The Initiate [Time Master Trilogy Book 1]
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by Louise Cooper
Category: Fantasy/Romance ARIANA Award Winner: Best Cover Art
Description: The seven gods of Order had ruled unchallenged for centuries, served by the adepts of the Circle in their bleak northern castle on the Star Peninsula. But for Tarod--the most enigmatic and formidable sorcerer in Circle's ranks--a darker affinity had begun to call. Threatening his beliefs, even his sanity, it rose unbidden from beyond time; an ancient and deadly adversary that could plunge the world into madness and chaos--and whose power might rival that of the gods themselves. And though Tarod's mind and heart were pledged to Order, his soul was another matter...
eBook Publisher: Mundania Press LLC/Mundania Press LLC, 2005 2005
eBookwise Release Date: December 2005
44 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [414 KB]
Reading time: 279-390 min.
"Louise Cooper is a magical storyteller. Never has the battle of Order and Chaos, the great struggle between what is best in us and what is worst, been better recorded than in Louise Cooper's magical fantasy sequence. Her sharp understanding of human ambiguity, her gift for narrative and her wonderfully original imagination make her one of our finest writers of epic fantasy."--Michael Moorcock
"The Initiate is an excellent work of fantasy, exciting in both action and intellectual content."--Thrust
"There is a richness to the story ... the characters are worth following."--Kliatt
"Cooper's strength of character development is ... her greatest strength. The Initiate ... is filled with stunningly drawn character portraits ... a very good read..."--The North Spire
"Cooper writes well, and [The Initiate] is unusually gripping..."--SF Chronicle
"There is little time left to me to write this account. Even as the ink dries on my parchment I feel the fate that hangs over us drawing closer, and though the insights of a magus are beyond my skills, I know I that there is now doubt, now, that the sword of that fate will surely fall. Our time can be reckoned in mere hours. But as senior historian to the lords of the Star Peninsula, it is my duty to commit to posterity all I can of the events that will bring about our final demise. This duty I will not shirk, if the gods can grant me sufficient respite.
"The power of this castle, so long a focus for the forces that our magi have called through the gates of Chaos, is rapidly crumbling. Another moonrise will see the horde at our portal, baying for their masters' triumph, and a sure instinct tells me that before the sun breaks in the east we will look on the accursed face of Aeoris, and die.
"We have served Chaos truly and loyally for generation upon generation. Now though, the power of those great lords has been broken. Through the treachery of our own subjects, the demon Aeoris and his six brothers have returned to the world; the eternal enemy, Order, has challenged Chaos and prevailed. Our gods are retreating and cannot save us. We have called on the greatest occult forces known to our race, and cannot help them. And though we may destroy one or ten or a hundred mortal armies, against the full might of Order we are powerless.
"So we prepare to leave this world for whatever fate awaits us in the afterlife. Those who succeed us, those blind followers of Order, will destroy or abuse the skill and wisdom that we have gleaned over the many centuries of our rule. They will revel in the overthrow of our sorcery, rejoice at the annihilation of our knowledge. They will dwell within our stronghold, and they will think themselves our equals. We, who owe our origins to something above and beyond mortality, might almost find it in our hearts to pity the ignorance and fear that will eventually bring about their ruin as surely as they have brought about ours. But there can be no pity for these human traitors who have turned their backs on the true ways, to follow false gods. There will be bloodshed, there will be terror, there will be death. But our sorcery alone cannot stand against the lords of Order, called from their long banishment to challenge the rule of Chaos. They will triumph, and our day is done.
"Our gods go into exile; we go to destruction. Yet we have solace in the certainty that the rigid and stagnating reign of Order cannot endure for all time. Let it take five generations or five thousand, the circle will come full turn once more. Our gods are patient, and in time the challenge will be issued. Chaos will return.
"This last document by my hand, on the day of our fall:
"This manuscript is one of the few fragments to have survived the purge carried out in the castle of the Star Peninsula this five years past, after the final fall and annihilation of the race known to us as the Old Ones.
"Those of us who, by the grace of Aeoris, survived the War of Just Retribution (as it has come to be known) and have since prospered and flourished in the seat of the deposed tyrants' power, are aware of the great responsibility laid upon us. The gods' own hands have elevated us from the realm of serfdom to the realm of rulership. The wrongs done to the people of our land by the lords of Chaos, and the sorcerers who followed their evil doctrines, are manifold; there has been suffering and terror and oppression. Now, it is our holy duty, in the name of light and sanity under the bright banner of Aeoris, to put our world to rights, and to eradicate the name of Chaos from all hearts and minds.
"To this end, the first great Conclave of Three has taken place upon the White Isle, in the very place where Aeoris himself adopted mortal guise to answer our prayers for salvation. The great god charged us to rule wisely and to uphold his laws, and he has placed in our safe keeping a golden casket, to be enshrined and guarded on the Isle. Should we ever again face the dark threat of Chaos, we are pledged to open the casket and in doing so call great Aeoris back to our land.
"I hope and pray with all my heart that such a day will never come. Chaos is banished utterly from the world; three of our number are charged with the task of ensuring that it can never return. We are empowered to tend our people and bring the light of Order back to this torn land; and I give humble thanks each day for the honor done me in elevating me to that noble triad.
"Far in the south, in his new palace on the Summer Isle, lives our High Margrave, to whom we pledge our allegiance and homage. Benetan Liss fought at the side of Aeoris himself in our final battle, and proved himself a warrior worthy to become the first ruler of the land. He shall dispense the justice due his people, and I pray that his descendants will flourish to continue his valorous line. Our Lady Matriarch, Shammana Oskia Mantrel, is mistress of the newly endowed Sisterhood of Aeoris, that body of good and devout women who will keep the flame of Aeoris' love burning in all our hearts. And I, Simbrian Lowwe Tarkran, first High Initiate of the Circle, am charged by Aeoris to cleanse the taint of evil sorcery from this castle and from the world. I am aware of the magnitude of my task. The Old Ones have left us a legacy of darkness and mystery; much remains to be unraveled, and only a fool would deny that their black skills surpassed those of even our greatest adepts. But we draw strength from righteousness, and the wisdom of Order will sustain us in our task. The Circle--a small but growing body of magicians and philosophers, of which, justly I believe, I am proud--has pledged itself to the pursuit of knowledge and justice in all matters of religion and creed. While we uphold the divine laws laid down for us by Aeoris, the minions of Chaos will never gain another foothold, and the nightmares of the past will be forgotten in the purity and peace of Order.
"The road ahead of us is long and arduous; our accomplishments as yet are relatively few. But my dreams are full of hope. Dawn has finally broken; mayhem and madness are no more a part of our lives, and we have emerged from the dark of enslavement into the light. The hand which recorded and railed against the death of Chaos is dead also; we live, and shall grow and prosper. And for that, I give my undying thanks.
"Written this spring quarter-day, in the fifth year of peace, in the hand of Simbrian Lowwe Tarkran, by consent of Aeoris first High Initiate of the Circle."
But Chaos will return...