The most beautiful city on the great Mountain
The pinnacle of Maelir culture
The home of the Inner Sanctum
The place where secrets hide
The fate of the Mountain hangs in balance at the time of Equinox, and even the Keep can no longer remain untouched. The Maelir are desperate to defend it, the Faemir to demolish it, the windriders to claim it. But unknown to them all, a dark force has already emerged from the chaos to seize power.
As Atreu and Verlinden strive to decipher the power of the Talisman that has defined Atreu’s Ascent, Teyth and Valkyra are locked in a desperate battle that neither of them can win. At a time when darkness and light are in perfect equilibrium, when Maelir and Faemir must find a way to break the deadlock and avoid annihilation, the world’s fate lies in the Book of Ascension.
The Keep was much higher than he anticipated, and the giant pillar seemed to widen as they ascended. Atreu’s flight was not as exhilarating as his first one. Riell’s strange silence made it seem like an eternity. At times the sporadic winds buffeted them so close to the smooth rock that Atreu was sure they would be crushed, but Riell’s skill was such that he managed to avoid any damage. Occasionally he would be so close to the wall that he had to kick off, but he did it with such precise timing that Atreu soon ceased worrying about it.
He watched the mists wrap their tendrils along his arms and legs, only to release their hold as the two flew higher. Now and then small particles of ice would prick his face and he would have to close his eyes, but he couldn’t keep them shut for long. He wanted to see all he could.
The ground had disappeared quickly in a swirl of white below them. Atreu looked up, trying to will the mists to part so that the top of the pillar would be revealed.
And Riell spoke not a word to him.
There was a wild rushing sound and Atreu was thrown left and then right as he gripped tightly the wooden bar in front of him. A million grains of ice stung his face, and suddenly the mists seemed to clear around him.
They had reached the top.
In front of him lay what looked like a vast flat plain ringed by a halo of white cloud. Although twilight was deepening, he could see a sprawling city in the middle of the plain. On the periphery were low single-storey buildings which seemed to crouch in darkness, standing silhouetted against the sun’s after-glow like an army of sentinels. And in the centre was a vast conglomeration of spiralling towers, turrets and flying buttresses. Tower after tower shone with the silvery sheen of the most exquisite gemstones, tapering into feather-like fineness as they reached for the sky.
Atreu gasped, unable to believe what he was seeing. ‘The silver spires,’ he whispered.
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Dirk Strasser has written over 30 books for major publishers in Australia and is an Active Member of the SFWA. He has won multiple Australian Publisher Association Awards, a Ditmar for Best Professional Achievement, and has been short-listed for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards a number of times. His short story, “The Doppelgänger Effect”, appeared in the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology, Dreaming Down Under. His acclaimed fantasy series The Books of Ascension – including Zenith and Equinox – was originally published by Pan Macmillan in Australia and by Heyne Verlag in Germany and has been re-published by the Macmillan Momentum imprint, this time including the “lost” third book. His fiction has been translated into a number of languages. His short stories include “The Jesus Particle“ in Cosmos magazine, “Stories of the Sand” in Realms of Fantasy, and “The Vigilant” in Fantasy magazine. His most recent sale was “The Mandelbrot Bet” to the 2014 Tor anthology Carbide Tipped Pens, edited by Ben Bova and Eric Choi. He founded the Aurealis Awards and has co-published and co-edited Aurealis magazine for over 20 years.
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