Kingdoms of the Night (The Far Kingdoms)

BOOK: Kingdoms of the Night (The Far Kingdoms)
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KINGDOMS OF THE NIGHT
 
The Far Kingdoms Series, Vol. 3
 

Allan Cole and Chris Bunch

THE FAR KINGDOMS SERIES
 

The Far Kingdoms

The Warrior’s Tale

Kingdoms of the Night

The Warrior Returns

COPYRIGHT
 

Copyright © 1996 by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch.

All rights reserved.

CONTENTS
 

THE FAR KINGDOMS SAGA: A PREFACE
.
6

BOOK I
8

CHAPTER ONE
.
9

CHAPTER TWO
..
27

CHAPTER THREE
.
43

CHAPTER FOUR
..
58

CHAPTER FIVE
.
66

CHAPTER SIX
..
81

BOOK II
97

CHAPTER SEVEN
..
98

CHAPTER EIGHT
.
113

CHAPTER NINE
.
129

CHAPTER TEN
..
141

CHAPTER ELEVEN
..
157

CHAPTER TWELVE
.
178

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
..
196

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
..
205

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
..
226

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
..
240

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
..
252

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
..
264

CHAPTER NINETEEN
..
280

BOOK III
289

CHAPTER TWENTY
..
290

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
.
299

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
..
308

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
.
312

 

 

DEDICATION
 

for

Kathryn who sustained us..

and, as always

Li’l Karen

THE FAR KINGDOMS SAGA: A PREFACE
 
ALLAN COLE
 

When my late partner, Chris Bunch, and I finished the final book in the eight-novel
Sten
series, the last thought on our minds was to write a fantasy novel. We were hard science fiction guys — space ships with AM2-powered chain guns — escaping an attacking flotilla into hyperspace.

We both grew up on Buck Rogers Saturday matine serials, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. Other than a sneaking fondness for Conan The Barbarian, we generally avoided swords and sorcery and certainly fairy princesses and unicorns.

So how is it that Team Bunch & Cole ended up writing not one fantasy novel, but four?

It was like this: our editors at Ballantine/Del Rey Books were putting the serious arm on us to come up with a fantasy series. We said not a chance, and ducked and dodged like John Carter fleeing a pride of banth across the desolate plains of Barsoom.

In his usual diplomatic manner, Chris told them, “No way am I writing about fucking elves and Tinkerbell fairies and unicorns and shit.”

I wholeheartedly agreed — and that, it would seem would be that. Besides, we had just sold a trilogy of historical novels under the main title of “The Wars Of The Shannons,” to Ballantine Books and were happily boning up on black powder weapons and colonial-era bayonet tactics.

But they kept the pressure up. Fantasy was hot, they said, and we ought to follow up our success with Sten into the fantasy field. In short, they were as persistent as clotting Alex Kilgour intent on boring Sten’s ears off with a shaggy dog story.

We sighed and shuddered and finally said, okay maybe we’ll think about it. And they burst through that chink in our armor like a depleted uranium round through wormy cheese and before we knew it we were on a strict deadline to come up with something ”pretty damned quick” so we could make the fall schedule.

As it happened, I was relaxing after work reading up on the great explorers and expeditions of old. I became particularly interested in Sir Richard Burton — not the 20
th
Century actor and husband of Elizabeth Taylor, but the 19
th
Century explorer genius who found the source of the Nile, entered the forbidden city of Mecca in disguise, spoke 29 languages, was a master with gun and sword and, in his spare time, translated
The Arabian Nights
and the
Kama Sutra.
(Check out his Wikipedia entry at: http://tinyurl.com/3e765h)

I was telling Chris about the guy, when all of sudden he got this funny look on his face. “Shit!” he said. And he dragged out a bottle of single malt from his desk, poured us both a hefty shot and added, “That’s it, Cole. That’s our fantasy. Hell, there’s enough meat in there for a whole bloody series of the suckers.”

I was dubious. Chris pressed on. “We’ll pattern our hero after Burton. Set the whole thing in a world we invent. An historical novel, but it’ll be a history we make up. Instead of the source of the Nile, we’ll have some legendary far off place, where the streets are paved with gold and such.”

I nodded. “The Far Kingdoms,” I said. Not only understanding his notion but accidentally naming the series.

The only problem was that Burton, by all accounts, was pretty much of a son of a bitch and backstabber. Had no qualms about running up a river in Africa in gunboats, blowing the hell out of the populace in the way of the place he wanted to go. And all those languages? Most of them he got from the assiduous study of “pillow dictionaries;” Girls he bought, or rented, to teach him the local language whilst warming his bones.

So we came up with another character. Made him an innocent — son of a merchant prince, a bit of a wastrel but wants to mend his ways. Enamored with Burton’s vision, he finances the expeditions and goes along, The whole first story is his journal — a first person account of their adventures. We named him Amalric Antero. We named the Burton character, Janos Greycloak. We also created a third character, Rali Antero, Amalric’s warrior sister, who stars in two of the books.

We pitched the whole thing to our editors on the phone. In the end, we came away with a commitment for four novels. The first three —
The Far Kingdoms, A Warrior’s Tale
, and
Kingdoms Of The Night —
were written by the two of us. I wrote the concluding volume —
The Warrior Returns
— solo.

There was one final thing. To make it palatable for science fictions guys to do fantasy, we came up with an ultimate goal — and theme — that ties all four books together. And that’s to discover the secret of a Unified Field Theory, that combines the major forces of the physical world with…. Magic!

Oh, and that unicorn? If you look closely, in one of the books you’ll come upon a scene where a group of bandits is gathered about a campfire, roasting and eating with great relish, a creature that looks very much like a unicorn.

Enjoy the voyage.

 

Allan Cole, Boca Raton,

9/1/2009

BOOK I
 
Greycloak
 
CHAPTER ONE
 
THE MAD CHARIOTEER
 

Who shall ever read this, heed me: I am Lord Amalric Emilie Antero of Orissa. Know that this journal and its bearer are under the protection of my family and myself. If you deliver them speedily and safely to my agents you will be paid two thousand gold coins.

But beware — my generosity is double-edged. Do not harm or delay my servants in their mission, or the consequences to you, your family and descendants will be most severe.

All this I swear on this sixth day of the Month of Frosts in the fifteenth year of The Time Of The Lizard.

* * * *

My dearest nephew, Hermias. I write to you from the Far Kingdoms — the
real
Far Kingdoms, not the false rune of Irayas that Janos Greycloak and I found nearly fifty years ago. I should have realized we were wrong: the wonders of those distant kingdoms that so enthralled us then pale in this realm of miracles and magic.

Poor Janos. He betrayed all he loved and sold his very soul for the truths he believed resided there. And it all turned out to be a monumental lie.

The old Janos — the Janos who was once my friend — would have laughed at his self-delusion.

“The best jests of the gods,” he would have said, “are those that reveal you as an ass. The man who believes himself wise walks in darkness. Only someone who knows he’s
truly
a fool can see the light.”

He would also have been glad, I realize now, because our very victory in finding the Far Kingdoms held the seeds of his destruction. For after that, what else was left of value for Janos to discover? If only he could be here now to glory in how much we missed the mark.

That said, I should tell you that in all likelihood as you read these words I will be dead.

Do not grieve.

My life has been long, for the most part fortunate and spiced with much incident and achievement. It amazes me that after all that has happened since we last embraced there is spark enough to guide this pen.

At an age when most men survey all empty ground for a suitable grave, I set out for my last great adventure. I crossed the Forbidden Sea of the East to the unknown Far Shore, dared uncharted rivers, desolate wastelands and frozen mountain peaks. I’ve seen dreams shattered, mended, then imperiled anew. Few men or women have been gifted with a life such as mine. And now that I’ve been granted experiences and adventures that would easily overflow another full span, I can say if the gods don’t love me at least they haven’t ignored me.

BOOK: Kingdoms of the Night (The Far Kingdoms)
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