By David Gemmell

Chaos and terror stalked the area. The king have been slain through traitors, and the sword of strength have been misplaced past the Circle of Mist. Armies of Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and Brigantes minimize a gory swath around the land, led through puppets of the ruthless Witch Queen--whose minions integrated darkish, bloodthirsty creatures and a savage, undead warrior.

All wish lay with younger Thuro--in whose veins flowed the blood of kings. He must defeat the Witch Queen's monsters and commute to the land of the Mist, there to hunt a ghostly military. And the one person who might organize Thuro to accomplish his birthright used to be the mountain warrior Culain, the single guy who knew the queen's lethal mystery . . .

The legend of the mystic Stones of strength starts with a story of blood and glory, of affection and betrayal, as a boy needs to come of age amidst the possible very unlikely quest to turn into the excessive King.

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His personal feelings could not be allowed to conflict with his duty as Councilor. He was Melora's nearest living kinsman; the duty he had shirked, for whatever good reason, had been done instead by women. That could not be easy for a Hastur to swallow. "Kinsman, that is of little moment now. " Jerana asked. " Rohana glanced uneasily at Jaelle. Jerana should have had tact enough to send the child away before discussing her future before her; but it was not for Rohana to suggest it. Jerana said, "Oh, they can be fostered somewhere.

But, too late, it occurred to her that she had, perhaps, let Montray in for trouble on the Darkovan side. Terrans were not precisely popular in the Old Town, and the sight of a Terran escorting a respectable Darkovan female could indeed causev some trouble, if some Darkovan hothead wanted to take advantage of it. This is idiotic. I know fifteen times as much about Darkover as Montray ever will; yet by strict protocol I'm not even qualified to be an official translator, far less for any position more advanced than that; just because I'm a woman, and Darkover is a world where women don't hold such positions.

She could see faint beads of perspiration along the lady's hairline; whether from nervousness or from the heat of Montray's office-or both-she could not tell. "Chance resemblance? Impossible, my child. " "It is not rare among Terrans, my Lady," Magda said. (She had known this; Peter had made jokes of it. " She broke off as Bethany came in, took the small solido and personnel printout that bore a color photo of Peter Haldane. She handed them to Lady Rohana without comment. Rohana studied them a moment, then looked up, her face gone white.

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