In the conclusion to this highly praised series, the Final Battle ensues between the Falcons, a band of fugitive wizards committed to peace, and the Dragons, the soul-devouring necromancers wielding the enormous power of black magic. Aided by the long-banished Scarred, the unstoppable army is bent on conquest. Meanwhile, heroes Kait Galweigh and Ry Sabir struggle to destroy the sorcerer Luercas in a new Mirror of the Dead, before he destroys them and all of Iberia forever.
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A late-season blast of cold wind set the walls of the tent snapping and blew icy mountain air through tied-down flaps. Alarista crouched inside, looking from viewing glass to viewing glass, fighting down panic.
In two glasses, she had twin views of the inside of a carriage cruising through Calimekka's narrow back streets-Kait and Ry escaping from the Dragons with the Mirror of Souls. Over the steady clatter of the horses' hooves she could hear Kait, Ry, and Ian recounting what had happened to each of them since last they'd seen one another.
In another glass, she could see the remains of some delicate contrivance of crystal spires and silver gears lying in ruins on a worktable. The two voices whispering from that viewing glass were shrill with fear.
". . . I just found it this way. Shamenar was in here working on it, and now he's gone, too. It will be a month's work at least to restore it, if we can even find Shamenar-"
"You think they got him?"
"I don't want to think. . . ."
Another glass, another view. Through the eyes of someone running, a long, dark corridor illuminated by the runner's coldlamp-shadows dancing back, then leaping forward, fantastic shapes crawling up the walls and resolving into mundane objects. The only sound at the moment was the runner's harsh breathing. Whoever he was, he'd been down four branches of the corridor already, asking the first guard he came to if anyone carrying anything had passed that way.
A dozen more glasses showed groups of people standing or sitting and talking, or revealed fountains, or gardens, or books or papers being slowly perused. Severalglasses were temporarily dark-their sources asleep, or possibly dead. A hundred more glasses were lined to one side, these never activated. With Kait and Ry gone, they probably never would be, but Alarista kept them nearby because doing so was the procedure that Dùghall and Hasmal had worked out. More than once in the past several days a glass had come suddenly to life, and Dùghall or Hasmal had learned something valuable. Until all hope was gone, she would cling to that procedure.
Hasmal had been gone, she estimated, half a station-snatched bodily from the tent by some unimagined Dragon magic and taken . . . somewhere. So far, not one of the viewing glasses had revealed the view she sought-a glimpse of Hasmal. She whispered an unending prayer to Vodor Imrish, asking that if he still listened and he still loved her he would give Hasmal back. If she could see him, just for an instant, just to know that he was still alive, she would be able to breathe again.
Hands pulled apart the tent flaps and Yanth slipped between them. He dropped to the tent floor beside Jaim, who had been sitting quietly behind Alarista, offering support simply with his presence. "The healer is on the way," Yanth told Jaim. "Any sign of Hasmal?"
Jaim's voice was soft. "She hasn't moved, so I don't think so." Alarista summoned the energy to answer them, just to let them know she could hear them and that she was still aware of the world around her, if only marginally. "No sign yet."
"I'm sorry. Is there something I can do to help?"
"Stay close," she said. "If anything changes, I might need both of you."
The healer came through the flaps a moment later, dragging her kit. She knelt beside Dùghall and unrolled it. The woman was one of Dùghall's people-part of the army he'd built months earlier. She was a Falcon, older and well trained in the healing magics, and calm enough, considering the circumstances. If he had any chance of getting better, the healer would make the most of it.
Guards knelt quietly along the tent walls, swords in hand; they hadn't laughed or joked since Hasmal vanished in a scream and a flash of light. They watched, tense and scared. It had been their responsibility to kill Dùghall or Hasmal if a Dragon soul, drawn through but not successfully locked into one of the miniature soul-mirrors, possessed either of them. Now Dùghall lay unresponsive on one of the mats, and Hasmal was gone, and Alarista had already told them she didn't have either the strength or the magical skills that had let Dùghall and Hasmal successfully capture so many Dragon souls. They knew that if she took on a Dragon, they were likely to have to kill her.
A hand gripped her shoulder, and she jumped. "Look!" Yanth whispered, and pointed at one of the viewing glasses that had until that instant been dark.
She turned to the sudden light, to the quickly resolving image, and she gasped. Hasmal's face was suddenly very close to her own; it had been cut across both cheeks and over both eyelids, and blood caked the wounds. Always pale, his skin had taken on the color of bleached bone. She could count the beads of sweat that rolled across his forehead and marked his upper lip. "We found a way to make our own Mirror of Souls," he whispered.
The image danced down to a long, bloody knife, and to a thumb that tested the edge of it. "Really? Tell me more."
"I'll . . . I'll tell you anything you want to know. Anything."
She heard a soft chuckle that raised the hair on the back of her neck and made her stomach churn. "I know you will. First tell me how you made it. We'll get to how you used it soon enough."
Alarista gripped Yanth's hand and squeezed. "He's torturing him."
"Oh, gods! Oh, Hasmal! We have to help him."
"I know. But how?"
Alarista couldn't turn her eyes away from the nightmare in front of her. "I'll have to draw the Dragon's soul to me. I'll have to capture it."
"You couldn't do it before," Jaim said quietly.
"I'll just have to do it this time."
"And if you fail, we lose Hasmal and you. We're going to need you."
She turned to Jaim, snarling. "I can't sit here and watch him die!"
Jaim jumped back. "I wasn't suggesting that you watch him die."
Jaim looked over at the healer working on the unconscious Dùghall. "Dùghall could beat the Dragon if he had his strength."
"As could I, if I had his skills."
"Dùghall said you had as much control of magic as he did, only in other areas. Could you use your magic to help the healer heal him?"
Alarista stared at Jaim. She wasn't a healer, and just healing Dùghall wouldn't do her any good. Even healed, he would be drained of energy and incapable of besting the soul of a rested, powerful Dragon. But where the healer could make him well, she could give him strength. Her strength. The price she would pay . . .
She chose not to think about the price she would pay.
She asked the healer, "Namele, are you nearly finished?"
"I've done all I can-he hasn't woken up yet, but now he's merely sleeping. A few days' rest and he should be able to sit up again. He's very frail-whatever happened nearly killed him."
"But he's healed."
Namele looked over at her, eyes wary. "As much as magic can heal him, yes. He's old, he's worn out, and simple healing can't fix that. He won't be able to do any more Dragon fighting."
Alarista turned to Yanth and Jaim. In a low voice, she said, "Drag him over here. Then sit by me-when I finish what I have to do, I'll need you to catch me. Finally-and this is the most important thing-when Dùghall wakes, the very instant he wakes, show him Hasmal. Don't let him waste time on me. Tell him he has to stop the Dragon before he kills Hasmal."
Yanth said, "What do you plan on doing?"
"The only thing I can. He needs youth and strength to fight the Dragons. I'm going to give him youth. And strength."
She heard the healer gasp. "You can't-"
"Shut up. I can." She glared at Yanth. "You'll take care of this?" He nodded. "I will."
They dragged Dùghall to her, assisted by two guards and impeded by the protesting healer, and propped him across from her in a sitting position. Then, while the guards held him upright, Yanth moved to Alarista's left shoulder, and Jaim to her right. She heard Hasmal scream once, and she shuddered.
Hold on, Has, she thought. Hold on. Help is coming.
She summoned all her courage, and rested her hands on Dùghall's shoulders. Then she lifted her chin, and stared toward the heavens where Vodor Imrish held his court, and in a loud, clear voice, she commanded:
"From my strength,
From my blood,
From my flesh,
From my life,
I offer all that I am,
All that I have
All that Dùghall Draclas needs
To make him whole.
Take from me to give to him,
Strength and blood,
Flesh and life,
Even unto my own death.
I freely offer my gift,
And in his name accept my offer.
Vodor Imrish, hear me."
She did not draw her own blood, nor scrape her skin. She had no need of that. Their bodies touched-hers strong and whole, Dùghall's weak and worn. She would not limit her offering or mark off with a circle that which she would give and that which she would hold back. Whatever Vodor Imrish chose to take from her to give to Dùghall, he could take.
She knew in offering that she might die-that Dùghall, so near death, might take from her more than she could give and survive. He might absorb her. But Dùghall knew what she did not, and he could win for them where she could not. If she died, she would do so fighting to destroy the Dragons and to save Hasmal, and that would be enough. If she died, her soul would go on, and she would someday find Hasmal again. And meanwhile, her Hasmal would live.
She felt the fire flow into her veins, Matrin's magic stirred by the godtouch, and she knew that Vodor Imrish had heard her. She rejoiced for just an instant, for until that moment he had been deaf to all prayers and all entreaties. Then, as the fire filled her, it burned through her and emptied her. Her world grew dark and she heard a rushing in her ears. Her mouth grew dry, her body heavy, and a giant weight pressed down on her, making each breath a fight.
She knew she was falling, but could not stop herself. Her soul tugged at the moorings of her flesh, called by the wind of approaching death. She did not fight that wind, but at the last instant, when she was sure she would leave her body behind, she felt a surge of energy flow into her, binding her soul tightly to her cage of skin and bones. She was too weak to move-too weak even to open her eyes-but she lived, and knew she would live yet a little longer. Her last coherent thought was a prayer: that Dùghall had received from her enough to do what he needed; that Hasmal could hold on until he did it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Courage of Falcons by Holly LisleMy co-worker keeps me well stocked with Holly Lisle books as she is his favorite author. I can see why. This was the third and final book of a three part series called `The Secret Texts¿. This one was my favorite of the trilogy. I had a hard time actually getting into the book as I had like three other ones I was reading at the time I had it sitting on my nightstand. I just kept looking at it and feeling guilty that I was borrowing it from him for several months in a row! Then I got sick with a terrible stomach flu and was not able to read much of anything but the closed lids of my eyes as I slept it off for several days. As I recuperated I started reading it in earnest and really became interested in the story. Wow. The plot moves a mile a minute and held my interest so well I could barely put the book down until I finished it. Now, after shedding a few tears while finishing it, I¿m sad it¿s done.This book chronicles the further saga of Kait, a shape shifting human known as a `karnee¿ who has been the main character in the trilogy. They return with the artifact that they had been seeking and realize it is a terrible weapon of evil instead of a blessing that will bring Kait¿s slaughtered family back to life. There were many threads to the story that continued on and eventually were resolved in this final book of the series but there were also lots of plot twists that kept me on the edge of my seat, too. This book contains soul stealing wizards, shape shifting humans, guardian ghosts, spells, drama, mutiny on the high seas, a small band of heroes desperately trying to save the world, politics, love, war, and a few disturbing characters as well. I guess they were disturbing to portray how evil they were supposed to be. But all in all a great trilogy and the last book, Courage of Falcons, was especially well done and definitely worth the read. This is the sixth Holly Lisle book I¿ve read this year and I will look forward to eventually reading all of her books and enjoying each one. She has a great web site about her books and it also contains tips for budding authors, so go check it out. (5 stars)
Barnes and Nobles new system means that I cannot load the book onto my book reader so this will be the last book I buy from them
I just finished reading the book COURAGE OF FALCONS, by Holly Lisle. This book is the third book in a three book series. It is about Kait and Ry who in the last book were after a artifact that could bring back the dead. They get the artifact and one of there friends turns on them and gives the artifact to a evil group who are trying to bring bad a lost god and they need the artifact to do it. The god gets resurrected and Ry and Kait join a group of outcasts who are also trying to stop the god, they are called the Falcons. The god starts his own little group called the Dragons. The two groups spend the whole movie fighting. I won't ruin the end for you, you will have to read it to find out. The book was very exciting. It made me want to keep reading and not put it down. It had a really cool ending. Really the only bad thing is that it, like the other two books, jumped around too much between chapters. It goes from one thing to something totaly different. I would recamend this to anyone over 17 who likes a book with a lot of action.
In the world of Matrin, war is blazing between the Falcons and the Dragons. If the latter win, hell will take control of the planet. The Falcons are a benevolent band of wizards that are trying to send the Dragons back to the place they came from: the Mirror of Souls. The beautiful artifact was created a millennium ago to house the souls of the Dragons. On the losing side, along with the wizards, are the shapeshifters Kait Galweigh and Ry Sabir, whose powers if known would lead to a lynching. The respective houses of Galweigh and Sabir have remained bitter enemies for years, but Kait and Ry love one another and unite to fight their true foes. Through harrowing adventures, the Falcons manage to contain the Dragons inside the mirror that must be destroyed even if it means death to the allies. However, the Scarred (humans who are freaks and monsters) believe the Messiah has come to deliver them from their exile by destroying the people who banished them in the first place, the humans. COURAGE OF FALCONS is the third and final work in master storyteller Holly Lisle's fabulous epic 'The Secret Texts'. The romance between Kait and Ry makes for a tension-filled subplot. However, the magic of this novel lies in the aliens who seem so real that Ms. Lisle must have met them in some far away canteen rather than her fertile imagination. The geopolitical structure of Matrin is reminiscent of the works of Tolkien and Brookes, which will appeal to fans of high fantasy. Harriet Klausner