Two new, original novellas—Donaldson's first publication since finishing the Thomas Covenant series—are a sure cause for celebration among his many fans.
In The King's Justice, a stranger dressed in black arrives in the village of Settle's Crossways, following the scent of a terrible crime. He even calls himself "Black," though almost certainly that is not his name. The people of the village discover that they have a surprising urge to cooperate with this stranger, though the desire of inhabitants of quiet villages to cooperate with strangers is not common in their land, or most lands. But this gift will not save him as he discovers the nature of the evil concealed in Settle's Crossways.
The "Augur's Gambit" is a daring plan created by Mayhew Gordian, Hieronomer to the Queen of Indemnie, a plan to save his Queen and his country. Gordian is a reader of entrails. In the bodies of chickens, lambs, piglets, and one stillborn infant he sees the same message: the island nation of Indemnie is doomed. But even in the face of certain destruction a man may fight, and the Hieronomer is utterly loyal to his beautiful Queen--and to her only daughter. The "Augur's Gambit" is his mad attempt to save a kingdom.
Donaldson's first book since The Last Dark (2013) features two standalone secondary-world fantasy novellas that crackle with intrigues and subterfuges. In the title tale, a mysterious man who calls himself Black investigates a brutal murder in the rural village of Settler's Crossways. He uncovers a series of ritual killings that point to an obscure sorcerous scheme. In "The Augur's Gambit," Mayhew Gordian, the devoted soothsayer of the queen of Indemnie, finds his efforts to warn the queen of the kingdom's impending doom are complicated by her efforts to foment civil war. The two stories are very different, but both feature struggles for power that Donaldson intensifies through the involvement of skillfully crafted characters who hide their true motives behind facades. Readers who enjoyed the complex characters and layered plots of his Thomas Covenant novels will find similar pleasures in these two tales.
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Fans of Mr. Donaldson will not be disappointed!