- The Redemption of Althalus
infobox Book |
name = The Redemption of Althalus
image_caption = First edition cover
David Eddings& Leigh Eddings
language = English
publisher = Voyager (UK) &
Del Rey Books(USA)
release_date = 3 July 2000
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 704 pp (first edition, hardback)
isbn = ISBN 0-00-710352-2 (first edition, hardback)
preceded_by = none
followed_by = none
"The Redemption of Althalus" is a stand-alone
fantasynovel by David and Leigh Eddings. It is notable because, unlike in the vast majority of fantasy novels, the world evolves over the ages, going from a bronze-age barter economy to a more traditional high fantasy setting over the course of the work.
It primarily concerns Althalus, a professional thief enlisted by the Goddess Dweia to save the world from the depredations of her evil brother Daeva and his henchman Ghend. As with other Eddings books, it is written in a style which combines dramatic storytelling with plenty of wry humour and light relief.
The story revolves around Althalus, a professional thief with a gift for storytelling and a reputation for uncanny luck. One year he decides to go try his luck in the civilised lands, he first tries the city of Deika, but he is unlucky when the rich man he is robbing (Melgor) house is heavily guarded with vicious dogs in which Althalus barely escapes with his life, confused over this loss of fortune, he tries Omeso's house in Kanthon only to find that Omeso is secretly living in poverty and he leaves in disgust only to find that every rich person in Kanthon lives like that. Travelling to Maghu he takes a quick glance at the statue of their fertility Goddess: Dweia, which leaves him questioning the sanity of the sculptor, at night he breaks into a rich merchants house, Druigor and opening his strongbox only to find it filled with nothing but paper, his humour foul he takes one piece of paper with him and finds out top his horror that the paper can be traded for a silver coin and he had unintentionally thrown away more money than he would ever find again. After the numerous disasters Althalus decides returns to the more savage lands of the north, where he grew up. After hearing some local gossip at a tavern where he learns of Gosti "Big-belly" who is said to be the richest man in the world, Althalus decides to pay Gosti a visit and "transfer some ownership", after wriggling into Gosti's fort and amusing everyone with his story's, except Gosti's cousin Galbak he checks out Gosti's storeroom lock. After spending a month in the fort Althalus breaks into Gosti's storeroom during the night only to find that all that talk about gold were lies and that Gosti only has bags of worthless copper coins and a handful of brass coins, angry Althalus steals all the brass and leaves only to become wanted by Galbak and with every man in Arum looking for him he escapes to a tavern and accepts a commission from a man named Ghend.
Ghend hires Althalus to travel to the House at the End of the World to steal a Book. Although he suspects something is amiss, Althalus accepts the job and goes there, on the way he meets a senile old man who believes he is conversing with God and manages to get proper directions from him, soon after he fell asleep he has a strange dream where he is visited by a "perfect" Autumn haired women who offers to care for him forever, he however declines. After several more days of travel he finds the house and manages to find the book only to find that the House is occupied by a talking cat who trapped him in the house until he is willing to listen to her. After several days of being trapped he finally decides to listen to the cat and he finds out several astonishing things. The Book is the Book of Deiwos, the God who created the world, and the cat (named Emerald by Althalus, and frequently called 'Emmy' to her chagrin) teaches Althalus to read it. After some two and a half thousand years, Emmy teaches Althalus that some words in the Book, which is written in the original language of the Gods, can be used to accomplish feats of what in another book might be called magic.
The intervening two millennia have seen many changes in the world, including the initial stages of an ice age triggered by the evil God Daeva. Emmy tells Althalus that Ghend is Daeva's agent, and is working to deliver the world into his master's hands. Emmy and Althalus set out to gather a party of people who are destined to save the world from Daeva's dominion. Along the way one of Ghend's underlings, Pekhal, comes after them, luckily with Althalus's new knowledge and abilities he easily disarms him and steals his sword, dagger and purse before leaving him incapacitated for several days. Althalus and Emerald return to Arum to find a knife which will guide them to each person destined to help them at Arum. Althalus meets the current chief Albron who lead him to the armory. There they find that the knife has been taken by Eliar a new member of the Arum army, with this new information they travel to Osthos via passing through Maghu, there Althalus is shocked when Emerald accidentally tips him off about her true identity; Dweia, when she displays her outrage at the statue of her. Once they reached Osthos, Albron's seargant Khalor informs them about Eliar's predicament (he was captured after killing Andines father) and the suitable punishment he will suffer from Andine after she thinks of it. Deciding that they will have to buy off the slaves they head to Emerald's private gold mine and collect twenty blocks of gold which Althalus converts into coins, with their purses full they return to Osthos and confronts the Arya Andine in her palace posing as slavers.
Emerald worms her way into Andines affections in an attempt to persuade her to give up Eliar while Althalus checks the other slaves to keep up his image. Andine agrees the sell the lot along with Eliar (after Althalus describes the conditions of the salt mines he plans to "sell" them to) for one hundred gold coins, but tensions rise when Andine wants Emerald for the knife until Emerald orders Althalus to agree, while promising she will return that night. With the agreement done Althalus leads his troupe out but overhears Eliar planning on attacking him with the other soldier slaves, to break the soldiers loyalty he randomly picks a soldier to use as a demonstration and sends him several thousand feets into the air before bringing him back down and releasing the slaves except Eliar who he keeps chained up, that night Emerald comes back and Althalus reads the knife to find his task is to "seek". In the morning Eliar decides that because he has an agreement with his clan chief Albron he will listen to him, during breakfast Eliar (after some persuading) reads the knife and finds it's his task to "Lead", Emerald reads the knife and finds that their next target is in the ruins Awes.
After buying some horses they head to Awes where Emerald (via Althalus) tells Eliar that he must show the writing on the knife to every priest in Awes and ask if they could read it, most of them will charge to translate or claim they are too busy, if they scream however they must be killed, while doing this they discover an agent to Daeva who screams in anguish after seeing the knife, Eliar quickly slays him and the two hide the body under a pile of rocks. Unfortunately a young priest finds them but fortune smiles on them when it turns out that the priest is none other than the fourth member of their party, Bheid who reads the knife after some mental jabs by Althalus and they find that his task is to "Illuminate". With their new member ready Emerald reads the knife which (too Eliar's horror, Althalus's annoyance and Bheid's confusion) leads them back to Osthos where (to Althalus's chagrin) their fifth member is none other that the Arya of Osthos: Andine.
Returning to Osthos with their newest member in tow, they camp out behind the walls of the city for the night, formulating a plan, Althalus and Emerald sneak into Andine's palace unnoticed thanks to the newest spell taught to Althalus by Emerald. In Andine's chambers Emerald captures Andine in a spell, causing her to be a little more than a puppet commanded by Emerald, leading their newest member out of the city they rejoin their group and decide to hastily leave before morning comes and Andine is discovered missing. While they were travelling to Perquaine Althalus notices how Eliar seems to be rather forward with the attractive (and still puppet) Andine. Once they reached Perquaine Emerald releases the spell and Andine automatically reads the knife revealing that her task was to "Obey", unfortunately Andine wants no part in this and only focuses on killing Eliar, but the enchantment on the knife forces her to listen to Althalus and so with their newest (and most unwilling) member in tow they travel (with an extra horse for Andine) to find the fifth member in Hule.
While traveling towards Hule Bheid tries to quell Andine's hatred towards Eliar (who is visiting his mother at the moment) with limited success but appears to be taking affect when Andine refrains from making any scathing remarks towards Eliar. On the way they encounter Koman, Ghend's "mind leech" who Althalus manages to fend of after some advice from Emerald by scrambling up numbers and fractions in his head to confuse Koman who angrily retreats from his defeat. During the night Althalus and Eliar hear someone creeping towards their camp and capture him only to find it's a scruffy boy named Gher (who Althalus notes would have a talent for stealing if given the training) who, it turns out, is they're fifth member whose task is to "Deceive". After rejoining the rest of their gang Emerald finally sorts out Andine by using Gher as a voice, Andine (having a change of heart) helps clean up Gher and they head to Kweron to find their final member; a "witch".
Each of the party has a special gift or talent, and they return to the House at the End of the World to learn how to use them. Each of the party has an opposite in Ghend's group, who they must eliminate or neutralise. Some of these conflicts take place amidst open warfare, while others are more personal conflicts, or purely supernatural in nature. Ultimately, Ghend and Althalus face off in the House at the End of the World, with the destruction of the Book of Deiwos or the Book of Daeva—the ultimate forces of Good and Evil—as the prize.
*Deikan Empire - the Deikan Empire covered most of the "civilized" lands. It's capital Deika was located on the southern side of a vast lake in northern Equero. The Senators of the empire, after hearing there was gold in the hills of Kagwher, sent an army to secure Kagwher for Deikan use. The first, second, and third armies the senators sent deserted leaving barely enough soldiers for the streets of Deika to be patrolled. The Deikan Empire declined rapidly after that.
*Perquaine - Dedicated to farming of grains.
*Ansu - a hill country.
*Arum - mountainous country.
*Hule - a forest country
*Kweron - mountainous country.
*Kagwher - mountainous country.
*Nekweros - an EVIL country
*Plakand- a prairie country.
*Wekti - a prairie country.
*Dhweria - an island slightly larger than Treborea. It is located around 1,000 miles from Plakand.
* Althalus – a professional thief (or the transfer of ownership as he calls it) with a gift for storytelling and a reputation for uncanny good luck (provided by Dweia) and is over 2500 years old but despite his age he sometimes acts somewhat childish. Dweia teaches him to use the words of her brothers book to manifest power in the human world thus he is the instigater to many plans during the war against Gelta. His task, as read on the knife, is to seek. Out of their group he and Dweia are the only ones old enough to be considered the others seniors thus he frequently calls them "children" when he's alone with Dweia, his opposite is Ghend who he kills by sending him into "Nowhere" and "Nowhen". He and Dweia are lovers through most of the book before he finally marries her at the end of the book and impregnanting her with their first child.
*Dweia - otherwise known as Emerald, Emmy or Em. She is one of the 3 Gods, and generally stays in the form of a cat, as her human form is that of a heart-stoppingly beautiful (to the point of being ridiculous) young woman, whch is very distracting (particularly to males). She describes her brothers as "both being too impressed with themselves to see things as they really are", she is also described by Deiwos as being "absolutely adorable when she flares up" she also claims to be ticklish. She is in love with Althalus for the entire book. Dweia is a thief in her own right, and this is the reason that she gets along so well with Althalus, she claims she always cries at weddings. She cares for her brother Deiwos' creations, effectively "mothering" them, she is pregnant with Althalus's child at the end of the book (the only thing she has ever seen make him cry).
* Eliar – A young Arum that is captured by Andine. Perpetually hungry (to the bemusement of his fellows), and a skilled soldier, described as a fairly handsome young man with bulky shoulders and powerful legs. The carrier of the knife (the disguised form of the book of Dweia). Can open the doors of the house that lead to anywhere or anywhen (in the books described as everywhen and everywhere by Gher) however this ability is dependent on his sight which cripples their plans when Eliar was temporarily blinded from an ambush by Gelta. He loves Andine, despte the fact he killed her father, because, as Althalus puts it, "he was just doing his job". His task is to lead, and his opposite is Pekhal.
* Bheid – a fairly young Black-Robe Priest of Deiwos, before being made the exarch of the Grey Robes (mostly against his will). He is very intelligent, and probably the most moral of the group though is generally forced into a corner and being made to make a choice that he would rather not (i.e either lie or kill). He was deeply traumatised when he killed someone (despite the victim technically being a demon) until Althalus sorts him out, but the guilt of the action still follows him. He falls in love with Leitha after he saves her from burning and is embarrassed when Leitha purposely gives him views of her feminine figure. His task was to illuminate, and his opposite is Argan.
* Andine – the Arya, or queen, of Osthos, a city in Treborea and (in the beginning) has a very expressive voice. She has a rather snobbish attitude to the others until Emerald sorted her out via Gher, after that incident she then becomes more humble and caring than before though still retains some pride as she is clearly disgusted when she has to bow down to Gelta. Her feelings for Eliar are very conflicted, as "part of her wants to slaughter him for killing her father, the other half finds him physically very attractive", these feelings are eventually resolved with her in love with him. Her task was to obey, and her opposite was Gelta, Queen of Night.
* Leitha – a telepathic "witch" saved from being burned at the stake and rarely backs away from an enemy. Quite distant in the beginning, she becomes more open as she grows accustomed to her group. She falls in love with Bheid after he rescues her from said burning. Her task was to listen and her opposite is Koman. She considers Althalus her surrogate father and was quite upset when Althalus cluelessly rejected these advances before reconciling with her. As a result, she is closer to Althalus than anyone else in the group (excluding Bheid) and, amusingly (because of his age) she flirts with Althalus on occasions, to his annoyance.
* Gher – a ten-year-old genius with a unique way of perceiving the world. He is the youngest member of the group and he is the only one who can "sense" Leitha's ability, which he lets "zing right past" him. Althalus is training him to be a thief. His task was to deceive. His enemy was Khnom who he "deceived" by knocking him out with a bucket. During the war with Gelta, Dweia gives Althalus the spells he needs by communicating through Gher (to Althalus's amusement). Althalus manages to trick Gher into thinking of being adopted by Khalor at the end so Gher wouldn't feel like he was being thrown away if Althalus or Dweia orders him to go with Khalor.
* Deiwos - Dweia's elder brother, the creator of the world, it is revealed near the end of the story that his human form is that of a seemingly senile old man who directs Althalus to Dweia's (formerly his) house. According to Dweia, Deiwos makes things for her to love while Daeva "hauls out the trash". Despite Dweia's proclamation they are not close, according to Althalus, Dweia has him "wrapped round her little finger" and because of this he warns Althalus (fully aware of Althalus's relationship with his sister) that if he mistreats or hurts Dweia in any way he'll have to answer to him.
* Daeva - Dweia's other brother, Daeva unmakes that which Deiwos and Dweia no longer need. He holds a role similar to Dweia in that he gathered his group of champions. But where Dweia treats them as a family with love, he inspires his underlings with fear, never apppears in person in the book though it is implied that he uses Althalus's voice to briefly renounce Ghend and refuse to save him from death.
* Ghend – an agent of the god Daeva, taught by Daeva to use the dark words, and Althalus's arch-enemy who is even older than he is as he was alive since man first existed (he is approximately 7500 years older than Althalus). He is shown to be rather greedy (even more so than Althalus) and has eyes that "burn with an inner flame". He is the man that hires Althalus to steal the book of Deiwos and is one of the two instigators of the entire story, the other being Dweia. He is killed when he was drawn into Nowhere and Nowhen along with Daeva's book after rejecting Althalus's advice to give up.
* Pekhal – a brutish warrior of the first generation of humanoids and a cannibal at times and the first member of the antagonists to be defeated, several of his limbs are cut of by Eliar during a war and is implied that he has dies, he is the first antagonist (outside of Ghend) that Althalus encounters and is left twenty feet in the air with his things stolen after.
* Gelta – the 'Queen of the Night' a barbaric, pockmarked and ugly warrior queen, she leads her forces against the armies assembled by Althalus and very nearly defeated them but was ultimately captured and banished into a doorless room where she will spend the rest of eternity.
* Koman – another mind-leech
* Argan – a defrocked Priest
* Khnom – who uses the doors of Daeva's city Nahgharash as Eliar uses those of the House and is the last member along with Ghend to perish.
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