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Blacky---
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Je trouve que Jordan est bien moins facile à lire qu'Eddings ou Salvatore par exemple et demande une vraie concentration à la lecture. Je n'en suis encore qu'au début et ça me passionne, j'espère que ce sera toujours le cas à la fin.
Sans vouloir troller, Salvatore ce n'est pas de la littérature, et Eddings c'est de la fantasy pour enfants en bas âges. Jordan, Martin, Zelazny, GGK, Cook, OS Card, Lawhead et tous les autres c'est un niveau au dessus tout de même.

Enfin bon.
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Re: [Litterature] La roue du temps
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Le seul auteur d'Heroic Fantasy où j'ai retrouvé ces sensations, c'est chez Hobb dans l'assassin royal et dans les aventuriers de la mer.
Je viens de commencer à le lire, j'en suis à la moitié du premier tome et

Quand j'aurais fini j'essaierai la roue du temps à moins que je ne lise les pierres de sang de david gemmel (j'ai trop adoré Le Lion de macédoine) auquel cas ce ne sera que partie remise
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Soroya [FED]
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Littérature ou pas, il n'en reste pas moins que ce sont des ouvrages que je prend énormément de plaisir à lire et relire, beaucoup plus qu'un SDA par exemple ou qu'un Dune.

Salvatore et Eddings, ce sont les Easy Reading de la littérature Fantasy, pas forcement du grand art mais plaisant à lire et à relire.

Il ne m'en faut pas plus pour que je sois pris dans une histoire. Ce que je demande à un auteur de HF c'est de me donner envie de ne pas lâcher le livre avant de l'avoir fini, et y a que Salvatore et Eddings qui me font ça pour l'instant.
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Ce que je demande à un auteur de HF c'est de me donner envie de ne pas lâcher le livre avant de l'avoir fini, et y a que Salvatore et Eddings qui me font ça pour l'instant.
Chacun son truc, moi Dune me fait cet effet, je les relis tous les ans à peu près depuis plus de 17 années.

Mais bon tu verras, à force de lire des trucs peut-être moins pré-machouillés mais plus subtils et profonds, tu en viendras aussi au même avis. Ca prend un peu de temps.

Tu peux essayer Seigneur de Lumière de Zelazny, un seul tome, facile à lire et quelque part assez classique, mais très, très bien fait, à mon sens le meilleur roman de Zelazny.
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Dans le genre Easy Reading, je mettrai aussi David Gemmel, son style est ultra simple, pas de descriptions interminables, pas d'introspections métaphysiques, il n'y a pas ou peu d'ambiguïtés, c'est un peu stéréotypé... mais au final son récit est d'une incroyable efficacité, à chaque fois que je plonge la tête dans un de ses bouquins je reste scotché, les personnages sont charismatiques, le rythme est ultra-rapide, il s'en dégage un grand souffle épique que j'ai du mal à retrouver ailleurs. C'est un peu à la littérature d'heroic-fantasy ce que le cinéma d'action est au septième art... ce n'est pas très compliqué mais on en ressort la tête pleine d'images perso j'adore. Ce n'est pas forcément un mal de rester simple.
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Depuis quelques temps, je me suis attelé à la lecture de La Roue du Temps de Robert Jordan. J'ai achevé le tome 3 tout à l'heure, je suis donc loin d'avoir fait le tour de l'oeuvre.
Il y a dix tomes en VO et l'histoire n'est pas terminée.
Les livres vendus en France sont des demi-tomes, il y en a onze, et il en sort un par an (auparavant c'était un tous les six mois).
Si tu tiens absolument à lire cette histoire en VF, tu en connaîtras la fin au mieux en 2009 (en admettant que Jordan succombe avant d'écrire le tome onze quoi).
J'espère que tu as un bon niveau en anglais.


Sinon, si l'on pouvait m'expliquer pour l'éditeur français s'amusait à ainsi prendre ses lecteurs pour des cons, j'avoue que je suis curieux.
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Sinon, si l'on pouvait m'expliquer pour l'éditeur français s'amusait à ainsi prendre ses lecteurs pour des cons, j'avoue que je suis curieux.
Ben à part gagner des sous je vois pas...
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Soroya [FED]
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Dites, les versions anglaises sont dures à lire ou pas trop, niveau anglais ?
Sachant que j'ai lu du Hemingway dans ma folle jeunesse ( y a 5 ans ) et plus lu une goutte dans la langue de Shakespeare quasiment depuis, mais que j'ai un niveau plus que correct en anglais écrit ?
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Serafel [CdA]
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Dites, les versions anglaises sont dures à lire ou pas trop, niveau anglais ?
Sachant que j'ai lu du Hemingway dans ma folle jeunesse ( y a 5 ans ) et plus lu une goutte dans la langue de Shakespeare quasiment depuis, mais que j'ai un niveau plus que correct en anglais écrit ?
nan c'est assez facile
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Ben à part gagner des sous je vois pas...
Ca fait gagner des sous en plus que de ne vendre qu'un bouquin par an ?
Sachant qu'une partie des lecteurs (même minime) s'est tournée vers la VO, j'ai du mal à comprendre le calcul.
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(Cliquez le bouton ou survolez le contenu pour afficher ce spoiler.)
Le Sanguinaire un parent de Rand ? Soit tu en es plus loin que moi et je viens de me manger un gros spoiler dans la tête, soit il y a un truc que je n'ai pas compris, soit il y a un truc que tu n'as pas compris, mais la je me perds.

Oui, c'est un poil plus loin que je ne le croyais, désolé pour le spoiler. (faut vraiment des notes pour s'y retrouver dans les liens de famille/réincarnation de tout le monde maintenant )
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à mon avis c'est une histoire de droits entre distributeurs... le distributeur français doit certainement respecter une période durant laquelle le distributeur original bénéficie d'une exclusivité. C'est con, ça sert à rien (enfin si ptêtre un peu au distributeur de la VO vu que du coup certains se tournent vers elle) mais c'est souvent comme ça....
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Grenouillebleue
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Depuis le temps que je fais de la publicité pour Wheel of Time sur ces forums, je suis content que quelqu'un ait été converti (même si ça n'a rien à voir avec moi ).

Comme l'a dit quelqu'un, les deux oeuvres majeures de l'heroic fantasy selon moi sont Wheel of Time, que tu lis en ce moment, et Song of Ice and Fire, de George Martin, que je ne saurais trop te conseiller (en français, je crois que c'est le Trône de Fer).

Les tomes 5 à 8 sont assez faibles, je trouve, mais les 9 et 10 renouent avec la magie du début, et ça rend le total absolument formidable. Sur plus de 7,000 pages, on peut se permettre d'avoir des dizaines de seconds rôles attachants, qui ont tous des motivations qui n'ont rien à voir avec l'intrigue principale. De même, certains détails insignifiants refont parfois surface après plusieurs tomes, pour notre plus grand bonheur.

Par ailleurs, ce n'est pas une série manichéenne. Personne n'est réellement tout blanc, ni tout noir, malgré la présence d'un Dark One. Même les Forsaken ont des buts bien à eux, même Rand est une vraie enflure, et tout le monde est tellement... humain.

Les relations homme/femme sont visiblement écrites par quelqu'un qui a beaucoup de tendresse pour elles. Faile ressemble trait pour trait à ma copine (plaignez-moi...). On les a souvent critiquées, mais je les trouve plutôt réussies et conformes à la réalité.

Enfin, la simple longueur de l'histoire fait qu'on s'attache aux personnages, beaucoup plus que sur un simple livre de 200, voire 600 pages. On rit avec eux, on souffre avec eux. Sur les derniers livres, j'ai souvent eu envie de foutre des beignes à Rand tellement il m'énervait. C'est quelque chose qu'on ne peut ressentir que pour des personnages... vivants.

Bref, bonne lecture Soraya. Comme l'a écrit le New York Times, Jordan renvoie définitivement Tolkien à l'âge des Cavernes.

Et si tu veux encore mieux, Song of Ice and Fire est... mythique.

Wash the Spears - While sun goes high
Wash the Spears - Till suns falls low
Wash the Spears - Who fears to die ?
Wash the Spears - No one i know



"You utter idiot ! Your brain has frozen solid, Perrin Ayabara ! It was nothing but hair and muscles to begin with, but now it isn't even that ! You addle-brained Lummox ! You don't have to do any such crackpate thing ! You goose-brain ! If you try it, i'll hang you myself !"
"Perrin", Mistress Al'Vere said quietly, "would you introduce me to this young woman who thinks so highly of you ?"
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Ca se lit très bien en anglais je trouve. On trouve sur le net quelques extraits et nouvelles autour de la série, si vous voulez vous faire une idée.

Exemple (gaffe au spoiler, je ne sais plus quand est-ce que la nouvelle New Spring se passe, chronologiquement parlant !! ):
Citation:
NEW SPRING
BY ROBERT JORDAN

The air of Kandor held the sharpness of new spring when Lan returned to the lands where he had always known he would die. Trees bore the first red of new growth, and a few scattered wildflowers dotted winter-brown grass where shadows did not cling to patches of snow, yet the pale sun offered little warmth after the south, a gusting breeze cut through his coat, and grey clouds hinted at more than rain. He was almost home. Almost.
A hundred generations had beaten the wide road nearly as hard as the stone of the surrounding hills, and little dust rose, though a steady stream of ox-carts was leaving the morning farmers' markets in Canluum and merchant trains of tall wagons, surrounded by mounted guards in steel caps and bits of armour, flowed towards the city's high grey walls. Here and there the chains of the Kandori merchants' guild spanned a chest or an Arafellin wore bells, a ruby decorated this man's ear, a pearl brooch that woman's breast, but for the most part the traders' clothes were as subdued as their manner. A merchant who flaunted too much profit discovered it hard to find bargains. By contrast, farmers showed off their success when they came to town. Bright embroidery decorated the striding countrymen's baggy breeches, the women's wide trousers, their cloaks fluttering in the wind. Some wore coloured ribbons in their hair, or a narrow fur collar. They might have been dressed for the coming Bel Tine dances and feasting. Yet country folk eyed strangers as warily as any guard, eyed them and hefted spears or axes and hurried along. The times carried an edge in Kandor, maybe all along the Borderlands. Bandits had sprung up like weeds this past year, and more troubles than usual out of the Blight. Rumour even spoke of a man who channelled the One Power, but then, rumour often did.
Leading his horse toward Canluum, Lan paid as little attention to the stares he and his companion attracted as he did to Bukama's scowls and carping. Bukama had raised him from the cradle, Bukama and other men now dead, and he could not recall seeing anything but a glower on that weathered face, even when Bukama spoke praise. This time his mutters were for a stone-bruised hoof that had him afoot, but he could always find something.
They did attract attention, two very tall men walking their mounts and a packhorse with a pair of tattered wicker hampers, their plain clothes worn and travel-stained. Their harness and weapons were well-tended, though. A young man and an old, hair hanging to their shoulders and held back by a braided leather cord around the temples. The hadori drew eyes. Especially here in the Borderlands, where people had some idea what it meant.
`Fools,' Bukama grumbled. `Do they think we're bandits? Do they think we mean to rob the lot of them, at midday on the high road?' He glared and shifted the sword at his hip in a way that brought considering stares from a number of merchants' guards. A stout farmer prodded his ox wide of them.
Lan kept silent. A certain reputation clung to Malkieri who still wore the hadori, though not for banditry, but reminding Bukama would only send him into a black humour for days. His mutters shifted to the chances of a decent bed that night, of a decent meal before. Bukama seldom complained when there actually was no bed or no food, only about prospects and the inconsequential. He expected little, and trusted to less.
Neither food nor lodging entered Lan's thoughts, despite the distance they had travelled. His head kept swinging north. He remained aware of everyone around him, especially those who glanced his way more than once, aware of the jingle of harness and the creak of saddles, the clop of hooves, the snap of wagon-canvas loose on its hoops. Any sound out of place would shout at him. That had been the first lesson Bukama and his friends had imparted in his childhood; be aware of everything, even when asleep. Only the dead could afford oblivion. Lan remained aware, but the Blight lay north. Still miles away across the hills, yet he could feel it, feel the twisted corruption.
Just his imagination, but no less real for that. It had pulled at him in the south, in Cairhien and Andor, even in Tear, almost five hundred leagues distant. Two years away from the Borderlands, his personal war abandoned for another, and every day the tug grew stronger. The Blight meant death to most men. Death and the Shadow, a rotting land tainted by the Dark One's breath, where anything at all could kill. Two tosses of a coin had decided where to begin anew. Four nations bordered the Blight, but his war covered the length of it, from the Aryth Ocean to the Spine of the World. One place to meet death was as good as another. He was almost home. Almost back to the Blight.
A dry moat surrounded Canluum's wall, fifty paces wide and ten deep, spanned by five broad stone bridges with towers at either end as tall as those that lined the wall itself. Raids out of the Blight by Trollocs and Myrddraal often struck much deeper into Kandor than Canluum, but none had ever made it inside the city's wall. The Red Stag waved above every tower. A proud man, was Lord Varan, the High Seat of House Marcasiev; Queen Ethenielle did not fly so many of her own banners even in Chachin itself.
The guards at the outer towers, in helmets with Varan's antlered crest and the Red Stag on their chests, peered into the backs of wagons before allowing them to trundle on to the bridge, or occasionally motioned someone to push a hood further back. No more than a gesture was necessary; the law in every Borderland forbade hiding your face inside village or town, and no one wanted to be mistaken for one of the Eyeless trying to sneak into the city. Hard gazes followed Lan and Bukama on to the bridge. Their faces were clearly visible. And their hadori. No recognition lit any of those watching eyes, though. Two years was a long time in the Borderlands. A great many men could die in two years.
Lan noticed that Bukama had gone silent, always a bad sign, and cautioned him. 'I never start trouble,' the older man snapped, but he did stop fingering his swordhilt.
The guards on the wall above the open iron-plated gates and those on the bridge wore only back- and breastplates for armour, yet they were no less watchful, especially of a pair of Malkieri with their hair tied back. Bukama's mouth grew tighter at every step.
'Al'Lan Mandragoran! The Light preserve us, we heard you were dead fighting the Aiel at the Shining Walls!' The exclamation came from a young guard, taller than the rest, almost as tall as Lan. Young, perhaps a year or two less than he, yet the gap seemed ten years. A lifetime. The guard bowed deeply, left hand on his knee. 'Tai'shar Malkier!' True blood of Malkier. 'I stand ready, Majesty.'
'I am riot a king,' Lan said quietly. Malkier was dead. Only the war still lived. In him, at least.
Bukama was not quiet. 'You stand ready for what, boy?' The heel of his bare hand struck the guard's breastplate right over the Red Stag, driving the man upright and back a step. 'You cut your hair short and leave it unbound!' Bukama spat the words. 'You're sworn to a Kandori lord! By what right do you claim to be Malkieri?'
The young man's face reddened as he floundered for answers. Other guards started towards the pair, then halted when Lan let his reins fall. Only that, but they knew his name, now. They eyed his bay stallion, standing still and alert behind him, almost as cautiously as they did him. A warhorse was a formidable weapon, and they could not know Cat Dancer was only half-trained yet.
Space opened up as people already through the gates hurried a little distance before turning to watch, while those still on the bridge pressed back. Shouts rose in both directions from people wanting to know what was holding traffic. Bukama ignored it all, intent on the red-faced guard. He had not dropped the reins of the packhorse or his yellow roan gelding.
An officer appeared from the stone guardhouse inside the gates, crested helmet under his arm, but one hand in a steel-backed gauntlet resting on his swordhilt. A bluff, greying man with white scars on his face, Alin Seroku had soldiered forty years along the Blight, yet his eyes widened slightly at the sight of Lan. Plainly he had heard the tales of Lan's death, too.
'The Light shine upon you, Lord Mandragoran. The son of el'Leanna and al'Akir, blessed be their memories, is always welcome.' Seroku's eyes flickered towards Bukama, not in welcome. He planted his feet in the middle of the gateway. Five horsemen could have passed easily on either side, but he meant himself for a bar, and he was. None of the guards shifted a boot, yet every one had hand on swordhilt. All but the young man meeting Bukama's glares with his own. 'Lord Marcasiev has commanded us to keep the peace strictly,' Seroku went on, half in apology. But no more than half. 'The city is on edge. All these tales of a man channelling are bad enough, but there have been murders in the street this last month and more, in broad daylight, and strange accidents. People whisper about Shadowspawn loose inside the walls.'
Lan gave a slight nod. With the Blight so close, people always muttered of Shadowspawn when they had no other explanation, whether for a sudden death or unexpected crop failure. He did not take up Cat Dancer's reins, though. 'We intend to rest here a few days before riding north.'
For a moment he thought Seroku was surprised. Did the man expect pledges to keep the peace, or apologies for Bukama's behaviour? Either would shame Bukama, now. A pity if the war ended here. Lan did not want to die killing Kandori.
His old friend turned from the young guard, who stood quivering, fists clenched at his sides. 'All fault here is mine,' Bukama announced to the air in a flat voice. 'I had no call for what I did. By my mother's name, I will keep Lord Marcasiev's peace. By my mother's name, I will not draw sword inside Canluum's walls.' Seroku's jaw dropped, and Lan hid his own shock with difficulty.
Hesitating only a moment, the scar-faced officer stepped aside, bowing and touching swordhilt then heart. 'There is always welcome for Lan Mandragoran Dai Shan,' he said formally. 'And for Bukama Marenellin, the hero of Salmarna. May you both know peace, one day.'
'There is peace in the mother's last embrace,' Lan responded with equal formality, touching hilt and heart.
'May she welcome us home, one day,' Seroku finished. No one really wished for the grave, but that was the only place to find peace in the Borderlands.
Face like iron, Bukama strode ahead pulling Sun Lance and the packhorse after him, not waiting for Lan. This was not well.
Canluum was a city of stone and brick, its paved streets twisting around tall hills. The Aiel invasion had never reached the Borderlands, but the ripples of war always diminished trade a long way from any battles, and now that fighting and winter were both finished, the city had filled with people from every land. Despite the Blight practically on the city's doorstep, gemstones mined in the surrounding hills made Canluum wealthy. And, strangely enough, some of the finest clockmakers anywhere. The cries of hawkers and shopkeepers shouting their wares rose above the hum of the crowd even away from the terraced market squares. Colourfully-dressed musicians, or jugglers, or tumblers performed at every intersection. A handful of lacquered carriages swayed through the mass of people and wagons and carts and barrows, and horses with gold- or silver-mounted saddles and bridles picked their way through the throng, their riders' garb embroidered as ornately as the animals' tack and trimmed with fox or marten or ermine. Hardly a foot of street was left bare anywhere. Lan even saw several Aes Sedai, women with serene, ageless faces. Enough people recognized them on sight that they created eddies in the crowd, swirls to clear a way. Respect or caution, awe or fear, there were sufficient reasons for a king to step aside for a sister. Once you might have gone a year without seeing an Aes Sedai even in the Borderlands, but the sisters seemed to be everywhere since their old Amyrlin Seat died a few months earlier. Maybe it was those tales of a man channelling; they would not let him run free long, if he existed. Lan kept his eyes away from them. The hadori could be enough to attract the interest of a sister seeking a Warder.
Shockingly, lace veils covered many women's faces. Thin lace, sheer enough to reveal that they had eyes, and no one had ever heard of a female Myrddraal, but Lan had never expected law to yield to mere fashion. Next they would take down the oil-lamps lining the streets and let the nights grow black. Even more shocking than the veils, Bukama looked right at some of those women and did not open his mouth. Then a jutnosed man named Nazar Kurenin rode in front of Bukama's eyes, and he did not blink. The young guard surely had been born after the Blight swallowed Malkier, but Kurenin, his hair cut short and wearing a forked beard, was twice Lan's age. The years had not erased the marks of his hadori completely. There were many like Kurenin, and the sight of him should have set Bukama spluttering. Lan eyed his friend worriedly.
They had been moving steadily towards the centre of the city, climbing towards the highest hill, Stag's Stand. Lord Marcasiev's fortress-like palace covered the peak, with those of lesser lords and ladies on the terraces below. Any threshold up there offered warm welcome for al'Lan Mandragoran. Perhaps warmer than he wanted now. Balls and hunts, with nobles invited from as much as fifty miles away, including from across the border with Arafel. People avid to hear of his 'adventures'. Young men wanting to join his forays into the Blight, and old men to compare their experiences there with his. Women eager to share the bed of a man whom, so fool stories claimed, the Blight could not kill. Kandor and Arafel were as bad as any southland at times; some of those women would be married. And there would be men like Kurenin, working to submerge memories of lost Malkier, and women who no longer adorned their foreheads with the ki'sain in pledge that they would swear their sons to oppose the Shadow while they breathed. Lan could ignore the false smiles while they named him al'Lan Dai Shan, diademed battle lord and uncrowned king of a nation betrayed while he was in his cradle. In his present mood, Bukama might do murder. Or worse, given his oaths at the gate. He would keep those to the death.
'Varan Marcasiev will hold us a week or more with ceremony,' Lan said, turning down a narrower street that led away from the Stand. 'With what we've heard of bandits and the like, he will be just as happy if I don't appear to make my bows.' True enough. He had met the High Seat of House Marcasiev only once, years past, but he remembered a man given entirely to his duties.
Bukama followed without complaint about missing a palace bed or the feasts the cooks would prepare. It was worrying.
No palaces rose in the hollows towards the north wall, only shops and taverns, inns and stables and wagonyards. Bustle surrounded the factors' long warehouses, but no carriages came to the Deeps, and most streets were barely wide enough for carts. They were just as jammed with people as the wide ways, though, and every bit as noisy. Here, the street performers' finery was tarnished, yet they made up for it by being louder, and buyers and sellers alike bellowed as if trying to be heard in the next street. Likely some of the crowd were cutpurses, slipfingers, and other thieves, finished with a morning's business higher up or headed there for the afternoon. It would have been a wonder otherwise, with so many merchants in town. The second time unseen fingers brushed his coat in the crowd, Lan tucked his purse under his shirt. Any banker would advance him more against the Shienaran estate he had been granted on reaching manhood, but loss of the gold on hand meant accepting the hospitality of Stag's Stand.
At the first three inns they tried, slate-roofed cubes of grey stone with bright signs out front, the innkeepers had not a cubbyhole to offer. Lesser traders and merchants' guards filled them to the attics. Bukama began to mutter about making a bed in a hayloft, yet he never mentioned the feather mattresses and linens waiting on the Stand. Leaving their horses with ostlers at a fourth inn, The Blue Rose, Lan entered determined to find some place for them if it took the rest of the day.
Inside, a greying woman, tall and handsome, presided over a crowded common room where talk and laughter almost drowned out the slender girl singing to the music of her zither. Pipesmoke wreathed the ceiling beams, and the smell of roasting lamb floated from the kitchens. As soon as the innkeeper saw Lan and Bukama, she gave her blue-striped apron a twitch and strode towards them, dark eyes sharp.
Before Lan could open his mouth, she seized Bukama's ears, pulled his head down, and kissed him. Kandori women were seldom retiring, but even so it was a remarkably thorough kiss in front of so many eyes. Pointing fingers and snickering grins flashed among the tables.
'It's good to see you again, too, Racelle,' Bukama murmured with a small smile when she finally released him. 'I didn't know you had an inn here. Do you think -?' He lowered his gaze rather than meeting her eyes rudely, and that proved a mistake. Racelle's fist caught his jaw so hard that his hair flailed as he staggered.
'Six years without a word,' she snapped. 'Six years?' Grabbing his ears again, she gave him another kiss, longer this time. Took it rather than gave. A sharp twist of his ears met every attempt to do anything besides standing bent over and letting her do as she wished. At least she would not put a knife in his heart if she was kissing him. Perhaps not.
'I think Mistress Arovni might find Bukama a room somewhere,' a man's familiar voice said drily behind Lan. 'And you, too, I suppose.'
Turning, Lan clasped forearms with the only man in the room beside Bukama of a height with him, Ryne Venamar, his oldest friend except for Bukama. The innkeeper still had Bukama occupied as Ryne led Lan to a small table in the corner. Five years older, Ryne was Malkieri too, but his hair fell in two long bell-laced braids, and more silver bells lined the turned-down tops of his boots and ran up the sleeves of his yellow coat. Bukama did not exactly dislike Ryne - not exactly - yet in his present mood, only Nazar Kurenin could have had a worse effect.
While the pair of them were settling themselves on benches, a serving maid in a striped apron brought hot spiced wine. Apparently Ryne had ordered as soon as he saw Lan. Dark-eyed and full-lipped, she stared Lan up and down openly as she set his mug in front of him, then whispered her name, Lira, in his ear, and an invitation, if he was staying the night. All he wanted that night was sleep, so he lowered his gaze, murmuring that she honoured him too much. Lira did not let him finish. With a raucous laugh, she bent to bite his ear, hard, then announced that by tomorrow's sun she would have honoured him till his knees would not hold him up. More laughter flared at the tables around them.
Ryne forestalled any possibility of righting matters, tossing her a fat coin and giving her a slap on the bottom to send her off. Lira offered him a dimpled smile as she slipped the silver into the neck of her dress, but she left sending smoky glances over her shoulder at Lan that made him sigh. If he tried to say no now, she might well pull a knife over the insult.
'So your luck still holds with women, too.' Ryne's laugh had an edge. Perhaps he fancied her himself. 'The Light knows, they can't find you handsome; you get uglier every year. Maybe I ought to try some of that coy modesty, let women lead me by the nose.'
Lan opened his mouth, then took a drink instead of speaking. He should not have to explain, but Ryne's father had taken him to Arafel the year Lan turned ten. The man wore a single blade on his hip instead of two on his back, yet he was Arafellin to his toenails. He actually started conversations with women who had not spoken to him first. Lan, raised by Bukama and his friends in Shienar, had been surrounded by a small community who held to Malkieri ways.
A number of people around the room were watching their table, sidelong glances over mugs and goblets. A plump copper-skinned woman wearing a much thicker dress than Domani women usually did made no effort to hide her stares as she spoke excitedly to a fellow with curled moustaches and a large pearl in his ear. Probably wondering whether there would be trouble over Lira. Wondering whether a man wearing the hadori really would kill at the drop of a pin.
'I didn't expect to find you in Canluum,' Lan said, setting the wine-mug down. 'Guarding a merchant train?' Bukama and the innkeeper were nowhere to be seen.
Ryne shrugged. 'Out of Shol Arbela. The luckiest trader in Arafel, they say. Said. Much good it did him. We arrived yesterday, and last night footpads slit his throat two streets over. No return money for me this trip.' He flashed a rueful grin and took a deep pull at his wine, perhaps to the memory of the merchant or perhaps to the lost half of his wages. 'Burn me if I thought to see you here, either.'
'You shouldn't listen to rumours, Ryne. I've not taken a wound worth mentioning since I rode south.' Lan decided to twit Bukama if they did get a room, about whether it was already paid for and how. Indignation might take him out of his darkness.
'The Aiel,' Ryne snorted. 'I never thought they could put paid to you.' He had never faced Aiel, of course. 'I expected you to be wherever Edeyn Arrel is. Chachin, now, I hear.'
That name snapped Lan's head back to the man across the table. 'Why should I be near the Lady Arrel?' he demanded softly. Softly, but emphasizing her proper title.
'Easy, man,' Ryne said. 'I didn't mean . . .'Wisely, he abandoned that line. 'Burn me, do you mean to say you haven't heard? She's raised the Golden Crane. In your name, of course. Since the year turned, she's been from Fal Moran to Maradon, and coming back now.' Ryne shook his head, the bells in his braids chiming faintly. 'There must be two or three hundred men right here in Canluum ready to follow her. You, I mean. Some you'd not believe. Old Kurenin wept when he heard her speak. All ready to carve Malkier out of the Blight again.'
'What dies in the Blight is gone,' Lan said wearily: He felt more than cold inside. Suddenly Seroku's surprise that he intended to ride north took on new meaning, and the young guard's assertion that he stood ready. Even the looks here in the common room seemed different. And Edeyn was part of it. Always she liked standing in the heart of the storm. 'I must see to my horse,' he told Ryne, scraping his bench back.
Ryne said something about making a round of the taverns that night, but Lan hardly heard. He hurried through the kitchens, hot from iron stoves and stone ovens and open hearths, into the cool of the stableyard, the mingled smells of horse and hay and woodsmoke. A greylark warbled on the edge of the stable roof. Greylarks came even before robins in the spring. Greylarks had been singing in Fal Moran when Edeyn first whispered in his ear.
The horses had already been stabled, bridles and saddles and packsaddle atop saddle blankets on the stall doors, but the wicker hampers were gone. Plainly Mistress Arovni had sent word to the ostlers that he and Bukama were being given accommodation.
There was only a single groom in the dim stable, a lean, hardfaced woman mucking out. Silently she watched him check Cat Dancer and the other horses as she worked, watched him begin to pace the length of the strawcovered floor. He tried to think, but Edeyn's name kept spinning though his head. Edeyn's face, surrounded by silky black hair that hung below her waist, a beautiful face with large dark eyes that could drink a man's soul even when filled with command.
After a bit the groom mumbled something in his direction, touching her lips and forehead, and hurriedly shoved her half-filled barrow out of the stable, glancing over her shoulder at him. She paused to shut the doors, and did that hurriedly, too, sealing him in shadow broken only by a little light from open hay doors in the loft. Dust motes danced in the pale golden shafts.
Lan grimaced. Was she that afraid of a man wearing the hadori? Did she think his pacing a threat? Abruptly he became aware of his hands running over the long hilt of his sword, aware of the tightness in his own face. Pacing? No, he had been in the walking stance called Leopard in High Grass, used when there were enemies on all sides. He needed calm.
Seating himself crosslegged on a bale of straw, he formed the image of a flame in his mind and fed emotion into it, hate, fear, everything, every scrap, until it seemed that he floated in emptiness. After years of practice, achieving ko'di, the oneness, needed less than a heartbeat. Thought and even his own body seemed distant, but in this state he was more aware than usual, becoming one with the bale beneath him, the stable, the scabbarded sword folded behind him. He could 'feel' the horses, cropping at their mangers, and flies buzzing in the corners. They were all part of him. Especially the sword. This time, though, it was only the emotionless void that he sought.
From his beltpouch he took a heavy gold signet ring worked with a flying crane and turned it over and over in his fingers. The ring of Malkieri kings, worn by men who had held back the Shadow nine hundred years and more. Countless times it had been remade as time wore it down, always the old ring melted to become part of the new. Some particle might still exist in it of the ring worn by the rulers of Rhamdashar, that had lived before Malkier, and Aramaelle that had been before Rhamdashar. That piece of metal represented over three thousand years fighting the Blight. It had been his almost as long as he had lived, but he had never worn it. Even looking at the ring was a labour, usually. One he disciplined himself to every day. Without the emptiness, he did not think he could have done so today. In ko'di, thought floated free, and emotion lay beyond the horizon.
In his cradle he had been given four gifts. The ring in his hands and the locket that hung around his neck, the sword on his hip and an oath sworn in his name. The locket was the most precious, the oath the heaviest. 'To stand against the Shadow so long as iron is hard and stone abides. To defend the Malkieri while one drop of blood remains. To avenge what cannot be defended.' And then he had been anointed with oil and named Dai Shan, consecrated as the next King of Malkier, and sent away from a land that knew it would die. Twenty men began that journey; five survived to reach Shienar.
Nothing remained to be defended now, only a nation to avenge, and he had been trained to that from his first step. With his mother's gift at his throat and his father's sword in his hand, with the ring branded on his heart, he had fought to avenge Malkier from his sixteenth nameday. But never had he led men into the Blight. Bukama had ridden with him, and others, but he would not lead men there. That war was his alone. The dead could not be returned to life, a land any more than a man. Only, now, Edeyn Arrel wanted to try.
Her name echoed in the emptiness within him. A hundred emotions loomed like stark mountains, but he fed them into the flame until all was still. Until his heart beat time with the slow stamping of the stalled horses, and the flies' wings beat rapid counterpoint to his breath. She was his carneira, his first lover. A thousand years of tradition shouted that, despite the stillness that enveloped him.
He had been fifteen, Edeyn more than twice that, when she gathered the hair that had still hung to his waist in her hands and whispered her intentions. Women had still called him beautiful then, enjoying his blushes, and for half a year she had enjoyed parading him on her arm and tucking him into her bed. Until Bukama and the other men gave him the hadori. The gift of his sword on his tenth nameday had made him a man by custom along the Border, though years early for it, yet among Malkieri, that band of braided leather had been more important. Once that was tied around his head, he alone decided where he went, and when, and why. And the dark song of the Blight had become a howl that drowned every other sound. The oath that had murmured so long in his heart became a dance his feet had to follow.
Almost ten years past now that Edeyn had watched him ride away from Fal Moran, and been gone when he returned, yet he still could recall her face more clearly than that of any woman who had shared his bed since. He was no longer a boy, to think that she loved him just because she had chosen to become his first lover, yet there was an old saying among Malkieri men. Your carneira wears part of your soul as a ribbon in her hair for ever. Custom strong as law made it so.
One of the stable doors creaked open to admit Bukama, coatless, shirt tucked raggedly into his breeches. He looked naked without his sword. As if hesitant, he carefully opened both doors wide before coming all the way in. 'What are you going to do?' he said finally. 'Racelle told me about . . . about the Golden Crane.'
Lan tucked the ring away, letting emptiness drain from him. Edeyn's face suddenly seemed everywhere, just beyond the edge of sight. 'Ryne says even Nazar Kurenin is ready to follow,' he said lightly. 'Wouldn't that be a sight to see?' An army could die trying to defeat the Blight. Armies had died trying. But the memories of Malkier already were dying. A nation was memory as much as land. 'That boy at the gates might let his hair grow and ask his father for the hadori.' People were forgetting, trying to forget. When the last man who bound his hair was gone, the last woman who painted her forehead, would Malkier truly be gone, too? 'Why, Ryne might even get rid of those braids.' Any trace of mirth dropped from his voice as he added, 'But is it worth the cost? Some seem to think so.' Bukama snorted, yet there had been a pause. He might be one of those who did.
Striding to the stall that held Sun Lance, the older man began to fiddle with his roan's saddle as though suddenly forgetting why he had moved. 'There's always a cost for anything,' he said, not looking up. 'But there are costs, and costs. The Lady Edeyn. . .' He glanced at Lan, then turned to face him. 'She was always one to demand every right and require the smallest obligation be met. Custom ties strings to you, and whatever you choose, she will use them like a set of reins unless you find a way to avoid it.'
Carefully Lan tucked his thumbs behind his swordbelt. Bukama had carried him out of Malkier tied to his back. The last of the five. Bukama had the right of a free tongue even when it touched Lan's carneira. 'How do you suggest I avoid my obligations without shame?' he asked more harshly than he had intended. Taking a deep breath, he went on in a milder tone. 'Come; the common room smells much better than this. Ryne suggested a round of the taverns tonight. Unless Mistress Arovni has claims on you. Oh, yes. How much will our rooms cost? Good rooms? Not too dear, I hope.'
Bukama joined him on the way to the doors, his face going red. 'Not too dear,' he said hastily. 'You have a pallet in the attic, and I . . . ah . . . I'm in Racelle's rooms. I'd like to make a round, but I think Racelle . . . I don't think she means to let me . . . I . . . Young whelp!' he growled. 'There's a lass named Lira in there who's letting it be known you won't be using that pallet tonight, or getting much sleep, so don't think you can -!' He cut off as they walked into the sunlight, bright after the dimness inside. The greylark still sang of spring.
Six men were striding across the otherwise empty yard. Six ordinary men with swords at their belts, like any men on any street in the city. Yet Lan knew before their hands moved, before their eyes focused on him and their steps quickened. He had faced too many men who wanted to kill him not to know. And at his side stood Bukama, bound by oaths that would not let him raise a hand even had he been wearing his blade. If they both tried to get back inside the stable, the men would be on them before they could haul the doors shut. Time slowed, flowed like cool honey.
'Inside and bar the doors!' Lan snapped as his hand went to his hilt. 'Obey me, armsman!'
Never in his life had he given Bukama a command in that fashion, and the man hesitated a heartbeat, then bowed formally. 'My life is yours, Dai Shan,' he said in a thick voice. 'I obey.'
As Lan moved forward to meet his attackers, he heard the bar drop inside with a muffled thud. Relief was distant. He floated in ko'di, one with the sword that came smoothly out of its scabbard. One with the men rushing at him, boots thudding on the hard-packed ground as they bared steel.
A lean heron of a fellow darted ahead of the others, and Lan danced the forms. Time like cool honey. The greylark sang, and the lean man shrieked as Cutting the Clouds removed his right hand at the wrist, and Lan flowed to one side so the rest could not all come at him together, flowed from form to form. Soft Rain at Sunset laid open a fat man's face, took his left eye, and a ginger-haired young splinter drew a gash across Lan's ribs with Black Pebbles on Snow. Only in stories did one man face six without injury. The Rose Unfolds sliced down a bald man's left arm, and ginger-hair nicked the corner of Lan's eye. Only in stories did one man face six and survive. He had known that from the start. Duty was a mountain, death a feather, and his duty was to Bukama, who had carried an infant on his back. For this moment he lived, though, so he fought, kicking ginger-hair in the head, dancing his way towards death, danced and took wounds, bled and danced the razor's edge of life. Time like cool honey, flowing from form to form, and there could only be one ending. Thought was distant. Death was a feather. Dandelion in the Wind slashed open the now one-eyed fat man's throat - he had barely paused when his face was ruined - a forkbearded fellow with shoulders like a blacksmith gasped in surprise as Kissing the Adder put Lan's steel through his heart.
And suddenly Lan realized that he alone stood, with six men sprawled across the width of the stableyard. The ginger-haired youth thrashed his heels on the ground one last time, and then only Lan of the seven still breathed. He shook blood from his blade, bent to wipe the last drops off on the blacksmith's too-fine coat, sheathed his sword as formally as if he were in the training yard under Bukama's eye.
Abruptly people flooded out of the inn, cooks and stablemen, maids and patrons shouting to know what all the noise was about, staring at the dead men in astonishment. Ryne was the very first, sword already in hand, his face blank as he came to stand by Lan. 'Six,' he muttered, studying the bodies. 'You really do have the Dark One's own flaming luck.'
Dark-eyed Lira reached Lan only moments before Bukama, the pair of them gently parting slashes in his clothes to examine his injuries. She shivered delicately as each was revealed, but she discussed whether an Aes Sedai should be sent for to give Healing and how much stitching was needed in as calm a tone as Bukama, and disparagingly dismissed his hand on the needle in favour of her own. Mistress Arovni stalked about, holding her skirts up out of patches of bloody mud, glaring at the corpses littering her stableyard, complaining in a loud voice that gangs of footpads would never be wandering in daylight if the Watch was doing its job. The Domani woman who had stared at Lan inside agreed just as loudly, and for her pains received a sharp command from the innkeeper to fetch them, along with a shove to start her on her way. It was a measure of Mistress Arovni's shock that she treated one of her patrons so, a measure of everyone's shock that the Domani woman went running without complaint. The innkeeper began organizing men to drag the bodies out of sight, still going on about footpads.
Ryne looked from Bukama to the stable as though he did not understand - perhaps he did not, at that - but what he said was, 'Not footpads, I think.' He pointed to the fellow who looked like a blacksmith. 'That one listened to Edeyn Arrel when she was here, and he liked what he heard. One of the others did, too, I think.' Bells chimed as he shook his head. 'It's peculiar. The first she said of raising the Golden Crane was after we heard you were dead outside the Shining Walls. Your name brings men, but with you dead, she could be el'Edeyn.' He spread his hands at the looks Lan and Bukama shot him. 'I make no accusations,' he said hastily. 'I'd never accuse the Lady Edeyn of any such thing. I'm sure she is full of all a woman's tender mercy.' Mistress Arovni gave a grunt like a fist, and Lira murmured half under her breath that the pretty Arafellin did not know much about women.
Lan shook his head. Edeyn might decide to have him killed if it suited her purposes, she might have left orders here and there in case the rumours about him proved false, but if she had, that was still no reason to speak her name in connection with this, especially in front of strangers.
Bukama's hands stilled, holding open a slash down Lan's sleeve. 'Where do we go from here?' he asked quietly.
'Chachin,' Lan said after a moment. There was always a choice, but sometimes every choice was grim. 'You'll have to leave Sun Lance. I mean to depart at first light tomorrow.' His gold would stretch to a new mount for the man.
`Six!' Ryne growled, sheathing his sword with considerable force. 'I think I'll ride with you. I'd as soon not go back to Shol Arbela until I'm sure Ceiline Noreman doesn't lay her husband's death at my boots. And it will be good to see the Golden Crane flying again.'
Lan nodded. To put his hand on the banner and abandon what he had promised himself all those years ago, or to stop her, if he could. Either way, he had to face Edeyn. The Blight would have been much easier.

Chasing after prophecy, Moiraine had decided by the end of the first month, involved very little adventure and a great deal of saddlesoreness and frustration. The Three Oaths still made her skin feel too tight. The wind rattled the shutters, and she shifted on the hard wooden chair, hiding impatience behind a sip of honeyless tea. In Kandor, comforts were kept to a minimum in a house of mourning. She would not have been overly surprised to see frost on the leaf-carved furniture or the metal clock above the cold hearth.
`It was all so strange, my Lady,' Mistress Najima sighed, and for the tenth time hugged her daughters. Perhaps thirteen or fourteen, standing close to their mother's chair, Colar and Eselle had her long black hair and large blue eyes still full of loss. Their mother's eyes seemed big, too, in a face shrunken by tragedy, and her plain grey dress appeared made for a larger woman. 'Josef was always careful with lanterns in the stable,' she went on, 'and he never allowed any kind of open flame. The boys must have carried little Jerid out to see their father at his work, and. . .'Another hollow sigh. 'They were all trapped. How could the whole stable be ablaze so fast? It makes no sense.'
'Little is ever senseless,' Moiraine said soothingly, setting her cup on the small table at her elbow. She felt sympathy, but the woman had begun repeating herself. 'We cannot always see the reason, yet we can take some comfort in knowing there is one. The Wheel of Time weaves us into the Pattern as it wills, but the Pattern is the work of the Light.'
Hearing herself, she suppressed a wince. Those words required dignity and weight her youth failed to supply. If only time could pass faster. At least for the next five years or so. Five years should give her her full strength and provide all the dignity and weight she would ever need. But then, the agelessness that came after working long enough with the One Power would only have made her present task more difficult. The last thing she could afford was anyone connecting an Aes Sedai to her visits.
'As you say, my Lady,' the other woman murmured politely, though an unguarded shift of pale eyes spoke her thoughts. This outlander was a foolish child. The small blue stone of a kesiera dangling from a fine golden chain on to Moiraine's forehead and a dark green dress with six slashes of colour across the breast, far fewer than she was entitled to, made Mistress Najima think her merely a Cairhienin noblewoman, one of many wandering since the Aiel ruined Cairhien. A noblewoman of a minor House, named Alys not Moiraine, making sympathy calls in mourning for her own king, killed by the Aiel. The fiction was easy to maintain, though she did not mourn her uncle in the least.
Perhaps sensing that her thoughts had been too clear, Mistress Najima started up again, speaking quickly. 'It's just that Josef was always so lucky, my Lady. Everyone spoke of it. They said if Josef Najima fell down a hole, there'd be opals at the bottom. When he answered the Lady Kareil's call to go fight the Aiel, I worried, but he never took a scratch. When camp fever struck, it never touched us or the children. Josef gained the Lady's favour without trying. Then it seemed the Light truly did shine on us. Jerid was born safe and whole, and the war ended, all in a matter of days, and when we came home to Canluum, the Lady gave us the livery stable for Josef's service, and . . . and . . .' She swallowed tears she would not shed. Colar began to weep, and her mother pulled her closer, whispering comfort.
Moiraine rose. More repetition. There was nothing here for her. Jurine stood, too, not a tall woman, yet almost a hand taller than she. Either of the girls could look her in the eyes. She had grown accustomed to that since leaving Cairhien. Forcing herself to take time, she murmured more condolences and tried to press a washleather purse on the woman as the girls brought her fur-lined cloak and gloves. A small purse. Obtaining coin meant visits to the bankers and a clear trail. Not that the Aiel had left her estates in a condition to provide much money for some years yet. And not that anyone was likely to be looking for her. Still, discovery might be decidedly unpleasant.
The woman's stiff-necked refusal to take the purse irritated Moiraine. No, that was not the real reason. She understood pride, and besides, Lady Kareil had provided. The real irritant was her own desire to be gone. Jurine Najima had lost her husband and three sons in one fiery morning, but her Jerid had been born in the wrong place by almost twenty miles. The search continued. Moiraine did not like feeling relief in connection with the death of an infant. Yet she did.
Outside under a grey sky, she gathered her cloak tightly. Ignoring the cold was a simple trick, but anyone who went about the streets of Canluum with open cloak would draw stares. Any outlander, at least, unless clearly Aes Sedai. Besides, not allowing the cold to touch you did not make you unaware of it. How these people could call this 'new spring' without a hint of mockery was beyond her.
Despite the near freezing wind that gusted over the rooftops, the winding streets were packed, requiring her to pick her way through a milling mass of people and carts and wagons. The world had certainly come to Canluum. A Taraboner with heavy moustaches pushed past her muttering a hasty apology, and an olive-skinned Altaran woman who scowled at Moiraine, then an Illianer with a beard that left his upper lip bare, a very pretty fellow and not too tall.
Another day she might have enjoyed the sight of him, in another city. Now, he barely registered. It was women she watched, especially those well-dressed, in silks or fine woollens. If only so many were not veiled. Twice she saw Aes Sedai strolling through the crowds, neither a woman she had ever met. Neither glanced in her direction, but she kept her head down and stayed to the other side of the street. Perhaps she should put on a veil. A stout woman brushed by, features blurred behind lace. Sierin Vayu herself could have passed unrecognized at ten feet in one of those.
Moiraine shivered at the thought, ridiculous as it was. If the new Amyrlin learned what she was up to . . . Inserting herself into secret plans, unbidden and unannounced, would not go unpunished. No matter that the Amyrlin who had made them was dead in her sleep and another woman sat on the Amyrlin Seat. Being sequestered on a farm until the search was done was the least she could expect.
It was not just. She and her friend Siuan had helped gather the names, in the guise of offering assistance to any woman who had given birth during the days when the Aiel threatened Tar Valon itself. Of all the women involved in that gathering, just they two knew the real reason. They had winnowed those names for Tamra. Only children born outside the city's walls had really been important, though the promised aid went to every woman found, of course. Only boys born on the west bank of the River Erinin, boys who might have been born on the slopes of Dragonmount.
Behind her a woman shouted shrilly, angrily, and Moiraine jumped a foot before she realized it was a wagon-driver, brandishing her whip at a hawker to hustle his pushcart of steaming meat pies out of her way. Light! A farm was the least she could expect! A few men around Moiraine laughed raucously at her leap, and one, a dark-faced Tairen in a striped cloak, made a rude joke about the cold wind curling under her skirts. The laughter grew.
Moiraine stalked ahead stiffly, cheeks crimson, hand tight on the silver hilt of her beltknife. Unthinking, she embraced the True Source, and the One Power flooded her with joyous life. A single glance over her shoulder was all she needed; with saidar in her, smells became sharper, colours truer. She could have counted the threads in the cloak the Tairen was letting flap while he laughed. She channelled fine flows of the Power, of Air, and the fellow's baggy breeches dropped to his turned-down boots, the laces undone. Bellowing, he snatched his cloak around him amid gales of renewed mirth. Let him see how he liked cold breezes and rowdy jokes!
Satisfaction lasted as long as it took to release the Source. Impetuous impulse and a quick temper had always been her downfall. Any woman able to channel would have seen her weaving if close enough, seen the glow of saidar surround her. Even those thin flows could have been felt at thirty paces by the weakest sister in the Tower. A fine way to hide.
Quickening her step, she put distance between herself and the incident. Too little too late, but all she could do now. She stroked the small book in her beltpouch, tried to focus on her task. With only one hand, keeping her cloak closed proved impossible. It whipped about in the wind, and after a moment, she let herself feel the knifing chill. Sisters who took on penances at every turn were foolish, yet a penance could serve many purposes, and maybe she needed a reminder. If she could not remember to be careful, she might as well return to the White Tower now and ask where to start hoeing turnips.
Mentally she drew a line through the name of Jurine Najima. Other names in the book already had real lines inked through them. The mothers of five boys born in the wrong place. The mothers of three girls. An army of almost two hundred thousand men had gathered to face the Aiel outside the Shining Walls, and it still astonished her how many women followed along, how many were with child. An older sister had had to explain. The war had not been short, and men who knew they might die tomorrow wanted to leave part of themselves behind. Women who knew their men might die tomorrow wanted that part of them to keep.
Hundreds had given birth during the key ten days, and in that sort of gathering, with soldiers from nearly every land, too often there was only rumour as to exactly where or when a child had been born. Or to where the parents had gone, with the war ended and the Coalition army melting away along with the Coalition. There were too many entries like 'Saera Deosin. Husband Eadwin. From Murandy. A son?' A whole country to search, only a pair of names to go by, and no certainty the woman had borne a boy. Too many like 'Kari al'Thor. From Andor? Husband Tamlin, Second Captain of the Illianer Companions, took discharge.' That pair might have gone anywhere in the world, and there was doubt she had had a child at all. Sometimes only the mother was listed, with six or eight variations on the name of a home village that might lie in one of two or three countries. The list of those easy to find was growing shorter rapidly.
But the child had to be found. An infant who would grow to manhood and wield the tainted male half of the One Power. Moiraine shuddered at the thought despite herself. That was why this search was so secret, why Moiraine and Siuan, still only Accepted when they learned of the child's birth by accident, had been shunted aside and kept in as much ignorance as Tamra could manage. This was a matter for experienced sisters. But who could she trust with the news that the birth of the Dragon Reborn had been Foretold, and more, that somewhere he already suckled at his mother's breast? Had she had the sort of nightmares that had wakened Moiraine and Siuan so many nights? Yet this boychild would grow to manhood and save the world, so the Prophecies of the Dragon said. If he was not found by a Red sister; the Red Ajah's main purpose was hunting down men who could channel, and Moiraine was sure Tamra had not trusted any of them, even with a child. Could a Red be trusted to remember that he would be humankind's salvation while remembering what else he would be? The day suddenly seemed colder to Moiraine, for remembering.
The inn where she had a small room was called The Gates of Heaven, four sprawling storeys of green-roofed stone, Canluum's best and largest. Nearby shops catered to the lords and ladies on the Stand, looming behind the inn. She would not have stopped in it had there been another room to be found in the city. Taking a deep breath, she hurried inside. Neither the sudden warmth from fires on four large hearths nor the good smells of cooking from the kitchens eased her tight shoulders.
The common room was large, and every table beneath the bright red ceiling beams was taken. By plainly-dressed merchants for the most part, and a sprinkling of well-to-do craftsfolk with rich embroidery covering colourful shirts or dresses. She hardly noticed them. No fewer than five sisters were staying at The Gates of Heaven, and all sat in the common room when she walked in. Master Helvin, the innkeeper, would always make roam for an Aes Sedai even when he had to force other patrons to double up. The sisters kept to themselves, barely acknowledging one another, and people who might not have recognized an Aes Sedai on sight knew them now, knew enough not to intrude. Every other table was jammed, yet where any man sat with an Aes Sedai, it was her Warder, a hard-eyed man with a dangerous look about him however ordinary he might seem otherwise. One of the sisters sitting alone was a Red; Reds took no Warder.
Tucking her gloves behind her belt and folding her cloak over her arm, Moiraine started towards the stone stairs at the back of the room. Not too quickly, but not dawdling, either. Looking straight ahead. She did not need to see an ageless face or glimpse the golden serpent biting its own tail encircling a finger to know when she passed close to another sister. Each time, she felt the other woman's ability to channel, felt her strength. No one here matched her. She could sense their ability, and they could sense hers. Their eyes following her seemed the touch of fingers. Not quite grasping. None spoke to her.
Then, just as she reached the staircase, a woman did speak behind her. `Well, now. This is a surprise.'
Turning quickly, Moiraine kept her face smooth with an effort as she made a brief curtsy suitable for a minor noblewoman to an Aes Sedai. To two Aes Sedai. She did not think she could have encountered two worse than this pair in sober silks.
The white wings in Larelle Tarsi's long hair emphasized her serene, copper-skinned elegance. She had taught Moiraine in several classes, as both novice and Accepted, and she had a way of asking the last question you wanted to hear. Worse was Merean Redhill, plump and so motherly that hair more grey than not, and gathered at the nape of her neck, almost submerged the agelessness of her features. She had been Mistress of Novices under Tamra, and she made Larelle seem blind when it came to discovering just what you most wanted to hide. Both wore their vine-embroidered shawls, Merean's fringed blue. Blue was Moiraine's Ajah, too. That might count for something. Or not. It was a surprise to see them together; she had not thought they particularly liked one another.
Both were stronger in the Power than she, unfortunately, though she would stand above them eventually, but the gap was only wide enough that she had to defer, not obey. In any case, they had no right to interfere in anything she might be doing. Custom held very strongly on that. Unless they were part of Tamra's search and had been told about her. An Amyrlin's commands superseded the strongest custom, or at least altered it. But if either said the wrong thing here, word that Moiraine Damodred was wandering about in disguise would spread with the sisters in the room, and it would reach the wrong ears as surely as peaches were poison. That was the way of the world. A summons back to Tar Valon would find her soon after. She opened her mouth hoping to forestall the chance, but someone else spoke first.
'No need trying that one,' a sister alone at a table nearby said, twisting around on her bench. Felaana Bevaine, a slim yellow-haired Brown with a raspy voice, had been the first to corner Moiraine when she arrived. 'Says she has no interest in going to the Tower. Stubborn as stone about it. Secretive, too. You would think we'd have heard about a wilder popping up in even a lesser Cairhienin House, but this child likes to keep to herself.'
Larelle and Merean looked at Moiraine, Larelle arching a thin eyebrow, Merean apparently trying to suppress a smile. Most sisters disliked wilders, women who managed to survive teaching themselves to channel without going to the White Tower.
'It is quite true, Aes Sedai,' Moiraine said carefully, relieved that someone else had laid a foundation. 'I have no desire to enroll as a novice, and I will not.'
Felaana fixed her with considering eyes, but she still spoke to the others. 'Says she's twenty-two, but that rule has been bent a time or two. A woman says she's eighteen, and that's how she's enrolled. Unless it's too obvious a lie, anyway, and this girl -'
'Our rules were not made to be broken,' Larelle said sharply, and Merean added in a wry voice, 'I don't believe this young woman will lie about her age. She doesn't want to be a novice, Felaana. Let her go her way.' Moiraine almost let out a relieved sigh.
Enough weaker than they to accept being cut off, Felaana still began to rise, plainly meaning to continue the argument. Halfway to her feet she glanced up the stairs behind Moiraine, her eyes widened, and abruptly she sat down again, focusing on her plate of black peas and onions as if nothing else in the world existed. Merean and Larelle gathered their shawls, grey fringe and blue swaying. They looked eager to be elsewhere. They looked as though their feet had been nailed to the floor.
'So this girl does not want to be a novice,' said a woman's voice from the stairs. A voice Moiraine had heard only once, two years ago, and would never forget. A number of women were stronger than she, but only one could be as much stronger as this one. Unwillingly, she looked over her shoulder.
Nearly black eyes studied her from beneath a bun of iron-grey hair decorated with golden ornaments, stars and birds, crescent moons and fish. Cadsuane, too, wore her shawl, fringed in green. 'In my opinion, girl,' she said drily, 'you could profit from ten years in white.'
Everyone had believed Cadsuane Melaidhrin dead somewhere in retirement until she reappeared at the start of the Aiel War, and a good many sisters probably wished her truly in her grave. Cadsuane was a legend, a most uncomfortable thing to have alive and staring at you. Half the tales about her came close to impossibility, while the rest were beyond it, even among those that had proof. A long-ago King of Tarabon winkled out of his palace when it was learned he could channel, carried to Tar Valon to be gentled while an army that did not believe chased after to attempt rescue. A King of Arad Doman and a Queen of Saldaea both kidnapped, spirited away in secrecy, and when Cadsuane finally released them, a war that had seemed certain simply faded away. It was said she bent Tower law where it suited her, flouted custom, went her own way and often dragged others with her.
'I thank the Aes Sedai for her concern,' Moiraine began, then trailed off under that stare. Not a hard stare. Simply implacable. Supposedly even Amyrlins had stepped warily around Cadsuane over the years. It was whispered that she had actually assaulted an Amyrlin, once. Impossible, of course; she would have been executed! Moiraine swallowed and tried to start over, only to find she wanted to swallow again.
Descending the stair, Cadsuane told Merean and Larelle, 'Bring the girl.' Without a second glance, she glided across the common room. Merchants and craftsfolk looked at her, some openly, some from the corner of an eye, and Warders too, but every sister kept her gaze on her table.
Merean's face tightened, and Larelle sighed extravagantly, yet they prodded Moiraine after the bobbing golden ornaments. She had no choice but to go. At least Cadsuane could not be one of the women Tamra had called in; she had not returned to Tar Valon since that visit at the beginning of the war.
Cadsuane led them to one of the inn's private sitting rooms, where a fire blazed on the black stone hearth and silver lamps hung along the red wall panels. A tall pitcher stood near the fire to keep warm, and a lacquered tray on a small carved table held silver cups. Merean and Larelle took two of the brightly-cushioned chairs, but when Moiraine put her cloak on a chair and started to sit, Cadsuane pointed to a spot in front of the other sisters. 'Stand there, child,' she said.
Making an effort not to clutch her skirt in her fists, Moiraine stood as directed. Obedience had always been difficult for her. Until she went to the Tower at sixteen, there had been few people she had to obey. Most obeyed her.
Cadsuane circled the three of them slowly, once, twice. Merean and Larelle exchanged wondering frowns, and Larelle opened her mouth, but after one look at Cadsuane, closed it again. They assumed smooth-faced serenity; any watcher would have thought they knew exactly what was going on. Sometimes Cadsuane glanced at them, but the greater part of her attention stayed on Moiraine.
'Most new sisters,' the legendary Green said abruptly, 'hardly remove their shawls to sleep or bathe, but here you are without shawl or ring, in one of the most dangerous spots you could choose short of the Blight itself. Why?'
Moiraine blinked. A direct question. The woman really did ignore custom when it suited her. She made her voice light. 'New sisters also seek a Warder.' Why was the woman singling her out in this manner? 'I have not bonded mine, yet. I am told Bordermen make fine Warders.' The Green sent her a stabbing look that made her wish she had been just a little less light.
Stopping behind Larelle, Cadsuane laid a hand on her shoulder. 'What do you know of this child?'
Every girl in Larelle's classes had thought her the perfect sister and been intimidated by that cool consideration. They all had been afraid of her, and wanted to be her. 'Moiraine was studious and a quick learner,' she said thoughtfully. 'She and Siuan Sanche were two of the quickest the Tower has ever seen. But you must know that. Let me see. She was rather too free with her opinions, and her temper, until we settled her down. As much as we did settle her. She and the Sanche girl had a continuing fondness for pranks. But they both passed for Accepted on the first try, and for the shawl. She needs seasoning, of course, yet she may make something of herself.'
Cadsuane moved behind Merean, asking the same question, adding, 'A fondness for . . . pranks, Larelle said. A troublesome child?'
Merean shook her head with a smile. None of the girls had wanted to be Merean, but everyone knew where to go for a shoulder to cry on or advice when you could not ask your closest friend. Many more girls visited her on their own than had been sent for chastisement. 'Not troublesome, really,' she said. 'High-spirited. None of the tricks Moiraine played were mean, but they were plentiful. Novice and Accepted, she was sent to my study more often than any three other girls. Except for her pillow-friend Siuan. Of course, pillow-friends frequently get into tangles together, but with those two, one was never sent to me without the other. The last time the very night after passing for the shawl.' Her smile faded into a frown very much like the one she had worn that night. Not angry, but rather disbelieving of the mischief young women could get up to. And a touch amused by it. 'Instead of spending the night in contemplation, they tried to sneak mice into a sister's bed - Elaida a'Roihan - and were caught. I doubt any other women have been raised Aes Sedai while still too tender to sit from their last visit to the Mistress of Novices. Once the Three Oaths tightened on them, they needed cushions a week.'
Moiraine kept her face smooth, kept her hands from knotting into fists, but she could do nothing about burning cheeks. That ruefully amused frown, as if she were still Accepted. She needed seasoning, did she? Well, perhaps she did, some, but still. And spreading out all these intimacies!
'I think you know all of me that you need to know,' she told Cadsuane stiffly. How close she and Siuan had been was no one's business but theirs. And their punishments, details of their punishments. Elaida had been hateful, always pressing, demanding perfection whenever she visited the Tower. 'If you are quite satisfied, I must pack my things. I am departing for Chachin.'
She swallowed a groan before it could form. She still let her tongue go too free when her temper was up. If Merean or Larelle was part of the search, they must have at least part of the list in her little book. Including Jurine Najima here, the Lady Ines Demain in Chachin, and Avene Sahera, who lived in 'a village on the high road between Chachin and Canluum'. To strengthen suspicion, all she need do now was say she intended to spend time in Arafel and Shienar next.
Cadsuane smiled, not at all pleasantly. 'You'll leave when I say, child. Be silent till you're spoken to. That pitcher should hold spiced wine. Pour for us.'
Moiraine quivered. Child! She was no longer a novice. The woman could not order her coming and going. Or her tongue. But she did not protest. She walked to the hearth - stalked, really - and picked up the long-necked silver pitcher.
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Braknar [Trskl]
Alpha & Oméga
 
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J'ai lu les 5 premiers tomes francais en une semaine(j'avais une tete de deterre en cours), apres j'ai lu jusqu'a la premiere moitie de fires of heaven avant de commencer a acheter les bouquins en anglais parce que je ne pouvais pas attendre qu'ils soient traduits.
C'est de mon point de vue une oeuvre majeure, complexe, longue, avec un univers original et beaucoup de personnages differents dans une veritable epopee, tout ce que j'aime quoi.
Le seul defaut est en fait aussi un avantage : les livres (anglais) commencent assez lentement avec la presentation de nouveaux personnages et des premiers elements de la trame de l'aventure, mais ensuite ca s'enchaine tellement vite qu'on ne peut plus s'arreter de lire a partir de la moitie du livre jusqu'a une veritable apotheose finale.
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