Shades Of Smoke
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Ever fancied being a magician, in a wild and dangerous world? Your parents have been murdered, your childhood sweetheart stolen into slavery. You are embroiled with brigands, assassins, and a serial killer... But you are a magician, remember? You can conjure really good pictures in smoke... But nothing else! More
A thousand years ‘After The Fall’ society on Nuome is trapped in a pre-industrial world; and, as he reaches adolescence, Cormell, the young son of a leather-worker, finds that he is uncommonly gifted with artistic talent; a gift which turns out to be something more than simple talent. He has been endowed with the Art to Illusion pictures in paint, clay, leather, water and smoke. He is taken half way across the world to The Hall Of The Art to refine his skills. It is worth noting that the weapons instructor there had advised him to depend on his art for protection, not his blade, and to avoid fighting anyone not on crutches. At the end of his training he returns home to find his parents dead, and works out how to use his Art to discover what had really happened to them. He embarks on a quest for revenge that is going to change his life in ways he could never have imagined, especially when the consequences of his vengeance lead him to cross paths with other magicians, with a slave dealer who has kidnapped his childhood sweetheart, with a most unusual brigand, and with a percussor desperately trying to hunt down a serial killer; and also to become involved in trying to help solve more than one mystery.
But Cormell is aware that some of his refinements to his Art are proscribed by the Guild of Illusionists – on pain of death! This, together with a yearning for adventure, lead him to undertake the longest and most dangerous trade road on Nuome... the Ryaduran Road, crossing 3000 ‘killoms’ of wilderness, desert and empty grassland... and to become involved in an even more complex series of mysteries on the way. And also, for the first time, to develop real feelings for a beautiful young girl who is travelling with them. But, of course, Cormell’s bread always falls buttered side down, so this girl is a Virgin Acolyte of the Ryaduran Priesthood, who cannot even reveal her name, and who Cormell knows must be the daughter of a Ryaduran noble family – as far beyond his reach as the moons above them. That must be the end of his first experience of love... well, at least, that seems to be the case...
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