The Ships of Merior (Ships of Merior Series #2)by Janny Wurts
Janny Wurts’s epic tale of two half-brothers cursed to life-long enmity continues in this spectacular second volume, now re-released with a striking new cover.The half-brothers Arithon, Master of Shadow, and Lysaer, Lord of Light, have defeated the Mistwraith and dispersed the fogs that smothered Athera’s skies. But their victory comes at a high
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Janny Wurts’s epic tale of two half-brothers cursed to life-long enmity continues in this spectacular second volume, now re-released with a striking new cover.The half-brothers Arithon, Master of Shadow, and Lysaer, Lord of Light, have defeated the Mistwraith and dispersed the fogs that smothered Athera’s skies. But their victory comes at a high price: the Mistwraith has set them at odds under a powerful curse of vengeance. The two princes are locked in deadly enmity, with the fates of nations and the balance of the world’s mystical powers entangled in their feud.Arithon, forced out of hiding, finds himself hounded by Lysaer and his mighty army. He must take to his natural element – the seas – in order to evade pursuit and steal the initiative. However, his efforts are impeded by outside magical factions, not to mention a drunken prophet sent to safeguard his life, but who seems determined to wreck his cause by misadventure.
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Two princes, dark and fair
Cursed by the mistwraith, Desh-thiere
Hate bound them
Blood crowned them
'Til cold death, war must hound them:
Vie for the shadows and the light
Die blind in the shadows, burned in the light
Cry, "Down the shadows, hail the light!"
Verse from a children's game
Fourth Age 1220
On the morning the Fellowship Sorcerer who had crowned the king at Ostermere fared northward on the old disused road, the five years of peace precariously reestablished since the carnage that followed the Mistwraith's defeat as yet showed no sign of breaking.
The moment seemed unlikely for happenstance to intrude and shape a spiraling succession of events to upend loyalties and kingdoms. Havish's coastal landscape, with its jagged, shady valleys, wore the mottled greens of late spring. Dew still spangled the leaf tips, touched brilliant by early sunlight. Asandir rode in his shirtsleeves, the dark, silver-banded mantle lately worn for the royal coronation folded inside his saddle pack. Hair of the same fine silver blew uncovered in the gusts that whipped off the sea, that tossed the clumped bracken on the hillcrests and fanned gorse against lichened outcrops of quartz rock. The black stud who bore him strode hock deep in grass, alone beneath cloudless sky. Wildflowers thrashed by its passage sweetened the air with perfume and the jagging flight of disturbed bees.
For the first time in centuries of service, Asandir was solitary, and on an errand of no pressing urgency. The ruthless war, the upsets to rule and to trade that had savaged the north in the wake of theMistwraith's imprisonment had settled, if not into the well-governed order secured for Havish, then at least into patterns that confined latent hatreds to the avenues of statecraft and politics. Better than most, Asandir knew the respite was fated not to last. His memories were bitter and hurtful, of the great curse cast by the Mistwraith to set both its captors at odds; the land's restoration to clear sky bought at a cost of two mortal destinies and the land's lasting peace.
Unless the Fellowship Sorcerers could find means to break Desh-thiere's geas of hatred against the royal half brothers whose gifts brought its bane, the freed sunlight that warmed the growing earth could yet be paid for in blood. With the restored throne of Havish firmly under its crowned heir, Asandir at last rode to join his colleagues in their effort to unbind the Mistwraith's two victims from the vicious throes of its vengeance.
Relaxed in rare contentment, too recently delivered from centuries of sunless damp to take the hale spring earth for granted, he let his spirit soar with the winds. The road he had chosen was years overgrown, little more than a crease that meandered through thorn and brush brake to reemerge where the growth was browsed close by deer. Despite the banished mists, the townsmen still held uneasy fears of open spaces, once the sites of forgotten mysteries. Northbound travelers innately preferred to book their passage by ship.
Untroubled by the afterpresence of Paravian spirits, not at all disturbed by the foundations of ancient ruins that underlay the hammocks of wild roses, the Sorcerer rode with his reins looped. He followed the way without misstep, guided by memories that predated the most weathered, broken wall. His appearance of reverie was deceptive. At each turn, his mageheightened senses resonated with the natural energies that surrounded him. The sun on his shoulders became a benediction, both counterpoint and celebration to the ringing reverberation that was light striking shadow off edges of wild stone.
When a dissonance snagged in the weave, reflex and habit snapped Asandir's complaisance. His powers of perception tightened to trace the immediate cause.
Whatever bad news approached from the south, his mount's wary senses caught no sign. The stallion snorted, shook out his mane, and let Asandir rein him over to the verge of the trail. Long minutes later, a drumroll of galloping hooves startled the larks to songless flight. When the messenger on his laboring mount hove into view, the Sorcerer sat his saddle, frowning, while the stud, bored with waiting, cropped grass.
The courier wore royal colors, the distinctive scarlet tabard and gold hawk blazon of the king's personal service snapped into creases against the breeze. No common message bearer, he owned the carriage of a champion fighter. But the battlebrash courage that graced his reputation was missing as he hauled his horse to a prancing, head-shaking halt.
The man was a fool, who eagerly brought trouble to the ear of a Fellowship Sorcerer.
Briskly annoyed, Asandir spoke before the king's rider could master his uncertainty. "I know you were sent by your liege. If my spellbinder Dakar is cause and root of some problem, I say now, as I told His Majesty and the realm's steward on my departure: there is no possible difficulty that might stem from an apprentice's misdeeds that your high king's justice cannot handle."
The messenger nursed lathered reins to divert his eye-rolling mount from her sideward crab steps through the bracken. "Begging pardon, Sorcerer. But Dakar got himself drunk. There was a fight." Sweating pale before Asandir's displeasure, he finished in a crisp rush. "Your spellbinder's got himself knifed and King Eldir's healers say he'll bleed to death."
"Oh, indeed?" The words bit the quiet like sheared metal. Asandir's brows cocked up. Features laced over with creases showed a moment of fierce surprise. Then he started his black up from a mouthful of grass and spun him thundering back toward the city.
Alone in the derelict roadway on a sidling, race-bred horse, the royal courier had no mind to linger. He was not clan kindred, to feel at ease in the wild places where the old stones lay carved with uncanny patterns to snag and bewitch a man's thoughts.
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Meet the Author
Janny Wurts is the author of the Cycle of Fire series, co-author of the worldwide bestselling Empire series with Raymond E. Feist, and is currently working on the Wars of Light and Shadow series. She often paints her own covers and is also and expert horsewoman, sailor, musician and archer.
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I liked this more than the previous novel in the series "Curse of the Mistwraith" & that's hard to imagine. Part of the reason is that the world & characters are already set, so Janny could spend more time exploring how the curse played out & the characters. The world expanded & the action increased, too. There were some things I didn't like, but I can't mention them without making a spoiler review, something I hate. I can say, that what I didn't like were necessary to the story, pieces of a hard life that was masterfully told & just ripped at my emotions - so they weren't 'bad', just heart rending. They heightened the good points to bring more joy, but they weren't easy to take. Again, the book ended logically & on crescendo of action. There's obviously plenty of room for the story to go on. My hardback edition has both this book & "Warhost of Vastmark" together as one book. Since it is a first edition, signed to me by the author, I didn't read it but the paperback which makes two books out of them. If you liked the Lord of the Rings, I think you'll love this series. If you're used to skimming candy books, be warned that Janny's prose is dense. Each word is polished & set in place like a fine jeweler sets stones. If you skim, you'll miss points, but most of all, you'll miss an almost poetic tale.
The Wars of Light and Shadow series is truly a treasure, and Curse of the Mistwraith is a wonderful beginning for it. There are any number of reasons to recommend this book, and indeed this series, to others. Seeing as so many options are available, I go with the most fundamental. The way everything fits together. Something mentioned in passing - then when you least expect it, that little offhand detail comes in VERY handy. How Janny Wurts manages to insert humor into the story without turning the character into a useless comic foil. Dakar can be DAMNED funny, and yet, he is still an interesting character with an important bearing on the story, not one who exists simply to serve as comic relief. But what really draws me to this work are the evocative, even haunting images that Janny creates. Her words are drawn with a bard's brush and the tapestry of her story is woven with threads of sadness and beauty. The empathy that is created with Arithon; the wistfulness for the lost Paravians; the pain that is visited upon innocents by the effects of the Mistwraith's curse; these all combine to tell a tale of sorrow and tragedy that will make bitter-sweet even the most triumphant conclusion. The way the bad guy isn't portrayed as simply 'evil, and that's all there is to it'. The phrasing (especially the inventive insults!) The way I, at least, can never guess what's going to happen next. And, of course, Arithon. Pirate. Prince. Bard. Swordsman. Shadow Mage. One all around kickass man - and not afraid to show it. 'Like the raven in advance of the war, I go to call Traithe to the blood-letting.'
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