The long struggle is over at last. The demon is no more, its dark sorceries shattered by the gemstone magic wielded by the woman known as Pony. But victory did not come easily. Many lives were lost, including Pony’s lover, the elf-trained ranger Elbryan Wyndon, and their son. And despite the demon’s demise, the kingdom still seethes in a cauldron of plots and machinations. When a deadly sickness suddenly appears among the people of Corona, Pony must undertake a pilgrimage that will test her powers—and her faith—as never before.
But unknown to Pony, her child never died. Instead, he is secretly raised to be a weapon. Stolen away by the queen of the elves, the headstrong Aydrian shows great promise in the arts of combat, and he is as powerful with the gemstone magic as Pony. Hungry for power, Aydrian soon joins forces with his own mother’s mortal enemy, setting himself on a collision course with destiny.
Praise for the DemonWars Saga
“An enthralling epic adventure story, it introduces memorable characters and an intricate scheme of magic the readers won’t soon forget.”—Terry Brooks, on The Demon Awakens
“R. A. Salvatore at his best—and even better.”—New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole, on Mortalis
“As R. A. Salvatore continues to build his detailed and complex history, his readership is sure to build as well.”—New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson, on Ascendance
“Outstanding . . . [Transcendance has] a first-rate female high-fantasy protagonist.”—Booklist
“Fans will dance with joy.”—Kirkus Reviews, on Immortalis
About the Author
Date of Birth:January 20, 1959
Place of Birth:Leominster, MA
Read an Excerpt
The Show of Strength
THE MUD SUCKED AT HIS BOOTS AS HE WALKED ALONG THE NARROW, SMOKY CORRIDOR, a procession of armored soldiers in step behind him. The conditions were not to his liking—he didn’t want his “prisoners” growing obstinate, after all.
Around a bend in the tunnel the light increased and the air cleared, and before Duke Targon Bree Kalas loomed a wider and higher chamber, its one entrance securely barred. Kalas motioned to a soldier behind him, and the man hustled forward, fumbling with keys and hastily unlocking the cell door. Other soldiers tried to slip by, to enter the cell protectively before their leader, but Kalas slapped them back and strode in.
A score of dwarvish faces turned his way, the normally ruddy-complexioned powries seeming a bit paler after months imprisoned underground.
Kalas studied those faces carefully, noting the narrowing of eyes, a reflection, he knew, of seething hatred. It wasn’t that the powries hated him particularly, but rather that they merely hated any human.
Again, almost as one, the dwarves turned away from him, back to their conversations and myriad games they had invented to pass the tedious hours.
One of the soldiers began calling them to attention, but Duke Kalas cut him short and waved him and the others back. Then he stood by the door, calmly, patiently letting them come to him.
“Yach, it’s to wait all the damned day if we isn’t to spake with it,” one powrie said at last. The creature removed its red beret—a cap shining bright with the blood of its victims—and scratched its itchy, lice-filled hair, then replaced the cap and hopped up, striding to stand before the Duke.
“Ye comin’ down to see our partyin’?” the dwarf asked.
Kalas didn’t blink, staring at the powrie sternly. This dwarf, the leader, was always the sarcastic one, and he always seemed to need a reminder that he had been captured while waging war on the kingdom, that he and his wretched little fellows were alive only by the grace of Duke Kalas.
“Well?” the dwarf, Dalump Keedump by name, went on obstinately.
“I told you that I would require your services at the turn of the season,” Duke Kalas stated quietly.
“And we’re to be knowin’ that the season’s turned?” Keedump asked sarcastically. He turned to his fellows. “Are ye thinkin’ the sun to be ridin’ lower in the sky these days?” he asked with a wicked little laugh.
“Would you like to see the sun again?” Duke Kalas asked him in all seriousness.
Dalump Keedump eyed him long and hard. “Ye think ye’re to break us, then?” the dwarf asked. “We spent more time in a barrelboat, tighter and dirtier than this, ye fool.”
Kalas let a long moment slip past, staring at the dwarf, not daring to blink. Then he nodded slightly and turned, leaving the cell, pulling its door closed behind him as he returned to the muddy corridor with his soldiers. “Very well, then,” he said. “Perhaps I will return in a few days—the first face you will see, I assure you. Perhaps after you have murdered some of your companions for food, you will better hear my propositions.” And he walked away, as did his men, having every intention of carrying through with his threat.
He had gone several steps before Dalump called out to him. “Ye came all the way down here. Ye might as well be tellin’ us what ye gots in mind.”
Kalas smiled and moved back to the cell door. Now the other dwarves, suddenly interested in the conversation, crowded behind Dalump.
“Extra rations and more comfortable bedding,” the Duke teased.
“Yach, but ye said we’d be walkin’ free!” Dalump Keedump protested. “Or sailin’ free, on a boat back to our homes.”
“In time, my little friend, in time,” Kalas replied. “I am in need of an enemy, that I might show the rabble the strength of the Allhearts and thus bring them the security they desperately need. Assist me in this, and the arrangements will be made for your release soon enough.”
Another of the dwarves, his face a mask of frustration, rushed forward, shouldering past Dalump. “And if we doesn’t?” he asked angrily.
Duke Kalas’ fine sword was out in the blink of a powrie eye, its point snapping against the obstinate fellow’s throat, pressing firmly. “If you do not, then so be it,” Kalas said calmly, turning to eye Dalump directly as he spoke. “From our first meeting, I have been clear in my intentions and honest in our dealings. Choose your course, Dalump Keedump, and accept the consequences.”
The powrie leader glared at his upstart second.
“Fairly caught,” Duke Kalas reminded, rather poignantly, considering that his sword was still out and the statement was true enough. Dalump and his group had been fairly caught on the field of battle, as they had attacked this city. Duke Kalas was bound by no codes or rules in dealing with the powries. He could execute them openly and horribly in Palmaris’ largest square, or he could let them starve to death down here in the dungeons beneath Chasewind Manor, forgotten by all.
Dalump shifted his gaze back and forth between Kalas and the upstart powrie, his expression hinting that he wanted to choke them both—wanted to choke anybody or anything—just to relieve the mounting frustration accompanying this wretched situation. “Tell me yer stinkin’ plan,” he reluctantly agreed.
Duke Kalas nodded and smiled again.
Duke Kalas walked onto the rear balcony of Chasewind Manor early in the morning a few days later. The air was heavy with fog and drizzle, a perfectly miserable day, but one to Kalas’ liking. It had turned warmer again, though they still had more than a month before the winter solstice. The remnants of the previous blizzard, winter’s first blast, were fast melting, and the reports Kalas had received the day before indicated that grass was showing again on the windblown western fields.
That fact, plus the gathering storm clouds in the west threatening a second storm, had prompted the Duke’s action, and now, with the poor visibility, he could not have asked for a better morning. He heard the door open behind him, and he turned to see King Danube Brock Ursal step out to join him.
He was a few years older than his dear friend Kalas, and rounder in the middle, but his hair remained thick and black, and his beard, a new addition, showed no signs of graying.
“I hope to sail within the week,” Danube remarked. Kalas was not surprised, since Bretherford, Duke of the Mirianic and commander of the King’s navy, had indicated as much to him the previous evening.
“You will have favorable weather all the way back to Ursal,” Duke Kalas assured his beloved king, though he feared the decision to travel. If winter weather came on again with the fleet still in the northern waters of the Masur Delaval, the result could be catastrophic.
“So Bretherford believes,” said Danube. “In truth, I am more concerned about the situation I leave behind.”
Kalas looked at him, his expression wounded.
“Brother Braumin seems formidable and, to the common man, likable,” Danube elaborated. “And if the woman Jilseponie stands by him—along with Markwart’s former lackey Francis—then their appeal to the folk of Palmaris will be considerable. I remind you that Brother Francis endeared himself to the people in the last days of Markwart, when he served the city as bishop.”
Kalas could find little to dispute, for he and Danube had discussed the situation at length many times since the fall of Markwart and the hero, Elbryan, in this very house.
“Jilseponie has formally refused your offer, then?” Kalas asked.
“I will speak with her one last time,” King Danube replied, “but I doubt that she will comply. Old Je’howith has spent much time in St. Precious, and has indicated to me that the woman is truly broken and without ambition.”
The mere mention of Je’howith, the abbot of Ursal’s St. Honce and a close adviser to Danube, made Kalas narrow his eyes suspiciously. It was no secret among the court that Je’howith hated Jilseponie above all others. He had been Markwart’s man, and she and her dead lover had killed Markwart, had turned his secure little church world upside down. Je’howith had pushed King Danube to raise the woman to the position of baroness. With Pony in secular circles, answerable to the King, her influence on the Church would come from outside, far less dangerous, to Je’howith’s thinking, than from inside.
“Abbot Je’howith favors the appointment of Jilseponie as baroness,” Danube pointedly reminded Kalas.
“Abbot Je’howith would more favor her execution,” Kalas replied.
Danube gave a laugh at the irony. At one point, both Pony and Elbryan, imprisoned in St. Precious, had been slated for execution by Father Abbot Markwart.
Their conversation was interrupted by a tumult in the grand house behind them.
“Reports of a powrie force outside the western wall,” Duke Kalas explained with a wry grin.
“You play a dangerous game,” the King returned, then he nodded, for he did not disagree with the necessity of the ruse. “I will not go to the wall,” he decided, though he and Kalas had previously spoken of his attendance. “Thus will suspicions of any conspiracy be lessened.”
Duke Kalas paused, staring thoughtfully for a moment, then nodded in agreement.
The King’s other close adviser—but one who was unaware of Kalas’ strategem, a lady of the court named Constance Pemblebury—came through the balcony doors, her face flushed. “Bloody cap powries,” she said breathlessly. “There are reports that they are attacking the western gate!”
Kalas put on an alarmed expression. “I’ll rouse the Allhearts,” he said, and he rushed from the balcony.
Constance moved beside the King, who draped an arm casually about her and kissed her cheek. “Fear not, dear Constance,” he said. “Duke Kalas and his charges will more than meet the attack.”
Constance nodded and seemed to calm a bit. She knew the proud Allheart Brigade well, had seen their splendor on the field many times. Besides, how could she be afraid, up here on the balcony of the magnificent Chasewind Manor, in the arms of the man she adored?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I decided to read the Demon Wars saga years after I read all the dark elf books. I thoroughly enjoyed this series. RA has definitely mastered the fantasy genre of story telling.
One of the best RA Salvatore books I have read that did not include Drizzt or any character from Ice wind dale or the dark elfs
Read this book!!