Fantasy. Duke Edward Solaris learns of his father’s death and rushes home from patrol, only to encounter a family friend having mysterious powers: Alain Harper the Undying Singer. With fellow Triond author Jack Shepherd.
“Hold, Sir Martin,” Edward ordered as the knight rode forward with his hand on the hilt of his sword. “This man wields words like a weapon of war. Since no one has yet killed him for his insolence, I would hear him further before someone does. How do you know of my father?”
“I’ve wandered the Fiefs of Sept-Ternia for many years now. I know each of the Fathers’ Houses and those who rule them for good or evil. I first met Duke William before you were born and found something of a kindred spirit in him. Although,” the man added wryly, “he was no more apt to listen to my advice about smoking than you were to listen to his advice about leading people.”
“Leaders don’t seek to please people,” Edward retorted. “They do what is best for those they lead, no matter the cost.”
“Yes, that’s how you always ‘talked back’ to your father. ‘Wise fool’!” By his tone of voice alone, it was the worst rebuke that the man could give to the Duke: a complete dismissal, if only for the moment, of Edward’s knowledge and competence. “Next to lack of knowledge of the Lord of the Realms, people like you who think that their point of view is the only right one are the biggest plague faced by those born of women.”
Edward could only gape as the man spoke and gestured; there was something compelling in his voice, far beyond a mortal’s ability to impose upon another. “Yes, Edward, I remember you as a child and a youngling, just as I remember your late father,” the man went on. “So let me remind you of a truth: sometimes pleasing people, and thus making real peace with them and among them, is what’s best for those you lead. That, young sirrah, is one of the Nine Pillars of Knowledge that make and keep a dominion stable. If you fail to learn all Nine Pillars, but only those that that are easy for you to learn, then your dominion will fall, quite possibly before your very eyes.”
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