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336 pages, Hardcover
First published July 3, 2014
Once, after his father had hit him in a rage, Yarvi's mother had found him crying. The fool strikes, she had said. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns.
From the many cages ranked around the walls they looked down on him now, the doves, and one great bronze-feathered eagle which must have brought a message from the High King in Skekenhouse. The one person in the lands around the Shattered Sea who had the right to make requests of Yarvi now. Yet here he sat against the dropping-speckled wall, picking at the nail on his shriveled hand, buried beneath a howe of demands he could never fulfill.
The fool strikes. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns. Then strikes.
When you're in hell, only a devil can point the way out.
You may need two hands to fight someone, but only one to stab them in the back.
"If life has taught me one thing, it's that there are no villains. Only people, doing their best."
"The fool strikes," she had said. "The wise man smiles, watches, and learns.
A man swings the scythe and the ax, a man pulls the oar and makes fast the know. Most of all a man hold the shield. A man holds the line. A man stands by his shoulder-man. What kind of man can do none of these things?
I didn't ask for half a hand.
I didn't ask for half a son.
While he had been learning how to mend wounds these boy-these men, he realized with a sour taste in his mouth-had put all their efforts into learning how to make them.
"Who are you, person?"
"A cook's boy."
"Shall we play a guessing game of what my name might be?"
"You are Grom-gil-Gorm, Breaker of Swords and Maker of Orphans, King of the Vanstermen."
"You win! Though what you win remains to be seen. I am King of Vanstermen. Lately including these ill-doomed wretches that your countrymen of Gettland have so freely robbed, butchered, and stolen as slaves, against the wishes of the High King in Skekenhouse, who has asked that swords stay sheathed. He loves to spoil our fun, but there it is. Does this strike you as just, cook's boy?"
"Collar him and put him with the others"
"One less cook's boy. One more slave."
I, Yarvi, Son of Uthrik and Laithlin, King of Gettland, swear an oath! I swear on sun-oat and a moon-oath. I swear it before She Who Judges, and He Who Remembers, and She Who Makes Fast the Knot. Let my brother and my father and my ancestors buried here bear witness. Let He Who Watches and She Who Writes bear witness. Let all of you bear witness. Let it be a chain upon me and a goad within me. I will be revenged upon the killers of my father and my brother. This I swear!