Elite warrior swordsmen, they are unequalled in any time or realm '
The King ' s Blades
The King has decreed that new Blades must be sworn into the service of the Grand Duke Rubin, deposed by a foul usurper and currently on the run. But none of the rough youths being readied at Ironhall possess the seasoning to survive what better, more skilled Blades already have not. Still, two woefully unprepared candidates are approached with an offer of early bonding and probable death: deft but dense, rude Ranter, and eager, impetuous Ringwood ' with a third, the inadequate swordsman but potentially able spy Bellman, enlisted into their threadbare ranks. Joining the Duke ' s entourage along with the courageous and prescient White Sister Trudy, the would ' be champions must restore a rightful ruler to the throne or die in the process. But before them waits an army of the dead. And the Duke whom the Blades must protect to the last drop of their lifeblood is not the liege they imagined
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September 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Impossible Odds by Dave Duncan
At the Break of Day
"Enter!" Grand Master said.
Sir Tancred did so and closed the heavy door behind him, moving with the feline grace of an expert fencer. He had changed out of his mud-soaked traveling clothes into fresh, crisp livery, and no one could have known from the look of him that he had spent the better part of a day and night on horseback. His silver baldric marked him as Deputy Commander of the Royal Guard; his presence here at Ironhall, far away from Grandon where the King was, meant that something was seriously awry.
"All bedded down " Grand Master inquired dryly.
"My charges are. Your two are falling all over themselves getting dressed."Tancred's thin smile was a formality, not denying the underlying worry. "Unless they decided I was just a nightmare and went back to sleep."
Grand Master grunted and turned back to stare out the window at the first glow of sunrise on the wild crags of Starkmoor. Early-morning chill dug into his bones, making him shiver and pull his cloak tight about him, yet in fact his study was still warm from the previous day's heat. Tancred was not even wearing a cloak over his jerkin, and that display of youthful vigor made Grand Master feel old. He was old, Lord Roland, although he rarely had to admit it, even to himself. He was too old to be dragged out of bed in the middle of the night, too old to deal with unexpected, unwelcome visitors, and too old to tackle a monstrous problem created by a fool of a king.
"I regret that I brought such trouble," Tancred said quietly. This was their first chance to talk privately.
"Not your fault." It was Grand Master's fault. Yes, the King was being totally unreasonable and Leader was a worrywart, but the responsibility was Grand Master's. If his duties required him to refuse direct orders from his sovereign, then he should be prepared to do so and take the consequences. It was guilt that gnawed at him this morning, not age. In a long life of service, he had rarely known such a sense of failure.