Lord of Souls (Elder Scrolls Series #2)

Lord of Souls (Elder Scrolls Series #2)

by Greg Keyes


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345508027
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/27/2011
Series: Elder Scrolls Series , #2
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 87,870
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Born in Meridian, Mississippi, in 1963, Greg Keyes spent his early years roaming the forests of his native state and the red rock cliffs of the Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona. He earned his B.A. in anthropology from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree from the University of Georgia, where he did course work for a Ph.D. He lives in Savannah, Georgia, where, in addition to full-time writing, he practices ethnic cooking—particularly Central American, Szechuan, Malaysian, and Turkish cuisines—and Kapucha Toli, a Choctaw game involving heavy sticks and no rules. While researching the Age of Unreason series, he took up fencing, and now competes nationally. Greg is the author of The Waterborn, The Blackgod, the Babylon 5 Psi Corps trilogy, the Age of Unreason tetrology (for which he won the prestigious Le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire award), and three New York Times bestselling Star Wars novels in the New Jedi Order series.

Read an Excerpt


Wind opened Colin's eyes, but it was the unfastened window that sped his heart, and the utter lack of sound that sent his fingers to the knife under his mattress. A hand met his there and gripped his wrist, hard. He swung over to kick at the vague shadow, but he was grasped at the ankles as well, and a bag was forced over his head, followed by a return to sleep that would have been gentle if part of him wasn't screaming to the rest that he wouldn't ever wake up.

He did wake again, however. The bag and the cloying scent of somniculous remained, but the drug itself was obviously dissipated. He was lying on a hard but inconstant surface, and he soon recognized by the motion that he was in a boat, on water. His hands and feet were efficiently bound. His captors did not speak, but he could hear their breathing and exertions at the oars. He couldn't make out anything through the sack except light, but he felt the sun on his skin and guessed it was approaching midday.

Not much later, there was a bit of jostling and then the shock of the boat coming on shore. He smelled pine.

They cut the bindings on his feet and made him walk. He kept thinking he ought to say something, but his kidnappers behaved so professionally he knew there wasn't much point. There was no talking them out of whatever they were doing with him. All he could do was wait, and wonder. Would he feel it? Would he know anything had happened?

Colin killed a man once. He died confused, begging, unwilling to admit even as the knife cut into him what was happening.

He wished he could have seen his mother again, and-realizing he was weeping-felt ashamed. He'd wanted to be braver.

The hand on his arm came away. He tried not to shake.

Then one of the men made a peculiar sound, a sigh like a very tired man finally lying down.

"What?" the other asked, before sucking a sharp breath.

Colin heard two distinct thumps-then for a moment, nothing. He wondered if he should run.

"Who do you work for?" a feminine voice asked.

He recognized it, and a deep chill wracked through him. The last time he'd heard that voice had been in a house in the Market District, just before its owner slaughtered at least eight men.

"Come," she said. "Tell me."

"I'm not at liberty to say," he replied.

"Keep still," she said. A moment later the sack came off his head.

And there she was, regarding him, Letine Arese. Her small frame, turned-up nose, and short blond hair made her seem almost like a little girl, but he knew her to be thirty-one years of age, and her blue eyes held a cold intensity that was quite un-childlike.

Those eyes narrowed now.

"You look familiar," she said. "I've seen you. I suppose that makes sense."

He glanced behind her, at the two bodies on the ground. Both were male; one was an Argonian, the other a Bosmer. They both seemed quite dead, although he could not see the cause.

"They brought you out here to kill you," she said.

"I gathered that," he replied. "I'm grateful you stopped them."

"Are you? We'll get back to that in a moment." She folded her hands behind her back. She was dressed in Bosmer woodsman style, with high boots and soft leather vest and breeches. It was an odd look for her, in his experience-he'd only ever seen her in relatively fashionable city attire.

"What would you say if I told you they worked for me?" she asked.

"I would be confused," Colin said carefully.

"Yes, I should hope so," she told him. "They noticed you spying on me and brought it to my attention. So of course, I did a little checking of my own. Colin Vineben, from Anvil. Your father is dead, and your mother does laundry. You were recommended for and received training for the Penitus Oculatus, and recently were named an inspector in that organization. It was you who discovered the massacre of Prince Attrebus's personal guard and the apparent murder of the prince, and you who suggested to the Emperor that the prince wasn't actually dead. Which, as it turns out, you were right about. And now you're spying on me, but without, it seems, any official authority to do so. So I wonder if you're employed by someone else."

"Why did you kill them?" he asked.

"Because otherwise, I would have had to kill you," she snapped. "Now I have to account for them, pretend I sent them on a mission to someplace fatal. Otherwise, the two of them would have wondered why you were still walking, and after a while that wonder would have spread its way up to the minister himself."

"I don't understand," Colin said.

"I'm risking my neck for you, you idiot," Arese snapped suddenly. "Can't you see that?"

"I can see it," he replied. "I just don't get why."

She pulled a knife from her belt and stalked toward him. His chest tightened, but she merely cut the ropes that held his hands behind his back. Then she stepped back a bit and untied her pants, loosening the laces and pulling one side down, exposing her hip.

"You know what that is?" she asked, indicating a small black tattoo of a wolf's head.

He did, of course. It was the Emperor's personal brand, worn only by his innermost circle.

He didn't say anything, but she saw he recognized it, and pulled the breeches back up, tying them again.

"He put me in the minister's office ten years ago," she said. "No one knows but him and me. And now you."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because I need help, and I think we may have a common purpose."

"What's that?"

"To discover why Minister Hierem wants Prince Attrebus dead."

"Does he?"

"I should know," she said. "I made the arrangements for the ambush on his orders."

"Why?" Colin exploded. "If you're loyal to the Emperor-"

She barked a laugh. "You knew," she said. "You were there, weren't you? When I took care of Calvur and his thugs. I knew someone was there!" She closed her eyes for a moment, looking very tired.

"I didn't mean for the prince to come to harm," she said. "If I could have gotten word to the Emperor, I would have. It was impossible at the time, at least without revealing myself to Hierem. In the end, a decision had to be made."

"And you decided you were more important than the prince?"

"Yes. If you knew anything about him, you would probably agree."

"And yet Hierem wants him dead."


"Then why hasn't the Emperor had the minister arrested?"

"When the Emperor first placed me in the ministry, he didn't have any particular worries about Hierem, only the sort of general paranoia a successful monarch must have. For most of the past ten years, the minister has been above suspicion, but a year or so ago he began testing me, first subtly, then overtly. It became clear he wanted his own private intelligence and eliminations organization, one not connected to the Penitus Oculatus or known to the Emperor. The attack on Attrebus was-surprising. I didn't see that coming. It's only because some of the assassins got greedy that the prince survived. The Emperor isn't ready to move against Hierem yet because he doesn't believe we know everything, and because the minister is politically important-very important. The Emperor has survived because he waits until he knows where all the forces are and their strengths before he strikes. Right now, Hierem thinks his actions are invisible. We want to keep it that way a bit longer. That's where you come in, if you're up to it."

"Up to what?"

"Hierem trusts me now, completely I believe. But that limits me. And I can't trust anyone else in the ministry. I can open certain doors, but I need someone who can walk through them. Can you be that man?"

Colin considered for a moment. Arese might be telling the truth and she might be lying; in a way, it didn't matter. If he agreed to help her, it gave him a chance to find the answers he sought, even if she was steering him away from them. If he told her no, it was pretty certain he was staying on this island for eternity.

"I can be that man," he told her.


When he smelled blood, Mere-Glim turned in the deep waters of the Marrow Sump, trying to find the source. Blood wasn't an unusual smell in these waters; bodies were dumped here every day, many still feebly struggling against death. But this blood was not only fresh, it had a certain rotten scent he'd come to know all too well.

He closed his eyes and flared his reptilian nostrils, and when he identified the current that carried the smell, he struck out along it, his webbed hands and feet propelling him swiftly through the clear waters. It took him only a few moments before he could see the erratically twitching figure trying to reach the surface.

By the time he reached her, the life was dimming from her eyes. He wasn't sure if she ever actually saw him. Blood still roiled in clouds from her nostrils and gaping mouth. He reached around her from behind and kicked purposefully toward the surface, but by the time he reached it, she had gone limp.

He took her into the skraw caves along the shoreline anyway, and laid her out on the little bier his coworkers had made from woven cane and grass for the dead to rest on. In the sunlight she'd looked old, worn, with black bags beneath her eyes and hair like lank kelp, but here in the phosphorescence from the cave walls she appeared younger, more like the ten or fifteen years she probably actually was. On Umbriel, people were born as adults, and those born to be skraws, to tend and harvest the sump, had nothing that resembled a childhood.

He heard others approaching and looked over his shoulder to see his friend Wert and a young skraw named Oluth.

"Joacin," Wert sighed. "I knew she couldn't last much longer."

"I'm sorry," Glim told him. "I couldn't reach her in time."

"It wouldn't have mattered," Wert said. "If you had, she might have lived another day."

"A day is a day," Glim said.

Wert knelt and studied the woman's face for a long moment, his own visage more long and doleful than usual.

"When do we move forward?" he asked without looking up. "Isn't it time to take the next step?"

"We're done with the maps," Oluth blurted. He was young, probably no more than three years old; his skin had only the barest hint of the jaundice that plagued the older skraws.

"Good," Glim replied.

"So-like Wert said-what's next?" the hatchling went on eagerly.

"I'm still planning that," Glim told him.

"You excited everyone, Glim," Wert said. "You gave us all hope. But now-some say that you're stalling."

"We have to be prepared," Glim said. "We have to be careful. Once we start, there's no turning back. Does everyone understand that?"

"They do," Wert said. "They're ready to do what you say, Glim. But you have to say something."

Glim felt his heart sink. "Soon," he said.

"How soon?"

"I'll let you know."

Wert frowned, but nodded. Then he turned to Oluth.

"Go with Glim. He'll show you about the lower sump. You'll be working down there with him."

"It'll be an honor," Oluth said.

Glim waited for Oluth to go take the vapors and felt guilty. The caustic fumes allowed the skraws to breathe underwater, but they also killed them young, as they had just killed Joacin. Of all the skraws, he was the only one who hadn't been born on Umbriel, the only Argonian- the only one who didn't need the vapors to breathe beneath the surface.

When the youngster joined him in the shallows, Glim took him down below the midway of the cone-shaped body of water and showed him the cocooned figures fastened to the wall. Inside each was something that had started as a worm smaller than his least claw, but were now in various stages of becoming inhabitants of Umbriel. He brushed against one near term, a lanky female who-in appearance-would be human. Next to her grew a brick-red creature with horns, and farther along a man with the dusky skin of a Dunmer. All began as worms, however, and beneath appearances they were all Umbrielians. He tried not to be annoyed by Oluth's eagerness as he explained the procedures for tending the unborn and moving them to the birthing pools when their time came, and how to know that time. He could tell the boy was only half paying attention. He kept glancing around, especially down, to the bottom of the sump, where the actinic glare of the connexion with the ingenium lay.

"You're curious about that?" Glim asked.

"That's the ingenium," Oluth said. "That's the heart and soul of Umbriel. If we controlled that . . . "

"Even if we could do it," Glim said, "that would be too much."

"But if we're to really revolt, carry the fight to the lords-"

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Lord of Souls 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Out of the realm of Oblivion came the floating mountain city Umbriel. Wherever this city in the sky travels, people on the ground below die and rise again to serve their new masters. The rulers of this soul eating place are the decadent Umbria and the immortal lords who are served by the enslaved Skrows and an invincible army of the undead. Two residents of the deadly floating city are Annaig the human slave working for Tamriel Prince Attrebus to find a way to destroy Umbriel and Glim the Argonian leading a revolt by the Skrows. Attrebus seeks a magic sword which allegedly is the only source to destroy the city of doom. He is working with his friend Sul the mage to evacuate the people in the path of the monstrosity. When Attrebus is captured by the enemy, Sul rescues him. They escape to Oblivion where the roots of the Umbriel crisis actually began and then go to the city in the sky to figure out how to end Unbria's reign. Based on the Elder Scrolls® video gaming series, Lord of Souls is the sequel to The Infernal City as the events of Lord of Souls occur between the fourth and fifth games. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Greg Keyes resets the parameters of the realm and brings out the three heroic protagonists battling the insidious enemy. Fans of the games will enjoy the action but first should read the Infernal City. Harriet Klausner
Jessica_Ison More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome end to this set of Elder Scrolls novels. It would be amazing to see more of these books as more Elder Scrolls games come out, filling in the lore left out in between the games.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book overall is good but i got really sad at the end. This book i reccomend to anyone but just have a box of tissues at your side. I loved the implement of referring to various characters i have helped in Oblivion, such as Martin Septim, the true hero of the third era.
Emidawg on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I have played many of the Elder Scrolls games and enjoy the world of Tamriel and its inhabitants. I found this book to be a good addition to the lore behind the Elder Scrolls series.In this book I most enjoyed the parts that took place in Umbriel, the world building in there was interesting and the characters played well together. The concept of cooking using otherworldly ingredients and emotions as spice was really neat!I found myself less interested in the other characters, and thought that the part with the female orc who was guarding the mage felt somewhat tacked on. I did not realize that this book was a follow up to another, I will have to go back and read it when I have time.
sedelia on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Despite the fact that I haven't read the first book, nor have I played the game, I had no problem picking up on what was going on. It took a little bit, and I'm sure some of the finer details of the world were lost on me, but during no point in the book was I thinking, "What is going on?!" So I appreciate the fact that Greg Keyes did an awesome job in making this read like a stand-alone novel.Besides that, it's a really interesting story. As is usual with fantasy, there are multiple viewpoints, and I enjoyed most of the characters and their personal involvement with the larger problem at hand. There was one character I didn't care for (Mazgar), just because I didn't think her story was as developed as the others'. I thought that Annaig and Glim's stories were by far the most interesting and entertaining. They had a stronger connection, and I think they were the characters that had the most to lose if things didn't turn out well.I enjoyed the intrigues and the suspense. There were a few times that I was completely surprised by the turn of events (and a few plot twists that were predictable, but that's okay). If you're a fan of fantasy, I think you'd enjoy this story. Some have complained about it being too difficult to follow along without reading the first book, though. But it may not be a bad thing to read more of this series, since the plots and the characters are so well-constructed.
MorHavok on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Although this book is obviously a tie in book with the immensely popular Elder Scrolls video game, I did not realize that was the case when requesting it Having played several iterations of this game it is always nice to see a good/great video game crawl into different mediums. Unfortunately these cross overs never approach the level of quality their video game versions possess. This is another one of these underachievers. With that said this book is still better than most cross over books, and is decently entertaining. If your a fan or way into fantasy you might enjoy it, if not pass it up.The book follows the story's of several characters as their world is invaded. If you have never played an Elder Scrolls game the story will probably make no sense to you, and sadly never really is filled in (because the back story is huge and could fill several other books). As is the trend with these multiple character narratives, they all have interweaving story lines, and eventually effect each other in some way throughout the book. Anyway I enjoyed the book as a fan of the games, but if I was someone picking it up randomly it would not hold as much value.
SomewhatBent on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Lord of Souls: An Elder Scrolls NovelGreg KeyesDel Rey (2011), Paperback, 336 pagesI may have approached this book differently than some reviewers; while I know of the video game universe in which this is set, I have never played it and only barely seen it. Instead of reading it as a tie-in I took the book to see how it stands on it's own two feet, as it were.Without knowing any of the backstory I found myself rather scattered early in the book, but as the characters and intrigues (and it's FULL of intrigues) developed it generated a personality of it's own. Watching the threads twist together the book has quite enough cohesiveness to stand on it's own. It has richly detailed scenes that would allow you to place yourself in the midst of many of them.I expect it will be more fully appreciated by players of the game (or people who've read the previous novel) but it clearly isn't dependent on the game tie-in to be an engaging read.
zannyvix on LibraryThing 10 months ago
While I'll admit this was an interesting read, I had some trouble following the story and characters, because it's pretty clearly a later part in an ongoing series. The writer doesn't do much introduction of the characters or their situations because it's expected that the reader has read other books, and already knows what's going on to some extent. Beyond that, it makes for an excellent fantasy romp.
corglacier7 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I've loved "The Elder Scrolls" games and as a novel set in that world, it's a good read. I think Mr. Keyes does assume here and there he's writing for TES fans which makes the world and narrative a bit tougher to follow for non-gamers, but I wouldn't deem it inaccessible. Any fan used to reading fantasy could probably manage to understand the worldbuilding with a bit of effort. It's not weighty epic fantasy but as a lighter read with adventure, intrigue, action scenes, it's pretty good. I was unaware this was the second book in a series and would advise readers to check out the first book, since "Lord of Souls" made references to characters and events from that book that I was unfamiliar with.
yoyogod on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This was one ER book that I probably shouldn't have requested. It's a direct sequel to another book, which I haven't read, and it's set in the world of a video game franchise that I haven't played. This made in very hard for me to get into the book.The prologue is basically a recap of the events of the previous book, so I wasn't too lost. The main problem came with all the Elder Scrolls terminology that I didn't know. I know what elves and orcs are, but I did not know what any of the other races were and could only infer some of them from the text. Despite it being rather important to the plot, I still have no idea what Oblivion actually is except that that's where the bad guys came from. This leads me to believe that this is the sort of book that is primarily designed to appeal to fans of the video game franchise.This made it rather difficult for me to get into the story. Once I did get into it, it was a fairly exciting tale, but really, unless your a fan of the Elder Scrolls games, you probably shouldn't bother with this book.
Vashtia on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I received this book as an Early Review through LibraryThing.com. I really should have done a bit more research about it before I requested it. I loved Greg Keyes Kingdom of Throne and Bone series so I was expecting something more along those lines. Not only did I not realize that Lord of Souls was a sequel, I also didn't know that it was related to Morrowind and Oblivion. I think in order to really enjoy this book, one would have to have read the first one and have some knowledge of the game(s) that it is based on. Keyes (understandably) refers to races, events, characters and settings that will lose an uninformed reader quickly. While I do believe it is well-written and I like the style of it, I couldn't get past the first 50 pages because I felt I had no clue what was going on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic followup to the first one. Great conclusion of storyline, and incredible mind for lore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great! Its super sad Anninag was forced to kill Mere-Gilm. I loved him! He was awesome! Otherwise this book is breathtaking and I could not put it down. It goes super deep into detail and every page brings one suprise to another. Amd remember, gumballs heart says keep smiling homie. -Nathaniel Louise Tarrick &#9822
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
R1: Maps R2: Whiterun R3 & 4: Rules R5: Riften R6: Dawnstar R7: Throat of the World R8: Solitude Go to Skyrim results for more! Thanks! <br>Josd the Dark Elf
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite book series, Lord of Souls brings a perfect ending to this amazing series!
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A superior follow-up to The Infernal City, Lord of Souls deftly balances adventure and intrigue. Some very strong character building and unexpected twists.
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Keyes finishes the 2 part series strongly, but I cannot help but feel that he tries to cram in or add some elements to the plot that were not needed. A prime example would be the added drama involving Colin that occurs towards the end, which felt out of place and thrown in at the last minute. This happens very infrequently however, and if you have read the first book be sure to pi c this one up!
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