Authors: Guy Gavriel Kay
GUY GAVRIEL KAY is the author of ten novels:
The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire,
The Darkest Road
(which comprise The Fionavar Tapestry);
Tigana; A Song for Arbonne; The Lions of Al-Rassan; Sailing to Sarantium
Lord of Emperors
(which comprise The Sarantine Mosaic);
The Last Light of the Sun;
and, most recently,
. He is also the author of the acclaimed collection of poetry
Beyond This Dark House
. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He has twice won the Aurora Award, is a four-time World Fantasy Award nominee, and is the recipient of the International Goliardos Award for his contributions to the literature of the fantastic. Guy Gavriel Kay lives in Toronto.
GUY GAVRIEL KAY
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,
New Delhi – 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0745,
Auckland, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,
Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published in a Viking Canada hardcover by Penguin Group (Canada),
a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 1990
Published in Penguin Canada paperback by Penguin Group (Canada),
a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 1991, 1999, 2005
Published in this edition, 2009
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (WEB)
Copyright © Guy Gavriel Kay, 1992
The author and publisher are grateful to the following for permission to quote from copyright works: Princeton University Press for Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard (trans. and eds.),
George Seferis: Collected Poems 1924–1955
, copyright © Princeton University Press, 1967; New American Library for John Ciardi (trans.), Dante’s
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
Publisher’s note: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Manufactured in Canada.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication data available
upon request to the publisher.
Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Visit the Penguin Group (Canada) website at
Visit the authorized Guy Gavriel Kay website at
For my brothers, Jeffrey and Rex
A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S
n the shaping of this work a great many people lent me their considerable skills and their support. It is a pleasure to be able to acknowledge that aid. Sue Reynolds once again offered me a map that not only reflected but helped to guide the development of my story. Rex Kay and Neil Randall offered both enthusiasm and perceptive commentary from the early stages of the novel through to its last revisions. I am deeply grateful to both of them.
I am indebted to the scholarship of a great many men and women. It is a particular pleasure to record my admiration for Carlo Ginzberg’s
Night Battles (I Benandanti).
I have also been stimulated and instructed by the work of, among others, Gene Brucker, Lauro Martines, Jacob Burckhardt, Iris Origo and Joseph Huizinga. In this regard, I wish also to pay grateful tribute to the memory of two men for whom I have long held the deepest respect, and whose work and sources of inspiration have so profoundly guided my own: Joseph Campbell and Robert Graves.
Finally, while it may often appear to be a matter of ritual or rote when an author mentions the role of a spouse in the creation of a book, I can only affirm that it is with both gratitude and love that I wish to acknowledge the sustaining encouragement and counsel I have received in the writing of
both in Tuscany and at home, from my wife Laura.
A N O T E O N P R O N U N C I A T I O N
or the assistance of those to whom such things are of importance, I should perhaps note that most of the proper names in this novel should be pronounced according to the rules of the Italian language. Thus, for example, all final vowels are sounded: Corte has two syllables, Sinave and Forese have three. Chiara has the same hard initial sound as
but Certando will begin with the same sound as
All that you held most dear you will put by
and leave behind you; and this is the arrow
the longbow of your exile first lets fly.
You will come to know how bitter as salt and stone
is the bread of others, how hard the way that goes
up and down stairs that never are your own.
What can a flame remember? If it remembers a little less than is necessary, it goes out; if it remembers a little more than is necessary, it goes out. If only it could teach us, while it burns, to remember correctly.
—George Seferis, ‘Stratis the Sailor Describes a Man’
P R O L O G U E
oth moons were high, dimming the light of all but the brightest stars. The campfires burned on either side of the river, stretching away into the night. Quietly flowing, the Deisa caught the moonlight and the orange of the nearer fires and cast them back in wavery, sinuous ripples. And all the lines of light led to his eyes, to where he was sitting on the riverbank, hands about his knees, thinking about dying and the life he’d lived.
There was a glory to the night, Saevar thought, breathing deeply of the mild summer air, smelling water and water flowers and grass, watching the reflection of blue moonlight and silver on the river, hearing the Deisa’s murmurous flow and the distant singing from around the fires. There was singing on the other side of the river too, he noted, listening to the enemy soldiers north of them. It was curiously hard to impute any absolute sense of evil to those harmonizing voices, or to hate them quite as blindly as being a soldier seemed to require. He wasn’t really a soldier, though, and he had never been good at hating.
He couldn’t actually see any figures moving in the grass across the river, but he could see the fires and it wasn’t hard to judge how many more of them lay north of the Deisa than there were here behind him, where his people waited for the dawn.
Almost certainly their last. He had no illusions; none of
them did. Not since the battle at this same river five days ago. All they had was courage, and a leader whose defiant gallantry was almost matched by the two young sons who were here with him.
They were beautiful boys, both of them. Saevar regretted that he had never had the chance to sculpt either of them. The Prince he had done of course, many times. The Prince called him a friend. It could not be said, Saevar thought, that he had lived a useless or an empty life. He’d had his art, the joy of it and the spur, and had lived to see it praised by the great ones of his province, indeed of the whole peninsula.
And he’d known love, as well. He thought of his wife and then of his own two children. The daughter whose eyes had taught him part of the meaning of life on the day she’d been born fifteen years ago. And his son, too young by a year to have been allowed to come north to war. Saevar remembered the look on the boy’s face when they had parted. He supposed that much the same expression had been in his own eyes. He’d embraced both children, and then he’d held his wife for a long time, in silence; all the words had been spoken many times through all the years. Then he’d turned, quickly, so they would not see his tears, and mounted his horse, unwontedly awkward with a sword on his hip, and had ridden away with his Prince to war against those who had come upon them from over the sea.
He heard a light tread, behind him and to his left, from where the campfires were burning and voices were threading in song to the tune a syrenya played. He turned to the sound.
‘Be careful,’ he called softly. ‘Unless you want to trip over a sculptor.’
‘Saevar?’ an amused voice murmured. A voice he knew well.
‘It is, my lord Prince,’ he replied. ‘Can you remember a night so beautiful?’
Valentin walked over—there was more than enough light by which to see—and sank neatly down on the grass beside him. ‘Not readily,’ he agreed. ‘Can you see? Vidomni’s waxing matches Ilarion’s wane. The two moons together would make one whole.’
‘A strange whole that would be,’ Saevar said.
‘’Tis a strange night.’
‘Is it? Is the night changed by what we do down here? We mortal men in our folly?’
‘The way we see it is,’ Valentin said softly, his quick mind engaged by the question. ‘The beauty we find is shaped, at least in part, by what we know the morning will bring.’