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Things Get More Complicated
Perilous Seas
Dave Duncan
Series: "A Man of His Word", vol. 3.  Sequel to: Magic Casement and Faery Lands Forlorn; Followed by Emperor & Clown
Rap's travels and travails show us more of the world of Pandemia; Inos struggles to stay afloat in Zark's male-chauvinist culture.

Gathmore and Rap are living more or less peacefully in a jotunnish port town; the town is raided and all but Rap and Gathmore slaughtered; they are captured by raiders under the mad Jotunn Thane, Kalkor, and meet up on his ship with old "friend" Darad. If you thought that Darad was the most brutal human-shaped creature you could imagine, guess again; Kalkor is more vicious, sadistic and deadly than Darad at his worst, and actually intelligent, to boot. (Intelligence does not, of course, preclude sheer wolverine bloodlust craziness on his part, however.)

Since one of the "prophecies" the magic casement showed in the first volume was Rap and Kalkor squaring off in a traditional thanish "Reckoning" with axes, Kalkor is interested in Rap and his fate; his own vanity and sureness of his own invincibility -- is he not the raider that other orca crews fear to cross? -- cause him to try to make the prophecy come true.

After a hair's-breadth escape from Kalkor, our friends find themselves in the Dragon Reaches, and Rap realises that another scene "foretold" by the casement is coming up, and resolves that he will be the one who manipulates Fate to cause that "prophecy" to come out as he desires...

In a sequence that is equally sad and lovely and horrifying, we see just what kind of power sorcerors weild -- and how after a while they become rather casual and capricious about how they treat mere mundanes, even mundanes close to them.

Duncan's version of dragons is neat, with their hunger for and need for any metal in order to grow, but particularly for gold, i must say, and the gnome sorceror who is Warden of the Dragon Reaches is one of the most interesting and sympathetic characters in the series -- gnomes are considered disgusting and sub-human by the other races,[1] but they have feelings -- they can hurt and love and hate, too.

Captured by one of the Four -- the four witches and warlocks who regulate the use of magic under the Compact, who have been using Rap and Inos as gaming pieces in their own internal and global intrigues -- Rap and Gathmore and Jalon are given one possible chance to rescue Inos from marriage to Azak.

It's a race against time...

And Time almost always wins in the end.

Will Rap and Gathmore arrive in time to Stop The Wedding?

(Three stars this time because this one is primarily a bridge, though it contains important elements of the story as a whole; also, we get to see something about the Elves, this time.)

When Andor is sick-drunk he staggers off into a corner, remarking that he has to "call the gnomes". {Return}