The first adventure in the New York Times –bestselling fantasy trilogy from the legendary million-selling author and creator of Drizzt Do’Urden. In the once-stable land of Eriador, young fighter Luthien Bedwyr is too naive to grasp the consequences of the evil new reign of Wizard-King Greensparrow—until Luthien’s best friend is slain by one of the despot’s cyclopean soldiers. Publicly vowing revenge, Luthien becomes not only the wizard’s most-wanted adversary, but also a fugitive embarking on a grand scheme to restore peace to the kingdom. His mettle tested, Luthien crosses paths with highwayhalfling Oliver deBurrows. The irrepressible thief is game to join him. But at the behest of an ancient mage, Luthien must first secure two ancient weapons from a dragon’s lair: a legendary sword and a mystical blood-red cape that renders its wearer invisible. Rumors soon begin to swirl of a freedom fighter preparing to strike against Greensparrow and his monstrous minions, affording a tenuous hope for liberation among Eriador’s oppressed—especially a beautiful Fairborn elf slave risking everything to support the coming insurgency of the hero they call the Crimson Shadow. This first tale of the Crimson Shadow trilogy is “a fine adventure filled with memorable characters and compelling action” (Terry Brooks). New York Times –bestselling author R. A. Salvatore once again proves he “choreographs battle scenes better than any other contemporary fantasist” ( Publishers Weekly ).
About the Author
R. A. Salvatore’s first book, The Crystal Shard , was published in 1988; in 1990 his third novel, The Halfling’s Gem, hit the New York Times bestseller list. Since then he has written more than sixty novels, which have sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. In addition, Salvatore has numerous game credits, making him one of the most important figures in modern epic fantasy. Among his books are numerous titles in the saga of dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden, the Coven series, the Crimson Shadow trilogy, and many more. Salvatore spends a good deal of time speaking to schools and library groups, encouraging people, particularly young people, to read. He enjoys a broad range of literary writers, from James Joyce to Dante and Chaucer, and counts among his favorite genre literary influences Ian Fleming, Arthur Conan Doyle, Fritz Leiber, and J. R. R. Tolkien. Salvatore makes his home in Massachusetts, with his wife, Diane, and their dogs. His gaming group still meets on Sunday nights. He is currently working on more novels set in the Demonwars and Dark Elf series.
Date of Birth:January 20, 1959
Place of Birth:Leominster, MA
Read an Excerpt
Ethan Bedwyr, eldest son of the Eorl of Bedwydrin, stood tall on the balcony of the great house in Dun Varna, watching as the two-masted, black-sailed ship lazily glided into the harbor. The proud man wore a frown even before the expected standard, crossed open palms above a bloodshot eye, came into view. Only ships of the king or the barbarians to the northeast would sail openly upon the dark and cold waters of the Dorsal Sea, so named for the eerie black fins of the flesh-eating whales that roamed the waters in ravenous packs, and barbarians did not sail alone.
A second standard — a strong arm, bent at the elbow and holding a miner's pick — soon appeared.
"Visitors?" came a question from behind.
Recognizing the voice as his father's, Ethan did not turn. "Flying the duke of Montfort's pennant," he answered, and his disdain was obvious.
Gahris Bedwyr moved to the balcony beside his son and Ethan winced when he looked upon the man, who appeared proud and strong, as Ethan distantly remembered him. With the light of the rising sun in his face, Gahris's cinnamon eyes shone brightly, and the stiff ocean breeze blew his thick shock of silvery white hair back from his ruddy, creased face, a face that had weathered under the sun during countless hours in small fishing craft out on the dangerous Dorsal. Gahris was as tall as Ethan, and that was taller than most men on Isle Bedwydrin, who in turn were taller than most other men of the kingdom. His shoulders remained broader than his belly, and his arms were corded from a youth spent in tireless work.
But as the black-sailed ship drifted closer to the docks, the coarse shouts of the brutish cyclopian crew urging the islanders into subservient action, Gahris's eyes betrayed his apparent stature.
Ethan turned his gaze back to the harbor, having no desire to look upon his broken father.
"It is the duke's cousin, I believe," Gahris remarked. "I had heard that he was touring the northern isles on holiday. Ah well, we must see to his pleasures." Gahris turned as if to leave, then stopped, seeing that stubborn Ethan had not loosed his grip on the balcony rail.
"Will you fight in the arena for the pleasure of our guest?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
"Only if the duke's cousin is my opponent," Ethan replied in all seriousness, "and the fight is to the death."
"You must learn to accept what is," Gahris Bedwyr chided.
Ethan turned an angry gaze on him, a look that might have been Gahris's own a quarter of a century before, before independent Eriador had fallen under the iron rule of King Greensparrow of Avon. It took the elder Bedwyr a long moment to compose himself, to remind himself of all that he and his people stood to lose. Things were not so bad for the folk of Bedwydrin, or for those on any of the isles. Greensparrow was mostly concerned with those lands in Avon proper, south of the mountains called the Iron Cross, and though Morkney, the duke of Montfort, had exacted rigid control over the folk of the Eriadoran mainland, he left the islanders fairly alone — as long as he received his tithes and his emissaries were granted proper treatment whenever they happened onto one of the isles.
"Our life is not so bad," Gahris remarked, trying to soothe the burning fires in his dangerously proud son. The eorl would not be shocked if later that day he learned that Ethan had attacked the duke's cousin in broad daylight, before a hundred witnesses and a score of Praetorian Guards!
"Not if one aspires to subservience," Ethan growled back, his ire unrelenting.
"You're a great-grand," Gahris muttered under his breath, meaning that Ethan was one of those throwbacks to the days of fierce independence, when Bedwydrin had fought against any who would call themselves rulers. The island's history was filled with tales of war — against raiding barbarians, cyclopian hordes, self-proclaimed Eriadoran kings who would have, by force, united the land, and even against the mighty Gascon fleet, when that vast southern kingdom had attempted to conquer all of the lands in the frigid northern waters. Avon had fallen to the Gascons, but the hardened warriors of Eriador had made life so miserable for the invaders that they had built a wall to seal off the northern province, proclaiming the land too wild to be tamed. It was Bedwydrin's boast during those valorous times that no Gascon soldier had stepped upon the island and lived.
But that was ancient history now, seven generations removed, and Gahris Bedwyr had been forced to yield to the winds of change.
"I am Bedwydrin," Ethan muttered back, as if that claim should explain everything.
"Always the angry rebel!" the frustrated Gahris snapped at him. "Damn the consequences of your actions! Your pride has not the foresight —"
"My pride marks me as Bedwydrin," Ethan interrupted, his cinnamon eyes, the trademark of the Bedwyr clan, flashing dangerously in the morning sunlight.
The set of those eyes forestalled the eorl's retort. "At least your brother will properly entertain our guests," Gahris said calmly, and walked away.
Ethan looked back to the harbor — the ship was in now, with burly, one-eyed cyclopians rushing about to tie her up, pushing aside any islanders who happened in their way, and even a few who took pains not to. These brutes did not wear the silver-and-black uniforms of the Praetorian Guards but were the house guard escorts kept by every noble. Even Gahris had a score of them, gifts from the duke of Montfort.
With a disgusted shake of his head, Ethan shifted his gaze to the training yard below and to the left of the balcony, where he knew that he would find Luthien, his only sibling, fifteen years his junior. Luthien was always there, practicing his swordplay and his archery. Training, always training. He was his father's pride and joy, that one, and even Ethan had to admit that if there was a finer fighter in all the lands, he had never seen him.
He spotted his brother immediately by the reddish tint of his long and wavy hair, just a shade darker than Ethan's blond locks. Even from this distance, Luthien cut an impressive figure. He stood two inches above six feet, with a broad chest and muscled arms, his skin golden brown, a testament for his love of the outdoors on this isle, which saw more rain than sun.
Ethan scowled as he watched Luthien easily dispatch his latest sparring partner, then pivot immediately and with a single thrust, twist, and leg- sweep maneuver take down the opponent who rushed in at his back, trying to take him by surprise.
Those warriors watching in the training yard gave a cheer of approval, and Luthien politely stood and bowed.
Yes, Ethan knew, Luthien would properly entertain their "guests," and the thought brought bile into the proud man's throat. He didn't really blame Luthien, though; his brother was young and ignorant. In Luthien's twenty years, he had never known true freedom, had never known Gahris before the rise of the Wizard-King Greensparrow.
Gahris walked out into the training yard, then, and motioned for Luthien to join him. Smiling and nodding, the eorl pointed to the docks. Luthien responded with a wide smile and ran off, toweling his corded muscles as he went: always ready to please.
"My pity to you, dear brother," Ethan whispered. The sentiment was an honest one, for Ethan knew well that Luthien would one day have to face up to the truth of their land and the cowardice of their father.
A shout from the dock stole Ethan's attention, and he looked that way just in time to see a cyclopian smash an islander fisherman to the wharf. Two other cyclopians joined their comrade, and the three punched and kicked the man repeatedly, until he finally managed to scramble away. Laughing, the three went back to their duties tying up the cursed craft.
Ethan had seen enough. He spun away from the balcony and nearly crashed into two of his father's own one-eyed soldiers as they walked past.
"Heir of Bedwyr," one of the cyclopians greeted through smiling, pointy yellow teeth.
Ethan did not miss the condescension in the brute's tone. He was the heir of Bedwyr, true enough, but the title rang hollow to the cyclopians, who ultimately served only the king of Avon and his wizard dukes. These guards, these "gifts" from the duke of Montfort, were no more than spies, Ethan knew as everybody knew. Not a soul on Bedwyr mentioned that little fact openly though.
"Do your appointed rounds normally take you to the private quarters of the ruling family?" Ethan snapped.
"We have only come to inform the nobles that the cousin of the duke of Montfort has arrived," the other guard replied.
Ethan stared at the ugly creature for a long while. Cyclopians were not quite as tall as most men, but were much thicker, with even the smallest of the burly race weighing nearly two hundred pounds and the heavier brutes often passing three hundred. Their foreheads, slipping out of a tight patch of stringy hair, were typically sloped down to the bushy brow of the single, always bloodshot, eye. Their noses were flat and wide, their lips almost non-existent, offering a perpetual view of those animal-like yellow teeth. And no cyclopian had ever been accused of possessing a chin.
"Gahris knows of the arrival," Ethan replied, his voice grim, almost threatening. The two cyclopians looked at each other and smirked, but their smiles disappeared when they looked back at the fiery Ethan, whose hand had gone to the hilt of his sword. Two young boys, human servants of the noble family, had come into the hall and were watching the encounter with more than a passing interest.
"Strange to wear a sword in one's own private quarters," one of the cyclopians remarked.
"Always a wise precaution when smelly one-eyes are about," Ethan answered loudly, taking strength in the appearance of the two human witnesses. He more than matched the ensuing scowls of the guards.
"And not another word from your mouth," Ethan commanded. "Your breath does so offend me."
The scowls increased, but Ethan had called their bluff. He was the son of the eorl, after all, an eorl the cyclopians had to at least maintain the pretense of serving. The two soldiers turned about and stomped off.
Ethan glanced at the boys, who were running off, but undeniably smiling. They were the youth of Bedwydrin, the eldest son thought. The youth of a proud race. Ethan took some solace and some hope in their obvious approval of the way he had stood down the ugly cyclopians. Perhaps the future would be a better time.
But despite the fleeting hope, Ethan knew that he had given his father yet another reason to berate him.CHAPTER 2
TWO NOBLES AND THEIR LADIES
A cyclopian soldier, shield emblazoned with the bent arm and pick design of Montfort, entered the audience hall of Gahris Bedwyr's home a short while later. It was a large rectangular room, set with several comfortable chairs and graced by a tremendous hearth.
"Viscount Aubrey," the one-eyed herald began, "cousin of Duke Morkney of Montfort, sixth of eight, fourth in line to ..." And so it went on for several minutes, the cyclopian rambling through unimportant, even minuscule details of this viscount's heritage and lineage, feats of valor (always exaggerated, and still seeming not so tremendous to Gahris, who had lived in the tough land of Bedwydrin for more than sixty years) and deeds of generosity and heroism.
A viscount, the island eorl mused, thinking that practically every fourth man in Eriador seemed to hold claim to that title, or to one of baron.
"And his fellow, Baron Wilmon," the cyclopian went on, and Gahris sighed deeply at the not-unexpected proclamation, his thoughts proven all too true. Mercifully, Wilmon's introductory was not nearly as long as Aubrey's, and as for their female escorts, the cyclopian merely referred to them as "the ladies, Elenia and Avonese."
"Ellen and Avon," Gahris muttered under his breath, for he understood the level of pretension that had come to the normally level-headed people of the lands.
In strode the viscount and his entourage. Aubrey was a meticulously groomed, salty-haired man in his mid-forties, Wilmon a foppish and swaggering twenty-five. Both wore the weapons of warriors, sword and dirk, but when they shook Gahris's hands, he felt no callouses, and neither had a grip indicating that he could even swing a heavy sword. The ladies were worse yet, over-painted, over-perfumed creatures of dangerous curves, clinging silk garments, and abundant jewelry that tinkled and rattled with every alluring shift. Avonese had seen fifty years if she had seen a day, Gahris knew, and all the putty and paint in the world couldn't hide the inevitable effects of nature.
She tried, though — oh, how this one tried! — and Gahris thought it a pitiful sight.
"Viscount Aubrey," he said politely, his smile wide. "It is indeed an honor to meet one who has so gained the confidence of our esteemed duke."
"Indeed," Aubrey replied, seeming rather bored.
"May I inquire what has brought such an unexpected group so far to the north?"
"No," Aubrey started to answer, but Avonese, slipping out of Aubrey's arm to take hold of the eorl's, interrupted.
"We are on holiday, of course!" she slurred, her breath scented by wine.
"We are come now from the Isle of Marvis," added Elenia. "We were informed that none in all the northland could set a banquet like the eorl of Marvis, and we were not disappointed."
"They do have such fine wines!" added Avonese.
Aubrey seemed to be growing as tired of the banter as Gahris, though Wilmon was too engaged with a stubborn hangnail to notice any of it.
"The eorl of Marvis has indeed earned his reputation as a fine host," Gahris remarked sincerely, for Bruce Durgess was a dear friend of his, a common sufferer in the dark times of the wizard-king's rule.
"Fair," Aubrey corrected. "And I suppose that you, too, will treat us with renowned leek soup, and perhaps a leg of lamb as well."
Gahris started to reply, but wasn't sure what to say. The two dishes, along with a multitude of fish, were indeed the island's staple.
"I do so hate leek soup," Aubrey went on, "but we have enough provisions on board our vessel and we shan't be staying for long."
Gahris seemed confused — and that sincere expression hid well his sudden sense of relief.
"But I thought ..." the eorl began, trying to sound truly saddened.
"I am late for an audience with Morkney," Aubrey said haughtily. "I would have bypassed this dreary little island altogether, except that I found the eorl of Marvis's arena lacking. I had heard that the islands were well-stocked with some of the finest warriors in all of Eriador, but I daresay that a half-crippled dwarf from the deepest mines of Montfont could have easily defeated any of the fighters we witnessed on the Isle of Marvis."
Gahris said nothing, but was thinking that Aubrey's description of Bedwydrin as a "dreary little island" would have cost the man his tongue in times past.
"I do so hope that your warriors might perform better," Aubrey finished.
Avonese squeezed Gahris's arm tightly, apparently liking the hardened muscles she felt there. "Warriors do so inspire me," she whispered in the eorl's ear.
Gahris hadn't expected a morning arena fight, but was glad to oblige. Hopefully, the viscount would be satisfied with the show and would be gone before lunch, saving Gahris the trouble of setting a meal — be it lamb or leek soup!
"I will see to the arrangements personally," Gahris said to Aubrey, smoothly pulling free of Avonese's nailed clutches as he spoke. "My attendants will show you to where you might refresh yourselves after the long journey. I will return in a few moments."
And with that he was gone, hustling down the stone corridors of his large house. He found Luthien just a short distance away, dressed in fine clothes and freshly scrubbed after his morning workout.
"Back to the yard with you," Gahris said to his son's confused expression. "They have come to see a fight and nothing more."
"And I am to fight?"
"Who better?" Gahris asked, patting Luthien roughly on the shoulder and quickly leading him back the way he had come. "Arrange for two combats before you take your turn — at least one cyclopian in each." Gahris paused and furrowed his brow. "Who would give you the best fight?" he asked.
"Ethan, probably," Luthien replied without hesitation, but Gahris was already shaking his head. Ethan wouldn't fight in the arena, not anymore, and certainly not for the entertainment of visiting nobles.
"Garth Rogar, then," Luthien said, referring to a barbarian warrior, a giant of a man. "He has been in fine form of late."
"But you will defeat him?"
The question seemed to sting the proud young warrior.
"Of course you will." Gahris answered his own question, making it seem an absurd thing to ask. "Make it a worthy fight, I beg. It is important that Bedwydrin, and you, my son, be given high praise to the duke of Montfort."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Sword of Bedwyr"
Copyright © 1995 R. A. Salvatore.
Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I started this book I expected a run of the mill fantasy book. I got much much more. The novel progresses beautifully. The character development is brillant! This is the perfect way to start a trilogy. The ending simply forces you to read the rest of the Trilogy. The Crimson Shadow is a great success.
the characters were great! Oliver de Burrows was terribly funny and witty. Luthian was your common stud, and Sioban was the exotic flower. There was plenty of action, and a lot of really good drama. I loved it!
This is an excellent book for science-fiction lovers. It may be hard to understand, though. I can't wait to read the next one!!
it really gets you into the story. though the female characters are about the same, this book is a must read!
For anyone who has read his Dark Elf titles, this is truly a letdown. Where is the suspense? Doesn't get the reader involved