Friday, May 8, 2015
The Sword of Arelion, by Amanda S Green
The latest entry in my run-up-to-the-Hugos is also the latest work by 2015 nominee for Best Fan Writer Amanda S. Green. I've hit all but one of these writers in the past month, and I've got to tell you, excellence abounds.
Amanda just published "The Sword of Arelion" on May 4, so when you get your copy, it still may be a bit warm and have that new book sell. It's the first of a series, and I'm contemplating pounding on the table and chanting "More More More!" Here's how it starts (this is paraphrase, not plagiarism):
The old man sat in the corner of the tavern. His days of greatness were past, and his strength was gone, but his honor kept him intact. It was there to see, for those who had eyes; but somehow, the only eyes that found this hero of the past were those of the mousy servant girl. She had been warned not to encourage the old man to take a place by the fire, and especially not to feed him, but she saved the scant soup she was given for her mid-day meal, and tried to force them on the old man. His pride refused to allow him to take the meal; her desire to honor the old warhorse in the winter of his years required her to keep trying. Sooner or later, they would have reached agreement, but they argued too long. The tavern-owner returned, shouting and knocking the food off the table. His rage mounted, and he was working himself up to a point where he could easily kill the girl and the old man. The girl knew she was as good as dead. If he did not kill her then, he would soon, and then, perhaps, her long torment would be over. She closes her eyes, huddles on the floor, and accepts the blows from the heavy metal belt-buckle the tavern-owner used. She tries to take herself away.
And then, a miracle happens.
In her confused state, she is not clear about what is going on. She sees a man with a badge of authority hold Giaros, her owner, at bay, but she has no expectation that things will change for her. After all, she has served in this tavern day after day, and all of these people have seen what she must submit to, and no one has given her any help.
The man with the badge is Fallon, a Knight of Arelion . He has been drawn away from a courier mission to this tavern, to this girl, and he can sense the power of the Lord and Lady on her. He knows very little of his purpose in the tavern, just that he must rescue the girl. And he does.
There is red-tape, a lapsed relationship between the town and the Order of Arelion, and some minor healing to be done before they leave, The young duke orders Giaros executed when he refuses to disclose where he obtained the girl. Longbow, the old man, is given the tavern and the girl, who takes the name Cait (for 'cat'), is granted all of the money in the late Giaros' estate.
And it begins. Cait, it seems, is an essential part of the Lord and Lady's plans to overcome evil influences. All this is new to her, as she has no memory of her life before waking up in a slave tent, followed by her time of rape and beatings at the hands of Giaros. However, some of her prior training shows through; her handling of weapons, and her uncanny ability to detect danger on the trail show she has received intensive instruction in warrior arts, as well as in uses of magic. Cait and Fallon resolve to get to the bottom of this, and that's the nature of the story. People change, places change, and training changes, but this is the core of the story: who is this woman? What is her mission?
It's all very well told. There are evil wicked bad guys, and moderately bad bad guys, and good guys who don't act as promptly as they should, and this adds to Cait's troubles. Whatever else she is, though, she is as tough and determined as any character you have seen. She forms friendships, she begins to hope, great things are just around the corner....and the book ends.
Dear, dear Amanda, Do Not Make Us Wait. Please?
I have one final praise for this book, and it's personal. I read FAST. I rip through page after page, in search of the story. Now, because I do that, I often devote only the tiniest nano-span of attention to proper names. What WERE the names of those dwarves in The Hobbit? Bombur Bofur Dasher Prancer, Huey Dewey and Louie? No idea. If you tell me, right now, I'll smile with appreciation and ignore it. So, until about half-way through this book, I'm reading The Sword of Amlrner. Or maybe it's The Sword of Angleiron. Starts with and A, it's a Sword, that's all I got. And then, an awareness with the sweetness of my grandmother as a little girl bearing a candle to her bedside table, I can see the light: Amanda has given me: ARE...and LION!!!! Don't care how it's supposed to be pronounced, it's Are-lion in my head, and I can remember it! So: write more books about Are-Lion, Amanda!