Beowulf meets The Lord of the Rings meets Bernard Cornwell in an epic novel of vengeance, faith and the power of myth.
To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind—the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.
Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.
Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.
But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning—the Old Ways versus the New—and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?
It is the middle of the 12th century . . .
On the banks of the Nile, in a city alive with intrigue, Caliph Rashid al-Hasan rules as a figurehead over a crumbling empire. In the shadow of the Grey Mosque, generals vie for power and influence under the scheming eyes of a venal grand vizier. Warring factions use murder and terror to silence their opponents. Egypt bleeds - and the scent draws her enemies in: the swaggering Shirkuh, who serves the Sultan of Damascus, and Amalric, king of Jerusalem, whose greed is insatiable and whose Crusader knights are hungry for a fight.
Yet all is not lost. In a distant land, there lives an old man who holds the power of life and death over the Moslem world. He has decided to help the Caliph and sends his greatest weapon. A single man. An Assassin. The one they call the Emir of the Knife...
He lived in the shadow of kings. One trusted him with his empire; the other feared his every move. Memnon of Rhodes (375-333 BC) walked in the footsteps of giants. As a soldier, sailor, statesman and general, he was, in the words of Diodorus of Sicily, "outstanding in courage and strategic grasp."
A contemporary of Demosthenes and Aristotle, Memnon rose from humble origins to command the whole of western Asia in a time of strife and slaughter. To his own people, he was a traitor, to his rivals, a mercenary. But, to the King of Kings, his majesty Darius III of Persia, Memnon was the one man capable of defending Asia Minor from the rising power of the barbaric Macedonians. In a war pitting Greek against Greek, Memnon proved his quality beyond measure. His enemies fought for glory and gold; Memnon fought for something more: for loyalty, for honour, and for duty. He fought for the love of Barsine, a woman of remarkable beauty and grace, but most of all, he fought for the promise of peace.
Through the deathbed recollections of a mysterious woman, the life of Memnon unfolds with brilliant clarity. It is a record of his triumphs and tragedies, his loves and losses, and of the determination that drove him to stand against the most renowned figure of the ancient world - an ambitious and brilliant young conqueror called Alexander the Great.
526 BC and the empire of the Pharaohs is dying, crumbling under the weight of its own antiquity. Corruption and decay cripple its cities, infects its leaders and cripples its armies, while across the great expanse of Sinai, like jackals drawn to carrion, the forces of the omnipotent king of Persia watch and wait...
But all is not quite lost. For leading the fiight to preserve the soul of Egypt is the Phoenician warrior, Hasdrabal Barca, the pharaoh's deadliest killer - possessor of a rage few men can fathom and fewer can withstand. But the defection of one of Egypt's most celebrated generals, the Greek mercenary Phanes, to the Persians triggers a savage war that will test Barca's military skills and his humanity to the limit. But Barca is changing - a girl who was once a slave but with a gift for healing - tends to his wounds, and as she does so, eases his tortured soul and teaches him how to be truly human again.
From the political wastelands of Palestine and the searing deserts east of the Nile to the streets of the ancient city of Memphis, Barca and Phanes play a desperate and brutal game of cat-and-mouse that culminates in the bloodiest battle of Egypt's history. In the dusty hills east of Pelusium, a reckoning will unfold, for there over the dead of two nations, Hasdrabal Barca will face the same choice of as those great heroes of old: death and eternal fame, or long life and obscurity...
Scott Oden was born in Indiana, but has spent most of his life shuffling between his home in rural North Alabama, a Hobbit hole in Middle-earth, and some sketchy tavern in the Hyborian Age. He studied history and English at the University of Alabama. He is an avid reader of fantasy and ancient history, a collector of swords, and a player of tabletop role-playing games. His previous books include Men of Bronze, Memnon, and The Lion of Cairo. When not writing, he can be found walking his two dogs or doting on his wife. To find out more, visit scottoden.wordpress.com