Druid's Sword: Book Four of The Troy Game

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9780765337986: Druid's Sword: Book Four of The Troy Game

1940. The skies above London are filled with German planes on nightly raids, a Blitz that brings a barrage of bombs that pound the city into rubble. Each morning Londoners face the night's handiwork and though they are presented with the possibility of sudden death, they are determined to fight the evil that threatens to destroy their nation. They struggle to live normal lives amid the terror and chaos.

But is it only Hitler's Luftwaffe and the Blitz that is responsible for all the death and destruction that the city is facing?

Brutus, the Greek Kingman who brought the bands of power to the isle of Alba millennia ago once again walks the streets of London, this time as an American major. The men and women who are his eternal companions (and sometimes lovers and enemies) have all been reborn in this time and place. They have come together for one last battle to finally complete the magical Labyrinth buried at the heart of the city. Half completed and resonating with an evil power, the Maze calls to them to complete the Game and possibly set all the players free. As Brutus works to find a solution that will end his age-old pain he comes to realize that there is a new power that walks the land. It is strong, hungry, and it has its own agenda.

And by its actions could change the world forever.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Sara Douglass was born in Penola, a small farming settlement in the south of Australia, in 1957. She spent her early years chasing (and being chased by) sheep and collecting snakes before her parents transported her to the city of Adelaide and the more genteel surroundings of Methodist Ladies College. Having graduated, Sara then became a nurse on her parents' urging (it was both feminine and genteel) and spent seventeen years planning and then effecting her escape.

That escape came in the form of a Ph.D. in early modern English history. Sara and nursing finally parted company after a lengthy time of bare tolerance, and she took up a position as senior lecturer in medieval European history at the Bendigo campus of the Victorian University of La Trobe. Finding the departmental politics of academic life as intolerable as the emotional rigors of nursing, Sara needed to find another escape.

This took the form of one of Sara's childhood loves - books and writing. Spending some years practicing writing novels, HarperCollins Australia picked up one of Sara's novels, BattleAxe (published in North America as The Wayfarer Redemption), the first in the Tencendor series, and chose it as the lead book in their new fantasy line with immediate success. Since 1995 Sara has become Australia's leading fantasy author and one of its top novelists. Her books are now sold around the world.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
Waterloo Station, London
 
Saturday, 2 September 1939
 
Major? Major? I'm sorry to wake you, sir, but the train has arrived at Waterloo and you'll have to disembark."
 
Jack Skelton jerked too fast from deep sleep into wakefulness, and for several disorienting moments stared into the face of the conductor leaning over him, his mind unable to let go the dream images that skidded through it.
 
Frank Bentley and his insipid wife, Violet. Stella Wentworth, standing beautiful and untouchable under the embankment light. Matilda and Ecub, suburban housewives in dressing gowns. Asterion--Weyland Orr--taking him to Pen Hill. Faerie Hill Manor, and both the Lord of the Faerie and the king of England, George VI, waiting for him.
 
Grace--everyone's doom.
 
"Sir, I must ask you to--"
 
"Yes, yes. I'm awake." Jack Skelton struggled to his feet, one hand clutching at the overhead luggage rack for support as his head reeled.
 
The conductor stepped back. "It's been a bad few days, sir," he said, watching the American major curiously as he straightened his tie and uniform jacket, then lifted his greatcoat down from the rack. He wondered why the American was here, and hoped that it might be some indication that the Yanks wouldn't leave it as long to help out in this war as they had left it the last. "We've heard news on the wireless that the PM has sent an ultimatum to the Nazis. Get out of Poland or we'll go to war."
 
The conductor paused, his face glum. "No chance that the Germans will back off, d'you think, major?"
 
Finally fully awake and oriented, Jack studied the man, knowing there was no chance for peace, and wondering if the man wanted false reassurances or the truth.
 
"It is too late now," he said. "I'm sorry."
 
The conductor's face tightened, and he gave a small nod. "Let me help you with your bag, sir."
 
 
Once on the platform, Jack tipped the conductor then stood motionless, looking about. Because he'd been so deeply asleep when the train had pulled in, and had probably then slept for fifteen minutes or more before the conductor woke him up, most of the other passengers had departed, and now the great cavernous space of Waterloo Station was all but deserted. He shivered, and tried to put it down to the cold night air.
 
The conductor had got back on the train, and now the platform was empty save for himself and several baggage handlers at the far end of the train, standing about an empty trolley, smoking and talking.
 
About the forthcoming war, no doubt. The Germans had invaded Poland earlier today, and war was inevitable. Jack could feel it seeping over the vast stretches of land and water between where he stood and where the Poles battled desperately. It was only a matter of time before it reached London.
 
He shivered again, and hunched deeper into his greatcoat, lighting his own cigarette then flicking the match away. He drew a deep breath, taking comfort in the smoke. Jack had first come to this land almost three and a half thousand years ago as Brutus, the exiled Trojan prince. With Genvissa he'd thought to resurrect the ancient Troy Game, but everything had fallen apart when his then-wife, Cornelia, had murdered Genvissa before they could complete the game. For three and a half thousand years Jack had--as Brutus, then as William, Duke of Normandy, and subsequently Louis de Silva--fought to finish what he had started so long ago. But always events and people (and that mostly Cornelia in her rebirth as Caela and then Noah) conspired to prevent him.
 
God, how long had it been since he'd last been in England? Almost three hundred years, give or take a decade or two. Oh, he'd come back briefly now and then, stepping through the realm of the Faerie, to meet with either Coel, the Lord of the Faerie, or with his father, Silvius, but apart from those fleeting visits . . . nothing. He'd walked away from the smoking ruins of London in 1666, walked away from the disaster of his hopes and dreams.
 
Walked away from Noah, who had abandoned her love for him to live with Asterion, and give him a child.
 
Walked away from the Troy Game.
 
Walked away from it all.
 
To roam.
 
He'd wandered first in the form of Louis de Silva rather than in his magical form of Ringwalker. He'd gone back to his father's estates in France, and from there, desperate, restless, angry beyond knowing, he'd drifted through the forests and fields and pleasure halls of Europe. Then, as the years passed, he assumed the form of a priest, because in his anger that amused him, and desecrated his way through Egypt and Arabia. From there, to India, and then even farther east, and as the decades spun by and his resentment and bewilderment at what had happened deepened, he became a sailor in a Portuguese man-of-war that had berthed in the Philippines, and fought and squandered his way across the oceans of the world.
 
Then he'd landed in America--new and brash and uncaring--and here Jack had found a home. He settled in the Appalachian mountains, finding solace in their high mountain lakes and dark forests. He lived there for a hundred years or more, spending more and more time not as a man but as Ringwalker, the name he took when he assumed the mantle of the ancient Stag God, roaming the wild paths and tracks through the wilderness as he had once roamed the forests in England.
 
He found peace, and a renewed purpose. It was about this time, perhaps almost two hundred years after the Great Fire of London, that Jack made contact with the Lord of the Faerie again. Just a touch, a glimmer of friendship sent through the Faerie, but it was enough to begin rebuilding the bonds between them. From that point they'd met once every five or six years, sometimes in the forests of America, sometimes in the Faerie. These meetings lasted only a short while, less than an hour, and they rarely talked. They just spent time together.
 
About forty years ago, when they'd met in a lonely spot of the Faerie, the Lord of the Faerie had put his hand on Ringwalker's shoulder, and said, "My friend, John Thornton is back, a prince of the realm now. Loth is back also, and as wedded to the Christian church as he was when last he walked."
 
Ringwalker had tensed. "The others?"
 
"None of the rest of us had to be reborn. We have all done much as you have for the past few hundred years--moved in and out of the Faerie and in and out of mortal form as it suited us. Apart from John and Loth, we've all gone too far to be trapped by birth and death now."
 
We're all way too powerful. Too fey.
 
"And her? Is she still with him?"
 
"Noah? With Weyland? Of course, for they love each other deeply. Ringwalker, please, the land needs you back. We need you back. All of us."
 
"I don't think I can--"
 
"You must," the Lord of the Faerie had said quietly, and Ringwalker had bowed his head in acceptance.
 
Five months ago dreams began to pervade Jack's sleep. Each night, over and over, he dreamed of arriving in London, meeting with a nervous man called Frank Bentley, then walking about London, meeting in turn each of the people who had become caught up in the Troy Game.
 
Everyone save Noah.
 
Jack never met Noah in his dreams.
 
He knew what the dreams meant. It was time to go back. Time to move.
 
Time to find Noah.
 
And so now here he was, Major Jack Skelton, standing on the empty platform at Waterloo Station at ten p.m. waiting for someone to meet him. Jack had sent word (together with a request he hoped the Lord of the Faerie could accommodate) a week ago that he'd be here. Surely they'd send someone.
 
Who?
 
Noah? No, they'd not dare. Stella, perhaps--the Lord of the Faerie had told Jack of the name Genvissa-reborn used when she stepped out into the mortal world.
 
Would the Lord of the Faerie come himself?
 
Would the Troy Game meet him?
 
Not the Frank Bentley from his dreams, surely. Please let Frank be a figment of his dreaming mind . . . please . . .
 
Then Jack saw him. A tall, imposing figure striding onto the platform from the gate that led to the station concourse. A black trilby pulled down low over his brow. Flapping overcoat, beautifully cut, over an equally well tailored two-piece, double-breasted suit. A red silk scarf rippling at his throat. Matching leather gloves which the man was even now pulling off and stuffing into the pockets of his coat.
 
A gleaming smile in a swarthy face, redolent with mischief.
 
Not Frank Bentley.
 
"Jack!" The man held out his arms, and Jack laughed, and stepped into them.
 
"Silvius!"
 
His father grabbed him into a huge bear hug, almost lifting Jack off his feet. Jack hugged him back, and then both men were laughing, and leaning back from each other.
 
"Jack! Is there ever an incarnation you're willing to make when you're not as handsome as the worst renegade pirate?"
 
"How can I help that, with your blood in me?"
 
They fell silent, both men grinning hugely, unable to help themselves. For many thousands of years there had been nothing but hatred and guilt between them. During the Bronze Age Silvius had been a Trojan prince, living in exile in Alba after the Greeks had sacked and destroyed Troy. As a prince of Troy Silvius had also been a Kingman--one trained in the ancient Aegean mysteries of the Game, a labyrinthine enchantment that a Kingman and his female counterpart, a Mistress of the Labyrinth, constructed via dance and magic in order to protect a city. Brutus, Silvius' fifteen-year-old son, had wanted his father's titles and powers, and had taken the first possible opportunity to murder his father. Brutus seized Silvius' six golden Kingship bands of Troy...

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