The Gates of Dawnby Robert Newcomb
Epic fantasy found an exhilarating new voice in Robert Newcomb, whose monumental debut novel, The Fifth Sorceress, was hailed by readers and critics alike. And now, for all those spellbound by the tale of Prince Tristan, heir to the throne of Eutracia, his twin sister Princess Shailiha, the ancient wizard Wigg, and the fate of their enchanted land, there/i>
Epic fantasy found an exhilarating new voice in Robert Newcomb, whose monumental debut novel, The Fifth Sorceress, was hailed by readers and critics alike. And now, for all those spellbound by the tale of Prince Tristan, heir to the throne of Eutracia, his twin sister Princess Shailiha, the ancient wizard Wigg, and the fate of their enchanted land, there is indeed more—much more—to be told. . . .
THE GATES OF DAWN
For three centuries, Eutracia was a kingdom at peace, ruled by a benevolent monarchy and guided by a council of wizards. But a horror from the past, long believed vanquished, returned with devastating fury. And when the battle against the bloodthirsty Sorceresses of the Coven was finally won, victory was not without its price. Now, the royal palace lies in ruins; the king and queen, the royal guard, and the Directorate of Wizards are dead; the land is lawless; and Prince Tristan— forced by the Coven to murder his father, the King—is a wanted man.
In a cavernous underground labyrinth, once headquarters of the wizards’ council, Tristan has taken refuge with his sister, Shailiha, her infant daughter, the wizard Wigg—the lone surviving member of the Directorate—and the crippled wizard Faegan, returned from self-imposed exile in the forest of Shadowood. Together they face the daunting task of restoring order to Eutracia and winning back the allegiance of her subjects. But suddenly, even these challenges pale beside a truly terrifying turn of events. The sacred jewel that is the source of all magic has inexplicably begun to lose its power. Without its age-old enchantment to sustain their spells, the immortal wizards will perish . . . and magic will vanish from Eutracia forever.
At the same time, a mysterious and ruthless mercenary has declared a bounty upon the head of Prince Tristan. And an army of wizards on a mission to rid Eutracia of monsters created by the Coven has fallen prey to an insidious breed of creatures—beings that can only have sprung from forbidden use of malevolent magic. With time and their powers dwindling, Wigg and Faegan desperately seek to discover who, or what, has succeeded the dead Sorceresses in laying siege to Eutracia. But when the shocking truth is revealed, and an evil that transcends life itself is made known, it is Tristan, more than any other, who will be stunned to his very soul. And it is Tristan who will be thrust into the ultimate battle—for his life, his land, and the course of his destiny.
Read an Excerpt
It shall therefore come to pass that the Chosen Ones shall suffer individual agonies regarding the use of their gifts. He in his blood, and she in her mind. For it is only through such terrors that the true art of the craft shall be revealed to them. —page 1,016, Chapter I of the Vigors
Tristan of the House of Galland smiled slightly to himself as he looked down at his twin sister Shailiha. He was watching her sleep, just as he had for so many days now.
They were in the Redoubt of the Directorate, the secret haven where the many consuls of the Redoubt, the lesser wizards of Eutracia, had been trained. It was also the place where he had first reluctantly admitted to both his now-dead father and the murdered Directorate of Wizards the secrets he knew regarding the Caves of the Paragon. He had found that day so painful and difficult, but now he wished with all his heart that he could have it back.
The happy times, he thought. Before all the madness began.
Sometimes during his quieter moments, his weary mind still tried to convince his heart that everything that had so recently occurred had been long ago. As if year after year of his life had already passed. In reality it had only been several months. But because so much had changed, it still sometimes felt as if it were all a dream.
No, he told himself as he continued to look down into Shailiha’s beautiful face. Not a dream—a nightmare. One from which Shailiha is finally waking up.
Running a hand through his dark hair, he uncoiled his long legs and walked the short distance to where Morganna, Shailiha’s baby daughter, lay sleeping in her crib. The baby girl had been born both healthy and alert, despite the horrific circumstances of her arrival into the world. Her birth had come on the same day that both the Coven of Sorceresses and Kluge, their taskmaster, had been killed by Tristan. She had been born in Parthalon, before Wigg, Geldon, Shailiha, Morganna, and Tristan had finally returned to Eutracia.
A tear came to one eye as he thought of the one he’d had to leave behind.
The droplet gathered slowly in size until it finally overcame the lower lid and rolled down his cheek. My son, my firstborn, did not survive to come back with us. For that I shall be forever sorry. Nicholas, forgive me.
Taking a quick breath he looked up at the ceiling, remembering what the palace above had been like before the horrible onslaught of the Coven and their Minions of Day and Night. The palace had once been his home, and full of gaiety, life, and love.
He shook his head, staggered by the madness of it all and the confounding fact that he was now the new lord of the Minions. They were the winged army of over three hundred thousand that had butchered his family, the wizards of the Directorate, and much of the populace of Eutracia. The incredibly potent force still resided in Parthalon, awaiting his orders.
So much has changed, he mused. And I must change with it.
Looking up from the crib and into a mirror that hung upon the wall, he saw a man who had matured, who had killed and would kill again, if need be, to protect his family. He also saw a man who had discovered many secrets about himself, but also knew that there were so many more to learn.
He took in the longish dark hair, deep blue eyes, hollow cheeks, and what some would call the rather cruel mouth. Along with black breeches, he wore the same knee boots and worn leather vest that laced across his bare chest in the front that he had worn daily for the last several months. The dreggan, the Minion sword he had been forced to use to kill his father, lay in its black, tooled scabbard across the back of his right shoulder, beside his throwing knives.
The familiar yet at the same time unknown figure in the mirror stared back at him with a calmness that was born of a certain, hard-won knowledge: that he was the male of the Chosen Ones, and the only person in the world who possessed azure blood. Very soon Wigg and Faegan would want to begin training him in the craft of magic. For Eutracia—because his nation desperately needed him.
Their travels from Shadowood back to Tammerland had been arduous, since both Shailiha and the wizard Faegan had been difficult to transport. Shailiha was difficult to move because she was still suffering the lingering effects of her mental torture at the hands of the Coven. Faegan’s journey had been even more problematic because of the crippled legs that kept him bound to his chair on wheels. And traveling with the princess’ newborn further complicated matters. But with the combined efforts of both the wizards and more than a modicum of the use of the craft, they had finally succeeded in reaching Tammerland. And now the Redoubt, the secret place below the palace, had become their home.
They had been accompanied by Geldon, the onetime slave of the Coven, and two of Faegan’s irascible gnomes and their wives. Despite his worries, Tristan managed another little smile. The gnomes had been helpful, if difficult to control. Both the bombastic Michael the Meager, the gnome elder, and the egotistical, ale-loving Shannon the Small had come. They were accompanied by their wives, Mary the Minor and Shawna the Short.
“Tristan,” Shailiha called out sleepily. “Is that you?”
He turned quickly and went to her bed, looking down into her face. Thanks to the constant ministrations of Faegan and Wigg, the Shailiha he had known and loved was continuing to return a little more each day. The blond hair, hazel eyes, and firm jawline that he knew so well remained as lovely as ever.
“Yes, Shai, it’s me,” he answered softly. On the trip back from Shadowood he had begun calling her by this pet name. Somehow it had stuck, despite the expected, vociferous protests from Wigg that one of the royal house should not be called by such abbreviations. But just as they had done in their youth, the two of them had simply smiled at him in his huff. Deep down, Tristan knew Shailiha really liked the name. But sometimes, to tease him, she would wrinkle up her nose when he said it. Just as she was doing now. Then a different concern seized her, and she quickly sat up in bed.
“Is Morganna all right?” she asked anxiously.
“Yes, Shai,” Tristan answered quietly. “She’s fine. Just like her mother is going to be.” He gently pushed her back down into the luxurious bedsheets.
She wrinkled up her nose again, something he loved to see, though he would never tell her so. “I’m hungry,” she said suddenly. “No, actually I’m starved! I have to get something to eat!”
“Then it’s a good thing I came prepared,” Tristan answered happily. From a nearby table he produced a silver tray of breakfast pastries and a pot of tea that he hoped was still hot. “Fresh from the gnome wives,” he told her. “Actually, they’re quite good.” Shailiha grabbed up one of the pastries. He watched as she quickly went on to devour two of them.
Shailiha’s recuperation had been slow but steady, thanks largely to the attention of the wizards. They had worked with her constantly, using the craft to help her both forget her torture by the Coven and regain her other memories and identity. The most difficult part for all of them had been watching her as she learned for the second time that her husband, Frederick, and her parents had been murdered.
It had been especially difficult for her to learn that her father, the king, had died by Tristan’s own hand. The prince’s heart ached for her, and he had vowed to take the best care of her that he could.
Looking up into his deep blue eyes, she put her teacup down.
“Tristan,” she began uncertainly, “Wigg has mentioned to me that we are somehow special. That our blood is the most highly endowed in the world—yours slightly more so than mine. Because of that we are something called the Chosen Ones.” She paused, taking the measure of her words. “I am still unsure of what all of this means. But please tell me something. Did our parents and Frederick go to your coronation knowing that they might die that day? Die in the hope that you and I would survive?” Lowering his head slightly, Tristan closed his eyes against the pain. My tragic coronation day, he thought. The day everything changed.
“Yes, Shai, they did,” he answered. “Even the Directorate of Wizards knew of the potential danger. Their plans were designed for Wigg and the two of us to survive if anything happened. Those plans were not completely successful, and you and the Paragon were taken.” He managed a small smile through the pain. “But Wigg and I came to Parthalon to get you, and we brought you home. And now, thank the Afterlife, not only are you home, but both you and your baby are well. Frederick died that day, but lives on in your child. And our parents live on in our hearts, because you and I are still together.”
She bit her lower lip, and a small tear came to one eye. “Wigg also tells me that your child, Nicholas, did not live to see his birth. And that you buried him there in Parthalon . . .” She trailed off, clearly not knowing how to proceed.
“Yes,” Tristan answered. “I hope to go back one day soon to visit the grave. I would like to return the body to Eutracia, and bury it with the rest of our family.” A short silence followed.
“I forgive you, Tristan,” she said finally, softly.
“You forgive me?” he asked, confused.
Swallowing hard, Shailiha looked down. The next words were going to be difficult for both of them. But she wanted her brother to be absolutely sure of how she felt. “I forgive you,” she said. “I forgive you for killing our father. In fact, there truly is nothing to be forgiven. For I know from Wigg that you were forced to do it. That father even ordered you to do it. I forgive you, and I shall love you always.”
There were simply no words. He just continued to sit there in the moment with his sister—the twin he had come so close to losing forever. His heart was so glad that she and her baby were still alive.
Finally she gave him the impish smile she was so famous for, at the same time reaching out to grasp the gold medallion around his neck—the one that had been a gift from their parents, just before his coronation. It carried the lion and the broadsword, the heraldry of the House of Galland.
“So you still wear this,” she said happily. “I’m glad. And it seems that I have acquired one of my own.” She reached down to touch the exact duplicate of his medallion that lay around her neck. “Although I haven’t the faintest clue of how I acquired it,” she added.
“Nor do Wigg, Faegan, or I,” Tristan answered. “But the wizards feel that it may somehow be the physical remnants of the incantation the Coven used upon you. By some unknown means it remained with you, even after the sorceresses’ deaths. The wizards have examined it closely, and say that it is all right for you to continue to wear it. But what is most important about the medallion is that wherever the two of us may go or whatever we may do, all we have to do is to look down to that bit of gold to know that there is still someone in our family who continues to love us.”
Tristan paused for a moment, thinking back to the many times his own medallion had helped keep him going through the hardships of finding his sister and defeating the Coven. “My medallion is what finally saved you, you know,” he said thoughtfully.
“What do you mean?”
“It twinkled in the light, and you saw it. It apparently sparked something in your subconscious just before I was about to be forced to . . . just before I . . .”
Again no words would come. How could he explain to her what Wigg had told him on that fateful day? That he must steel his resolve and kill his own sister. That her mind and soul were still infected with the Coven’s spell, making it impossible for her to come back to Eutracia with them. But just as he was about to bring his dreggan down upon her neck she had recognized the medallion, and blinked.
“Tristan,” she asked, “will you do something for me?”
He narrowed his eyes, pursing his lips in mock ferociousness. “Haven’t I done enough already?”
She smiled, but he saw the underlying sadness in her gaze. “I’m serious,” she said. “I truly do need you to perform a special task for me. Something important.”
“Anything, you know that.”
“Wigg and Faegan tell me that our parents and Frederick are buried a short distance from here. They also say I am still too weak to travel. I would ask you to visit their graves for me, until I can go there myself. Please let the spirits of mother, father, and Frederick know that I live, and that I love them.” She looked with tearful eyes to the child in the crib, and then added, “Let them also know that there is now another of their blood in the world.” She burst into tears.
He took her in his arms. “Of course I’ll go,” he said quietly. “I’ll leave first thing tomorrow.”
Collecting herself, she pulled away a little, tentatively smiling up through her tears. “Wigg and Faegan probably won’t like the idea, you know.” She sniffed. “Whenever they’re together they fuss at each other like a pair of old scullery maids.”
Tristan just couldn’t help it. He laughed long and hard, for the first time in what felt like forever. “That’s the best description of those two I have ever heard!” he exclaimed.
Before he could say more, they heard a soft knock, and the door slowly opened a crack. “Begging your pardon, Tristan, but the two wizards are calling for you,” a voice said, the door opening farther. “They say you are to come at once.”
Shannon the Small stood rather sheepishly in the open doorway. The little gnome was bouncing from one foot to the other, as was his habit when nervous.
Shannon had red hair and a matching beard, and dark, intelligent eyes. He was dressed as usual in a red shirt, blue bibs, black cap, and upturned boots. A corncob pipe stuck out jarringly from between his teeth. The gnome seemed quite anxious to deliver Tristan to the wizards and be done with the entire affair. “They say it is quite urgent,” he added tentatively.
“It’s always urgent with those two.” Tristan winked at Shailiha. He turned to the gnome. “Very well,” he said with a sigh. “I will come.” He turned to his sister to say good-bye.
“You promise, Tristan?” she asked him again. “To do what we talked about?”
He gave her a kiss on the forehead and then stood up, stretching the sleepy muscles in his legs. “Yes, Shai,” he said. “Tomorrow, I promise.”
Meet the Author
Robert Newcomb is the author of The Fifth Sorceress, Volume I of The Chronicles of Blood and Stone. He traveled widely in his youth as a member of the American Institute for Foreign Study, studying at the University of Southampton, England, and aboard a university-sponsored ship in the Mediterranean Sea. After graduating from Colgate University with a BA in economics and a minor in art history, he enjoyed a successful career in business. He lives in Florida with his wife, a neuropsychologist and novelist herself.
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This series is very well written. I enjoyed it very much. The series hasn't been finished yet and it has been 3 years since the last book has been published don't know if it will be completed. I am looking forward to the ending regardless of how long it takes.
I thought this book was fantastic all the way to the end, and I clung to every word however, I found the ending to be rather weak. I think the author stacked the odds too much in favor of the villan, and he could not find a way to end it. Thus, he just ends the final battle out of nowhere. Dispite that, I highly recomend this book, and if you read 'The 5th Sorceress', you definately need to read this one.
I bought this book because I had read the previous volume. In this sequel, the situations encountered by the white hats (there are not really any gray hats) are extreme and then get worse. Evil doesn't need so much detail. The characters have little depth and the heros are not particularly likeable. I found the book distasteful and skipped to the end just to see what happened. I have no interest in going back to see what I missed in between. I think I'll pass on the next installment.
I enjoyed the book, and will read the third. However, unlike one of the other reviews, I did not find the women particularly strong and definitely did not find them treated equally. Wigg¿s daughter had almost no role. I assume she will have more in the next book. The thing that bothered me the most was the wizards treatment of Tristan and his sister. Here is the chosen one, prophesied to be the ruler of the world, and you can¿t trust him. He¿s not smart enough, and the only way he¿ll do what they want is for them to trick him into it. Shalila fares better with the wizards but they are pretty secretive to her as well. I got tired of finding out something the wizards didn¿t tell anyone every 25 pages. Why would Tristan not have led the Minions into the canyon if he had known the strategy? The wizards have to trick him through his sister? This doesn¿t add anything thing to the story except to irritate me. With all that said, I persevered through the first 100 pages or so and did finally get caught up in the story. Fighting the counsels gone bad next time should be good, but I hope Tristan, as the ruler of the world, gets a say in how it¿s done.
I have long been a lover of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. However, where Jordan seems to be boringly stretching out his story for the money, Newcomb is packing his novels full of non-stop action. Newcomb has filled The Gates of Dawn with more action and story twists than I have seen in the last 3 Jordan novels. I highly recommend both of Newcomb's novels to those that love fantasy novels, but hate trying to find something new and refreshing in the endless stuff that has been copied over and over.
The sequel to the Fifth Sorceress, The Gates of Dawn, did everything for a lover of Epic Fantasy but leave me disappointed. This was everything I expected and many things which I didn't...like the introduction of some exciting women heroines. The author continues to paint an action packed story that leaves me gasping for breath. I couldn't put it down and I can't wait for the next installment. If you liked the Lord of the Rings, you'll love this. You won't be disappointed.
Robert Newcomb is truly one of the brightest new stars in the fantasy world. He made his presence known with his first novel 'The Fifth Sorceress', and now he continues the high standards set by that book with his sophomore effort 'The Gates of Dawn'. With this new novel Newcomb demonstrates that his craft as a writer has improved by leaps and bounds, he writes more tightly and concisely, and though it is hard to imagine, his vision is clearer and more focused than it was with 'The Fifth Sorceress'. It is obvious that he has a plan, a goal, and a destination in mind with this story. Though the first book was chock full of detail and description of the realms, magics, and peoples of the world that Newcomb has created, with 'The Gates of Dawn' he delves more deeply into the workings of the craft of 'blood' sorcery that he has established, revealing many surprising intricacies as well as expanding the boundaries of the lands that the characters call home, which serves to broaden the scope and epic feel of the series. In this new book, Mr. Newcomb takes us further into the minds and hearts of his characters, causing the reader to sympathize more closely with characters that had already earned their place in the reader's heart from the first novel. The ridiculous fears and qualms that Mr. Newcomb's characters, and world, if not Mr. Newcomb himself were sexist that some readers had expressed after reading 'The Fifth Sorceress' can be safely laid to rest after one reads 'The Gates of Dawn'. There are few if any EVIL women in this book, and many GOOD women are introduced, and deeply developed. Just for the information of those doubters out there, this book had almost been completed by the time that 'The Fifth Sorceress' had been released, so Mr. Newcomb had always intended to have major female characters of a heroic nature play a significant role in the story. As most readers of Epic Fantasy know, by its very nature Fantasy is not for the faint of heart. Newcomb doesn't pull any punches, and renders violence in a very realistic manner. Fans of Jordan, and especially Martin, and Goodkind will feel right at home with Robert Newcomb's 'The Fifth Sorceress' and 'The Gates of Dawn', which serve as the first two books in his 'Chronicles of Blood and Stone' series. As with 'The Fifth Sorceress' as soon as I had finished 'The Gates of Dawn', I was anxious for the next book, and I will be counting the months, weeks, and days until the third volume is released.
Moments ago I finished 'The Gates of Dawn' the terrific sequel to ¿The Fifth Sorceress¿. I have anxiously awaited the arrival of this book since I read the final word of 'The Fifth Sorceress' when it was first released and NOW my wait begins anew for the third volume. There are so many aspects of the story and its characters that I tremendously enjoy that I wish I had the next volume in my hands so I could begin reading it immediately. As was true with the first volume I wish I could give this review more than 5 stars! Having been a voracious reader for many years I can honestly say that the vivid, original, and unique imagination of this author and the amazing world he has created have had an invigorating effect on my reading habits which I am very happy about and grateful for. There are many extremely fascinating and unique attributes of this amazing world, its inhabitants, and the use/deployment of the magical ¿Craft¿. This is very original and captivating fantasy at its best. I urge you to purchase this book and ready yourself for a great ride. Maybe Wigg and Faegan (with Tristan¿s insistence?) can accelerate the release of Volume III for us to enjoy!!!!!!
The beloved monarchy counseled by a wise Directorate of Wizards kept the peace and enabled the Kingdom to flourish. However, the Pax Eutracia ends when the Sorceresses of the Coven return seeking victory at any cost. The Coven loses, but devastates the land. The king dies at the hands of his son, and his wife and most of the wizards are also dead. Eutracia reels from the destruction and lack of leadership to lead the recovery. The Sorceresses compelled Prince Tristan to kill his sire. He feels guilt even as he hides with his sister, her infant, and the sole surviving wizard council member Wigg. Joining the trio is wizard Faegan, who just came home. They need to help the country recover, but new terrors have surfaced. The source of all the magic jewels has mysteriously been diminished leaving the wizards in mortal risk of death and creatures created from taboo magic are causing havoc. Volume II of the Chronicles of Blood and Stone, THE GATES OF DAWN, is an exhilarating action-packed epic fantasy that takes readers into a different realm where magic works. Fans will value this novel because the prime charcaters seem very genuine. Tristan knows he must redeem himself, but knows not how. His sister has a baby to keep safe yet needs to help her brother on his quest. The wizards must use their magic to stop a vile opponent, but time and ebbing power loss leaves them in jeopardy, a new feeling for the immortal magicians. This powerful ensemble along with a bunch of nasties will leave the audience desiring a fast turn around for Volume III. Harriet Klausner