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Glory Unbound
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-092-2
Genre: Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 303 Pages
Published: October 2003

Total Readers: 1

From inside the flap

Are heroes born, or created? Abducted by aliens and given the standard hero contract to rescue a maiden, kill a monster and save a world, Arthur MacDonald is in a unique position to discover the answer to that question. Or to discover the question is unanswerable.

A freestanding novel, Glory Unbound continues the story begun in Adornments of Glory, following Arthur to Diluvia, Terra's sister planet. Is Arthur a hero? Does he become one? Or does he die? (a hint--the answer to at least one of those question, is "yes.")

Glory Unbound (Excerpt)

Glory Unbound
by J. Crispin-Ripley

A horseshoe of blood red clouds surrounded the city. On the horizon, the Sleeping Giant floated on morning mist. The ice was gone but there were no ships on the lake, and none in the harbour. Once upon a time a major shipping centre, Thunder Bay now subsisted on tourism and its university. Some people claimed greedy unions had killed the city by making the port too expensive. Others, less judgmental, put it down to changing times. I had no opinion; both views had something to them. It all depended on how one looked at things.

The morning held a chill that made my breath faintly visible. I was accustomed to the big city, fouled with exhaust and industrial pollutants, so the air tasted fresh. Only one vehicle was in the parking lot of the lookout, a red van, bouncing on its springs. I headed for the other end of the lot, past a garbage can where a flock of screeching seagulls fought over the remnants of a fast food meal. No wonder they were so fat; fries were on their diet.

The park was an historic site; it had once hosted British soldiers. Nothing of note had happened there, however. I imagined the soldiers peering endlessly out over the lake, looking for foes sailing or steaming in to conquer the port and claim the wealth of the land behind it. Those foes never arrived or, probably, even existed.

I sat beside a black-painted cannon, on the stone wall at the edge of the natural embankment; glaciers had carved it, long before Great Britain was a nation, or even an island. Below, lights showed in scattered houses and a few cars poked along the narrow streets.

The scene was both familiar and alien. Twenty-four years earlier, I'd moved out of Thunder Bay. I'd lived in the city; I'd never called it home. Still, I'd returned for a visit, thinking that, perhaps, seeing where I'd been might help me make sense of where I was. But almost no one from my past remained; they'd died or moved away. Or moved on into realities where I was as much a ghost as the long-forgotten soldiers.

My pilgrimage had been spurred by a break-up, my third in two years. I hadn't loved her and she hadn't loved me. We'd been a casual item--at most, friends. At least that's how I'd seen it. She'd considered us committed until death did us part.

After three months? I'd never said I loved her, just that I enjoyed her company, in and out of bed. Still, like other women, she'd seemed to think I'd be a perfect husband and father. That I didn't want to be either, and frequently said as much, never impinged on fairytale dreams. Was it them or me? Them, I thought. They'd been brainwashed by the merchants of marriage. Still, I recognized I was too close to the situation to have an unprejudiced opinion. I'd come to Thunder Bay looking for insight, and looking for answers. I hadn't found either. At least I'd found a glorious sunrise.

"It's never the same twice, is it?"

I jumped. I hadn't heard anyone come up behind me.

"Never the same," I said.

"May I join you, or would you rather be alone?" His voice held a tremor of age.

"I don't have any strong feelings about it either way," I said. That sounded rude, so I continued. "I'd welcome your company if you can put up with mine."

"No apology necessary," he said. "I'm well acquainted with melancholy." He was beside me now, sitting on the next rock over. Again, I hadn't heard him move. "Weltschmerz?" he said.

I laughed with surprise at his use of that word. "Not really," I said. "More like self-pity."

"Things are that bad?"

"No, in general things are good," I said. "I suppose. Maybe I'm just greedy." I turned my head toward my unanticipated company. His hair would have been blond when he was younger and those twinkling eyes could have seen as many as ninety winters or as few as sixty. The tailored suit was a complete surprise. It didn't fit the time and place. He wore it like he hadn't expected to be in it either. His cologne held a hint of burnt toast.

"I'm going to a funeral," he said in reply to my unasked question. "You're invited."

A funeral? At dawn? "I'm not dressed for it," I said with a smile.

"Jeans are fine." He shrugged. "No one will notice."

"I wouldn't want to intrude."

"Trust me, no one will say a thing," he said.

It was my turn to shrug. "Sure, why not?" What else I could say? That I'd be pleased to accompany him? Hardly. Expressing delight at attending a funeral is seldom appropriate. At any rate, I didn't believe one was about to take place. He didn't seem dangerous, just a touch mad. I rather liked him. Besides, I didn't have anything better to do.

"Can I buy you breakfast after?" I said.

His answering laugh held a rumble too resonant for his thin frame. "Sometimes even an old soul can get lucky."

"I beg your pardon?"

"You already have my pardon, of course. For what it's worth. Breakfast is out of the question, but we'll see about lunch." He slipped off the wall and stood on the steep pitch of the hill down to the old city. His sense of balance was remarkable. "Take my hand and we'll be off."

Hold his hand? Oh, why not? In for a penny, in for a pound--and suchlike sayings. I stood beside him on the slope, trying to keep my balance. He had a powerful grip for his size. "You might want to close your eyes," he said. "I gather most people find this transition unsettling."

I took my chances and kept my eyes open. The panoramic view of the sun rising over the lake faded to grey. Then to black as we somersaulted through darkness. I began to lose my equilibrium and felt glad I hadn't eaten. Everything would have come back up. I took the old man's advice on a better-late-than-never basis and closed my eyes. It was an improvement, not being able to see. Not that I had been able see anything to start with.