's bold strike), at other times it can be disastrous (Sahor's love for Gil Aluf, Kurgan's obsession with Eleana). But without love and its many consequences, think how dull life would be, both here on Earth and on Kundala.

PGA: Of the dozens of characters featured in this saga, which one do you identify with the most, and why?

EVL: Well, it would be easy to say Riane, wouldn't it, because she's my hero/heroine, and I do identify with her quite a bit. But the truth is, my favorite character is Nith Sahor -- well, he's no longer Nith, and he's not even a full V'ornn any longer -- the better to like him, I say! That said, I particularly love the females in the saga -- that was a deliberate thing on my part. But everything isn't so premeditated. To wit, a funny thing: Leyytey, Admiral Pnin's daughter, was only supposed to be a minor character when I started writing her, but she soon disabused me of that notion! I also love Gul Aluf and Kurgan; but, then, villains are so much fun to write!

PGA: How do you go about writing a story like this epic? Epic is almost an inadequate term to describe this series. Did you have the entire Pearl saga thought out before beginning The Ring of Five Dragons?

EVL: I had quite an extensive outline, because I'd been thinking about the story and the world on and off for about seven years. During that time, I'd made extensive notes on the continents of Kundala, the peoples, social mores, languages, weapons, and, especially, the religion. From the very beginning, I wanted to write a series of books that dealt with two warring species: one technologically advanced, the other a theocracy that used sorcery in the service of religion. I wanted both of these species to be deeply damaged, to have turned away from the things that had made them great and unique. I wanted them to come into conflict and only slowly realize that the only way to their salvation was to join together like two sides of a sundered coin.

PGA: I've heard that the Pearl saga could be up to seven volumes long. Is this true? And can you give your fans a little teaser about what transpires in upcoming volumes?

EVL: The Pearl saga is six books long; but for those of you who are about to read the third, Mistress of the Pearl, you'll soon see that the first three novels form a tidy trilogy on their own. The fourth book will take place on the Southern Continent of Kundala, amid the Sarakkon (we get a nice taste of them in Mistress). The fifth volume will take place in The Great Voorg, among the Druuge, the first and most powerful of the Ramahan. The sixth volume will recount the great battle against the Centophennni.

PGA: I've also heard talk about a possible pre–V'ornn Kundalan prequel after the Pearl saga is concluded. Any truth to this tantalizing rumor?

EVL: Ha, that's a good one, and darn if it isn't true. It was the idea of my publisher, Linda Quinton. We were out to lunch one day, discussing the series. She had just finished reading The Ring of Nine Banestones, which begins 101 years after the V'ornn invasion of Kundala. I had showed her the British edition, which has another prologue that actually depicts the events on the day of the invasion; and she was so struck with it that she asked if I'd ever thought about writing a book that takes place on Kundala pre-V'ornn. I told her that I hadn't, but I'm sure considering it now.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 28, 2012

    **PLEASE READ THE REVIEW, DON'T JUST COUNT THE STARS** I have be

    **PLEASE READ THE REVIEW, DON'T JUST COUNT THE STARS**
    I have been a fan of Lustbader's for decades, having devoured the Linnear novels as they came out. After a long break, I found this series and was immediately hooked -the world of Kundala is a wonderful creation as are the strong very modern characters and the comparison of sorcery and corrupt sorcerers as one source of power and science and corrupt scientists as the other. Unfortunately, its obvious that there was supposed to be a book four and so book three was a HUGE disappointment with nearly none of the conflicts that developed over the prior fifteen hundred pages satisfactorily resolved.

    *Book one -awesome!
    *Book two, pretty good.
    *Book three? Lustbader's excuse to exit the series (uncompleted) to go write the Bourne novels.

    There should be a warning label on this series indicating that you are about to take on more than fifteen hundred pages only to say "huh?" at the end of the last book. It should warn you that, when you then likely to go to the author's website to figure out what happened, you will find out he simply abandoned the series it when a more lucrative offer came along. Really, its on his website.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2004

    A slightly more subdued review

    This whole series felt both rushed and unfinished. Scenes of great importance were flown through, characters introduced and killed without much reason for being there, and an ending that is left far too open, considering the number of pages the author had to tell the story. The writing was also mediocre. The author appeared to be telling too many stories at once.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2004

    Excellent...with some troubles

    I LOVE this series. I was hooked once I finally got into the first book. However, I must say that the editing was not even close to the standard of what it should have been. There were words spelled incorrectly and phrases that just weren't right. I think that if he were to write a 4th or more books (i hope he does) that he really ought to find a better editor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2004

    Words cannot discride it.

    I first picked up the first installment of the 'The Pearl' just out of couriosity. But since starting it I have not been able to put the series down. And now the third istallment is absolutely riviting. I cannot find words to discribe the story that unfolds and has kept me captive for so long. Anyone that is into Sci-Fi should read his series. It's absolutly breathtaking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2004

    Great speculative fiction

    Though they have pretty much conquered the planet Kundala after a century plus of resistance, the victorious aliens V'ornn remain in combat with the locals. The natives believe their Messiah, the ¿Dar Sala-at¿ will save them. Just the Kundalan belief that their legendary savior will help them overthrow the V'ornn invaders has lifted the spirits of the natives and helped them resist the intruders though how someone can join two spirits from opposite poles of the universe as the fabled champion will do seems hard to fathom especially by the V¿ornn........................... However, the impossible occurs when a Kundala female Riane contains her own soul and that of the dead Annon, ironically a V'ornn; the merger of two essences from opposite sides of the universe. The Kundalans believe that Riane is the Messiah who will vanquish the conquerors, but to do so they must obtain the mystical Pearl that only the true Dar Sala-at can yield its power................................... Part humor, part military science fiction, and part fantasy, the third Pearl tale is a gem of a novel that uses amusing satirical slapstick moments to ease some of the major tension. The story line is action-packed and filled with adventure as series fans will delight in the rebellion but especially with the paradox of Riane-Annon. New readers will enjoy the tale as it is a stand alone, but even greater understanding especially with the V¿ornn will occur by reading the delightful previous two epics (see RING OF THE FIVE DRAGONS and THE VEIL OF A THOUSAND TEARS)............................ Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2004

    For Sci-fi and fantasy lovers, this is a must-read.

    I enjoyed so many of Lustbader's books which prompted me to buy the Pearl Saga series. The first installment was intriguing, the second was unputdownable. This third one was like a rollercoaster ride that has made me neglect everything else just so I could finish the book.

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    Posted April 9, 2011

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    Posted February 15, 2011

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    Posted March 28, 2012

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