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Lord Tophet: A Shadowbridge Novel Paperback – July 29, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1St Edition edition (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345497597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345497598
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

THE BLIGHT OF COLEMAIGNE

ONE

“Everything has its own vortex,” said a deep male voice.

Whoever spoke must have been right at her back. Leodora glanced behind herself but saw only a great expanding gyre, a white-scorched tunnel stretching all the way back to the span of Colemaigne–to the hexagonal Dragon Bowl on which she stood... still stood, surely. Diverus and Soter must be there even now, and all of this a dream.

Someone else’s dream that had scooped her up and carried her off. “Wake up,” she said, but nothing changed, and she wondered if anyone could hear her.

She had no sense of motion; she hadn’t taken a single step, and yet the Dragon Bowl shrank until it was like a pinhole at the far end of the gyre, so she had to be moving, carried, transported... somewhere. She looked down at herself–at her legs stretched a thousand wyrths down the tunnel, as long as a full spiral’s length from one coiled end to the other, which was farther even than she had traveled with Soter from Bouyan to Colemaigne. She kicked her feet but they were so distant in this dream that she couldn’t see them, or her ankles. The view of her impossible legs fascinated her.

The disembodied voice spoke again, solemnly, beside her now. “The Traveler thro’ Eternity has passed that first Vortex. She enters another.”

She glanced up, facing the source, but once again no one was there.

As if cooling, the tunnel surface lost its white-hot glow, and the duller orange light left in its wake revealed the walls of the structure: intricately linked geometric shapes in a state of constant flux. She rushed along beside the bright geometries, diminutive satellites whirling in interlocked orbits. “I’m past the world,” she said.

“Thus is heaven a vortex passed already,” replied the voice.

“I must get back,” she told it.

“You haven’t been anywhere yet,” the voice answered her.

“And where is it I’m going?” She thought she sounded remarkably calm.

The voice didn’t reply. Behind her now the tunnel appeared to have no end point, unspooling forever. Her legs, however, had come unstuck from the distortion and had returned to their proper proportions. At least I am myself again, she thought.

Slowly, a vinegary stink stole upon her, a foulness as of a few unwashed bodies that grew until it was like the stench of a crowd, as if a mob coated in filth pressed in against the glowing tunnel. Her eyes watered, it was so noisome. She put out a hand as though to repel the odor, and her palm penetrated the spinning geometries and brushed something solid, moving. Alive. Another’s hand tried to grasp at her fingers, but she snatched them free of the greasy grip. This motion propelled her away from the stink and the unseen thing and through the tunnel wall of spinning stars and globes, triangles and trapezoids, which washed over her body without sensation, passed through her like ghosts–like the bizarre phantoms that had paraded with her across the span of Hyakiyako and toward the end of time, the end of everything.

It had never occurred to her before to wonder what the end of everything might look like, how different it might be from the infinite bridge spirals of Shadowbridge. Perhaps that was where she was now, and this wasn’t a dream. Had she, perhaps, died?

Outside the tunnel, separated from it, she stood on solid ground and watched it twist snake-like, as if alive, away from her. The glow of its spinning geometries dimmed like a cooling ember, until it was a golden thread of beaded sparks that finally flickered out, much like the red lamps on the black, silent ship that had passed hers on her way to Colemaigne and so terrified Soter. She must remember to ask him about it, when she returned. Or woke up. Or... where exactly was she?

A thick fog swirled out of the blackness to enclose her. Beneath her bare feet lay an unseen and uneven ground of hard rough stones. It was cold, and she wished that before she’d started walking through Colemaigne she’d put on her boots or the sandals Tastion had given her back on Bouyan.

The putrid stench still hovered, near but less intense, blended as it was with an odor of food, of something meaty frying with onions. And distantly, or else close but muffled by the fog, she heard a rhythmic knocking noise of something hard upon the stones, getting louder as she focused on it, a clop-clop-clop-clop that drew her to it, louder and louder every second and behind it, beneath it, a growing roar. The noise swelled, almost on top of her. She raised a defensive hand as a monstrous dark shape erupted out of the fog, giving her not even time to scream as it bore down on her. In that instant something grabbed hold of the hood at her neck and yanked her to one side. The fog roiled where she’d been and a huge creature with a great snout and a black glass eye surged past her so closely that she could see the sheen of its coat. Behind it came a large black carriage with curtained windows and skinny, wiry wheels thundering over the rough ground. Animal and carriage swept by and were swallowed in the fog as quickly as they appeared.

“Do you want to be squished?” asked the voice as Leodora’s hood was released.

She turned about. The figure stood behind her. He was tall, and the fog abstracted his features until they were smudges, like the features of the Coral Man that lay in her puppet case back on Colemaigne.

“What was that thing?” she asked.

“Your demise if you don’t learn to get out of the way. Standing in the middle of the road is never a good idea. You can be knocked down from both directions. As for what that was–surely you know.”

“A palanquin, yes, but what monster led it?”

“Oh, no monsters here. Then again, here is itself monstrous to you. We’re quite the world apart.”

“This is Edgeworld, then?” Briefly she glimpsed wet gray paving stones under her feet.

“I think it most unusual that you’ve transported here. That’s not how it’s done generally. Seems your gift wasn’t determined. I can’t recall the last time that happened...at least, not at our particular terminus. Who can say what’s gone on in Babylon? May-my, that could be a song title.”

She tried to steal nearer the speaker. “Do you write songs?”

“I’m thinking about taking it up. ‘Oh, what’s gone on in Babylon,’ late Enkidu inquired. ‘For I’ve been dead,’ is what he said, ‘and missed...’ Drat, I have no idea how to complete that rhyme.”

“I would offer to help, but I don’t know the story.”

“Don’t know it? How Enkidu died and the hero Gilgamesh went into the underworld and brought him back?”

She shook her head, then realized he probably couldn’t see the gesture any better than she could see him. “No,” she replied.

“Well, there’s a wonder. What are they teaching you in... where were you just now?”

“Colemaigne.”

“Oh. Never mind, then, they don’t teach anything there. Others build moments, minutes, hours. Not Colemaigne, not ever. Land of honey and surfeit.”

“What happened to it?”

“Hmm? Oh. Not surfeited anymore, is it? Blighted by Tophet, was Colemaigne. He, in the guise of Chaos, placed one hand upon the wall of a building, and from his imperishable fingers spread the web of decay. Sum and substance cracked and spilled out bitterness, in shoals of torment.”

“Who is Tophet?”

“More like, what is Tophet, if you’re going to ask. He’s done away with the who. For Colemaigne, he was the Destroyer, come from the far side of the world seeking vengeance.”

“But he didn’t destroy all of it.”

“Yes, and lucky the span was, too. He became distracted. Else it would have been a silent place forever.”

“What distracted him?”

“Something. Something to do with you, it was. Something to do with death.”

“Me?” She edged still nearer. “But it happened before I was born.”

“True. And false.”

She puzzled at that. “You know, though, don’t you?” she said.

“Goes without saying, dear heart, goes without saying.”

“Then why can’t you explain it clearly?”

“Why? Because. It’s necessary for you to find the answers to the larger puzzles of life yourself. They can’t be handed out, providing information that would change the pattern you have to walk. The maze. The labyrinth. It’s yours, I can’t go about altering its shape just as a courtesy. Your mettle is to be tested and no one’s to interfere in that. Besides, you won’t remember a thing I say.”

As he spoke, gesturing with caped arms, she stole ever closer, and before he noticed she’d slipped up beside him. When he looked down, she saw him clearly.

It was Soter’s face.

“Taking a peek at eternity, are you?” he asked, amused.

“You’re–”

“No, I’m not. This is a false body, an incrustation over my immortal spirit.” He winked. “For your benefit, I should add.”

From deeper in the fog came wailing, as if a chorus stood beyond the limit of her vision, responding to his words, ans...

More About the Author

I'm a writer under the broad umbrella of fantasy literature. That means I'm not speaking of elf quests and swords and magic necessarily, but of things that might fall into the bins marked "High Weird" or "Disturbing," too. I write horror, but not the sort that splatters; rather, the kind that discomfits. Fantasy and horror are means to explore things that sometimes can't be come at head on. Sometimes they're put in play just to amuse. But always to surprise.

I workshop fiction in a number of groups with a good batch of writers whose ranks include (or have included) Judith Berman, Ann Tonsor Zeddies, Karen Joy Fowler, John Kessel, James Patrick Kelly, Kelly Link, Jonathan Lethem, and Nalo Hopkinson. I also know a number of writers who do not workshop and should not workshop. Like anything else, whether or not you want feedback and opinions is matter of knowing yourself.

I teach writing--peripatetically--at Swarthmore College in PA, at Write By The Lake in Madison, WI, at wrtiers' conferences in Pennsylvania, etc. It's a different part of the brain, teaching, and good writers don't necessarily make good teachers, just as the reverse is true.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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The story is also original and always interesting.
Impetusin
Lord Tophet was probably the most interesting character, but he has so little time in the book it doesn't accomplish much.
Andrew Gray
The two do read like two halves of a single book; neither stands alone.
Darth Breather

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
My favorite part of any fantasy novel is the middle. In the center of the book, the story could go any direction; the tale is made of nothing but possibility. Beginnings are freighted with scene-setting, and ends close doors that can never open again, but middles could unfold into anything. They are the most promising part of the book.

That's the case with Gregory Frost's "Lord Tophet," sequel to "Shadowbridge." We dispensed with beginning in the prior book, and most of this one is full of stirring middle. What fearsome blight brought the city of Colemaigne to ruin? How did our heroine's father bring it about, and how can she and her group make it right with nothing more than an unerring talent for storytelling? These are the sorts of questions that make for heroic exploits.

The second book takes up just moments after the first, when old secrets begin to come out, and blood guilt must be paid. There are hints in this volume that something bigger even than the story is going on. If the myths and revelations of the gods implied that this world is built on the ruins of an older world in the last book, we get more of a hint what that looks like this time out. But this is only hinted; it's not really part of the story, which moves on without ruminating on anything that doesn't advance the heart of the story.

The characters seem to leave ruin and destruction behind, no matter what they try. Violence and abuse shift from one person's shoulders to another. Scarcely a life they enter that they don't leave shattered.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Gray on January 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lord Tophet by Gregory Frost is the second, and concluding novel, in the Shadowbridge duology. The first book being titled; Shadowbridge. Being that I enjoyed the first novel, and the very evil cliffhanger ending, I felt the need to pick this novel up. Based on these two novels, I can see myself seeking out other books by Mr. Frost in the future. Here are my thoughts on this novel.

The plot of this book picks up right where the first book left off. There were several mysteries left unsolved in the first book and, for the most part, this book ties up the loose ends. Some of the plot lines you can expect to see are, Soter's relationship with Leodora's parents, what exactly happened to the ruined span of Colemaigne, what Soter is trying so hard to run from, and who the mysterious Lord Tophet is. While I thought the plot was decent, and there were several stories included, this novel felt somewhat lacking compared to the first one. Many of the same elements are present, but to me, it did not have the same flow and intimacy that the first novel did. There were also a couple times in the book that seemed to really drag on for me. However, I think this was more due to the fact that the overall story seemed to be lacking. The pace of this book seemed different than the first, I really can't put on hand on it any other way than that. It could also be a simple case of having too high of expectations for the books as well. Either way, I was not nearly as impressed with this novel as I was with the first one.

The characters in this book are the ones you would expect to see. The three main characters of Leodora, Soter, and Diverus are all present.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An absolutely amazing read! it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time waiting for what crazy imaginative thing might happen next.
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Format: Paperback
"Lord Tophet" (Del Rey, $14, 216 pages) is a worthy conclusion to the Shadowbridge duology, but since it's billed as "A Shadowbridge Novel," Gregory
Frost may be only beginning his exploration of a world that consists of
spiraling bridges on an ocean planet, bridges that go nowhere but to other bridges and the occasional small island.

There are gods and magic and, of course, it's a pre-industrial society, but
Frost does quite a bit with the familiar setup, and his two-book saga is a
fascinating and satisfying tale of a young puppeteer of great talent and her
search for her identity and her future. It's a necessity to begin with
"Shadowbridge," and in fact, read the books back to back, as it wouldn't have
been much of a stretch to combine them into one volume.

Frost concluded this duology rather definitively, so if he does return to the
world, he will have to begin another tale entirely -- and if it's as successful
as "Shadowbridge" and "Lord Tophet", it will be something to look forward to.
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By Impetusin on November 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked this book because the writing is clean and crisp. The story is also original and always interesting. I felt like the ending left me hanging, but maybe that's a good thing for this book. The entire series is worth reading. Don't read this before reading Shadowbridge first though, it's not a standalone book.
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