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Oct 25, Dakeyras rated it it was amazing. I'm not sure why but the idea of gun, swords, dragons, etc didn't interest me much. Soon though the action picked up and I enjoyed one hell of a good, quick story. I even look forward to reading the full-length novels that are already out. Beverly Jones rated it it was amazing Mar 09, Ina rated it it was amazing Jul 26, Toonvanelst rated it it was ok Dec 16, Lori Fish rated it really liked it Jul 23, Dianne Benedict rated it it was amazing Nov 16, Ron Kyle rated it it was amazing Oct 03, Elvina Hanson rated it it was amazing Nov 20, Tony rated it really liked it May 19, Mac rated it liked it Jun 16, Deborah rated it liked it Jul 06, Michelle Drury rated it really liked it May 01, Lee rated it liked it Nov 24, Sue C Dees rated it it was amazing Jun 24, Laurana rated it really liked it May 24, Marcy Kwiatkowski rated it liked it Jan 15, Gina Anderson rated it it was amazing Oct 22, Zomby rated it it was ok Dec 07, Becky marked it as to-read Jan 19, Aylis, the Sun Goddess, was an angry goddess, burning away the clouds that might have brought much-needed rain.
Now, in the time of Desiria, we cannot rid ourselves of Aylis. We pray to the Goddess of the Waters for rain, but Aylis drives Akaria away, burns our crops, and dries up our water. He spoke lightly, but he touched the amulet—a small silver axe—he wore around his neck on a leather thong to appease the God of War in case he should take offense. A time of new life, it brings drought and death.
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Frowning, Skylan said nothing. He revered the gods, and he wished Garn would stop talking about them in such a disrespectful, almost mocking tone. Skylan might have said something, but he and Garn had been friends—more like brothers, for they had been raised together—since they were infants, and Skylan knew from experience that arguing with Garn would only encourage him in his irreverence.
And so Skylan kept quiet. The sad fact that his mother had died giving him life made the sign more significant. Everyone in the Torgun Clan believed in that blessing, especially Skylan. He was the strongest young man in the clan, the boldest warrior, the most skillful with sword and spear and axe. He was handsome, with eyes the color of the waves upon which the Vindrasi sailed their dragonships and hair the color of the golden rays of Aylis.
His skin was bronze, his body well formed and well muscled. He carried himself with pride and confidence. Skylan had taken his place in the shield-wall and killed his first man in battle at the age of fourteen. As a result, there were several children about the camp who had sea-blue eyes and sun-gold hair. Skylan cheerfully acknowledged his bastard children and gifted their mothers with presents from time to time, as was expected of him. Two years ago, when he was sixteen, Skylan decided he was in love. She had been fifteen then. She was now seventeen years old.
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The three of them—Aylaen, Garn, and Skylan—had been friends from the time their caretakers had laid them on blankets together. The three played together, which was unusual, for girls were generally kept at home to assist with household duties. Skylan did not remember what he had done to anger Aylaen—perhaps he had roughly pulled her long red braids. Aylaen had rounded on him like a catamount, punching him in the face, splitting open his lip, bloodying his nose—and knocking him on his rump. No boy in camp had ever bested Skylan in battle.
Two years ago Skylan had told Aylaen that he meant to marry her. True, she had stuck out her tongue and jeered at him, but he was not discouraged. Since that time, he had not slept with another woman. He had made an offer of marriage to her stepfather and Sigurd, after some bargaining, had accepted. Skylan was waiting now only to obtain enough silver to pay Sigurd the bride-price in order to marry her. Marriages were always arranged among the Vindrasi. A woman had the right to refuse a suitor, however, and Aylaen was forever swearing she would never wed him, but she said it in a teasing manner.
He should have earned the silver with wealth captured in raids, but things had not gone as planned. Skylan still considered himself blessed—he was, after all, handsome, strong, healthy, and the most skilled and honored warrior in the clan. The Torgun had been among the most feared clans of the Vindrasi. First there had been the poor harvest, then the unusually cold winter, and now this terrible drought. Raids on their neighbors had not remedied the situation. Skylan and his warriors were forced to venture into unknown territory, and it seemed their luck had finally turned when they discovered a fat village of fat people and fat cattle.
But when Treia, their Bone Priestess, prayed to the Dragon Kahg to join them in battle, the dragon did not answer. Skylan and his fierce band of warriors had not been concerned. They could take this village of blubbery cowards by themselves. Unfortunately, another group of warriors had also spotted the village. Skylan had been amazed to recognize the triangular-sailed ships of an ancient foe, the ogres. Considerably outnumbered, Skylan had reluctantly ordered his single dragonship to take to the seas.
He had hated running from a fight, but without their dragon ally, the Torgun could not hope to battle both villagers and the brutish ogres. The faster, lighter Venjekar had skimmed the waves, and they were able to escape before the ogres caught them. Still, no one had celebrated. They had returned home, their ship empty, their warrior souls filled with shame. Norgaard says that until we know why the gods have turned against us, we will not take to the seas. And his valor lives in his son. Garn clapped Skylan on the shoulder. The two had grown up in the same house together, for Garn had been orphaned at birth, his father having died in a raid, his mother dying of a fever.
He and Skylan had been inseparable.
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Many considered their friendship odd, for the young men were vastly different. Garn was the quiet one, people said. He was taller than Skylan, slender, not so muscular. Garn was an adequate warrior, not a great one like his cousin. He was fair-complected with brownish-blond hair and somber, thoughtful brown eyes. As to their unusual friendship, Garn had given it thought, coming to the conclusion that it was their differences that drew them together, as iron to the lodestone.
Skylan, by contrast, never questioned their bond. He knew that Garn was his friend as he knew the sun would rise in the morning. Skylan was thinking about what Garn had said about his father not being an old granny. Skylan was not certain he agreed, though it made him sad and ashamed to have to admit it.
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The warrior exploits of Norgaard Ivorson, Chief of the Torgun, were legendary. Then, five years ago, during the heat of battle, Norgaard had leaped off a high stone fortification in pursuit of his enemy. He had landed wrong and broke his leg. The break did not heal properly, forcing him to walk with the assistance of a forked stick under one shoulder.
Since then, he had lived in constant pain, though one could never tell by looking at his stoic face.
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The only indication of what he suffered came from the terrible moans that escaped him in his restless sleep at night. Norgaard remained a strong Chief, however, with his son acting as War Chief. Skylan did not consider his father weak or cowardly, but he did secretly think that his father, an old man who had seen almost forty- five winters, had grown overly cautious.
Skylan would never criticize his father aloud, but Garn knew what his friend was thinking. Garn did not know what to say after that. Matters were worse than he had supposed, and even he had no words of comfort now. The two young men continued along the trail that led back to their village.
They walked across vast plains of burnt, brown grass that should have been green and lush this time of year. A few surviving cattle—thin and bony creatures—stood in the hot sun, looking miserable. The thin and bony boys who tended them languished in the heat, swatting at flies. Dimensions at less frequented airports may be smaller than those encountered at world-class metropolitan airports, but the responsibilities involved are just the same!
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