Orson Scott Card Hart's Hope

ISBN 13: 9780765306784

Hart's Hope

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9780765306784: Hart's Hope
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A dark and powerful fantasy from the bestselling author of Ender's Shadow.

Enter the city of Hart's Hope, ruled by gods both powerful and indifferent, riddled with sorcery and revenge. The city was captured by a rebellious lord, Palicrovol, who overthrew the cruel king, Nasilee, hated by his people.

Palicrovol, too, was cruel, as befitted a king. He took the true mantle of kinghood by forcing Asineth, now Queen by her father's death, to marry him, raping her to consummate the marriage. [But he was not cruel enough to rule.] He let her live after her humiliation; live to bear a daughter; live to return from exile and retake the throne of Hart's Hope.

But she, in turn, sent Palicrovol into exile to breed a son who would, in the name of the God, take back the kingdom from its cruel Queen.

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About the Author:

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win these two top prizes in consecutive years. There are seven other novels to date in The Ender Universe series. Card has also written fantasy: The Tales of Alvin Maker is a series of fantasy novels set in frontier America; his most recent novel, The Lost Gate, is a contemporary magical fantasy. Card has written many other stand-alone sf and fantasy novels, as well as movie tie-ins and games, and publishes an internet-based science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, Card directs plays and teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and youngest daughter, Zina Margaret.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

HART'S HOPE (Palicrovol Becomes a King in His Heart)

This is the story of how God taught an unambitious man to seek a throne.

THE DREAM OF ZYMAS

Zymas was the King's right arm, the King's right eye, and--so the irreverent said--the King's right cobble, too. Zymas was born to a stablehand, but first his strength, then his skill, and at last his wisdom brought him such fame that now he was general of all the King's armies, and the terror of Zymas spread throughout all of Burland.

Zymas had only five hundred soldiers, both horse and foot, but this was a day when a village had five families and a town had fifty, so that five hundred soldiers were quite enough to subdue whoever needed subduing. And if some group of barons or counts combined their petty forces so that they outnumbered Zymas, they were still foredoomed. If there were ten such barons, they could be sure that one had joined the rebellion as the King's agent, two had joined as Zymas's men, and the rest would hang before the month was out.

Zymas had known days of glory on the frontier, where wild tribes from the inner mountains destroyed themselves against the pikes of Zymas's army. And there were days of glory on the littoral, when the raiders from the east beached their craft and died by the hundreds before they could get beyond the tideline. Oh, Zymas was a mighty warrior! But now, with the King's outward enemies all broken and paying tribute, Zymas led his men from mountain to coastline, not to defend Burland from attack, but to protect the tax collectors, to punish the disobedient, to terrorize the weak and defenseless.

There were those who said that Zymas had no heart, that he killed for pleasure. There were those who said that Zymas had no mind of his own, that he never so much as questioned any order that the King gave him. But those who said such things were wrong.

Zymas camped for the night with his half a thousand men on the banks of Burring, high on the river, where the locals still called the stream Banning. The village was too small to have a name--four families, recorded in the books as "seventh village near Banningside." It was recorded that this village had not paid their assessment of thirty bushels. This was causing resentment and was a bad example to the other villages. Zymas was here to punish them. Tomorrow he would come with fifty footsoldiers, surround the village, and then call for their surrender. If they surrendered, they would be hanged. If they did not surrender, they would be spitted and hung over fires or seated on sharpened stakes or some such thing, the normal these days, men and women and children, the normal. Zymas contemplated tomorrow and felt his heart drain away as it always did, so that he would not be ashamed.

When at last his heart was empty, he lay on the cold ground and slept. But tonight his still rest was broken by a dream. It surprised him to be dreaming, surprised him even within the dream, for dreaming was something he had given up long ago. It was a most holy dream, for in it he saw an ancient stag walking painfully through a wood. What was the pain? A rat hung by its teeth from the hart's belly, and at every step the stag shuddered with the pain. Zymas reached out his hand to take the rat, but a voice stopped him.

"If you take away the rat, what will close the great wound in the hart's belly?"

Zymas looked closer, and now he saw that the rat's teeth were holding together the lips of a long and vicious wound that threatened to split the stag from breast to groin. Yet he knew the rat was poisoning the wound.

Then a fierce eagle stooped, and landed brutally on the hart's back. Zymas saw at once what he must do. He took the eagle in his hands, turned it upside down, and thrust its feet under the hart. The talons reached and seized, spanning the wound, binding the edges together far more firmly than the rat's teeth. Then, still upside down, the eagle devoured the rat, every bit. The stag was saved because Zymas had set the eagle in its place.

"Palicrovol," said the voice, and Zymas knew it meant the eagle.

"Nasilee," said the eagle, and Zymas knew it meant the rat.

Nasilee was the name of the King. Palicrovol was the name of the Count of Traffing. Zymas awoke then, and lay awake the rest of the night.

Before dawn he took his fifty men and went to the village, and in moments the people had surrendered. The patriarch of the little village tried to explain why the taxes had gone unpaid, but Zymas had heard the excuses a thousand times. He did not hear the old man. He did not hear the moans of the women, the crying of the children. He only saw that each one stood before him with the face of a great old stag, and he knew that his dream had not come to him by chance.

"Men," he said, and all heard his voice, though he did not shout.

"Zymas," they answered. They called him by his unadorned name because he had made it nobler than any title they might have given him.

"Nasilee gnaws at the belly of Burland like a rat, and we, we are his teeth."

Puzzled, they did not know how to respond.

"Does the true King hang these helpless ones?"

Unsure what kind of test Zymas was posing, one of the men said, "Yes?"

"Perhaps he does," Zymas said, "but if he is the true King, then I will follow a false King who is good, and I will make him true, and the people will no longer have to fear the coming of the army of Zymas."

It seemed impossible to the soldiers that Zymas could speak such treason, but not so impossible as the idea of Zymas telling a lie or making a jest. So Zymas was going to rebel against the King. Was there any man there who would choose the King over Zymas?

Zymas let them choose freely, but all five hundred marched with him away from the bewildered villagers, toward Traffing. He did not tell them whom he meant to put in the King's place. The dream had said Palicrovol, but Zymas meant to see the man for himself before he helped him to revolt. Dreams come when your eyes are closed, but Zymas only acted with his eyes open.

THE GUARD AND THE GODSMAN

In the land of Traffing, in the dead of winter, a figure in a white robe walked like a ghost upon the snow. The guard at the fortress of the Count trembled in fear until he saw it was a man, with his face reddened by the cold, and his hands thrust deep into a bedroll for warmth. Ghosts have nothing to fear from the cold, the guard knew, and so he hailed the man--hailed rudely, because the guard had been afraid.

"What do you want! It's near dark, and we do no work on the Feast of Hinds."

"I come from God," said the man. "I have a message for the Count."

The guard grew angry. He had heard all about God, whose priests were so arrogant they denied even the Sweet Sisters, even the Hart, though the people had known their power far longer than this new-fashioned deity. "Would you have him blaspheme against the Hart's own lady?"

"Old things are done away," said the Godsman.

"You're done away if you don't go away!" cried the guard.

The Godsman only smiled. "Of course you do not know me," he said. And then, suddenly, before the guard's very eyes, the Godsman reached out his hands beseechingly and the bar of the gate broke in two and the gate fell open before him.

"You won't hurt him?" asked the guard.

"Don't cower so," said the Godsman. "I come for the good of all Burland."

From the King, then? The guard hated the King enough to spit in the snow, despite his fear of this man who broke gates without touching them. "The good of Burland is never the good of Traffing."

"Tonight it is," said the Godsman.

Suddenly the sunset erupted, hot streams down the slope of the sky, and the guard became a Godsman himself from that moment.

THE PROPHECY

"Were you invited?" asked Palicrovol.

The Godsman looked about him at the nearly naked men sitting on ice-covered rocks around a fire. "I am invited to the feasts of all the gods." Palicrovol was young and beautiful, even with the treebark mantle on his shoulders; the Godsman loved the sight of him, even though the Count was angry. Anger would pass. The Count's beauty would not.

"My guard is impressed with you," the Count said.

"Such men are easily impressed," said the Godsman.

"I've seen magic before," said the Count, for beside him sat Sleeve, the pink-eyed wizard who served only the master that he chose.

"Then I will give you what no other can: I will give you truth."

Palicrovol smiled and looked at Sleeve, but Sleeve was not smiling, and Palicrovol began to wonder if he ought to take this Godsman seriously. "What sort of truth?"

"Words can only tell two kinds of truth. Words can name you, and words can say what you will do before you do it."

"And which will you do?"

"To name a man is to say what he will do before he does it. So I will name you, Palicrovol. You are King of Burland."

Suddenly Count Palicrovol grew afraid. "I am Count of Traffing."

"The people hate King Nasilee. They have given him their life's blood, and he has given them only poverty and terror. They long for someone to set them free from this burden."

"Then go to a man with armies." If Nasilee heard that Palicrovol had even listened to this Godsman, it would be the end of the house of Traffing.

"General Zymas will come to you and follow you to the day he dies."

"Which will be very soon, if he dares to rebel against the King."

"On the contrary," said the Godsman. "Three hundred years from now you and Zymas and Sleeve will all be alive, with a man's life yet ahead of you."

Sleeve laughed. "Since when does your magic-hating god give gifts to a poor wizard?"

"For every day that you're glad of the gift, there will be five days when you hate it."

Palicrovol leaned forward. "I should have you killed."

"What would be the point? I'm only a poor old man, and when God lets go of my body, I will know even less than you do."

Sleeve shook his head. "There is no poetry in this man...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780727844569: Hart's Hope

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0727844563 ISBN 13:  9780727844569
Publisher: Severn House Pub Ltd, 1994
Hardcover

9780425058190: Harts Hope

Berkley, 1983
Softcover

9780812533514: Hart's Hope

Tom Do..., 1988
Softcover

9780812521351: Hart's Hope

Tom Do..., 1988
Softcover

9780048232885: Hart's Hope (Orion)

Harper..., 1986
Softcover

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