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Wheel of the Infinite

Wheel of the Infinite

4.7 4
by Martha Wells, J. H. Hershey (Editor)

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Every year in the great temple in the city of Duvalpore, the image of the Wheel of the Infinite must be painstakingly remade to ensure another year of peace and harmony for the Celestial Empire. But a black storm is spreading across the Wheel. With chaos in the wind, Maskelle, a woman with a shadowy past—a murderer, exile, and traitor—has been summoned


Every year in the great temple in the city of Duvalpore, the image of the Wheel of the Infinite must be painstakingly remade to ensure another year of peace and harmony for the Celestial Empire. But a black storm is spreading across the Wheel. With chaos in the wind, Maskelle, a woman with a shadowy past—a murderer, exile, and traitor—has been summoned back to help put the world right. For if she cannot unearth the cause of the Wheel's accelerating disintegration, all that is, ever was, and will be, will end.

About the Author:

Martha Wells was born in Forth Worth, TX, and received her B.A. in anthropology from Texas A&M University. She is the author of three previous novels: The Element of Fire, City of Bones, and The Death of the Necromancer, which was nominated for a Nebula Award. She lives in College Station, TX.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Maskelle, the Voice of the Adversary, speaks for the power the Ancestors created to destroy evil. Since a false vision years ago, she has wandered in exile, but now the Celestial One, head of the Koshan Order of priests, has called her back to the capital city of Duvalpore. The yearly Rite of the Wheel of the Infinite, upon which the survival of the world depends, has been interrupted. An inexplicable black storm has appeared on the face of the Wheel, and if it is not removed before the Rite is completed the world could be utterly changed. With the help of an attractive foreign swordsman named Rian and a troupe of actors, Maskelle must lead the battle against the storm and the strange insurgents from another world who sent it. Maskelle and her allies face murderous water spirits, possessed corpses and cursed puppets--and then the evil forces get to Duvalpore, and the real trouble begins. Murdered priests, magical assassins and the court favorite Lady Marada all add to the growing mystery; meanwhile, the Adversary, the source of Maskelle's power, seems strangely unreliable. Fast-paced, witty and inventive, Well's latest fantasy (after The Death of the Necromancer) is not only about saving the world; it is also about saving Maskelle from self-doubt and isolation. The vividly imagined Celestial Empire's peril is made all the more dramatic by the characters' sarcastic, reasonable conversations, and by their very human responses to inhuman dangers; there is real reading pleasure here. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
An unknown enemy threatens to unmake the sand image of the Wheel of the Infinite before its renewal during the complex Hundred Year Rite that preserves the integrity of the world. Summoned to the holy city of Duvalpore, an outcast priestess and a foreign soldier represent the only hope of preventing catastrophic destruction--if only they can determine the identity of the force that opposes them. Wells (The Death of the Necromancer) spices her latest fantasy with exotic textures and colors reminiscent of India and the Far East, while mystery and court intrigue add depth to this tale of love and risk. Highly recommended for most fantasy collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/00.] Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
Another mind-stretching fantasy from Wells (The Death of the Necromancer, 1998, etc.). Every year in Duvalpore, the Celestial Empire's city of temples, the wizardly Voices of the Ancestors must gather to renew the Wheel of the Infinite, an image built of sand that represents the key to the shape of reality. The upcoming observance is an especially important hundred-year rite, and Maskelle—exiled for murderer and treachery—has been summoned to participate. She is the Voice of the Adversary: reviled as a demon in many lands, the Adversary is, ironically, the champion of justice. Alone of all the Ancestors, it was never once human. Maskelle travels to Duvalpore in the company of Rastim's troupe of actors, the cursed puppet, Gisar, and bodyguard Rian. The malevolent Gisar demands to be released from the box where Maskelle has confined him, terrifying Rastim. Ominously, the Wheel's representation is marred by a region of swirling black, and not all the magical efforts of the Voices can restore it to purity. Maskelle dreams of an eerie, inhuman city abandoned in the midst of devastation. From this and other clues, she learns that the Voices have mysterious, magical opponents who have created their own Wheel, and whose concern is to alter reality to benefit themselves. Has the Celestial Emperor himself been duped by confederates of the invaders? Worst of all, Maskelle wonders whether the Adversary itself is entirely sane. In a field teeming with clones, retreads, and solipsistic doorstoppers, Wells dares—and, gloriously, succeeds—to be different. What more do you need?

From the Publisher
"Superior fantasy work from one of the best in the field." ---Kirkus Starred Review

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.83(h) x 1.15(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Maskelle had been asking the Ancestors to stop the rain three days running now and, as usual, they weren't listening.

She stood on a little hill, surrounded by the heavy jungle that lined either side of the river of mud that had once been the road, and watched the wagons crawl painfully by. They were wooden and brightly painted, but the roofs hadn't been tarred in too long and she knew it was hardly any drier inside them than out. One of the oxen, straining to keep the wheels moving forward against the tide of mud, moaned loudly. I sympathize, Maskelle thought.

Rastim, leader of the little troupe, stumbled up the hill toward her, his boots squelching and his clothes a sodden mess. He paused a short distance from her and said, "0 Great Protectress, why is it we're going to Duvalpore?"

Maskelle leaned on her staff. "Because I said so."

"Oh." Rastim contemplated the wagons thoughtfully, then looked down at his shirt where the downpour was making the cheap dyes of the embroidery run, and sighed heavily.

Maskelle would have promised him better, if she made promises.

He glanced at her, brows lifted. "So, there's no chance of just stopping and drowning here, say?"

"No, I think we'll keep moving for now and drown a little further up the road."

"Ah." He nodded. "Then can you come and take another look at Killia's poppet? She thinks she's worse."

Maskelle rolled her eyes to the Ancestors. Rastim was an Ariaden, and they never believed in giving bad news without a lot of preamble, no matter how urgent it was. She started down the hill and plunged back into the mud river.

Killia's wagon waspainted with geometric designs in bright red and yellow, now splattered with dirt from the long journey. Maskelle caught the handhold at the back and stepped up onto the running board, which barely cleared the soupy mud. She knocked on the shutter and it was immediately cranked upward. Killia. extended a hand to help her in, and Maskelle discovered she needed it; her light cotton robes were so drenched that they added an unexpected amount to her weight. She sat on the bench just inside the entrance so she could wring them out a bit and wait for her eyes to adjust to the dark interior.

Various wooden bowls caught the leaks from the roof, but there were still puddles on the lacquered floor. Overhead, cooking pots banged into empty cage lamps and the bags that held costumes and drapes for the scenery, bundled up to keep them out of the water. Killia's daughter was huddled in one of the two narrow bunks under a mound of damp blankets. Maskelle leaned over and burrowed in the blankets until she touched warm skin. Too warm. She swore under her breath.

"Bad?" Killia asked. She was a tiny woman with the pale skin of the Ariaden and long dark hair caught back by a number of clips and ribbons. Her face had the perfection of a porcelain doll's and to Maskelle she looked hardly more than a child herself, but her eyes were old.

Maskelle shook her head. The priesthood took oaths to the truth, but she had broken all her oaths long ago and Killia had enough to worry about. "I'll have to go down to the river for some more ivibrae—the real river, not the one under the wagon."

Killia smiled briefly at the feeble joke. "lvibrae for lung rot?"

"Ivibrae is good for any fever, not just lung rot. The girl doesn't have lung rot," Maskelle told her, and thought, Not yet, anyway.

Killia didn't look reassured. Maskelle gathered her sodden robes and jumped down off the wagonbed.

Rastim had been walking behind it and the spray of mud as she landed splattered both of them. They eyed each other in mutual understanding; it had been one of those days. She said, "Camp in the Sare if you can make it before dark. If you're not there, I'll look for you along the road."

He swept her a theatrical bow. "Yes, 0 Great Protectress."

"You're welcome, Rastim," Maskelle said, and splashed toward the heavy dark wall of the jungle.

Two hours later Maskelle wasn't so sanguine herself. The thick clouds made the night fall faster under the jungle canopy, and though the broad-leaf palms protected her from heavy rain, the going was still laboriously slow. She reached the river while the jungle was still a deep green cave, dripping and quiet, and stood on the bank to watch the swollen waters. The river was running high and drunk on its own power, gray with mud and crested with foam. It was the source of wild magic, especially as bloated with rain and powerful as it was now; it would be a channel for any dark influence that cared to use it.

It was none of her business. Maskelle shook her head. Keep telling yourself that. The ivibrae proved annoyingly elusive; usually it grew at the very edge of the treeline above the river, but there were no patches to be found in the usual spots, and she found herself having to slide dangerously down the muddy bank. By the time she had picked a quantity and scrambled back up to more solid ground, the green cavern had become a pitch-black hole.

She decided to make her way along the river until she was at the right point to strike out for the road again. She stumbled along...

Meet the Author

Martha Wells is the author of a number of fantasy novels, including The Cloud Roads, The Wizard Hunters, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer.

Lisa Renee Pitts is an award-winning actress in theater, television, and film, as well as an accomplished audiobook narrator and an AudioFile Earphones Award winner.

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Wheel of the Infinite 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the things I've liked best about Martha Wells' books is her originality. She has yet to produce the standard medieval fantasy so prevalent on the shelves. In 'Wheel of the Infinite' she has created a wonderous temple city right out of southeast asia. In addition, her concept of a Tibetan-style sand painting being used to recreate the world when the calander changes year-to-year or century-to-century is fascinating. Once again, it's a richly detailed world with wonderfully constructed characters. Maskelle, the exiled Voice of the Adversary, is a wonderfully complex character. The travelling theatrical troupe, using Lion King style puppets are wonderful additions. I think what I've always like best about her books is the dialogue. These are not cute twee people, or stilted heroic-speak, but rather witty, intelligent people with the dialogue to back it up. Maskelle has a sharp tongue, and it's wonderful to hear her in action.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A uniquely compelling story of a world in danger; Wells is excellent, as always.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago