It's cold. The wells of power are weakening and the forces of Night grow strong. The gods are real, and still have some power, mostly to do harm. The Instrumentalities of the Night are the worst of these.
Piper Hecht, born Else Tage, survived a battle with the Instrumentalities. Now he's Captain-General of the armies fighting a crusade for Patriarch Sublime V. Intrigues swirl around the throne of the Grail Empire, as the imperial family's enemy Anne of Menand raises money to help the perpetually indebted Patriarch finance his crusades. To reduce his own vulnerability, sickly young Emperor Lothar assigns his two half-sisters--his immediate heirs--to their own realms.
Now Piper Hecht learns that the legendary sorceror Cloven Februaren, referred to as the Ninth Unknown, is still alive, more than 100 years old, and on Piper's side. As the dynastic politics of the Empire become even more convoluted, it's clear that while the old gods may be fading, they're determined to do everything they can to bend the doings of men to their own advantage.
Sieges, explosions, betrayals, Anti-Patriarchs, and suspicious deaths will ensue as the great chess game plays itself out, with Piper Hecht at the center of it all…
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Glen Cook is the most underated fantasist working today. He has changed the face of fantasy and here he excels again. (Don't read this without the first installment you will be lost.)
This is a fabulously complex entirely new world: new rules, new magic, new "gods" same old deal for soldiers. He is so good at weaving great human characters. Soldiers you would want at your back, or drinking with you at a rowdy bar. Villains you wouldn't leave alone with your dog. All caught up in huge swirling events that draw out the best in the good and the worst in the bad. But sometimes which is who is hard to see. He is great at showing the good in the bad but competent, and the foibles of the heroes with feet of clay. Cynicism abounds. Politicians are always seen with the jaundiced eys of the long since disillusioned.
Another great hero in Piper Hecht. An indomitable man who just wishes everybody would just leave him the hell alone, but of course they won't...
Glen Cook's next installment in The Instrumentalities of the Night is a welcome update in an already interesting story. We return to a world that is undergoing dramatic changes and great war is brewing. It was interesting and tense and that doesn't end.
The main character, Else Tage/Piper Hecht is a solid, no-nonsense leader who is caught up in a whirlwind of political and ethical challenges. The reader is drawn along as he confronts these problems and is shaped by influences that come into his life. It's neat because the evolution of the man makes sense as he goes through some of the shocks and adapts as his pragmatic personality leads him to.
Magic, the Church, political motivations, religious persecution, corrupt politicians and dithering nobles make up a pantheon of different characters that we are exposed to. Cook doesn't spend much time developing characters who won't stick around very long, but he does give them enough depth to make sense. It...
I'm more of a reader of hard Military SciFi, IE Drake, Sherman and Shelly, etc, and this isn't the type of novel I tend to read but, being a big fan of Glen Cook's Garret books, I gave the first of the series a shot and got hooked.
The world Glen Cook builds here is one where gods live and die,religions and beliefs are at war, and power to rule is the name of the game. They're all there and only thinly disguised. From the gods of the Norse to the Jew,Gentile,and Muslim.
In other words it is pretty much a historical synopsis of the world we live in today with all the major players easily recognizable and the author plays no favorites.
It goes without saying that the characters are vivid and real. Our hero competent, overcoming the obstacles in his path with a wry common sense and through exploiting the vanities of his adversaries.
If there is any downside to the series it is that there are more characters and places with unpronounceable names...
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