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It continues the story of several of the characters introduced in Waylander, naturally focusing upon the eponymous assassin once again. Set ten years after the events of the first novel, In the Realm of the Wolf introduces the country of Gulgothir, goes into some detail concerning the Nadir peoples (especially concerning the scheming going on to ensure the arrival of the Nadir Uniter) and features the genesis of the bloodlines that will dominate the later Drenai tales.
Plot summary Edit
The Vagrian Wars are over, but now the land of Drenai faces fresh threats from the Gothir in the north and the Ventrians from across the sea. The brewing conflict is not the only subject spoken of in ale-houses across the nation; other popular topics include the fact that the Drenai ruler Karnak has sentenced his son to only one year in exile for his part in a recent double-manslaughter, and that the assassin's guild has recieved a contract for none other than the infamous Waylander himself.
The man in question, going by his real name once more, is living a peaceful life in the mountains, spending his time variously hunting, training his adopted daughter Miriel in the ways of combat, and caring for the grave of his deceased second wife, Danyal. His uppermost concern is that of finding a husband for Miriel, who unlike her already married-off sister, Krylla, seems uninterested in the prospect. This concern is replaced by a new one however, when Waylander survives an assassination attempt. Learning of the contract placed upon him by the assassin's guild, he resolves to find out who originated it...and kill them. As this requires he travel away from home, he hires Angel, a previous aquaintance and retired arena-fighter to both guard Miriel and continue her training.
Waylander travels to the Temple of the Thirty, to call on the aid of another old aquaintance, the priest Dardalion. Asking him to use his talents to discern both who ordered the contract and how Krylla is faring in married life, Waylander is disappointed when Dardalion flatly refuses to help. Parting angrily, Waylander heads home, stopping only to tend to an escaped and injured fighting dog that decides to follow him home. Pleased with this development, Waylander names the dog Scar.
Several hundred miles away, in the lands of the Nadir, the Nadir shaman of the Wolfshead tribe learns through divination that his tribe is on the verge of extinction; the Gothir intend to wipe them out. Seeking ways out of this, he orders the tribe travel to the Mountains of the Moon and sends the tribeswoman Shia to find and bring back her brother, the powerful warrior Belash.
Using his own talents, Dardalion - and one of his priests, Ekodas - also learn of this development; the Gothir Emperor is convinced of the need to wipe out the Wolfshead tribe by his sorceror, Zhu Chao, who claims that the Nadir Uniter, if he should arise, would do so from the Wolves. Dardalion also learns just how far along the Gothir plans for the invasion of Drenai are, and similarly checks upon the status of the impending Ventrian attack. Informing Karnak of what he has learned, he also begs the Drenai ruler to call off the contract he has placed on Waylander's life...but Karnak agonisingly has to refuse. For the reason he has placed the contract is that the manslaughter his son was responsible for causing was that of Krylla and her husband. Terrified that, if Waylander should discover this he would hunt down and kill his son, Karnak feels he has no choice but to pre-emptively have Waylander assassinated. Unfortunately for Karnak, his son is soon reported missing. As for Dardalion, always intending to lead the Thirty into combat to aid the Drenai cause, he now has to decide where best to intervene - but first must face a challenge from Ekodas to fully justify the decision to kill. Holding a debate in which he and Ekodas swap positions of argument, the Thirty agree to go to war. Not long afterwards Ekodas encounters Shia, the Nadir tribeswoman, nearby and offers her lodging in the Temple while she searches for Belash. Already struggling with the justification for taking life, Ekodas now finds himself distracted by an attraction to the woman.
Meanwhile, a band of assassins has been growing ever closer to Waylander's cabin; indeed, a small number of them actually visit it, but are fooled by Angel and driven off. In search of more information, the group find and torture a tinker known to Waylander, leaving his body to rot. This act earns them nothing, until Waylander discovers the corpse. Tracking the assassin group back from the body, he surprises their camp at night, slaying all of them except for the leaders, the renowned killer Morak and the Nadir warrior, Belash...although he does manage to capture Belash. Camping for the night before returning to his home, Waylander is visited by Hewla, the old woman of great mystical power. She reveals the originator of the assassination contract and the reason behind it, to Waylander's shock. She also reveals that Karnak's son - Bodalen - may now be found at the side of Zhu Chao, his secret patron. Recognising that Hewla is telling him this for her own ends (she was an enemy of Zhu Chao), Waylander nevertheless resolves to hunt down and kill Bodalen. Returning to his cabin the next day, he arrives just in time to stop a duel between Angel and the warrior Senta, who had arrived seeking the contract on Waylander. Squaring up to each other, Waylander disables the uncommonly chivalrous Senta with ease (by headbutting him in the face while Senta is trying to establish the rules of their duel). Before Waylander can leave, his cabin is attacked by a force of Dark Brotherhood, sent specifically to kill him by Zhu Chao, who had divined that Waylander was a threat to his life. The Brotherhood aim to kil all present, including Senta and Belash. They are only prevented by the long-range mystic intervention of Dardalion, who awakens Miriel's dormant mystical talent. With such aid, Waylander, Angel, Belash and Senta are able to turn on and defeat the Dark Brotherhood. This assault, and various revelations about their respective motivations result in all of the others deciding to accompany Waylander on his trip north.
During the trip Miriel is mystically contacted by Kesa Khan - who is known to Belash - and whom informs her of his predicament and asks her to convince Waylander to help him and the Wolfshead tribe. Waylander initially agrees to this detour, but upon learning that his description has been circulated to the Drenai authorities, he is forced to leave the group and head through the dangerous Sathuli territory. The others - meeting up with Shia in Dros Delnoch - take the conventional route across the border and head for the Mountains of the Moon. During the journey, Senta makes continual attempts to seduce Miriel, causing tension between them and the protective Angel (who is secretly in love with her himself).
In the lands of the Gothir Zhu Chao unleashes his troops, sending the bulk of the Gulgothir army to invest the Sentran Plain. He detaches a large part of it with the specific task of eliminating the Wolfshead, down to the last woman and child, and backs them up with a unit of the Dark Brotherhood, now known as his Knights of Blood. He also commands a force of the Brotherhood to destroy the Thirty from range; this mystical battle ends in defeat for the Brotherhood, but many of the Thirty are slain. In response to this attack, Dardalion is able to divine where he should lead his remaining warrior-priests; against the Gothir mystics. Zhu Cho, additionally anticipating the culmination of events would occur at the fastness known as Kar-Barzac, he sends a small unit of Knights under the command of Bodalen to occupy it. Discovering a bizarre building of twisted metal and oddly malformed terrain and wildlife in the area, this small group explores the citadel of Kar-Barzac and discovers a large, powerful crystal. Disturbing it, they appear to disrupt the sorcery emmitted by the citadel, but are themselves trapped in the deepest chamber and exposed to powerful magics...
Waylander endures several skirmishes and difficult conditions to cross Sathuli territory, but before he can reach the lowlands is ambushed by Morak. After a long and difficult battle, Waylander succeeds in killing Morak, although Scar is mortally wounded and later dies. At roughly the same time, Karnak attends a meeting with the Sathuli Lord, to enlist the Sathuli's aid in denying passage through their lands to the Gothir. This proves to be a trap, however and Karnak is betrayed by one of his aides, handed over to Zhu Chao's troops and sent to Gulgothir.
By this time the Gothir have began fighting the Wolfshead, trapping them in the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon. Miriel's group manages to fight their way into the Nadir encampment and join in the defence.
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Book details Edit
High in the mountains of Skeln, the woodsman Dakeyras and his beautiful daughter Miriel live a life of harmonious solitude. Unbeknownst to them, a group of warriors stalk the mountains. Men who have never known defeat, to whom revenge and torture are meat and drink. For ten thousand in gold they intend to kill the woodsman.
Battle-hardened warriors, they have no fear of this task - but they should have. For Miriel is a woman of fire and iron. Skilled in bow and blade, she was taught her skills by one of the deadliest killers of all time...
Her father. A woodsman better known as Waylander the Slayer.