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The Orphan King: Book 1 in the Merlin's Immortals series Paperback – July 10, 2012
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
About the Author
With three million books in print, SIGMUND BROUWER is the best-selling author of dozens of popular books for children and adults. An acclaimed storyteller and passionate reader, Brouwer brings his characters to life with the desire to give voice to truth. Over the last two decades, his Rock and Roll Literacy presentation has inspired students and teachers at schools all across North America. Sigmund is married to songwriter recording artist Cindy Morgan. The couple and their two young daughters divide their time between Red Deer, Alberta and Nashville, Tennessee.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Amidst the shouting and haggling in the crowded and filthy market square, two women appeared to be examining the
quality of spun wool.
Neither was a woman.
And neither cared about the wool.
The men in dresses and shawls and coarse wigs beneath bonnets had chosen this disguise because they could not risk the chance of anyone linking the two of them. It was a minuscule risk, that perhaps one day someone might note first one had gone into a church—or any other meeting place—and then the other. Yet even the slightest risk
was too much.
They each held one end of the spun wool and leaned in close so nobody could overhear a single word.
“You know what the planets and stars tell us about tomorrow morning, don’t you?” the older man said.
“Of course,” the younger answered. “I wonder why we don’t use events like this to our advantage. Think of the power it would give us, making it appear that we control the heavens.”
“That would require revealing that we exist.”
The second man sighed. “Yes. Over the years you’ve made it very clear that the true power is exerting control without letting the person controlled know of it.”
“A thousand years now. Shouldn’t that be—”
“Yes, yes.” The younger man was prone to impatience and prone to showing it. “A thousand years hidden among them. Shouldn’t that be enough indication of the wisdom of our strategy? Is that what you were going to say?”
They paused as a couple of women stepped too close, then resumed as soon as those women had moved on again.
“When I pass on my mantle to you,” the older one said, “and when you choose someone to take your place, you’ll hear yourself repeating much of what I’ve said. Now think. It is significant that tomorrow morning was chosen for the hanging. Why?”
There was a long pause. The second man picked at some bugs in the wool as he thought it through. Then he exclaimed, “The knight is bait!”
“This is why you have been chosen as my successor. You see and understand what others cannot. Yes. I’m sure they want to use the knight to draw him out. Think again. How can we use that to our advantage?”
The younger man didn’t hesitate. “For years, we have been searching for him too. When we find him, we will find what they have stolen from us and given to him.”
“And how is this a danger to us?”
“If they find him and use him, it could lead them to what was stolen from us and given to him.”
“Every sword has two edges. We must keep Magnus at all costs. Losing it is the edge of the sword that can wound us. For them, the reward of regaining Magnus puts them in danger from the other edge of the sword. If the knight truly is bait, as we suspect, they must expose themselves as they try to win him to their side. More importantly, if the knight is bait and draws him out, we will have a chance to take him for ourselves.”
“All these years. He is into manhood now.”
“Yes, I expect he will be a formidable opponent. But once he reveals himself, we can use the structure of law to hunt him.”
“And kill him?” the younger asked.
“Unless he will serve us instead. What he possesses is a great prize.”
“To reach him also means exposing ourselves,” the younger one said with a degree of satisfaction, expecting to be praised for this brilliant observation.
“I hope I don’t die soon,” the older man said with mild irony. “What do you mean by that?”
“Because I have so much left to teach you. If we know the knight is bait, don’t you think it’s wise to make sure we have our own bait?”
“I don’t understand.”
Still looking down at the spun wool, the older man said, “The knight is not the only one on the gallows tomorrow.”
The younger man’s eyes opened in surprise, then he blinked in comprehension. “So we cannot lose,” he said.
“No,” the older one said. “We are Druids. We never lose.”
Top customer reviews
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Bruwer's latest book, The Orphan King, is a re-working of his book Magnus, which was later republished as Wings of Dawn. I hadn't re-read Magnus in about ten years, but it was always my favorite Brouwer novel--unique among his novels, it's an epic thriller--so I was really excited to hear that Brouwer was coming out with a retelling of the Magnus story. I was not disappointed. Brouwer writes in a prefatory note that he's started this new series to tell the mostly-untold story of the two deadly secret societies that first appeared in Magnus, the Druids and Merlin's Immortals. Mortal enemies, these societies create intricate plots and subplots that make Inception look like Dick and Jane. The fascinating schemes of the two enemies are not so complex as to be incomprehensible, however, just very sophisticated and intriguing. The hero of this new novel, Thomas, is a likeable, dangerous teen. Despite being raised an orphan by cruel and abusive monks, Thomas is highly educated and determined to fulfill his secret destiny, no matter how terrifying that quest may become. Grudgingly helped by a mysterious Knight who has a great secret of his own, a beautiful girl who is far more than she appears, and an irrepressibly cheery and thoroughly dishonest pickpocket, Thomas uses secret weapons from Oriental lands to make his way across Medieval England and toward the impregnable island fortress of Magnus. Thomas intends to conquer this stronghold with only himself and his three companions, and his plan is both brilliant and unique.
If you like the novels of Peretti, Dekker, or Lawhead, no offense to those talented authors, then I respectfully submit that Brouwer is more enjoyable than all of them. Brouwer is unique for his detective-novel-complexity plots; his believable, haunted characters; and his sense of humor. Brouwer did try his hand years ago at serial killer and bioengineering thrillers in Blood Ties and Double Helix, my least favorite of his novels, which were very similar to Dekker's writing years prior to Thr3e, but while Brouwer's writing is always good, I simply didn't enjoy those sorts of plots and settings. You might, though! If Dekker and Peretti write Spiderman and Superman books (novels in which "impossible" supernatural things occur), then Brouwer's books are Batman: they abound with multifaceted Byronic heroes in eminently believable situations, regardless of the time period. Brouwer's one real weakness in The Orphan King is that almost all of his characters tend to have the same intelligent, measured voice, but as a writer myself, I can tell you that attaining a diversity of voices is phenomenally difficult, and as Brouwer does everything else so well, I'm prepared to cut him a little slack in that area. Check out The Orphan King and decide for yourself!!
I received an e-version of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, but I also bought a hard copy of this book from Amazon.com--it's that good.
I really appreciate the values instilled in this hero and the knight who helps him take back his family’s kingdom. The author skillfully demonstrates common pitfalls of the world, like deception, greed, selfishness, contrasted by how choices to turn from these and choose the path of sacrifice and love can lead to triumph over evil.
Definitely put this on your to read list, you won’t be disappointed! The first in a series, this story will only wet your appetite for more!
With intrigue on top of intrigue it can be difficult to tell friend from foe from random person on the street. But this is the situation Thomas finds himself in as he journeys (with a very unexpected group of people) to the city of Magnus, intent on conquering it to rule as his own.
Having studied and developed quite an ingenious plan to take the city, he now just needs to get there in one piece and make sure he trusted the right people. The intrigue was very exciting and I was constantly trying to guess, right along with Thomas, who was truly good and who was out to stop him.
The ending was quite a surprise to me and set the stage for the second book very nicely.
Set in the Middle Ages with princes, princesses, and hints of the Knights of the Round Table, you will travel on the edge of your seat with Thomas as he sets out on a journey, with his mysterious new friends,to accomplish the last request of his dying mother. Morals, honor, and hope of the knowledge of unconditional love seal the deal on this book for me.
Sigmund has a special way of smoothly moving us through his stories, yet creating energy and expectancy for the next turn in the story.
The only problem with this book is that I have to wait until February to read the next in the series of Merlin's Immortals.