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Magic Casement [A Man of His Word #1] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Dave Duncan

eBook Category: Fantasy
eBook Description: A princess and a stableboy? It sounds like the worst sort of hackneyed formula romance. Think again, for A Man of His Word may well be the most original fantasy you ever read. The magic is unique and applied in unexpected ways, some of which the late Lester del Rey admitted he had not met in fifty years as writer and editor. The world itself is unique--there are no humans in Pandemia, only imps, elves, gnomes, jotnar, and many more, all of whom you will recognize as human. In Magic Casement the tale begins gently, even slowly, with Inosolan enjoying an idyllic childhood in a tiny backwater kingdom, too carefree and innocent even to understand that the feelings she shares with her friend Rap are more than friendship. Mystery, menace, and the gods appear in short order, and from then on the story grows in scope and power to straddle the world, and adversity thrusts rapid maturity on Rap and Inos. Populated by unforgettable characters--Aunt Kade, Little Chicken, Doctor Sagorn, and many more--Pandemia is an incredible world of credible people and infinite surprises.

eBook Publisher: E-Reads, Published: 2005
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2005


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1

Since long before the coming of Gods and mortals, the great rock of Krasnegar had stood amid the storms and ice of the Winter Ocean, resolute and eternal. Throughout long arctic nights it glimmered under the haunted dance of aurora and the rays of the cold, sad moon, while the icepack ground in useless anger around its base. In summer sun its yellow angularity stood on the shining white and blue of the sea like a slice of giants' cheese on fine china. Weather and season came and went and the rock endured unchanging, heeding them no more than it heeded the flitting generations of mankind.

Two sides fell sheer to the surf, pitted with narrow ledges where only the crying seabirds went, but the third face ran down less steeply, and on that long mad slope the little town adhered as grimly as a splatter of swallows' nests. Above the humble clutter of the houses, at the very crest of the rock, the castle pointed black and spiky turrets to the sky.

No mere human hand could have raised those stones in a land so remote or a setting so wild. The castle had been built long centuries before by the great sorcerer Inisso, to serve as palace for himself and for the dynasty he founded. His descendants ruled there still, in direct male line unbroken . . . but the present monarch, good King Holindarn, beloved of his people, had but a single child--his daughter, Inosolan.

Summer came late to Krasnegar. When inhabitants of milder lands were counting their lambs and chicks, the brutal storms still rolled in from the Winter Ocean. While those lucky southerners gathered hay and berries, the wynds and alleyways of the north lay plugged with drifts. Even when night had been almost banished from the pallid arctic sky, the hills ashore stayed brown and sere. Every year was the same. Every year a stranger might have given up hoping and assumed that summer was not about to happen at all. The locals knew better and in patient resignation they waited for the change.

Always their faith was rewarded at last. With no warning, a cheerful wind would blunder in to sweep the ice floes from the harbor, the hills would throw off their winter plumage almost overnight, and the snowdrifts in the alleyways would shrink rapidly to sullen gray heaps sulking in shadowed corners. A few days' rain and the world was washed green again, fair weather following foul as fast as a blink. Spring in Krasnegar, the inhabitants said, had to be believed in to be seen.

Now it had happened. Sunlight poured through the castle windows. The fishing boats were in the water. The tide was out, the beaches were clear of ice and obviously eager to be ridden on. Inos came early down to breakfast, busily spinning plans for the day.

The great hall was almost deserted. Even before the fine weather had arrived, the king's servants had driven the livestock over the causeway to the mainland. Others would now be outside attending to the wagons and the harbor, cleaning up the winter's leavings, and preparing for the hectic work of summer. Inos's tutor, Master Poraganu, was conveniently indisposed with his customary springtime rheumatics; there would be no objections from him, and she could head for the stables as soon as she had grabbed a quick bite.

Aunt Kade sat at the high table in solitary splendor.

Momentarily Inos debated the wisdom of making a fast retreat and finding something to eat in the kitchens, but she had already been noticed. She continued her approach, therefore, practicing poise and trusting that a regal grace would compensate for shabby attire.

"Good morning, Aunt," she said cheerfully. "Beautiful morning?"

"Good morning, my dear."

"You're earlier than--ooof!" Inos had not intended to make that last remark, but her breeches tried to bite her in half as she sat down. She smiled uneasily, and her sleeves slid quietly up her wrists.


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