Curse of the Mistwraith - Summary with Highlights - Chapter Set I

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"Summary with Highlights" pages combine an in-depth plot summary with additional commentary about key details and language subtleties a reader might overlook. They are designed for readers who need a bit more direction in this challenging story, and have been reprinted here with the author's permission and Janny Wurts's blessing.

Spoiler warning: These pages are based on one person's reading experience and are not intended to be a purely impartial plot synopsis. Please be aware that the extra highlights might foreshadow events that happen later in the story or pull your eye towards a detail you'd prefer to discover on your own. Proceed with caution if you would rather have a completely unguided reading experience!

I. Captive

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Curse of the Mistwraith.

The chapter opens with the aftermath of a naval battle. 17 full-rigged warships of Amroth had tried to destroy a single brigantine from Karthan. And they succeeded but at the high cost of 7 warships destroyed through shadow and sorcery by the brigantine before it went under.

Looking for survivors among the wreckage, the sailors from Amroth's warship, Briane, rescue a young Karthan pirate who turns out to be none other than Arithon s'Ffalenn, the crown prince of Karthan.

Arithon s'Ffalenn, was the illegitimate son of Amroth's own Queen who had betrayed the King of Amroth and ran straight into the arms of his archenemy – the Pirate King of Karthan. Captured alive, he is a great prize to offer to the Amroth king, especially as "Sailors sworn to the pirate king's service seldom permitted themselves to be taken alive." Now that should tell us something about the relationship between the 2 kingdoms and the treatment the prisoners may expect.

Locked in the chartroom of the ship, Arithon wakes up, plunges the ship into darkness and tries to escape. He is knocked out cold by a fist to the head and the darkness lifts. His captors decide to tie him up to prevent further escape attempts, but Arithon tries it again as soon as he regains consciousness, earning himself another knock out.

To prevent him from cutting up his bonds again, he is tied up with wire and a healer is summoned to attend to his wounds, both from the wreckage and inflicted by crew members. Arithon curses the healer, raves and insults everyone, until the first officer is forced to gag him and toss him in the sail-hold to prevent his crew members from lynching him.

The crew is terrified of the prisoner and the first officer fears a mutiny, so he orders the healer to administer Arithon a posset that will render him senseless until the ship reaches port. The posset is not safe and has addictive side effects that may even damage the mind and cause insanity if administered for a longer period of time. And the ship would take 20 days to reach Port Royal where the prisoner can be delivered to the king. Afraid that he may reach the destination with an insane or dead prisoner, the first officer decides to head to South Isle Harbour instead, which would take only 5 days sail, and deliver the prisoner into the custody of Lysaer s'Ilessid, the crown prince of Amroth, who happens to be there for the summer and whose judgement is known to be "dependably exactingly fair". – Important!

Crown Prince

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Curse of the Mistwraith.

Lysaer s'Ilessid, crown prince of Amroth, wielder of the inborn gift of light and thus "a match for sorcery and shadows", is in the earl's practice yard sparring with a nobleman when the news of his half-brother's capture is delivered.

Here, the sparring bout provides a subtle insight to the prince's character: Lysaer (probably, the nobleman suspects) forfeited the match on purpose to curry favor/and 'end' it smoothly with no ruffled feelings -- He threw in the dagger not as a gift, but as a gesture of concession. He also demonstrates his astute grasp of others' affaris: he knew the nobleman had a quiet bet on the side (on the outcome of the practice match) AND he knew about the nobleman's wife's pregnancy....he uses that knowledge to 'offbalance' just a little - but it is all done in such a suave and charming manner, it's impossible for the 'victim' (the noble) to take any offense.

So Lysaer throws the match/demonstrates his piercing awareness of others' personal lives AND is magnanimous enough to 'pay' the silver the noble will have lost, since, evidently, Lysaer knew the noble expected to fight and LOSE (possibly to curry royal favor, who knows) - it shows the first glimpse of Lysaer's adept statesmanship/ability to swing people and politics to his side - effortlessly. – Important highlight for his character build-up!

7 generations of bloodshed stand between Amroth and Karthan's pirates and the King of Amroth, Lysaer's father, often flies into terrible rages always caused by a s'Ffalenn. Is there any wonder then, that Lysaer himself has to fight an irrational hatred towards the s'Ffalenn prince at the bare mention of his name? But he does fight it and is determined to distinguish between hatred and justice because the man is after all his half-brother. Note that he goes to meet him with that decision in mind.

The brothers see each other for the first time in Briane's sail-hold. Please note the emotions both brothers go through here. They are pivotal for their character build-up.

First one to speak, Arithon purposefully uses the word "brother". Irked at its mention, Lysaer accuses his half-brother of murdering hapless sailors and informs him that he has no hope of pardon. In turn, the accused counters by calling the sailors "crew of royal warships".

'Show me a man who's harmless, and I'll show you one stone dead.' – Note: What does he mean?

Arithon's humanity seems "sealed behind ungoverned viciousness" and he doesn't hold back from taunting Lysaer to the extreme. But he does it with a warning: "Kill thou me, and I shall helpless be. Or perhaps you're too squeamish to try?" - WHAT does he mean by this, beyond the obvious provocation? (Is he perhaps scared of the CONSEQUENCES of exerting his power - and if SO, why? Or is he protecting someone?) This is what Janny wants the reader to discover or determine.

As soon as the provocation was let loose, Arithon attacks Lysaer with sorcery. He rifles through his memories and brings front the one of Lysaer's last day with his mother, Lady Talera, Queen of Amroth.

That whole dialogue in between the king and queen is vital to determine the real reason for Talera's betrayal and Arithon's existence.

"You'll use no child of mine as an axe with your feud with s'Ffalenn." "Our son's gift is no weapon. Dare you abuse him? By Ath I swear if you try, you'll get no second child from me." "Woman defy me and I'll make you wretched with childbearing. Blame your father. He should have made your dowry more accessible. Sorcery and babies made a misfortunate mix. I'll bed you now and every night afterward until you conceive the Master of Shadow I was promised."

They fight and Talera vows: "Force me and by the stones of Rauven Tower, I'll even the stakes. The s'Ffalenn pirates will share my bride gift to s'Ilessid and grief and sorrow will come of it."

In a nutshell: - Talera has brought to the marriage as brides gift the ability to give birth to 2 gifted children, one to wield the power of light and the other to master the shadow. Lysaer had already been born and had the power of light but that didn't satisfy the king who wanted control over the shadow. He desired it for the purpose of using it against the s'Ffalenn and destroying them. Talera didn't want to allow it so she fled and ‘evened' the balance by birthing the child with powers over shadow to the s'Ffalenn king.

If you'd like to know the entire story and find out the reasons behind Talera's decision, it will be posted under BONUS MATERIAL at the end.

Back to our 2 princes, after Arithon lets go of the memory Lysaer flies into a hot rage and strikes Arithon, belatedly realising what his half-brother's attitude was about. "You want me to kill you!"

And there we have it revealed – behind Arithon's mask of mad violence, "a tearing grief and shocking desperation" ! - Why?

Because the captain of the brigantine who had burned with his ship was the pirate king of Karthan himself and Arithon's father! Arithon was now the last living s'Ffalenn heir. – Note that this is again very important in justifying Arithon's future actions. Why the grief and despair? Is it just the death of a parent or something else? And we'll come back to it later.

Arithon begs Lysaer for a knife to kill himself but his request is denied.

Ashamed of having lost control of himself and his emotions, ashamed of having almost given it to the prisoner's request, Lysaer orders Arithon to be drugged to sleep and taken to Port Royal to his father. He is warned that the drug will probably cause Arithon to go mad from such a prolonged overdose, but considers insanity a fate preferable to that awaiting him in Amroth and insists on it. To protect the sailors from the king's retribution at delivering a damaged prisoner, Lysaer decides to sail with them.

Tracer

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Curse of the Mistwraith.

The High Mage of Rauven is pacing anxiously in his tower and demands to know what happened to his grandson; "his daughter's s'Ffalenn bastard whom he deeply loved."

A listener scryes and keeps watch, trying to find a promise of hope to attach to the bad news he must deliver the distressed grandfather.

After a full night of pacing, the High Mage is told that Arithon is imprisoned and drugged and about to be delivered to the king of Amroth.

A memory surfaces in the grandfather's mind, of a little black haired boy who just mastered his first magic lesson. "But it works like music!"Very important! This is how we will explain magic on Athera. In a way, just like music.

The grandfather is angry and in his anger he exclaims: "Do you know what that boy renounced when he left to accept his father's inheritance?" – again important. What does he mean? Is Arithon special? If yes, how? – we'll come back to it later.

In his grief and despair, the grandfather makes a vow: "If Arithon suffers harm, Amroth's king will wish Fate's Wheel could turn backward, and past actions be revoked. I will repay every cruelty, in kind, on the mind and body of his firstborn."

And he makes the vow disregarding the fact that said first born is also his grandson. The High Mage of Rauven is Talera's father.

Fragments

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Curse of the Mistwraith.

You need to pay attention to these triplets. Given at the end of each chapter, they offer clues and important details about things to come.

On this page, perhaps the most important is the last one: "Under misty skies, in another place, a world awaits with a prophecy five centuries old, and not even its most wise yet know that a prince and a prisoner hold all hope for deliverance between them..."