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Authors: C. S. Friedman

Crown of Shadows

BOOK: Crown of Shadows
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Table of Contents
“The path we have to take,” the demon warned Damien, “lies through the substance of the Hunter’s own fear. Are you ready for that?”
Through the smoky film guarding the room he could see a glistening blackness, like an oil slick, that rippled thickly as the earth-fae flowed into it. Hungry, it seemed. Terribly hungry. A foul odor rose up from its surface, a stink of blood and carrion... and worse.
“He feared sunlight. Heat. Healing. All the things that life is made of.”
“Don’t be naive, Reverend Vryce.”
The vile stuff was moving slowly toward him; if he stayed where he was it would soon make contact. “Death,” he said sharply. “He feared death more than anything.”
“Not death,” the demon said.
Startled, he looked at Karril. The Iezu’s eyes were dark, unreadable.
“Death isn’t a thing or a place,” Karril told him. “It’s a transition. A doorway, not a destination. Think,” he urged. “You know the answer.”
And he did, suddenly. He knew it, and grew weak at the thought. Was that what lay ahead of them? No wonder Karril didn’t want to get involved.
“Hell,” he whispered. “He feared Hell.”
The critics rave for C. S. Friedman’s stunning
“Stunning... combines good historical world-building, vampires, religion, and transcendence in a tale that is both entertaining and cathartic.... A feast for those who like their fantasies dark, and as emotionally heady as a rich red wine.”—
“Words do not suffice to describe the sheer imaginative genius, not to mention incredible power, of Ms. Friedman’s formidable storytelling gift—you simply have to experience it.”—
Romantic Times
“The creative genius of C. S. Friedman bums brightly with the publication of her stunning new novel, blending elements of science fiction and fantasy into an extraordinary reading experience.”—
Rave Reviews
“Friedman writes cogently on the nature of human desire for knowledge and the dangerous covenants necessary to attain it....”—
“Some of the best writing I have seen in quite a while, and the ending is excellent. Buy this one. Don’t wait for it to come out in paperback. Very highly recommended.”

Science Fiction Review
“A superb storyteller of amazing power and infinite subtlety, Ms. Friedman sweeps us off on the magical wings of her imagination for another splendid reading experience.” —
Rave Reviews
“This sequel to BLACK SUN RISING secures Friedman’s reputation both as a gifted storyteller and an innovative creator.”—
Library Journal
“A good mystery wrapped in an adventure story and set against an original and often fascinating background.”

Science Fiction Chronicle
“WHEN TRUE NIGHT FALLS combines SF and fantasy motifs in a believable manner. C. S. Friedman also manages to work theological discussions in without slowing the pace. Recommended.—
“Competently wrought, independently intelligible, engaging.” —
“An excellent blend of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. I can’t wait for the final volume.”
Weekly Press
“One of the better fantasy series in recent memory ... readers will be enthralled... (Friedman’s) general mastery of her material should delight her fans.”

Publishers Weekly
“Complex and compelling... The richly detailed setting and strong supporting characters give substance to a tale that explores the consequences of embracing evil in hopes of achieving its redemption. A priority purchase.”

Library Journal
“Epic fantasy with a keen, dark edge... shows off Friedman’s gifts of craft and authorial insight.
—SouthBend Tribune
Novels by C. S. Friedman available from DAW Books
The Magister Trilogy
The Coldfire Trilogy
Copyright © 1995 by C. S. Friedman.
eISBN : 978-1-101-17416-6
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Books Collectors No. 1001.
DAW Books are distributed by Penguin U.S.A.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living, dead, or undead
is strictly coincidental.
First Paperback Printing, August 1996

For Nancy Friedman
Because the only thing better than hanging fifty feet over a smoking volcano with nothing but a thin sheet of plastic between you and it—with a pilot whose idea of fun is to tip the helicopter over on its side without warning and cheerily yell,
“Don’t worry, you won’t fall out!”
—is having someone to share that with.
The author would like to thank the following people for their help in making this book possible:
Neil Rackham, for sharing his volcano;
Gene Fisher, for sharing his horses;
Helen Zebarth, for fielding some very strange
medical questions;
and Shirley Maddox, for the most precious gift of
all: time.
There was
lipstick on his cheek. He could feel it when the wind brushed by, a spot of waxy moisture on his cold-parched skin. Red, he thought. Crimson. He recalled it vaguely, distantly, in the same way he remembered its wearer. Lips. Breasts. Thighs. Parts of a body, divorced from the whole. Flesh without a soul. He tried to remember her name and found that he couldn’t. Was that his fault or hers? What kind of woman would cast her net for the heir of Merentha, when the very name of his family had become an epi thet for disaster?
Ahead of him the castle loomed, cold stone arches framing the night in moonlit numarble. Once there would have been lamps in the windows, a crackling fire in the great hearth, the smell of mulled cider seeping out into the courtyard. Once there would have been servants aplenty, running up to greet him as he made his wee-hour approach to the great estate. Once Samiel himself might have stood in the doorway, scowling at his younger brother as he dismounted, prepared to lecture him until dawn on matters of propriety. Or Imelia might have been waiting, equally concerned but gentler in her castigation. Or Betrise, broad-shouldered and belligerent.
Not any more. Not ever again.
All gone.
He dismounted—or tried to—but he was drunk enough that he stumbled as he struck the ground, and he barely kept himself from getting trampled as he disentangled his booted foot from the stirrup. He leaned against the animal for a moment, breathing heavily. This was always the worst time, these first few minutes when he came home and and it hit him how absolutely alone he was. While he was in town he could pretend that nothing was wrong—wining and dining and womanizing with a vengeance, forcing his flesh into that accustomed mode as if somehow the spirit could be forced to follow suit—but when he came to the castle gate all his illusions dissolved like smoke, and he was left with nothing. Absolutely nothing. The emptiness inside him was so vast that no woman’s caress could begin to fill it, the memories so horrible that no amount of alcohol could ever dull their impact.
He managed to get the horse stripped of its saddle and set it free to roam. He knew he should do more for it, but that duty—like everything else—was too much for him now. There were hay and water in the stables, and the horse knew how to get to both. The great wall that had been erected around the estate during the war of 846 was now crumbling, but it would still serve as a pasture fence. That was enough. It would have to be enough. He lacked the strength—and the will—to do any more.
BOOK: Crown of Shadows
13.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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