War Maid’s Choice – Snippet 01

War Maid’s Choice – Snippet 01

War Maid’s Choice

By David Weber


Cables of blue-white lightning, tangled with knots of livid green, streaked down the ebon heavens, crashing to earth in a coruscating circle around the stupendous, many-turreted structure. The shortest of those turrets towered hundreds of feet above the endless, smooth pavement stretching away in every direction as far as any mortal eye might have seen, and the glare of lightning danced and glittered from the mirror smooth obsidian of which the enormous palace had been built. Or formed, perhaps. There were no tool marks, no lines between blocks of masonry, on that titanic façade, and the light — such as it was — that glowed from its narrow window slits was a pestilential green, less brilliant than the corruption of that lightning yet more sullen, more…poisonous.

Fresh lightning hammered down, replenishing the glaring circle, feeding it, keeping it alive while thunder echoed and rolled and bellowed. Each braided strand lit the purple-bellied clouds from within, momentarily etching their swirling depths upon the eye, and strange, unclean shapes flew in those briefly illuminated deeps. One of those shapes plummeted from the clouds, sweeping lower, riding through the chinks of darkness between the lightning’s pickets. Larger it grew, and larger, insectlike head armed with brutal pincers, enormous bat wings and mighty talons throwing back the glare of lightning until it seemed gilded in the eye-tearing fury of the seething heavens.

At the very last moment it flared its wings and settled upon the balcony of the very highest turret, a thousand feet and more above the lightning-crowned pavement. The size of that obsidian palace dwarfed even its stature, and a rider stepped from its back to the balcony and disappeared within.

More lightning sizzled and howled out of the darkness, smashing into the earth with redoubled ferocity, bolt following bolt, driving that circle of fury higher and brighter as if that flying shape’s arrival had been a signal, and perhaps it had.

* * *

The throne room was impossibly vast.

It couldn’t possibly have been as large as it seemed, and yet it was. In some way no mortal could have described, it was vaster than whole worlds and yet small enough the purple-cloaked figure which swept into it could cross it in no more than a dozen strides, and a strange perfume — sweet and seductive, yet undergird by the scent of something long dead — drifted on its air. The newcomer ignored the six others who had been gathered there, awaiting his arrival. He stalked past them, ascending the high throne against the huge chamber’s rear wall and seated himself, and the wan, green radiance which had filled the room flared abruptly higher and brighter as he sat. A nimbus of deadly green fire hissed above his hooded head, and balls of the same lurid radiance crackled into existence high overhead, dancing and swirling beneath the soaring, vaulted ceiling like lost galaxies trapped in the throne room’s miasma of incense.

Like the palace itself, the throne was a single, seamlessly extruded outcropping of obsidian, but this obsidian was veined with gold, and its surface glittered with diamonds, emeralds, and precious gems. The arms ended in carven demon’s faces, each encrusted with more gold, more gems, and each held a mangled, dismembered body in its fangs. Rubies dripped from their jaws in glittering, lovingly detailed streams of blood, and a huge, haughty face looked down from the wall above the throne, etched across the stone in bas-relief and glittering with still more gold. As the figure seated upon the throne threw back the hood of his cloak, the face which was revealed matched that upon the wall.

Phrobus Orfro, once the seventh son of Orr All-Father and Kontifrio, gazed down upon his chosen mate and their children, and his expression was not a happy one.

“I wonder, sometimes, which of you is the least competent,” he said abruptly. “The competition is so fierce I can’t make up my mind between you.”

His voice was deep, beautifully modulated, yet something seemed to scream somewhere inside those resonant, perfectly articulated tones, and only one of the six beings gathered before him returned his glare levelly. Krashnark Phrofro stood with square shoulders, arms crossed, refusing to cringe, and Phrobus’ eyes glittered. Yet he let the defiance — if such it was — pass. Krashnark was the strongest of his children, the only one who might have openly challenged his own position, but there was scant fear of that. Not from Krashnark. There was no lack of ambition or surfeit of mercy in his second son, and he was the most powerful of all of Phrobus children. Yet that strength was hobbled by his perverse, inner code of honor. He neither gave nor asked quarter, but his oath was unbreakable, which was why Phrobus felt no fear of Krashnark’s rebellion, for he had sworn fealty to his father. It was unthinkable that he might raise his hand against Phrobus after swearing that oath…and none of the others, not even — or perhaps especially — Shīgū would ever have dared.

“All of you know the stakes for which we play,” he continued, “yet none of you seems capable of accomplishing even the simplest task.”

“In fairness, Father,” one of his other children said, raising her head and using one hand to draw glorious red hair back from her face to reveal pupil-less eyes as black as his throne’s obsidian, “that isn’t precisely correct. Things have gone…poorly in several universes. That’s unfortunately true, but we’ve succeeded in others.”

Her voice was calm, respectful, yet pointed, and Phrobus gritted his teeth. Carnadosa was his youngest child, and although she’d been careful not to say it, many of those other successes had been her doing — a point she obviously wasn’t above making by not making it. Yet not even a god or a goddess could deal with all the possible alternative realities of every potential universe. There had to be some division of labor, and in all too many of those realities which Carnadosa — and Krashnark — had not overseen, Phrobus’ plans had failed catastrophically. He could feel his other children’s, and his wife’s, hatred seething like the lightning outside his palace as they glared at Carnadosa for underlining their failures, yet they dared not speak.

“Yes,” he said after a moment. “We have succeeded in some, but we’ve failed in far too many others. We can afford no more losses, especially in those where victory had seemed within our grasp. Too much hangs on what happens there, which is the reason your accursed uncle is striving hard to snatch them back from us, yet none of you seem capable of stopping him. I’ve looked into the future, Carnadosa. If we fail to stop this slide of events in the Light’s favor, if Tomanāk’s successes continue, our power — the power of all of us — may suffer catastrophic damage.”

He paused, letting the implications sink into all of his listeners. It wasn’t as if they shouldn’t have been able to figure out for themselves just how dire their situation might become, but sometimes they needed to be shaken by the scruff of their collective necks before they could step back from their plotting and mutual betrayals long enough to really think about the nature of their struggle with the Gods of Light.


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16 Responses to War Maid’s Choice – Snippet 01

  1. hank says:

    Sharna’s got some ‘splaining to do.

  2. KenJ says:

    Oh Goodie goodie goodie !!!!!! Here at LAST!!!! (I’ve been waiting for this for YEARS!!!!!!)

  3. dave o says:

    Okay, this is scene setting, but did it really really need quite so many adjectives? Weber’s style here is completely different from HH books.

  4. WCG says:

    Landing on the tallest turret during a lightning storm? That doesn’t seem to make much sense.

    And yeah, the prose is rather purple, don’t you think? :)

    But I have no idea what series this is. Apparently, it’s in the middle of something, and it probably won’t make much sense to start here, huh? Certainly, this snippet doesn’t intrigue me much.

  5. Drak Bibliophile says:

    WCG, this is part of David Weber’s “War God Series” (sequel to _Wind Rider’s Oath). It will make more sense as the Prologue continues.

    Oh as for the lightning, it wouldn’t dare strike HIM and HIS home. [Wink]

  6. saladin says:


    War God series

    Oath of Swords (February 1995) ISBN 0-671-87642-2
    The War God’s Own (May 1998) ISBN 0-671-87873-5
    Wind Rider’s Oath (May 2004) ISBN 0-7434-8821-0
    Sword Brother, a novella published together with a January 2007 edition of Oath of Swords, ISBN 1-4165-2086-4
    War Maid’s Choice (July 2012) ISBN 978-145163835 (HB)

    at least oath of swords is in the free library – read it – you´l get addicted to it

  7. Lone Wolf Sans Cub says:

    @3 Dave O.

    Really Dave,

    have you read the new HH Book #17 “A Borning Blunder) all it seems to be is rehash and then set up for the next book.

  8. dave o says:

    # 7 Lone Wolf: My comment was about Weber’s prose style. And by the way, I completely disagree with you about the books content.

  9. Lone Wolf Sans Cub says:


    well Dave is it up to the the standards of the first couple of books in the honor series? Can you say that witha straight face. tell me the best moment of the book, will you.

    David Weber is one of my favorite authors, but the recent books aren’t worth the money i’ve paid for them. you call it prose style, if call it rehashed dribble in HH #17,

    i truely hope this book is better. the earlier ones in this series were good, David stuff lately not so GOOD, too many projects, too little time for the earlier series.

  10. dave o says:

    #9 Lone Wolf: Since you asked, you apparently can’t tell the difference between prose style, (choice of words, sentence structure,, etc} and plot. As it happens, I find Weber’s books remarkably consistent in interest. There is a certain amount of rehashing, not I think excessive, which IMHO is a courtesy to new readers. As for the plot in general, yes a lot of politics, but well written and plausible, and a lot more realistic than shoot-em-up battle scenes. I guess you like the latter, I think they’re the weakest, most repetitive part of the novels. How many times do you want to hear 100,000 missiles fired, 20,000 destroyed in the outer counter-missile zone, etc. etc. ad nauseum?

  11. It’s a different series. The prose style should be different. Of course, if the All-Highest shows up on earth, he discovers that his tower gets described as “short”.

    @10 Indeed, Weber has started dropping the “SLN has fired 1 trillion missiles at us. 378 billion stopped by LACs. 500 billion stopped by anti-missiles. 124 billion stopped by covering ships. There seems to be some double counting here. Three stopped by point defense. No missiles surviving. Point defense has applied for two weeks leave.”

  12. Lone Wolf Sans Cub says:

    Dave o

    reread the last 3 HH book prior to this one. and tell how me much the plot has been moved forward in the last hh book.

    war with the SL yep, still there. how many pages on Mesan? anything new, nope.

    prose style, (choice of words, sentence structure,, etc} pardon me but didn’t HH #17 stsrt out the same way as this book seems to be doing. rehash and background for new readers, fine, put off new reader like with too much rehash and details in the last 3 HH books, no.

    this is a different book, and i can only hope that Weber reads the reviews for the HH book and gets back to writing as he did in the past, Tell me a story, dammit. no i really don’t care for battles, honor’s best part was trying not to get into battles, killing dull. thuinking much better.

    politics interesting, but not 300 pages of rehashed plot from other books. all hh #17 does tell us mandarins bad, war here. and… you tell me where are we at that we didn’t know before hh #17 came out.

    i don’t like bring HH in to this comments section, but your talking about what Weber is writing and the PROSE, so i can only compare the latest thing he’s had published.


  13. Ed T. says:

    blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah wasting all this time trying to find deep meanings in a soap opera,

  14. SYril says:

    Thanks Ed, its about time somebody said that. This is ENTERTAINMENT people, NOT history. Enjoy it, engage with it, (I own every one of D.W.’s books and intend to continue, but I try to actually have a life.) That said, I can’t wait for the release date so I can hold this latest in my hot sweaty hands.

    ps: I’m reading A Rising Thunder right now and teasing myself by going slow.

  15. Lone Wolf Sans Cub says:


    don’t worry SYril it goes slow on its own. down to the last page.

  16. Lone Wolf Sans Cub says:


    Entertainment, means being entertained, right?

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