The Silent House: Library Edition

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9780786127924: The Silent House: Library Edition
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The Silvertree stronghold is more than just the family estate of the feared and awed Silvertree dynasty whose wizardly powers and political cunning have survived through many generations. But with their power comes a curse, a curse more terrifying than rival warlords or the mystical threats of the dreaded faceless--an inward corruption of the soul that binds one's power to a downward spiral of madness and magic. The Stronghold goes by the name of the Silent House. It is a soul repository for this dynasty. Two daring treasure hunters hope to profit from unlocking the secrets of its past and harvesting the powers of its bounty. But unbeknownst to them, an observer watches their every move and waits to make his presence known from the halls of eternity. Filled with sorcery and battles between the dead and the undead, as well as plots of sinister deception and insidious manipulation, The Silent House gives a sweeping overview of the world of Aglirta.

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About the Author:

Ed Greenwood is the bestselling author of hundreds of novels, game products, and articles. His most recent novel for Wizards of the Coast is The City of Splendors, a collaboration with Elaine Cunningham. He is also the author of the Band of Four novels, and creator of the Forgotten Realms setting.



Simon Vance is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist's very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Silent House
BOOK ONE 
 
Ravengar Silvertree 
 
Born 112 Sirl Reckoning, Died 156 SR First Baron of Silvertree to Be Made Lord Overbaron of Aglirta and How the Realm Turned Against Him1The Rise of the RavenThe fight is swift and furious. Blades skirl and clang on all sides as the panting men, stumbling with pain and weariness in their splendid but battered armor, hack and slash, too crowded in the churned mud of the hollow to back clear and fence with any care for the fate of their blades. Now all chases are ended, all proud taunts hurled, and it is slay or be slain.The black-haired, wild-bearded man with the handsome face, his cheekbones as high and his eyes as large and dark as many a beauteous lady of the realm, has led the charge into the hollow, under thick, thorny tangles that forced all the combatants to abandon their horses, to this last dancing-place of death. The dark, gloomy trees press in close around the lurching, gasping men, and more than one of them thinks fleetingly of what prowling beasts must be slinking closer, drawn by the clangor of battle, fully intending to soon feed ... .Fleetingly is all the time anyone dare give for any thought but the fray, or--"Ravengar!" one of his knights gasps at the black-bearded man. A dying man's desperate, futile pleading, a last despairing sob as the blade that's taking his life bursts out dark and wet from between the curved plates of his spurred and fluted armor, spraying lifeblood before it.Baron Ravengar Silvertree, beset in the thick of the fray by bull-necked, heavy-armored giants snarlingly seeking his life with ringing two-handed blows of their reaping swords, hears and whirls, leaping high to bring his own sweeping blade over the steel of a foe and into the man's face, its tip biting deep into hawk-nosed helm. He heeds this slayingnot, his gaze bent upon the dying Sorvren, who's been a true knight and a good friend, and rage sets his eyes afire.Sorvren's fading, dulling gaze fixes upon that fire and goes down into the Great Darkness, clinging to it, lips weakly struggling to form a smile--and Ravengar Silvertree glares into the grin of Sorvren's slayer, revealed behind the slumping knight, and springs to meet the man. As he leaps, he whirls both of his blades back behind himself to stave off the blows of the foes he's just burst out of, leaving his breast and face unprotected.Sorvren's slayer can't resist this bait, and leans forward in a roundhouse slash of his own, trying to slice out Ravengar's throat before the baron can reach him. As overbalanced as the Lord of Silvertree he's trying to slay, the man has no hope of keeping his feet as Sorvren crumples back into his thighs and knees, sending him sprawling helplessly forward--so both of Ravengar's armored knees can crash down on his head and neck, with a dull crack that can be felt more than heard in this forge-din of bloodshed.Baron Silvertree bounds to his feet with the force of his landing and whirls around again, blades slicing air defensively, in time to see Baron Auroun--the gasping, grunting boar of a man who's dared to proclaim himself "King of Aglirta" in the teeth of the rightful King Thamrain--lumber forward with a blood-dripping boar-spear in his hands.The two jutting points of Auroun's jowl-beard glisten with sweat and spittle, dripping like two tusks as the enraged baron abandons the shielding blades of his sycophants at last, rushing forward to strike at the unprotected back of his foe.And wavers, finding Ravengar Silvertree turned about and ready for him. Ravengar grows his own savage smile as Auroun slows and bellows to his knights for aid. Even before his shouts they're hastening to join him, shoulder-plates clanking, eager to hew down the man who scant breaths before had been trapped in their midst--but Ravengar doesn't wait for them.He lurches to the left, drawing the point of Auroun's spear,and then twists and ducks away to his right, so abruptly that his right elbow slams against his knee. Snarling, he hurls the borrowed-from-the-dead blade in his left hand into the baron's face. In its whirling wake, as Auroun shouts in alarm and pulls his head back and away, bringing his spear up, Ravengar's emptied left hand slaps down on the spear-shaft, tightens, and pulls.Off-balance and blinded in the spark-splashing buffeting of Ravengar's flung sword, the baron stumbles helplessly forward--and Ravengar drives the blade in his right hand up in a cross-throat slash that smashes aside Auroun's gorget, its straps flying, and bursts through the throat beneath in a spray of eagerly jetting gore.Silvertree continues both arm-swings, pulling his dying foe across in front of him by the spear to block the charge of one of Auroun's knights, and slapping at Auroun's greaves to bring his sword back past them and up to meet the other foremost knight.Who is a great burly, helmless grinning giant of a man, a sword-scarred veteran who loves blood and killing, and is roaring his glee as he brings his own long, heavy, much-notched sword up in a gutting thrust.That black blade hisses off the armored point of Ravengar's knee as the Lord of Silvertree turns side-on to the man, and rises up wickedly in front of Ravengar's nose. As the dying Auroun stumbles on Sorvren's corpse and falls, entangling the running knight behind him so that both plunge helplessly forward and down amid the shivering splinters of the bouncing boar-spear, Ravengar finds his own sword and the arm holding it free to swing--but beyond the thrusting blade that's flashing past his face.So he launches himself towards the sword-wielder, bringing his sword arm down on his foe's forearm even before his shoulder slams into the man's chest, driving forth the knight's wind with a tortured groan and a spray of foetid spittle.The man doubles up, or tries to, sinking down even as Ravengar lands hard on that extended sword arm and breaksit, rolling over atop its grinding ruin to drive his armored elbow into the helplessly shrieking knight's mouth.Shards of teeth fly as the man shudders back and away--and Ravengar continues his roll, after the knight, bringing his sword up and forward in a thrust that slides into that open and ravaged mouth with wet ease.Looking along it, he stares straight into the golden eyes of a huge, half-seen forest wolf watching the slaughter from between two gnarled tree trunks not six strides away. Ravengar kicks out and finds his feet, shaking his sword loose so as to menace the wolf--and the eyes are gone, winking out so suddenly that they might never have been there.The Lord of Silvertree turns, drawing breath in a sudden silence, to find himself gazing across bloody, trampled ferns strewn with armored bodies and at--the broad, armored mountain of King Estlan Thamrain, with two rumpled, bloodstained knights flanking him and a royal smile widening on that normally wintry face."By the Three, Raven, you've done it!" Thamrain shakes his head, half in admiration and half in disbelief, as he gazes around the hollow at all the sprawled dead. "Auroun and Belwyvrar and Galorfeather--all! Just as you promised!"Ravengar leans on his blade for a moment to catch his breath, and then goes to one knee, unable to keep a smile of his own entirely off his face. "Luck was with us this day, Majesty," he growls, fighting for wind enough to make his words measured and fair, "and the favor of the Three. Blood of Elroumrae, you are the only the rightful King of Aglirta, and the gods know this and have aided us this day!"Thamrain shakes his head again as he strides forward, stepping on the bodies of his foes with no care for dignity or lack of besmirchment. "I saw no gods fighting in this hollow now," he says thickly, eyes bright. "I saw my only loyal baron, the best warrior in all the realm, Ravengar Silvertree, carry the day with battle wits and fearless bladework. Raven, this day is yours.""My King," Ravengar replies, bowing his head, "I am and will remain true. A victory for you is a victory for us all--and I am proud and happy to have been of service to Aglirta.""Three Above," Thamrain says, drawing him up into a fierce hug, "but I seem to see both a matchless warrior and a bright-tongued envoy, in the same man! Your knights shall be barons in place of these dead traitors, and you shall be my 'Lord Overbaron.'""If it pleases Your Majesty, 'tis a title I shall be proud to bear.""It does," the king laughs, as they grin nose to nose. "It pleases me well!" 
 
"The man soars like a hunting falcon," Raevrel murmured, his strong arms crossed as he stared out the high window.The darkly handsome man at the table whose left hand was always a taloned claw turned his head and told Raevrel's tall, straight back coldly, "Even falcons may be brought down, brother. Neither we nor the dead barons' kin are the only Aglirtans angered by Silvertree's rise.""He raids Flowfoam's coffers like a conquering outland lord," Raevrel murmured. "Spending our inheritance.""He does a lot of things, our proud and victorious Lord Overbaron," Thansel Snowsar said bitterly, setting aside his maps and parchments, and rising. "And our fool kinsman Thamrain is ever more grateful to him.""Little Toad Thamrain," Raevrel whispered, clenched fists trembling. "I should be King of Aglirta now, not him. He was the youngest and most stupid of us all--and only a shade away from being the laziest, too.""Aye, but he was normal," Thansel replied softly, raising his ever-present scaled claw in pointed reminder. "Free of the taint of Prince Koglaur.""Taint!" Raevrel almost spat, eyes like two gold flames as he whirled away from the window in a swirl of dark robes and darker hair. "The taint they still hunt us for! What makes them so right and so superior? Their fear of powers that can only have come from the Three?""Their numbers." Thansel shifted his shape, growing taller, a long fall of silken dark hair sprouting as breasts swelled beneath them, and hips. That taloned hand trailed behind one curvaceous leg as the beauty that never failed to take Raevrel's breath away glided near, and added in a purr, "Our time will come, Rae. Oh, yes, our time will come.""But when?" Raevrel growled as they embraced, bodies shifting subtly to almost meld together, skin to skin."Soon," Thansel whispered in his ear, growing a swift second mouth to do so while the first kissed him. "Very soon." 
 
"Silvertree's castle is becoming a great expense," Irsrar Matchet remarked, turning from the map of Aglirta on the sloping desk to look out the window over the bustling harbor of Sirlptar. This house stood on the seaward side of the ridge, many tall mansions and many-spired houses hiding any view of Aglirta itself from him. "How're they going to pay for it all?"Feltorn chuckled and flicked a finger out from under his short, reddish beard as he always did, to wave it like a lecturing wand. "Ah, the eternal puzzlement of merchants in this city as they ponder any coffer but their own." He joined Matchet by the window."Baron Ravengar Silvertree has become Lord Overbaron Silvertree, remember, and 'tis fitting that his palace--begun, as he's essentially still but a wily lion of a warrior and back-forest hunter, as a defensible castle stronghold--be both large and luxurious. Large by our standards here in crowded Sirl-town, aye ... but not what we would call true luxury. Banish all thoughts of great shimmer-tapestries and hanging Sardastan glow-paintings from your mind. Think of large, cold, dim stone rooms with a few heavy wooden chairs and tables. Large shaggy dogs wandering freely to warm Silvertree's feet with their snoring on chill nights, and armor hung up to rust everywhere because backcountry Aglirtans can think of no other adornment. Pay for it all? Matchet, have you yet seen any end to the forests of Aglirta? Or ourSirl hunger for wood to build things with? Do you not eat--and does not the daily simple fare of all this proud city around us come from the farms of downriver Aglirta?"Matchet sighed in exasperation. "You goldsmiths look down your long noses at everyone, and see all as some sort of tapestry spread out before you, with folk of Darsar but ants scurrying about it. 'Tis all flows of coins and the doings of countries to you. I see a small, struggling realm ruled more by the great beasts of the forests than any of the armored barons who clank about Silverflow Vale shaking their swords at each other! A few riverbank farms here and a few there, endless war over who should rule, and the so-called 'royal' line spending half its time trying to slaughter its own kin who have the Beast-Taint ... I ask again: How are they going to pay for it all?""Pay whom, dear Matchet? They needn't pay profuse coin for Sirl crafters or the luxuries of all distant Darsar. The sweat of building is their own, and the stone, food, and timber are theirs--theirs for the taking. Have you not seen by now that we need them, but they don't need us? How do you think Sirlptar grew so wealthy, hey? What river do we sit at the mouth of? What comes down it, and why else would trade come here rather than to older, larger Carraglas, Ragalar, Urngallond, or Arlund?""Yes, yes, I know they feed us and have more good ship-timber left than anywhere else," Matchet replied testily, waving a dismissive hand as he strode back to the map again. "But you make your tapestry-gazing mistake again, Feltorn: they're not a single-minded, trade-cunning legion of merchants juggling debts, investments, and opportunities like the moneylenders of Urngallond! They're a bunch of brawling backwoods louts more interested in hunting each other than bringing down stags! They neither care nor consider where their timber and turnips go, so long as they can simply barge them downriver to us and receive handfuls of gold in return! How would they even know our ways, and how power is fought for in Sirlptar, and what's what in the wider world?""Ah, good clock-merchant," Feltorn replied softly, "you forget what the Beast-Taint is. They can walk among us, and we'll never know. They could take your face, or mine, at will. One could be standing here beside you right now, and you'd not know it. And as for not knowing about the rest of Darsar ... have you forgotten that this same brawling backwoods Silvertree has somehow taken to wife a sorceress of far Sarinda? A real beauty, too, with twice the wits of many wealthy and well-regarded merchants of Sirlptar; she could have wed almost anywhere, but chose your beast-roamed lout-pen of Aglirta. Have you forgotten that no less than six rich heiresses of Sirlptar took Aglirtan husbands this past decade? And left our crowded streets, every last one of them, to go live in backward, dangerous, baron-plagued Aglirta?"Feltorn shook his head as he stepped softly closer to the clock-merchant. "You shouldn't forget things, Matchet. Bad things happen to merchants who forget things."Irsrar Matchet stared at his colleague ... and found himself shuddering at Feltorn's quiet but suddenly sinister tone. Suddenly he recalled his unfinished drink--and just how much he needed it. A fine cordial, too, silken on the tongue ...He reached for it as Feltorn smilingly rais...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780765347268: The Silent House: A Chronicle of Aglirta (Band of Four)

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ISBN 10:  0765347261 ISBN 13:  9780765347268
Publisher: Tor Fantasy, 2005
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9780765308177: The Silent House (Chronicle of Aglirta)

Tor Books, 2004
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