ShardfallMuus is only a thrall, a chattel without rights, but he knows the small, blue shard he picked up belongs to him alone. Kjelle, heir to the Lord of a rich mininghold, is strong, and covetous of his thrall's tantalizing find. The one's greed causes an avalanche that leaves both young men marooned on an icy mountain slope. The other's commonsense saves their lives from cold and starvation. Now the antagonists are bound together on a danger-laden journey to a lost and burning land, where Muus needs to connect the skyshard to the Kalmanir, the standing stone that is the world’s fount of all magic. The Kalmanir's time is almost up and it urgently needs to be replenished before the magic of Gods and men runs out. The two antagonists have to learn to trust each other, for all around them, enemies abound. Rebels threaten both the kingdom and Kjelle's holding, and a tribe of mad idolaters is trying to recall the banned primordial Old Gods. Even more imminent is Muus' danger, for it comes from nearby, from the shard itself. Muus is the only one person in the world who can wield the powerful skyshard. Will he succeed with Kjelle's help to reach the standing stone before the world's magic dies? Shardfall is an epic, non-gritty journey through a wild, snowy land. Each of the four main characters, Muus, Kjelle, the young wisewoman Birthe with her baby son Buí and the naive Tuuri, who serves the enemy, will have to overcome not only the dangers of their journey, but also their own shortcomings
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And now for the excerpt...
A sharp kick in the ribs awakened him. Tuuri tensed, dagger in hand, and stared up at the young man before him. ‘Fynni,’ said he, recognizing the other’s face markings on both cheeks. ‘You shocked me out of my skin.’
The other laughed. ‘You frighten easily, Fynnikin.’
That sounded like an insult.
Tuuri rose and put away his knife. ‘I expected you, only not in the middle of the night.’
The young man showed his teeth. It wasn’t a smile. ‘I expected you awake, not sleeping.’
Tuuri frowned at the hostility in his voice. ‘How are you named, brother?’
The young man stared at him, his thin face twisted into a sneer. ‘I’ll tell you once, Fynnikin. I am Vulf, Tarkynn of the Yenchinnii. I am no brother of yours.’
Tuuri felt the blood drain from his face. His throat constricted and he swallowed. ‘I... I am Tuuri Little Dagger, Jarl Rannar’s messenger.’ He squared his shoulders. ‘I carry orders for you.’
Vulf turned his head away. ‘Later. We’re on a raid. Join us.’ His face was bleak. ‘It’ll show you our Fynni ways.’
Tuuri knew it wasn’t a request. He rose, shook the snow from his cloak and went to get his horse. The enormity of Vulf’s rejection had made Tuuri numb. Shame clutched at his heart and he felt like weeping. With difficulty he kept his voice under control. ‘What kind of a raid? I’m not heavily armed.’
‘Don’t be afraid,’ said Vulf ‘It’s punishment against a spy’s family. There’s no danger involved, Fynnikin.’Tuuri bit his lip. That wasn’t what he’d meant. ‘Lead the way, Tarkynn.’