Phoenix in Obsidian
The second novel in the History of John Daker, The Eternal Champion. In the United States it is also known as The Silver Warriors.
Publishing History (UK)
- Mass Market Paperback, Mayflower, 127pp., ISBN: 0-583-11800-3, 1 Oct 1970, Cover by Bob Haberfield
- Mass Market Paperback, Mayflower, 127pp., ISBN: 0-583-11800-3, 1973, Cover by Bob Haberfield
- Mass Market Paperback, Granada, 127pp., ISBN: 0-583-11800-3, 1984, Cover by Bob Haberfield
- Mass Market Paperback, Grafton, ISBN: 0-586-21453-4 , 1988, Cover by Mark Salwowski
- The Tale of the Eternal Champion, Volume 2: The Eternal Champion, Millennium, 1992 (hc/tp), 1995 (pb)
- The Eternal Champion, Gollancz, 2013
Publishing History (US)
- Mass Market Paperback, Dell, ISBN: 0-440-17994-7, 1973, Cover by Frank Frazetta - as The Silver Warriors
- Mass Market Paperback, Dell, ISBN: 0-440-17994-7, 1977, Cover by Frank Frazetta - as The Silver Warriors
- Mass Market Paperback, Berkley, ISBN: 0-425-08078-1, Sept 1985, Cover by Robert Gould - as The Silver Warriors
- Trade Paperback, Titan Books, 240pp., ISBN: 978-1783291625, 2 Dec 2014
- The Eternal Champion, Volume 1: The Eternal Champion, White Wolf, 1994 (hc), 1996 (tp)
* * The following section may contain spoilers * *
100 years have passed since the events in The Eternal Champion, and Erekosë has been enjoying them in the company of his beloved Ermizhad, her brother Arjavh and the rest of the Eldren. It seems they will end their days together until Erekosë's sleep is disturbed by strange , familiar dreams. Prince Arjavh remarks that the Ghost Worlds appear to be intersecting their plane once more and Erekosë wonders if that could be the reason his sleep is being disturbed again.
Ermizhad tries to reassure him that it is just a coincidence but his dreams become more powerful. One night an apparition appears in his bedchamber. Rising to confront the intruder he stumbles and falls, and finds himself leaving the Eldren world and plane, but not before glimpsing, to his shock, that the intruder has his own face.
He finds himself travelling in a chariot drawn by bears, across a landscape of ice, in a dark world where the sun is dim and appears to be dying. The bears seem to know where they are going and, after a journey where Erekosë 'recalls' that he is called Urlik Skarsol on this world (a name heavily featured in his dreams), eventually bring him to a beach next to a heavy, sluggish, salty sea. Approached by strange beings riding even stranger beasts, the beings reveal themselves to be human and take him to a nearby city, Rowenarc, carved into the cliffs further up the coast. He meets Bishop Belphig, Lord Spiritual of the city, and learns of the Lord Temporal, Shanosfane, whom he later visits, seeking to find who summoned him. The leaders of the city deny all knowledge of his summoning, but he stays in the city, becoming increasingly disillusioned as he discovers the inhabitants are listless, decadent hedonists, seemingly awaiting the end of the world.
Belphig invites Urlik on a hunt for the Sea-stag, and he agrees to go, hoping for a break from the monotony, even though he has come to distrust the Lord Spiritual. While searching for the Sea-stag they hear a bell tolling across the water and comments made by Belphig and his men make Urlik even more suspicious. Later, a bright, shining Chalice appears, hovering over the water, and a voice is heard telling Urlik to take up the Black Sword, something he is very reluctant to do, even though he does not know why. Soon after this the Sea-stag is sighted and the hunt begins in earnest, eventually taking them to a small rocky island which holds the creatures lair.
Disembarking from the boat, Urlik and a small body of men enter a cave in pursuit of the Sea-stag. A confused battle ensues in the near dark and Urlik is separated from the others and the entrance by the beast, but manages to kill the already injured creature. Emerging from the cave, he discovers the boat is gone, marooning him on the island.
After making a fruitless search for provisions and a way off, Urlik settles himself down to wait, realising he will probably die on the island. After an exhausted sleep, the hopelessness of his position is even more apparent, but a short while later he hears another person on the rocks above him. It is Jermays the Crooked, who has materialised on the island, and he tells Urlik that he knows him (and his fate), even if he has no recollection. He shares some wine with Urlik while telling him about the workings of Law and Chaos, answering what questions he can and exhorting him to take up the Black Sword once again (which Urlik will not consider), before vanishing once more.
Plagued by visions, voices, and the tolling of the Bell, Urlik sees a ship appear out of the gloom, but believes it to be another dream. In fact it is Bladrak Morningspear, the Hound of the Scarlet Fjord, his summoner, come to find him, having been directed by the Lady of the Chalice. While Urlik is boarding, Bladrak's men find the skull of the Sea-stag and bring it onboard, placing it on a long case which Bladrak says contains the Cold Sword. Urlik is filled with dread at the thought of wielding it. Once at the Scarlet Fjord, Bladrak tells Urlik of the prophecy that he would wake from his slumber in the Frozen Keep, take up the Cold Sword and fight the Silver Warriors, whose blood would fill the Chalice and restore the sun. Urlik agrees to help on a raid on Nalanarc, an island in the Great Salt Sea, to free the slaves held by the Silver Warriors. During the fighting Urlik discovers that the Silver Warriors are impervious to ordinary weapons and that Belphig is in league with them.
Back at the Scarlet Fjord, Bladrak takes Urlik to the Chamber of the Staff and summons the Lady of the Chalice, who answers some questions and tells him he must take up the Black Sword, but he again refuses to do so. Soon, however, Urlik realises that he has no recourse but to use the Black Sword, much as he dislikes the idea. As he picks it up he is flooded with memories of other Champions, other weapons, not always a sword. The Blade must have its price, though, and takes the life of a serving girl who enters the room. Bladrak is horrified but Urlik reminds him he'd said the Black Sword could not be trusted.
Urlik sets out on a mission to rescue Shanosfane before the Silver Warrior fleet reaches Rowenarc, but arrives too late. Resolved to continue his attempt, and seeing his chariot and bears about to be loaded onto a ship of the Silver Warriors, he leaps aboard, racing to Dhötgard, Shanosfane's realm in the Obsidian City. Finding the Lord Temporal, he takes him and flees the city, heading along the beach to the boat and steersman who brought him. When the chariot hits a rock on the uneven beach, they are thrown from it, while the bears run on unheeding, disappearing in the gloom. Pointing Shanosfane towards the boat Urlik turns to face a group of Rowenarc soldiers who have followed them and slays most of them. Spying Belphig and the Silver Warriors approaching, he boards the boat at the steersman's urging, and they return to the Scarlet Fjord.
Upon questioning Shanosfane tells Urlik and Bladrak that Belphig controls the Silver Warrior because he holds their Queen captive, threatening to kill her unless they do his bidding. As the the two men leave Shanosfane they hear a cry and quickly return to find the Black Sword has taken the Lord Temporal's life. Urlik wonders if this was something that was mentioned by the voices he heard when he was marooned.
With Belphig's fleet now besieging the Scarlet Fjord, Urlik sets out across the ice to Moon, home of the Silver Warriors, and where the Lady of the Chalice has said the Silver Queen is being held captive. He uses an ancient flying machine he has been told about, but is almost overcome by its poisonous radiation before he reaches Moon. Landing in sight of it, he struggles on, recovering his strength as the effects of the machine's engine wear off. Meeting only Belphig's men he fights his way in and finds and rescues the Silver Queen, but loses consciousness using the Black Sword to break the barrier holding her. Awaking on the flying machine he is surprised to discover the Silver Queen is also the Lady of the Chalice. They make their way back to the Scarlet Fjord, Urlik taking the controls when the Silver Queen is overcome. They reach the besieging fleet, having overshot the Scarlet Fjord, just as Urlik loses consciousness again, ditching in the sea. They awake to find the Silver Warriors have realised their queen is rescued and have turned on Belphig's men, defeating them, with Urlik recovering in time to dispatch Belphig.
With only one part of the prophecy to act out, the Silver Queen takes Urlik out on the Southern Ice, where the Black Sword kills her before hovering above the materialised Chalice and dripping blood into it from its runes, thereby reviving the sun. Urlik knows he will never understand or be able to explain what he has seen, but he also knows he will not be on the Southern Ice for long before he is called again.
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