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I unrolled the yellowed map Orjan had given me in Tashar and squinted at the huge dolmen halfway up through the pass. Three stones supported a large, flat triangular slab. I checked the map and smiled. The dolmen was the last landmark on my map. Just up the slope, through the last narrow pass in the Tal Mountains, was Talianna. I'd made it.
I rolled the map back up and jammed it over my shoulder into my pack. I picked up my walking stick and marched forward over the uneven, rocky ground. I was so close to my goal I could feel it just beyond the horizon. The pass would open up and there it would be, Talianna, the home of the people who brought justice to the world.
A smile crept onto my face. I was eager to be done with my journey. A thousand miles and five months before, I'd left my family's home in Sinjaria and set out. At first it seemed a foolish mission. I was not even twelve summers old when I started, and the journey began without any real planning. I knew Talianna lay west and north, so I headed into the Darkesh and just kept walking.
Hiking that last mile I knew all the other miles had seemed long and lonely and dangerous. Even so, try as I might, I couldn't bring to mind the particulars of any one mile when I thought the journey would be ended prematurely. The times I came across signs of outlaw bands, as in the forests of Cela, I hid. When I found a farm or village, I traded work for space near the fire and as much food as I could get. And when I got sick I was lucky enough to meet someone like Orjan who took care of me.
The last hundred yards of the pass rose very steeply and forced me to crawl forward on my hands and feet. I carefully picked my hand- and footholds because I did not want to injure myself so close to the goal I'd worked so hard to reach. I had to make it in good health or the entire journey would be wasted.
Halfway up the slope it occurred to me that the Nolan who started the journey would never have even attempted a climb like this, nor would he have been able to complete it. I'd not filled out during the trek—there was not enough food along the way to let me do that—but I'd grown harder. I'd worked my childhood chubbiness off and I'd grown an inch or two. If I continued at that rate I'd surpass my twin older brothers and perhaps even my father.
I reached the top of the hill before I could catch myself up in thinking about my family. I pulled myself onto the hilltop and collapsed. My chest heaved and labored hard to suck in enough of the thin mountain air to sate my body. A bit dizzy, I lay back and, drunk with success, just started to laugh. Finally I regained enough strength to roll over onto my hands and knees. I levered myself up and the Tal Valley unfolded below me.
I'd never seen anything so green before. Deep, dark living green covered the valley floor. From the patchwork of cultivated fields in the south and west to the forest at the base of the mountains upon which I stood, this valley was the verdant treasure my father had promised our farm would one day become.
The natural wonders of the valley paled to insignificance, though, when compared to Talianna itself. Star within a pentagon within another pentagon, Talianna rose up, a gleaming white stone city full of strength and power. Massive white marble blocks made up the walls and buildings. The outer siege wall stood twenty feet tall, while the inner pentagon soared up to half again that height.
The central star was the most magnificent building I'd ever seen. The walls of each point sloped in and up to form a pyramid at the star's core. The pyramid itself had a flat top and a flagpole set in the center of it. A plain black flag writhed and snapped in the breeze because here, in the Tal province, it needed no ensign.
I stood there and shivered. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly through my nose. I had arrived: I'd reached my destination. I'd finished my journey and the time came for me to decide my destiny.
I opened a pouch on my belt and fished around in the bottom of it for a small, leather-wrapped packet. I untied the lacing and took out a single gold Imperial. It had been my family's treasure and was only to be used in an emergency, but even it had not been enough to save them.
It was an old coin, so old I could not read the inscription. Bright and clean as the day the mint struck it despite its antiquity, it bore no signs of use or wear. The words on the coin were old and although I knew how to read, I could not make out what they meant. Still I did recognize the face on the coin. It was Emperor Clekan, the first emperor, Clekan the Just.
I weighed the coin in my hand. I relished its coolness, and reveled in the fact that it no longer seemed heavy. I swallowed once and flipped the coin high into the air. It spun and spun, flashing spears of sunlight off in all directions. As it fell to earth again I caught it in my open right palm. Clekan's profile glowed in the sunlight.
I smiled. "It's decided. I'm yours."
A shadow blotted out the sun. I twisted to my right and caught a flash of white and brown descending through the blue sky. A high scream deafened me and something hit me hard in the back. I felt the shoulder straps on my back pull, twist, and snap as I smashed into the ground.
I landed hard on my chest and had the wind knocked from my lungs. I bounced once and flipped onto my back. I lay there, arms and legs splayed out, while I tried to breathe and scream. I tried to swallow enough air to stem the suffocating feeling in my chest, but my body would not respond. In addition to my breathlessness, my back complained of the impact and the jagged chunk of rock beneath me.
I felt someone grab my shoulders and pull me off the rock. "Don't try to move. Is anything broken?" The voice was young, about my age, and as nervous and scared as I felt.
I shook my head and opened my eyes. A sandy-haired, brown-eyed boy wearing a brown jerkin with a white hawk in flight stenciled on the left breast stood over me. With my response to his question he calmed almost instantly and that calmed me.
"I'm an Elite novice." He reached down and took hold of my belt. He lifted up, arched my back gently, and forced air into my lungs. I didn't breathe much in, but it cooled the burning in my chest nonetheless. He lowered me, then lifted again.
The numbness centered in my chest faded. I nodded at him and tapped his arm twice. He let me down and crouched beside me. "Can you feel your legs and toes?"
I took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I squeezed my eyes shut against the pain of sore ribs. I drew my knees up and flexed my toes. "Yes, I can."
The Talion novice rocked back on his heels and smiled. "I'm sorry for what happened. I passed my trial today and took Valiant up for a flight. He saw something and stooped. It wasn't until the last second I saw you. No one's supposed to be up in these mountains during Festival."
I tucked my legs under me and came up into a sitting position. The sharpness of pain in my back drained away, but it still felt pretty sore. That's when I saw Valiant for the first time—the blur of color I saw before he hit me did not count—and I paled.
The Elite caught my reaction and smiled. "Don't be afraid of him. He's not even full grown yet."
Valiant was an Imperial Hawk. Its belly was white and dappled with dark brown, while the wings and back were light brown. It stood, hobbled and hooded, about twenty feet away from me and shredded my pack. From talons to the top of its head it stood about six feet high, and when full grown would be able to take cattle the way a kestrel takes varmints.
My mouth went dry. "The, ah, that's what hit me?"
The Elite nodded. He hefted my coin and flashed it in the sunlight. "I think he saw the flash and went for it. You shouldn't be up here. How did you get past the patrols keeping Festival people out of this area?" He handed me the coin and I returned it to my pouch.
"I came in from the north. I'm coming to be a Talion. My name's Nolan, Nolan ra Sinjaria."
The Talion's eyes narrowed, then he stood. "I'm Erlan ra Leth, though I've been in Talianna since just after I was born. Come on." He reached down and helped me to my feet. "You've got to sign in by the end of today or you can't try to join during this Festival."
I looked down at the valley below. "I can't climb down there by the end of the day."
Erlan smiled. "I know. I'll fly you down."
Posted August 9, 2012
This story is very well written. The way that he takes you back to his time of childhood to give the basis for what he does and how he reacts now is seamless! ANyone who l ikes Sci Fi Fantast should definitely readWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Michael A. Stackpole doesn't disappoint in this fantasy action novel. The story jumps from between the main character's adult life to his childhood training. The events of the past converge with the events of the present for a climactic finale. I enjoyed the book and so I bought another one of his fantasy novels Once A Hero. That was also a fun read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2006
Posted October 22, 2003
This is without a doubt in my mind, the best fantasy I've ever read. Stackpole did a absolutely amazing job developing the story line...If i could i would give this book 6 stars. I would recomend it to anyone, even nonfantasy readers. I hope he decides to write more books about the Talions.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 22, 2003
Stackpole is one of the best writers that I have come across. I too first got a taste of his writing style because of Star Wars. Since the NJO was getting pretty boring after Destiny's Way I decided to get Stackpole's Talion:Revenant. This book has it all if you are a fantasy fan, but it is touched with human realism thanks to the first person perspective. Also, the way that Stackpole did the chapters (Talion/Novice) is Pure Genius and adds incredible depth to all the characters involved in this story. It has an awesome ending and it is definitely worth your time to read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 8, 2003
I was once a HUGE Star Wars fan, and have read more than 20 Star Wars books. Through this, I came across 'I Jedi'(Stackpole), and was in awe of his talent which led me to this book...I started it, and three days later started it again. My brother asked about the book, so I bought him a copy to read while I read mine...The story is probably one of the most interesting fantasies ever written. But the REALLY great thing about this book is how it is laid out. It is written in two parts...that of the main character while young with a goal, and then when he is older, and his goal sees fruition. But the neat thing is that you read both at the same time! You read a story from his childhood just in time to read that the main character must call upon his memories to help him in his current situation...Micheal A. Stackpole is brilliant, and this novel proves it!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 5, 2002
This book took me two days to read because i just could't put it down. The ending was unpredictable and the characters were well developed! I would anyone who is a fan of Stackpole should read this book!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2002
A very well developed story with intriguing characters. Best thing about this novel is that it is a stand alone...in an age where every book you read is a series. I would not recommend any series by this author until all the books are completed. Still a bit disappointed with the CHAOS series not ending.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 4, 2002
I was surprised to learn when I bought this book that it was Stackpole's first written (though not published). I was expecting to be disappointed--and I most certainly wasn't! The book is simply phenominal, with a gripping story expertly written that keeps you into it from the beginning right to the end. Stackpole has created an extremely entertaining universe with this novel--one that many people I've lent it to (people who don't normally read *anything*) have been captured by. This is one of Stackpole's best novels and one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2001
This book was the best book so far, by this auther. Stackpole knows how to keep a person interested. He comes up with new ideas that i have never read before. Great job Stackpole! Please write more fantasy books! and Please more books on Talion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2000
This is the first non Star Wars Stackpole book I ever read, now I'm reading everything of his I can get my hands on and telling everyone I know to read his other works too. Read this book, you won't be disapointed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 20, 2000
Posted December 29, 2008
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Posted January 12, 2010
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