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In this tale of power, treachery and heroism, Alfred, Halpo and Marit embark on a journey of death and discovery as they seek to enter the dreaded Seveth Gate. Encountering enemies both old and new, they unleash a magic no power can control, damning themselves to an apocalypse of unimagined proportion in a final struggle between good and evil.
Vasu stood on the wall above the gates of the city of Abri, stood silent and thoughtful as the gates boomed shut beneath his feet. It was dawn, which meant, in the Labyrinth, nothing more than a graying of night's black. But this dawn was different than most. It was more glorious than most . . . and more terrifying. It was brightened by hope, darkened by fear
It was a dawn which saw the city of Abri, in the very center of the Labyrinth, still standing, victorious, after a terrible battle with its most implacable enemies.
It was a dawn smudged with the smoke of funeral pyres; a dawn in which the living could draw a tremulous breath and dare to hope life might be better.
It was a dawn lit by a lurid red glow on the far distant horizon, a red glow that was brightening, strengthening. Those Patryns who guarded the city walls turned their eyes to that strange and unnatural glow, shook their heads, spoke of it in low and ominous tones.
"It bodes nothing good," they said grimly.
Who could blame them for their dark outlook? Not Vasu. Certainly not Vasu, who knew what was transpiring. He would have to tell them soon, destroy the joy of this dawning.
"That glow is the fire of battle," he would have to say to his people. "A battle raging for control of the Final Gate. The dragon-snakes who attacked us were not defeated, as you thought. Yes, we killed four of them. But for every four that die, eight are born. Now they are attacking the Final Gate, seeking to shut it, seeking to trap us all in this dread prison.
"Our brothers, those who live in the Nexus and those near the Final Gate, are fighting this evil--so we have reason to believe. But they are few in number and the evil is vast and powerful.
"We are too far away to come to their aid. Too far. By the time we reached them--if we ever did reach them, alive--it would be too late. It may already be too late.
"And when the Final Gate is shut, the evil in the Labyrinth will grow strong. Our fear and our hatred will grow stronger to match and the evil will feed off that fear and that hatred and grow stronger still."
It is hopeless, Vasu told himself, and so he must tell the people. Logic, reason said to him it was hopeless. Yet why, standing on the wall, staring at that red glow in the sky, did he feel hopeful?
It made no sense. He sighed and shook his head.
A hand touched his arm.
"Look, Headman. They have made it safely to the river."
One of the Patryns, standing beside Vasu, had obviously mistaken his sigh, thought it indicated fear for the two who had left the city in the dark hour before the dawn. They were embarking on a dangerous and probably futile search for the green and golden dragon who had fought for them in the skies above Abri. The green and golden dragon was the Serpent Mage, who was also the bumbling Sartan with the mensch name, Alfred.
Certainly Vasu was afraid for them, but he was also hopeful for them. That same illogical, irrational hope.
Vasu was not a man of action. He was a man of thought, of imagination. He had only to look at his soft and pudgy Sartan body, tattooed with Patryn runes, to know that. He must give thought to what his people should do next. He should make plans, he should decide how they must prepare for the inevitable. He should tell them the truth, give his speech of despair.
But he didn't do any of that. He stood on the walls, watching the mensch known as Hugh the Hand and the Patryn woman Marit.
He told himself he would never see them again. They were venturing out into the Labyrinth, dangerous at any time but doubly dangerous now that their defeated enemies skulked about in anger and waited for revenge. The two were going on a foolhardy and hopeless mission. He would never see them again, nor Alfred, the Serpent Mage, the green and golden dragon, for whom they searched.
Vasu stood on the wall and waited--hopefully--for their return.
The River of Anger, which flowed beneath the city walls of Abri, was frozen. Its water had been frozen by their enemies, by spells cast on it. The hideous dragonsnakes had turned the river to ice in order that their troops could cross more easily.
Clambering down the rock-strewn sides of the riverbank, Marit smiled grimly. The tactics of her enemy would serve her.
There was just one small problem.
"You say this was done by magic?" Hugh the Hand, sliding down the bank behind her, skidded to a halt beside the black ice floe. He jabbed at it with the toe of his boot. "How long will the spell last?"
That was the problem.
"I don't know," Marit was forced to admit.
"Yeah." Hugh grunted. "I thought as much. It might end when we're standing in the middle."
"It might." Marit shrugged. If that happened, they would be lost. The rushing black water would suck them down, chill their blood, grind their bodies against the sharp rocks, fill their lungs with the black and now blood-tinged water.
"There's no other way?" Hugh the Hand was looking at her, at the blue sigla tattooed on her body.
He meant, of course, her magic.
"I might be able to get myself across," she told him. Then again, she might not. She was weakened in body from yesterday's battle, weakened in her spirit from yesterday's confrontation with Lord Xar. "But I'd never be able to manage you."
She set foot on the ice, felt its cold strike through to the very marrow of her bones. Clamping her teeth together to keep them from chattering, she stared at the far shore and said, "Only a short run. It won't take us long."
Hugh the Hand said nothing. He was staring--not at the shore, but at the ice.
And then Marit remembered. This man, a professional assassin, afraid of nothing in his world, had come across something in another world he did fear--water.
"What are you scared of?" Marit jeered, hoping to bolster his courage by shaming him. "You can't die."
"I can die," he corrected her. "I just don't stay dead. And, lady, I don't mind telling you, this sort of dying doesn't appeal to me."
"It doesn't appeal to me either," she said snappishly
back at him, but she noticed she wasn't going anywhere, had hurriedly snatched her foot back off the ice.
She drew in a deep breath. "You can follow or not, as you please."
"I'm of little use to you anyway," he said bitterly, hands clenching and unclenching. "I can't protect you, defend you. I can't even protect or defend myself"
He couldn't be killed. He couldn't kill. Every arrow he fired missed its mark, every blow he aimed fell short, every slash of his sword went wide.
"I can defend myself," Marit answered. "I can defend you, too, for that matter. I need you because you know Alfred better than I do--"
"No, I don't," Hugh returned. "I don't think anyone knew Alfred. Not even Alfred knew Alfred. Haplo did, maybe, but that's not much help to us now."
Marit said nothing, bit her lip.
"But you're right to remind me, lady," Hugh the Hand continued. "If I don't find Alfred, this curse on me will never end. Come on. Let's get it over with."
He set foot on the ice, began to walk across it. His swift and impetuous move took Marit by surprise. She was hurrying after him before she quite knew what she was doing.
The ice was slippery and treacherous. The bonenumbing cold shot through her; she began shivering uncontrollably. She and Hugh clung to each other for support, his arm saving her from more than one sliding fall, her arm steadying him.
Halfway across, an eardrum-shattering crack split the ice, almost beneath their feet. A fur-covered clawed hand and arm shot up from the gurgling water, tried to grab hold of Marit. She grappled for the hilt of her sword.
Hugh the Hand stopped her.
"It's only a corpse," he said.
Marit, looking more closely, saw he was right. The arm was flaccid, sucked down by the current almost immediately.
"The spell's ending," she said, irritated at herself "We have to hurry."
She continued across. But a thin layer of water was now seeping over the ice, making it even more slippery. Her feet slid out from underneath her. She grabbed at Hugh, but he, too, had lost his footing. They both fell. Landing on her hands and knees, she stared into the horribly grinning mouth and bulging eyes of a dead wolfen.
The black ice split right between her hands. The wolfen popped out, lunged straight at her. Involuntarily, Marit shrank backward. Hugh the Hand caught hold of her.
"The ice is breaking apart," he yelled. "Hurry!"
They were at least two body lengths from the shoreline.
Marit scrambled toward the shore, crawling since she could not stand. Her arms and legs ached with the cold; the pain was intense. Hugh the Hand slithered along beside her. His face was livid, his jaw clenched so tight it resembled the ice. His eyes were wide and staring. For him--born and raised Oh a waterless world-- drowning was the worst possible death imaginable. Terror had very nearly robbed him of his senses.
They were close to the bank, close to safety.
The Labyrinth was intelligent evil, cunning malevolence. It permitted you to hope, let you imagine that you could make it to safety.
Marit's numb hand clutched at a large rock, one of several lining the riverbank. She struggled to grip it with unfeeling fingers, pull herself up.
The ice gave way beneath her. She plunged to her waist in frothing black water. Her hand slid off the rock. The current was carrying her down . . .
A terrific boost from strong arms propelled Marit up and onto the bank. She landed hard, the breath knocked from her body. She lay, gasping, until a gurgle and a wild yell caused her to turn around.
Standing precariously on an ice floe, Hugh clung with one hand to the trunk of a scrub tree growing out of the bank. He had thrown her to safety, then managed to grab hold of the tree.
But the rushing water was tearing the ice floe out from under him. The current was strong. His tenuous hold on the tree was slipping.
Marit flung herself bodily on Hugh just as he lost his grasp. Her numb fingers clutching at the back of his leather vest, she fought to pull him from the river. She was on her knees; the water was rising. If she failed, they would both go under. Desperately she held on to his vest, pulled it up nearly over his head. Digging her knees into the mud, she dragged the man's heavy body backward. Hugh was strong; he gave her what help he could. He kicked with his feet, sought purchase with his flailing legs, and, finally, managed to squirm his way onto the bank.
He lay still, gasping and shivering with cold and terror. Hearing a rumbling sound, Marit looked upriver. A wall of black water tinged with red foam, pushing huge chunks of ice in its path, thundered downstream.
"Hugh!" she cried.
He raised his head, saw the rushing floodwaters. He staggered to his feet, began scrambling up the bank. Marit was past helping him; she could barely make it herself She collapsed onto firm, level ground; was dimly aware of Hugh the Hand falling somewhere near her.
The river roared in rage at losing its prey; or perhaps that was only her imagination. She stilled her rapid breathing, calmed the wild beating of her heart. Letting the rune-magic warm her, she banished the terrible cold.
But she couldn't lie here long. The enemy-- chaodyn, wolfen, tiger-men--must be hiding in the woods, perhaps watching them even now. She glanced at the sigla tattooed on her skin; the glow of the runes would warn her of approaching danger. Her skin was slightly blue, but that was with cold. The sigla were dark.
This should have been reassuring, but it wasn't. It was illogical. Certainly some of those who had attacked the city with such fury yesterday must still be lurking outside the city walls, waiting for a chance to pick off a scouting party.
But the runes did not glimmer, except perhaps very, very faintly. If any of the enemy were about, they were far away and not interested. Marit couldn't understand it and she didn't like it. This uncanny absence of the foe frightened her more than the sight of a pack of wolfen.
Hope. When the Labyrinth offers you hope, it means that it is just about to snatch that hope away.
She pushed herself to a crouching position, alert and wary. Hugh the Hand lay huddled on the ground. He was shivering uncontrollably, his body racked by chills. His lips were blue, his teeth chattering so violently he'd bitten his tongue. Blood dribbled from his mouth.
Marit didn't know much about mensch. Could he die of the cold? Perhaps not, but he might fall sick, slow her up. Moving about, walking, would warm his blood, but she had to get him on his feet first. She recalled hearing from Haplo that rune-magic would work to heal mensch. Crawling over to Hugh, she clasped her hands over his wrists, let the magic flow from her body to his.
His shaking ceased. Slowly, a tinge of color returned to his pallid face. At length, he sighed, fell back on the ground, closed his eyes, letting the blissful warmth spread through his body.
"Don't fall asleep!" Marit warned.
Touching his tender tongue to his teeth, he groaned, grunted. "Back on Arianus, I used to dream that when I was a wealthy man, I'd wallow in water. Have a big barrel of it outside my house and I'd jump in it, splash it over my head. Now"--he grimaced--"may the ancestors take me if I so much as drink a sip of the cursed stuff!"
Marit stood up. "We can't stay here, out in the open like this. If you're feeling up to it, we have to move."
Hugh was on his feet immediately. "Why? What is it?"
He looked at the runes on her hands and arms; he'd been around Haplo long enough to know the signs. Seeing the sigla dark, he glanced up at her questioningly.
"I don't know," she answered, staring hard into the forest. "There's nothing close, seemingly. But. . ." Unable to explain her uneasiness, she shook her head.
"Which way?" Hugh asked.
Marit considered. Vasu had pointed out the site where the green and golden dragon--Alfred--had last been seen. That was to the gateward side of the city, the side facing the next gate.* She and Vasu had judged the distance to be within half a day's walk.
Marit gnawed her lip. She could enter the woods, which would give them shelter but would also make them more vulnerable to their enemies, who--if they were out there--were undoubtedly using the woods to conceal their own movements. Or she could keep to the riverbank, keep in view of the ciq. For a short distance, any foe who attacked her would be in range of the magical weapons held by the guards on the ciq walls.
Marit decided to stay near the river, at least until the ciq could offer no more protection. Perhaps by then she would have picked up a trail that would lead her to Alfred.
What that trail might be, she didn't like to think.
She and Hugh moved cautiously along the river's shoreline. The black water churned and fumed in its banks, brooding over the indignities it had suffered. The two took care to keep clear of the slippery bank on one side and avoid the forest shadows on the other.
The woods were silent, strangely silent. It was as if every living being had gone away . . .
Marit halted, sick wit
From the Paperback edition.
Posted February 25, 2006
Haplo's amazing journey comes to an action packed conclusion in a world filled with rich and entertaining characters from the hilarious Zifnab, the mage who is more than he seems, to the nefarious Sang-drax, a villain as cunning as Shakespeare's Iago. The worst part about reading this book was knowing that the series was over. The ending could have been a little stronger, but it did nothing to ruin this epic tale.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 22, 2006
This was an escellent book. Haplo's plight's and Alfred's clumsyness, Xar's extravagent vision, the psycotic contradictions of the Death's Gate...such a great book! The only thing that bugged me was the ending. I understand that the ending is sometimes the hardest to write, but still. San-Drax making such an obvious mistake at the end when he was so cool and precise, never making a mistake. Other than that, the book was awesome. A must read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 22, 2003
Well, this book suprised me, I was not able to predict the ending of this great series, kinda disappointing. I do not know of everybody but I think all the books need more Zifnab, the character that I enjoyed the most. He made this book a 5 star, not a 4 star.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 31, 2003
It felt like yesterday when I picked up a little book called Dragon Wing. From their on the rest is history. The Death Gate Cycle is one of the best fantasy series ever! yes even comparing it to lord of the rings which I think the authors made some characters that are better than LOTR who can forget about Zifnab or the scary serpents. Theirs plenty of action in the last book it will grasp your attention till the end. When I was reading the series I felt like I was in the book and knew each character very well and how they felt. Like I said before one of the best fantasy series ever!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2002
This book was truly a teriffic book. The excitment and action present on every page makes it impossible to put down. I finished the book in two days by reading close to ten hours a day.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 22, 2002
I will now rate this as one of the greatest Fantasy series ever....ever! I feel that I now know Haplo and Alfred well. I am afraid that my words will not do justice for this series or this book. Only thing that kept me from rating the book as a 5 star....I was slightly dissappointed in the ending. (And the fact that it did end!) Pick up this series!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 24, 2001
Though I loved the first six books of the series, I was highly disappointed in the seventh installment in The Death Gate Series. It had slipshod construction and organization; it seemed to have been hastily thrown together to form a convenient and expedient conclusion, thus sacrificing intelligent, realistic and consistent story lines and character development. A very disappointing and, might I add, disheartening conclusion to what could have been a fantasy classic.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 31, 2000
I had found this book in a friend's backpack at school. I saw it and had to know what it was. After he told me all about the book,I just new i had to read it. After some convincing I got to barrow the book,and I started to read it immediatly. I was hooked. The plot was very good,the characters where memorable,and the whole concept was perfect. I highly recommend this book to any and all fans of fantasy books,games,and video games.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 9, 2000
you know that when you're speechless and can't think after you've finished a book, that it was GOOD! I was extremely dissapointed after I finished it-the ending was unbelievable! I shall miss reading the adventures of Haplo and his crazy absent-minded cowardly friend the Sartan, Alfred. This book was unique, with a creative plot, likeable characters, action, and very well written.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 8, 2000
I have read the whole series and i love the whole thing and would suggest others to read it as well. In the end i even felt sorry for the Patryn Xar who wanted to do what would best help his people and was misguided in it. In the end you can't have a character you dislike...you feel sorry for them being misguided though. The whole series is well written and the characters can really be related to even though it is a sci-fi/fantasy. I love these books and would encourage others to read them. You can really get into them and your nose will be stuck in the book awaiting the finish. I could not put them down....i am reading them again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2000
I've read the first book in this cycle. 2 Of my friends told me about it and i was awed. I cant wait to get to this one! All the Death Gate Books are Great. You will want to read in every minute of your spare time. I was almost late to class after lunch becuase of this once. Buy the death gate books and you wont be disapointed. Journey to the death gate and beyond....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2000
This series keeps you hooked from page one of book one! The avid reader will be begging for more even by the end of the last book. No book collection would be complete without it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 21, 1999
I've never read a more inspiring series where you find yourself in another world. When I finished the book and series I felt as if part of me was missing. I will miss the great and awe inspiring stories of Haplo.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 24, 2011
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Posted June 17, 2011
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Posted March 4, 2011
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Posted January 16, 2009
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Posted November 21, 2010
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Posted December 25, 2010
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Posted September 19, 2011
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