Cover image for The company of glass
The company of glass
Leith, Valery, 1968-
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Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
viii, 399 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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To save the future of his country, a warrior must first confront his tragic past....

Quintar was once the greatest of Clan warriors, leading his notorious Company against the ethereal, deadly Sekk. The Sekk are only one of the mysteries left in the wake of the vanished Everien civilization. The Everien Knowledge is another. And it seems only Knowledge can defeat the Sekk.

But when Quintar tried to capture an Everien Artifact from the floating city of Jai Pendu, he lost all his Company in a bloody battle beyond the worlds--a battle which brought him close to losing his mind as well. Broken and shamed, he changed his name to Tarquin the Free and fled Everien.

Eighteen years later, he returns with news of a massive foreign army that threatens Everien with certain destruction. Worse, he finds his best friend's daughter hell-bent on the same quest that killed her father. And unless Tarquin can face the nightmare of his past and assail the lost city of Jai Pendu once again, all of Everien may pay the price....

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In Everien, an empire once stood. Now it is the home of constantly squabbling clans, all seeking protection from the deadly, supernatural Sekk, left behind by the empire. Other things were left, too, and 18 years before the story proper opens, Quintar led his Company of Glass in search of one of them. Most of the company did not come back, Quintar fled into exile, and now, as he returns under the name Tarquin the Free, he finds his best friend's daughter, Istar, determined to repeat the quest that destroyed her father. The plot then bifurcates into two parallel lines, one drawing out Istar's quest and the other Tarquin's efforts to lead the clans in beating back the invading Pharicians, allies and servants of the Sekk. Leith exhibits formidable abilities in this series opener, multiplying neither subplots nor characters beyond reason, creating an original otherworld rather reminiscent of that of Glen Cook's Black Company stories, filling interstices with well-handled magic and vivid dreams, and managing fight scenes better than most. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

Twisting three brittle plot strands together into a trite fantasy quest, this launch novel doesn't bode well for Leith's projected Everien series. King Lerien of the Bear Clan sets out to find his missing army so he can fight off the invading Pharicians, leaving his hysterical High Seer Mhani to try to hold his shapeshifting capital of Jai Khalar together. Mhani's warrior daughter Istar, herself prone to the shakes and vapors, sets out for the Floating Lands to find an ancient Everien Artifact so she can foil the threat of the loathsome, mind-enslaving Sekk. Having lost the crack company he had trained to win a previous Artifact for Jai Kendar's deceased Queen Ysse, Tarquin, formerly Quintar of the Seahawk Clan, chases the White Road to the Floating Lands, hoping to find his company and win back his self-respect. This familiar fiddle-faddle is the vehicle for Leith's setpiece hand-to-sword-to-tooth-and-claw combat scenes, and they are good, but they don't compensate for wooden dialogue, weak flights of imagination and adolescent generalizations about life. Nothing here, especially Leith's villains, the Sekks, and her tacky sex scenes, is convincing enough to suggest the magic crystal stuff of real faerie, which ought to raise the gooseflesh and bid fair to break the heart. This Plexiglas company raises nary a pimple. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Men are animals. It is no slander to say so, for only by skillful application of all his faculties can a mere human evoke that creature within whose senses are sharper than his, whose heart is truer, whose mind is wiser. A Clan warrior at the height of his powers is never more than a handsbreadth from his own animal nature--it is from this proximity to his primal spirit that he derives a joy unknown to others. Yet it was not joy that polished the bare skins of the Snake and the Bear who faced each other in the ring--it was hard sweat. By the time Queen Ysse entered the training ground, the two combatants had whipped each other up into a froth of hatred that aroused their animal natures to savage violence. The metamorphosis was not magical--there were no scales or tails.  It was chemical. Transfigured by emotion, the contenders moved in communion with the wild creatures whose fighting skills their ancestral traditions had taught them to emulate. They had become more than human. Ysse smiled. The Company were too absorbed in watching the test match to notice the old woman come limping in, but Quintar the Captain of the Guard picked up her movement in his peripheral vision and glanced in her direction. A tall, rather homely man with claws of Seahawk paint decorating his face, he was lounging against the far wall of the arena, apart from his charges. He might have been handsome once, but his countenance had known so many fights it was impossible to be sure what features he had been born with.  As Ysse made her way toward him, he acknowledged her arrival with a slight wave, but his gaze never left the ring. The Snake was bleeding. The yellow stripes of Clan paint rendered his swarthy face anonymous, hiding the signs of pain that would otherwise be evident; his nose was gushing scarlet and there was no mistaking the fact it had just been broken. The Bear wore no family ornament beyond the silver earring that showed his rank in the Queen's Guard--lieutenant--and his exposed visage showed satisfaction at the hit he had just landed on the Snake's face; yet he could not stop himself shaking his bare right hand, trying to disperse the pain in the knuckles. He had failed to capitalize on the strike, for the injured Snake had slipped out of his reach, leaving red footprints on the bleached white wood of the arena. Both men were stripped for the fight, and the Bear's ribs heaved; his relentless pursuit of the elusive Snake had winded him. "Come on, Vorse!" called the Company from the perimeter, clapping their hands in encouragement for the injured Snake. The Snake was lean and sinuous as befitted his family name, and he had managed to stay just out of range of his heavier opponent until the Bear had countertimed his feint and scored the lucky hook. Ysse's body twisted slightly as she followed the Snake's movement. Even through the frailty of her illness she could feel what it was like to be the Snake. She could feel the fight coming alive in him.  Mouth open, red-toothed and angry, the Snake now wove back and forth before the larger man, who aimed a series of kicks at him, attempting to compound the damage he'd inflicted already. Ysse tensed as the Bear went in. But the attack was too slow, and the Snake slipped into the gap in his opponent's timing and wound himself around the Bear like a snare drawn suddenly taut, destroying the Bear's balance and dragging him to the ground. A shout went up from the observers as the Bear managed to twist on the way down and land on top of the Snake. "Stay cool, Vorse," said the Captain of the Guard as the scramble continued on the ground. "It's only a nose. We'll get Hanji to knit you another one." He edged along the wall, head tilted as he watched the opponents wrestle. The floor of the ring shuddered when they slammed against each other. As Ysse reached his side, Quintar murmured, "They're fighting for the twelfth place in the Company, the one left by Ajiko when he broke his leg." "Why not take them both and have thirteen?" Ysse asked. "Because that would be a compromise. It's better for them to fight for it. I'm going to take them to clear the Sekk out of Bear Country next month, and this contest will motivate the whole Company. Yesterday they all climbed the North Face.  I made Vorse and Lerien race ten miles this morning before the fight. They hate my guts." Ysse warmed with affection for him: she could see the bonds between Quintar and his men as if there were lines drawn in the air between them. He had handpicked the members of the Company from across Everien, then spent eight years teaching them to destroy the monsters that the Sekk called down from the mountain wilds on the Clan villages. He spared no effort with them: elite bands like the Company were Everien's best hope of survival against the Sekk scourge, which could appear anywhere and at any time--from beneath the hills themselves, sometimes. He had pushed his men to their limits until their limits stretched and broke, and they got better than they'd thought themselves capable--and none of them could ever have been called modest. The men of the Company were a strong-willed bunch, each a warrior of note within his original animal Clan, conditioned from birth to fight. Left to their own devices, they would have fought each other: no Clan warrior needed an excuse to challenge a man of another Clan. Yet Quintar managed them with a mysterious blend of intelligence and coercion that kept him always one step ahead of them. They hated him for his harshness and occasional brutality, but they also learned to trust each other, until the esprit de corps of the Company overcame their Clan rivalries. All became tougher and smarter and faster, and Quintar's reputation grew. Only Ysse knew how he fretted over his charges like a grandmother, losing sleep over their failures and endlessly searching for ways to get more out of each of them. Only Ysse could see how every one of their triumphs and failures was felt doubly by Quintar, who affected aloofness for the sake of maintaining authority. Yes, the men hated Quintar, but she suspected that by now they also adored him. For his part, Quintar had come to have no existence independent of the warriors he led to victory over victory. She knew how he felt, for she was the monarch of a country that she had struggled to build against heavy opposition from Clan chieftains who would as soon kill one another as unite against the Sekk; a fragile country built on the ruins of ancient Everien; a country that had never known a king, much less a queen. Her existence was the very definition of solitude. She only ever felt slightly less alone when she was with Quintar, her protege.  She wondered if he knew this and decided that he probably didn't:  he was too self-contained, utterly focused on the work at hand. Like all her subjects, Quintar could not help but view the queen through the legends that had grown around her. Ysse sometimes wished it could be otherwise. She shifted her weight unobtrusively to her right hip, for the pain in her legs made it hard to stand, though she tried not to show it. The Bear and the Snake were tangled on the floor, breathing hard. It did not look good for the Snake. The Bear was sitting on his chest and beating at his head with huge fists; the Snake covered what was left of his face with his elbows and forearms. Blood flew like flower petals in a wind. "Just say when you've had enough!" roared the Bear, enjoying himself. The rest of the Company screamed encouragement, some to Vorse, some to Lerien, who rode on top. A lifetime of fighting the Sekk had left Ysse no stranger to violence, but now she began to cast reproachful looks in Quintar's direction. He ought to stop the fight. It was clear that the Bearwas dominating, and what was to be gained by letting him rip the Snake to pieces? Both men had lost all self-control. Excerpted from The Company of Glass: Everien by Valery Leith All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.