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Authors: Ari Marmell

Tags: #Fantasy, #Epic, #General, #Fiction

The Warlord's Legacy

BOOK: The Warlord's Legacy
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The Warlord's Legacy
Ari Marmell
Random House, Inc. (2011)
Rating:
★★★★★
Tags:
Fantasy, Epic, General, Fiction
Fantasyttt Epicttt Generalttt Fictionttt
Review

Praise for Ari Marmell’s
The Conqueror’s Shadow

“A powerful fantasy, with well-drawn heroes and delightfully wicked, complicated villains.”—Paul S. Kemp, author of The Erevis Cale Trilogy

“Superior storytelling and deft dialogue . . . filled with dark humor as well as scenes of brutal battle and high magic.”—_Library Journal_

“A great mix of character and action.”—Robin Hobb, author of
Dragon Keeper

“This action-packed, morally gray fantasy has an intriguingly twisty plot, full of magic and political intrigue.”—_Booklist _

“Ari Marmell has a remarkable flair for the sinister.”—Scott Lynch, author of
The Lies of Locke Lamora

Product Description

Corvis Rebaine, the Terror of the East, a man as quick with a quip as he is with a blade, returns in this highly anticipated sequel to Ari Marmell’s acclaimed
The Conqueror’s Shadow
, a debut hailed for its refreshing take on dark fantasy and surprising flashes of sharp, sarcastic wit. Now Marmell raises the stakes in a story that has all the humor and excitement of its predecessor, plus a terrifying new villain so evil that he may well be a match for Rebaine himself.

For let’s not forget how Corvis Rebaine came by the charming nickname “Terror of the East.” Certainly no one else has forgotten. Corvis Rebaine is no hero. In his trademark suit of black armor and skull-like helm, armed with a demon-forged axe, in command of a demonic slave, and with allies that include a bloodthirsty ogre, Rebaine has twice brought death and destruction to Imphallion in pursuit of a better, more equitable and just society. If he had to kill countless innocents in order to achieve that dream, so be it.

At least that was the old Rebaine. Before he slew the mad warlord Audriss. Before he banished the demon Khanda. Before he lost his wife and children, who could not forgive or forget his violent crimes. Now, years later, Rebaine lives in a distant city, under a false name, a member of one of the Guilds he despises, trying to achieve change nonviolently, from within the power structure.

Not even when the neighboring nation of Cephira invades Imphallion and the bickering Guilds prove unable to respond does Rebaine return to his old habits of slaughter. But someone else does. Someone wearing Rebaine’s black armor and bearing what appears to be his axe. Someone who is, if anything, even less careful of human life than Rebaine was.

Now Baron Jassion, Rebaine’s old nemesis, is hunting him once more, aided by a mysterious sorcerer named Kaleb, whose powers and secrets make him a more dangerous enemy than Rebaine has ever known. Even worse, accompanying them is a young woman who hates Corvis Rebaine perhaps more than anyone else: his own daughter, Mellorin. Suddenly Rebaine seems to have no choice. To clear his name, to protect his country, and to reconcile with his family, must he once again become the Terror of the East?

ALSO BY ARI MARMELL

CORVIS REBAINE
The Conqueror’s Shadow

PLANESWALKER
Agents of Artifice

The Warlord’s Legacy
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Ari Marmell

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Spectra, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

S
PECTRA
and the portrayal of a boxed “s” are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Marmell, Ari.
The warlord’s legacy / Ari Marmell.
p. cm.
Sequel to: The conqueror’s shadow.
eISBN: 978-0-345-52487-4
I. Title.
PS3613.A7666W37 2011
813′.6—dc22
2010038132

www.ballantinebooks.com

Jacket design by David Stevenson
Jacket illustration: © Larry Rostant

v3.1

For my mother, Carole, who I think owns
a larger library of my work than I do
.

And with special thanks to George, Naomi, and David,
without whom this book wouldn’t be, well, this book
.

Contents

Chapter One

T
HE EVER-THICKENING SMOKE
was more oppressive even than the weight of stone looming above. Black and oily, coughed up by sickly, sputtering torches, it swirled and gathered until it threatened to blot out what little light the flames produced, to transform the passage-ways once more into a kingdom of the blind.

The stones were old: Dark and made darker by the smoke, they were joined by mortar so ancient it was little more than powder. The corridor, a winding artery of grimy brick, smelled of neglect—or would have, were the air not choked by that selfsame smoke. All along those walls, clad in the sundry hues and tabards and ensigns of half a dozen Guilds and at least as many noble Houses, soldiers stood rigidly at attention, fists wrapped around hafts and hilts, and did their best to glare menacingly at one another. It was an effect somewhat ruined by the constant blinking of reddened eyes and the occasional racking cough.

At the corridor’s far end, an ancient wooden door stooped in its frame like a tired old man. Cracks in the wood and gaps where the portal no longer sat flush allowed sounds to pass unimpeded. Yet something within that room seemed to hold most of the thick haze at bay.

It might have been the press of bodies, so tightly crammed together that they had long since transformed this normally chilly chamber into something resembling a baker’s oven. It might have been the hot
breath of so many mouths jabbering at once, speaking not so much
to
as
at
one another in diatribes laden with accusation and acrimony.

Or it might have been the tension that weighed upon the room more heavily than smoke and stone combined. Perhaps one could, as the aphorism suggests, have cut that tension with a knife, but it wouldn’t have been a wise idea. The tension here might very well have fought right back.

Gathered within were the men and women to whom those soldiers in the hall were loyal, and they were doing a far better job than their underlings of glaring their hatreds at one another. Clad in brilliant finery and glittering jewels, the leaders of several of Imphallion’s most powerful Guilds stood with haughty, even disdainful expressions, weathering the array of verbal abuse—and occasional emphatic spittle—cast their way. Across the room, separated from them only by a flimsy wooden table whose sagging planks somehow conveyed a desperate wish to be elsewhere, stood a roughly equal number of the kingdom’s noble sons and daughters.

Nobles whose anger was certainly justified.

“… miserable traitors! Ought to be swinging from the nearest gibbets, you foul …”

“… filthy, lowborn miscreants, haven’t the slightest idea the damage you’ve …”

“… bastards! You’re nothing but a litter of bastards! Dismiss your guards, I challenge …!”

And those were among the more polite harangues against which the Guildmasters were standing fast. Their plan had been to allow the initial fury to wear itself down before they broached the topic for which they’d called this most peculiar assembly, here in an anonymous basement rather than Mecepheum’s Hall of Meeting. But the verbal barrage showed no signs of dissipating. If anything, it was growing worse, and the presence of the guards in the hallway no longer seemed sufficient to prevent bloodshed between these entrenched political rivals.

Perhaps sensing that precise possibility, one of the nobles advanced to the very edge of the table and raised a hand. A single voice slowly wound down, then another, until the room reverberated only with the sounds of angry, labored breathing. A red-haired, middle-aged fellow,
Duke Halmon was no longer Imphallion’s regent—Imphallion no longer
had
a regent, thanks to those “lowborn miscreants”—but the nobility respected the title he once held.

Leaning forward, two fists on the table, the white-garbed noble spoke to his fellow aristocrats behind him even as his attention remained fixed on the Guildmasters. “My friends,” he said deeply, “I feel as you do, you know this. But this is a most unusual gathering, and I’d very much like to hear the Guilds’ reasons for arranging it.”

“And they better be damn good ones,” spat the Duchess Anneth of Orthessis. Behind her arose a muttered chorus of agreement.

BOOK: The Warlord's Legacy
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