David Carroll Eddings (July 7, 1931 – June 2, 2009) was an American fantasy writer. With his wife Leigh, he authored several best-selling epic fantasy novel series, including The Belgariad (1982–84), The Malloreon (1987–91), The Elenium (1989–91), The Tamuli (1992–94), and The Dreamers (2003–06).
The Redemption of Althalus (2000)
Part I cap 1
- On a number of occasions Althalus even managed to get close enough to him to be able to hear him talking. He actually grew to be rather fond of the chubby little fellow, but that’s not unusual, really. When you get right down to it, a wolf is probably quite fond of deer.
Part I cap 6
- Somehow you’ve managed to redefine the concept of evil. In your view, evil’s no more than a disagreement about the way things are supposed to be.
Part II cap 7
- Corruption’s a lot of fun, Em. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to try it?
- You want gold, I suppose? she asked in an accusatory tone.
“Oh, gold’s all right, I suppose, but I’d really rather get paid in love. Love can’t be counted, so it’s probably even more valuable than gold.”
- We’re going out to save the world. It’s only right and proper that the people along the way should lend a hand, isn’t it?
- You’ve seen all those red rocks in Plakand, haven’t you?
“Oh, yes. Plakand’s red from one end to the other.”
There’s a metal called iron in those rocks. Men couldn’t smelt it out of those rocks until they learned how to make hotter fires. Iron is harder than bronze, but it’s brittle. It has to be mixed with other metals to make weapons or tools.
“It’s completely replaced bronze, then?”
For most things, yes.
“It might be better than bronze, but it’s not as pretty."
- "This grey’s sort of depressing.”
What on earth has that got to do with anything?
“It’s a question of aesthetics, Em. We should always strive to fill our lives with beauty.”
I don’t see anything beautiful in something that was designed to kill people.
“There’s beauty in everything, Em. You just have to learn to look for it.”
If you’re going to preach at me, I think I’ll just curl up and go back to sleep.
- The word “coincidence” always seems to start religious arguments for some reason.
- I don’t like to contaminate a good story with truth, Em. That’d be a violation of my artistic integrity, wouldn’t it?
Part II cap 8
- Getting some of your people killed is part of the business of command.
- There’s a girl who can probably cut glass with her voice from a mile away [...] Andine’s got the kind of voice you can’t really ignore.
- Why do men always want to tamper with the natural order of things?
“When something breaks, we fix it, that’s all.”
What gave you the absurd idea that [the world]’s broken?
“It’s not the way it was before, Em. To our way of looking at things, that means that it’s broken.”
Change doesn’t necessarily mean improvement, Althalus. Change is just change. “Better” and “worse” are human definitions. The world changes all the time, and no amount of complaining’s going to stop it from changing.
Part II cap 9
- “Dear God!” Althalus exclaimed, brushing away more dust.
He’s busy right now, Althalus. Could I take a message?
- “I’m stinking rich, Em,” he said exuberantly.
I’ve been noticing that for several days now. You’re long overdue for a bath.
“That’s not what I meant, little kitten.”
It should have been. You’re strong enough to curdle milk.
- ‘Labor contractor’ sounds so much nicer than ‘slave trader,’ wouldn’t you say?
- “Sick, isn’t it?” Dhakan replied. “Our glorious, but slightly warped, leader hasn’t let him out of her sight since the day he was captured.”
- “What an adorable kitten!” she exclaimed. “Where did you come from, Puss?”
- “You’re a slave trader, then?”
Althalus shrugged deprecatingly. “It’s a living, your Highness. Slaves are a valuable commodity. I buy them in places where they’re an inconvenience and take them to places where they can be put to work to pay for their keep. Everybody benefits, really. The one who sells them to me gets gold, and the one who buys them gets laborers.”
“What do the slaves get?”
“They get fed, your Highness. A slave doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal’s coming from. He gets fed even when the crops fail or the fish aren’t biting.”
"Our philosophers tell us that slavery’s an evil.”
“I don’t concern myself with philosophy, your Highness. I take the world as I find it. I’m prepared to offer ten Perquaine gold wheats for every able-bodied young captive you’d care to sell.”
- “I’d pay a premium for this one, your Highness.”
“That one isn’t for sale[.]”
“Everything’s for sale, your Highness,” Althalus replied with a cynical laugh.
Part II cap 10
- “What did you do to Andine to bring her around? She didn’t really want to sell Eliar to me.”
I persuaded her to love me more than she hated him.
“I thought you couldn’t do that sort of thing out here.”
I didn’t create her love, pet. All I did was encourage it. Andine’s very young and very passionate. She loves—and hates—with her blood and bones, and she loves even more intensely than she hates. All I had to do to unleash her love was to be adorable. I’m an expert at that, if you’ll recall.
“I still think you’re cheating, Em.”
No, not really. Andine’s very pretty, and she smells nice. She’s soft and warm, and that voice of hers throbs like a bell. She’s very easy to love, and she responds to love with love of her own. I didn’t cheat her, Althalus. I did love her—and I still do.
“I thought you were supposed to love only me.”
What a ridiculous idea. Just because I love her, it doesn’t mean that I love you less. My love is boundless, you know.
Part II cap 11
- "... Can you pretend to be stupid?”
Eliar made a rueful kind of face. “Ma’am,” he said, “I’m a country boy from the highlands of Arum. We invented stupid.”
- Religion’s based on a desire to know what’s going to happen in the future. Astrologers believe that the stars control that.
- “That information is not supposed to be in the hands of the general population. Ordinary people aren’t equipped to deal with it.”
“Ordinary people are probably much wiser than you think they are, Reverend [...] Every family has a few black sheep. There’s nothing really unusual about it.
- A really good thief shouldn’t have to kill people.
Part II cap 13
- “Well . . .” Andine looked helplessly at the cat in her lap. “She’s so adorable,” the girl said, catching Emmy up in her arms and snuggling her face up to the furry captor of her heart.
“You noticed,” Althalus said drily. “Don’t try to fight her, because she always wins. Just give her all your love and do as she tells you to do. You might as well, because she’ll cheat to get what she wants if she has to.”
- “I’m pretty good at that. There were a lot of things I did when I was just a boy that I didn’t tell her about. I didn’t come right out and lie to her, of course. A boy should never lie to his mother, but now and then things sort of slipped my mind. You know how that can happen.”
“Oh, yes.” Althalus laughed. “Things have been slipping my mind for as long as I can remember.”
- “If he’s only a boy, what was he doing in a war?”
“He comes from a warrior culture. They start earlier than civilized people do. It was his first war, and it was supposed to be a quiet one. The half-wit who sits on the throne in Kanthon got carried away, though, so he ordered the soldiers he’d hired from Eliar’s Clan Chief to invade your father’s territory. It was a stupid thing to do, and it wasn’t supposed to happen. It was his fault that your father got killed, not Eliar’s. Eliar was only following orders. The whole business was the result of a series of stupid mistakes, but that’s what most wars are all about, I guess. Nobody ever really wins a war, when you get right down to it.”
- "His father was killed in a war several years ago, and Eliar became his mother’s only support. [...] [His] mother needed his soldier’s pay to keep eating. [...] Your father was unlucky enough to get in his way while he was showing his veneration for his parents. Isn’t that sort of what you were doing when you were planning to kill him before Althalus came along?”
“It’s not the same thing at all, Bheid [...] My father was the Aryo of Osthos. Eliar’s father was just a common soldier.”
“And do you believe that Eliar loved his father less than you loved yours? We all love and revere our parents, Andine, and the peasant or common soldier loves—and grieves—as deeply as the aristocrat. You might want to think about that just a bit before you launch yourself into your next tirade.”
- “Class distinctions are an impediment to understanding, Althalus,” Bheid told him, “and anything that interferes with understanding should be discarded.”
“You might want to give some thought to keeping that particular opinion tucked up under your arm, Bheid,” Althalus advised. “It won’t make you very popular in certain quarters.”
Part II cap 14
- “All right, lady, I’m woodsy. So what? If you don’t like the way I look, don’t look at me. I don’t have any parents, and I wear rags because that’s all I can find to wear. I don’t see where that’s any of your business, though. I’m too busy staying alive to worry about how I look, and if you don’t like it that way, well, that’s just too bad.”
Andine was gaping at Gher. “People don’t talk to me that way!” she gasped.
“Not to your face, maybe,” Gher shot back, “but I think if you’d close your mouth and listen to other people once in a while, you might find out what they really think of you. But you don’t want to know, do you? I wasn’t raised in a palace the way you were, lady. I grew up in a garbage heap, so I don’t have fancy manners.”
“I don’t have to listen to this!”
“Maybe you don’t have to, but you really should. I breathe in and out the same as you do, lady, and you don’t own the air, so it belongs to me as much as it does to you. Just back away, lady. You make me even sicker than I make you.”
- “You’ve got some fairly radical opinions for a member of the priesthood, Bheid,” Althalus suggested.
“The goal of mankind should be justice, Althalus. In their hearts, men really want to be just and kindly, but other things get in the way. It’s the duty of the priesthood to keep man on the right course.”
“Isn’t it just a little early in the day for these dense philosophical discussions?” Althalus asked.
“It’s never too early—or too late—to learn, my son,” Bheid proclaimed sententiously.
“Now, that’s really offensive.”
Bheid gave him a mischievous little smirk. “I’m glad you liked it,” he said.
- “You’re forcing me to violate one of my most sacred vows.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. We won’t do it that way then. We’ll just kill everybody in this part of Kweron instead. You’ll be standing waist-deep in blood, but your soul will be all nice and clean. Won’t that make you proud?”
“It’s entirely up to you, Bheid. You can either be a swindler or a butcher. Take your pick.”
- The fate of man might very well depend on what we’re doing. He’s doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but it’s still the right thing.
- Althalus took the child by the scruff of the neck and hauled him to the fire.
“I didn’t do anything!” the child protested in a shrill voice, struggling to get free.
“That’s probably because you’re too clumsy for this line of work."
- If you’d keep your nose out of things that don’t concern you, you wouldn’t hear so much that offends you.
- “What’s it like?” Andine asked curiously. “Hearing the thoughts of others, I mean?”
“Disturbing,” Leitha replied. “What people say and what they’re thinking don’t always exactly match. We’re much closer to being animals than most of us would care to admit.”
Part II cap 18
- "We don’t believe in your wars, we don’t believe in your customs, and we don’t believe in your Gods.”
“Your lives are empty, then.”
“The money sort of fills that up—at least that’s what Sergeant Khalor told us.”
- The most important part of strategy is keeping your men alive. If you take care of your men, they’ll take care of you.
- "Arums are real soldiers, and I want to hire them to train and advise the lowlanders to fight their own wars—at least this one.”
“You’re asking me to put myself out of business, Althalus,” Albron objected.
“Not really. After we’ve smashed Ghend’s armies, things should go back to normal. The princes of the low countries will still break out in rashes of ambition, and they’ll come here to Arum to hire professionals to do their fighting. It’s a matter of economics, Albron. It’s very expensive to train and maintain any army. Even when there’s no war, you have to keep feeding them. It’s cheaper in the long run to hire Arums.”
- Delegating authority seems unnatural to women. First they tell you to do something, and then they keep sticking their noses into it while you’re trying to do it, and all they’re really doing is getting in the way.
- Wars are a summer pastime, Althalus. Politics is a year-round entertainment.
Part III cap 19
- “I wouldn’t have any trouble working for a woman,” Chief Gweti bleated, “as long as she’s rich enough. I’d work for a rich goat, if he offered me enough gold.”
- “Astonishing!” Andine said in mock amazement. “Everybody says that making speeches is difficult. I didn’t seem to have any trouble at all.”
“Any speech goes over better with musical accompaniment, Andine,” Leitha suggested. “And Eliar plays the gold keg like a world-renowned virtuoso.”
“It’s the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard,” Koleika said fervently. “I’m glad I stayed for the concert.”
- The prosperity of all Arum might well hinge upon what we do here in this day... [If] Arum Chiefs are dishonorable men, who will ever come to these sacred mountains again with gold to deal with us? Take less, my sons, that ye may gain more.
Part IV cap 21
- “You don’t carry spears or bows?”
“They’d just get in the way, sir. A sling doesn’t weigh hardly anything, and you can find good rocks anywhere.”
“I thought the sling was just a child’s toy.”
“Oh, no, Sergeant Khalor,” Althalus told him. “I carried a sling for years myself when I was younger. It kept me eating on a regular basis.”
“Could a man kill a horse with one?”
“Easily. The bone between a horse’s eyes isn’t very thick. I haven’t used a sling for a long time, but I’m fairly certain I could drop a horse in midstride from a hundred paces.”
“That’s a little hard to swallow, Althalus."
“I’ve taken rabbits at fifty paces — and a horse is quite a bit bigger than a rabbit.”
Part IV cap 22
- A good soldier avoids politics and religion, but if all you want me to do is spank them and send them home, we’ll do it that way.
Part V cap 29
- “I’ll need a few kegs of your gold, though,” he added.
Althalus shrugged. “I had a feeling that might crop up.”
“‘Money makes the mare go,’ ” Kreuter quoted.
“Wouldn’t she settle for oats?”
“She might, but I won’t.”
Part VI Cap 34
- “You don’t have to be so apologetic with me, Bheid,” Althalus told him. “I’m very tolerant about things like that. I gather that your murderers are on a salary of some kind?”
“A yearly retainer with a bonus for each murder, yes.”
“Then they aren’t just assorted fanatics who kill for their God?”
“Good heavens no! Fanatics want to be captured and executed. That makes them martyrs, and martyrs are rewarded in heaven. Our assassins are thoroughgoing professionals who never get caught.”
“Good policy. Never hire amateurs when you can get professionals.”
- The Queen of Night was in full voice when Althalus and the others reached the battlements on the eastern side of the city, and her catapults were hurling boulders at the walls of Mawor with a monotonous thudding sound. “I’m starting to get a bellyful of that,” Duke Nitral growled. “I spent a fortune on that marble sheathing on the outer wall, and she’s breaking it all to pieces with those accursed engines. Excuse me, gentlemen. I’m going to do something about that right now.” He went on down the parapet to a cluster of peculiar-looking engines.
“What are those things?” Eliar asked curiously.
“Nitral calls them arbalests,” Koleika replied. “They’re sort of an oversized bow. They’ll throw a spear for half a mile. Nitral and I’ve come up with a way to make life very interesting for those catapult crews out there.”
Duke Nitral barked a sharp command to the men around the arbalests, and a sheet of spears trailing fire shot out in long arcs from the high walls of Mawor.
Part VI cap 37
- “What’s really going on in Perquaine?”
“A peasant rebellion—at least on the surface.”
Albron shook his head mournfully. “The lowlanders just don’t understand ordinary people, do they?”
“They haven’t got a clue. The aristocrats spend so much time admiring themselves in their mirrors that they don’t pay much attention to the commoners. From what I’ve heard, these rebellions break out every ten years or so. You’d think that after five or six times, the aristocrats might start to realize that they’re doing something wrong.”
“I certainly hope not. If the lowlanders start behaving like rational human beings, the clans of Arum are going to be out of work.”
- “I’ve looked deeply into the hearts of my fellow men, [...] and to be honest with you, I’d rather look into a cesspool.”
Part VI cap 39
- When some idiot jumps up and starts shouting, ‘My God’s better than your God,’ I don’t pay very much attention—except to hide my purse.
- “Surely you don’t agree with that apostate!”
“I was talking about his skill, not his message, Aleikon ... He’s good. There’s no question about that.”
Part VI cap 40
- The theorists make high-minded speeches. Their followers cheer and applaud—briefly—and then they get back to the business of appropriating everything of value.
- I’ve seen this all before, Althalus ... many, many times. An idea that’s born in glory starts to tarnish almost immediately.
- “Why must they always set fires?” Bheid asked Althalus as the two of them stood on the portico of the temple waiting and watching the columns of smoke rising from various quarters of the city.
“I’m not really sure, Bheid,” Althalus confessed. “It might just be accidental. Looters are usually fairly excited, and sometimes they get careless. My best guess, though, is that the fires are being set deliberately to punish the noblemen for their bad habits.”
“That’s pure stupidity, Althalus,” Bheid objected.
“Of course it is. It’s the nature of mobs to be stupid. A mob’s only as clever as its stupidest member.”