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Black Wizards, by Douglas Niles, is the second book in the Moonshae trilogy.
Yet again the Moonshae Isles come under the threat of sinister and supernatural forces. A council of dark sorcerers has usurped the the will of the High King. Guided by Bhaal, god of death, an army of ogres and zombies threaten the gentle Ffolk while the puppet king acquiesces. It falls to Tristan, heir to the throne of the Moonshaes, and his friend Robyn the druid, to guard their homeland from certain destruction.

Summary Edit

The god Bhaal wants revenge on Tristan Kendrick and his allies for killing Kazgoroth. He is gradually destroying the power of the Earthmother. The druids of Alaron have been murdered by Hobarth, a cleric of Bhaal. Reginald Carrathal, High King of the Ffolk, who rules from Caer Callidyrr, also on Alaron, has fallen under the enchantment of a cabal of seven evil wizards led by Cyndre. Cyndre is also under the influence of Bhaal. The other wizards are Alexei, Kryphon (who uses crystals), Doric (an emotionally unstable female fire mage), and the weaker wizards Talraw, Wertam and Karianow. The wizards can see from a distance using a magical mirror. At their behest, the High King has created a mercenary army, the Scarlet Guard, which includes a troop of ogres. A dispossessed noble, Hugh O'Roarke, is leading a Robin Hood-style resistance from Dernall Forest. A group of duergar also invade the tunnels below the castle with Cyndre's support, slaughtering the local svirfneblin gnomes.

The wizards send assassins led by the half-orc RazfallowDaryth's former master – to kill all claimants to the thrones of the Moonshae Isles. Tristan is still drinking and arguing with his father. The assassins attempt to kill Tristan but his father dies in his place. The kingship is not hereditary and Tristan's main rival is Pontswain – a greedy cantrev lord who sat out the Darkwalker War but has more administrative experience than Tristan. They agree to seek a decision from the High King, although Tristan knows the High King's coins were found on the bodies of the assassins.

Bhaal has sent his cleric Hobarth to assassinate Robyn Moonsinger. Hobarth stumbles on Tristan's party in Kingsbay, preparing to travel by ship. He curses the ship so it will rot when they travel, and summons a storm. The ship is destroyed and the sailor Rodger dies. Tristan, Daryth, Canthus and Pontswain are saved by the rising of the sunken castle Caer Alisynn. This is the enchanted burial place of Alisynn, wife of the ancient hero Cymrych Hugh. They fight some Sahuagin and fall foul of a trap while entering the castle. Daryth finds magic thieving gloves and floating sacks. Tristan encounters the spirit of Queen Alisynn who gives him a prophecy and returns the Sword of Cymrych Hugh, which he lost in the shipwreck. The prophecy refers to a descendent of Cymrych Hugh who will become High King.

Tristan, Daryth, Canthus and Pontswain float away on the sacks and are picked up at sea by the bard Tavish and taken to Llewellyn on Alaron. Cyndre has Reginald send the Scarlet Guard hunting for Tristan, who the wizards have foreseen coming. The Scarlet Guard arrest Tristan's party at a bar. Pawldo is also in Llewellyn and rescues them. They fight the assassins and win, but Razfallow escapes. Tristan's party are hidden by Patriarch Trevor of Chauntea, who is later killed by the Scarlet Guard. They are then captured by followers of O'Roarke and taken to Doncastle, O'Roarke's hidden capital in Dernall Forest. O'Roarke reluctantly agrees to help them sneak into Caer Callidyrr. They leave Pontswain behind as a hostage. Tristan's party are smuggled into the castle by fishing boat and taken in by O'Roarke's agent Devin and his daughter Fiona. Leaving the others, Tristan and Daryth reach the king disguised as Scarlet Guard. They confront the king but are captured by Cyndre.

Robyn is training as a druid under Genna Moonsinger. She lives at the druids' grove with Genna, Newt, and the great bear Grunt. Trahern, who still has the Heart of Kazgoroth, is recalled by Bhaal to attack the Moonwell. He appears in the guise of a helpless amnesiac feral druid, nicknamed Acorn by Robyn. Acorn eventually assaults Robyn but is slain by her, using the power of the goddess. Newt throws away the Heart of Kazgoroth but Hobarth finds it. Hobarth raises Acorn's body to attack Robyn but Grunt kills the zombie. Hobarth goes to Freeman's Down to raise the dead of the Battle of Freeman's Down. The army march on the grove, destroying forests and driving wildlife before them. The animals warn Genna and Robyn. The Earthmother calls Kamerynn the unicorn, who arrives at the grove, as does the sprite Yazilliclick. Robyn and Genna go to find the army in the form of eagles. They use earth and fire magic to kill many of the skeletons and zombies but are frustrated by Hobarth. They escape in wolf form. The other druids also arrive at the grove and raise magical protections. Genna gives Robyn a runestick with the magic of the four elements. In an epic battle involving druidic magic, animals, collapsing arches, and earth elementals, the undead are delayed but not defeated and the druids are pushed back to the Moonwell. Robyn is abducted by an aerial servant summoned by Hobarth, and drops her staff. She is rescued by Kamerynn who can see the invisible attacker and kills it. The other druids, including Genna, are fighting a desperate last struggle by the Moonwell when the Earthmother sends a tide of power which destroys many of the attackers and turns the druids to stone. Allisynn appears to Robyn and tells her to go to Dernall Forest to rescue Tristan. Robyn (in eagle form), Newt and Yazilliclick fly to Alaron. Hobarth commands the remaining undead, including some freshly raised druids, to throw the other corpses into the Moonwell, turning it into a Darkwell.

At Caer Callidyrr, Alexei is suspected of betrayal and imprisoned. Cyndre contacts the Sahuagin who live underwater. They attack Alaron and their priestesses raise an army of undead from the sea. Finellen's dwarves detect the presence of the Duergar and march to war through the Underdark to Alaron. Robyn crashlands in the forest after being attacked by crows. She is found by O'Roarke's followers and taken to Doncastle.

While imprisoned, Tristan witnesses Cyndre manipulating King Reginald. Daryth, held in a different cell, frees himself using his magic gloves. He stumbles on Alexei and frees him too. Daryth injures Cyndre's hand, stopping him using magic, but the wizard escapes. Tristan is freed. Alexei also cannot use magic, but leads the group to retrieve some scrolls he can use. Escaping underground, they run into the Duergar. They are trapped by a gorge, but Alexei uses flight spells on the group. The Scarlet Guard discover Devin's hideaway and kill Devin, but Pawldo, Canthus and Fiona escape through a trapdoor and swim to shore. Both parties find their way back to Doncastle. Finellen's dwarves attack the Duergar but are overwhelmed.

Cyndre manipulates Reginald into ordering an attack on Doncastle. Kryphon and Doric teleport near to Doncastle, and join up with Razfallow. They use charm spells to trick their way to the hidden town. With Kryphon's help, Razfallow murders Annuwynn, the wizard of Doncastle. Kryphon's lust for Doric has faded, and Kryphon's attraction to Robyn makes Doric jealous. Doric attempts to kill Robyn using fire magic, and sets the inn ablaze, but Robyn's magic proves more powerful and Doric is killed. Kryphon misdirects O'Roarke's forces away from the route of the king's attack, and disables Doncastle's cleric, Vaughn Burne, using lightning magic. Daryth runs into Razfallow. They duel and Razfallow is killed.

Against Tristan's advice, O'Roarke commits all his forces to a badly planned defence. Cyndre, travelling with the invading army, creates a poison gas cloud which kills and disperses many of the defenders. The survivors hold the line, but the ogre brigade attack through an undefended side-gate and flank the defenders, who are routed. Alexei finds Kryphon confusing more guards. The two wizards fight a magical duel. Kryphon uses a protective spell, but Alexei gets around it by blasting a rampart so it falls on Kryphon, killing him. King Reginald begins to break Cyndre's enchantment, and Cyndre kills him. Doncastle is destroyed.

Tristan rallies the survivors on the edge of the forest. Robyn uses fire magic to destroy a unit of Scarlet Guard. Newt and Yazilliclick run into Finellen's dwarves while trying to find Robyn. O'Roarke recognises his earlier error and defers to Tristan. Tristan's force of about a thousand soldiers is caught between the ogres and another Scarlet Guard unit. Finellen arrives just in time. Her dwarves start a rockfall which routs the Guard. Tristan's army captures a coastal hilltop position with only one access road. They are surrounded by the King's army of human and ogre mercenaries, the duergar, sahuagin, and undead. Overnight, Alexei uses fire magic to kill Wertam, Tairaw, and Kerianow.

In the morning, the massed forces attack. O'Roarke's troops hold back the Scarlet Guard and duergar. The ogres charge Finellen's dwarves, and Robyn summons two earth elementals to fight the ogres. The sahuagin capture the path to the hilltop, cutting Tristan's forces off from escape, but they are forced back by the heroes and the dwarves. O'Roarke dies fighting sahuagin and ogres. Cyndre pursues Alexei and a magical duel ensues. Cyndre tries to cast a doom spell, sending Alexei to a hell of eternal torment. Robyn arrives in the nick of time and uses magical vines to bind Cyndre. The battle is ended by an earthquake and tsunami. A fissure opens and swallows Cyndre and Alexei. The Scarlet Guard, duergar and undead are crushed or fall into the sea as the periphery of the hill collapses. The sahuagin mostly survive by diving into the sea.

Three hundred survivors of Tristan's army survive on the hilltop, which is now an island. Finellen reveals that Tristan is descended from Cymrych Hugh and the name Kendrick is a corruption of Cymrych. This means Alisynn's prophecy referred to Tristan. The Crown of the Isles, which belongs to the High King, has fallen in the sea, but Alisynn sends a whirlpool which throws it to Tristan, and he is crowned King of the Isles. Tristan, Daryth, Pawldo, Canthus, Pontswain, Finellen, Newt, and Yazilliclick plan to return to Gwynneth, but Fiona stays behind to pass news to the people of Alaron. Bhaal orders the sahuagin priestess Ysalla to raise the dead of the final battle, including the ogres, as a new undead army.

Characters Edit

AlexeiAllisynnAnnuwynAvalonBhaalVaughn BurneCanthusReginald CarrathalCassidyChaunteaCowanCyndreDai-DakDarythGadrric DeepglenDevinDoricDornthwaitDynnattEarthmotherEileenEvan (bandit)FergusFinellenFionaGlynnisRyder GreenleafGruntHobarthIsoldeKamerynnKarianowKazgorothBryon KendrickTristan KendrickKoartKryphonLarrellMacsheaGenna MoonsingerRobyn MoonsingerNewtNolanHugh O'RoarkePawldoRandolphRasperRazfallowRodgerSeanSythissallTalrawTavishTrahernTrevorWaineWertamYazilliclickYsalla

Locations Edit

AlaronBlack Oak InnCaer AllisynnCaer CallidyrrCaer CorwellCallidyrrCantrev KingsbayCantrev LehighCorwellCorwell FirthCorwell HarborDernall ForestThe Diving DolphinDoncastleDruid's Gate (Doncastle)DwarvenhomeFreeman's DownGehennaGradyThe Green MeadowGwynnethKingsbayKing's Gate (Doncastle)KressilaccLlewellynMoonshae IslesMyrloch ValeThe Old SailorThe Raging BoarSea of MoonshaeThe Silver SalmonStrait of AlaronSwanmay RiverTrackless SeaWhitefish Bay

AppendixEdit

ReferencesEdit

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