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Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasyby Robert Silverberg
REALM OF THE ELDERLINGS ROBIN HOBB
THE FARSEER TRILOGY: Assassin’s Apprentice (1995) Royal Assassin (1996) Assassin’s Quest (1997)
THE LIVESHIP TRADERS TRILOGY: Ship of Magic (1998) Mad Ship (1999) Ship of Destiny (2000)
THE TAWNY MAN TRILOGY: Fool’s Errand (2002) Golden Fool (2003) Fool’s End (2004)
The first Robin Hobb trilogy, The Farseer Trilogy, took place in the Six Duchies. It is the tale of FitzChivalry Farseer. The discovery that this bastard son exists is enough to topple Prince Chivalry’s ambition for the throne. He abdicates, ceding the title of heir to the throne to his younger brother Verity and abandoning the child to the care of the stablemaster Burrich. The youngest prince, Regal, has ambitions of his own, and wishes to do away with the bastard. But old King Shrewd sees the value of taking the lad and training him as an assassin. For a bastard can be sent into dangers where a trueborn son could not be risked, and may be given tasks that would soil an heir’s hands.
And so FitzChivalry is trained in the secret arts of being a royal assassin. He shows a predilection for the Wit, a beast magic much despised in the Six Duchies. This secret vice in the young assassin is tolerated, for a partnership with an animal may be a useful trait in an assassin. When it is discovered that he may possess the hereditary magic of the Farseers, the Skill, he becomes both the King’s weapon and an obstacle to Prince Regal’s ambitions for the throne. At a time when the rivalry for the throne is intense, and the Outislanders and their Red Ship raiders are bringing war to the Six Duchies, FitzChivalry discovers that the fate of the kingdom may very well rest on the actions of a young bastard and the King’s Fool. Armed with little more than loyalty and his sporadic talent for the old magic, Fitz follows the fading trail of King Verity, who has traveled beyond the Mountain Kingdom and into the realm of the legendary Elderlings, in what may be a vain hope to renew an old alliance.
The Liveship Traders Trilogy takes place in Jamaillia, Bingtown, and the Pirate Isles, on the coast far to the south of the Six Duchies. The war in the north has interrupted the trade that is the lifeblood of Bingtown, and the Liveship Traders have fallen on hard times despite their magic sentient ships. At one time, possession of a Liveship, constructed of magical wizardwood, guaranteed a Trader’s family prosperity. Only a Liveship can brave the dangers of the Rain Wild River and trade with the legendary Rain Wild Traders and their mysterious magical goods, plundered from the enigmatic Elderling ruins. Althea Vestrit expects her families to adhere to tradition and pass the family Liveship on to her when it quickens at the death of her father. Instead, the Vivacia goes to her sister Keffria and her scheming Chalcedean husband, Kyle. The proud Liveship becomes a transport vessel for the despised but highly profitable slave trade.
Althea, cast out on her own, resolves to make her own way in the world and somehow regain control of her family’s living ship. Her old shipmate Brashen Trell, the mysterious woodcarver Amber, and the Paragon, the notorious mad Liveship, are the only allies she can rally to her cause. Pirates, a slave rebellion, migrating sea serpents, and a newly hatched dragon are but a few of the obstacles she must face on her way to discovering that Liveships are not, perhaps, what they seem to be, and may have dreams of their own to follow.
The Tawny Man Trilogy, a work still in progress at this writing, picks up the tale of Fitz and the Fool some fifteen years after the Red Ship wars. Queen Kettricken is determined to secure her son’s throne by arranging a marriage between Prince Dutiful and Elliana, the daughter of their old enemies in the Outislands. But the Six Duchies themselves are restless. The Witted are weary of persecution, and may choose to topple the throne of the Farseers by revealing that young Prince Dutiful carries an old taint in his blood. The Narcheska Elliana sets a high price on her hand: Dutiful must present her with the head of Icefyre, the legendary dragon of Aslevjal Island.
Meanwhile, to the south, the Bingtown Traders continue to wage war against the Chalcedeans, and seek to enlist the Six Duchies into the effort to obliterate Chalced. Bingtown’s temperamental ally, the dragon Tintaglia, has her own reasons for supporting them in this, reasons that may lead not only to the restoration of the race of dragons but also to the return of Elderling magic to the Cursed Shores.
Day the 7th of the Fish Moon Year the 14th of the reign of the Most Noble and Magnificent Satrap Esclepius
Confiscated from me this day, without cause or justice, were five crates and three trunks. This occurred during the loading of the ship Venture, setting forth upon Satrap Esclepius’ noble endeavor to colonize the Cursed Shores. Contents of the crates are as follows: One block fine white marble, of a size suitable for a bust, two blocks Aarthian jade, sizes suitable for busts, one large fine soapstone, as tall as a man and as wide as a man, seven large copper ingots, of excellent quality, three silver ingots, of acceptable quality, and three kegs of wax. One crate contained scales, tools for the working of metal and stone, and measuring equipment. Contents of trunks are as follows: Two silk gowns, one blue, one pink, tailored by Seamstress Wista and bearing her mark. A dress-length of mille-cloth, green. Two shawls, one white wool, one blue linen. Several pairs hose, in winter and summer weights. Three pairs of slippers, one silk and worked with rosebuds. Seven petticoats, three silk, one linen and three wool. One bodice frame, of light bone and silk. Three volumes of poetry, written in my own hand. A miniature by Soiji, of myself, Lady Carillion Carrock, née Waljin, commissioned by my mother, Lady Arston Waljin, on the occasion of my fourteenth birthday. Also included were clothing and bedding for a baby, a girl of four years, and two boys, of six and ten years, including both winter and summer garb for formal occasions.
I record this confiscation so that the thieves can be brought to justice upon my return to Jamaillia City. The theft was in this manner: As our ship was being loaded for departure, cargo belonging to various nobles aboard the vessels was detained upon the docks. Captain Triops informed us that our possessions would be held, indefinitely, in the Satrap’s custody. I do not trust the man, for he shows neither my husband nor myself proper deference. So I make this record, and when I return this coming spring to Jamaillia City, my father, Lord Crion Waljin, will bring my complaint before the Satrap’s Court of Justice, as my husband seems little inclined to do so. This do I swear.
Lady Carillion Waljin Carrock
Day the 10th of the Fish Moon Year the 14th of the reign of the Most Noble and Magnificent Satrap Esclepius
Conditions aboard the ship are intolerable. Once more, I take pen to my journal to record the hardship and injustice to preserve a record so that those responsible may be punished. Although I am nobly born, of the house of Waljin, and although my lord husband is not only noble, but heir to the title of Lord Carrock, the quarters given us are no better than those allotted to the common emigrants and speculators, that is, a smelly space in the ship’s hold. Only the common criminals, chained in the deepest holds, suffer more than we do.
The floor is a splintery wooden deck, the walls are the bare planks of the ship’s hull. There is much evidence that rats were the last inhabitants of this compartment. We are treated no better than cattle. There are no separate quarters for my maid, so I must suffer her to bed almost alongside us! To preserve my children from the common brats of the emigrants, I have sacrificed three damask hangings to curtain off a space. Those people accord me no respect. I believe that they are surreptitiously plundering our stores of food. When they mock me, my husband bids me ignore them. This has had a dreadful effect on my servant’s behavior. This morning, my maid, who also serves as a nanny in our reduced household, spoke almost harshly to young Petrus, bidding him be quiet and cease his questions. When I rebuked her for it, she dared to raise her brows at me.
My visit to the open deck was a waste of time. It is cluttered with ropes, canvas, and crude men, with no provisions for ladies and children to take the air. The sea was boring, the view only distant foggy islands. I found nothing there to cheer me as this detestable vessel bears me ever farther away from the lofty white spires of Blessed Jamaillia City, sacred to Sa.
I have no friends aboard the ship to amuse or comfort me in my heaviness. Lady Duparge has called on me once, and I was civil, but the differences in our station make conversation difficult. Lord Duparge is heir to little more than his title, two ships, and one estate that borders on Gerfen Swamp. Ladies Crifton and Anxory appear content with one another’s company and have not called upon me at all. They are both too young to have any accomplishments to share, yet their mothers should have instructed them in their social responsibility to their betters. Both might have profited from my friendship upon our return to Jamaillia City. That they choose not to court my favor does not speak well of their intellect. Doubtless they would bore me.
I am miserable in these disgusting surroundings. Why my husband has chosen to invest his time and finances in this venture eludes me. Surely men of a more adventurous nature would better serve our Illustrious Satrap in this exploration. Nor can I understand why our children and myself must accompany him, especially in my condition. I do not think my husband gave any thought to the difficulties this voyage would pose for a woman gravid with child. As ever, he has not seen fit to discuss his decisions with me, no more than I would consult him on my artistic pursuits. Yet my ambitions must suffer to allow him to pursue his! My absence will substantially delay the completion of my Suspended Chimes of Stone and Metal. The Satrap’s brother will be most disappointed, for the installation was to have honored this thirtieth birthday.
Day the 15th of the Fish Moon Year the 14th of the reign of the most Noble and Exalted Satrap Esclepius
I have been foolish. No. I have been deceived. It is not foolishness to trust where one has every right to expect trustworthiness. When my father entrusted my hand and my fate to Lord Jathan Carrock, he believed he was a man of wealth, substance, and reputation. My father blessed Sa’s name that my artistic accomplishments had attracted a suitor of such lofty stature. When I bewailed the fate that wed me to a man so much my senior, my mother counseled me to accept it and to pursue my art and establish my reputation in the shelter of his influence. I honored their wisdom. For these last ten years, as my youth and beauty faded in his shadow, I have borne him three children, and bear beneath my heart the burgeoning seed of yet another. I have been an ornament and a blessing to him, and yet he has deceived me. When I think of the hours spent managing his household, hours I could have devoted to my art, my blood seethes with bitterness.
Today, I first entreated, and then, in the throes of my duty to provide for my children, demanded that he force the Captain to give us bet- ter quarters. Sending our three children out onto the deck with their nanny, he confessed that we were not willing investors in the Satrap’s colonization plan but exiles given a chance to flee our disgrace. All we left behind, estates, homes, precious possessions, horses, cattle . . . all are forfeit to the Satrap, as are the items seized from us as we embarked. My genteel respectable husband is a traitor to our gentle and beloved Satrap and a plotter against the Throne Blessed by Sa.
I won this admission from him, bit by bit. He kept saying I should not bother about the politics, that it was solely his concern. He said a wife should trust her husband to manage their lives. He said that by the time the ships resupply our settlement next spring, he would have redeemed our fortune and we would return to Jamaillian society. But I kept pressing my silly woman’s questions. All your holdings seized? I asked him. All? And he said it was done to save the Carrock name, so that his parents and younger brother can live with dignity, untarnished by the scandal. A small estate remains for his brother to inherit. The Satrap’s Court will believe that Jathan Carrock chose to invest his entire fortune in the Satrap’s venture. Only those in the Satrap’s innermost circle know it was a confiscation. To win this concession, Jathan begged many hours on his knees, humbling himself and pleading forgiveness.
He went on at great length about that, as if I should be impressed. But I cared nothing for his knees. “What of Thistlebend?” I asked. “What of the cottage by the ford there, and the moneys from it?” This I brought to him as my marriage portion, and humble though it is, I thought to see it passed to Narissa when she wed.
“Gone,” he said, “all gone.”
“But why?” I demanded. “I have not plotted against the Satrap. Why am I punished?”
From the Hardcover edition.Copyright© 2003 by Edited by Robert Silverberg
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