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An intelligent boy who frequently questions authority is shipped off to the frontier by his family's enemies and trained to be an lancer--a career that results in 50% casualties. 50,000 first printing.
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L.E. Modesitt, Jr., is the bestselling author of the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. His science fiction includes Adiamante, the Ecolitan novels, and Archform: Beauty. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The man wears white trousers and a white tunic, belted with white leather and secured with a glistening white metallic buckle. His boots are white, including the thick leather soles, and his hands are encased in white gloves. The only items of color upon his body are the pair of gold starbursts--one on each of the short square collars of his tunic.
A dark-haired boy wearing shimmering gray trousers and a short-sleeved shirt of the same shimmering fabric holds the man’s left hand. Both walk along a corridor. The floors, walls, and ceiling are all of white granite,
except for one window of a glass-like substance so dark it appears nearly black. The black window is on the man’s right, exactly halfway between the two metal doors, each also of shimmering white metal.
When the pair reaches the window, the man halts, bends, and lifts the boy, holding him so that their heads are almost even with each other. The man inclines his head toward the dark expanse of glass. “There. There is the First Tower.”
The dark-haired youth, his amber eyes shielded by the ancient dark glass, stares at the glittering trapezoid of light beyond the wall. The dark transparency filters out all that lies beyond the wall except for the blistering light that is the Tower.
“One day,“ says the man, “one day, Lorn’elth...you and your brother will be Magi’i of the Rational Stars. One day, you will direct the workings of Towers of Light to harness the power of chaos and to continue to bring peace and prosperity to Cyad and to all of Cyador.”
Abruptly, the boy shivers, then stiffen.s, though his eyes do not leave the chaos light of the Tower.
“To be of the Magi’I--it is a long and difficult struggle.” The man smiles at his son, and even his sun-golden eyes smile. “But as you grow older, you will see that it is worth the effort, for nothing compares to the glory that is Cyad, and the peace and the grace of her people.”
The magus slowly lowers Lorn’elth to the polished white stone floor and takes his son’s hand once more. They continue along the corridor to the second door, where the father raises his hand. A flicker of golden energy flashes from a point just beyond his gloves to the door. Then he slides the door into its recess--to his left. The two enter the second corridor, and the magus closes the door behind them.
Another window awaits them midway down the second white stone corridor.
At this window, the man again lifts his son, speaking softly as he does. “You will be the ones who will transfer the pure chaos energy from the towers to the fireships, to the firewagons, and to the firelances of Cyador. You will ensure that the fair city remains so, and that her people bless the Emperor and the Magi’i of the Rational Stars.”
Serious-eyed, the boy watches through the darkened glass--not so dark as that in the first corridor--as the six-wheeled firewagon rolls silently into the shimmering enclosure that flanks the chamber holding the mighty tower. Figures scurry and remove the square cells from the rear of the vehicle, replacing them with other cells that almost glitter. Then the fire-wagon rolls out, and another rolls in and halts.
“This is the heart of Cyad, and Cyador, and it can be yours, Lorn’elth.” The father lowers his son once more. “It will be yours.”
The two return as they came, their heavy boots whispering but slightly on the hard stone of the corridor.
Copyright © 2000 by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
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