The Hammer of Darkness

The Hammer of Darkness

by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765315670
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 05/30/2006
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

L. E. Modesitt, Jr., is the bestselling author of the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce, Corean Chronicles, and the Imager Portfolio. His science fiction includes Adiamante, the Ecolitan novels, the Forever Hero Trilogy, and Archform: Beauty. Besides a writer, Modesitt has been a U.S. Navy pilot, a director of research for a political campaign, legislative assistant and staff director for a U.S. Congressman, Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues, and a college lecturer. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

In toward Galactic Center, the myth implies, there is a star so hot it is a mere dot in the sky of that planet where the God of Darkness and the Lady of Light live. Just as this sun has only one planet, so is there only one God, the God of Darkness.

In fact, stars that hot, FO or hotter, don't have planets. And if they did, the star wouldn't last long enough to allow planetary development of a terrestrial environment.

Even if such a god existed and if he could build a planet from scratch, why would he be humanoid or interested in humanity?

—Lectures on Pan-Humanoid Myths

Prester Smythe Kinsel

University of New Augusta

1211 A.O.E.

Chapter Two

The young woman sits on the edge of the ornate bed where she is being watched.

"Everyone watches the Duke's daughter," she says in a low voice. Even the Duke's security force. More since the accident, she suspects. She cannot remember much of what she knows she should know.

The Duchess was solicitous, and her father the Duke growled. Yet he cares.

She frowns and leans forward, letting her long black hair flood over the shoulders of her pale blue travel suit.

Why should her memories be so cloudy? She can remember everything since she returned so clearly, but the people around her, the rooms, they all have a clarity that the past does not have.

Yet she belongs. The well-thumbed holobook in her father's study shows images of her growing up, standing at her father's knee, holding his hand.

Perhaps her studies at the Institute will help. Perhaps time will remove the awkwardness of relearning her past. Perhaps . . .

"Back into the fishbulb," she says out loud, crossing the room that would have held five of the single sleeping room she had occupied at Lady Persis'.

Somehow, the long row of garments hanging in the wardrobing room does not surprise her, although she has not remembered them. She walks through the wardrobe to the tiles and direct light of the bath.

Neither does she remember its luxury.

Half shrugging, she catches sight of herself in one of the full-length mirrors.

"Disheveled," she observes, looking at her hair. Something is right about it, for the first time in a long while, and something is not, nagging feelings she cannot place.

She squints until her eyes close. She opens them again. Her reflection awaits her.

Chapter Three

"I don't understand, Martin. You're not registered . . ."

Not registered . . . a Query on your name . . . blocked even from the Duke's code . . .

Kryn's words are clipped, and even without the underlying concern he can sense, Martin knows of her unrest from the shortened speech.

The courtyard, the one where they always meet, is chill, as chill as the weather controls ever allow on the Planet of the Prince Regent of the Empire of Man. The little winds shuffle the small needles from the miniature cone-pines back and forth along the interior walls. No shadows, for the overcast is heavy enough to block the winter sun, and the climatizers have not succeeded in dispersing the clouds.

Kryn shivers, and the blue-clad guard involuntarily steps forward out of the corner, then back into the columns.

Always the guards, Martin reflects, always the trappings of power.

His eyes flicker over the communit bracelet that links her into the Regency data system, the blue leather overtunic that costs more than his total tuition, the sunpearls on her ring fingers.

He clears his throat.

"It's not that simple, Kryn." Not simple at all. He cannot register for further grad study, not with the Query stamped against his name.

No reason is given, and the junior registrar with whom he'd managed to get a face-to-face appointment had not known anything . . . nothing except a few vague thought fragments unvoiced to Martin.

. . . has to be dangerous . . . deadly . . . not even Darin will meet him . . . why me? . . . Darin's ex-Marine . . . afraid of a student . . . why me?

"The real reason?" Martin had pressed.

"Imperial Security, Citizen Martel. That is all the University is told." Her smooth dark brow and open thoughts had revealed nothing else, even when he had probed deeply. And no one wanted to talk to him.

That had been it. Someone, somehow, had fed the results of the damned paracomm tests to Imperial Security, and he was out of grad school and on his way to the mines or the Marines . . . the only employment open to someone who was Queried.

"Why not?" snaps Kryn, her cold words bringing him back from his thoughts into the chill of the Commannex courtyard.

"Because I can't get a job, any job, on Karnak. With no credits, I can't free-lance. If I could, no one could hire my services. So it's either off Karnak, or the Marines and off Karnak shortly. That's the choice."

"There has to be another one." Her voice is matter-of-fact. So are her feelings, Martin can tell, and she is as calm as her mother, the Iron Duchess, in telling a subject he is mistaken. Kryn will be Duchess, or more, Martin knows.

"If you could be so kind, Lady Kryn Kirsten, as to suggest another alternative for your obedient subject, Martin Martel, I would be most deeply obliged. Particularly since my student status will be terminated rather shortly."

"How soon?"

"Tomorrow . . . today . . . perhaps three days. The term is over, and the minimum guarantees of the Regency toward a Free Scholar have been met."

He looks down at the flat white of the marble pavement, then lifts his eyes to watch the dust devil in the far corner scatter a small heap of cone needles.

The sunlight floods abruptly into the courtyard.

"The climatizers succeed again," the ex-Scholar remarks, "bringing light into darkness, except for a few of us."

"Martin!"

He realizes that she wants to stamp her foot but refrains because the action would be unladylike.

He chuckles, and the low sound eddies through the columns. The guard in the shadows, now that there are shadows with the full winter sunlight beaming down, edges forward.

"What will you do?" Her question comes almost as a dismissal, an acceptance.

"I don't look forward to spending five years in the ore mines . . . and I don't have the heroic build of the successful Imperial Marine. So I'm somewhat limited."

"You aren't answering the question."

"I know. You don't want to hear the answer."

"You could leave the Empire . . ."

"I could. If I had the creds for passage. But no one can hire me to pay my way, except an outsider, and outsiders aren't allowed to downport here. And I don't have passage to the orbitport."

"I could help."

"I've already made arrangements."

"You didn't!"

"The Brotherhood is looking for comm specialists, so . . ."

"But"—her voice sharpens—"that's treason."

"Not unless the Regent changes the law."

He ought to. Brotherhood is nothing but trouble.

"Perhaps he will," Martin supplies the follow-on to her thought. "But they do pay, and will clear me from Imperial space, if necessary."

"Why?"

"Because, Lady Kryn Kirsten," Martin answers the question she meant, "I came off the dole, and I will not spend five years at slave labor in the hope that a black mark will be lifted from my name."

"May be Da—, the Duke, I mean, could take care of that."

Martin refrains from trying to read her thoughts.

"I doubt that even the Duke could remove the Prince Regent's Query. And why would he? For a penniless scholar who's attracted to the very daughter he's planning to marry into the Royal Family?"

"Martin Martel! That's totally uncalled for." How did he know? Never said . . . paracomm?

"Realistic," he says in a clipped tone, trying to allay her suspicions. "Duke of Kirsten holds the most powerful House on Karnak next to the Regent. What else?"

So obvious, so obvious even to poor sweet Martin.

He cannot keep the wince from his face.

"Martin . . . what, how do you know?" He reads thoughts, I know he does. How long? What does he really know?

"Nothing that the gossip tabs haven't already spread. Nothing every student in the Commannex hasn't speculated."

Sweat, dampness, runs down Martin's back, with the perception that the guard is drawing his stunner, edging the setting beyond the stun range toward lethal.

Martin concentrates on the energy flows in the stunner, puzzling how to divert them, to distract Kryn from her iron-cold purpose, to just leave without raising any more fear and suspicion.

Aware of his sleeve wiping perspiration off his forehead, strange itself in the courtyard chill, he stammers.

"Nothing . . . nothing more to be said, Lady Kryn, time to depart . . . fulfill my contract to the Brotherhood . . . and then if you hear of a newsie named Martel on a far planet . . . think about corel."

No . . . no! Treason? Corel. Romance and flowers to the last. But a Duchess is as a Duchess does.

Her hands touch the stud on her wide belt, the stud that screams "emergency" to the guard. The tight-faced man in blue aims the stunner.

Zinnnng! The strum of the weapon fills the courtyard.

"I wish you hadn't, Kryn. Wish you hadn't," mumbles Martin, knowing that he has bent the focus of the beam around him, knowing that such is impossible.

The guard knows it also, looks stupidly down at the stunner, then raises it again, only to find that the blackclad student has disappeared, and that tears stream down the cheeks of the Lady Kryn Kirsten.

Along the courtyard wall, behind the black marble bench, lit by the slanting ray of the afternoon sun, the dust devil restacks the pile of cone needles.

Copyright © 1985 by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

Table of Contents

Contents

Part One: The Planet of Eternal Light,
Part Two: The Coming of the Hammer,
Tor Books by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.,
Copyright,

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The Hammer of Darkness 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
With a Query next to his name Martin Martel is unable to live as a student on the planet Karnak and his girlfriend Kryn, the duke¿s daughter, has the guards fire at him when she realized he was an esper. The Brotherhood takes him to Aurore a planet many scientists believe should not exist, a place where people with esper powers have a chance to grow into them and use them at will.-------------------- It is also a place where gods walk among the populace only Martel believes at first they are more powerful espers such as the galaxy has never seen and the gods rule to keep from getting bored. Martel has the potential to become one of them but because he turns his back on them, both sides know a confrontation will eventually occur. A millennium has passed and Martel is viewed as a god by the people who worship him, he can control his powers which are greater than the so called gods and Kryn is now the Viceroy ruler of a galaxy. Martel does the impossible to get what he wants and if he is successful, for the first time in a thousand years, he will finally be happy.---------------- THE HAMMER OF DARKNESS is a reprint of a book first published in 1985. Although the plot is not as fast-paced and exciting as the later works of L.E. Modesitt, Jr., it is evident by the storyline that he showed back then he was destined to be a highly regarded master storyteller. What hasn¿t changed in over two decades is his ability to create characters that are interesting and larger than life placed in a future setting.-------------- Harriet Klausner