A Man Rides Through (Mordant's Need Series #2)

A Man Rides Through (Mordant's Need Series #2)

by Stephen R. Donaldson


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In The Mirror of Her Dreams, the dazzling first volume of Mordant’s Need, New York Times bestselling author Stephen R. Donaldson introduced us to the richly imagined world of Mordant, where mirrors are magical portals into places of beauty and terror. Now, with A Man Rides Through, Donaldson brings the story of Terisa Morgan to an unforgettable conclusion. . . .

Aided by the powerful magic of Vagel, the evil Arch-Imager, the merciless armies are marching against the kingdom of Mordant. In its hour of greatest need, two unlikely champions emerge. One is Geraden, whose inability to master the simplest skills of Imagery has made him a laughingstock. The other is Terisa Morgan, transferred to Mordant from a Manhattan apartment by Geraden’s faulty magic. Together, Geraden and Terisa discover undreamed-of talents within themselves—talents that make them more than a match for any Imager . . . including Vagel himself.

Unfortunately, those talents also mark them for death. Branded as traitors, they are forced to flee the castle for their lives. Now, all but defenseless in a war-torn countryside ravaged by the vilest horrors Imagery can spawn, Geraden and Terisa must put aside past failures and find the courage to embrace their powers—and their love—before Vagel can spring his final trap.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345459848
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/03/2003
Series: Mordant's Need Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 643,817
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Stephen R. Donaldson is the bestselling author of the series The Gap Cycle, Mordant's Need, and the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, including Lord Foul's Bane and The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; and other works, such as Daughter of Regals and Other Tales and a mystery series under the pseudonym Reed Stephens. He is the recipient of the first prize of the British Science Fiction Society and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Read an Excerpt

Early the next morning, the siege of Orison began.
The huge, rectangular pile of the castle stood on slightly lower ground, surrounded by bare dirt and straggling grass – and surrounded, too, by the Alend army, with its supporting horde of servants and camp followers. From Prince Kragen’s perspective, Orison looked too massive – and the ring of attackers around it too thin – for the siege to succeed. He understood sieges, however. He knew his force was strong enough to take the castle.
Nevertheless the Prince didn’t risk any men. He felt the pressure of time, of course: he could almost taste High King Festten’s army marching out of Cadwal against him, a sensation as disturbing as a stench borne along on the edges of the raw wind. And that army was large – the Prince knew this because he had captured a number of the Perdon’s wounded men on their way to Orison and had taken the information from them. Composed half of mercenaries, half of his own troops, the High King’s troops numbered at least twenty thousand. And of the Alend Monarch’s men there were barely ten thousand.
So Kragen had to hurry. He needed to take Orison and fortify it before those twenty thousand Cadwals crossed the Broadwine into the Demesne. Otherwise when the High King came he would have no choice but to retreat ignominiously. Unless he was willing to lose his entire force in an effort to help Joyse keep the Congery out of Cadwal’s hands. The lady Elega’s plan to paralyze Orison from within had failed, and now time was not on the Alend Contender’s side.
Still he didn’t risk any men. He was going to need them soon enough.
Instead, he ordered his catapults into position to heave rocks at the scant curtain-wall which protected the hole in the side of the castle.
He had seen that wound from a similar vantage point the day after the Congery’s mad champion had blasted his way to freedom, the day when, as the Alend Monarch’s ambassador, he had formally departed Orison: a smoking breach with a look of death about it torn in one face of the blunt stone. The damage had been impressive then, seen against a background of cold and snow, like a fatal hurt that steamed because the corpse was still warm. The sight of it had simultaneously lifted and chilled Prince Kragen’s heart, promising as it did that Orison could be taken – that a power which had once ruled Mordant and controlled the ancient conflict between Alend and Cadwal was doomed.
In some ways, however, King Joyse’s seat looked more vulnerable now. The inadequacies of the curtain-wall were so simple that a child could measure them. Considering his circumstances, Castellan Lebbick had done well – quite well, in fact. But circumstantial excuses wouldn’t help the wall stand against siege engines. The Prince’s captain of catapults was privately taking bets as to whether the curtain-wall could survive more than one good hit.
No, the obvious question facing Prince Kragen was not whether he could break into Orison, but rather how hard the castle would defend itself. The lady Elega had failed to poison Lebbick’s guards – but she had poisoned the reservoir, putting the badly overcrowded castle into a state of severe rationing. And as for King Joyse—He wasn’t just the leader of his people: he was their hero, the man who had given them identity as well as ideals. Now he had lost his mind. Leaderless and desperate, how fiercely would the Mordants fight?
They might find it in themselves to fight very fiercely, if Joyse kept his word. He had certainly lost his mind, there was no doubt about that. Yet he had met Alend’s demand for surrender with the one threat which might give heart to his followers: King Joyse intends to unleash the full force of the Congery against you and rout you from the Earth!
Elega didn’t believe that, but the Prince lacked her confidence. If Joyse did indeed unleash the Congery, then what happened to Alend’s army might be worse than a rout. It might be complete ruin.
So Prince Kragen held his troops back from the walls of Orison. Wearing his spiked helmet over his curly black hair, with his moustache waxed to a bold gloss that matched his eyes, and his longsword and breastplate exposed by the negligent way he wore his white fur robe, he was the image of assurance and vitality as he readied his forces, warned back the army’s camp followers, discussed weights and trajectories with his captain of catapults. Nevertheless every thought in his head was hedged with doubts. He didn’t intend to risk any men until he had to. He was afraid that he might soon need them all.
The terrain suited catapults. For one thing, it was clear. Except for the trees edging the roads, the ground was uncluttered: virtually all the natural brush had been cut away, and even the grass struggling to come out for the spring was having a hard time because of the chill and the lack of rain. And the roads weren’t in Kragen’s way: they met some distance outside Orison’s gates to the northeast of the castle, and the wound in the wall faced more toward the northwest. For another, Orison’s immediate setting was either level with or slightly lower than the positions of Alend’s army. As Prince Kragen’s military teachers and advisors had drummed into him for years, it was exceptionally difficult to aim catapults uphill. Here, however, the shot which actually presented itself to his siege engines was an easy one.
The lady Elega came to his side while the most powerful of the catapults was being loaded. His mind was preoccupied; but she had the capacity to get his attention at any time, and he greeted her with a smile that was warmer than his distracted words.
“My lady, we are about to begin.”
Clutching her robe about her, she looked hard at her home. “What will happen, my lord Prince?” she murmured as if she didn’t expect an answer. “Will the curtain-wall hold? The Castellan is a cunning old veteran. Surely he had done his best for Orison.”
Prince Kragen studied her face while she studied the castle. Because he loved her, even admired her – and because he was reluctant to acknowledge that he didn’t entirely trust a woman who had tried so hard to betray her own father – it was difficult for him to admit that she wasn’t at her best under these conditions. Cold and wind took the spark out of her vivid eyes, turning them sore and puffy; stark sunlight made her look wan, bloodless, like a woman with no heart. She was only lovely when she was within doors, seen by the light of candles and intrigue. Yet her present lack of beauty only caused the Prince to love her more. He knew that she did indeed have a heart. The fingers that held her robe closed were pale and urgent. Every word she said, and every line of her stance, told him that she was mourning.
“Oh, the wall will fall,” he replied in the same distracted tone. “We will have it down before sunset – perhaps before noon. It was raised in winter. Let Lebbick be as cunning and experienced as you wish.” Kragen didn’t much like the dour Castellan. “He has had nothing to use for mortar. If he took all the sand of the Congery – and then butchered every Imager for blood – he would still be unable to seal those stones against us.”
The lady winced slightly. “And when it comes down?” she asked, pursuing an unspoken worry. “What then?”
“When this blow is struck,” he said, suddenly harsh, “there will be no turning back. Alend will be at war with Mordant. And we cannot wait for thirst and fear to do our work for us. The Perdon is all that stands between us and High King Festten. We will make the breach as large as we can. Then we will fight our way in.” A moment later, however, he took pity on her and added, “Orison will be given every conceivable opportunity to surrender. I want no slaughter. Every man, woman, and child there will be needed against Cadwal.”
Elega looked at him, mute gratitude on her chafed and swollen face. She thought for a while, then nodded. “Castellan Lebbick will never surrender. My father has never surrendered in his life.”
“Then they must begin here,” snapped the Prince.
He believed that. He believed that the curtain-wall couldn’t hold – that apart from Imagery, Orison didn’t have the resources to withstand his assault. Yet doubts he could hardly name tightened their grip on his stomach as he ordered the captain to throw the first stone.
In unison, two brawny men swung mallets against the hooks on either side of the catapult; the great arm leaped forward and slammed against its stops; a boulder as heavy as a man arced out of the cup. The throw raised a shout of anticipation from the army, but Prince Kragen watched it go grimly. The flat smack of the mallets, the groan of stress in the timbers, the thud of the stops and the protest of the wheels: he seemed to feel them in his chest, as if they were blows struck against him – as if he could tell simply by the sound that the stone was going to miss.
It did.

Table of Contents

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Man Rides Through 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mordant's Need is a beautifully written tale. It's a story of personal growth filled with magic, adventure, and romance. I have read both books several times over the years yet my enthusiasum has not diminished. I strongy recommend this to anyone who is into Fantasy. It's a real page turner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
IF you haven't read this yet, you should. IT is a real page turner with characters and a plot that keeps you guessing. A Must Read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read both of the books in 'Mordant's Need' and must say I enjoyed both immensely. It has a mix any fantasy, sci-fi, or romance reader would enjoy. This is one of my favorite books and would recommend it to anyone.
Chris52Fl More than 1 year ago
A Man Rides Through and Mirror of her Dreams are my all time favorites written by Donaldson. I checked monthly for almost 2 years to finally get these in e-book form.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mordant's Need consists of A Man Rides Through and The Mirror of Her Dreams. Terisa, a rich, neglected young woman, finds herself translated through a mirror to the kingdom of Mordant. Terisa and Geraden, an apprentice imager, are involved with discovering why horrors are being unleashed in the kingdom and why the king doesn't act to stop the horrors. A lot of adventure and a little romance make for a wonderful epic fantasy. Much better in my opinion than the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
Anonymous 12 months ago
A Man Rides Through completes the story of Geraden and Terisa as they fight for Mordants need. Epic in in scope, yet focused and grounded in personal connections to the main characters, Donaldson brings passion and compassion to bear in drawing all the important elements to a crucial point in the story. He allows the reader to ride the wave of near victory and frustrating setbacks as the protagonists struggle to find their own sense of being as they fight for their king and chosen goal- the saving of Mordant. Donaldsons writing is clear and compelling, drawing the reader into the non-technical world of Mordant with ease- the wording used in the characters conversations are suitably formal to convey a sense of historic placement, but, the conversations themselves are natural and believable. I’ve read all of Donaldson’s books many times over- each reading providing more insights into the personality and character of the people in the story. Each read has always been as exciting and engaging as the one before. Highly recommended.
meersan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Timid nonentity saves besieged medieval kingdom with her special mirror magic abilities.
justchris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read these years and years ago and generally liked them. I had a chance to pick up the first book on super discount and swiped my querido's copy of the second, so now I have the set in my library. The only other Donaldson I've read is Daughter of Regals. According to my querido, those three books are the only ones worth reading. Of course the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever books were all over the bookstores for decades, but they never looked interesting enough to actually read.Anyway, this is the story of Terisa and Geraden. She's in a meaningless life in New York living in an apartment full of mirrors (to reassure her of her own existence) when Geraden arrives through the mirror to ask her to help save his world. He comes from Mordant where mirrors are magical portals, but unknown enemies threaten the kingdom and the old king is ineffective and his chief advisor is insane. It's a classic fantasy adventure with plots, counterplots, plot twists, swordfights, chases, secret passages and secret plans, seduction and romance, magical attacks, and more. I think the story is quite imaginative and character driven. It explores the morality of magic and power to some degree, and the nature of human relationships. Most of the characters are quite likeable in their separate ways: the king, the princesses, several of the Imagers (who make and use the mirrors), Geraden's family, the prince from the neighboring kingdom, guardsmen. But sometimes I just wanted to kick Terisa for her stupid existential angst and her stupidity in trusting the wrong people in the face of accumulating evidence. I understand why the author developed her the way he did--it was essential to the story--but couldn't he have done it without so much internal monologue, which made the story drag in places? Most of that was in the first book where Terisa is trying to understand what is happening and what her role is. At the end of it she has figured things out and declared herself. The second book is just a straightforward quest to defeat the enemies now revealed as the myriad characters who have a role in the outcome come together. They even have the chance to revisit New York so that she can confront her past (a childhood of neglect and emotional abuse) and put it to bed before getting on with her new, fulfilled, adult life as a survivor. And of course the traits that display her apparent weakness and victimhood turn into her strengths by the end. Certainly it is a story with many positive messages and it all works out in the end. What more can you ask for in a fantasy?
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Its been a while since I read, and re-read this book, but I do remember that it was a good conclusion to the series. Like The Land, this is a very small world, but still an interesting one.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sequel to Mirror of Her Dream, this concludes the saga of Mordant's need. If anything, the action picks up. Therisa and Geraden learn the secret of the mirror worlds -- but will they be in time to save Mordant from the Arch-Imager?Find a comfy seat and some snacks, and settle in for this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good
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AzMomReader More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago and loved it! I was recently looking for a new book to read and came across A Man Rides Through and it's prequel A Mirror of Her Dreams in nook format and had to get them. Like I said, I've read them before so I remembered the plot but I still enjoyed reading them again. Even more than I did before! It's a creative story where mirrors are magic, and dangerous. I loved the characters and couldn't read fast enough to see what would happen to them. I completely recommend these books to anyone with a love of fantasies!!
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