The Dark-Eyes' War (Blood of the Southlands)

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9781531876876: The Dark-Eyes' War (Blood of the Southlands)

In David Coe's Dark-Eyes' War, a bitter old woman’s curse has set in motion events that have felled innocent lives across an already war-weary land. She has paid the ultimate price, and an end to the curse is at hand, but her evil has created chaos and destruction. Qirsi all across the Southlands are dying froma plague that turns their own magic against them, allowingan Eandi army from Stelpana to boldly march into their territory. But magic has many faces, and the Qirsi aren’t the only ones cursed; even as Stelpana’s force wins battles, an insidious magic has corrupted the spells of their sorcerers, and what began as a military triumph is suddenly jeopardized. The future of the Southlands hangs in the balance, as the deeds of previous generations wreak terrible consequences on both sides in this misbegotten war.

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About the Author:

Michael Page has been recording audiobooks since 1984 and has over two hundred audiobooks to his credit. He has won several AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. A professional actor, Michael is currently a professor of theater at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Dark-Eyes' War, The
Chapter 1SOUTHERN CENTRAL PLAIN, FAL'BORNA LAND, MEMORY MOON WANING, YEAR 1211He was being hunted. Somehow he had become their prey, like the rilda that grazed on this plain. Except slower. So much slower.Stam Corfej had been peddling his wares among the Fal'Borna for the better part of eight fours, more than half a lifetime. He knew as well as anyone how hard the white-haired sorcerers of the Central Plain could be. He'd bargained with them, been threatened by them, been called a cheat and a dark-eye bastard and worse. More than once he'd considered giving up on the Qirsi and returning to his native Aelea. A peddler could do well in the Mountain Nation, perhaps not inland, but along her rocky shores, in Redcliff or Yorl.But it had never taken him long to dismiss the idea of returning to the sovereignty. Whatever gold he might make in Eandi territory he could double and then some trading among the Fal'Borna. He knew the tastes of the golden-skinned clan. He knew their ways, and he knew how to best them in a negotiation.And while he didn't particularly like the white-hairs, he had never felt threatened by them. At least not until now.It was said among peddlers in the Southlands that commerce cared nothing for the color of a man's eyes. Qirsi and Eandi, white-hair and dark-eye; they had spent nearly a thousand years fighting the Blood Wars, learning from their fathers to hate the other, and passing that lesson along to their children. But when it came to trade, men and women of bothraces managed to put aside their enmity. Gold was gold. The Qirsi might have thought the Eandi brutish and cruel, but they loved Qosantian honey wine; Eandi nobles cursed the white-hairs and their frightening magic, but they decorated the hilts of their swords and the hands, wrists, and necks of their mistresses with gems from the Nid'Qir.Stam had done well over the years catering to such appetites. He'd traveled the length and breadth of the Southlands searching for wares that would fetch a good price. He'd traded in the fishing villages of the D'Krad and the woodland towns of the M'Saaren, the shining cities of the H'Bel and the septs of the Fal'Borna, and he had learned a great deal about the likes and dislikes of all the Qirsi clans.So when he saw those Mettai baskets that Brint HedFarren was selling at the bend in the wash, where he and his fellow merchants often gathered, he jumped at the chance to buy them. The Mettai were renowned for their basket weaving, and these baskets were as beautiful as any Stam had ever seen. Tightly woven, brilliantly colored, and, best of all, clearly dyed by hand, which increased their value. If Barthal Milensen and Grijed Semlor and Lark hadn't been there claiming their share, Stam might well have bought every one that Young Red was selling. As it was, he only got twelve.Who would have guessed that twelve Mettai baskets--fewer, actually, since he still had three in his cart--could kill so many people? Who would have thought that they could destroy two good-sized septs so quickly and so completely?That night in the first sept, Stam had no idea what was happening. At first it seemed that the pestilence had come and he assumed that he would fall ill like the Fal'Borna around him. But as the night wore on and the white-hairs began to destroy their z'kals with fire and shaping magic, he realized that whatever illness had struck at the sept was nothing like any pestilence he had ever seen. He fled the village, amazed that he had managed to survive and wanting only to put as much distance as possible between himself and the horrors he had witnessed.Three nights later, when the same disease struck at another sept he was visiting--a sept more than eight leagues away from the fi rst--he began to suspect that this was more than mere coincidence. He still didn't understand, but he knew that he wanted nothing more to do with white-hairs and their magic.He decided that he'd lingered too long in the north. He resolved to turn his cart south and make his way to the warm waters of the Ofirean Sea. The Snows were coming; the plain was no place for an old merchant during the cold turns.A few days later Stam stopped at a Fal'Borna village along the Thraedes River, intending to trade for some food and wine. This wasn't a sept, but rather a small, walled city, known as H'Nivar. It had once belonged to the Eandi, but it was taken by the white-hairs during the last of the Blood Wars. As Stam approached the north gates of the village, he saw a line of peddlers' carts stretching in his direction. He slowed, unsure of what to make of the column."Pardon, friend," he called to the trader at the end of the line. "Can you tell me what's going on here?"The peddler, an old Eandi man with long grey hair and a full beard, shrugged, puffing on a pipe filled with what smelled like Tordjanni pipeweed."Word is, th' white-hairs are searching all peddlers' carts.""What for?"The man shrugged again. "Don' know.""Baskets," came a voice from farther down the column. A young woman peered back at them, the wind making her long red hair dance. "They're looking for baskets, just like all the Fal'Borna."Suddenly, Stam found it hard to draw breath. "Why?" he asked, barely making himself heard.The woman frowned. "Haven't you heard about the plague?"He felt light-headed. "What does the plague have to do with baskets?"She waved her hand, seeming to dismiss the question."Probably nothing at all. But you know the Fal'Borna: They're always looking for some new reason to hate the Eandi.""They claim it's a Mettai curse," said the merchant in line ahead of the woman. "They think that the Mettai and some merchants have conspired together to destroy them." He laughed. "As if the Mettai would trust us."The woman said something in return. Stam didn't hear what it was. His mind was racing. Baskets? A plague? A Mettai curse? What had he done? What had HedFarren done to him? Had it been his baskets that sickened the people in those two settlements? He didn't understand how it could be possible, but then again, the blood magic of the Mettai had always been a mystery to him.He shouldn't have left the way he did. He would have been better off waiting there on line for a while longer before pretending to grow impatient. Then he might have been able to steer his cart away from the city without drawing attention to himself, without giving anyone reason to think that he'd had anything to do with the baskets. He might even have learned more about this curse the others were talking about.But in that moment, all he could think was that he had to get away from the Fal'Borna as quickly as possible. He knew just how brutal the Qirsi of the plain could be with their enemies.And he was their enemy now. He hadn't intended it; he hadn't known what he was doing. But they wouldn't believe that, nor would they care even if they did believe it. He was a dead man.He turned his cart around and started back the way he had come."Hey, where are you going?" asked the man who had been in front of him in line.Stam didn't look back. "I have to go.""It doesn't affect us, you know," the man called to him. "This pestilence. It won't make you sick. You have nothing to worry about."Stam nodded, but he said nothing and he didn't look back. It was all he could do to keep from using his whip to make Wislo, his cart horse, go faster."What an idiot," he heard the man say to the others.About the only thing Stam did right that day was turn north rather than immediately striking out eastward, toward the Silverwater Wash and the safety of Eandi land. As a lone rider heading away from the city to the east, he would have been noticed instantly by the guards at the gate. By steering Wislo to the north for a league or so, he was able to use the column of waiting peddlers' carts to conceal himself from the Fal'Borna.Not that any of this occurred to him at the time. Instead, his mind was consumed with questions. Had Young Red known when he sold those baskets what they would do to the white-hairs? He had been awfully eager to be rid of them. At the time Stam believed that the young merchant didn't know the value of his wares, though looking back now he realized how foolish he'd been to think so. Brint HedFarren, despite his age, was already one of the most successful merchants in the Southlands, a rival for old Torgan Plye himself. Of course he would have recognized the quality of those baskets. He sold them for a bargain price because he wanted to be rid of them. It was the only explanation that made any sense.Was HedFarren in league with the Mettai? It seemed a ridiculous question, or rather it would have only a short time before. Now, though ...He followed the river north from H'Nivar for several hours before realizing that he was making a mistake. He needed to get out of Fal'Borna land, and instead he was driving his cart into the heart of it. He considered his options for a moment or two, but quickly recognized that he had none. To the north lay the septs of the rilda hunters; to the south he'd find only the Ofi rean and the great Fal'Borna cities along its shores. The J'Balanar held the lands west of the plain, and though the Fal'Borna and J'Balanar had fought battles in the past,both clans were Qirsi. If the Fal'Borna declared Stam their enemy, he'd be no safer among the J'Balanar than he was here.He had to turn east and hope that he could cross the Silverwater into Stelpana before the Fal'Borna found him. As soon as he formed this thought, however, he felt his entire body sag. He'd never make it. He was at least thirty leagues from the wash, and with the moons on the wane he'd have little choice but to cross the plain by day and rest at night.Still, Stam turned his cart, determined to reach the wash or die in the attempt. Once more, he had to resist the urge to drive Wislo too hard. It wouldn't do to kill the beast before they crossed into Eandi land, and he couldn't afford to appear to be in too much of a hurry.He kept an eye out for Fal'Borna riders, septs, and villages. He forced himself to stop periodically so that Wislo could rest and graze and drink from the rills flowing among the grasses. And when he stopped for the night, he made do without a fire, despite the cold. Since he hadn't reached the H'Nivar marketplace, he was still short on food. But he could do nothing about that now. He would get by on a few bites of dried meat and hard cheese in the mornings and evenings. He had an ample gut; he wouldn't starve. And with the cold rains that had fallen over the past turn, he'd find plenty of water.He continued this way for two days, and by grace of the gods, or by dint of skills he hadn't known he possessed, or thanks simply to sheer dumb luck, he encountered no Fal'Borna. At one point on the second day, he thought he spotted a sept to the north, but he turned slightly southward and drove on, glancing back over his shoulder repeatedly, expecting at any moment to see riders bearing down on him.By the fourth day, Stam had started to convince himself that he would be all right, that the Fal'Borna weren't even looking for him. Early on he had imagined the other merchants mentioning him to the city guards at H'Nivar, describing his odd behavior and noting that he fled immediately uponhearing of the plague and the baskets. But Eandi merchants had no reason to help white-hairs at the expense of one of their own, no matter how strange they might have thought him. He might still give himself away through some chance encounter with the Qirsi, but he didn't think he had anything to fear from the merchants.He had been at a loss as to what to do about his three remaining baskets. Just as he didn't build a fire for fear of drawing the notice of the Qirsi, he didn't dare burn the baskets out here on the open plain. Nor could he risk just leaving them in the grass. What if some innocent Fal'Borna came across them and didn't know the risk? What if it was a child? He didn't particularly like the Qirsi, but neither did he wish them harm. And he refused to be the cause of any more suffering like that he'd seen in the two septs in which he'd sold Young Red's baskets.So he carried them with him, and deep down inside his heart he was glad. They were the only weapons he had that might give him some advantage over the Fal'Borna. He didn't want to use them this way, but if the Qirsi gave him no choice, he would. At least, that's what he told himself.On the sixth morning after he fled the gates of H'Nivar, Stam woke later than usual, his heart pounding in his chest like a war hammer, his stomach tight and sour, his breath coming in great gasps. He'd slept poorly all night and had finally been driven from his slumber by a dream of Qirsi horsemen who pursued him across the plain, laughing harshly at his vain attempts to outrun them with his plow horse. It had been raining lightly when he went to bed, so he had slept in the cart. Now, though, the sun was shining and it was uncomfortably warm beneath the cloth covering that protected his goods from the elements. He tried to sit up, but his heart still labored and the queasy feeling in his gut seemed to be worsening by the moment.I'm sick! he thought, fear gripping him by the throat. I'm dying!He'd believed all this nonsense about a white-hair plague,and now he was going to die of the pestilence out here alone. The bitterness of this irony actually brought tears to his eyes.For several panic-filled moments, he tried to decide if he was truly dying or if he was just a fool. In the end, he was forced to conclude that he was a fool and that everything he was feeling could be traced to his nerves rather than some disease. He forced himself to get up and crawl out of the cart. He had trouble keeping his balance at first, but the cool air steadied and calmed him. After a few long, deep breaths he began to feel better.He took a drink of water, which also helped. A bit of food might have been a good idea, too, but he wasn't quite ready for that.Stam started toward Wislo, who was grazing a short distance away, and noticed immediately that the old beast looked agitated. He was switching his tail wildly. He held his head high and had his ears laid flat, and he was scraping his hoof in the dirt. Stam stopped and scanned the horizon, a different sort of fear taking hold of him."What is it?" he asked in a low voice. "What's got you upset?"Wislo shook his head and whinnied.Stam gazed westward for another few moments, but he saw nothing. He was convinced, however, that something was out there. It could have been wild dogs, which moved south out of the highlands in packs as the Snows approached. It also could have been the Fal'Borna.He'd never been one to place much faith in his own intuition, but it seemed too great a coincidence that he should wake up feeling as he did and then find Wislo in such a state."They've found us, haven't they?" he said. "Or they will have soon enough."He made his decision in that moment. If the Fal'Borna caught up with him as he was driving his cart toward the Silverwater, they'd assume the worst. But perhaps he could deceive them.He led Wislo back to the cart, put the harness on him, and climbed into his seat. And then he started westward, back the way he h...

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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. In David Coe s Dark-Eyes War, a bitter old woman s curse has set in motion events that have felled innocent lives across an already war-weary land. She has paid the ultimate price, and an end to the curse is at hand, but her evil has created chaos and destruction. Qirsi all across the Southlands are dying froma plague that turns their own magic against them, allowingan Eandi army from Stelpana to boldly march into their territory. But magic has many faces, and the Qirsi aren t the only ones cursed; even as Stelpana s force wins battles, an insidious magic has corrupted the spells of their sorcerers, and what began as a military triumph is suddenly jeopardized. The future of the Southlands hangs in the balance, as the deeds of previous generations wreak terrible consequences on both sides in this misbegotten war. Bookseller Inventory # BRI9781531876876

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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. In David Coe s Dark-Eyes War, a bitter old woman s curse has set in motion events that have felled innocent lives across an already war-weary land. She has paid the ultimate price, and an end to the curse is at hand, but her evil has created chaos and destruction. Qirsi all across the Southlands are dying froma plague that turns their own magic against them, allowingan Eandi army from Stelpana to boldly march into their territory. But magic has many faces, and the Qirsi aren t the only ones cursed; even as Stelpana s force wins battles, an insidious magic has corrupted the spells of their sorcerers, and what began as a military triumph is suddenly jeopardized. The future of the Southlands hangs in the balance, as the deeds of previous generations wreak terrible consequences on both sides in this misbegotten war. Bookseller Inventory # BRI9781531876876

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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. In David Coe s Dark-Eyes War, a bitter old woman s curse has set in motion events that have felled innocent lives across an already war-weary land. She has paid the ultimate price, and an end to the curse is at hand, but her evil has created chaos and destruction. Qirsi all across the Southlands are dying froma plague that turns their own magic against them, allowingan Eandi army from Stelpana to boldly march into their territory. But magic has many faces, and the Qirsi aren t the only ones cursed; even as Stelpana s force wins battles, an insidious magic has corrupted the spells of their sorcerers, and what began as a military triumph is suddenly jeopardized. The future of the Southlands hangs in the balance, as the deeds of previous generations wreak terrible consequences on both sides in this misbegotten war. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9781531876876

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