Manual The Everdark Gate (The Everdark Wars Book 3)

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The use of sexuality as a source of magical power is something that also has not been touched in a lot of fantasy literature, though sexual magic is prevalent in some indigenous cultures and some ancient cults, and even a part of kundalini practices in South Asia. However, I did have a little trouble following all of the characters and their abilities, especially since I jumped into this series through the last book.

One thing that kept tripping me up was the fact that several character names were spelled similarly. For example, the Souleater a god was named Azdrefel, but his good counterpart was a god named Ashtophar, and then there was a healer named Ashkaron. I had to stop and reread passages when I got the names confused. So, I would recommend reading each book slowly, savoring the characters and the drama. It will be well worth the read! The Book. The Reviewer. Another Review at MyShelf. Zumaya Otherworlds. Trade Paperback.

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More at Amazon. A cohesive power bloc capable of ruling was being formed in Laure, one with bone-deep enmity towards the East.

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It was a well-positioned source of manpower with hard borders and a history of resisting Praesi rule. The girl would need to squeeze the northern baronies for coin, however, or risk leaving the upset south in the lurch. An angle to use, if necessary. If it came to rebellion, further partition of Callow was now a feasible solution.

When the south had been bound together by noble rule and marriage alliances it would have been a misstep, the seed of a rebellious Kingdom of Liesse being sown, but now that the city was wrecked and the aristocracy decapitated matters had changed. A southern vassal state dependent on Tower subsidies to recover would remain largely tranquil. It was what had once been the calm centre of Callow that was now trouble, the cities built by the shores of the Silver Lake. Alaya had stayed her hand, for the moment. Killing the girl would ignite country-wide rebellion and besides she had yet to overstep the tentative terms reached in Liesse.

Pressure could be applied through the promised reparations and the precarious western border. One of several matters in need of settling. Alaya thought of the raised hand, the word spoken that had unmade over a decade of careful planning, and grew cold. Dread Empress Malicia set the unnecessary emotional spasm aside. A mistake had been made, in placing blind trust. The extent that leaning should ever be indulged was in trusting individuals to act according to their nature. Anything more than that was asinine sentiment, a weakness on her part. When the mirror flickered with life, she was awaiting it.

Dressed blood red, a sprawling dress with long sleeves and a neckline that was more suggestive than revealing. The golden circlet on her brow was almost an unnecessary touch — the dress alone would be enough for Amadeus to understand that it was the Dread Empress of Praes that had given audience, not Alaya.

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The silver mirror revealed the sight of a man unarmoured. A loose white shirt did not quite cover the sight of bandages covering his abdomen, but the pale green eyes were as sharp as she had ever seen them. Alaya felt a surge of fury. It was the Empress that had given audience, but it was Amadeus that had come. Even now, after it all, the fury returned. In this, she had overstepped. Catherine Foundling had never been properly taught the precarity of her position. Whatever measures she now takes are no erasure of past failures.

The matter is best set aside for now. The matter is not to be dismissed as a mere detail. It is a pressing reality, and a liability in the making. That line of conversation would ensure otherwise. The unspoken read thus: you gifted great power to a nobody and never bothered to instil loyalty more than skin deep, this was inevitable. Guilt never came. She would not apologize for taking measures preventing him from throwing away his life in a hopeless war, however slighted he felt by the truth that he had become a foe to his own survival.

That was on his own head. Not even love would make her neck if she was in the right. It was also first blood. He was not, she knew, plotting to seize the Tower from her. But the knowledge that if he had the Warlock would not have stood at his side was a crack in the certainty that lay at the heart of him. What she need break to salvage even shards of what they had once been. If you slit her own throat she would assume you had reason. She has made a virtue of being a tool. It was not a mistake to have spoken that, though Alaya regretted the sharpness of the words.

But Malicia knew that the cruelty was necessary to lower the worth of the unconditional support in his eyes. Malicia met his eyes with equanimity. Alaya flinched at the old whisper spoken aloud. Black tiredly passed a hand through his air. There is a reason for that.

A mould unbroken ever only makes one thing. You only ever remember the necessities of rule when they get in the way of your games. You make plans without ever bothering with the actual people, writing them off as liabilities to dispose of if they do not immediately obey. Praes is not an essay. You cannot unmake everything of it because it strikes you as inconvenient. The Wasteland has made a religion out of mutilating itself.

We speak of it with pride. Gods, iron sharpens iron? We have grown so enamoured with bleeding our own we have sayings about it. Centuries ago, field sacrifices were a way to fend off starvation. Now they are a staple of our way of life, so deeply ingrained we cling to them given alternative.

Alaya, we consistently blunder so badly we need to rely on demons to stay off destruction. We would rather irreparably damage the fabric of Creation than admit we can be wrong. There is nothing holy about our culture, it needs to be ripped out root and stem as matter of bare survival.

Forty years I have been trying to prove success can be achieved without utter raving madness, and what comes at the end? Your ramshackle effort at successors will fail. Did you think that just because you were clever, just because it was hard, it would be enough? We took Callow, Black. We put chalk to the slate. The Heavens will throw crusade after crusade at us until the mark made is erased, because we are not allowed to win that fight. The only way to survive is not to fight at all, and for that I needed a tool.

We break, we end, we come at an end. I warned you off Akua Sahelian because she provided what I needed: a strong enough deterrent to keep the wolves at bay. And I did this behind your back, because if I did not you would have gotten in my way. Because you have fallen in love with your own legend.


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The Black Knight, undefeated. How far is that from invincible, Amadeus? Shall we talk history on that subject? If we are a net drain, we are removed.

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That is a fact. There is no keeping Callow if by the sheer act of keeping it we foster constant rebellion. And if we lose Callow, it all comes down on our heads. Do you truly not realize that the terms of the occupation both failed to pacify Callowans and fostered unrest in the Wasteland? One does not conquer an entire kingdom to grant it effective independence twenty years down the line, Black. We were meant to profit from it. That they were even spared was a concession. But they were allowed to grow fat off a conquest they actively hindered.

I held my tongue because you used their rapaciousness for your own purposes, but oh what a mistake that was. We win by slipping the noose, not moving the border. By breaking the pattern that has whipped us ever since Maleficent made an empire out of Praes. It is irrelevant who actually rules Callow so long as we no longer need to invade to avoid starving. From that moment on, we start to grow. To change. To be anything but a snake cursed to eat its own tail and choke. Anything less than that is defeat.

Anything more than that is expendable. You have laid those fear to rest. This , this is why you cannot rule. You cannot butcher your way into having a different homeland, Black. But you are not the only living man in Praes, and so it fails. Because the Empire is not an instrument, it is a nation and that nation wants things.

It will not docilely wait until your point is made. There comes a time where the wound is no lanced, just bled. You have made a mess, and as always I will clean it up. You remain in command as my Black Knight. You will hold the border as best you can, and rein in your apprentice as necessary. As for me, I will take the measures necessary for survival. You will not approve of them. I no longer care. I will not throw you away, Maddie. We are not beyond mending. I suppose it always starts out that way, when one loses control. Do you remember what it was like, when we were young? When we still felt wonder?

I will come home, in the end. The mirror darkened. Alaya went still, something like grief but deeper than the word could ever mean taking hold of her. Dread Empress Malicia rose to her feet. Brandon Talbot had only stood in the throne room once before as a child, when King Robert still ruled and his aunt had introduced him to the royal court. In those days there had been no talk of him ever becoming Count of Marchford. How strangely the world spun, that he now stood at the side of the Queen of Callow instead of kneeling with the guests.

Those he had to share that distinction with were, admittedly, something of a mixed bag. None could deny that Baroness Anne Kendall was a patriot and a woman of great wisdom, and though her surrender in the wake of the Liesse Rebellion had lowered her esteem in the eyes of some he did not share those misgivings. The Governess-General, he knew, was nearly as influential as the queen in some parts.

If not more. Chancellor in all but Name , men whispered. The title left him a strange taste in the mouth. There had never been any man or woman titled such in the history of the kingdom, as supreme command of the hosts was always held by the royal family or the paladins of the White Hand. It was a Praesi title and not even an old one, created during the Reforms. Popular sentiment, though, had not been incensed. The orc was seen as the second coming of the still-feared Grem One-Eye, and one that had proved it would protect the innocent even in the face of the hordes of Hell.

Brandon was no fool, and so had never tried to speak against the appointment. The heart of the Army of Callow was still the Fifteeenth, and it would be months before any of his countrymen rose to true positions of influence in those massively expanded ranks. The Adjutant. Grandmaster Talbot had spoken with him occasionally while on campaign and more often now that precarious peace was restored, and found him both personable and polite. More dangerously, he was also very attentive to details the queen was known to have little patience for — though in truth Brandon had judged her not nearly as disinterested as the rumours implied.

The Grandmaster was one of the few of his people high enough in rank to understand what was being built, though. A war machine unlike any he had ever seen. Callow was being put on war footing long before the first blade left the sheath. There was a reason the Order of the Broken Bell had been charged with recruiting every youth in the kingdom that could swing a blade and ride a horse. Hasan Qara, who for some godforsaken reason insisted on being called Ratface, had been named Lord Treasurer of Callow after resigning his commission from the Fifteenth Legion.

He was also, as far as Grandmaster Talbot was concerned, a crook and a criminal. His lordly title remained a pure courtesy one, at least, without any lands attached. It was still a bloody disgrace that a Peer of the Realm would meet with the likes of smugglers and hedges mages in broad daylight. That governors no longer paid taxes directly to the Tower or even the short-lived Ruling Council had thrown the old system into disarray, every governor and noble trying to short-change the crown whenever they could. He was clever, Brandon disdainfully thought, but in the way Taghreb usurers so often were.

As the admittedly tedious ceremony chugged on towards the moment of proper coronation, Brandon turned his eyes to the crowd that stood witness. Baron Darlington of Hedges and Baroness Morley of Harrow were of the highest rank among those, surrounded by kin and lickspittles. The pointed reminder that Queen Catherine was not above having even royalty shot when it suited her had struck true. As far as nobility went, the only others worth the note were the envoys of Duchess Kegan of Daoine. Ties had been made there, Grandmaster Talbot thought, that he knew little about.

Inquiries were in order. The queen had yet to appoint a Chamberlain for her household or a Keeper of the Seals to have her decrees upheld and her courts of law put to order, after all. Another matter to ensure never came to fruition, though he could hardly blame her for trying. The rest of the guests in attendance were the representatives of governors and guilds, as well as every elderman in Laure.

Brandon had expected trouble when their ancient prerogatives inside the city began being taken over by the crown, but the Deadhand was a clever sort. The stood there with awe befitting commoners being allowed to witness the birth of a dynasty, however fragile its line of succession. As the sister sent by the House of Light finally ended her droning and recitation of old phrases, Queen Catherine bent her head to accept her crown — though, in all honesty, given her height she had not strictly speaking needed to do so.

Eyes flicking to the crown, Brandon grimly smiled. No gold or jewels in this one. It was a jagged circlet of iron that sat heavy on her brow. A warlike crown for a warlike queen. The old regalia of House Fairfax would not see use again, the cloak of black and patchwork that Queen Catherine wore a dark replacement for the old ermine-bordered mantle of the Fairfaxes. A saying was born of it that had Grandmaster Talbot shivering every time he heard the words: crowned by dread and cloaked by woe. One after another, they did. Only standing by the throne like him were spared that, as Catherine Foundling slowly sat the ancient throne of the kingdom.

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It was difficult to tell how many there were. A few dozens? Less than a hundred, surely. Brandon had fought their like before, but their garments were no longer the same. Brandon found he could not look away from the fae at their head. Riding a horse of ebony, the man was soberly dressed for his kind. A simple tunic, though the buttons seemed made of shade, and over a pale and narrow face a black silken blindfold covered an eye.


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  7. It was that one the queen addresses. The procession of fae ended when the prince reined in his mount before the queen, inclining his head in respectful greeting. The Hunt claims no lord amongst its hunters. The Hunt.

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    Was he speaking of the Wild Hunt? The rapacious fairies that made sport of mortals fools enough to wander into the Waning Woods, or walk ancient mounds under pale moonlight. It clattered against the stone, laid at the feet of the queen. One after another the fae passed and threw their own blade, a pile of death rising. Brandon Talbot was living a fever dream, witness to a scene ripped straight from legend.

    It was all too vivid to be real. We would ride beneath your banner, in this world and every other. The Hunt knelt, the Hunt rose, and Brandon Talbot knew he would never forget the sight of this so long as he lived. A crusade, Cordelia Hasenbach thought, should be decided in a manner grander than this. There would be speeches in the coming months, every herald in Procer and beyond speaking the writ of the Mandate of Heaven handed down to the children of the Gods.