Dragon WingBook - 1990
The Death Gate Cycle
Ages ago, sorcerers of unmatched power sundered a world into four realms—sky, stone, fire, and water—then vanished. Over time, magicians learned to work spells only in their own realms and forgot the others. Now only the few who have survived the Labyrinth and crossed the Death Gate know of the presence of all four realms—and even they have yet to unravel the mysteries of their severed world. . . .
In Arianus, Realm of Sky, humans, elves, and dwarves battle for control of precious water—traversing a world of airborne islands on currents of elven magic and the backs of mammoth dragons. But soon great magical forces will begin to rend the fabric of this delicate land. An assassin will be hired to kill a royal prince—by the king himself. A dwarf will challenge the beliefs of his people—and lead them in rebellion. And a sinister wizard will enact his plan to rule Arianus—a plan that may be felt far beyond the Realm of Sky and into the Death Gate itself.
Baker & Taylor
Hugh the Hand agrees to assassinate the king's son but is unprepared for the magical being who is his victim's guardian, or for the difficulty that awaits him in the realm of the dwarves
From the critics
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"A 'why' is a dangerous thing. It challenges old, comfortable ways; forces people to think about what they do instead of just mindlessly doing it. No wonder your people are afraid of it." -Haplo
VOICE OF THE OFFENSES: "These dangerous ideas, so seductive to impressionable minds, actually swayed a group of young people as rebellious and discontented as the accused. The local froman and the clarks-knowing, Yonor, that young people are by nature somewhat rebellious, and hoping that this was just a phase through which they were passing-"
HIGH FROMAN: "Like pimples?"
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On Arianus, an assassin named Hugh the Hand is hired by King Stephen , nominally the ruler of all humanity, to kill Crown Prince Bane. Bane is not actually Stephen's child, he was switched at birth for the child of the mysteriarch Sinistrad, and speaks to his real father through a feather talisman magically charmed to make others dote on him, despite their disapproval of the changeling. Hugh takes Bane away from Stephen's fortress, and the two are followed by Bane's manservant, the balding Alfred Montbank, whose greatest talents seem to be fainting at the first sign of danger and tripping over anything in his path.
At this time on Drevlin , a Geg is on trial for the crime of thinking too much. Limbeck Bolttightner seems obsessed with the question of why, but his most heretical belief is that the god-like Welves, who land in their giant flying dragonships for tributes of water every month or so, are not actually gods at all. He once found a (W)elf dead in a crashed dragonship, and even his girlfriend, Jarre, won't believe that a god could actually die. Sentenced to death by being thrown off the continent on a hang-glider, Limbeck manages to crash-land on a smaller island where he encounters an injured man whose damaged ship is covered with brilliantly shining runes. The ship gets destroyed, but Limbeck manages to rescue the man in time. He believes the injured man is also a god,and brings him back up to Drevlin in one of the Kicksey-winsey's help-hands. Joining them is a dog who refuses to leave the "god"'s side despite its own injuries.
Haplo —Limbeck's god and the follower from the prologue—awakens in Drevlin not long before Hugh, Bane and Alfred crash-land there as well. Limbeck, hearing about the "other gods", takes Haplo to investigate, but chaos erupts, with the entire group split up and reassembling. All but Alfred and Jarre are quickly arrested; those two take a trip into the tunnels under the Kicksey-winsey , where they come across a room filled with glass coffins containing sad, beautiful people. This, Alfred says, is where he came from. Alfred gets arrested as well, though Jarre escapes. In prison, Alfred creeps over to the sleeping Haplo and confirms, to his horror, his suspicion of Patryn runes that were hidden by Haplo's bandages.
The rulers of the Gegs present the prisoners to the Welves as false gods, with Limbeck thrown in for free in the hopes that the Welves will execute the lot. Various circumstances leads Bane to hire the ship to take him up into the High Realm, where his father will supposedly reward them all.
In the High Realm, Haplo makes his decision: he will take Prince Bane back to the Nexus with him, as the Lord of the Nexus will almost certainly be able to make use of him. Hugh becomes smitten with Sinistrad's wife, Iridal, once a good and noble woman who thought her husband-to-be was joking when he told her, flat out, that he was an evil man. Limbeck agonizes over his revelations concerning the oppressive (W)elves and eventually decides to lead his peace-loving, optimistic people to war.
Haplo is prepared to make his move when he hears, through the dog, Bane confront Alfred about being a Sartan. Bane has seen Alfred work Sartan rune-magic, something no one else on Arianus—not even the powerful Mysteriarchs—could do. Haplo prepares to confront Alfred, but they both realize a magical battle would draw too much attention, something Haplo's Lord ordered him to avoid at all costs. Haplo instead satisfies himself by abducting Bane as planned. Hugh, in the meantime, attacks and kills Sinistrad to free Iridal and her son from Sinistrad's evil influence, but Hugh dies in the process. Sinistrad's pet quicksilver dragon, freed of his master's mind-control, begins to destroy the castle, but Alfred subdues it with his magic. Alfred and Iridal give chase to Haplo, but they are too late to recover Bane. Haplo returns to the Nexus to prepare for his next journey: to Pryan, the World of Fire.