Back Cover Text
Around the fire, in the cold of winter,
the old tales of the Time of Madness are still told...
Tales of the MageLords, sorcerors near godlike in their
power, who looked upon ordinary men with contempt.
Who fought great battles among themselves, violent
conflicts that nearly destroyed the world. Who have not
been seen in the land of Reykvid for thousands of years,
but who are still feared and hated.
But now it is time for a new tale...
A tale of a prince named Gavin, who fears he has set a
horror loose upon the kingdom he loves. A tale of a
hunter named Bjorn, who carries within himself a part
of the forbidden power. A tale of one who calls himself
Valerian, who may be a nightmare come to life.
Listen: it begins...
Inside Front Cover
"You will be glad to know that I will not make you
suffer any longer," Valerian said.
Bjorn's head fell against his chest. "Thank...
the gods..." he whispered.
Valerian grabbed Bjorn's hair and forced the
mage to look him. Bjorn's heart pounded in his
chest in sudden fear. "The gods have nothing to do
with it, Bjorn," Valerian hissed at him. "You can
"Please, let me die," Bjorn begged.
"No," Valerian said. "I need you -- I need you to
watch your common worm friends for me and report
Bjorn's heart fell. He knew that his next words
would send him back to the rats.
"I...I cannot," he whispered.
"But Bjorn," Valerian replied, also whispering,
"you have no choice..."
Review by Locus Magazine
"Something of a rarity these days, this is an unabashed guy-fantasy with lots of
medieval-style battles and castle sieges, and a lone hero on an Arctic quest, with
the only significant female characters waiting anxiously at home. It's solid,
for what it is -- compared to a lot of fantasy these days, it feels downright
condensed. The setting is a world devastated a thousand years before by the
war that finally destroyed the evil MageLords. Mankind was left to exist as a
bunch of small clans united only in their hatred of mages. Bjorn is a descendant
of the common mages who once fought the MageLords, but now live in hiding -- until a
MageLord is accidentally revived from a magic sleep. Bjorn is determined to stop
him, but the MageLord's mind control soon has Bjorn betraying mages, and his friend
Prince Gavin going to war against previously friendly clans. Bjorn's only hope
is a solitary quest to the far north. The basic fantasy plot is pretty familiar,
but Martin works in enough details and action to keep things interesting, and even
brings this novel to a satisfying conclusion, though it's only the first in a
Carolyn Cushman, Locus Magazine, Issue #437, June 1997