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Dying of the Light
 
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Dying of the Light [Format Kindle]

George R.R. Martin

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Extrait

Chapter One


beyond the window, water slapped against the pilings of the wooden sidewalk along the canal. Dirk t’Larien looked up and saw a low black barge drift slowly past in the moonlight. A solitary figure stood at the stern, leaning on a thin dark pole. Everything was etched quite clearly, for Braque’s moon was riding overhead, big as a fist and very bright.

Behind it was a stillness and a smoky darkness, an unmoving curtain that hid the farther stars. A cloud of dust and gas, he thought. The Tempter’s Veil.

The beginning came long after the end: a whisperjewel.

It was wrapped in layers of silver foil and soft dark velvet, just as he had given it to her years before. He undid its package that night, sitting by the window of his room that overlooked the wide scummy canal where merchants poled fruit barges endlessly up and down. The gem was just as Dirk recalled it: a deep red, laced with thin black lines, shaped like a tear. He remembered the day the esper had cut it for them, back on Avalon.

After a long time he touched it.

It was smooth and very cold against the tip of his finger, and deep within his brain it whispered. Memories and promises that he had not forgotten.

He was here on Braque for no particular reason, and he never knew how they found him. But they did, and Dirk t’Larien got his jewel back.

“Gwen,” he said quietly, all to himself, just to shape the word again and feel the familiar warmth on his tongue. His Jenny, his Guinevere, mistress of abandoned dreams.

It had been seven standard years, he thought, while his finger stroked the cold, cold jewel. But it felt like seven lifetimes. And everything was over. What could she want of him now? The man who had loved her, that other Dirk t’Larien, that maker-of-promises and giver-of-jewels, was a dead man.

Dirk lifted his hand to brush a spray of gray-brown hair back out of his eyes. And suddenly, not meaning to, he remembered how Gwen would brush his hair away whenever she meant to kiss him.

He felt very tired then, and very lost. His carefully nurtured cynicism trembled, and a weight fell upon his shoulders, a ghost weight, the heaviness of the person he had been once and no longer was. He had indeed changed over the years, and he had called it growing wise, but now all that wisdom abruptly seemed to sour. His wandering thoughts lingered on all the promises he had broken, the dreams he had postponed and then mislaid, the ideals compromised, the shining future lost to tedium and rot.

Why did she make him remember? Too much time had passed, too much had happened to him—probably to both of them. Besides, he had never really meant for her to use the whisperjewel. It had been a stupid gesture, the adolescent posturing of a young romantic. No reasonable adult would hold him to such an absurd pledge. He could not go, of course. He had hardly had time to see Braque yet, he had his own life, he had important things to do. After all this time, Gwen could not possibly expect him to ship off to the outworlds.

Resentful, he reached out and took the jewel in his palm, and his fist closed hard around the smallness of it. He would toss it through the window, he decided, out into the dark waters of the canal, out and away with everything that it meant. But once within his fist, the gem was an ice inferno, and the memories were knives.

. . . because she needs you, the jewel whispered. Because you promised.

His hand did not move. His fist stayed closed. The cold against his palm passed beyond pain, into numbness.

That other Dirk, the younger one, Gwen’s Dirk. He had promised. But so had she, he remembered. Long ago on Avalon. The old esper, a wizened Emereli with a very minor Talent and red-gold hair, had cut two jewels. He had read Dirk t’Larien, had felt all the love Dirk had for his Jenny, and then had put as much of that into the gem as his poor psionic powers allowed him to. Later, he had done the same for Gwen. Then they had traded jewels.

It had been his idea. It may not always be so, he had told her, quoting an ancient poem. So they had promised, both of them: Send this memory, and I will come. No matter where I am, or when, or what has passed between us. I will come, and there will be no questions.

But it was a shattered promise. Six months after she had left him, Dirk had sent her the jewel. She had not come. After that, he could never have expected her to invoke his promise. Yet now she had.

Did she really expect him to come?

And he knew, with sadness, that the man he had been back then, that man would come to her, no matter what, no matter how much he might hate her—or love her. But that fool was long buried. Time and Gwen had killed him.

But he still listened to the jewel and felt his old feelings and his new weariness. And finally he looked up and thought, Well, perhaps it is not too late after all.

There are many ways to move between the stars, and some of them are faster than light and some are not, and all of them are slow. It takes most of a man’s lifetime to ship from one end of the manrealm to the other, and the manrealm—the scattered worlds of humanity and the greater emptiness in between—is the very smallest part of the galaxy. But Braque was close to the Veil, and the outworlds beyond, and there was some trade back and forth, so Dirk could find a ship.

It was named the Shuddering of Forgotten Enemies, and it went from Braque to Tara and then through the Veil to Wolfheim and then to Kimdiss and finally to Worlorn, and the voyage, even by FTL drive, took more than three months standard. After Worlorn, Dirk knew, the Shuddering would move on, to High Kavalaan and ai-Emerel and the Last Stars, before it turned and began to retrace its tedious route.

The spacefield had been built to handle twenty ships a day; now it handled perhaps one a month. The greater part of it was shut, dark, abandoned. The Shuddering set down in the middle of a small portion that still functioned, dwarfing a nearby cluster of private ships and a partially dismantled Toberian freighter.

A section of the vast terminal, automated and yet lifeless, was still brightly lit, but Dirk moved through it quickly, out into the night, an empty outworld night that cried for want of stars. They were there, wait- ing for him, just beyond the main doors, more or less as he had expected. The captain of the Shuddering had lasered on ahead as soon as the ship emerged from drive into normal space.

Gwen Delvano had come to meet him, then, as he had asked her to. But she had not come alone. Gwen and the man she had brought with her were talking to each other in low, careful voices when he emerged from the terminal.

Dirk stopped just past the door, smiled as easily as he could manage, and dropped the single light bag he carried: “Hey,” he said softly. “I hear there’s a Festival going on.”

She had turned at the sound of his voice, and now she laughed, a so-well-remembered laugh. “No,” she said. “You’re about ten years too late.”

Dirk scowled and shook his head. “Hell,” he said. Then he smiled again, and she came to him, and they embraced. The other man, the stranger, stood and watched without a trace of self-consciousness.

It was a short hug. No sooner had Dirk wrapped his arms about her than Gwen pulled back. After the break they stood very close, and each looked to see what the years had done.

She was older but much the same, and what changes he saw were probably only defects in his memory. Her wide green eyes were not quite as wide or green as he remembered them, and she was a little taller than he recalled and perhaps a bit heavier. But she was close enough; she smiled the same way, and her hair was the same; fine and dark, falling past her shoulders in a shimmering stream blacker than an outworld night. She wore a white turtleneck pullover and belted pants of sturdy chameleon cloth, faded to night-black now, and a thick headband, as she had liked to dress on Avalon. Now she wore a bracelet too, and that was new. Or perhaps the proper word was armlet. It was a massive thing, cool silver set with jade, that covered half her left forearm. The sleeve of her pullover was rolled back to display it.

“You’re thinner, Dirk,” she said.

He shrugged and thrust his hands into his jacket pockets. “Yes,” he said. In truth, he was almost gaunt, though still a little round-shouldered from slouching too much. The years had aged him in other ways as well; now his hair had more gray than brown, when once it had been the other way around, and he wore it nearly as long as Gwen, though his was a mass of curls and tangles.

“A long time,” Gwen said.

“Seven years, standard,” he replied nodding. “I didn’t think that . . .”

The other man, the waiting stranger, coughed then, as if to remind them that they were not alone. Dirk glanced up, and Gwen turned. The man came forward and bowed politely. Short and chubby and very blond—his hair looked almost white—he wore a brightly colored silkeen suit, all green and yellow, and a tiny black knit cap that stayed in place despite his bow.

“Arkin Ruark,” he said to Dirk.

“Dirk t’Larien.”

“Arkin is working with me on the project,” Gwen said.

“Project?”

She blinked. “Don’t you even know why I’m here?”

He didn’t. The whisperjewel had been sent from Worlorn, so he had known not much else than where to find her. “You’re an ecologist,” he said. “On Avalon . . .”

“Yes. At the Institute. A long time ago. I finished there, got my credentials, and I’ve been on High Kavalaan since. Until I was sent here.”

“Gwen is with the Ironjade Gathering,...

Présentation de l'éditeur

In this unforgettable space opera, #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin presents a chilling vision of eternal night—a volatile world where cultures clash, codes of honor do not exist, and the hunter and the hunted are often interchangeable.
 
A whisperjewel has summoned Dirk t’Larien to Worlorn, and a love he thinks he lost. But Worlorn isn’t the world Dirk imagined, and Gwen Delvano is no longer the woman he once knew. She is bound to another man, and to a dying planet that is trapped in twilight. Gwen needs Dirk’s protection, and he will do anything to keep her safe, even if it means challenging the barbaric man who has claimed her. But an impenetrable veil of secrecy surrounds them all, and it’s becoming impossible for Dirk to distinguish between his allies and his enemies. In this dangerous triangle, one is hurtling toward escape, another toward revenge, and the last toward a brutal, untimely demise.
 
Dying of the Light blew the doors off of my idea of what fiction could be and could do, what a work of unbridled imagination could make a reader feel and believe.”—Michael Chabon

“Slick science fiction . . . the Wild West in outer space.”—Los Angeles Times

 
“Something special which will keep Worlorn and its people in the reader’s mind long after the final page is read.”—Galileo magazine
 
“The galactic background is excellent. . . . Martin knows how to hold the reader.”—Asimov’s
 
“George R. R. Martin has the voice of a poet and a mind like a steel trap.”—Algis Budrys


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2357 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 288 pages
  • Editeur : Bantam; Édition : Reprint (28 septembre 2004)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000FC29IY
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°89.482 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5  82 commentaires
87 internautes sur 88 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of my favourite books 27 septembre 2004
Par Tango - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Purely by accident, while looking for something else in the library, I stumbled on a couple of George R. R. Martin's books, a collection of short stories called "A Song for Lya" and one of his early novels, "Dying of the Light", both published in the 70s. Friends have been recommending his later fantasy writing to me for years, so I thought - what the heck, I'll give him a go.

My god. I had no idea!

The short stories were enough to leave me wanting more, but it was "Dying of the Light" that really took my breath away. The writing is completely engrossing; I found myself missing bus after bus and staying late at work because I couldn't drop the book even for the ten minutes it would take to get to the bus stop. It's one of those rare books where everything fits together perfectly: the characters, the atmosphere, the setting, the way the story is resolved.

The premise seems deceptively simple: a man is asked by his former lover to meet her on a strange planet that has no star, a dying world that has been all but abandoned. But when he gets there, he finds that his Gwen has found a new place for herself among the ruins, and what's more -- she is married. So why did she call him? And is she really as happy as she seems to be? I should mention that the man she's married belongs to an alien culture where the strong hunt the weak for sport. Oh, and he already has a husband. Things only become more complicated when we meet all the characters and find out more about their cultures.

And the cultures alone are spectacular. It would be grossly unfair to try to cover them all, and completely unnecessary in a review. Suffice it to say that the breadth of Martin's imagination is matched only by the iron grip he has on his world and the plot of the story. Part of the experience is the way the story unfolds, the way the writer cleverly feeds you bits of information -- but he always remains one step ahead.

One image that particularly touched me was a city where the buildings are constructed in such a way that when the wind blows across the rooftops, it plays a symphony -- a lament that is almost hypnotic. Much of the book is like this, hovering right on the thin line between tragic and uplifting.

I was surprised to see that this book got some rather negative reviews here. A few people said there wasn't enough action, or that you couldn't see where the story was going, or that the characters are too complicated to be interesting. I guess if someone was expecting a shoot-em-up with cardboard villains and shining golden heroes, this book would definitely disappoint: the characters are deeply flawed but intensely sympathetic (even the apparent villains), the action unfolds as much in the minds of the people as in the world they inhabit (although there are still shoot-em-ups and chases), and the conclusion of the story is an organic and plausible development for the protagonist. It's the answer to the question he doesn't know to ask when he first sets out to find his long-lost love.

It's just a beautiful, intricate, deeply human story.
30 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Beautiful and lonely 20 avril 2000
Par Amy (atibbetts@wesleyan.edu) - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I became a fan of George Martin when I read "The Hedge Knight" in Legends and from there I went straight to a "Game of Thrones." Eager for more of his work, I was browsing in my university's library and came across "Dying of the Light".
I was amazed at the beauty of the writing, the vividness of the imagery, and the originality of the story. I would like to see more stories about the "manrealm" and especially the Kavalaar people (how about some "teyn" poetry?)
I would give this book five stars except the ending was too sad. Actually, it was so sad I've been up late every night for the past week thinking about it. Also, no one I know has ever even heard of George Martin, let alone this book, so I have no one to talk to. "Dying of the Light" is full of dark and lonely imagery, and even though it has made me feel depressed, it is a wonderful story.
(I would have liked to see Garse and Dirk become teyns!)
56 internautes sur 69 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Comments on G.R.R. Martin's First Novel 9 juillet 2002
Par Pablo Iglesias Alvarez - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
"Dying of the Light" was George R.R. Martin's first novel, and it certainly shows. He is very ambitious in this initial attempt and the results are mixed. The book is usually catalogued as Science Fiction, but it hardly feels like it. Sure, there is a glimpse of a history of human expansion into other galaxies and even 'Old Terra' is mentioned, but it is a mere background to set the story, not a relevant ingredient. Even when Martin uses scientific aspects ( technological applications ) throughout the book it is in a rather superficial and somehow 'pulp' way; Martin is more interested in the landscapes and in his characters.
As I said, the book feels over ambitious, the length being to short to be able to develop in a proper way the complex cornucopia of names, places, languages and customs that Martin set to create. The drive of the plot depends entirely in the amusing planet Worlorn, a once bright world where for a decade a 'Festival Of the Worlds' was held, but which now is turning dark, little by little leaving the sun than once brightened it. Worlorn is now almost unpopulated but the past glory of its cities still remains and is the stage for a story which moves around a past romance and the traditions of war-like people called Kavalar.
Martin tries hard to make his characters be as 'flesh and bone' as possible but in my opinion he only partially achieves it: At the end of book the Kavalar characters seem much more interesting than the main ones, Dirk and Gwen (although probably that was all along Martin's final intention).
Don't expect a fast paced adventure; Sometimes the story drags with seemingly no apparent direction but Martin is building tension towards a quite philosophical finale when the experiences on this planet have transformed the main character's views on life
It is in the impressive set of vistas from Worlorn that we get the best parts of the novel. The exquisite description of each abandoned city and its secrets already shows the magnificent talent that Martin will develop fully in his most successful saga: 'The Song of Ice and Fire'.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of my favorite novels 1 décembre 2010
Par Doug M - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Like many readers, I was introduced to George R. R. Martin through his excellent "Song of Ice and Fire" series. After I finished "A Feast for Crows" I decided to check out Martin's first novel, "Dying of the Light". The novel's unique setting--a dying planet where the light never shines beyond dusk--had me immediately hooked on the story. Martin's relatable characters and his incredibly detailed alien cultures kept me reading through the first half of the novel, and the second half detailed a breathtaking cat-and-mouse sequence that rivals anything else I've ever read. There is a deep theme of sadness, loss, and dying that runs through "Dying of the Light" so it is not a light-hearted adventure tale. Some readers may be put off by this, but I found it incredibly refreshing and satisfying. The plot unfolds as a direct consequence of the choices made by the main characters; none of whom are stereotypical heroes or villains. These consequences add up to produce an ending that is fitting and sad at the same time. "Dying of the Light" kept me up at night for about a week after I finished it, as I could not stop thinking about the characters, their motives, and their decisions. For me, this is the mark of a great book, and it is why I prefer sad novels to happy ones--they really make the reader think about the story after they turn the last page. For those readers familiar with Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire", this novel contains the gritty realism present in that series, but it also contains themes of love and loss present in the T.H. White classic "The Once and Future King". "Dying of the Light" is one of my very favorite novels, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a quality read, regardless of whether or not you are familiar with Martin and his other work.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Not bad 25 août 2005
Par FB - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I tried this book out based on the fact that I'm a huge fan of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. The best parts of the book inolve his extensive world building and impressively imagined histories for each of the many divergent cultures in the book. His characterization at times is a little weaker than his current writing, and his plotting isn't as sure-footed either. There are long pieces through the middle of the book which get a bit tedious to read, but almost all can be forgiven thanks to an exciting, propulsive ending that's a real page turner. All in all, not bad.
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