Cover image for Well of darkness
Well of darkness
Weis, Margaret.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : EOS, [2000]

Physical Description:
450 pages ; 25 cm.
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Out of the rich material of the popular roleplaying game The Sovereign Stone, New York Times bestselling fantasists Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have fashioned something miraculous: a masterful epic of magic and adventure, filled with unforgettable, Tolkienesque characters and plot twists as harrowing and unpredictable as a roll of the dice.

When still a child, Gareth was chosen to serve as whipping boy for the willful, yet devilishly charismatic young Prince Dagnarus, second in line for succession to the throne. It was Gareth's innocent body that bore the brutal blows that could not lawfully be inflicted on the royal person that earned them. And as Dagnarus grew to manhood, ruthlessly determined to rule at any cost, loyal Gareth remained at his side, suffering as always for the prince's sake and in his stead-even now, when misguided devotion is leading the much-bruised servant down a path of outlawed sorcery . . . and into the terrible darkness.

Yet cruel, stubborn, and prideful as Prince Dagnarus has become, he still possesses a heart like any man -- one that he has hopelessly lost to the married elfin beauty, Lady Valura Mabreton. She is a prize he is determined to win, despite her longlived, honor-obsessed race's legendary vendettas, some of which have endured for thousands of years, growing ever-stronger beneath an icy surface of impenetrable artifice.

But let the elves plot their plots! Let the dwarves and orken rise up against him! Let the Dominion Lords, led by his hated half-brother, Prince Helmos, dare to oppose him! Dagnarus will have his crown . . . and his queen! For one of the elves' own, Silwyth -- a wily traitor playing a dangerous double game -- is the prince's creature.

And dutiful lackey Gareths blood-chilling excursions into the Void are about to bear dark, rich fruit. For the Dagger of the Vrykyl -- the malevolent counterpart to the Sovereign Stone itself and the most potent talisman in the realm will soon be in Dagnarus's hand. And then no power will be able to deter his Destiny.

The first book in the exhilarating new Sovereign Stone trilogy, Well of Darkness is Weis and Hickman's most dazzling work to date -- a classic-in-the-making that will quicken the pulse of every true fantasy fan; a chilling, boldly imaginative, utterly addictive tale of the bloody rebirth of a much feared and denied ancient evil... and the unspeakable consequences of an unholy passion that is stronger than death.

Author Notes

Margaret Weis was born on March 16, 1948 in Independence, Missouri. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 1970. She worked for Herald Publishing House, starting as a proofreader and leaving as the editorial director of their trade press division. In 1983, she went to work for TSR, Inc., the company responsible for numerous role-playing games including Dungeons and Dragons.

At TSR, she was part of the design team responsible for the creation of the DragonLance saga, which lead to the DragonLance fantasy series of books. She collaborated with Tracy Hickman to write many of the books. She is also the author of the Star of the Guardian series, the Death Gate Cycle, and the Darksword Trilogy. In addition to writing, she is the owner and president of Mag Force 7, which produces collectible trading card games.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Here begins the Sovereign Stone trilogy. Related to a role-playing game, it stands on its own in fine style. The protagonist, Gareth, nine when the story begins, is whipping boy to his contemporary, Prince Dagnarus, who is already frustrated because he knows that his older half-brother, Prince Helms, is to succeed their father, King Tamaris. As Dagnarus' only friend, Gareth puts aside scruple after scruple and, to aid the prince's ambitions, becomes adept in the forbidden Void magic. A singularly nasty civil war in the realm of Vinnengaelean ensues. Swords and sorcery are unleashed ruthlessly, and the kingdom's other races--elves, dwarves, and orken--join in. Weis and Hickman raise a fairly standard plot far above mediocrity with ingenious world-building touches; for instance, the dwarves are horse-archers, and the Vrykyl are a singularly gruesome variety of the undead. Moreover, they render Gareth and Dagnarus' friendship convincingly; the characters' motives are plausible and fully developed, and both retain human appeal. Consider this a high point in Weis and Hickman's partnership. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

The founding parents of the game-tie-in fantasy novel here launch a role-playing-game-related high fantasy trilogy in which game knowledge is irrelevant to reader enjoyment. This is a classic tale of the rivalry of two half-brothers, the sons of King Tamaros of Vinnengael: the virtuous elder Helmos and the frustrated and ambitious young Dagnarus. Along the way, Dagnarus wins the friendship and loyalty of his whipping boy, Gareth, who in due course trains as a mage and adept in forbidden Void magic, dangerous to the user but deadly to the user's enemies. Shortly after King Tamaros believes that he has made peace among the four races (human, dwarves, elves and orken), Dagnarus and Gareth together begin to undo all the king's work, unleashing a war of all against all made even worse by the lethal Void magic and the rivalries of potentates, particularly human and elven. This is a story assembled from archetypical elements, all at least slightly touched with originality. Dagnarus is a thug but also a heroic soldier, and his elven lover prefers to become one of the Void-spawned undead Vrykyl rather than be parted from him. Elven political institutions irresistibly recall the Tokugawa era of Japan.The dwarves are not metal-working troglodytes but horse archers, living light and traveling fast. Weis and Hickman (Dragons of a Fallen Son, etc.) are still not much more than good plain cooks as stylists, but here they are writing at an entirely respectable level. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Chosen to serve as the whipping boy of the young Prince Dagnarus, Gareth becomes his master's friend and confidant as they grow to manhood and become embroiled in the affairs of the land. Tempted by dark powers, Gareth seeks to assist the prince in his search for love and glory, unaware of the greater paths each must follow to fulfill his destiny. The best-selling combination of Hickman and Weis have once again joined forces to create a rich and vibrant fantasy world populated with varied races and complex, believable characters. Based on the "Sovereign Stone" role-playing game, this epic series opener belongs in most fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Well of Darkness Chapter One The Whipping Boy The boy gazed up at the castle. Its shining white marble walls were wet with the spray from the seven waterfalls that flowed on either side of it, four to the north and three to south, and glistened in the early-morning sun. Rainbows shimmered and danced around the castle walls. The peasants believed the rainbows were fine cloth spun by fairies, and more than one silly lad had gone to his death in the tumbling water trying to snag them. The boy knew better. He knew that rainbows were not substantial, being made of nothing more than sunlight and water. Only that which exists in both the darkness and in the light is real. The boy had been taught to believe only in what was real and substantial. The boy looked at the castle without much feeling, good or bad, nothing but a sort of uncaring fatalism that is often seen in ill-used dogs. Not that the boy had been particularly ill-used in his life, if to be ignored is not to be ill-used. He was about to leave his parents and his home and enter into a new life and by rights he should have felt sad, homesick, frightened, and trepidatious. He felt none of those: only tired, from the long walk, and uncomfortably warm and itchy in his new woolen stockings. He and his father stood before the gate set in a high outer wall. Beyond the gate was a courtyard and beyond the courtyard myriad steps leading up into the castle, which had been built against a cliff. The castle looked out to the west, gazing out over Lake Ildurel, its back planted solidly against the rocks to the east. Its very topmost turrets were level with the River Hammerclaw, which flowed from east to west and whose rushing water, tumbling over the cliff face, created the rainbows. The castle walls were white marble -- the boy had once seen a representation of the castle at a feast, made of sugar lumps -- and it was several stories tall. How many stories the boy could not count because the castle roamed all over the cliff face. So many turrets jutted off every which way, so many battlements slanted off in such different directions, and so many small lead-paned glass windows winked in the sunlight that the sight confused him. He had wanted to play with the sugar castle, and his mother had told him he might, but the next morning he found it had been eaten by mice. The boy gazed, awed, at this castle, which was not made of sugar and not likely to be eaten by mice or even dragons. One wing of the castle caught his eye. This was a wing to the east, overlooking the four waterfalls. Atop it was a turret larger than all the rest, with a balcony that stretched around it. That was the King's Walk, said his father. King Tamaros, blessed of the gods, was the only person permitted to walk that balcony. The King must be able to see the whole world from there, the boy thought. Or if not the whole world, then at least the entire great city of Vinnengael. The boy could practically see the whole city himself, just standing on the palace steps. Vinnengael was built on three levels, the lowest level being even with the lake, which stretched to the horizon, its distant shore just barely visible from the King's Walk. The second level of the city was built atop a cliff that rose up from the first level. The third level was built atop another cliff, which rose from the second. The palace stood on the third level. Across from the palace, behind the boy and across a vast marble courtyard, was the Temple of the Magi. Temple and palace, the heart of the kingdom and its head, were the only two major structures standing on the third level. Soldiers' barracks occupied the north; the barracks were attached to the palace. To the south, built on a jutting rock groin, were the elegant houses of the foreign ambassadors. The men-at-arms guarding the outer gate gave the boy's father a bored glance as the two of them passed through. The boy craned his neck to gaze up at the huge portcullis, with its rows of grim teeth. He would have liked to stop, hoping to see some blood, for he was well acquainted with the tale of Nathan of Neyshabur, one of the heroes of Vinnengael, who had ordered the portcullis to be lowered though he himself was standing beneath it, fending off the kingdom's enemies, refusing to give ground though the wicked teeth thundered down upon him. Nathan of Neyshabur had lived and died several hundred years ago, when the city and the castle, but not the rainbows,were young. It was therefore unlikely that his blood would still be dripping from the portcullis, but the boy felt disappointed, nonetheless. His father yanked at the boy's mantle and demanded to know what he thought he was doing, gawking like an ork during festival time, and hustled the boy along. They walked across a vast courtyard and entered the castle proper, where the boy was immediately lost. His father knew the way well, however, being one of the King's courtiers, and he led the boy up marble stairs and down marble halls and around marble statues and past marble columns until they reached an antechamber, where the father shoved the boy down onto a carved wood chair and summoned a servant. The boy gazed at the high ceilings, stained with soot from the winter fires, and at the wall opposite, where hung a tapestry that depicted long-bodied, long-snouted, long-eared dogs that resembled no known dog then living and people all turned sideways hunting a stag which, by its expression, appeared to be enjoying it all immensely... Well of Darkness . Copyright © by Margaret Weis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Well of Darkness by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman 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.