The Silver Sword (The Lightstone book 2) by David Zindell (book review).

‘The Silver Sword’ begins with a short recap of events from book one, ‘The Lightstone’, for those who have either forgotten or not read the story so far. Valashu (Val) Elahad and his six travelling companions, Lijana, Atara, Master Juwain, Aplhanderry, Kane and Prince Maram continue their search for the fabled Lightstone, with which to defeat the evil of Morjin, the Red Dragon, which is sweeping over the lands.


Val now has a bright, shining sword of silver gelstei to point them in the right direction, rather like a compass needle that always points north. Their trail leads them through the fertile lands of Surapam, on thru the rocky terrain of the Crescent Mountains, into the barren, battle-scarred, red land of Yarkona, where they first meet and do battle with Count Ulanu and a few of his men. Val and his companions defeat them after a slight skirmish, during which Lijiana uses her gelstei to discover that Ulanu is a deceitful liar and murderer.

Heading ever eastwards, Master Juwain realises they are heading towards the Great Library of Khaisam, with its tall, white towers of marble and its store of thousands upon thousands of old, priceless books of learning. As they close in upon the Great Library, a cloud of dust appears behind them, Count Ulanu is back on their trail with a much larger band of warriors. With no other choice, Val and his companions ride flat out for the gates of the library and the promise of sanctuary within its walls, resting for a few days before starting their search. Splitting up into two groups, Val with his shining sword to light the way, and Master Juwain to consult the old journals of a previous cleric of the library from hundreds of years ago.

Val uses the light from his sword to direct him where to go within the great library, it leads them down a side corridor into a trophy room of exhibits. At first, these look similar to the Lightstone, but they are Silustra’s false gelstei, created in a previous age. Silver gelstei’s given the gleam of gold, it feels like a dead end, all Val’s hopes had been raised and now feel dashed and he becomes quite despondent.

While this has been going on inside the walls, a different tale of events has been going on outside, different towns have fallen to Morjinn and their armies now arrive to swell the numbers of Count Ulanu’s army outside, which he plans to finally lay siege to the library. With the use of battering rams, siege towers and ladders, let alone the capturing and torturing warrior monks from outlying areas, Count Ulanu is determined to weaken their resolve. Count Ulanu wants to put everyone to the sword and torch all the books within as they are not the word of Morjinn and must be burned. Surrender, on those terms, is not an option.

At first, Val and his companions stay to fight, but as more and more armies arrive to fight on Morjinn’s side, the battle odds become less and less favourable. They are told to leave and continue their quest which reluctantly they do but thanks to clues Master Juwain has picked up from an ancient journal are able to continue their quest. Still travelling eastwards, his sword shining more brightly than ever, Val’s faith in the quest is restored even without a map to guide them.

It is a long slow journey, through the Ice Mountains when they are suddenly attacked by great Frost Giants and taken to their city to stand trial for trespass. The Ymanir people turn out to be foes of Morjinn and one of them, Ymiru,from the group that originally attacked Val, agrees to join their quest and act as guide through the Ice Mountains. Ymiru brings with him a purple gelstei, so now they are really seven. So they set off thru the ice and cold then down into the caves under Argatha where the party has to split into two. Val leads a group along one fork and Atara leads a group along the other fork of the tunnel. Their quest nearly over or so it would seem, but Atara and her companions are captured and tortured.

You will need to read the book to find out how Val and his team rescue them and whether the Lightstone is found and Morjin conquered.

The siege of the Great Library occurs only half-way through the book and was quite lengthy, very detailed and, at times, quite grisly. To me, that was not in keeping with book one or the earlier part of this book.

When Val and his team got to Khaisam and found the Silustras, it looked as if their quest was doomed to failure. Even more so when Alphanderry, their morale-booster, was among those captured and tortured most horribly and I realised that he would not find a gelstei and become number seven after all. So I was curious to see who would turn up to fill his place. The tall Ymiru makes quite a contrast to the gentle troubadour.

It all makes me want to read book three, ‘Lord Of Lies’, to see how all these different threads weave into a completed story. Whether Val and Atara will have a life together, whether Maram will shape up and become less of a wastal prince and more of a knight like Kane or more of a scholar like Master Juwain. Time will tell.

Jill Roberts

September 2013

(pub: TOR/Forge. 320 page hardback. Price: $25.95 (US), $31.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1674-5)

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