The Obsidian Mountain Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory consists of the VOYA Best Science Fiction and Fantasy novel The Outstretched Shadow, the USA Today bestseller To Light a Candle, and The New York Times bestseller When Darkness Falls; three entertaining adventure fantasies featuring elves, dragons, humans, and a very opinionated unicorn.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
About the Author
MERCEDES LACKEY is the author of the Valdemar novels. She has collaborated with Andre Norton on the Elvenbane series and with James Mallory on the bestselling Obsidian Trilogy. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma.
JAMES MALLORY is the author of the Merlin trilogy (Merlin: The Old Magic; Merlin: The King’s Wizard; Merlin: The End of Magic). He lives in upstate New York.
Mercedes Lackey is the author of the bestselling Valdemar series, the Obsidian Trilogy (The Outstretched Shadow, To Light a Candle, and When Darkness Falls), the Enduring Flame trilogy (The Phoenix Unchained, The Phoenix Engendered, and The Phoenix Transformed), and The Phoenix Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. She has written many other books, including Trio of Sorcery, Phoenix and Ashes, Sacred Ground, The Firebird, The Fairy Godmother, and Alta. Lackey is the co-author, with Andre Norton, of the Halfblood Chronicles, including Elvenborn. Mercedes Lackey was born in Chicago and graduated from Purdue University. She has worked as an artist’s model, a computer programmer, and for American Airlines, and has written lyrics and recorded more than fifty songs. She lives in Oklahoma.
James Mallory is the author of the Merlin trilogy (Merlin: The Old Magic; Merlin: The King’s Wizard; Merlin: The End of Magic). He lives in upstate New York.
Read an Excerpt
The Obsidian Mountain Trilogy
The Outstretched Shadow to Light a Candle When Darkness Falls
By Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2014 Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
All rights reserved.
In the City of Golden Bells
THE GARDEN MARKET positively thronged with people, clustered around the wagons just in from the countryside. What a fuss over strawberries — you'd think they were made of solid ruby.
Perhaps — to some — they were. Certainly the number of superior kitchen servants that filled the streets of the Garden Market, their household livery enveloped in spotless aprons, pristine market baskets slung over their arms, suggested that the gourmets of the City treasured them as much as if they were, indeed, precious gems.
Kellen Tavadon supposed it was all a matter of taste. The strawberries were said to be particularly good this year, and there must have been a hundred people waiting impatiently for the three ox-carts in from the country to unload the second picking of the day, great crates full of the tender fruit, layered in fresh straw to keep from bruising the delicate flesh. The air was full of the scent of them, a perfume that made even Kellen's mouth water.
"Out of the way, young layabout!"
A rude shove in Kellen's back sent him staggering across the cobbles into the arms of a marketplace stall-holder, who caught him with a garlic- redolent oath just in time to keep him from landing face first in the cart full of the man's neatly heaped-up vegetables. Behind Kellen, the burly armsman dressed in purple-and-maroon livery and bearing nothing more lethal than an ornamental halberd dripping purple-and-maroon ribbons shoved another man whose only crime was in being a little too tardy at clearing the path. This victim, a shabby farmer, went stumbling in the opposite direction, and looked far more cowed than Kellen had. A third, a boy picked up by the collar and tossed aside, saved himself from taking down another stall's awning by going into the stone wall behind it instead.
All this rudeness was for no greater purpose than so the armsman's master need not be jostled by the proximity of mere common working-folk who had been occupying the space that their superior wished to cross.
Kellen felt his lip curling in an angry sneer as he mumbled a hurried apology to the fellow who'd caught him. Damn the idiot that has to make a display of himself here! He picked a fine time to come parading through, whoever he is! The Garden Market couldn't be more crowded if you stood on a barrel and yelled, "Free beer!"
Then again — maybe that was the point. Some people couldn't see an opportunity to flaunt their importance without grabbing it and wringing every last bit of juice out of it.
Father, for instance ...
Kellen turned just in time to see that the Terribly Important Person in question this time was High Mage Corellius, resplendent in his velvet robes and the distinctive hat that marked him as a High Mage and thus a creature of wealth, rank, and power. Quite a hat it was, and Corellius held his scrawny neck very upright and stiff supporting it — a construction with a square brim as wide as his arm was long that curled up on the right and the left. It had three gold cords that knotted around the crown and trailed down his back, cords ending in bright golden tassels as long as Kellen's hand. Corellius's colors were purple and maroon, and they suited him vilely. Not only did the shades clash, they made him look as if he had a permanent case of yellow jaundice, which condition was not at all improved by the wattles of his throat and the mottled jowls hanging down from his narrow vulpine jaw. His beady little eyes fastened on Kellen just long enough for Kellen to be certain the smirk on the thin lips was meant for him, then moved on, recognizing Kellen and dismissing him as a thing of no importance.
Kellen flushed involuntarily. Which I am, of course. Father's position and glory hardly reflect on his so-disappointing son. And if I were as properly ambitious as I'm supposed to be, I wouldn't be wandering about in the market in the first place. I'd be at my studies.
The official ranks of Magecraft progressed from the Student at the very beginning of the discipline, through Apprentice, to Journeyman, to Mage, to High Mage. Kellen, as a student, was beneath Corellius's notice under the usual circumstances. But Kellen was no ordinary Student. Not with the Arch-Mage Lycaelon — head of the High Council, and therefore Lord of all the Mages in the City — as his father.
Kellen glowered at the High Mage's back. There was no doubt in his mind Corellius had recognized him, even dressed as he was. How could he not, considering who Kellen's father was?
"That'd be a High Mage, then?" asked the stall-holder, conversationally. "Don't suppose ye know which one?"
Kellen shrugged, not at all inclined to identify himself as someone who would know High Mages on sight. He'd worn his oldest clothes into the City for just this reason.
"Maroon and purple, that's all I know," he replied untruthfully. "Don't know why a High Mage would be barging through the Garden Market, though."
"Wondered that myself." The stall-holder shrugged, then lost interest in Corellius and Kellen, as a housewife squeezed out of the press, positioned herself under the man's red-striped awning, and began to pick over the carrots.
Kellen moved on, taking a path at right angles to Corellius's progress. He didn't want to encounter the High Mage again, but he also didn't want to fight his way through the wake of disturbance Corellius had left behind him. The Garden Market, with its permanent awnings that were fastened into the stone of the warehouse buildings behind them and unfurled every morning, was full every day, but other markets were open only once every Sennday, once a moonturn, or once a season. The Brewers' and Vintners' Market was open today, though, over in Barrel Street, for instance. The brewers were in with Spring Beer today, which, along with the new crop of strawberries, probably accounted for the heavy traffic here in the Market Quarter.
Probably accounts for Corellius, too. Kellen knew the High Mage's tastes, thanks to overheard conversations among Lycaelon and his friends. Corellius might pretend to favor wine, a much more sophisticated beverage than beer, but his pretense was as bogus as — as his apparent height! Just as he wore platform soles to his shoes, neatly hidden under the skirt of his robe, to hide his true stature, his carefully cultivated reputation as a gourmet concealed coarser preferences. His drink of choice was the same beer his carpenter father had consumed, and the stronger, the better. He might have a reputation for keeping an elegant cellar among his peers and inferiors, but his superiors knew his every secret "vice."
They had to: only a convocation of High Mages could invest a Mage into their exalted ranks, and it behooved them to know everything about a potential candidate. Little did Corellius know that a frog would fly before he was invested with the rank he so coveted. The High Mages would have understood and accepted a man who clung to his culinary roots openly — but a Mage who dissembled and created a false image of himself might find it easy to move on to more dangerous falsehoods. So Lycaelon said — loudly, and often.
So Kellen steered clear of the Brewers' and Vintners' Market. Corellius would be in there for bells, tasting, comparing, pretending he was buying for the table of his servants, while brewers fell over themselves trying to impress him and gain his patronage. And as long as the Mage dallied in the market, no one else would be served, which would make for a backlog of a great many impatient and disgruntled would-be customers.
But they would just have to wait. This was the Mage-City of Armethalieh and only another Mage, senior in age or higher in rank, could displace Corellius from his position of importance. Mages had built it, Mages ruled it, and Mages were the only people of any real consequence in it, though it had nobility and rich men in plenty.
It didn't matter if Armethalieh traded with the entire world and held rich merchants within her walls, or that she could boast nobles whose bloodlines went back centuries, some with more wealth than any ten merchants combined. When it came to power and the wielding of it — well — Mages were the only men who had it, and they guarded their privileges jealously.
Not that they didn't earn those privileges. Magick infused and informed this City, often called "Armethalieh of the Singing Towers" for all of the bell spires piercing the sky. Magick ensured that the weather was so controlled that — for instance — rain only fell between midnight and dawn, so that the inhabitants need not be inconvenienced. Magick kept the harbor clear and unsilted, guided ships past the dangerous Sea-Hag's Teeth at the mouth of it, and cleansed the ships that entered it of vermin. There was magick to reinforce any construction, so that (in the wealthiest parts, at least) the City looked like a fantastic confection, a sugar-cake fit for a high festival. The City stretched toward the sun with stonework as delicate as lace and hard as diamonds, be-towered and be-domed, gilded and silvered, jeweled with mosaics, frosted with fretwork. Things were less fanciful in less exalted quarters, but still ornamented with gargoyle downspouts and carved and glazed friezes of ceramic tiles. Magick reinforced these, too, and nearly every block boasted its own bell tower, with still more magick ensuring that all of the songs of the towers harmonized, rather than clashed, with each other.
Magick set the scales in the marketplace and ensured their honesty. Magick at the Mint guaranteed that the square coins of the City, the Golden Suns of Armethalieh, were the truest in the world, and the most trusted. Magick kept the City's water supply sweet and uncontaminated, her markets filled with fresh wholesome food at every season, her buildings unthreatened by fire. There were entire cadres of Mages on the City payroll, dedicated to magick for the public good. If they were well paid and well respected, they had earned both the pay and the respect. Even Kellen, no friend of Mages, had to admit to that. Life in the City was sweet and easy.
As for the private sector, where the real wealth was to be made, there were far more opportunities for a Mage to enrich himself. There was virtually no aspect of life that could not be enhanced by magick. Domestic magick, for instance. If you had the money, you could hire a Mage to thief-proof your house or shop, to keep vermin out of it, to keep disease from your family, and to heal their injuries. If you had the money, you could even hire a Mage to create a winter-box where you could put perishables to keep them from spoiling. And there were even greater magicks to be had — magicks that melded brick-and-mortar into a whole more solid than stone and harder than adamant. Magicks that kept a ship's sails full of favoring wind no matter what the real conditions were. Money bought magick, and magick made money, and no matter how lowly born a Mage was — and the Magegift could appear in any family, regardless of degree of birth (Corellius, for example) — he could count on becoming rich before he was middle-aged. He might become very rich. He might aspire to far more than mere wealth, if he was powerful enough: a seat on the High Council, and a voice in ruling the City itself.
Most important of all of the folk of the City were the Mages, and the most important of all the Mages were those High Mages who formed the elite ruling body of the City, the High Council. They were considered to be the wisest of the wise; they were certainly the most powerful of the powerful. If there was a decision to be made about anything inside the walls of the City, it was the High Council that made it.
And that was what stuck in Kellen's throat and made him wild with pent-up frustration.
If there is a way to fetter a person's life a little further, it is the High Council that puts the pen to the parchment, Kellen thought sourly as he made his way past the Tailors' Mart and the stalls of those who sold fabric and trimmings. His goal was the little by-water of booksellers, but he would have to make his way through most of the markets to get there, since Corellius was blocking the short route.
Kellen was seventeen, and had been a Student for three years now, and although that was probably the acme of ambition for most young men in this City, he would rather have forgone the "honor" entirely. It would have been a great deal easier, all things considered, if he had never been born among the Gifted. On the whole, he would much rather have been completely and utterly ordinary. His father would have been disgusted.
And I could have gotten out of this place. I could have gone to be a sailor ... It would have gotten him as far as the Out Islands, at least. And from there, who knew?
Mages weren't always born to Mage fathers, and certainly not only to Mages, but in Kellen's case, if he hadn't been among the Gifted, Lycaelon would probably have had apoplexy — or gone looking for his wife's extramarital interest. Or both. The blood in Kellen's veins contained — as he was reminded only too often — the distillation of a hundred Arch-Mages past, half of whom had held the seat of a Lord of the High Council at some point during their lifetimes.
That was difficult enough to live up to, but he was also the son of the Arch-Mage Lycaelon Tavadon, ruler of the City and the current Arch-Mage of the High Council.
That made his life so unbearably stultifying that Kellen would gladly have traded places with an apprentice pig-keeper, if there were such a thing to be found within the walls of Armethalieh.
Wherever Kellen went in his father's world, there were critical eyes on him, weighing his lightest deed, his least word. Only here, in the "common" quarters of the artisans, the shopkeepers, and the folk for whom magick was a rare and expensive commodity, here where no one knew who he was, did Kellen feel as if he could be himself.
And yet, even here, the heavy hand of Arch-Magisterial regulation intruded.
For these were the markets of Armethalieh, and Armethalieh was the greatest city in the world, after all. This should have been a place where wonders and novelties abounded. The harbor welcomed ships from every place, race, and culture, and caravans arrived at the Delfier Gate daily laden with goods from every conceivable place. There should be a hundred, a thousand new things in the market whenever it opened. And yet —
And yet the High Council intruded, even here.
They, and not the merchants, determined what could be sold in the marketplace. And only products that had been approved by the High Council could make an appearance here. Inspectors roamed the streets, casting their critical eyes over the stalls and stores, and anything that looked new or different was challenged.
In fact, there was one such Inspector in his black-and-yellow doublet and parti-colored hose just ahead of Kellen now. The Inspector was turning to look at the contents of a ribbon-seller's stall with a frown.
"What's this?" he growled, poking with his striped baton of office at something Kellen couldn't see.
The stall-holder didn't even bother to answer or argue; he just slapped his permit down atop the offending object. Evidently, this Inspector was a fellow well known to the merchant.
"Council's allowed it, Greeley, so take your baton off my property afore you spoil it," the man growled back. From his look of offended belligerence, Kellen guessed that the merchant had been targeted by this particular Inspector in the past.
The Inspector removed his baton, but also picked up the permit and examined it minutely — and managed to block all traffic down this narrow street as he did so. Kellen wasn't the only one to wait impatiently while the surly, mustachioed official took his time in assuring himself that the permit was entirely in order. Granted, some merchants had tried — and probably would continue to try — to use an old permit for a new offering, bypassing the inspection process, but that didn't mean the old goat had call to block the street!
"It's in order," Greeley grunted at last, and finally moved away from the stall so that people could get by again.
"Interfering bastard," the merchant muttered just as Kellen went past. "Even if it wasn't, what difference would a new pattern of woven ribbons make, for the Eternal Light's sake?"
Excerpted from The Obsidian Mountain Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory. Copyright © 2014 Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
THE OUTSTRETCHED SHADOW,
ONE In the City of Golden Bells,
TWO Dark Lightning,
THREE The Books of the Wild Magic,
FOUR Music in Chains,
FIVE The Courts of Nightmare,
SIX A College of Magicks,
SEVEN Magic Unmasked,
EIGHT By the Light of the Moon,
NINE Facing the Outlaw Hunt,
TEN Hunters of the Dark,
ELEVEN Reborn to Magic,
TWELVE Apples and Apparitions,
THIRTEEN The World Without Sun,
FOURTEEN Storms and Bright Water,
FIFTEEN Darkness and Lies,
SIXTEEN Revelry and Ashes,
SEVENTEEN Into Elven Lands,
EIGHTEEN The City Never Sleeps,
NINETEEN The Fruit of the Tree of Night,
TWENTY A Circle of Silver Fire,
TWENTY-ONE Beyond the Elven Lands,
TWENTY-TWO Visions of the Past,
TWENTY-THREE Allies and Enemies,
TWENTY-FOUR A Pause Before the Storm,
TWENTY-FIVE Battle at the Cairn,
TWENTY-SIX Storm Wind and Silver Feather,
TO LIGHT A CANDLE,
One - In the Forest of Flowers,
Two - A Healing and a Homecoming,
Three - The Banquet in the Garden of Leaf and Star,
Four - In Training at the House of Sword and Shield,
Five - Secrets in the City of Golden Bells,
Six - The Room of Fire and Water,
Seven - Discord in the City of a Thousand Bells,
Eight - Prisoners of Darkness,
Nine - The Council of Fear,
Ten - The Return of the Dragons,
Eleven - The Road Through the Border Lands,
Twelve - To the Crowned Horns of the Moon,
Thirteen - Ondoladeshiron at Last,
Fourteen - Blood and Sorrow,
Fifteen - At the Siege of Stonehearth,
Sixteen - Ghosts upon the Wind,
Seventeen - On the Wings of Dragons,
Eighteen - The Price of Power,
Nineteen - The Wisdom of Betrayal,
Twenty - The Order of Battle,
Twenty-one - Blood on the Moon,
Twenty-two - Smoke and Storm,
Twenty-three - Journeyâ&8364;(tm)s End,
Twenty-four - Shadows of the Past,
Twenty-five - Gifts and Promises,
Twenty-six - Against All Odds,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Good trilogy. I really liked it. Interesting characters and magic systems. Excellent world development.
Mixes Lackey's gift for characters with a new form of magic ("wild magic" which has a unique premise I have never encountered) and an epic journey and battle arc and plots far better than usual for Lackey - presumably added by Mallory.
Asked for a sample, got 3 pages, the title page and a page and a half of author and publishing information