Well of Darknessby Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman
Second in line for succession to the throne, Prince Dagnarus will have his crown...and his queen -- though his heart's prize is a married elfin beauty. Let his hated half-brother Prince Helmos and the Dominion Lords dare to oppose him. For Dagnarus's most loyal servant has ventured into the terrible darkness, where lies the most potent talisman in the/em>… See more details below
Second in line for succession to the throne, Prince Dagnarus will have his crown...and his queen -- though his heart's prize is a married elfin beauty. Let his hated half-brother Prince Helmos and the Dominion Lords dare to oppose him. For Dagnarus's most loyal servant has ventured into the terrible darkness, where lies the most potent talisman in the realm. And once it is in the dark prince's hand, no power will deter his Destiny.
Read an Excerpt
The Whipping Boy
The boy gazed up at the castle. Its shining white marble walls were wet with the spray from the seven waterfalls that flowed on either side of it, four to the north and three to south, and glistened in the early-morning sun. Rainbows shimmered and danced around the castle walls. The peasants believed the rainbows were fine cloth spun by fairies, and more than one silly lad had gone to his death in the tumbling water trying to snag them.
The boy knew better. He knew that rainbows were not substantial, being made of nothing more than sunlight and water. Only that which exists in both the darkness and in the light is real. The boy had been taught to believe only in what was real and substantial.
The boy looked at the castle without much feeling, good or bad, nothing but a sort of uncaring fatalism that is often seen in ill-used dogs. Not that the boy had been particularly ill-used in his life, if to be ignored is not to be ill-used. He was about to leave his parents and his home and enter into a new life and by rights he should have felt sad, homesick, frightened, and trepidatious. He felt none of those: only tired, from the long walk, and uncomfortably warm and itchy in his new woolen stockings.
He and his father stood before the gate set in a high outer wall. Beyond the gate was a courtyard and beyond the courtyard myriad steps leading up into the castle, which had been built against a cliff. The castle looked out to the west, gazing out over Lake Ildurel, its back planted solidly against the rocks to the east. Its very topmost turrets were level with the River Hammerclaw, which flowed from east to west andwhose rushing water, tumbling over the cliff face, created the rainbows.
The castle walls were white marblethe boy had once seen a representation of the castle at a feast, made of sugar lumpsand it was several stories tall. How many stories the boy could not count because the castle roamed all over the cliff face. So many turrets jutted off every which way, so many battlements slanted off in such different directions, and so many small lead-paned glass windows winked in the sunlight that the sight confused him. He had wanted to play with the sugar castle, and his mother had told him he might, but the next morning he found it had been eaten by mice.
The boy gazed, awed, at this castle, which was not made of sugar and not likely to be eaten by mice or even dragons. One wing of the castle caught his eye. This was a wing to the east, overlooking the four waterfalls. Atop it was a turret larger than all the rest, with a balcony that stretched around it. That was the King's Walk, said his father. King Tamaros, blessed of the gods, was the only person permitted to walk that balcony.
The King must be able to see the whole world from there, the boy thought. Or if not the whole world, then at least the entire great city of Vinnengael. The boy could practically see the whole city himself, just standing on the palace steps.
Vinnengael was built on three levels, the lowest level being even with the lake, which stretched to the horizon, its distant shore just barely visible from the King's Walk. The second level of the city was built atop a cliff that rose up from the first level. The third level was built atop another cliff, which rose from the second. The palace stood on the third level. Across from the palace, behind the boy and across a vast marble courtyard, was the Temple of the Magi.
Temple and palace, the heart of the kingdom and its head, were the only two major structures standing on the third level. Soldiers' barracks occupied the north; the barracks were attached to the palace. To the south, built on a jutting rock groin, were the elegant houses of the foreign ambassadors.
The men-at-arms guarding the outer gate gave the boy's father a bored glance as the two of them passed through. The boy craned his neck to gaze up at the huge portcullis, with its rows of grim teeth. He would have liked to stop, hoping to see some blood, for he was well acquainted with the tale of Nathan of Neyshabur, one of the heroes of Vinnengael, who had ordered the portcullis to be lowered though he himself was standing beneath it, fending off the kingdom's enemies, refusing to give ground though the wicked teeth thundered down upon him. Nathan of Neyshabur had lived and died several hundred years ago, when the city and the castle, but not the rainbows,were young. It was therefore unlikely that his blood would still be dripping from the portcullis, but the boy felt disappointed, nonetheless.
His father yanked at the boy's mantle and demanded to know what he thought he was doing, gawking like an ork during festival time, and hustled the boy along.
They walked across a vast courtyard and entered the castle proper, where the boy was immediately lost. His father knew the way well, however, being one of the King's courtiers, and he led the boy up marble stairs and down marble halls and around marble statues and past marble columns until they reached an antechamber, where the father shoved the boy down onto a carved wood chair and summoned a servant.
The boy gazed at the high ceilings, stained with soot from the winter fires, and at the wall opposite, where hung a tapestry that depicted long-bodied, long-snouted, long-eared dogs that resembled no known dog then living and people all turned sideways hunting a stag which, by its expression, appeared to be enjoying it all immensely though it had six arrows in it.
What People are saying about this
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are one of fantasy fiction's most popular writing duos. Their recent New York Times bestseller, Dragons of a Fallen Sun, kicked off a new Dragonlance trilogy set in the familiar world of Krynn. But, since the latest from this prolific team, Well of Darkness, is set in a wholly new and distant world, Margaret and Tracy graciously offered to set it up for us. Scroll down for this exclusive letter from the inestimable Weis and Hickman. Enjoy!
Setting Up the Sovereign Stone
by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman
Well of Darkness (Book One of The Sovereign Stone trilogy) is the first new fantasy series that Tracy and I have written since the Deathgate series that ended six years ago. We've been keeping busy with the Dragonlance books, but if there's one thing Tracy and I love to do, it's go out searching for new lands to explore and new stories to tell.
Our dear friend, noted fantasy artist Larry Elmore, is the one who first brought us to the world of Loerem, the new fantasy world in which Well of Darkness is set. Larry has long dreamed of and painted this world, populating it with fascinating people. He knows their stories, their history, their background.
Larry had painted this world, but he wanted someone else to put it into words. He told his tale to Tracy and to me over dinner one night; we were entranced and resolved to visit this world ourselves and put its legends, magic, and heroes into novels.
Loerem is a fantasy world replete with elves, dwarves, orks, and humans, with magic, gods, and dragons. But there are a few twists. Orks are not the usual stupid cannon fodder. They are the technologists of this world, experienced sailors, highly superstitious. The elves are reminiscent of feudal Japan, a race steeped in honor and tradition. Dwarves dwell on the vast plains. Nomads, they roam the plains on small, shaggy ponies. The human race is divided into many cultures, an intriguing mix of Western European, Polynesian, African, and Arabian.
Paladin knights of good strive to guard the uneasy peace, while undead vampiric knights of the Void seek realms to conquer. Dragons hold themselves aloof, watching the foibles of mankind with amusement, disdain, or hatred.
The first novel in The Sovereign Stone trilogy, Well of Darkness, tells the story of Prince Dagnarus, a charming, handsome, and ambitious second son. This story details his rise to power, a rise that will have terrible and unforeseen consequences for him, for those who follow him and for those who are bent on his destruction. It is a tale of deceit, intrigue, and murder blended with the dark forces of Void magic. But is also a tale of love, courage and honor, as Paladins of good strive to conquer undead knights of the Void. Events that happen in this book will play a major role in the future of Loerem, a future whose story will be related in Book 2, Guardians of the Lost.
For those who enjoy role-playing, we have worked in conjunction with Corsair Publishers to create the Sovereign Stone RPG line. These gamebooks not only provide a new and interesting role-playing game system, but they also provide novel readers with a great wealth of background information on the world they will read about in the first of The Sovereign Stone trilogy.
We hope you enjoy the book!
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