Extract from Janny Wurts' DESTINY'S CONFLICT

Here's an extract from Janny Wurts' Destiny's Conflict, courtesy of the folks at HarperVoyager. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The long-awaited second book of the fourth story arc - Sword of the Canon - in the epic fantasy series, the Wars of Light and Shadow.

Lysaer’s unstable integrity lies under threat of total downfall, and as his determined protector, Daliana will face the most frightening decision of her young life.

Arithon, Master of Shadow, is marked for death and still hunted, when his critical quest to recover his obscured past entangles him in a web of deep intrigue and ancient perils beyond his imagining.

Elaira’s urgent pursuit of the Biedar Tribes’ secret embroils her in the terrible directive of the Fellowship Sorcerers, while Dakar — the Mad Prophet — confronts the hard reckoning for the colossal mistake of his misspent past, and Tarens is steered by a destiny far from his crofter’s origins.

The penultimate volume of The Wars of Light and Shadow will touch the grand depths of Athera’s endowment, and deliver the thrilling finale of arc IV, the Sword of the Canon.

War, blood, magic, mystery – and the most hidden powers of all – will stand or fall on their hour of unveiling.


Lysaer awoke, groggy, his nostrils clogged with the parched taint of volcanic rocks and blown sulphur. His reflexive cough raised an aching complaint from cramped limbs. He lay bound hand and foot. His stubbled cheek rested against the rough boards of a wagon-bed, splotched by old blood-stains and sliced by the shadows cast by a sturdy, spoked wheel. Dizzy and sick, left with the disjointed recall of a battle, Lysaer squinted through glare and identified the transport the surgeons’ corps sent to move the Light’s wounded.

Which made no sense. He had sustained no injury. Lashed in discomfort, he stirred, annoyed, then lifted his head, furious enough to lambaste the healer who had miscalled his condition. But the wagon loomed empty. No other casualties sprawled, strapped into splints or field bandages. His confused survey met only burlap sacks of provisions, two barrels of ale seared with Cainford tax brands, and a crate of bottled brandy, then the knotted leads fixed to five head of horseflesh, hitched to the cargo rings meant to lash field tents.

Evidently, the dray was not hauling the surgeon’s gear in the baggage train. Lysaer heard no chatter, no gossiping wash-women. The baked air was not clouded with dust from the lance companies’ ranks or popped by the whip-cracks of the war host’s outriders. The vehicle was parked in full sun, in a desert without habitation.

Lysaer gritted his teeth. He tried to roll over, jerked against tight restraint. Whoever bound him also had trussed his frame in oiled canvas. Which extreme measure suggested the horror of madness inflicted by Deshthiere’s curse, and far worse: the recall of a shameful act, fraught with pain sufficient to break him.

He had killed again, wantonly mass murdered innocents in an act beyond human conscience.

The coward in him preferred not to bear what could never be reconciled. Thousands of times, over hundreds of years, the voice of selfcensure condemned him: better he died than survive to fall prey to the next wretched bout of insanity. Logic destroyed the weakness of delusion, that he ever had owned the brute will to defeat the forces that rode him.

Lysaer tested his bonds with a useless tug. Strap leather and rope reinforced with wrapped wire redoubled his crushing despair. Someone’s pitiless foresight already had thwarted the pitch of his desperation. Conjured light could not singe him free. Not without crippling damage to both hands and feet, or risk of igniting the oil-soaked tarp bundled over him. Without recourse, he breathed, while the midday sun scorched the air into ripples. Only pride stifled his frustrated groan.

Lysaer raised his chin. Plagued by a throbbing headache, he surveyed his surroundings to see whose mishandling imposed the ignominy.

Nothing met his eye past the wagon’s edge. Just barren ground: an unbroken flatland of parched lava and gravel. The stabbing flash of flecked mica melted seamlessly into the shimmer of heat-waves. Yet he was not alone. Two of his captors locked horns, beyond view, with a grainy voice Lysaer recognized as Dakar’s shouting over the other’s obstinate protest. “No. That would get us fricassied for betrayal the instant he starts to wake up!”

Dread retreated a fraction. Perhaps his nightmare fear was a phantom. Lysaer eavesdropped, hopeful the dispute haggled over the terms for a ransom by Elkforest’s barbarians.

“I won’t shoulder that risk!” Dakar ranted on. “Yes, I lack the main strength. No ranging ward I might weave can subdue an elemental mastery of light. Be patient for another few days. At least until I’ve ascertained we’re clear of Arithon’s fatal proximity.”

Which callous mention of that accursed name triggered Deshthiere’s geas. Whiplashed by the assault, Lysaer shuddered in agony. The vicious drive to embrace wholesale ruin set his wits under siege. He battled for reason, as always. Clung to the rags of free choice: not to blast everything within reach with a levin bolt charged to melt stone into magma. He suffered in recoil. While the primal torrent surged to consume him, the gall of repeated past failures made a mockery of his resistance.

Torment wrung a gasp from him.

The sound stopped the ongoing argument. Gravel grated. Someone’s scuffed tread approached.

Lysaer twisted for confrontation. Any frail stay to distract him from the drive of the curse.

Glare stabbed his eyes like needles to the brain. Squinting against the white dazzle of sky, he made out the loom of volcanic formations grotesquely weathered and eroded with crumbling arches. Then a shadow flicked over him. A clownish face eclipsed his view, raffishly bearded and wisped with grey hair, streaked by faded chestnut. Cheeks and snub nose wore a peeled scald of sunburn on a countenance stripped of forbearance.

Dakar snapped, “Don’t think to put on your statesman’s mask, Lysaer! I’ll stand for no pretence. Are you able to govern your natural mind? Or speak with frank honesty? Then defend your case. Convince me that you didn’t kill her.”

Which test of trustworthiness needed no name. Viciously personal, the accusation frayed the last thread of sane balance. Lysaer bridled. He sucked an offended breath through clenched teeth. Whether to plead or to scream became moot: as if human language existed to stem the cascade towards disaster.

The idiot spellbinder lectured, oblivious. “This is not Sithaer, but a place in the Scarpdale Waste called the Stacks. Before you cry foul, accept your lot, held under my charge in good faith.”

Lysaer’s temper ignited. His lethal retort in pure light tipped towards destructive release.

Dakar yelped. Eyes widened, he scrambled too late for a stop-gap intervention. Yet what murderous damage might have ensued, his unseen companion’s blow, swung from behind, clipped Lysaer’s nape like Dharkaron’s vengeance.

He dropped limp, hurled back into black-out unconsciousness.

© 2018, Janny Wurts, reprinted with permission of HarperCollins.

1 commentaires:

Ash said...

Wow, this series is still going on? I really liked the first book when it came out, but eventually got frustrated with the series and gave up around book 4 or 5, around 20 years ago.