Reread of The Warrior Prophet: Chapter Five

Reread of Prince of Nothing Trilogy

Book 2: The Warrior Prophet

by R. Scott Bakker

Part 1
The First March
Chapter 5
The Plains of Mengedda

Welcome to Chapter Five of my reread. Click here if you missed Chapter Four!

Why must I conquer, you ask? War makes clear. Life or Death. Freedom or Bondage. War strikes the sediment from the water of life.


My Thoughts

This is an appropriate quote since this chapter is told from two characters POV: Cnaiür and Saubon. They are both warriors. They are both ones who yearn for war, finding clarity in it. Cnaiür so easily discerns the battlefield while the disturbing sights and smells only reminds him of how his people find war holy. And Saubon is invigorated by it. To him, war is something simple, the clash of arms, not the pointlessness of politics. Everything is so clear in war, not muddied by all the ways life pulls at him. This quote explains the mindset of conquerers as opposed to unveiling truths like other of the quotes at the start of chapters, giving us insights in the characters whose perspective we’re about to read.

Early Summer 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, near the Plains of Mengedda

Proyas and his companions return from their patrol inspecting the heathen attack. Cnaiür is with them and realizes even before seeing the Holy War that there is too little smoke from campfires and too few scavenging birds flying. And he is corrected. Only the Conriyans and Nansur remained, everyone else (the Shrial Knights, Gothyelk, and Skaiyelt) followed Saubon. Proyas meets with Conphas, demanding why he let them go. Conphas speaks “as he always did, as though intellectually filing his nails” informing Proyas that Kellhus had a vision and wouldn’t be dismayed Proyas is dismayed, shocked that Kellhus told Saubon to march.

“So the man said,” Conphas replied. Such is the madness of this world, his tone added, though his eyes suggested something far different.

There was a moment of communal hesitation. Over the past weeks, the Dûnyain’s name had gathered much weight among the Inrithi, as though it were a rock that held at arm’s length. Cnaiür could see it in their faces: the look of beggars with gold sewn into their hems—or of drunkards with over-shy daughters… What, Cnaiür wondered, would happen when the rock became too heavy?

Afterward, when Proyas confronted the Dûnyain at Xinemus’s camp, Cnaiür could only think, He makes mistakes!

Proyas confronts Kellhus angrily, demanding an explanation. Achamian starts to explain the situation but is cut off by Proyas. To everyone’s shock, Kellhus shouts out, “You’re not my better!” Everyone feels something preternatural about Kellhus as he faces Proyas. He reminds the Conryian prince that they are equals. Proyas regains his anger after a moment, demanding to know why Kellhus, as an equal, didn’t let Proyas be apart of any plans.

“I made no decision. You know that. I told Saubon only…” For a fleeting moment, a strange, almost lunatic vulnerability animated his expression. His lips parted. He seemed to look through the Conriyan Prince.

“Only what?”

The Dûnyain’s eyes refocused, his stance hardened—everything about him… converged somehow, as though he were more here than anyone else. As though he stood among ghosts.

He speaks in hidden cues, Cnaiür reminded himself. He wars against all of us!

Kellhus only told Saubon what he sees, and Proyas demands to know what that was. Kellhus asks if he really does want to know. Proyas hesitated, glancing at Cnaiür for a moment, then declares that Kellhus has doomed the holy war and leaves.

In private, Cnaiür confronts Kellhus, the Dûnyain claiming he did what he had to “secure our position.” Cnaiür is angry, pointing out he has alienated them from their patron, Proyas, and sending Saubon and half their forces to their death. Cnaiür is believes the Fanim were likely to win, and now it seems even more certain. “By the Dead God, you do need me to teach you war, don’t you?”

Kellhus, of course, was unmoved. “Alienating Proyas is to our advantage. He judges men harshly, holds all in suspicion. He opens himself only when he’s moved to regret. And he will regret. As for Saubon, I told him only what he wanted to hear. Every man yearns to hear their flattering delusions confirmed. Every man. That is why they support—willingly—so many parasitic castes, such as augurs, priest, memorial—”

“Read my face, dog!” Cnaiür grated. “You will not convince me this is a success!”

Pause. Shining eyes blinking, watching. The intimation of a horrifying scrutiny.

“No,” Kellhus said, “I suppose not.”

More lies.

Kellhus does admit he didn’t think other groups beside Saubon’s Galeoth and the Shrial knights would have marched. He deemed losing Saubon and the knights acceptable, the Holy War able to go on. Cnaiür calls that lies, pointing out Kellhus could have stopped the others if he wanted and accuses Kellhus of believing Saubon’s tactical assessment of the situation of Skauras abandoning Gedea. Cnaiür throws Kellhus words back in his own face because “every man yearns to hear their flattering delusions confirmed.”

Kellhus explains he needs one Great Name to follow him. If Saubon takes Gedea, he will have that and the others will follow. Then he can claim the Holy War. To Kellhus, the risk was worth it. Cnaiür thinks he’s a fool. The need to correct Kellhus on the depths of his mistake has Cnaiür about to spill out Fanim tactics and how they’ll destroy Saubon when he sees Serwë glaring at him with hatred. Then he realizes he’s being manipulated by Kellhus to divulge those secrets.

And suddenly he realized that he’d actually believed the Dûnyain, believed that he had made a mistake.

And yet it was often like this; believing and not believing. It reminded him of listening to old Haurut, the Utemot memorialist who’d taught him his verses as a child. One moment Cnaiür would be sweeping across the Steppe with a hero like great Uthgai, the next he would be staring at a broken old man, drunk on gishrut, stumbling on phrases a thousand years old. When one believed, one’s soul was moved. When one didn’t, everything else moved.

“Not everything I say,” the Dûnyain said, “can be a lie, Scylvendi. So why do you insist on thinking I deceive you in all things?”

“Because that way,” Cnaiür grated, “you deceive me in nothing.”

The rest of the Holy War has been forced to march into Gedea after Saubon. Small groups were sent ahead to warn him, but one was found dead. Proyas asks of Cnaiür if Saubon is surrounded by Skauras. Probably Cnaiür begins to exam the signs of the battle, the scents of rot and sight of bloating bodies reminds him that war is holy. Proyas asks Cnaiür if he still believes in Kellhus. Cnaiür gives a diffident answer that Kellhus sees things.

Proyas snorted. “Your manner does little to reassure me.” He stood, casting shadow across the dead Conriyan, slapping the dust from the ornamental skirt he wore over his mail leggings. “That is always the way of it, I suppose.”

“What do you mean, my Prince?” Xinemus asked.

“We think things will be more glorious than they are, that they’ll unfold to our hopes, our expectations…” He unstopped his waterskin, took too long a drink. “The Nansur have a word for it,” he continued. “We ‘idealize.’”

Cnaiür muses that this “admixture of honesty and insight” is why Proyas is so beloved by his men. Kellhus acts much the same way, though Cnaiür wonders if there is a difference. Proyas asks what happened Cnaiür isn’t sure while Lord Gaidekki calls the patrol’s leader a fool who was overwhelmed by numbers. Cnaiür disagreed but doesn’t speak, instead heads up the ridge. He studies the battlefield while listening to Proyas arguing with his men. Cnaiür doesn’t see Proyas as a fool but “his fervor made him impatient.” Despite Cnaiür’s lectures on the Fanim, Proyas still didn’t understand them. “And when men who knew little argued with men who knew nothing, tempers were certain to be thrown out of joint.” Cnaiür has doubts they’ll succeed, especially given the infighting of the leaders and how they reject most of his advice.

In so many ways, the Holy War was the antithesis of a Scylvendi horde. The People brooked few if any followers. No pampering slaves, no priests or augurs, and certainly no women, which could always be had when one ranged enemy country. They carried little baggage over what a warrior and his mount could bear, even on the longest campaigns. If they exhausted their amicut and could secure no forage, they either let blood from their mounts or went hungry. Their horses, though small, unbecoming, and relatively slow, were bred to the land, not to the stable. The horse he now rode—a gift from Proyas—not only required grain over and above fodder, but enough to feed three men!


Cnaiür is frustrated that they didn’t even understand the Holy War had to break up to march across Gedea. A large host marches slower and that requires more food. Gedea isn’t a fertile land. He wonders if they’re inbred or beaten in the head as children. But the breakup had to be planned. To have means of communication and planned routes. He had to make them understand or they were doomed.

Murdering Anasûrimbor Moënghus was all that mattered. It was the weight that drew all lines plumb.

Any indignity… Anything!

From the ridge, Cnaiür orders Lord Ingiaban to get more men to secure the sight in case Fanim attack them. He is ignored so Cnaiür rides down the hill. He doesn’t care if they think him rude, he says what has to be said. Xinemus volunteers to go, but Cnaiür insists on Lord Ingiaban, who then calls Cnaiür a dog pissing on his leg and demands to know why him. Cnaiür does, explain Ingiaban’s men are closes and Proyas’s life is in danger. That takes him back with Xinemus commanding Ingiaban to obey. Ingiaban grows angry, telling the Marshal not to give orders to his betters while Gaidekki makes a joke. Ingiaban does go. Silence follows.

Proyas finally asks Cnaiür what happened here. Cnaiür says the patrol was outwitted and explains how the Fanim ambushed them from the hill while the patrol rode up in a tight file like they were on a road instead of spread out since they’re in open country. They were slaughtered trying to get up the sandy hill. A few made it, killing some of the Fanim. The survivors were shot to death by arrows. Cnaiür suspects the Fanim were afraid to fight the Conriyans in close quarters since the few who made it to the top must have caused enough casualties. Cnaiür estimates there were sixty or seventy while Gaidekki exclaims, “He reads the dead like scripture.” Proyas asks if Saubon is encircled.

Cnaiür matched his [Proyas] gaze. “When one wars on foot against horse, one is always encircled”

“So the bastard may still live,” Proyas said, his breathlessness betrayed by a faint quaver in his voice. The Holy War could survive the loss of one nation, but three? Saubon had gambled more than his own life on this rash gambit—far more—which was why Proyas, over Conphas’s protestations, had ordered his people to march. Perhaps four nations could prevail where three could not.

Xinemus muses that Saubon might be right and could be chasing Skauras’s skirmishers. Cnaiür disagrees. He is certain Skauras has assembled in Gedea and waits with his full host. Gaidekki asks how he could know. “Because the Fanim who killed your kinsman took a great risk.” Proyas understands, saying the Fanim attacked a larger, more heavily armed force. He deuces thy must have orders to keep Proyas from making contact with Saubon.

Cnaiür lowered his head in deference—not to the man, but to the truth. At long last, Nersei Proyas was beginning to understand. Skauras had been watching, studying the Holy War since long before it had left Momemn’s walls. He knew its weaknesses… Knowledge. It all came down to knowledge.

Moënghus had taught him that.

“War is intellect,” the Scylvendi chieftain said. “So long as you and your people insist on waging it with your hearts, you are doomed.”

Saubon is watching his host ford a river onto the Plains of Mengedda, staring at the land, knowing he had to own it. He looks at the field, knowing this is where the Vulgar Holy War, along with his cousin Tharschilka, had died. He’s not pleased to see his force spreading out on the other side, some of his men even beginning to fish. They had marched a week to get here, already parting ways with Gothyelk, Skaiyelt, and their forces over a difference of tactics and objectives. As much as Saubon wanted to take the city of Hinnereth, which he wants for himself, they had to secure the flanks. Gothyelk was more concerned with passing through Gedea to get to Shimeh, not caring at all about military realities. At the time, Saubon was pleased that they left, thinking Skauras had withdrawn from Gedea and he could seize it for himself.

Saubon has been obsessing over Kellhus words to march and punish the Shrial Knights. For the last few days, he has had doubts, wondering if he was mistaken and that Kellhus hadn’t confirmed his belief of no resistance but suggested the opposite. That they would have to fight. “How else was he to punish the Shrial Knights?” As he gazes at Mengedda, the Battleplain, he is sure Skauras means to fight. He wonders if Kellhus is a fraud.

Such was the madness of things—the perversity!—that one thought, one slight twitch of the soul, could overturn so much. Where before he need only collect the future like a tax farmer, now he threw number-sticks against the great black—for the lives of thousands, no less! Perhaps, for the entire Holy War.

One thought… So frail was the balance between soul and world.

He weeps in his tent at night because of the dread doubt has sown. He realizes this should be expected. The gods have always “taunted, frustrated, and humiliated him.” He was the seventh son but with the drive of the first. His father would punish him for no reasons, beat him for his ambition He had come so close sacking Momemn only for a young Conphas to stop him. The gods always cheated him.

After patrols, led by Athjeari, spot the Fanim, Saubon’s unease only grows while his nobles are unimpressed. They aren’t shocked to learn they’re shadowed. They point out Skauras should have defended the passes if he meant to hold Gedea. And because he is a landless prince, his nobles don’t feel the need to really follow his orders. His is the titular head of the Galeoth host. They go hunting and hawking while he has to pretend to listen to them. But he knows the truth. His forty-five thousand Galeoth and nine thousand Shrial knights were alone in hostile territory and vastly outnumbered. “They had no real discipline, no real leader. And they had no sorcerers. No Scarlet Spires.”

Back in the present, watching his men cross the ford, Saubon sees a patrol returning bearing lances with severed head—a Galeoth sign battle approaches. They were sent by Athjeari. Kussalt, Saubon’s groom, rides up from the patrol, Saubon desperate to know what they reports. As the leaders of the force, Gotian and Sarcellus included, learn that Athjeari and Wanhail have been fighting all day, they are convinced Skauras has assembled on the plains and is trying to delay the host with pickets. Others disagree, saying they are being baited to be rash, that Skauras is eager to fight them on favorable grounds as soon as possible. But Gotian, always cautioning about Fanim, is seen as a coward by many Galeoth.

Saubon realizes something. That they are being delayed because Gothyelk must have decided to cross Mengedda, being the swiftest way across hilly Gedea. The pickets Athjeari is fighting are to prevent the patrols from joining up with their allies. Gotian is on Saubon’s side. Saubon realizes that if he reconnects with Gothyelk and Skaiyelt, the entire Middle North will be on the field. “The greatest Norsirai host since the fall of the Ancient North!”

Suddenly the severed heads upon the lances no longer seemed a rebuke, a totem of their doom; it seemed a sign, the smoke that promised cleansing fire. With unaccountable certainty, Saubon realized that Skauras was afraid…

As well he should be.

His misapprehensions fell away, and the old exhilaration coursed like liquor through his veins, a sensation he had always attributed to Gilgaöl, One-Eyed War.

The Whore will be kind to you.

Saubon begins giving orders, wanting Gothyelk located. He plans to remain in hills until they find Gothyelk, denying the Fanim flat land for their horses. Saubon is excited that the months of “the womanish war of words was finally over.” Holy war had begun exactly as Prince Kellhus said. But then he remembers he has to punish the Shrial Knights and his excitement vanishes. He tells his groom he needs a copy of the Tractate. His groom actually has it memorized, which shocks Saubon even knowing his groom was a pious man. He asks what the Latter Prophet said on sacrifice, which turns out to be a lot.

“What the Gods demand… Is it proper because they demand it?”

“No,” Kussalt said, still frowning.

For some reason, the thoughtless certainty of the answer angered him [Saubon]. What did the old fool know?

“You disbelieve me,” Kussalt said, his voice thick with weariness. “But it’s the glory of Inri Sej—”

“Enough of this prattle,” Coithus Saubon snapped. He glanced at the severed head—at the apple—noticed the glint of a golden incisor between slack and battered lips. So this was their enemy… Drawing his sword, he struck it from the lance, and the lance from Kussalt’s fist.

“I believe what I need to,” he grated.

My Thoughts

What a great way to reintroduce arrogant, narcissistic Conphas than his manner in being confronted by Proyas over a sizable portion of the Holy War marching without the rest. Bored, superior to everyone around him, more concerned with himself than what it meant. It wasn’t Conphas’s fault that everyone around him was idiots and listened to Kellhus.

Now Cnaiür has a moment or realization that Kellhus can make mistakes. He’s infallible Cnaiür needs that knowledge if he will have any chance of killing Moënghus If the son makes mistakes, why not the father.

Cnaiür sees how Kellhus uses every action and tone to control the men around him. To war against them as he convinced them that he is a prophet, leading them down that path slowly. Everything is calculated. It’s always great to see Kellhus through Cnaiür’s suspicious eyes. Bakker needs to keep reminding the readers you can’t trust him . No matter how sincere everyone else believes him to be. In every other POV both us the readers and the character are being manipulated by Kellhus to see him favorably.

Proyas glances at Cnaiür The prince has come to trust Cnaiür’s judgment in martial matters. The fact Cnaiür predicted something was wrong at the Holy War before the party saw them no doubt lifted his worth in Proyas’s eyes.

Cnaiür realizes he still has value in Kellhus’s eyes. The man doesn’t know war. He has made a dangerous gamble that may very well cost the success of the Holy War and doom his mission to kill Moënghus

Kellhus’s explanation about how alienating Proyas is a good thing would, from any other character, smack of self-delusion, a way to explain a bad mistake. But it is probably Kellhus’s honest assessment of his actions. The only problem with his actions is they HING on Saubon being successful, which Cnaiür is certain won’t be the case.

Humans do love flattering lies. That’s why so many powerful people have entourages, why it can be so hard for them to hear contrary opinions. I’m a writer, and sometimes when my readers talk to me about my books I wonder if they’re being honest or telling me what I want to hear so they can stay on good terms with me. Because I don’t want to be told my writing sucks, but if I’m not, how can I improve. It is a dangerous trap to get sucked into. Look at Emperor Ikurei and all the sycophants he has with him, puffing him up to believe he is a god.

Cnaiür is really enjoying himself realizing that Kellhus has badly miscalculated, how he has believed Saubon’s assessment and based his actions on it. And then to spit it back in Kellhus’s face about believing flattering lies. It’s a satisfactory moment.

But it doesn’t last because Cnaiür realizes he’s been fed flattering lies, stopping himself from telling about Fanim tactics in a fit of anger. War is the last thing he has that is useful. Kellhus, as we know from the last chapter, is gambling on Saubon’s success. He realized he has to make educated guesses that there are too many variables, which can lead him to make mistakes. And then he uses that to manipulate Cnaiür into divulging information. And it almost worked. You cannot trust Kellhus ever.

We do idealize, don’t we? Such a mistake. It always gets your hopes crushed when the hypetrain derails. Then notice how Cnaiür compares Proyas’s honest insights to how Kellhus acts, thinking Kellhus did the same. Of course, Proyas are honest where Kellhus is faking that sincerity

Cnaiür’s statement on men with few facts arguing with men who know none leading to arguments is borne out by the comment section on almost any internet website.

Cnaiür’s skill at reading the signs of battlefield and his knowledge of tactics is on display here. It’s fascinating to read while at the same time illuminating much about the Kianene culture, such as how they were loathe to kill their enemy’s horses.

Cnaiür is right They have to have good intelligence. If they had planned it properly, they could have used this to their advantage. If the leader of the patrol had bothered to have his own scouts, he wouldn’t have blundered into the ambush. And Saubon, if he had also done that, he wouldn’t be wondering through Gedea surrounded and cut off.

We see with Saubon surveying Gedea what his true goal is. He is the son of a king, but he has a lot of older brothers (six). He will never inherit. But he wants it so bad, believing of his brothers he should have been born the first one, that he has what it takes. And since he’s clearly not the kill all my brothers type of guy, he has to carve out his own kingdom. In our world, many Crusaders formed Levant Kingdoms in the Holy Lands after retaking them from Muslim occupation, which didn’t make the Byzantine Empire happy since the Muslims had conquered the Holy Land from the Byzantines a few centuries earlier, much like our Nansur Empire wants all this land back because the Fanim took it from them.

Doubt is insidious the way it can disrupt your certainty. Like Saubon now grappling with the realization he had led his men into a trap, that he allowed two-thirds of their force to go a different way, is hitting him hard. Especially as he looks at the Battleplain. Doubt is eating at him.

Doubt eats at Saubon even when he realizes the truth of what Skauras is up to and that they need to get to the Gothyelk’s aid. He always is questioning himself. Always seeks validation. Being beaten by his father, always belittled, has really affected him as an adult.

Saubon doesn’t understand why he is angered by Kussalt’s answer about sacrifice. But it’s simple: Kussalt’s answer didn’t flatter the lies Saubon wanted to believe. He is certain he has figured out the truth, and now he won’t let anything rob him of it.

Well, it looks like Kellhus gamble will pay off if Saubon reconnects with Gothyelk and the Middle North are victorious against Skauras.

Click here to continue on to Chapter Six!

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Review of Shed Some Light (The Monster Series Book 3)

Shed Some Light (The Monster Series Book 3)

by Amber Naralim

Reviewed by JMD Reid

b01m354oqj-01-lzzzzzzzAfter the disastrous events of Into the Black, Ellie, her monstrous lover Vincent, and Reese, Vincent’s brother, have returned to the safe house. There they try to settle down with the others who had their lives disrupted by the shady organization breeding new monsters. But Ellie itches to get back out and hunt the other monsters she freed rescuing her brother Edward, chaffing at playing house.

Edward also battles his own demons. He was experimented on, transformed into a deadly version of the monsters, and fights to keep control of his dark impulses with the help of his blind lover Anna. But the urges to kill, to hurt, to cause fear lurk in his depth.

The household tries to heal, everyone of the residents scarred in their own ways. But when women who look like Anna began being murdered, they fear one the monster Delilah has found them and it will only be a matter of time before more pain and suffering are inflicted.

Naralim builds on the foundation of her two previous books, using the characters she has built and nurtured, using that as the strength of this novel. Where the previous two relied on fast-paced action to drive the narrative, Shed Some Light is stationary, rooted in a small house in the remote country of Canada. Here the characters, their relationships, struggles, hopes, and fears drive the plot.

And she pulls of this transition flawlessly. Her writing has never been stronger. The depth of her characters sustains this novel all on their own so when things start getting tense, you’re all the more anxious because you care for these characters.

Naralim blew me away with the depth of her storytelling and the tragedy of the tale she unfolds. If you haven’t read Walking with Monsters, do so. Then read Into the Black, and then read this amazing book!

You can buy Into the Black from Amazon.

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 8

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 8

Welcome to Part 8 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 7!

Chapter 22

Harry reaches his building and races up the stairs to his office to come to Murphy’s rescue. He pauses outside the open door and calls out Murphy’s name. No answer. Inside the office, he hears labored breathing and a scuttling sound. He also smells gunpowder. Angered, Harry strides into his office and surveys the room.

Murphy was lying behind Harry’s desk, blood staining her left shoulder. Harry kneels down next to her and checks her injury. There is a lot of swelling, and Harry realizes she’s been poisoned and calls 911 for an ambulance. In pain, Murphy accuses Harry of setting her up. Murphy handcuffs herself to Harry.

“You’re under arrest,” she wheezed. “You son of a bitch. Wait till I get you in an interrogation room. You aren’t going anywhere.”

I stared at her, stunned. “Murph,” I stammered. “My God. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

“Like hell,” she said, her lip lifting in a ghost of its usual snarl. She twisted her head around, grimacing in pain, and squinted at me. “You should have talked to me this morning. Got you now, Dresden.” She broke off in a panting gasp, and added, “You jerk.”

“You stubborn bitch from hell.” I felt at a loss for a second, then shook my head. “I’ve got to get you out of here before it comes back,” I said, and I stooped forward to try to gather her up.

The scorpion talisman attacks, no the size of a large terrier. It tries to sting Harry, misses, but some venom splashes on his cheek, burning him. Being handcuffed to Murphy makes it difficult to dodge the scorpion’s attack. The scorpion’s claw wounds Harry in the leg. Murphy becomes incoherent and then the venom blinds her.

Harry discards in plan to use magic to cut the handcuffs for fear of killing himself and Murphy in the process and curses his dad for never showing up to slip out of handcuffs. Finally, Harry manages to pull himself and Murphy out of the office, leaving behind his staff and blasting rod. Harry drags them to the elevator while the scorpion burst through his office door.

Harry frantically jabs the elevator button as the scorpion advance, and Harry realizes that the scorpion is still growing in size. As it charges, Harry holds up his left arm and activates his shield bracelet. The scorpion bounces off the shield as the elevator doors open. Harry throws himself and Murphy into the elevator.

The elevator descends, and Harry finally has a moment to think about the scorpion. He realizes its to smart for an actual scorpion, and it must be a construct, like a golem or a robot. Victor must have realized his talisman was missing and put a spell on it. Suddenly, the elevator stops and the control panel starts to smoke. Above, the scorpion has managed to pry open the elevator doors, and has dropped down onto the roof of the elevator.

Harry desperately racks his brain for a plan as the scorpion, now the size of a small car, tears the roof apart. Harry gets the idea to push the elevator car up with a massive column of wind and smash the scorpion between the elevator and the ceiling of the shaft. “Vento servitas!” shouts Harry, and the elevator rockets up, pushed by the wind, and smashes the scorpion to pieces and turns to ectoplasm goo.

However, the elevator brakes were destroyed, and the elevator begins to plummet back down towards the ground. Harry uses his shield bracelet to form a cushion of energy around himself and Murphy. The elevator smashes into the ground floor and the doors open and Harry and Murphy tumble out to find two astonished EMTs.

I was alive.

I blinked at that, somewhat stunned. I was alive. I looked down at myself, at my arms and legs, and they were all there. Then I let my head fall back and howled out a defiant laugh, a great, gawping whoop of primal joy.

“Take that, Victor Shadowman!” I shouted. “Hah! Hah! Give me your best shot, you murderous bastard! I’m going to take my staff and shove it down your throat!”

I was still laughing when the EMTs gathered me up and helped me and Murphy toward the ambulance, too stunned to ask any questions. I saw them both give me wary looks, though, and then trade a glance with one another that said they were going to sedate me with something as soon as they got the chance.

Harry continues his adrenal filled rant and notices his shield bracelet was destroyed. Outside, it is raining and Harry’s elation vanishes. “The storm had arrived.”

My Thoughts

Harry has funny pamphlets titled “Real Witches Don’t Float so Good” and “Magic in the Twenty-first Century.” Harry had actually written some himself. He’s really committed to showing the world about the supernatural.

While Murphy is incoherent from the scorpion venom, she reveals she has multiple ex-husbands who all have told her that she makes “things just a little harder than they need to be.” Poor Harry, he’s trying to save her life and all she can talk about is arresting and interrogating him. We meet one of those ex’s later (the second husband) while the first dies off screen of a heart attak midway through the series.

We get the first Harry Dresden Wily-e Coyote planTM with the wind and the elevator. Good thing Harry remembered his physics and used his shield to basically act like packing peanuts to distribute the force of their impact so they wouldn’t die when they hit the ground. Butcher’s devotion to realistic physics in his magic series is always great to see.

And it’s always fun to see a Harry rant while he’s on an adrenaline high.

Chapter 23

Harry is still handcuffed to Murphy as Harry and an EMT carry Murphy. Harry’s hands are too big to slip through the cuffs but Murphy’s aren’t. Harry works her cuff off her hand, taking a little skin with it. They set Murphy down on the curb and the EMTs begin to work on her. Harry tells the second EMT she’s been poisoned and that EMT patches up Harry’s leg wound real quick. As the second EMT begins to also work on Murphy, Harry slips out of the scene before the police arrive.

Harry realizes that the storm has come in from the west and hasn’t reached Victor Sells lake house. So if he hurries, he can race the storm. Harry doesn’t have time to retrieve his staff and rod. All Harry has is his mother’s pentacle talisman and years of formal training. First, Harry has to get a car. Harry quickly walks down to McAnally’s and finds the place packed.

They were the have-nots of the magical community. Hedge magi without enough innate talent, motivation, or strength to be true wizards. Innately gifted people who knew what they were and tried to make as little of it as possible. Dabblers, herbalists, holistic healers, kitchen witches, troubled youngsters just touching their abilities and wondering what to do about it. Older men and women, younger people, faces impassive or concerned or fearful, they were all there. I knew them all by sight, if not by name.

They had heard two wizards were about to throw down and had come to McAnally’s for shelter. Harry walks over to the bar and asks to borrow Mac’s car. With a grunt, Mac throws him his keys. Harry turns, and finds Morgan standing at the pub’s doorway.

Morgan accuses Harry of using the storms to fuel the spells to kill people, and orders Harry to sit down. Morgan wants to prevent Harry from killing anyone else. Harry tries to explain that he knows who the real killer is, and that he’s going to be killed in the next hour if he doesn’t stop him. Morgan draws his sword. So Harry grabs a chair and hits Morgan in the stomach, and then hit him again on the back, knocking Morgan to the ground senseless.

Harry flees the bar, knowing he just burned that bridge.

My Thoughts

Even though Murphy handcuffed and tried to arrest him, Harry still feels bad about abandoning her. But, hey, he doesn’t want to die, so you can’t blame the guy. She’s with the EMTs, and it was out of his hands anyway.

And Morgan continues to be a giant dick. While his plan would be laudible if Harry was the real killer, we know he’s not. And Harry can’t afford to sit around and die. Great moment when he slams that chair into Morgan’s back. Of course, if Harry survives Victor Shadowman, the Council is really going to hate him.

One crisis at a time. It’s like that proverb when your only chance to escape is to jump off the cliff. So you jump and hope you can figure out something before you hit the ground.

Mac is a great guy. He doesn’t even question Harry when he barges in and asks to borrow a car. Just grunts and hands him the keys.

Chapter 24

Mac’s car was a ’89 TransAm, and Harry drives it as fast as he could (the speedometer tops at 130 mph, Harry went faster at times). Luckily Its Sunday and traffic is light. Harry manages to get ahead of the storm just as he enters Lake Providence city limits. As Harry pulls into Victor Sells lake house driveway, the car dies. It had lasted long enough to get Harry here.

Harry surveys the house. Their could be magical alarms or traps, illusions or other spells just waiting. Harry needs to know and so opens his Third Eye.

The only thing I can say is that I felt as though a veil of thick cloth had been lifted away from me as I opened my eyes again—and not only from my eyes, but from all of my senses. I could abruptly smell the mud and fish odor of the lake, the trees around the house, the fresh scent of the coming rain preceding the storm on the smoke-stained wind. I looked at the trees. Saw them, not just in the first green coat of spring, but in the full bloom of summer, the splendor of the fall, and the barren desolation of winter, all at the same time. I Saw the house, and each separate part of it as its own component, the timbers as parts of spectral trees, the windows as pieces of distant sandy shores. I could feel the heat of summer and the cold of winter in the wind coming off the lake. I Saw the house wreathed in ghostly flames, and knew that those were part of its possible future, that fire lay down several of the many paths of possibility that lay ahead in the next hour.

Dark emotions cover the house like mold, and skulls adorned everywhere. Death lies in the house’s future, maybe Harry’s. Ghost and restless spirits have been drawn to the place like rats. Harry is both repulsed by the sight of the evil power in the house and attracted to it. Real power was here. Power to change the world to Harry’s desires. This is what he had turned his back on and his reward had been suspicion and contempt.

Harry realizes he could kill Victor right know, burn the house to the ground with the dark energy contained within. Anger surges in Harry. With such power, he could challenge the Council and their pathetic watchdog, Morgan.

The silver pentacle that had been my mother’s burned cold on my chest, a sudden weight that made me gasp. I sagged forward a little, and lifted a hand. My fingers were so tightly crushed into fists that it hurt to try to open them. My hand shook, wavered, and began to fall again.

Then something strange happened. Another hand took mine. The hand was slim, the fingers long and delicate. Feminine. The hand gently covered mine, and lifted it, like a small child’s, until I held my mother’s pentacle in my grasp.

The pentacle was a symbol of white wizardry, or order and rational. Harry calms down and remembers that magic came from life. “There is no truer gage of a man’s character than the way in which he employs his strength, his power.”

I was not a murderer. I was not like Victor Sells. I was Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. I was a wizard. Wizards control their power. They don’t let it control them. And wizards don’t use magic to kill people. They use it to discover, to protect, to mend, to help. Not to destroy.

The anger fades. The hand touching his is gone, but a lingering whiff of perfume remains. Harry gather his courage, and walks forward through the “spectral landscape littered with skulls.”

My Thoughts

Harry has his “Galadriel tempted by the One Ring moment.” I guess Harry get to remain Harry, and travel across the sea to… Err, no I guess he gets to go duel a Black Wizard with nothing but his wits.

I really liked how the spirit of Harry’s mother brings Harry back from the edge. Her spirit makes a few more appearance and we learn a lot more about her past.

Harry got a bum deal. He made the right decision, rejected his master’s offer to go to the dark side, and instead of getting an attaboy from the good guys, he got probation officer that is constantly threatening murder.

I really like the Sight’s description. Its a neat premise and always enjoy the description Butcher comes up with when Harry uses it throughout the books. I really liked how he can see the trees that the lumber came from. Nice touch.

Well, Harry is marching into his Mordor. Good Luck!

Click here to continue onto Part 9!

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Review: Opener of the Sky

Opener of the Sky (Children of Stone 3)

by Mary R. Woldering

Reviewed by JMD Reid

b01mcrkejj-01-lzzzzzzzIn the 2500s BC, a Semetic shepherd named Marai living in the Shadow of Mount Sinai discovers the Children of the Stone, consciousness from another world come to our planet to bring enlightenment. Marai, along with three women who become his wives (Ariennu, Naibe, and Deka), has traveled to Ancient Kemet to bring the stones to Hordjedtef, an old priest and son of Pharoah Khufu. But Hordjedtef grew jealous of Marai and poisoned him in a sacred ceremony. Marai survived, though it was two months before he emerged.

Now he has to find his wives. They have been taken south down the River Nile by Maatkare, claimed as his women. He is a cruel warrior, a general of Egypt with ambitions to Pharaoh one day with Deka’s help. Marai will have to find a way to rescue Ariennu, Naibe, and Deka from his cluthces without starting a civil war in the souther lands of Ta-Seti.

And do all of his wives want to be rescued?

Opener of the Sky peaks up right where Go Forth By Day ended. Marai will need new allies to help him on his mission delivered upon him by the Children of the Stone as well as to be reunited with his wives. But the odds are staked against him. He is one man against Maatkare and his army. And Maatkare is priest trained and has powers of his own.

Wills clash in this chapter of Woldering’s story. The stakes are high and tension wracks this book. Her narrative propels you forward as you wonder just how Marai will overcome the odds against him. And woven through it is plenty of Egyptian rituals and beliefs, forming the backdrop for this supernatural, historical fiction that is clearly well researched.

Opener of the Sky is the best of the series so far. It was hard to put down at times as it hurtled towards its ending and left me eager for the next book in the series. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and Egyptian mythology, then you need to read this series. It has such a breadth, covering even the politics surrounding the Pharaohs and their extended family to how the belief in magic pervades so much of their daily lives.

Will Marai triumph from Maatkare, or will he become the Opener of the Sky? Politics, magic, and more permeate this story and leave me waiting for book 4.

You can buy Going Forth by Day from Amazon!

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Reread of The Warrior Prophet: Chapter Four

Reread of Prince of Nothing Trilogy

Book 2: The Warrior Prophet

by R. Scott Bakker

Part 1
The First March
Chapter 4

Welcome to Chapter Four of my reread. Click here if you missed Chapter Three!

No decision is so fine as to bind us to its consequences. No consequence is so unexpected as to absolve us of our decisions. Not even death.


It seems a strange thing to recall these events, like waking to find I had narrowly missed a fatal fall in the darkness. Whenever I think back, I’m filled with wonder that I still live, and with horror that I still travel by night.


My Thoughts

The first quote is saying that when you can make bad decisions and do not personally pay for them, that still doesn’t absolve you of the consequences, even if they weren’t expected. We see Kellhus making a decision in this chapter, sending Saubon to seize Gedea despite Cnaiür saying this was a bad plan in one of the previous chapter. But Kellhus needs to grow his power. He has to take risks. And if it does go badly, Kellhus won’t be there to be affected by the consequences—Saubon and his men will.

But there are more decisions made in this chapter, and the series, that all spin off and have their own consequences that are rarely predicted by all. Even Kellhus misses a few things, as we see him having a lapse in this very chapter.

Achamian understands the events we are reading now in a way the present Achamian doesn’t (how Kellhus manipulates him). But that knowledge doesn’t keep him from being ignorant in the future that he writes this book.

Early Summer 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, the fortress of Asgilioch

Achamian and Esmenet awake in each others arms, holding each other tight as the camp wakes up. Esmenet grows shy, demure, and Achamian realizes she’s afraid. Today, she would meet the powerful friends in his life.

“Don’t worry,” he said, catching her eyes as she fussed with her hasas. “I’m far more particular when it comes to my friends.”

A frown crowded out the terror in her eyes. “More particular than what?”

He winked. “Then when it comes to my women.”

She smiles, her spirits lifted. They leave the tent and, arm-in-arm, he introduces her to Xinemus. He only gives a curt greeting back and points to smoke. The Fanim had attacked a village called Tusam. Proyas wants to survey the aftermath. Xinemus then leaves, shouting orders. Achamian and Esmenet watch the horseman leave and she grows more nervous that she “would shame him.” But he can’t find a way to lift her spirit. Then Kellhus joins them, commenting that the fighting has started.

With something of a bashful air, Achamian introduced Esmenet. He inwardly winced at the coldness of her tone and expression—at the bruising still visible on her cheek. But Kellhus, if he noticed, seemed unconcerned

“Someone new,” he said, smiling warmly. “Neither bearded nor haggard.”

“Yet…” Achamian added.

“I don’t get haggard,” Esmenet said in mock protest.

They laughed, and afterward Esmenet’s hostility seemed to wane.

Serwë arrives, and she is cautious of Esmenet, especially after she notices Esmenet talking with the men. Achamian finds it troubling, but thinks the pair will become friends out of sheer necessity of escaping the “masculine clamor” of the camp. Achamian finds the camp oppressive, and suggest they see the Holy War form a distance. Kellhus agrees, saying, “Nothing is understood until glimpsed from the heights.” Serwë, which was unusual for her, is delighted to come along. Esmenet is also happy, holding Achamian’s hand.

They search for a while in the surrounding hills to find an advantage point while patrols warn them of dangers. But Kellhus uses his status to order them away, remarking that they have a Mandate Schoolman. Esmenet is nervous, reminded that the holy war is marching towards actual battle. She reflects on her life as a “long-walker,” a whore following an army, and how she had done so much walking, even when working on her back or knees. She had never pleasured so many men before. But despite that, she still would observe the land, learn what she could from swimming to phrases in foreign languages. And then it all changed last night when she heard Achamian’s voice.

She ran to him—What choice did she have? In all the world, he had only her—only her! The outrage she’d thought she would feel was nowhere to be found. Instead, his touch, his smell, had exacted an almost perilous vulnerability, a sense of submission unlike any she’d ever known—and it was good. Sweet Sejenus, it was good! Like the small circle of a child’s embrace, or the taste of peppered meat after a long hunger. It was like floating in cool, cleansing water.

No burdens, only flashing sunlight and slow-waving limbs, the smell of green…

Now she was no longer peneditari; she was what the Galeoth called “im hustwarra,” a camp-wife. Now, at along last, she belonged to Drusas Achamian. At long last she was clean.

She did not speak about Sarcellus to Achamian, fearing ruining their relationship. She is happy and won’t let anything break them apart. And what she told him was mostly true. If he wasn’t different from Sumna, so desperate, she might have told him. She used to tease him about being a madman, but now she realizes he looks like one wit his hollow stare and terrifying words. She realizes he is going mad because of Kellhus. She thinks he is being a stubborn fool for not telling him.

According to Achamian, women had no instinct for principle. For them everything was embodied… How had he put it? Oh yes, that existence preceded essence for women. By nature, the tracks traveled by their souls ran parallel to those demanded by principle. The feminine soul was more yielding, more compassionate, more nurturing than the masculine. Consequently, principal was more difficult for them to see, like a staff in a thicket, which was why women were likely to confuse selfishness for propriety—which, apparently, was what she was doing.

But for men, whose inclinations ranged so far and so violently, principle was an ever-present burden, a yoke they either toiled under or cast off altogether. Unlike women, men could always see what they should do because it differed so drastically from what they wanted.

At first she believed him, until she realized the “principal that galled her, not some dim-witted feminine confusion of hope and piety.” She had given herself to him, given up her work as a prostitute finally, and she was asking for a similar thing in return. To give over a man Achamian had only for a few weeks. “A man, moreover, that according to his own principles, he should surrender.” She wanted to shout at him but she doesn’t. “If men must spare women the world, then women must spare men the truth—as though each forever remained alternate halves of the same defenseless child.” She has to show him the truth.

Serwë walked at her side, every so often casting nervous glances her way. Esmenet said nothing, though she knew the girl wanted to talk. She seemed harmless enough, given the circumstances. She was one of those rare women who could never be deflowered, never be despoiled. Had she been a fellow whore in Sumna, Esmenet would have secretly despised her. She would have resented her beauty, her youth, her blond hair, and her pale skin, but more than anything she would have resented her perpetual vulnerability.

“Akka has—” the girl blurted. She blushed, looking down to her feet. “Achamian’s been teaching Kellhus wondrous things—wondrous things!”

Even her endearing accent. Resentment was ever the secret liquor of harlots.

Esmenet considers if Achamian teaching Kellhus was what kept Achamian from betraying the man since she knows of his strong bond to his former students. Before she continue this idea, Serwë gushes for joy, spotting flowers. She rushes forward to stare at them while Achamian informs her that they are pemembis. Serwë has never heard of them, and Achamian, winking at Esmenet, talks about their legend while Esmenet stands in uncomfortable silence with Kellhus, examining him. Finally, unnerved by his grace, she breaks the silence, bringing up his time with the Scylvendi. She asks about their scars. He tells her about the Scylvendi philosophy on life, that man is “the smoke that moves.” They see life not as a thing that can be owned but a line. It can be braided into another, like his tribe, herded like a slave, or stopped. This action, ending a line, is most significant The swazond doesn’t celebrate it but merely marks where two competing lines intersected. “The fact Cnaiür, for instance, bears the scars of many means he walks with the momentum of many.” Swazond aren’t trophies but records.

Esmenet stared in wonder. “But I thought the Sclyvendi were uncouth…barbarians. Surely such beliefs are too subtle!”

Kellhus laughed “All beliefs are too subtle.” He held her with shining blue eyes. “And ‘barbarity,’ I fear, is simply a word for unfamiliarity that threatens.”

That unsettled her. She notices Achamian watching with a knowing smile as she begins to experience Kellhus. Abruptly, Kellhus says she was a whore. She gets defensive. He asks her what it was like to have sex with strangers. She gives a simple answer, nice sometimes other times a chore, but she had to eat. Kellhus, however, asked her what it was like. She looks away and gets jealous of Achamian by Serwë. She deflects Kellhus but he persists. She feels a surge of emotions and answers sometimes she felt like the ruts of wagon wheels. But she felt something else other times.

“Whores are mummers—you must understand that. We perform…” She hesitated, searched his eyes as though they held the proper words. “I know the Tusk says we degrade ourselves, that we abuse the divinity of our sex…and sometimes it feels that way. But not always… Often, very often, I have these men upon me, these men who gasp like fish, thinking they’ve mastered me, notched me, and I feel pity for them—for them,not me. I become more… more thief than whore. Fooling, duping, watching myself as though reflected across silver. It feels like… like…”

“Like being free,” Kellhus said,

She’s troubled by revealing something so intimacy yet relieved, like she had set aside a great weight. She asks how she knows that but are interrupted by Achamian asking what they learned. Kellhus answers, “What it’s like to be who we are?”

As Achamian leads them through the hills, he remembers Seswatha walking these same trails two thousand years ago, fleeing the No-God after the defeat at Mehsarunath. He has trouble separating Seswatha hopeless fear as he cowers in a nearby cave from reality. Esmenet notices, asking if he was all right. He lies but she knows and holds his hand to give comfort. He manages to shake the deja vu of Seswatha as they move away from the dead man’s path. But, because of that, Achamian has led them too far to return to the Holy War today. So they camp by ruins of an old Inrithi chapel. It is a beautiful ruin, not destroyed but abandoned, which Serwë finds sad. Achamian talks about how the Nansur abandoned these lands after the Fanim conquered Gedea.

The ruins belonged to a college of the Thousand Temples called the Marrucees, which was destroyed long ago. Kellhus asks about the Colleges, and Esmenet—since she had bedded many priests and was from Sumna—answered. Achamian wanders away to mope, reminded of her past as a whore, and Esmenet follows him out and they make love. Afterward, he asks her about Kellhus.

A flash of anger. “Is there nothing else you think about?”

His throat tightened. “How can I?”

She became remote and impenetrable. Serwë’s laughter chimed across the ruins, and he found himself wondering what Kellhus had said.

“He is remarkably,” Esmenet murmured, refusing to look at him.

So what should I do? Achamian wanted to cry.

He doesn’t, and she asks him if they do have each other, which he agrees to. And she asks what does anything else matter. But he grows angry, pointing out that Kellhus is the Harbinger. She wants to flee form everything, hide, just the two of them. He complains of the burden, which she shouts isn’t theirs. She begs him to flee.

“This is foolishness, Esmenet. There’s no hiding from the end of the world! Even if we could, I’d be a sorcerer without a school—a wizard, Esmi. Better to be a witch! They would hunt me. All of them, not just the Mandate. The Schools tolerate no wizards…” He laughed bitterly. “We wouldn’t even survive to be killed.”

“But this is the first time,” she said, her voice breaking. “The first time I’ve ever…”

Achamian wants to hold her, seeing the way her shoulders fall, but Serwë’s panic cry stops him. Riders approach with torches. Fanim might approach. They go and join Kellhus, who has put out their fire, and he points out the approaching torches.

Esmenet is afraid, fearing they are going to kill them. They are heading straight for us. Kellhus says they can’t hide. Their fire was spotted. Achamian casts a spell, summoning the Bar of Heaven, a bright pillar of light that illuminates the ground like a mini sun, startling the approaching riders. They turn out to be Galeoth led by Prince Saubon, men of the tusk. Esmenet grows fearful, spotting Sarcellus with them.

A resonant voice shouted across the darkness: “We search for the Prince of Atrithau! Anasûrimbor Kellhus!”

The many-colored tones were unknitted, combed into individual threads: sincerity, worry, outrage, and hope… And Kellhus knew there was no danger.

He’s come for my counsel.

Kellhus calls out a welcome, saying the “faithful are always welcome.” Another voice shouts about about sorcerers. Kellhus recognizes a Nansur nobleman but finds his accent is hard to place specifically. Saubon jokes away the Nansur’s outrage, saying he is in a bad mood because the light made him soil himself. Achamian asks Kellhus Saubon’s purpose and Kellhus lies, saying he knows not, though he speculates Saubon, being eager to take the fight to the Fanim, might be up to mischief since Proyas went to inspect the village. Saubon reaches them, saying, “We tracked you all afternoon.”

“And who is ‘we’?” Kellhus asked, peering at the man’s fellow riders.

Saubon made several introductions, starting with his grizzled groom, Kussalt, but Kellhus spared them little more than a cursory glance. The lone Shrial Knight, whom the Prince introduced as Cutias Sarcellus, dominated his attention…

Another one. Another Skeaös..

“At last,” Sarcellus said. His large eyes glittered through the fingers of his fraudulent face. “The renowned Prince of Atrithau.”

He bowed lower than his rank demanded.

What does this mean, Father?

Kellhus has many variables to consider as he meets with Saubon, his attention on Sarcellus as they pointless talk. He notes that Achamian hates Sarcellus and deduces that something happened between them in Sumna involving Inrau. But Achamian has no idea Sarcellus is a skin-spy He also notes that Esmenet had been Sarcellus’s lover and she’s afraid that he’s here to take her from Achamian. Achamian asks how they were found, and Saubon points to Sarcellus, saying “he has an uncanny ability to track.” Then asks the skin-spy where he learned it.

“As a youth,” Sarcellus lied, “on my father’s western estates”—he pursed his lusty lips, as though restraining a smile—“tracking Sclyvendi…”

“Tracking Scylvendi,” Saubon repeated, as though to say, Only in the Nansurium.. “I was ready to turn back at dusk, but he insisted you were near.” Saubon opened his hands and shrugged.


Achamian looks to Kellhus to say something and banish the awkwardness, and normally he would, but he is too deep in his thoughts to give anything but “rote responses.” He mirrors the others expression since “self had vanished into place, a place of opening, where permutation after permutation was hunted to its merciless conclusion.” Kellhus recognizes there is great danger and he had to understand what was going on. Sarcellus jokes about tracking by scent, but Kellhus realizes it is truth. Kellhus has no idea of all their capabilities and must be cautious. He wonders if his father knows of them.

Everything had transformed since he’d taken Drusas Achamian as his teacher. The ground of this world, he now knew, had concealed many, many secrets from his brethren. The Logos remained true, but its ways were far more devious, and far more spectacular, than the Dûnyain had ever conceived And the Absolute… The End of Ends was more distant than they’d ever imagined. So many obstacles So many forks in the path…

Despite his initial skepticism, Kellhus had come to believe much of what Achamian had claimed over the course of their discussions. He believed the stories of the First Apocalypse. He believed the faceless thing before him was an artifact of the Consult. But the Celmomian Prophecy? The coming of a Second Apocalypse? Such things were absurd. B definition, the future couldn’t anticipate the present. What came after couldn’t come before…

Could it?

Kellhus needs to understand his circumstances. His ignorance had already caused problems simply by studying Skeaös and arousing the Emperor’s suspicious, which unmakes Skeaös, and then convinced Achamian Kellhus was the Harbinger. Kellhus is in great peril. He needs to keep his secret of seeing skin-spies from Achamian, which would tip the man into telling his school. Kellhus was on his own.

Kellhus begins to think the Consult knows he unmasked Skeaös. He had noticed Imperial Spies watching him. Which would mean Sarcellus would be a probe. They have to know if it was an accident or if Kellhus had recognized Skeaös. Unless Sarcellus was here for Achamian, since he had direct contact with the man and indirect via seducing Esmenet. He could be sounding out Esmenet capacity for “deceit and treachery.” She had not told Achamian about her relationship with Sarcellus.

The study is so deep, Father

A thousand possibilities, galloping across the trackless steppe of what was to come. A hundred flashing through his soul, some branching and branching, terminally deflected form his objectives, others flaring out in disaster…

Kellhus considers unveiling Sarcellus before the great names. But he discards that as too dangerous since it would get the Mandate involved. And he couldn’t have that “until they could be dominated.” He considers indirect actions, a secret spy war, killing Sarcellus. Also not good, revealing to the Consult that their spies were unmask. It would lead to the same result as direct action. He considers inaction, to force the enemy to second guess themselves, to wonder, to question and worry if he has unmasked them or not. He realizes the Consult would want to understand him before destroying him. It would buy him time.

He was one of the Condition, Dûnyain Circumstances would yield. The mission must—

Kellhus,” Serwë was saying. “The Prince has asked you a question.”

Kellhus blinked, smiled as though at his own foolishness. Without expectation, everyone about the fire stared at him, some concerned, some puzzled.

“I’m-I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I…” He glanced nervously from watcher to watcher, exhaled, as though reconciling himself to his principles, no matter how embarrassing “Sometimes I… I see things..”


“Me too,” Sarcellus said scathingly. “Though usually when my eyes are open.”

Kellhus is troubled that he had closed his eyes and doesn’t remember it. It’s a lapse. Saubon admonishes Sarcellus for being rude. Kellhus makes a joke to soothe ruffled feathers while he struggles to understand what Sarcellus wants. He then asks why a Shrial Knight would come to a sorcerer’s fire. Sarcellus says it is Saubon that has brought him but before he can say why, Saubon wants to speak to Kellhus privately

Kellhus wanders what his father wants of him as he considers possibilities. He follows Saubon away from the others and Saubon asks if he really does see things. Dream things. Kellhus realizes Saubon fears him. Saubon is impatient with Proyas’s caution and wants to strike into the heathen lands. He would have already if it wasn’t for Kellhus’s interpretation of Ruöm’s destruction

“Then why come to me now?”

Because what you said…about the God burning our ships… It had the ring of truth.”

He [Saubon] was a watcher of men, Kellhus realized, someone who continually measured. His whole life he’d thought himself a shred judge of character, prided himself on his honesty, his ability to punish flattery and reward criticism But with Kellhus… He had no yardstick, no carpenter’s string. He’s told himself I’m a seer of some kind. But he fears I’m more…

“And that’s what you seek? The truth?”

Saubon saw faith as something to be bargained with. He fears making a mistake and thinks Fate has given him a chance. Saubon begs to know what Kellhus has seen. He is an experienced general, believing he can avoid Fanim trap. Kellhus reminds him of Cnaiür’s words at the council, how they will use horses to trap them. Saubon is dismissive, his nephew scouts Gedea and as seen nothing. There’s no host. He says the skirmishers Proyas chases are a distraction, that the enemy has retreated to Shigek to await reinforcements Gedea is available to be taken by someone courages. Kellhus sees Saubon believes his words and Kellhus knows that Saubon has even fought Conphas to a standstill.

Cataracts of possibility. There was opportunity here… And perhaps Sarcellus need not be confronted to be destroyed. But still.

I know so little of war. Too little…

Saubon is desperate for validation of his plan, that he can seize Gedea. He demands to know the truth. Kellhus says he rarely sees the future, instead seeing into the hearts of men. Saubon asks what Kellhus’s sees in his own heart.

Expose him. Strip him of every lie, every pretense. When the shame passes…

Kellhus held the man’s eyes for a forlorn instant.

…he will think it proper to stand naked before me.

Kellhus says he sees a man and a child. The man wants to be a king by his own hand, greedy for people to see him. The child cringes form his father, a child who is alone, unloved. Kellhus considers possibilities on how to proceed next and realizes “with the variables were so many, everything was risk.” Kellhus asks if Saubon heard something. He pretend to swoon and Saubon catches him.

March,” Kellhus gasped, close enough to kiss. “The Whore will be kind to you… But you must make certain the Shrial Knights are…” He opened his eyes in stunned wonder—as though to say, This couldn’t be their message!

Some destinations couldn’t be grasped in advance. Some paths had to be walked to be known. Risked.

“You must make certain the Shrial Knights are punished.”

Esmenet is silent in Kellhus and Saubon’s absence, cursing Sarcellus presence. Right now, Sarcellus chats with Serwë about Kellhus, who is more than happy to talk about him. Fear grips Esmenet. She knows Achamian’ll find out she was Sarcellus’s lover and their new relationship will die. She flees the fire, settling in the darkness, watching the group. She notices Achamian talking to Serwë now and that Sarcellus is gone. Sarcellus comes at her from behind, mocking her for being a whore. She feigns ignorance. He goads her into slapping him. He catches her wrist and begins touching her. She begs, not wanting Achamian seeing this. He can’t because he’s by the fire, blinded by the bright light while she’s hidden in the darkness. She resists, telling Sarcellus she’ll never do it even as she feels his heat.

And then Kellhus interrupts them, asking if there’s a problem. Sarcellus releases her and Esmenet says nothing, she was just startled. Esmenet fears Kellhus had heard them. Sarcellus retreats after a moment. Esmenet is relieved and whispers thanks to Kellhus.

“You loved him, didn’t you?”

Her ears burned. For some reason, saying no never occurred to her. One just didn’t lie to Prince Anasûrimbor Kellhus. Instead, she said, “Please don’t tell Akka.”

Kellhus smiled, though his eyes seemed profoundly sad. He reached out, as though to touch her cheek, then he dropped his hand.

“Come,” he said. “Night waxes.”

Esmenet and Achamian search for a place to sleep. She realizes there is no hiding from the world. She feels a fool for being a whore at Achamian’s level. He was a Mandate Schoolman. She was sure Achamian loved her, but “Seswatha loved the dead.”

She tells Achamian her mother read the stars, which was illegal in the Empire for caste-menials. Her mother never taught her, telling her it was better to be a whore than to know astrology. She asks Akka if it is real. He says no because the Nonmen believed the sky was a great void and stars are faraway suns.

Esmenet wanted to laugh, but then, as though suddenly seeing through her reflection across waters, she saw the plate of heaven dissolve into impossible depths, emptiness heaped upon emptiness, hollow upon hallow, with stars—no suns!—hanging like points of dust in a shaft of light. She caught her breath. Somehow the sky had become a vast, yawning pit. Without thinking, she clenched the grasses, as though she stood upon a ledge rather than lay across the ground.

“How could they believe such a thing?” she asked. “The sun moves in circles about the world. The stars move in circles about the Nail.” The thought struck her that the Nail of Heaven itself might be another world, one with a thousand thousand suns. Such a sky that would be!

The Nonmen learned this from the Inchoroi. They sailed here from the starts. She asks him that even though astrology isn’t real, he still believes “the future is written.” That Kellhus is the harbinger. Achamian does. She says he is more and Achamian cries, saying she finally understand why “he torments me.” She remembers Kellhus asking her about being a whore.

She no longer wanted to run.

The Mandate cannot know, Akka… We must bear this burden alone.”

Achamian pursed trembling lips. Swallowed. “We?”

Esmenet looked back to the stars. One more language she could not read.


My Thoughts

I love Achamian and Esmenet together. They know each other so well, they know what to say to ease each other’s burdens. To give comfort.

When Kellhus arrives in the morning, he noticed Esmenet’s tone and the bruise. Then he says just the right thing to engage both their wits, providing a bonding moment over laughter. Just the thing to soothe Esmenet’s coolness. She is still protective of Achamian, hating the pain Kellhus has caused him. And it is overcome so easily.

Then Serwë recognized Esmenet’s beauty. Worse, she notices how she talks with the men, with Kellhus, like an equal. A little jealous is stirring in Serwë.

Esmenet is always absorbing the world, learning, seeking knowledge even as nothing more than a camp follower. And then it all changed for her when she found Achamian. The simple joy she felt at his reunion is so beautiful She can’t even be angry at him yet. She was just so happy to find him. And by finding him, she is removed from the life that had soiled her, a life that she had adopted simply to survive and was condemned for it.

Esmenet’s quite right to be offended by Achamian’s words about women not understanding principal. It’s insulting to be told that she just can’t understand the things he does. She does understand and it’s easy to see why he should turn Kellhus in. Of course, she hasn’t been affected by Kellhus so can’t understand just the quandary Achamian is in. She hasn’t been exposed to the way Kellhus uses words to make you love.

If men must spare women the world, then women must spare men the truth—as though each forever remained alternate halves of the same defenseless child.” This is a deep insight in the difference between how men and women act in relationships. Women always joke about protecting “men’s fragile ego” while men are prone to sacrificing their bodies to care and protect their families whether through hard labor or war, etc.

No, Esmenet, anyone can drink resentment’s liquor. It can fester in all of us but it’s so hard to see when you’re on the outside and think it is only you and your kind that do it.

It is easy for us to dismisses those we see as lesser, to call them barbarians or primitives and not think that they have any deep thoughts. We forget that they are humans just like we are.

And Kellhus begins his seduction of Esmenet, getting her to reveal “intimate details,” making her feel better by sharing them which in turn causes her to reconsider Kellhus.

Achamian can’t help but be the teacher everywhere he goes, including old ruins. He has to share his knowledge.

Achamian is still a little sore about Esmenet being a whore, getting a little angered at the source of her knowledge on the Thousand Temple. It’s why he walks away to think.

Achamian, you really should have listened to Esmenet. Flee, just the two of you. But there are always so many reasons to stay, so many fears of taking a chance, dreading what he means. And they are legitimate fears. Of course, what Esmenet wants to do is to hide, and that’s never going to work forever. But you can’t blame her for wanting to protect their relationship. For the first time in her life, she has let herself love a man, surrendering herself to him. That’s a scary thing for any person to do.

Saubon’s simple call is enough for Kellhus to understand the man’s purpose and deduce he’s not a threat. This is why Kellhus is so terrifying. He’s like a robot in human flesh. He strives to reduce emotion. He is the übermench of Nietzsche, willing to do anything for his goal.

Kellhus can’t quite place Sarcellus’s accent. Maybe the skin-spies can’t mimic voices as well as a Dûnyain can dissect them. And, of course, Sarcellus is eager to meet the man who unveiled Skeaös (which the Consult learned about from the skin-spy masquerading as the Empress in a previous chapter).

Damn, Kellhus is good. He notes that Achamian winces in memory of being struck and figures out Inrau was involved with what happened between Sarcellus and Achamian. Back in book 1, Achamian pretends to Inrau’s uncle and goads Sarcellus into hitting him to keep the man from being suspicious Which galls Achamian because with his sorcery, he could have killed the man.

It is disturbing how Kellhus’s self vanishes when he is deep in his thoughts. He becomes a place, like he was trained to do as a child sitting on the mountaintop, meditating. If a man has no real self, is he still a man?

Kellhus is realizing that his people did not know half of what they thought. Perhaps those first Dûnyain shouldn’t have deliberately forgotten so much when they first set up in Ishuäl Now he’s even questioning cause and effect. Something he would say is ridiculous, and yet there is so much he is learning that violates the natural world, like sorcerery.

We see Kellhus working through his thought process like a chess master. Of course, real life has even more variables than chest (which does have quite a lot). It is always fascinating to see how his thoughts works, how he considers things, cold, methodical. Fascinating and disturbing.

Kellhus gets too deep into his thoughts that he loses the conversation and has to cover for himself. It’s a lapse that the probably hasn’t had since childhood. He’s stretching himself to his limits trying to figure out all these different probabilities. And this is why his father summoned him. Of course, as Dûnyain, he uses his lapse to his advantage, forwarding his prophet plan

Kellhus has to start gambling now. There are too many variables for him to master. He has to make decisions or be paralyzed by inaction, overwhelmed by the possibilities. It’s a trap that he avoids by realizing he has to take risks. So Kellhus makes his first prophecy. If it works out right, he’ll be acclaimed. If he gets it wrong, it’ll be disaster. Plus, he hopes to get Sarcellus killed in the process.

Sarcellus chatting to Serwë on the outside looks like a handsome man flirting with a woman, but he’s really interrogating her. Bakker is skilled at this, putting this into the background, something very off-hand and even innocent.

What would have happened if Kellhus didn’t interrupt her and Sarcellus? She wanted to resist, but she was feeling desire for the man. And she didn’t want Achamian finding out. If she cried out and struggled, questions might be asked. Poor woman. This is why secrets are bad. But we always find reasons to convince ourselves why they’re so important to keep.

When Achamian and Esmenet go off to find a place to sleep, they hold hands with “palm-to-palm urgency of young lovers.” But when they lie down, they groan like an old man and woman. Nice contrast between how they feel and how they are.

Astrology is forbidden to the poor because only the rich can know the future. Shows the rich fear the poor. They have to. They are vastly outnumbered. When the poor get restless, the rich die.

What is the Nail of Heaven? At first blush, the pole star, but it is far too bright for that. It illuminates like moonlight. And it’s not a moon. It’s fixed. Finally, in The Great Ordeal, Bakker dropped a line that the Nail of Heaven appeared not long before the Inchoroi crashed on this world. Maybe a satellite they put into a geosynchronous polar orbit or something. Though it is impossible to have a geosynchronous orbit over the poles. They have to be at the equator. So curious to learn what this is.

Achamian finally has someone with him, someone who understands about Kellhus and we he can’t share it. They can’t run from this like she wants. They would be found. After all, Sarcellus found them in the middle of nowhere today.

This part of the Warrior Prophet might be my favorite section of the whole series. I really enjoy Achamian and Esmenet’s relationship. And though as Bakker comes closer to bringing the second of the three series to a close (the Unholy Consult should be out in a 2017), I still hope they can be reunited. But this is Grimdark Fantasy we’re reading. I doubt we’ll get a happy ending.

Click here to continue on to Chapter Five.

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 7

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 7

Welcome to Part 7 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 6!

Chapter 19

Harry has no time to flee, so hides behind the Linda Randall’s door just before it opens. A nervous man enters the room and starts searching frantically underneath Linda’s bed. Harry realizes this is the photographer looking for the film canister Harry found. Harry decides to use his police consultant badge to bluff that he’s a cop and question the man.

Harry startles the man, who starts babbling about how he’s just a photographer. Harry learns he is Donny Wise. Donny notices Harry’s identification, and realizes he’s not a cop and he’s leaving. Harry asks about the pictures he took out at Lake Providence on Wednesday but Donny tries to leave.

I gestured curtly to my staff in the corner, and hissed, in my best dramatic voice, “Vento servitas,” jerking my hand at the doorway. My staff, driven by tightly controlled channels of air moving in response to my evocation, leapt across the room and slammed the door shut in front of Donny Wise’s nose. He went stiff as a board. He turned to face me, his eyes wide.

“My God. You’re one of them. Don’t kill me,” he said. “Oh, God. You’ve got the pictures. I don’t know anything. Nothing. I’m no danger to you.” He tried to keep his voice calm, but it was shaking. I saw him tilt his eyes at the glass sliding doors to the little patio, as though calculating his chances of making it there before I could stop him.

Harry tells him to relax and to help him find Linda’s killer. Donny is scared, not wanting to be murdered like Linda. Harry promises to stop the murderer and Donny wants to know why he cares since he’s not a cop. “Who else is going to?” answers Harry, who then asks about the pictures.

Donny agrees to tell him in exchange for the roll of film Harry found. Harry agrees. Donny explains that he met Linda when he photographed her for an adult magazine. On Wednesday, Linda approached him and asked him to take some photograph out at Lake Providence in exchange for sex. Harry asked what he saw at the lake house and Donny said an orgy involving Linda, a second woman, and three men. Donny figured Linda wanted to blackmail someone important.

Harry asks what Donny wants the film for. Donny says he wants to destroy the film, but Harry sense he’s lying. Harry casts a spell and burns the film in the canister and then tells Donny he’ll regret it if he’s been lying. Donny assured him he’s telling the truth and flees apartment. Harry thinks that Linda was blackmailing Victor Sells and wanders how he’d stumbled onto this conspiracy by a chance.

Simple answer—it hadn’t been an accident. It had all been by design. I had been directed there. Someone had wanted me out at the lake house, had wanted me to get involved and to find out what was going on out there. Someone who was nervous as hell around wizards, who refused to give out her name, who had carefully dropped phrases that would make me believe her ignorance, who had to rush out quickly from her appointment and who was willing to let five hundred dollars go, just to get me off the phone a few seconds faster. Someone had drawn me out and forced me into the open, where I had attracted all sorts of hostile attention.

That was the key.

I gathered up my staff and rod and stalked out the door.

It was time to talk to Monica Sells.

My Thoughts

“Who else will?” That phrase summons up Harry’s character in a nutshell. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to help people. He took the Spiderman lesson to heart. He has power and he should use it to help people.

Out mysterious photographer is revealed be some slimeball who doesn’t have a problem being paid in sex and even after Linda is murdered, still wants to use that film for profit. Good thing Harry destroyed it or the guy would probably get himself killed. What’s interesting is that he said he didn’t see anything other than an orgy but when Harry uses magic, Donny is familiar enough with it and has clearly heard or dealt with other practitioners. Harry never followed up on this information.

The pieces are falling into place, we know who are villain is for sure now. Poor Linda, her leverage appears to have backfired on her.

We already knew from Toots that Victor Sells was hosting orgies at the lake house. But Donny reveals that there were lots of candles. The orgy appears to be part of some ritual, possibly the ritual that killed Tommy Tom and Jennifer Stanton.

Chapter 20

Harry arrives at Monica’s house. She lives out in the suburbs and Harry notices that all the surrounding houses on the street are abandoned with FOR SALE signs. There are no animal sounds, and Harry realizes the place is blighted from the presence of a black wizard. Harry knocks on the door, and Monica answers. She tells him to go away. Harry refuses and she threatens to call the police. Harry tells her to, he would love to tell the police about her husband.

Monica relaxes briefly and Harry pushes past her into house. Monica attacks him with a stun gun and Harry disarms her. Furiously she yells that she won’t let him harm her children and leaps at Harry and their eyes make contact and they have a soulgaze. Harry realizes that fear and love is motivating her. Harry also realizes who she looks like. Monica was abused as a child, and her husband abused her as well. Her two kids are all that matter to her now, and she hired Harry to protect them.

The soulgaze ends and Monica recovers quickly and asks what Harry wants. Harry wants to know who killed Tommy, Jennifer, and Linda, and he wants the lock of his hair back. Monica is surprised Linda’s dead, and Harry tells her it was last night and he’s next. Outside, thunder rumbles and Harry realizes another storm is on the way. Monica begs Harry to leave before her husband returns.

They are interrupted by Monica’s two kids, a girl and boy (who’s holding a baseball bat). The girl asks if everything all right and Monica tells her kids to go to their rooms and lock the door. She pleads with Harry to leave before the storm.

“Monica. Please. I’m up against a wall. I’m out of options. Everything I have leads here. To you. And I don’t have time to wait. I need your help, before I wind up just like Jennifer and Tommy and Linda.” I sought her eyes, and she looked up at me without turning her gaze away. “Please. Help me.” I watched her eyes, saw the fear and the grief and the weariness there. I saw her look at me as I leaned on her, and demanded more out of her than she could afford to give.

“All right,” she whispered. She turned away and walked toward the kitchen. “All right. I’ll tell you what I know, wizard. But there’s nothing I can do to help you.” She paused at the doorway and looked back at me. Her words fell with the weight of conviction, simple truth. “There’s nothing anyone can do, now.”

My Thoughts

When Monica thinks Harry is going to hurt her kids, she turns mama bear on Harry. They are all that matter to Monica now and she’s going to go out kicking and screaming to protect them.

Monica Sells is stuck in an abusive relationship and reached out to Dresden because he’s the only one who could stop her husband. She can’t leave him. There’s no place she could go where Victor’s spell couldn’t reach her. No wonder she was so nervous around Harry at the start. If Victor found out, he would take it out on her and maybe even their kids. Fear is a hard thing to overcome.

Chapter 21

Monica sits down at the kitchen table and Harry leans against the counter. She doesn’t look at him, but tells him to ask whatever questions he wants. Harry asks if she’s related to Jennifer. Monica reveals Jennifer’s her little sister who “ran away to become an actress, but became a whore instead.” Monica always wanted her to stop being a prostitute, but Jennifer didn’t want to. Harry asks why she lied to him when she hired him.

“And tell me what, Monica?” I asked. I kept my voice soft. “Who killed your sister?”

Wind chimes tinkled outside. The friendly cow clock went tick, tick, tick. Monica Sells drew in a long, shuddering breath and closed her eyes. I saw her gathering up the frayed threads of her courage, knotting them up as tightly as she could. I knew the answer, already, but I needed to hear it from her. I needed to be sure. I tried to tell myself that it would be good for her to face such a thing, just to say it out loud. I wasn’t sure I bought that—like I said, I’m not a very good liar.

Monica squeezed her hands into tight fists, and said, “God help me. God help me. It was my husband, Mr. Dresden. It was Victor.” I thought she would dissolve into tears, but instead she just hunched tighter into her little defensive ball, as though she expected someone to start hitting her.

She sent Harry out to the lake house to find Victor because he was getting worse and worse and she was fearful for her kids. Monica explains that he wasn’t so bad in the beginning, he only rarely lost his temper with her and she thought kids would help calm him down. But then Victor discovered the magic about four years ago and things got worst. Monica realizes he was starting to go crazy. One night, he made her drink a potion. Victor wanted Monica to see the world the way he did. Harry realizes this is the ThreeEye drug.

She nodded. “And…I saw things, Mr. Dresden. I saw him.” Her face screwed up, and I thought she was going to vomit. I could sympathize. To have the Third Sight suddenly opened to you like that, not knowing what it was, what was happening to you; to look on the man you had wed, who had given you children, and to see him for what he truly was, obsessed with power, consumed by greed—it had to have been hell. And it would remain with her. Always. She would never find the memory fading, never find the comfort and solace of years putting a comfortable padding between her and the image of her husband as a monster.

Monica reveals that even though the experience with the drug was horrifying, she was addicted and wanted more. Victor was thrilled when he realized this and started to make more. He learned that emotions, both his and others, could help him make more of the drug. He got “investors,” the Beckitts. They had money and wanted revenge of Marcone for their daughter.

Monica talks about the rituals. Victor would close the circle, and she were just lost in a sea of lust and flesh. It was an escape for Monica. Victor brought in her sister who knew Linda. Tommy Tom was recruited, though Monica doesn’t know how. Things got better, Victor was making money and it took the pressure off for a while. But Victor started summoning demons, and things got darker. And then he start looking at their children, and Monica realized he wanted them. She breaks down crying. Harry gets her a glass of water, not sure what else to do.

If she heard me, it didn’t show. She sipped water, then continued, as if desperate to finish, to get the taste of the words out of her mouth. “I wanted to leave him. I knew he’d be furious, but I couldn’t let the children stay close to him. I tried to talk to Jenny about it. And she took matters into her own hands. My little sister, trying to protect me. She went to Victor and told him that if he didn’t let me leave, she’d go to the police and to Johnny Marcone. She’d tell them all about him. And he…he…”

Victor killed Jennifer and that’s why she came to Harry to stop him and protect her children. Monica tells him to go, she doesn’t want to see him die. Harry gets up and leaves and sees Monica’s daughter, Jenny. The girl asks if he’s the wizard, Harry Dresden. Harry nods and the girl makes him promise to help their mother.

She thought that over for a moment, studying me. Then she nodded. “My daddy used to be one of the good guys, Mr. Dresden. But I don’t think that he is anymore.” Her face looked sad. It was a sweet, unaffected expression. “Are you going to kill him?”

Another simple question.

“I don’t want to,” I told her. “But he’s trying to kill me. I might not have any choice.”

She swallowed and lifted her chin. “I loved my aunt Jenny,” she said. Her eyes brightened with tears. “Momma won’t say, and Billy’s too little to figure it out, but I know what happened.” She turned, with more grace and dignity than I could have managed, and started to leave. Then she said, quietly, “I hope you’re one of the good guys, Mr. Dresden. We really need a good guy. I hope you’ll be all right.” Then she vanished down the hall on bare, silent feet.

Harry leaves the Sells’ house and gets back into the cab he took out here. Harry is trying to think and is furious about the damage Victor has done to his family. Harry doesn’t know what to do next. Harry can’t turn to the police, Murphy might arrest him. He can’t turn to the White Council because of Morgan’s suspicions. Harry realizes he needs to confront Victor Sells and stop him without killing him with magic.

Harry remembers that Monica left one of Victor’s talismans with him. He could use it to rebound some of his powers back at Victor and tells the cabby to pull into a gas station parking lot. Harry decides to call Murphy. Carmichael answers and Harry learns that Murphy is searching his office and has an arrest warrant for him.

Harry hangs up and calls his office and Murphy answers. Harry explains that he knows who the killer is. Murphy is pissed, telling him its to late to talk. Harry tells her to stay out of his desk drawer, its dangerous.

“Murphy,” I said, trying to keep my voice even, “you’ve got to trust me, one more time. Stay out of my desk. Please.”

There was silence for a moment. I heard her draw in a breath, and let it out through her mouth. Then Murphy said, her voice hard, professional, “Why, Dresden? What are you hiding?”

I heard her open the middle drawer.

There was a clicking sound, and a startled oath from Murphy. The receiver clattered to the floor. I heard gunshots, shockingly loud, whining ricochets, and then a scream.

In a panic, Harry jumps back into the car and tells the cabby to get him to office as fast as possible.

My Thoughts

Victor Sells is a piece of shit!!!

His obsession with black magic destroyed his family. His own daughter thinks its a good thing if Harry kills him. Monica’s tale is heartbreaking. Like many abused women, she actually explains away his anger in the beginning. She said Victor just wanted to be successful, to provide for Monica and he would get frustrated and take it out on her. And like every other woman in this situation, she had to hit bottom before she would seek out help.

Monica’s kitchen, decorated with cows, appears to be her safe place. She is constantly looking at her various cow figurine and they seem to provide her with strength. Victor seems like the type of guy that thinks his wife’s place is in the kitchen and probably stayed out of there as much as possible.

Hopefully Monica reached out for help before its too late for her and her children.

Jennifer Stanton was killed because she was trying to protect her older sister. Poor girl. I would say she was the stronger of the two. I bet her and Tommy were going to go to Marcone. Tommy would know he can be reasoned with.

For all the disdain that Monica shows for Jennifer’s lifestyle, she named her daughter after her.

Well that talisman of Victors turns out to be dangerous. Good luck Murphy, cavalry’s on the way.

Click her for Part 8 of the reread!

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Review: The Queen’s Alchemist

The Queen’s Alchemist: And More Tales of Atharron

by Poppy Reid

Reviewed by JMD Reid

b01m67tpkt-01-lzzzzzzzThe Queen’s Alchemist and More Tales of Atharron is a collection of Flash Stories that intertwine to tell the narrative of the Kingdom of Atharron embroiled at war with the giants to the north while a neighboring kingdom schemes and plot because of the bad blood of the two queens. Queen Cassandra struggles to preserve her nation from the giants while her own alchemist plots against her.

The short vignettes all interweave around each other, each one painting hints at the story going on, touching here and there, sometimes in the court of Queen Cassandra, sometimes on the front line with the giants while in the background, the mages plot and scheme with their own idea of where to take Atharron and achieve their goals.

The Queen’s Alchemist stands to hint at the back story of Reid’s Blood Scroll Trilogy, teasing us with the back story of the Mages who have so shaped the events of Theldinya. It takes us back to their roots, before their mad ambition unleashed the events of the Blood Scroll Trilogy centuries later. Each vignette introduces its lead character, giving just a taste of their life, telling an eyeblink of their life. They are well written, each flowing to the next, forming an entire short story from the disparate parts.

If you want to get a taste of Reid’s writing style or if you are a fan of the Blood Scroll Trilogy (and if you’re not, why haven’t you read them?) then you will want to read these flash stories. A perfect read for a cold, rainy, winter afternoon!

You can by The Queen’s Alchemist: And More Tales of Atharron from Amazon!

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