The Destiny of the Sword [NOOK Book]

Overview

Wally Smith, having died on Earth, finds himself reincarnated as a swordsman in another world and entrusted by the presiding goddess with a mission that has no appeal for him at all. Can he bring together all the swordsmen to finally defeat the sorcerors and their terrible technology? Wally is not quite convinced he should, but goddesses can be very persuasive . . . This is the third and final exciting book, after The Reluctant Swordsman and The Coming of ...
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The Destiny of the Sword

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Overview

Wally Smith, having died on Earth, finds himself reincarnated as a swordsman in another world and entrusted by the presiding goddess with a mission that has no appeal for him at all. Can he bring together all the swordsmen to finally defeat the sorcerors and their terrible technology? Wally is not quite convinced he should, but goddesses can be very persuasive . . . This is the third and final exciting book, after The Reluctant Swordsman and The Coming of Wisdom, in the Seventh Sword Trilogy. 
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781497609259
  • Publisher: Open Road Media
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Series: Seventh Sword , #3
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 96,349
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.82 (d)
  • File size: 875 KB

Meet the Author

Dave Duncan, born in Scotland in 1933, is a Canadian citizen. He received his diploma from Dundee High School and got his college education at the University of Saint Andrews. He moved to Canada in 1955, where he still lives with his wife. He has three grown children and four grandchildren. He spent thirty years as a petroleum geologist. He has had dozens of fantasy and science fiction novels published, among them A Rose-Red CityMagic Casement, and The Reaver Road, as well as a highly praised historical novel, Daughter of Troy, published, for commercial reasons, under the pseudonym Sarah B. Franklin. He also published the Longdirk series of novels, Demon SwordDemon Knight, and Demon Rider, under the name Ken Hood.

In the fall of 2007, Duncan’s 2006 novel, Children of Chaos, published by Tor Books, was nominated for both the Prix Aurora Award and the Endeavour Award. In May 2013, Duncan, a 1989 founding member of SFCanada, was honored by election as a lifetime member by his fellow writers, editors, and academics. His website is www.daveduncan.com. 
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Read an Excerpt

The Destiny of the Sword

The Seventh Sword Series: Book Three


By Dave Duncan

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1988 D. J. Duncan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-0925-9


CHAPTER 1

For a swordsman of the seventh rank to hide—from anyone or anything—was unthinkable. Nevertheless, Wallie was being deliberately inconspicuous, to say the least.

He had spent the morning on deck, leaning on the gunwale and witnessing the tumult and bustle of the docks at Tau, but he had unclipped his swordsman ponytail, letting his thick black hair fall free to his shoulders. He had removed his harness and sword and laid them on the deck at his feet. The side of the ship concealed his blue Seventh's kilt and his swordsman boots. Passersby would therefore see only a very large young man with unusually long hair, unless they came close enough to note the seven swords on his brow. The dock was low in Tau; it would take good eyes to do that.

Two weeks of uninterrupted sailing from Ov had left Sapphire with stores depleted and much unfinished business. Mothers had herded children off to seek dentists. Old Lina had tottered down the plank to haggle with hawkers for meat and fruit and vegetables, and also flour and spices and salt. Nnanji had taken his brother to find a healer and have the cast on his arm replaced. Jja had gone shopping with Lae. Young Sinboro, having been judged to have reached manhood, had strutted off with his parents in search of a facemarker—there would be a party on board that evening.

Normally Brota sold the cargo and Tomiyano scouted for another, but now the sailors were fretting about ballast and trim, so the roles were reversed. Big fat Brota strapped on her sword, took Mata along to wield it if necessary, and waddled away in search of profit. Tomiyano ordered two bronze ingots laid at the foot of the plank, stood young Matarro beside them, and headed back on board to attend to other business.

He was not left long in peace—traders arrived and Matarro fetched the captain. As a bargainer, Tomiyano was very nearly as shrewd as his mother. Wallie eavesdropped happily from his post on the rail while the discussion raged below him. Eventually the price range was narrowed, and the traders came on board to inspect the main cargo in the hold. Wallie turned his attention back to the dock life.

Tau was Wallie's favorite among all the cities of the RegiVul loop, although to call Tau a city was to stretch the term to its limit. As in most towns and cities, the dock road was too narrow for its duties, cramped between the bollards, gangplanks, and piles of unloaded cargoes on one side and the traders' warehouses on the other. The sun was unusually warm for a day in fall and it shone on a scene of loud and colorful disorder. Wagons rambled and clanked, pedestrians milled, slave gangs sweated, hawkers pulled carts and shouted their wares. There were no rules—traffic went wherever it could find a space. The clamor of wheels mingled with oaths and insults and abuse. Yet the People were a good-natured race, and in the main the tumult was without rancor. The air smelled of horses and dust and people.

Wallie enjoyed watching the horses of the World. They seemed so mythological—the head of a camel and body of a basset hound. They smelled Earthlike enough, though. During the morning he had observed a herd of goats being unloaded. He had been amused to learn that goats had antlers, not horns. Goats smelled very earthy.

The backdrop for all this noisy confusion was a façade of two-story warehouses that fascinated him—dark oak woodwork and beige parqueting like a movie set of Merrie England; diamond-paned windows and beetling roofs of fuzzy thatch. Yet, however medieval or Tudor the architecture might seem to him, there were no farthingaled damsels or beruffed Elizabethan gallants strutting this stage. The dress of the People was simple and plain—kilts or loincloths on the men and wraps for the women, with the elders of both sexes decently concealed in robes. Youngsters ran naked. They were a brown-skinned, brown-haired folk, lithe and merry, and brown also was the dominant shade of their garb, the color worn by Thirds, qualified artisans of the three hundred and forty-three crafts of the World. The yellow of Seconds and the white of Firsts brightened the texture, with the rarer orange and red and green of higher ranks scattered around in the surging, scurrying throng.

A skinny youth in a white loincloth ran past Wallie and dashed down the plank to go racing and dodging off through the crowd, narrowly avoiding death under the wheels of a two-horse wagon. He was one of the traders' juniors, so he had undoubtedly been sent to fetch help. That meant that Tomiyano had made a sale. In a few minutes the captain emerged on deck and saw his visitors off. The smile that he then allowed himself told Wallie that the price had been more than satisfactory.

Tomiyano was an effective young man, aggressive and muscular, weathered to a dark chestnut, with hair approaching red, although not as red as Nnanji's. He wore only a skimpy brown breechclout, plus a belt and dagger to show that he was captain. Craftmarks of three ships were marked on his forehead, but he was a very competent sailor, who could have qualified for much higher rank had he wished. The scar on his face had been made by a sorcerer, and Wallie now knew that it was an acid burn.

Yet Tomiyano was a mere stripling alongside Wallie. Swordsmen were rarely big, but Shonsu had been an exception—very big. The sailor had to tilt his head back to meet Wallie's eyes. He did that now, and his face was full of astonishment.

"Hiding?" he demanded.

Wallie shrugged and smiled. "Being cautious."

The captain's eyes narrowed. "Is that how swordsmen behaved in your dream world, Shonsu?"

It was only within the last couple of weeks that Wallie had taken the crew of Sapphire totally into his confidence, explaining that he was not the original Shonsu, swordsman of the seventh rank; that his soul had been brought from another world and been given the body of Shonsu, his skill with a sword, and his unaccomplished mission for the gods. Tomiyano was a skeptical man. He had learned to trust Lord Shonsu—learned with difficulty, for the crew of Sapphire had little liking for swordsmen—but he still had trouble accepting so incredible a story. And tact was not the captain's most conspicuous trait.

Wallie sighed, thinking of plainclothes detectives and unmarked patrol cars. "Yes," he admitted. "They did this quite a lot."

Tomiyano snorted in disgust. "And last time we came to Tau you were screaming because you couldn't find a swordsman. Now the place is full of them."

"Exactly," Wallie said.

That was what he had been studying—swordsmen. Their ponytails and sword hilts made them conspicuous as they strode through the crowds, and sane civilians made way for swordsmen. They walked in twos or threes, sometimes fours or fives. Brown kilts were the most common, of course, but Wallie had seen several Fourths, two Fifths, and even—surprisingly—one Sixth. He had counted forty-two swordsmen in the last hour. Tau indeed was full of them.

Tomiyano looked down at the busy street for a while and then said, "Why?"

Wallie leaned his elbows on the rail and attempted to put his concern into words. "Work it out, Captain. Suppose you're a swordsman. The Goddess has brought you to Tau and you're on your way to Casr. You have a protégé or two with you. You're a Third, or a Fourth, maybe. There must be hundreds of swordsmen in Casr now ... What's the first thing a swordsman will want when he gets there?"

Tomiyano spat over the side. "Women!"

Wallie chuckled "Of course. Anything else?"

The sailor nodded, understanding. "A mentor?"

"Right! They're going to start banding together. Every one of them will be looking out for a good senior to swear to."

"And you don't want an army?" Tomiyano asked.

Wallie grinned at him. "Have you room on board?" There would be few Sevenths around, and some of those would be getting old, for only rarely could a swordsman reach seventh rank before he was thirty and already at his peak, although Shonsu had obviously done so—Wallie had frequently studied his face in a mirror and decided he must be somewhere in his middle twenties. He was young, therefore. He was big and steely-eyed. If he were to stand at the top of the gangplank with his blue kilt visible, he would be fighting off would-be recruits in no time.

"No!" the captain said firmly. The thought of a few dozen swordsmen on his beloved Sapphire would be enough to loosen his teeth. He smiled faintly and muttered, "Considerate of you!"

And that, Wallie thought, was almost another miracle in itself.

"Look there!" he said.

The swordsman Sixth was returning and now he marched at the head of a column of ten. A Fifth leading two Thirds passed them, and sunbeams streaked from blades as salutes were exchanged. Civilians dodged, doubtless cursing under their breath.

Tomiyano grunted and went off to attend to business, while Wallie mused that his explanation to the captain had been less than half the truth. The juniors would be seeking mentors, true, but the seniors would be even more actively recruiting protégés. Followers brought status. Status would be a much sought-after commodity in Casr now.

Which raised the possibility that perhaps he ought to be recruiting an army. He bore the Goddess' own sword, he was Her champion ... maybe he was supposed to arrive at the tryst with some status of his own. It would not be difficult. He could accost that Sixth and take him over, together with his ten flunkies. If he balked, Wallie could challenge—no Sixth had a hope against Shonsu. Afterward the man could be bandaged and sent out to round up more.

Might that explain why the Goddess had delivered these particular swordsmen to Tau instead of directly to Casr?

The thought held no appeal for Wallie. The whole tryst held no appeal. He still had not decided whether he was going to collaborate or not. So he let the green-kilted Napoleon continue his parade along the docks unmolested. If the gods wanted that man to swear to Lord Shonsu, then neither of them would be able to leave Tau until they cooperated. Their ships would merely return to Tau instead of going on to Casr.

Casr was a monstrous thundercloud on Wallie's horizon. He did not know what he wanted to do there, or what might be awaiting him. He knew that the original Shonsu had been castellan of the swordsmen's lodge in Casr, so Wallie must expect to be recognized when he arrived. He might find family or friends—or enemies. Nnanji, for one, was convinced that Shonsu was destined to become leader of the tryst. That might be the case, for certainly he knew more about the sorcerers and their un-Worldly abilities than any other swordsman. But he also knew enough to believe that the tryst was a horrible error. He was almost more inclined to try to block it than to lead it.

Tomiyano had rounded up his men. Holiyi, Maloli, Linihyo, and Oligarro—two cousins and two cousins by marriage. They were taking off the hatch covers and stacking the planks out of the way. Up on the poop deck the remaining children were playing loudly under the watchful eye of Fia, who wielded the unarguable authority of a twelve-year-old.

A wagon drew up alongside and unloaded a slave gang. The trader, a plump Fifth, began shouting unnecessary orders in a squeaky voice, and the derrick was swung out and put to use. Wallie watched as the bronze ingots from Gi were borne away. He wondered idly which one of those ingots had saved his life from the sorcerers' muskets in Ov.

Slaves wore black and little of it, for no one wasted cloth on a slave. They were a cowed and smelly bunch, that slave gang—skinny men in skimpy loincloths, working like fiends, streaming sweat while their bony rib cages pumped. Their backs were scarred. They ran, not daring to walk. They strained at the windlass handles until their eyes popped. Wallie could hardly bear to watch, for it was slavery more than anything else that brought home to him the faults of this barbaric, iron-age World. The thatched warehouses might teem with rats and the people with fleas, the alleys smell of urine and the streets of garbage ... those he could tolerate, but slavery tested his resolve. The slave boss on the wagon brought out a whip and cracked it a few times to increase the pace. He did not recognize the danger looming above him at the ship's rail. Had he made one serious stroke—just one—he would have found himself lying on the cobbles, being mercilessly flogged ... but he did not know that and he did not find out.

The wagon was filled and departed. Another took its place. Some members of Sapphire's crew came wandering back from their explorations and paused to talk with the big man in the blue kilt. Tau was a turbulent place, they reported. Two hundred swordsmen had passed through on their way to the tryst, plus several times that many followers. Tau was a small town. The natives were restless.

Tomiyano went down to the dock and began weighing the traders' gold. Wallie continued to survey the scene, noting that the swordsmen were bunching as he had predicted. Couples were very rare now. A Fifth had collected seven, and later the triumphant Sixth paraded past again with fifteen.

Then Katanji returned, a snowy new cast on his damaged arm outshining his white kilt. He seemed smaller than ever, his face a paler brown than usual, and his wide, dark eyes not as sparkly—perhaps the healers had hammered a little too hard when removing the old plaster. His hair was beginning to reach a more respectable length for a swordsman's, but it curled up in a tiny bun instead of making a ponytail. He wore no sword, of course. Barring a miracle, he would never use that arm again—but miracles were not uncommon around Shonsu.

He managed an approximation of his normal pert smile, white teeth gleaming in dark face, while his eyes noted with surprise Wallie's unarmed, undressed state.

"Where's your brother?" Wallie demanded.

Katanji's wan smile became a smirk. "I left him to it, my lord."

He need say no more. Nnanji was still in a state of witless infatuation over the lithesome Thana, but it was four weeks since he had been ashore for recreation.

"The girls have been busy, I imagine?" Wallie inquired.

Katanji rolled his eyes. "The poor things are worn out, they told me." He scowled. "And they've raised their prices!"

Innocent little Katanji, of course, had seduced Diwa, Mei, and lately possibly Hana on the ship, and his need would not have been as great as his brother's. It would take more than a woman to make Katanji lose his head.

Wallie nodded and went back to his spectating. His mind began to wander, reverting to its ever-present worries about Casr and the troubles that must await him.

Tomiyano came striding back on deck, swinging a leather bag. He grinned happily at Wallie, jingled the bag gloatingly, and then went to peer down into the forward hatch and hold a shouted conversation with Oligarro and Holiyi, who had gone below to inspect ballast. The slaves had completed their work and were dragging their feet back down the gangplank.

Then ...

Damn!

Wallie forgot sailors and slaves. Two swordsmen were striding across the road, obviously heading for Sapphire. The vacation was over! With a muffled curse, he ducked down out of sight and scrabbled for his sword. He was still on his knees and frantically fastening harness buckles when boots drummed on the gangplank. The two swordsmen came on deck and marched right by him.

Tomiyano spun around as if he had been kicked. In two fast strides he moved to accost the newcomers, feet apart, arms akimbo, and face thrust forward aggressively, his anger showing like a warning beacon.

Wallie noted the swordsmen boots with surprise: tooled leather, shiny as glass. Above them hung kilts of downy wool, of superlative cut and texture, the pleats like knife edges—red for a Fifth and white for a First. His eyes strayed higher. The harnesses and scabbards on the men's backs were as opulent as their boots, embossed, and decorated with topazes. Higher yet—the sword hilts bore silver filigree and more topaz. The hairclips were of silver also.

Well!

He rose silently to his feet, scooping back his hair and clipping it with his own sapphire hairclip, while he analyzed these strangers. They were not free swords, obviously, for the frees prided themselves on their poverty. They might be garrison swordsmen, but few cities would willingly clothe their police like that. Could any swordsmen come by such wealth honestly?

Wallie twitched his shoulder blades, tilting his sword to the vertical so that its hilt was behind his head. Then he leaned back with his elbows on the rail and waited to enjoy the fun.

The Fifth was trespassing. That might be from ignorance, but he knew enough to salute the captain as a superior and to refrain from drawing his sword on deck. He used the civilian hand gestures: "I am Polini, swordsman of the fifth rank, and it is my deepest and most humble wish that the Goddess Herself will see fit to grant you long life and happiness and to induce you to accept my modest and willing service in any way in which I may advance any


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Destiny of the Sword by Dave Duncan. Copyright © 1988 D. J. Duncan. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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