The Shadow Sorceress: The Fourth Book of the Spellsong Cycle
L. E. Modesitt. Jr.
L.E. Modesitt, Jr., has developed a wide readership with his popular fantasy novels set in the universe of Recluce. With more than a million copies in print, he continues to build a substantial audience with each new volume. He widened that audience with the first three volumes of the Spellsong Cycle set in a compelling and imaginative world where music is the vehicle for the creation and wielding of magic. He now returns to that universe for a new series of tales starring a new heroine who must face a succession of deadly political and military threats.
The Shadow Sorceress continues the story begun in the first Spellsong trilogy but focuses on the challenges facing Secca, now a young Sorceress. She is thrust into a position of power and responsibility when her mentor, Anna, the legendary Sorceress Protector of Defalk and the heroine of the original trilogy, dies unexpectedly before Secca's training as a master magic wielder is anywhere near complete.
Despite her reservations concerning the skills and strength of the ruler of the kingdom, Secca must immediately take command of all her magical resources to help suppress internal dissension in a neighboring province. Then she must rally potential allies to lift the naval siege laid on Nordwei by the Sea Priests, who bring with them a new kind of drumming magic that threatens the balance of power in the world, portending danger and destruction not imagined for decades.
Secca learns to fight battles with sorcerous skills she has never used before, while leading an army for the first time. She must master diplomacy in order to save her ruler and his kingdom, form alliances with unfriendly potential allies, and mediate power struggles among ambitious and disparate societies. At the same time she discovers an unexpected chance for love and companionship in a world where few men are wise enough to value women as anything more than wives, mistresses, or mothers.
Coping with these challenges, Secca proves herself more than just a quick study; she has become a woman with a limitless capacity for courage, personal growth, and fearless commitment to survival and fighting the good fight.
Secca said. “She is the youngest who is beyond an apprentice.” “You were wise to bring her.” Before Veria could pursue more about sorcery, the redheaded sorceress smiled again and asked, “What can you tell me about Alcaren?” “Possibly less than you already know.” Veria smiled in turn. “He was not even yet born when I left Encora. He comes from an old trading family, but not one of the wealthiest. He is trusted by the Matriarch not to harm Ranuak, or she would not have sent him, and he is
checking the strings in the dim light before slipping toward the open window. Almost without pause, she began the second spell. “Flay with fire, flay with flame, all those who with this one came Kill them all with fire’s thrust, as fire can and fire must!” Three firebolts flared from the dark gray clouds, striking once behind the boxwood hedge by the drive, and twice beyond the walls. This time, there were screams. Secca took a deep breath, then used the striker in the main chamber to light
flushed, then lowered her eyes. Secca’s eyes went to the two students. “You two may stand just behind Richina.” Both inclined their heads silently. The four walked back toward the coffin, turning before the catafalque and waiting. A half-score of Loiseau lancers eased up behind and beside her before the first of the mourners stepped into the entry hall. As the men and women, but mostly women, filed past, Secca smiled politely and nodded—and listened. “Can’t believe…like as she’s gone.”
dismounted, handing the gray’s reins to Achar, and stepped toward Palian. “Still the second building spell, Lady Secca?” asked the chief player. “The second building spell,” Secca affirmed. “After I do a vocalise.” Her voice only cracked once, and after the second time through, her cords felt clear. She nodded to Palian, and then to Delvor. “I am ready.” “The second building song. On my mark…Mark!” Secca tried to let the song come, flow out with full but unforced volume, riding both the
must.” Secca smiled, then let her voice run through a short vocalise, only enough to ensure her cords were clear. She watched, her eyes on the trees to the south, where once again the Sturinnese reformed. Even as she did, she had trouble believing that they wanted Ebra so badly that they would charge a sorceress again and again, without even the support of their thunder-drums. But the trumpet triplets, wavering more than before, echoed across the lowlands, now completely in morning sunlight,