Renegade of Kregen
Duhrra of the Days and Dray make their way into Magdag and are greeted by maimed beggars; they are casualties of the war with the red of the southern shore. Such scenes are not seen in Sanurkazz (page 11). Could incidents like this be an accurate indicator of the evil inherent to the Grodnims and the nobility and goodness of those worshipping Zair?
Dray privately reflects on his many titles and the lands whose names hold a special significance, ring, and resound in his head. Among them: Felschraung & Longuelm, Strombor, Valka, Djanduin, and Felteraz (pages 11 & 12). I know these lands (and clans) are dear to Prescot, but I had not thought they all resounded.
Duhrra's arm, it is finally determined, has been fitted with a crippler blade by the Todalpheme. He uses it to great effect on local Magdarian brigands, commenting " They did not expect this, Dak. They didn't like it!" And what of that wonderfully descriptive passage on page 15 that describes the workers returning to their hovels after a wet? They do so en masse and silently for mutual protection, as Dray and Duhrra surely understand. The image of phantoms is eerie.
On the same page the two renegades have a falling out and glare at one another, neither one smiling, despite their desire to! Dray reasons that the current green ascendancy may be due to their fanaticism and narrow minded religious character (page 24). The Green is all!
Concerning the Ghittawrer Brotherhood, Dray says, "The power of the Green Brotherhoods is long and terrible, in ways quite foreign to the powers of the Krozairs." It's been awhile but the dove of the Savanti takes a peek at Prescot (page 28). They do seem extremely interested in the Eye of the World. Perhaps because they themselves used to figure so prominently there, eons ago. Perhaps because it is here that they and the Star Lords oppose each other so starkly.
On page 29 Dray, while traveling in an argenter from (and bound for) Menahem, he comments on the neutrality of that country, as concerns the Red and Green. How wrong! They are in alliance with Hamal and Magdag, having been involved in the disastrous attempt to deliver Hamalese vollers for King Genod. Enemies to Prescot they may be, but brave and skilled fighters as shown by their ferocious defense against renders. Just in the nick of time the ship of Gafard, the Sea Zhentil, rescues them. But his Hikdar (Nath) impressed me with his professional no nonsense manner. For example, after stating "I see" to Prescot, he does not follow up with a look about to underline that.
And then we meet Gafard and learn that he too is a renegade. While Nath recites his titles, he stares wryly at Prescot, knowing he recognizes that despite the grand titles, he is a renegade! His simple "Now you know" speaks volumes (page 41).
Michael Whelan draws Gafard most excellently on page 42. Aside from the man, his ornate chair appealed to me. The text just inside the cover is from a scene related on page 49. The Lord of Strombor is discussed ... That selfsame man is now known as Gadak, the renegade (page 52).
So Dray follows Gafard into King Genod's palace, to take his vows of Grodno. There he sees Princess Susheeng (pages 56-58), the ruler's arm candy. She does not recognize Prescot and I wish they could have talked (with full recognition) to each other at some point in the cycle, but I don't think that happens. I still don't know what qualifies Susheeng and her brother Glycas to be (a) Princess and Prince in Magdag.
Also seated but on the main throne is the infamous King Genod, son of Valima and Gahan Gannius, both of Malig. He has the yrium but is cruel and a good portion of his brain hangs between his legs.
During the ceremony that follows, Zena Iztar strolls in (pages 58-61). It would appear that this is one woman that knows how to walk, making for sensual entrances and especially exits. At any rate, there is a very interesting conversation between her and Dray, while all the throne room is stilled. Such power! Zena is aware of Susheeng's sexual abasement to Prescot, back during "Suns of Scorpio." I'm curious as to how she knew this if the Gdoinye was not present to observe.
I was a bit surprised that Dray appeared to enjoy the recollection of the totally nude Princess (who then wrapped a gray breechcloth about her loins), offering herself to him. I know I would relish such a memory, but I would not expect this emotion from Dray. I think this is a good time to point out that many of us may take it for granted every time an Empress, Queen, Princess, Kovena, Lady, or Witch casts off their clothes and throw themselves at Prescot. I know I have been guilty but I sometimes try to actually envision such scenes and they are really quite erotic. And much better than anything John Norman has attempted on Gor.
Zena is of course a pro-woman superbeing and is miffed at Dray for his attitude. He backs off initially but comes back with; "I do not think I took pleasure from that. But had I done so, I could have understood myself passing well." Surprisingly, Zena seemingly accepts this statement and reiterates that Dray must be reinstated with the Krzy before leaving the Eye of the world.
Also, concerning the choice that he must one day make, Zena says that Grodno may play a part. When Prescot then questions who she represents, if not the Savanti or Everoinye, she refuses to answer and with a "lithe swinging gait" exits the throne room, but somehow at super human speed. I can only imagine!
When the ceremony is complete and a flag of Zairia spat upon, Dray is officially a renegade. Gafard informs him that it was good his name was not among those listed who had killed or wounded important Grodnim (page 64). Two questions: how would such a list be compiled and why would the Green want a warrior who has never at least wounded an opponent of note? Surely Gafard had, as a corsair for the Red; he was a competent if not recognized warrior for Zairia, before turning renegade.
We meet Dray's second daughter Velia on page 67, but of course don't know her identity then (I didn't at least). Although on page 70 Dray (looking back) thinks the hints were there, but he was too blind).
While riding north into lands beyond Magdag's writ, to ferret out bandits and barbarians, lairgodonts attack the party and Gafard is knocked silly (see the poor Jack Gaughan illustration opposite the title page). The scene is described on page 71. Then Dray leaps in!
The Michael Whelan cover art is extremely well drawn (see page 75 for that scene). Dray has just slain the lairgodont that was pursuing the Lady of the Stars (Velia). She hangs onto Prescot as she regains her composure, after the close brush with death. All three (Dray, Velia, and the risslaca) are shown in detail. Look closely at Prescot. I like what I see and consider this the best portrayal of all. Dray feels an attraction towards her that makes him reflect on the "many beautiful women" he has known on Kregen. Then he states (page 76) something very informative. "and of them all (the beautiful women), of them all -- even Mayfwy and certain others, -- none would have moved me had I never known Delia. But this girl (Velia) might have ..." Interesting in that it seems he did not stray while dallying with Mayfwy during "Suns." I feel shocked that he had not at all, but especially shocked that he would not have, even if there had never been a Delia to off set seductive wiles. Brass stones I guess.
On page 80 Dray offers a different view of the women who tried to seduce him previously. He called them "silly women seeking to gain power over me." I'd guess that would be so.
Jack Gaughan illustrated page 77 and did so passing well. Gafard is issuing orders for the beaters to be jikaidered because they allowed the Lady of the Stars to be in danger. Dray agrees. Seems to me Gafard was the lax one here. If he hadn't been so ineffective in battling the mate of the lairgodont that was after Velia, he might have prevented her from her brush with the Ice Floes of Sicce.
So the 10,000-man army continues north toward North Turismond. Apparently there are huge forests that peter out into tundra and the frozen waste of the polar region. Dray had no desire to journey there (page 78). It is the bandits and Ugas that are the foe here. The latter are a nation composed of many races of diffs and tribes. On page 89 Dray tells of savages further north than the Ugas who "cut them up cruelly." He even predicted that one day they would sweep south to the Eye of the World to loot and pillage. Sort of like the Huns bursting through the Germans (Ugas) to get at Rome (Magdag).
An interesting geographic remark is made on page 84. The force led by Gafard advances about 200 dwaburs beyond the River Dag. The Todalpheme at Arkhram predict that it was 600 dwaburs to the pole from their fortress by the Grand Canal. That's 3,000 miles!
In the footnote at the bottom of page 87 Akers predicts that maps in more detail will appear and that one of the inner sea would be appended to "Krozair of Kregen." It was and I began to hope that a map a cycle would continue as it had for the first three. But alas, the map of the Eye of the World would be the last. I would have hoped for one of Ba-Domek and Bet-Asqa in "Savage," Vallia in "Golden," Dawn Lands in "Fortune," Hamal in "Allies," and Pandahem in "Seg the Bowman" or "Masks."
Naturally Dray comes into conflict with Gafard's right hand man, Grogor. He is another renegade. I wonder if any former Grodnims serve on the south shore? A hint of happenings 2 cycles ahead ("Sword" and "Fortune") is revealed on page 81. "There is much to say about Jikaida and Jikaidasts, as you will hear." How true!
After saving the Lady of the Stars Dray is allowed to live (despite seeing her unveiled). After Gafard states he would have been sorry to have had to kill Dray, Prescot thinks "not half as sorry as I would be, dom!"
An interesting race of diffs is seen on page 85. Called Sea Werstings by those of the inner sea, they call themselves Kalvengs and they resemble Gons. The coast of northwest Turismond is where they call home. Perhaps these diffs will appear in the tale of Sygar.
Dray finally confirms what we readers already knew. He will do all in his power to regain his Krozair status (page 88). Mainly because he knows he'll never leave Turismond otherwise, but hopefully also because it is the right thing to do!
With the victory over the Ugas and brigands gained, Gafard is instructed to return to Magdag in all haste and so the ride south is made, right quickly (pages 89-91).
As Dray, Duhrra, and Gafard race for the Red shore of the south, the news is relayed that Roz Nazilfum and Roz Nath Lorft have not only relieved the besieged city of Shazmoz, but also have begun rolling the Grodnims back toward the Dam of Days. Gafard is to change that, at the expense of Prince Glycas who leads the forces of Magdag at the moment. Further, it is revealed, the tidal wave Dray and Duhrra released to destroy the argenters of the Bloody Menahem carrying Hamalese vollers, also swamped the Grodnim fleet parked near Shazmoz. The wave was referred to as a freak tide. Zair be praised! By page 94 Dray has decided that he will not seek a return to the forces of Zairia upon their return there. He wants to capture the arch renegade Gafard and bring him bound and chained before the King Zo of Sanurkazz. Duhrra reluctantly agrees but both have taken a liking to the King's Striker. Still, for Delia, Dray would do anything! Further information on the Zairian background of Gafard (pages 95 & 107). He was initially an accomplished if not famed Jikaidist, before becoming a warrior and long-time swifter captain. His fall was caused by knocking the teeth out of a Red Brethren's mouth. Sent to slave at the galleys for this, he was taken up by the Grodnims. I now understand why he was offered the choice of turning renegade. Somehow I don't think the Red make the same offer to Grodnim oar slaves on captured ships of the Green. Just rechain 'em! Prescot is invited by Gafard to gaze and poke around at the Sea Zhentil's trophy room. Featured most prominently are relics of Dray's Krozair past (pages 97-99). Such a feeling to witness a shrine to one self! Gafard displays humility in that he freely admits his first victory at sea resulted in his prize sinking, to no benefit. The man shows much promise. He also describes Prescot as a man "violent and bloody above all." (page 98). Imagine hearing that about yourself! Soon, "Vologodon's Fang" the flagship of Gafard's 150-vessel fleet, arrives in Zairia and the 25,000-man force will cause chaos and mayhem among the Red! End part 4.
While en route to Zairia The "Golden Chavonth'" a blue swifter of the Red, raises havoc with Gafard's convoy. Who could its captain be? During the ensuing action, some life is lost as Jack Gaughan shows so ineffectively on page 111. During all this, Dray wonders if he could kill any of the Red Brethren if the need arose. He decides he "damn well could" as he flat out won't let any man kill him. Finally Prescot decides on the nature of his Hai Jikai. He will kidnap both Gafard and King Genod and bring them as trophies, along with one or both of the remaining vollers (pages 123 & 125). He describes his needs thusly: " My problem was that what I did must rank as a High Jikai, a world -shaking feat of arms that men would talk about and nod their heads over sagely and consider to be worthy to stand in the legends of Kregen, along with other high feats of achievement." As Dray notes: damned difficult to do." So Gafard's squadron makes landfall and Genod arrives shortly thereafter by voller, to bolster his stalemated troops. And then it is announced that Dray Prescot, the arch-fiend, has returned to the Eye of the World, after an absence of 50 years! His being branded Apushniad is known but not understood. ' Duhrra and Dray release some Red captives and proceed to steal the larger of the two vollers. During the fracas he is recognized and panic seizes the Grodnims (pages 131-133). As Dray leaves the freed captives to attempt the double kidnapping of Gafard and Genod, he hears, Rees and Chido (pages 135 & 136). "Incredible. Impossible. But true." What will Prescot do? End part 5.
I disagree with Dray's assessment on whether or not Rees and Chido would rally to his aid if Golitas, the Overlord who could recognize Dray, drew his sword and charged him (page 138). It was not specifically said that Rees and Chido need know why Golitas was charging Dray, only that he was. The reason could have seemed either personal or of that involving the Green and Red. Either way, I believe that the bonds between Dray and his Hamalese comrades (especially Rees) were much stronger than the politically expedient ones between them and Magdag. Dray sells himself short and what he has meant to Chido and Rees. I'll change the lines on page 138 to read: "...might they not shout in shock and run to stand with me? They might. Somehow, I know they would!"
When Prescot attempts to meet up with Duhrra and the recently escaped Zairians in the large voller, he is abandoned, or so it seems. Regardless of the why of it, Dray is on his own for now. Just the way he likes it, sometimes...
Shortly thereafter the Battle of Pynzalo is about to be joined and Dray is in the act of donning red and turning on Gafard's army, even though he knew the Red army was doomed. Instead of biding his time and living to fight another day. This goes to show that Dray can be just as guilty of emotional stupidity as others of the Red Brethren. Something he has criticized many times. But there it is and I joyed in knowing that Zair could still tug at Prescot so.
However, just at that moment, word is brought in from a severely wounded Pachak that the Kings men were abducting the Lady of the Stars. Dray and Grogor (Gafard's second man) race against time and save the day, coincidentally slaying Golitas (page 149). That's killing two birds with one stone!
A reference to what I call the Great Schism appears on pages 152 & 153: " for all that they (Grodnim & Zairian) sprang from the same original religious convictions." I just know that there is a story or history begging to be told there!
Another Opaz awful illustration on page 158. I guess Gaughan likes to make Prescot look like an Arab, what with the turban and flowing robes. It may be an accurate depiction but I just don't like his vague manner of doing so. Just compare any of Gaughan's illustrations with that of Michael Whelan's cover art of "Renegade." This says it all (page 158).
When Gafard is apprised of the thwarting, killing, and disfiguring of the King's men, he comments: "This is becoming expensive for the King." Dray then ponders to himself: "That was all. I think I admired him then, as much as I ever did." To me, this remark by Gafard was very reminiscent of something Seg, Inch, or Turko would say. Hence the reason Dray warmed to that hulu then. After this most recent failure and another in fact, involving treachery by one of Gafard's men (young Genal the Freckles), Dray is courted by the King's men to do likewise, but tells Gafard about it. Together they devise a new way to thwart the King's wanton desires. It involves a fake Lady of the Stars ... But, such pressure. She must perform well if she is to survive. I sometimes wonder at her eventual fate, when she was found out.
The legendary Krozair of Zy, Dray Prescot is spotted in the souks of Magdag (pages 165 & 166) and chaos ensues! Including the death of an innocent man. As Dray speaks into the taping microphone in the Antipodes, he does some reflecting on what has recently transpired and of the tragedy soon to occur. Basically he tries to rationalize his stupidity in not recognizing that the Lady of the Stars was in fact his second daughter Velia.
For a while Dray is headquartered in Magdag and spends his spare time looking through the myriad of palaces where the 3-man voller of King Genod is housed. He fails in this but I wonder why he did not utilize this time to look up Holly, Genal, and Pugnarses in the workers warrens? In fact I'm amazed he spares not one thought of his former friends in Magdag. The fate of those three should be addressed. Perhaps they were killed in the slave revolt, but Dray does not know this.
The time spent in evil Magdag comes to a close as Gafard decides to take a holiday at his estates in Guamelga. His rognate lies upriver on the Dag and borders on the land of the Ugas (pages 171 & 174). His entire entourage follows and their base is made at Gafard's hunting lodge known as the "Zhantil's Lair."
It is here that Dray hears Gafard singing alone (page 176). Songs of the Red! Soon they talk and the hypothetical question of whether or not Dray would go up against the King if he succeeded in abducting the Lady of the Stars. Gafard says Grogor would and hopes that Dray would too (pages 181 & 182).
He finds out soon enough as she is in fact taken and in the hands of the King. Grogor tells Gafard that no one will go against Genod now. But he would, if asked. Gafard then asks Dray if he would ride to the Volgodont's Aerie to rescue his Lady. Prescot answers "No" (page 182). Then Gafard refers to "My Lord of Strombor" and Dray then knows something is up! He bullies the information out of Gafard that the Lady of the Stars is in fact the daughter of Dray Prescot (pages 183 & 184). And the Sea Zhentil fears the wrath of her father!
Now comes the hard part of this summary to write. It deals with chapter 19, the last one, entitled: "Stricken by Genius." It is aptly named.
First an overview. This chapter could very well be the literary apex of Ken Bulmer's writing in the entire Saga of Dray Prescot. From Dray's mad race to save Delia and her tragic death, Ken excels in evoking various ranges of emotions from his readers. I myself rode on a wild roller coaster of emotion while reading this chapter. I took no notes, just let it flow through me until I was left bawling like a baby at the end. It just doesn't matter how many times I read this. In fact, I think the pain deepens within me on each new reading.
Some thoughts: The surrealistic countryside that Prescot crosses on his pounding sectrix. The stars blazed, the moons were up and dazzling, the air was cool and fresh, and through all this the horror gibbered and clawed at Dray. He suffered the pain, the agony, and the remorse as ghastly specters taunted him obscenely, mocking him. He thinks back to when he last saw Velia, before his 21-year banishment to Earth. He then thinks on his recent relationship with her and Grogor catches up (somehow). Under the Scarf of Our Lady of Monayfeyom the two galloped, to ride against the King. One for Gafard's sake the other for his own!
They destroy six Overlords who seek to stop them and then witness Velia in the evil clutches of King Genod. Both are astride his fluttrell. He is showing off. The Overlords (probably those just slain) had laughed when the King took her. No doubt thinking dark sexual thoughts. As the two arose from the top tower of the "Vologodont's Aerie" it is Grogor who loosens an arrow at them, before Dray can stop him. It is this single act the directly leads to the awful thing about to happen. Grogor's arrow wounds the saddle bird so that it can't support the weight of two. Also, Overlords are marching up to the field and the King thinks they are Gafard's men. Damn these two linking events. Instead of landing, he seeks to escape and the only means of accomplishing this is to throw Velia to her death, which the rast does! He then flies away as Dray sees his daughter fall to the ground. In slow motion it seemed, to me at least. Oh how I shudder to envision her falling!
The last few pages are devoted to the conversation between Dray and his dying Velia. They finally recognize one another and talk of family. Her (and Gafard's) daughter Didi is mentioned and also how she came into her predicament in the Eye of the World. Zeg and Drak are talked of. The Overlords are marching closer, in their mailed might, and they are not Gafard's men. But who cares? For Velia slips closer to the night of Notor Zan, and knows this. Dray does too and holds her broken body in his arms. The mighty Dray Prescot. A Prince, a King, A Krozair! But a mortal man who could not prevent the death of his daughter. As Velia whispers " Oh, to be home in Val-" and breathes her last, Dray is taken prisoner by the Overlords of Magdag. But what matters that? What matters about anything really?
I sign off now, and yes I am shedding more tears as I write this. I am so profoundly affected by this chapter. One must wonder how to recover from such a tragedy of enormous proportion, if it all. Just what is Dray Prescot made of? It is one thing to plan an action that will change the course of a war and history, but how does he react to Velia's death? We will find out in the third and final volume of the Krozair Cycle, "Krozair of Kregen."
Just as Dray had made his thoughts on the Savanti supporting the Red known, he does likewise with the Everoinye. On page 168 he states " in this internecine war of the Inner Sea they backed the Greens." And then, on pages 168 & 169 the identity of Pakkad (as I described from the glossary) is given. Further, the tormentor of this legendary man, Mitronoton the Destroyer of Cities, is remarked on. Dray says he will "meet a latter-day incarnation, as we shall hear, during the Time of Troubles." I'm not sure which of the plethora of villains Dray is referring to. Also, I'm still unclear why Pakkad's name is among the first audible words Dray utters in his new batch of tapes.
Devising a new plan Prescot flees Zandikar and runs into his son Pur Zeg while doing so (page 174). When he brandishes his sword, Dray thinks that he "knew more tricks than even the Krozairs teach." This is curious. Is it a reference to what he has learned as a bladesman in Zenicce and Hamal, as well as what he learned from the Savanti, Clansmen, and Djangs? I do understand that he takes his sword skills to an even higher level in the Balintol Cycle.
A humorous scene appears on page 176 when Dray refers to Zeg's crew as a "bunch of chattering Krozairs." As that was not enough, on the following page Prescot questions Zeg on whether he was referring to losing his tongue or head or both. "Did you not receive proper tuition in Kregish?" He sure knows how to push Zeg's buttons <G>!
On a more serious note he remembers Zeg's swifter, the "Golden Chavonth" when he had sailed with Gafard and how well he had attacked the Green squadron. And he wants to know, how did his son win the coveted z? Too, he knows that Zeg is more steeped in the Krozair mystique than Drak, having been molded by them far longer. Bidding a tense remberee, Dray makes his way to the main Grodnim encampment and is promptly welcomed by Grogor, who accepts his hasty excuse of remittance. Then it is on to Gafard and the King. Prescot is a renegade of Kregen once more!
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