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Finally in control of the Ascendancy, Titus Quinn has styled himself Regent of the Entire. But his command is fragile. He rules an empire with a technology beyond human understanding; spies lurk in the ancient Magisterium; the Tarig overlords are hamstrung but still malevolent. Worse, his daughter Sen Ni opposes him for control, believing the Earth and its Rose universe must die to sustain the failing Entire. She is aided by one of the mystical pilots of the River Nigh, the space-time transport system. This ...
Finally in control of the Ascendancy, Titus Quinn has styled himself Regent of the Entire. But his command is fragile. He rules an empire with a technology beyond human understanding; spies lurk in the ancient Magisterium; the Tarig overlords are hamstrung but still malevolent. Worse, his daughter Sen Ni opposes him for control, believing the Earth and its Rose universe must die to sustain the failing Entire. She is aided by one of the mystical pilots of the River Nigh, the space-time transport system. This navitar, alone among all others, can alter future events. He retires into a crystal chamber in the Nigh to weave reality and pit his enemies against each other.
Taking advantage of these chaotic times, the great foe of the Long War, the Jinda ceb Horat, create a settlement in the Entire. Masters of supreme technology, they maintain a lofty distance from the Entire’s struggle. They agree, however, that the Tarig must return to the fiery Heart of their origins. With the banishment immanent, some Tarig lords rebel, fleeing to hound the edges of Quinn’s reign.
Meanwhile, Quinn’s wife Anzi becomes a hostage and penitent among the Jinda ceb, undergoing alterations that expose their secrets, but may estrange her from her husband. As Quinn moves toward a confrontation with the dark navitar, he learns that the stakes of the conflict go far beyond the Rose versus the Entire—extending to a breathtaking dominance. The navitar commands forces that lie at the heart of the Entire’s geo-cosmology, and will use them to alter the calculus of power. As the navitar’s plan approaches consummation, Quinn, Sen Ni, and Anzi are swept up in forces that will leave them forever changed.
In this rousing finale to Kenyon’s celebrated quartet, Titus Quinn meets an inevitable destiny, forced at last to make the unthinkable choice for or against the dictates of his heart, for or against the beloved land.
"The Jinda ceb are coming home." Cixi had been saying this for an arc of days, and still no one seemed to grasp the point, least of all Geng De.
Next to Cixi, in the burrow of the undercity, Sen Ni stood, lovely and strong. The wavering light of the Nigh limned her silks with silver, gave her a glamour of power. Yet she deferred to the pudgy navitar.
"Yes, I've seen this," Geng De said, as though that answered everything. I've seen this, I've seen that. Cixi was mightily weary of his seeing, though she'd only been with them for forty days. She would have forbidden him to utter it, except that she was no longer the high prefect, as it jolted her to recall.
Sen Ni went to a small table, where she dipped a cloth in water. She dabbed Geng De's flushed temples. The two of them were backlit by the floor-to-ceiling Nigh view port, creating a tableau of cloying devotion.
"Master Geng De," Cixi said with what sweetness she could muster, a tone, she noted with chagrin, that she had once reserved for the Tarig, "the Jinda ceb Horat can certainly restart the engine. We shall have need of the engine in due time." There, that was the understatement of the age. A little sarcasm often moved a discussion along.
"Your Brilliance," Geng De began, using the odious title, "my hands are heavy with threads. The Jinda ceb is not yet one that comes to my hand. Patience. Patience."
"Perhaps if you reached a little further."
Sen Ni glanced up, flashing disapproval.
The navitar put a quieting hand on Sen Ni's arm. "They are not here yet. But the Tarig are." He closed his eyes for a moment, and even while seated, leaned heavily on his cane.
"The Tarig are the ones that shut down Ahnenhoon," Cixi answered. "The Tarig will soon be banished to the Heart. Why do they care what happens to our land? They are leaving."
"Do you say so?"
"My spies say so. Quinn will send them back to their swarm." She might be deposed from the Magisterium, but some were still devoted to her.
"Lord Inweer is the strand," Geng De said. "That is the one needing weaving. I pursue his traces."
Inweer, was it? But Quinn would certainly send home the last of the ruling Five. He didn't need the Tarig to run the great mechanics and mysteries of the All. The Jinda ceb Horat were the Tarig's equals. In their own interests, the Jinda ceb-when they finally arrived, which was imminent, their messages had implied-would run the industries of the Entire, whether the bright, the storm walls, or the mundane matters of trains and ships of the Nigh and cleaning of streets. How convenient for Quinn that the Jinda ceb had lived in accelerated time and had grown so wise. Perhaps in their wisdom they would quickly be rid of him. It was why Sen Ni must establish a bond with them and persuade the creatures to her side.
Creatures. Cixi couldn't bring herself to think of the Jinda ceb as quite ... reputable. They were reported to have taken Chalin form, but they grew their clothes on their backs, like beku. And then there was the matter of their art, also grown on the their backs, if reports were to be believed. And what they actually looked like, before they changed themselves, the Miserable God only knew.
Slowly, and stifling a groan, Geng De rose from his chair. His voice wavered. "I will rest now. The binds asked much of me today. Pardon me if I retire, my sister. High Prefect."
"But," Cixi persisted, "Sen Ni must at least make overtures to the Jinda ceb. She will travel to the Inyx sway in any case. The minoral of the Paion is nearby."
"Jinda ceb Horat," Geng De corrected. "Paion is the old word, we must remember."
Oh, he dared to correct her! "But Paion is how the All has thought of them for archons of time. Paion is the face they must overcome if they wish acceptance in the sways. They will need Sen Ni's support to send sweet dreams of them into the land. Sen Ni should win them over. Before Titus Quinn does."
The navitar turned to the view port, gazing out as though he saw strands there even without immersion. He did seem to wish to be there rather than here. What did he do for days at a time in that crystal chamber beyond the view port? Weaving, so he said. If it could be believed.
He leaned close to Sen Ni. "Do not reach out to them when they first arrive, Sister. Begin the dream war against your father first. See your beloved Riod. Make sure he loves you as I do."
He kissed Sen Ni briefly on the mouth. Ever so brotherly, but Cixi wanted to beat him senseless with his cane.
* * *
Sen Ni supported Cixi on her arm as the two of them climbed the passageway up to street level. The underground chamber allowed Geng De to enter the river in secret, rather than in an exposed ship. Her father would be looking for Geng De; they had met in the binds, and Geng De had tried to drive Titus home with threats. It hadn't worked, as she could have told Geng De if he'd asked her first.
Cixi was slow, but stronger than she looked. She had, after all, killed a Tarig lord with her own hands. Stiletto in the eye, Cixi had smirked. Of course he was quite softened up by then....
Cixi said, "The Jinda ceb did not fight for a thousand thousand days to build their house on a mist."
"Are we a mist, Mother?"
"Yes, dear girl. Mist. The Entire will fade. Geng De spends too much time in the river to notice, perhaps. The Jinda ceb must engage the engine again."
"Let me think on it." A great deal of work lay ahead of them, and Geng De was right: The Jinda ceb were not even here yet. Titus should be exposed as a danger to the land. Titus, the man who once had said he had no wish to rule and who now ruled in fact. The pain of that was too fresh to revisit.
Cixi murmured, "When the bear looks upon you the first time, he decides if you are meal or master."
First impressions. Would the Jinda ceb see her as the cowed young daughter of the king?
"Give me time, Mother." Cixi's power was still remarkable; she had learned almost every intelligence that had come to Titus in the days since he banished the high prefect. She knew most of what Ji Anzi was teaching Titus about the Jinda ceb: that they had never ridden on the backs of their automatons of war. Those entities had been war creatures, bred for the fight. Cixi had also learned that the Jinda ceb possessed a visionary field called Manifest where they decided civic matters in common. The spies had also reported that the Jinda ceb wanted foremost to come home. And by home they meant the place where they had heretofore been, at the Scar in the Long Gaze of Fire Primacy, where they would reattach their minoral-adrift these many ages. So, in the end, it had been another great Tarig lie that the Scar marked the scene of a Paion incursion and heroic battle. The Tarig had even gone so far as to say they themselves had fought there, as though the fiends would have exposed themselves to danger!
Sen Ni opened the door to the navitar vessel's lower cabin, a connection obscured from observation by a small pavilion set up to look like a tent that expanded Geng De's living space. Passing through the empty cabin to the outer deck, Sen Ni noted her guard led by Emar-Vod, standing on the quay.
Cixi looked up as a large shadow fell across the deck. "Couldn't we go by litter?"
"Beesha makes a gentle ride, Mother." They needed a quicker route to the summit of the bridge than a litter now that Sen Ni's popularity made it difficult for her to travel anywhere in Rim City without attracting a crowd.
"Beesha stinks, dear girl, it must be said."
Even Cixi's scowling could not constrain Sen Ni's happiness in being by her side. She recalled that awkward moment a few days ago when she had first called Cixi mother. The old prefect had frozen for a moment, and Sen Ni feared she had made a ghastly error. Then a painfully slow smile stretched Cixi's lips a fraction. Cixi, she discerned, was pleased.
The great Adda hovered above, and at a signal from her handler, began the descent to the quay, caparisoned with a garland of silver bells and woven tassels. Denizens of the city came running, hoping that Sen Ni might be there, as they saw the old Celestial bearing down on the wharf.
Beesha settled her hanging ladder on the ground with a clatter of cartilage and bells, to the cheers of onlookers. Sen Ni waved to them and called out a name from a face she recognized.
Emar-Vod came forward, steadying the ladder. "A litter might suit one's dignity," Cixi muttered. But she took hold of the gristly ladder and climbed one rung. A crippling look warned Emar-Vod away from assisting her.
Sen Ni followed Cixi into the cavity, finding a place next to her, sitting cross-legged on the floor. The high prefect drew out a small box from her sleeve and flipped open the top, taking a dainty sniff to fend off Beesha's yeasty odor. Sen Ni shook off a sudden annoyance at this show of delicacy. The old woman had been through a harrowing time. Stripped of her vast powers, humiliated by banishment. It was said that her subprefect Mei Ing had openly celebrated the hour that Cixi had walked out the door of the Magisterium. A short-lived festivity, however, when Titus appointed Yulin's wife Suzong to the top post.
She cajoled Cixi. "A view of the city from an Adda-such a sight, Mother! You have seen so many wonders, but I am still a girl of the steppes and I love this."
"Girl of the steppes! Let no one hear such nonsense. Queen of the Entire, I declare it."
"Look." Sen Ni lay on her stomach to gaze out the egress cavity. "The sea coming into view, the biggest sea in all the universes."
Cixi slapped Sen Ni on the shoulder. "Back with you. If anyone should see you peeking out of an Adda hole!"
But Sen Ni paid her no mind. Under them Rim City hove into view with its teeming streets and huddled adobe towers. Her sway. Then up, up, with the great crystal bridge revealed yard by yard, its sparkling undersides built of steeled glass, then the black and viney gardens of her mansion. There, a glimpse of the orphanage Sen Ni had built next to her quarters, and finally the great viewing porch.
Beesha hovered expertly over the veranda. Because of the railing, she could not descend as far as she might, but now servants were there to hand Sen Ni and Cixi down.
"Thank you, Beesha," Sen Ni sang out to the Celestial, who blinked ponderously and waited for the servants to hoist up sacks of grain.
Even so short a journey filled Sen Ni with a strange euphoria. Or perhaps it was Beesha herself, whose silence and dignity reminded her so strongly of Riod.
Sen Ni leaned on the balustrade, watching Beesha wend away on the prevailing counterclockwise wind. She thought of the winds that way, but it was a darkling term, a thing of the Rose, an artifact of a world that had given her up for dead. She owed nothing to them. If one place must die, why must it be this one?
She looked over the Sea of Arising, the galactic scale ocean, with the arms of Rim City embracing it. The mirror of the sea reflected the bright, a twice-brilliant field. Sandwiched between, the Ascendancy cast a circular shadow on the sea.
Next to her, Cixi stared at the floating city. "Quinn crouches up there in fear," she murmured. "He has the Entire. And God has noticed him."
Sen Ni made a warding sign. "But he is king."
"Mmm. And look what the Woeful God brought upon our last kings." She tapped her long nails on the railing, indulging a tight smile. "He's caught a dragon in his embrace. What happens when he lets go?"
Excerpted from Prince of Storms by Kay Kenyon Copyright © 2010 by Kay Kenyon. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted March 7, 2010
Prince of Storms is the fourth and final book in Kay Kenyon's The Rose and the Entire Quintet. Starting with Bright of the Sky,progressing through A World Too Near, and City without End, the Series has followed the travails of Titus Quinn. Quinn, a pilot whose accidental visit to the alternate universe of the Entire is used by the Minerva Corporaton to send him again, has grown from searching for his lost wife and daughter, to toppling the Tarig overlords of the Entire itself, and setting himself against his daughter.
Now, in the fourth volume of the series, the themes and stories of the Entire and the Rose quartet come to a head as the different visions of the future of the Entire, and the Rose (our universe) clash together. Quinn's desire to keep Earth and the Entire safe is set against his daughter Sen Ni (Sydney)'s desire to have the Entire survive at any and all costs. And then there is Geng De, the Navitar friend to Sydney who has a decidedly different view of what should happen to the Entire. And finally, there are the Jinda Ceb. Former eternal enemy of the Tarig, now that the Tarig are overthrown, and they are part of the Entire, what is THEIR vision of the future of the two universes?
In Prince of Storms, these larger issues are resolved, as well, and as always, set against the personal stories of Quinn, his daughter Sen Ni, his (first) wife Johanna, his Entire wife, Ji Anzi, and many others. Kenyon's big canvas and big questions are grand and epic, but her characters inhabit this complex pair of worlds.
I have to admit, the ending to this novel, and the fates of the characters are understandable, fitting, and logical, given the sequence of events. What they are decidedly not, however, are predictable given the start of the series. This is not a simple quartet where the hero simply journeys across the landscape, picks up companions, overthrows the dark lord, and rules happily ever after. Kenyon's writing, narrative and story are far more nuanced than that.
As always, one should not start here with this book, and I don't even think its realistically possible to fully enjoy this book without having read its predecessors. If you want wide canvas science fiction that is very much in the mold of planetary romance and epic fantasy, and with more than a dash of characters that will propel you through this landscape, I cannot recommend Kay Kenyon's The Rose and the Entire Quartet enough.
I have heard that Kenyon is going to turn from SF to more straightline fantasy for her next work. Thanks to the strength of writing and the enjoyment of reading the Rose and Entire Quartet, this reader will certainly follow her into those realms as well. Read the Rose and the Entire Quartet, and find out for yourself why.
Posted January 2, 2010
Titus Quinn of Earth from the Rose universe claims to be the Regent of the parallel universe Entire. He pledges to turn over control to his daughter Sen Ni, but procrastinates as he distrusts his estranged offspring especially since she has linked her destiny with Geng De the psychic. Quinn fears if he gives up the throne, the technologically advanced Entire will destroy his homeworld as part of the extinction of the Rose as his daughter has already proclaimed doing in order to save the failing Entire.
He is not a fool as he knows his control is shaky as the enemy resides near him enough to harass him, and the Tarig overlords remain hostile and evil with plans to overthrow his Ascendancy and devastate the Rose (see City Without End).just like his daughter will do to save their realm. However, it is the plotting of the navitar especially one who can alter the future that frightens him. His only hope is a pact with the opponents of the Long War, the Jinda ceb Horat who have Quinn's wife Anzi as a willing remorseful pawn. Still Quinn knows the real fight is with the navitar who forces the beleaguered earth champion to choose the fate of billions in two universes as a master plan of devious design unfolds.
This is an exhilarating finish to a great saga as The Entire and the Rose not just wraps up major threads, but keeps the audience thinking about life and death choices on a macro and micro level. The story line is fast-paced yet filled with memorable characters struggling to do what each believes is right; knowing whatever is selected dooms many. Fans will appreciate this strong entry to powerful quartet as Kay Kenyon makes it clear how difficult on a personal level it is to decide who will live and who will die when one faces a face.
Posted January 3, 2010
No text was provided for this review.