All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth, getting out alive and with Loki’s key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jalan’s fortune back in the living world.
Jalan plans to return to the three w’s that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate, however, has other plans, larger plans. The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jalan and Snorri face many dangers, from the corpse hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue, but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim always pulls you back. In the end, it’s win or die.
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In the deepness of the desert, amid dunes taller than any prayer tower, men are made tiny, less than ants. The sun burns there, the wind whispers, all is in motion, too slow for the eye but more certain than sight. The prophet said sand is neither kind nor cruel, but in the oven of the Sahar it is hard to think that it does not hate you.
All I had to do was walk the length of the temple and not be seduced from the path. It would have taken two hundred paces, no more, and I could have left Hell by the judges’ gate and found myself wherever I damn well pleased. And it would have been the palace in Vermillion that I
Sand dunes are far harder to climb than any hill twice the size. They suck your feet down, stealing the energy from each stride so you’re panting before you’ve climbed your own height. After ten steps I was thirsty, by halfway parched and dizzy. I kept my head down and laboured up the slope, trying
More Ha’tari converged on us before we reached the caravan, all black-robed, one leading a lost camel. My captor, or saviour, mounted the beast as one of his fellows tossed him the reins. I got to slip and slide down the dune on foot. By the time we reached the caravan the whole of its length had come into view, a hundred camels at least, most laden with goods, bales wrapped in cloth stacked high around the animals’ humps, large storage jars hanging two to each side, their conical bases reaching almost to the sand. A score or so of the camels bore riders, robed variously in white, pale blue or dark checks, and a dozen more heathens followed on foot, swaddled beneath mounds of black cloth, and presumably sweltering. A handful of scrawny sheep trailed at the rear, an extravagance given what it must have cost to keep them watered.
The promised fleeing proved far more leisurely than I would have liked. The sheik discussed matters with the Ha’tari headman and we ambled up the slope of a dune, apparently on a course at right angles to their original one. The highlight of the first hour was my drink of water. An indescribable
A mile further on it occurred to me that although Hamada lay two days south, we were in fact heading east. I pulled up alongside the sheik again, displacing a son.
I had heard of such things before, though never seen them. On the Bremmer Slopes in the Ost Reich there are bubbles of slo-time that can trap a man, releasing him after a week, a year, or a century, to a world grown older while he merely blinked. Elsewhere there are places where
We rode on and perhaps we found this so-called river of time, but there was little to show for it. Our feet did not race, our strides didn’t devour seven yards at a time. All I can say is that evening arrived much more swiftly than expected and night fell like a stone.
Excerpted from "The Wheel of Osheim"
Copyright © 2017 Mark Lawrence.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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