The Unwelcome Warlock is the eleventh Ethshar novel; it was the third written as a reader-financed online serial. The serial ran from June 2010 through March 2011 under the title The Final Calling.
The novel is about the end of warlockry in the World of Ethshar -- a subject that readers had asked me about fairly often. It's a sequel to Night of Madness, and to at least three other Ethshar novels as well; I'm not saying which because I don't want to spoil any surprises. Several familiar characters reappear.
It was published by Wildside Press in 2012 as a trade paperback, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble,
and the usual suspects. The e-book is available for the Kindle, for the Nook,
or for e-books generally.
The first chapter was also published separately as a short story, under the title "The Warlock's Refuge." Here's the opening, as a sample:
Hanner the Warlock looked at the tapestry without really seeing it; that constant nagging whisper was distracting him. He closed his eyes for a moment to clear his thoughts, but that seemed to make it worse. He clenched his jaw, shook his head, and balled his hands into fists.
"Is this not what you had in mind, Chairman?"
The wizard's voice brought Hanner back to reality for a moment. He opened his eyes and forced himself to focus on the tapestry.
The silky fabric hardly seemed to be there at all; the image woven into the cloth was so detailed, so perfect, that he seemed to be looking through the tapestry into a world beyond, rather than at the material itself.
In that world gentle golden sunlight washed across a green hillside strewn with wild flowers beneath a clear blue sky above. In the distance he could make out a cluster of handsome golden-tan buildings, though details were vague.
"Does it work?" he asked.
The wizard beside him glanced at the tapestry. "It does," Arvagan said. "My apprentice tested it before I sent for you. The tapestry that can return you to Ethshar is hanging in that house there, on the right." He pointed, but was careful to keep his finger well back from the cloth -- the slightest contact would trigger the tapestry's magic and pull him into that other world.
"The tapestry that comes out in the attic of Warlock House?"
"And these tapestries will work for warlocks?"
The wizard hesitated. "I think so," he said at last. "You understand, without a warlock's cooperation we have no way of testing it. Divinations are unreliable where warlocks are concerned. We know some tapestries work for warlocks, and I don't see any reason these wouldn't, but magic is tricky."
That brief hesitation had been enough for the Calling to once again start to work on Hanner; he had turned his head away from the tapestry as if to listen to the wizard's reply, but then the motion had continued, and now he was staring over the wizard's left shoulder, to the north, toward Aldagmor.
He needed to go there, and soon. He needed to forget about all this Council business, forget about the wizards and their tapestries, forget about schemes to avoid the Calling. He needed to forget about Mavi and their children, and about his sisters and his friends, and about the other members of the Council of Warlocks, and just go. Whatever was up there in Aldagmor, it needed him, and he needed to go to it...
Hanner bit his lip. What he needed, he told himself as he forced himself back to reality, was a refuge where he couldn't hear the Calling, couldn't feel its constant pull.
And that was what these tapestries were supposed to provide. That was what he had paid the Wizards' Guild eight thousand rounds of gold to obtain, a fortune that had completely wiped out his own assets, and half the Council's money as well.
"I'm sorry," he said. "What were you saying?"
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