For two centuries the portion of the great Sovereign Stone belonging to the humans of Loerem was lost from sight and memory. But there are those who dare never forget ... A magical relic has been miraculously recovered -- and the battle for the future of Loerem begins. It is a nightmare conflict that will ensnare dwarf, human, elf, and orken beings, as the immortal dark lord Dagnarus launches terrible war from the blackest depths of the Void. And now heros must emerge from the most unlikely corners of the world to deny Dagnarus the awesome power of the Stone -- or suffer the hideous damnation of his hellish reign.
Bestsellers Weis and Hickman (Dragonlance series, etc.) deliver a solid tale peopled by familiar figures (some of whom are Not What They Seem) in the second volume of their latest fantasy trilogy. Two hundred years after the action in Well of Darkness, the world of Loerem (conceived by fantasy artist Larry Elmore, who provides the stunning jacket art work) is plunged into war. Old hatreds and new combine with the struggle to recover all the pieces of the Sovereign Stone to uproot the characters, sending them running across lands turned hostile. While much of the work fits the classic fantasy quest tradition, the authors do manage to impart some subtle differences, such as basing cultural traits and the magic used by each race (human, elf, dwarf, ork) upon an unusual associated element. (Orks are the water race and rule the seas, while the fire-using dwarves are master horse riders.) Dagnarus, Lord of the Void, is also not the quintessential outsider that most evil overlords tend to be. Instead, he's a Mordred figure, struggling to claim what he believes is his inheritance. In places the narrative turns expository, in order to aid readers wishing to role-play in the setting. Elsewhere, the collaboration reveals its seams, as when the same object is repeatedly given two names (blood knife/bone knife) or when a long-separated elven wife and husband immediately separate after embracing, "for elves consider public displays of affection to be boorish and intrusive." The target audience, college-age readers and their teenage kin, should be well satisfied. (Nov. 20) Forecast: As with the authors' Dragonlance books, the associated role-playing game is sure to swell sales for the novel and vice versa. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Guardians of the Lost by Tracy Hickman
Gustav knew he was being watched.
He had no proof, nothing more solid than a feeling, an instinct.
Instinct had kept Gustav the Whoreson Knight alive for seventy years. He knew better than to ignore it.
He had first experienced the sensation of being watched three days ago, on his arrival in this godforsaken part of the wilderness. He had been following an old trail that ran along the Deverel river. The trail was probably made by animals, although the humans who had once lived in this area might have borrowed it. If they had, they had long since returned the trail to the deer and the wolves, for theirs were the only tracks Gustav saw.
Knowing it likely that he was the only person to have set foot in this region for the past hundred years, Gustav was understandably disquieted to awaken his first morning in camp to the distinct impression that he wasn't alone.
He had no proof that someone was watching him. His nights, spent in a tent in the wilderness, were quiet, peaceful. He sometimes woke, thinking he heard stealthy footfalls outside, but he found he was mistaken. His well-trained war horse, who would have alerted him had there been anyone lurking nearby, remained placid and calm, undisturbed, except by flies.
During the day, while he proceeded with his investigation, Gustav tried every trick in the book ' a book he could have written ' to catch sight of the person who was dogging his steps. He watched for the glint that might have been sunlight reflecting off metal, but saw nothing. He made abrupt stops, trying to hear footfalls that continued on after his ceased. He searched for signs that someone else was in the vicinity ' foot-prints on the muddy river bank where he performed his daily ablutions, fish heads from the stalker's supper, broken sticks or bent branches.
Nothing. Gustav heard nothing. He saw nothing. Instinctively, he felt everything, felt the stalker's eyes watching him, felt those eyes to be hostile.
Gustav was not one to be deterred from his quest by an unsettling feeling, however. He had come here on a search he had begun forty years ago and he had no intention of departing until he had concluded that search. He had been exploring for three days and had found nothing yet.