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The Company of Glass: Everien: Book 1

Overview

To save the future of his country, a warrior must first confront his tragic past.

The Key of Knowledge Opens the Door to Power....

Everien:  A high civilization, long vanished but for the enigmatic Knowledge left sleeping in its very stones.

The Sekk:  Beautiful. Terrifying. Enemies to the Clans who settle in Everien. ...

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Overview

To save the future of his country, a warrior must first confront his tragic past.

The Key of Knowledge Opens the Door to Power....

Everien:  A high civilization, long vanished but for the enigmatic Knowledge left sleeping in its very stones.

The Sekk:  Beautiful. Terrifying. Enemies to the Clans who settle in Everien. Only the Knowledge can defeat them.

The Company:  Queen Ysse's elite warrior cadre, lost on a quest for Knowledge in the floating city of Jai Pendu.

Tarquinn the Free:  Leader of the Company and its sole survivor. Once he knelt brokenhearted at the feet of Queen Ysse, vowing to leave Everien--forever. But the Queen is dead, and forever is a long time. Eighteen years later....Queen Ysse's successor cannot control the Clans or the Sekk. The Pharician Empire threatens to invade. The orphan, Istar, is grown and wields her father's sword. And soon the tide will carry Jai Pendu--and the Company--home.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[An] utterly fascinating debut...Inventiveness that takes no prisoners, dazzling embroidery, and astounding plot wrinkles."
--Kirkus Reviews(Starred Review)
Carolyn Cushman
Nothing is simple and straightforward in this fantasy quest novelin which time twists and buildings transform themselvesand if the magic has rulesthey're not immediately apparent. —Locus
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Twisting three brittle plot strands together into a trite fantasy quest, this launch novel doesn't bode well for Leith's projected Everien series. King Lerien of the Bear Clan sets out to find his missing army so he can fight off the invading Pharicians, leaving his hysterical High Seer Mhani to try to hold his shapeshifting capital of Jai Khalar together. Mhani's warrior daughter Istar, herself prone to the shakes and vapors, sets out for the Floating Lands to find an ancient Everien Artifact so she can foil the threat of the loathsome, mind-enslaving Sekk. Having lost the crack company he had trained to win a previous Artifact for Jai Kendar's deceased Queen Ysse, Tarquin, formerly Quintar of the Seahawk Clan, chases the White Road to the Floating Lands, hoping to find his company and win back his self-respect. This familiar fiddle-faddle is the vehicle for Leith's setpiece hand-to-sword-to-tooth-and-claw combat scenes, and they are good, but they don't compensate for wooden dialogue, weak flights of imagination and adolescent generalizations about life. Nothing here, especially Leith's villains, the Sekks, and her tacky sex scenes, is convincing enough to suggest the magic crystal stuff of real faerie, which ought to raise the gooseflesh and bid fair to break the heart. This Plexiglas company raises nary a pimple. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
As a young man, Quintar was one of the greatest warriors of his people, leading a company of men from many different Clans to fight the Sekk in the name of Queen Ysse. When the magical White Road appears, the company rides it to the floating city of Jai Pendu to capture an Artifact, a Glass of Power that will help their fight. Quintar returns alone, carrying only the Glass of Water. Because he has lost his men, he divorces himself from his clan, renames himself Tarquin the Free, and leaves Everien, telling no one what he had seen in Jai Pendu. He returns eighteen years later, warning of an imminent invasion and certain destruction, but he is not believed by the Seers. With a small group of men, he joins King Lerien in a mission to find the army he has seen. In a parallel plot, his best friend's daughter, Istar, is determined to undertake the same mission that killed her father, and with a band of friends she sets out to find the city of Jai Pendu. Nothing is as it appears in this book. Illusion is real, and reality can be illusion. Castles move and change shape, horses turn into boys, and friends may be enemies. All combine in this solid adventure with underlying themes of individuality versus conformity, of nature versus technology. The floating islands were interesting even if it did feel as if I was playing RIVEN at times. This series opener is a promising first book. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 1999, Bantam Spectra, Ages 16 to Adult, 400p, $13.95 Trade pb. Reviewer: Joyce Davidson
KLIATT
This debut novel has complex and creative elements packed into a story of rough-and-ready heroes, esoteric scholars and animal magic in high-fantasy settings. The consistency of the writing varies, with sections of poetic brilliance mixed with a pulp style. Quintar, former captain of an elite company, returns to Everien after 18 years of self-imposed exile and questionable sanity under the name Tarquin the Free. His past holds the tragic loss of his entire company on the strange floating city of Jai Pendu, where laws of reality are suspended. Tarquin comes back to warn that the Sekk, beautiful, fey enemies who can enslave humans to their will, are encroaching on Everien Clans. Meanwhile, Jai Pendu approaches and the mystical White Road that leads to the City grows nearer, creating chaos. On Jai Pendu there is ancient knowledge that is considered key in defeating the Sekk by some, and, conversely, an attraction to them by others. Several factions, including the competitive neighboring kingdom of Pharice, set out to reach the dangerous City first, hoping to obtain power, knowledge, and an end to the Sekk. (Violence, explicit sexual situations.) (Everien: Book 1) KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students, and adults. 1999, Bantam/Spectra, 522p, 18cm, 98-56460, $5.99. Ages 17 to adult. Reviewer: Lynn Rosser; Freelance Writer, Asheville, NC, November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
Carolyn Cushman
Nothing is simple and straightforward in this fantasy quest novel, in which time twists and buildings transform themselves, and if the magic has rules, they're not immediately apparent.
Locus
Kirkus Reviews
First of a projected fantasy trilogy from the England-based American. Everien, a sea-girt plateau, was once inhabited by a race of magical beings. Now all that remains are fragments of imperfectly understood magic that today's Clans mostly avoid. Threatening the Clans are the Sekk, ethereally beautiful non-humans who hypnotize humans into slaughtering their fellows, depopulating entire regions. The Clans' allies are the Pharicians—or so it's assumed until former Clan warrior Tarquin gallops to the ancient, magical city of Jai Khalar seeking an audience with King Lerien. Tarquin reports that a Pharician army is poised to invade. But Lerien's Seer, Mhani, and her all-seeing magic Eyes can find no such army, and Lerien's General Ajiko insists that his own army blocks any invasion. Still, Tarquin (years ago he lost his entire company in recovering the Eyes from the vanishing city Jai Pendu) is insistent, so Lerien rides forth to investigate. Meanwhile, the time approaches when the magical White Road to Jai Pendu will open, giving access to Everien's ancient magics. Others will test an alternate path to Jai Pendu through the perilous Floating Lands. Lerien and Tarquin learn that in reality the Eyes are being deceived and that both the Pharician and Ajiko's armies have been enslaved by a powerful Sekk, Night, and are marching on Jai Khalar. Tarquin glimpses the ghosts of his lost comrades galloping along the White Road; worse, they have been trapped by Night and become the Company of Glass. All of this is barely a glimpse of the attractions here: an inventiveness that takes no prisoners, dazzling embroidery, and astounding plot wrinkles, even if it's all rather uncomfortablycomplicated: a flawed but utterly fascinating debut.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553578997
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/1/2000
  • Series: Everien Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 522
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Men are animals.

It is no slander to say so, for only by skillful application of all his faculties can a mere human evoke that creature within whose senses are sharper than his, whose heart is truer, whose mind is wiser. A Clan warrior at the height of his powers is never more than a handsbreadth from his own animal nature--it is from this proximity to his primal spirit that he derives a joy unknown to others.

Yet it was not joy that polished the bare skins of the Snake and the Bear who faced each other in the ring--it was hard sweat. By the time Queen Ysse entered the training ground, the two combatants had whipped each other up into a froth of hatred that aroused their animal natures to savage violence. The metamorphosis was not magical--there were no scales or tails.  It was chemical. Transfigured by emotion, the contenders moved in communion with the wild creatures whose fighting skills their ancestral traditions had taught them to emulate. They had become more than human.

Ysse smiled. The Company were too absorbed in watching the test match to notice the old woman come limping in, but Quintar the Captain of the Guard picked up her movement in his peripheral vision and glanced in her direction. A tall, rather homely man with claws of Seahawk paint decorating his face, he was lounging against the far wall of the arena, apart from his charges. He might have been handsome once, but his countenance had known so many fights it was impossible to be sure what features he had been born with.  As Ysse made her way toward him, he acknowledged her arrival with a slight wave, but his gaze never left the ring.

The Snake was bleeding. The yellow stripes of Clan paint rendered his swarthy face anonymous, hiding the signs of pain that would otherwise be evident; his nose was gushing scarlet and there was no mistaking the fact it had just been broken. The Bear wore no family ornament beyond the silver earring that showed his rank in the Queen's Guard--lieutenant--and his exposed visage showed satisfaction at the hit he had just landed on the Snake's face; yet he could not stop himself shaking his bare right hand, trying to disperse the pain in the knuckles. He had failed to capitalize on the strike, for the injured Snake had slipped out of his reach, leaving red footprints on the bleached white wood of the arena. Both men were stripped for the fight, and the Bear's ribs heaved; his relentless pursuit of the elusive Snake had winded him.

"Come on, Vorse!" called the Company from the perimeter, clapping their hands in encouragement for the injured Snake. The Snake was lean and sinuous as befitted his family name, and he had managed to stay just out of range of his heavier opponent until the Bear had countertimed his feint and scored the lucky hook. Ysse's body twisted slightly as she followed the Snake's movement. Even through the frailty of her illness she could feel what it was like to be the Snake. She could feel the fight coming alive in him.  Mouth open, red-toothed and angry, the Snake now wove back and forth before the larger man, who aimed a series of kicks at him, attempting to compound the damage he'd inflicted already.

Ysse tensed as the Bear went in. But the attack was too slow, and the Snake slipped into the gap in his opponent's timing and wound himself around the Bear like a snare drawn suddenly taut, destroying the Bear's balance and dragging him to the ground. A shout went up from the observers as the Bear managed to twist on the way down and land on top of the Snake.

"Stay cool, Vorse," said the Captain of the Guard as the scramble continued on the ground. "It's only a nose. We'll get Hanji to knit you another one."

He edged along the wall, head tilted as he watched the opponents wrestle. The floor of the ring shuddered when they slammed against each other. As Ysse reached his side, Quintar murmured, "They're fighting for the twelfth place in the Company, the one left by Ajiko when he broke his leg."

"Why not take them both and have thirteen?" Ysse asked.

"Because that would be a compromise. It's better for them to fight for it. I'm going to take them to clear the Sekk out of Bear Country next month, and this contest will motivate the whole Company. Yesterday they all climbed the North Face.  I made Vorse and Lerien race ten miles this morning before the fight. They hate my guts."

Ysse warmed with affection for him: she could see the bonds between Quintar and his men as if there were lines drawn in the air between them. He had handpicked the members of the Company from across Everien, then spent eight years teaching them to destroy the monsters that the Sekk called down from the mountain wilds on the Clan villages. He spared no effort with them: elite bands like the Company were Everien's best hope of survival against the Sekk scourge, which could appear anywhere and at any time--from beneath the hills themselves, sometimes. He had pushed his men to their limits until their limits stretched and broke, and they got better than they'd thought themselves capable--and none of them could ever have been called modest. The men of the Company were a strong-willed bunch, each a warrior of note within his original animal Clan, conditioned from birth to fight. Left to their own devices, they would have fought each other: no Clan warrior needed an excuse to challenge a man of another Clan. Yet Quintar managed them with a mysterious blend of intelligence and coercion that kept him always one step ahead of them. They hated him for his harshness and occasional brutality, but they also learned to trust each other, until the esprit de corps of the Company overcame their Clan rivalries. All became tougher and smarter and faster, and Quintar's reputation grew. Only Ysse knew how he fretted over his charges like a grandmother, losing sleep over their failures and endlessly searching for ways to get more out of each of them. Only Ysse could see how every one of their triumphs and failures was felt doubly by Quintar, who affected aloofness for the sake of maintaining authority. Yes, the men hated Quintar, but she suspected that by now they also adored him. For his part, Quintar had come to have no existence independent of the warriors he led to victory over victory.

She knew how he felt, for she was the monarch of a country that she had struggled to build against heavy opposition from Clan chieftains who would as soon kill one another as unite against the Sekk; a fragile country built on the ruins of ancient Everien; a country that had never known a king, much less a queen. Her existence was the very definition of solitude. She only ever felt slightly less alone when she was with Quintar, her protege.  She wondered if he knew this and decided that he probably didn't:  he was too self-contained, utterly focused on the work at hand. Like all her subjects, Quintar could not help but view the queen through the legends that had grown around her. Ysse sometimes wished it could be otherwise. She shifted her weight unobtrusively to her right hip, for the pain in her legs made it hard to stand, though she tried not to show it.

The Bear and the Snake were tangled on the floor, breathing hard. It did not look good for the Snake. The Bear was sitting on his chest and beating at his head with huge fists; the Snake covered what was left of his face with his elbows and forearms. Blood flew like flower petals in a wind.

"Just say when you've had enough!" roared the Bear, enjoying himself. The rest of the Company screamed encouragement, some to Vorse, some to Lerien, who rode on top.

A lifetime of fighting the Sekk had left Ysse no stranger to violence, but now she began to cast reproachful looks in Quintar's direction. He ought to stop the fight. It was clear that the Bearwas dominating, and what was to be gained by letting him rip the Snake to pieces? Both men had lost all self-control.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2000

    Valery Leith attempts a grand adventure

    but comes up short. The plot is thin and the ending attempts to pull you to a second volume but only leaves you with questions. Nothing is solved in this book and no grand adventure is formed. Valery attempts a great climax but the ending dissappointly fizzes out. Sorry Valery but this series is a dude, better to start a new one.

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