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Night of Madness

Night of Madness

by Lawrence Watt-Evans

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Lawrence Watt-Evans's tales of the magical land of Ethshar of the Spices had a large and devoted following in the late eighties and early nineties. Now, after nearly ten years, he brings us a new tale of mystery, magic, and madness.

Warlockry has been rare in Ethshar . . . until The Night of Madness, when a mysterious object falls from the heavens, sending


Lawrence Watt-Evans's tales of the magical land of Ethshar of the Spices had a large and devoted following in the late eighties and early nineties. Now, after nearly ten years, he brings us a new tale of mystery, magic, and madness.

Warlockry has been rare in Ethshar . . . until The Night of Madness, when a mysterious object falls from the heavens, sending out a wave of magic in the form of a dream. All who have the dream awaken in panic. But some of them also awaken to the power or Warlockry.

Throughout the land these newly made warlocks wreak havoc; looting and rioting, petty personal revenge, and uncontrollable madness run rampant. Worse, people are hearing a mysterious, irresistible call from which they never return.

Into this chaos steps the power-hungry Lord Faran, who seeks to use his new warlock powers to overthrow the government and take possession of the throne.

Who will dare to oppose him?

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

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in his popular fantasy world of Ethshar of the Spices, Watt-Evans's (Dragon Weather) newest is a sweet yarn about magic gone awry and a young noble's coming of age through adversity. Chubby, good-natured Lord Hanner is his Uncle Farran's errand boy. He works as a liaison between his uncle, who is chief adviser to Lord Azrad the Sedentary, and the community of wizards, witches, sorcerers, necromancers, etc. Since the rules set up by the Wizards' Guild include "No mixing different sorts of magic. No mixing magic and government," all Hanner can do is learn about magic, not practice it. Then comes the Night of Madness, when people awaken with terrible dreams and strange powers. This new magic creates unusually powerful warlocks; moreover, it affects many regular citizens and members of government, breaking the rules set by the Wizards' Guild. Magical mayhem ensues, and Hanner must learn the rules of the new magic, keep command of his small army and learn to control his own burgeoning powers as his uncle, the Wizards' Guild and Lord Azrad fight among themselves for control of Ethshar. Swiftly paced, with likable characters, this novel leaves open many questions that may someday be answered in further installments. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Even though Lord Hanner has no true title and lives at the palace only because his uncle, Lord Faran, serves as an advisor to the overlord, he always has been content with his life of luxury. The only disappointment is that anyone associated with the government is forbidden to use any type of magic, but Hanner sees this as a minor inconvenience—at least until the Night of Madness. On this night, an object falls from the sky, sending powerful waves of magic in all directions. Those affected are visited by terrible nightmares and soon awaken in a panic to find that they now possess mysterious new abilities. This new magic, or Warlocky, has never been seen in Ethshar, and the residents respond to it in vastly different ways. Some use their ability to steal pretty jewelry from the local artisans, whereas others give themselves over to sinister pursuits, such as exacting revenge on their enemies. Hanner soon realizes that he must go against his complacent nature to help these new magicians find a place in a changing society. They must confront prejudice and hatred from fellow magicians, fearful townspeople, and suspicious government officials. This fast-paced novel, full of magical people and mysterious forces, goes beyond pure entertainment to confront many real issues. The characters grapple with prejudice, fear, and the ideas of personal and societal responsibilities. Teens interested in books of magic with an element of mystery will not be disappointed in this return to the Ethshar series. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2000, Tor, 368p, . Ages16 to Adult. Reviewer: Heather Hepler SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
Library Journal
A strange object falls from space, unleashing a wave of madness and magic upon the land of Ethshar of the Spices. As newly made warlocks vie for power and mayhem rules unchecked, a young nobleman seeks to bring some sort of sense to the chaos--despite his status as an outcast and a traitor. Veteran fantasy author Watt-Evans (Touched by the Gods) brings new life to his popular "Ethshar" series with a tale of wizardry and witticisms that belongs in most fantasy collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Extension of an out-of-print fantasy series (The Spell of the Black Dagger, etc.) from the author of Dragon Weather (1999), etc. A mysterious object plummets to the ground, broadcasting a potent wave of magic. In Ethshar of the Spices, those affected experience dreadful nightmares and abruptly acquire telekinetic and other mental powers. Some are overcome by the new magic and fly off toward the focus of the disturbance, never to return. Others trigger the Night of Madness—which young Lord Hanner does his best to ameliorate, helping confused new "warlocks," restraining criminals, reassuring terrified citizens. Hanner's ambitious uncle, government bigwig Lord Faran, having himself acquired warlock powers, clashes with Ethshar's ruler Lord Azrad. Powers here are strictly separated: magicians may acquire only a single type of power; those involved in government may not possess magic powers at all. Lord Azrad, seeing a threat, orders all the new warlocks put to death, but his soldiers lack the means to enforce the edict. Faran and the more temperate Hanner appeal to the powerful Wizards Guild. The Wizards, though alarmed by developments, remain noncommittal. Faran challenges Azrad outright and is killed by a hired wizard. Hanner, now in charge of the warlocks, somehow must persuade Azrad and the Wizards to reach a compromise. Fine ideas and fascinating developments despite the plodding prose: like Dave Duncan without the narrative sparkle.

From the Publisher

“Watt-Evans explores the theme of whether any man can single-handedly right all the wrongs of the world, and whether any man can ever know what true justice is. This, plus a unique concept of the nature of dragons, how they come into being and their true relationship with humans, makes Dragon Weather far more than just another sword-and-sorcery tale.” —Orlando Sentinel

“Watt-Evans lives up to expectations . . . well-told . . . a fantasy of high quality and considerable interest.” —Booklist on Touched by the Gods

“The pacing is excellent, the epic proportions and strangeness fascinate. . . . This novel is great fun, with intrigue, adventure, magic and horror.” —Publishers Weekly on Touched by the Gods

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Tom Doherty Associates
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Ethshar , #1
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Read an Excerpt

Night of Madness

By Lawrence Watt-Evans

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2000 Lawrence Watt-Evans
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-7492-3


Lord Hanner was panting slightly as he hurried across the plaza toward the red stone bridge that led into the Palace. He'd had a long, busy day and had been moving at a constant fast walk for over a mile, his bones carrying more weight than they should, so it was no surprise that his breathing was a bit heavy as he trotted across the brick pavement.

Perhaps that was why the stench of decay rising from the Grand Canal, which he had scarcely noticed when he set out that morning, hit him so strongly. That the tide was now out, so that the water level in the sea-fed canal was a foot or two lower than it had been when he left, might also have contributed.

Whatever the cause, his steps slowed, and he swallowed hard. The reek of dead fish and rotting vegetation was overpowering — and hardly appropriate for the immediate environs of the seat of the city's government and the official residence of the overlord of Ethshar of the Spices. The golden marble of the palace walls glowed beautifully in the light of the setting sun; the dark red brick of the plaza complemented it nicely; the sky above was a lovely blue streaked with pink and white wisps of cloud — and the whole scene stank like an ill-kept fishmarket. The city's usual smells of smoke, spices, and people were completely smothered.

The guards on the bridge and the well-dressed strollers in the square did not appear troubled by the smell, but there were not quite as many strollers as Hanner would have expected at this hour on a beautiful summer day.

This lovely afternoon was the fourth day of Summerheat; so far this year the month had not lived up to its name, and the weather was mild. Hanner was sweating, his tunic sticking to his back, but from exertion, not the day's heat.

Hanner waved a hand in front of his nose, trying unsuccessfully to dispel the odor, as he kept walking, more slowly now, toward the bridge. "Confound it," he muttered to himself. "Someone's not doing his job here."

He tried to remember who was in charge of seeing that the canal was cleaned regularly; wouldn't that be the responsibility of Clurim, Lord of the Household — and, not incidentally, one of the overlord's younger brothers? Or was there some other, lesser official whose job description specifically included handling such things as seeing that the canal was cleaned?

Hanner couldn't remember. He was a resident of the Palace and a hereditary noble, so he was acquainted with most of the city's officials and functionaries, but right now he could not think who was responsible for the regular purification of the Grand Canal.

Uncle Faran would know, of course; the simplest thing for Hanner to do would be to mention it to him. In fact, the chances were good that Lord Faran had already noticed the stench, and that the magicians who would perform the purification spells were already on their way. After all, Faran's windows, like all the windows in the Palace, overlooked the canal.

That did assume, of course, that Lord Faran hadn't allowed himself to be so distracted by other matters that he was ignoring his surroundings and leaving such minor mundane details unattended. Hanner certainly hoped his uncle wasn't shirking his duties while he once again pursued his obsession — or rather while he waited for Hanner to pursue it.

Ethshar could ill afford to have Lord Faran, chief advisor to Lord Azrad the Sedentary, neglecting his duties, since the overlord had long since turned most of the city's day-to-day administration over to his chief advisor.

Hanner picked up his pace again, trotting across the bridge without a glance at the stonework, barely nodding at the guards on either side.

"Who comes ..." one began, lifting his ceremonial spear; then he recognized Lord Hanner and let the spear fall back into place.

In the palace entryway Hanner had to stop and wait impatiently while the additional guards there went through their rigmarole of signs and countersigns before opening the door. The captain watched his men, but remarked, "A pleasure to see you, Lord Hanner."

Hanner did not deign to reply, though he did wave an acknowledgment. He had spent the entire day roaming the city and talking to strangers, at his uncle's orders, and he really did not want to talk to anyone else just now — not that the captain, a man named Vengar, was another stranger; he was the commander of the guard detachment inside the Palace, and Hanner had known him slightly when Vengar was still a lieutenant, since before Hanner himself was old enough for breeches.

At last the soldiers inside acknowledged that the person requesting admission wasn't an invader and swung open the heavy, iron-bound doors. "Thank you," Hanner said as he hurried past them into the central hallway.

That passage was twenty feet wide and twenty-five feet high, floored with tessellated marble and hung with rich tapestries, and it led directly to the ornately worked golden doors of the overlord's main audience chamber. Hanner barely even glanced at that display of grandeur; instead he immediately turned right and stepped through a small wooden door into one of Lord Clurim's offices. There he merely waved to the clerk at the desk before proceeding on through, emerging into a narrow corridor and heading for his own family's quarters.

Had Lord Clurim been present Hanner would have mentioned the smell, but he knew from unhappy experience that telling the clerk would result not in a prompt cleaning, but in assorted messages wandering about the building, accomplishing nothing but the annoyance of other clerks.

Hanner wound his way through a maze of passages and antechambers and two flights of stairs before arriving, finally, at Lord Faran's apartments — the apartments Hanner and his two sisters had shared with their uncle since their mother's death two years before. He paused at the door to catch his breath, then straightened his silk-trimmed tunic, opened the door, and stepped into Lord Faran's sitting room.

His uncle was standing there, resplendent in a fine cloak of dark green velvet that hardly seemed appropriate to the season, while Hanner's sister Lady Alris, wearing a faded blue tunic and dark-patterned skirt, sat in the window seat, ignoring the beautiful weather beyond the glass as she glowered at Hanner and Faran. Their other sister, Lady Nerra, was not in sight.

Lord Faran's cloak was clearly for appearance, not warmth. Faran was, as always, elegant and graceful; and as always, Hanner was reminded of his own shorter stature and heavier build. He was not, he frequently told himself, actually fat, but he was definitely well rounded — quite unlike his trim, handsome uncle. Hanner had taken after his long-vanished father's side of the family.

Lord Faran spoke before Hanner could. "Ah, Hanner," he said. "I have a dinner engagement, so I can't spare more than a moment just now, but I must know if you learned anything important."

"I noticed that the canal stinks," Hanner blurted.

Faran smiled wryly. "I'll see to it before I leave," he said. "Anything else?"

"Not really," Hanner admitted. "I interviewed almost a dozen magicians, and none of them reported any threats or abuse from the Wizards' Guild."

"You asked Mother Perréa?"

"I spoke to her and her partner," Hanner said. "She insisted that it was her own decision to limit herself to witchcraft and not accept her father's post as magistrate. The Guild's rules had nothing to do with it."

"Either that or she was sufficiently terrified that even now she won't speak of it," Faran said, frowning.

"She didn't appear at all nervous," Hanner said.

"You'll have to tell me more later," Faran said. "If I'm to chastise Lord Clurim for the state of the canal and still reach my destination in time, I can't spare another second here."

"What's her name?" Hanner asked, smiling as he stepped aside.

"Isia, I think," Faran replied, his frown vanishing. Then he swirled past Hanner and was gone.

Hanner listened to the footsteps retreating down the hallway for a moment before closing the door. Then he turned to Alris.

"He's off again," Alris said before Hanner could speak. "As usual. He spends more nights away than he does here."

Hanner knew that was, at most, only a slight exaggeration. "It's not our business if he does," he said.

"You can say that because he's never dragged you along," Alris said. "He insists I have to meet people."

"He sends me out to meet them on my own, instead," Hanner said. "I don't see that as much better."

"You don't have to stand there looking innocent while the great man seduces some poor woman who's dazzled by his title." She picked at a loose thread on her skirt and said, "I don't want to meet people."

"Have you ever told Uncle Faran that?"

"Of course I have! But he doesn't pay any attention." She looked up from the thread. "You'll get to meet his latest conquest."

"I will?"

"He told me this one wants to see the inside of the Palace, so he'll probably be bringing her up here."

"And he'll probably want us to stay out of the way," Hanner said. "She won't be coming to meet us."

"Which is a good thing. She's probably stupid. Most of them are."

Hanner did not want to argue about their uncle's taste in women, so he attempted to change the subject. "Where's Nerra?" he asked.

Alris gestured toward the passage to their bedchambers. "In there somewhere," she said. "She and Mavi were talking about clothes again, and I got bored."

"Mavi's here?" Hanner tried not to sound too pleased. While he generally didn't think much of his sisters' friends, Mavi of Newmarket was an exception. Nerra had met her while shopping for fabrics in the Old Merchants' Quarter, and the two had quickly become close; Hanner admired Mavi's generosity of spirit and lively interest in almost everything. And her fine features, charming smile, shapely figure, and long lustrous hair didn't lower Hanner's opinion a bit.

Alris nodded. "She's boring," she said. "Like Nerra."

Hanner grimaced. Alris was thirteen and thought everything was boring.

Or almost everything; like Uncle Faran, she was fascinated with magic. She had tried for months to convince Faran to apprentice her to a magician, but he had refused, on the grounds that she might well inherit or marry into an important position in the government of the Hegemony of the Three Ethshars — but that she could not take such a position if she were a magician.

Hanner suspected that Uncle Faran might well intend to marry Alris off to some important politician, as much for his own advancement as hers; as Alris said, she and Nerra were often taken along on Faran's travels, while Hanner never was.

Any such intention got no support from Alris herself. She had argued that she didn't want a government position or a prestigious marriage, but as usual their uncle had prevailed, and now that she was six weeks past her thirteenth birthday she was too old to be properly apprenticed to anyone, magician or otherwise.

So now she spent her time moping around the Palace, being bored and disagreeable.

"You were talking to magicians all day, weren't you?" Alris demanded.

"Most of it, yes," Hanner agreed. "Three witches, a theurgist, two sorcerers, and four different wizards."

"Did any of them show you any magic?"

"Not really," Hanner lied. One sorcerer and two of the wizards had shown him a number of spells and talismans, and one of the witches had read his mind and offered to heal some of the discomfort in his soul.

Hanner did not have any discomfort he wanted cured, so he had refused the offer. He suspected that whatever he might have cluttering up his soul was the result of his dissatisfaction with his own actions, and he wanted that left intact, to give him incentive to do better in the future.

"I'll bet they did," Alris said enviously. "You just aren't admitting it."

Before Hanner could reply he heard footsteps; he turned to see Nerra and Mavi emerging from Nerra's bedchamber.

Nerra was five years younger than Hanner's twenty-three years, five years older than Alris, and like her siblings a little shorter than average. While not as stocky as Hanner, she was definitely heavier than Alris.

Mavi, on the other hand, was an inch or so taller than Hanner, and shaped very nicely indeed, in Hanner's opinion — though of course he would never dare tell her so.

"I thought I heard your voice," Nerra said. "Has Uncle Faran gone?"

"He just left," Hanner replied.

"Does he still think the Wizards' Guild is plotting to take over the World?"

Hanner sighed. "Something like that," he admitted.

"Are they plotting to take over the World?" Mavi asked with a sly smile. "Have you found any evidence of their dire schemes?"

"They're enforcing their rules, just as they always have," Hanner said wearily. "No mixing different sorts of magic. No mixing magic and government."

"It's stupid," Alris said from the window. "Why should they care?"

"They don't want anyone getting too powerful," Hanner explained, as he had several times before — but never in Mavi's hearing, which was why he continued. "After all, some wizards live for centuries — if the overlord were to live that long, who knows what he might do?"

Mavi and Nerra looked at each other, then burst out laughing. Hanner blushed. "Not our overlord," he said. "I don't think Lord Azrad the Sedentary would ever get much done no matter how long he lived. But imagine if the first Lord Azrad were still alive, and had had two hundred years ..."

"What if he had?" Alris demanded. "What business is it of the Guild's? I wouldn't mind if old Azrad the Great were still running things!"

"Uncle Faran would mind," Nerra said. "He couldn't order everyone around the way he does if Azrad the Great were the overlord."

"Who cares?" Alris said. "The overlord is sixty-seven. Someday he's going to choke to death on a fishbone or something, and then Azrad the Younger will be Azrad VII, and he'll probably throw Uncle Faran out anyway. They don't like each other very much."

"And suppose that the overlord had some sort of magic that would let him live for hundreds of years — what would Azrad the Younger do?" Hanner asked. "Just wait?"

"He might just find another job," Mavi suggested.

"Or he might hire a wizard or a demonologist to assassinate his father."

"Lord Azrad wouldn't do that," Nerra protested.

"He can't," Alris said. "The Wizards' Guild would kill any magician who agreed to assassinate a government official."

"But we're assuming the Guild isn't enforcing their rules anymore," Hanner said.

"It's stupid," Alris said. "It's a stupid assumption, because they are enforcing their stupid rules, and Uncle Faran can't make them change that."

"And this is a stupid argument," Nerra said. "I'm hungry — is the overlord dining in state tonight?"

"I don't think so," Hanner said.

"Then let's go down to the kitchens and get ourselves some supper. I don't want to eat here, and besides, Uncle Faran would probably rather we aren't here when he brings his current woman in."

"True enough," Hanner agreed. He looked longingly at the couch by the wall — his feet hurt, and he would have liked to rest them briefly — but turned and led the way to the door. He was as hungry as Nerra, and he could rest his feet when they got to the kitchens — three flights down and a hundred yards to the west, beneath the great hall.

The vast and cavernous kitchens were swarming with servants and courtiers, preparing, transporting, and consuming a variety of fine foods. One table was roped off, with a guard standing nearby — that was where the master chef was making the overlord's dinner.

The overlord was traditionally expected to dine in the great audience hall, with his family and courtiers gathered about him, but Azrad VI had never wanted to put that much effort into his meals; he preferred to eat in his apartments with a few close advisors — usually his brothers and Lord Faran, if Faran was around. That left the other occupants of the Palace free to make their own arrangements.

Lord Faran often dined elsewhere, in the mansions of various important figures or the homes of various women, but Hanner's sisters were only rarely invited, and Hanner himself even less often. Helping themselves from the stocks of food in the kitchens had become commonplace.


Excerpted from Night of Madness by Lawrence Watt-Evans. Copyright © 2000 Lawrence Watt-Evans. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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.

Meet the Author

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Lawrence Watt-Evans has been a full-time writer and editor for more than twenty years. The author of more than thirty novels, over one hundred short stories, and more than one hundred and fifty published articles, Watt-Evans writes primarily in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic books. His most recent novels are Dragon Weather and Touched by the Gods. His short fiction has won the Hugo Award as well as twice winning the Asimov's Readers Award. His fiction has been published in England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Poland, France, Hungary, and Russia.

He served as president of the Horror Writers Association from 1994 to 1996 and after leaving that office was the recipient of HWA's first service award ever. He is also a member of Novelists Inc., and the Science Fiction Writers of America. Married with two children, he and his wife Julie live in Maryland.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Lawrence Watt-Evans has been a full-time writer and editor for more than twenty years. The author of more than thirty novels, over one hundred short stories, and more than one hundred and fifty published articles, Watt-Evans writes primarily in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic books. His short fiction has won the Hugo Award as well as twice winning the Asimov's Readers Award. His fiction has been published in England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Poland, France, Hungary, and Russia
He served as president of the Horror Writers Association from 1994 to 1996 and after leaving that office was the recipient of HWA's first service award ever. He is also a member of Novelists Inc., and the Science Fiction Writers of America. Married with two children, he and his wife Julie live in Maryland.

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