The Gambler’s Fortune

Artist Geoff Taylor

In this third Tale, I had to take a long look at where the story so far had brought my various characters and consider where their own motivations and obligations would take them next. It soon became apparent that both personal inclinations and their respective talents would take Livak and Ryshad down different paths, if only temporarily.

Livak decides it’s time getting involved with wizards and noblemen started paying off for her personally. So far, she’s risked life and limb and the rewards haven’t been that impressive. There are choices to be made in her own life and in Ryshad’s. Livak knows full well that for people like her, the more coin she has, the more options there’ll be. She asks herself, how can she turn her current knowledge to her advantage? The answer soon becomes apparent. Princes and wizards in Toremal and Hadrumal are all eagerly searching for lore to make sense of recent discoveries about Tormalin history, aetheric magic and the mysterious Elietimm. If someone were to find that information first, she would be able to name her own price. With any luck, she might even be able to play both sides off against each other and double her winnings.

Scholars might be searching libraries and archives from one end of the Old Empire to the other but Livak has her own contacts spread from the Ocean to the Great Forest. Once she has persuaded Messire D’Olbriot to finance her travels, she joins up with her long-time friends and sometime accomplices, the brothers Sorgrad and Sorgren. The three of them are of course perfectly prepared to co-operate with the wizards of Hadrumal, as long as their interests lie along the same path. When those paths diverge, it is of course a different matter, as the mage Usara discovers.

Livak sets out to discover just what ancient lore might be held among the Forest Folk or the Mountain Men. Whether through happenstance, coincidence or hostile action, she finds herself playing a dangerous game and realises she’s going to need to use all her wits to come out ahead.

As before, I was determined to write a distinctly different book and one that could stand on its own merits as well as as third in a series. Taking Livak to the Great Forest and focusing on the Mountain race took me in new directions as a writer. I explored the tensions created when an otherwise unsympathetic character nevertheless has justified grievances as well as the tragedy of uncaring events overwhelming innocent bystanders. Their situation throws an interesting light on the nature of blame, and the lines between guilt and responsibility. The Forest Folk’s nomad life proved an interesting counterpoint to Mountain Men’s struggles to defend their land, to which they are bound by ties far stronger than simple ownership. Questions of the use and abuse of power, especially of magic, emerged as a recurrent theme as did an exploration of the often unforeseen dangers of ignorance.

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