The Hidden Stars: Book One of The Rune of Unmaking

The Hidden Stars: Book One of The Rune of Unmaking

by Madeline Howard

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Overview

Extraordinary new talent Madeline Howard begins an epic trilogy of magic and power, hidden birthrights and prophecies, with The Hidden Stars, the first book of The Rune of Unmaking.

In a world devastated by a cataclysmic war between the wizards and mages, the Empress Ouriána has seized the throne, proclaiming herself the Divine Incarnation of the Devouring Moon. Appointing twelve priests to perform her rites, she rules with a tight rein of evil sorcery. The priests, once men, have become twisted with magic, making them monstrous — mutated. They bring destruction wherever they ride, and one kingdom after another falls, enslaved into darkness.

Yet signs and portents appear, puzzling the seers, and a tale begins to grow. A rumor of a young girl, talented and hidden, who is destined to end Ouriána's tyrannous reign ... if she can survive long enough to do so. And so a brave band of wizards and heroes ride out in search of the hidden princess, pursued by the fury of the dark goddess herself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060575892
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/28/2006
Series: Rune of Unmaking Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Debut author Madeline Howard enjoys gardening, Celtic myths, and working on the next Rune of Unmaking book. She lives in Northern California with her family.

Read an Excerpt

The Hidden Stars
Book One of The Rune of Unmaking

Chapter One

On the great isle of Thäerie, there is a region north of the Siobhagh River where the barley fields and apple orchards of the south, the prosperous farms and the ancient many-towered cities, gleaming white and gold, give way to bleak dun-colored moorland, sullen hills, and rocky upland valleys. They call this country the Mointeach. Long ago, it was a land much plagued by warlocks, black bards, and cunning-men, but many perished at the Changing of the World, and many more fled at the coming of the High King. His allies were the mighty wizards of Leal, whose powers were far too great for these rustic necromancers and petty spellcasters to withstand -- and there were still, in those days, many wild, uncivilized places in the world where those who made their living raising ghosts and cursing cattle might flourish unmolested. Yet they left a number of strange customs and beliefs behind them on the Mointeach, and there was hardly a house to be found there without a rune-wand or a bundle of bones buried under the doorsill, some half-understood charm scratched upon the hearthstone.

The land remained much as it had always been. Villages were few, and divided by vast tracts of wilderness, while the little stormy bays and inlets were treacherous and difficult to navigate. No visitor ever came there traveling for pleasure, and few of any sort came there at all.

Yet it happened, one dreary day on the cusp of winter, in the time of the High King, that a trio of wizards trudged through the Mointeach. They were on their way to witness a birth and (it might be) a death, and a great sense of urgency and dread was on them.

For hours they walked through country wild and trackless, while a lonely wind whistled in the rocky defiles, and hawks and gulls circled overhead. Late in the day, they finally came upon a road. Little more than a footpath it was, and very rough and stony, but quite unmistakable, cut deep into the earth and running on for mile upon mile. They had seen no other signs of human habitation since landing their boat on one of the pebbly beaches to the northeast, and it seemed to the wizard Faolein and his two companions that this road must lead to the town of Cuirglaes. They decided to follow it.

After skirting the hills for an hour or two, the track began to climb. The wizards kilted up their long robes and continued on. The road wound uphill between shadowy stands of pine and spruce. Every now and then the forest grew thinner, and Faolein could see all the way to the top of the hill, could just make out in the failing light a huddle of ancient buildings made of stacked stone.

Could this be Cuirglaes? he asked himself. They had been expecting a town of moderate size, at the very least a great seaside fortress, not this tiny isolated settlement. Sudden panic clutched at his throat. If they had missed their true road, gone somehow astray --

A scattering of big wet snowflakes drifted down, melting as soon as they touched the ground. Faolein tripped over a knotted root, barked his shin on a tree stump, righted himself, and continued on, trying to ignore the sting where his skin had been scraped raw. Clumsy. Clumsy he was and always had been, especially when he allowed his thoughts to wander, when he failed to use all six senses to observe his surroundings.

The forest closed in again. Under the trees the air was damp and cool, heavy with the sharp scent of pine.

He considered the possibility that a mistake had been made. The sky had been overcast since morning, with not a single gleam of sunlight the whole grey day. Nevertheless, his own sense of direction was good, and Éireamhóine's was even better. He thought: If we've gone astray, it is the curse at work. It must be. Mother and child will both die, and with them all our hope.

Another bend in the road brought the village back into view, this time from the west. And now, partly screened from the road by a ragged line of beanpoles and skeletal dried cornstalks, Faolein spotted a cluster of buildings larger and more solidly built than the rest, and in their midst, thrusting upward, a round tower some thirty or forty feet high, with narrow windows set into the thickness of the walls.

"Perhaps Cuirglaes after all," said Éireamhóine. His pale, perfect face was impassive in the gathering gloom, the deep-set dark eyes without expression; only his words betrayed his fear. "May the Fates grant that we come in time to save two lives and foil our enemy's schemes."

Even as he spoke, the wind came up and scattered the clouds. The stone buildings on the summit stood silhouetted against a bloody sunset sky and the immense yellow moon, like a rotten pumpkin, just then rising behind the tor. As one man, the three wizards stopped where they stood, and Curóide flung up his yew-wood staff like a barrier against the ill omen, muttering a béanath, a charm of blessing, under his breath.

Then, carried on the wind, thin but unmistakable, came the anguished cries of a woman suffering a difficult labor ...

The Hidden Stars
Book One of The Rune of Unmaking
. Copyright © by Madeline Howard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Hidden Stars: Book One of The Rune of Unmaking 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Many years ago there was a war, a war that ended in mutual destruction for both parties. This was a magical war. Now those who survived live with the aftermath. One of the new powers is the Empress Ouriana, proclaiming herself the Divine Incarnation of the Devouring Moon, using black magic to control her people and trying to control more and more of the world. There's a prophesied one, who may be a young girl, who it is hoped will defeat the empress, but the empress knows about the prophecy and is determined to stop her. A band of heroes are determined to fight for the prophecy.Yes parts of it were a bit predictable but I enjoyed the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first couple of chapters are interesting, then once the book really starts it starts to get weird and boring. I had to force myself to finish it. The plot and characters are excellent but its not written very well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's an awesome book. She uses new elements that contributes to the story. Like most fanstasy stories you have new names that can confuse you. That's what held me back in the beginning. But as I read on it got better. The scenes are waht kept me going. Ghosts, seamonsters, wizards, and a bunch of other creatures makes the story even better. I can't wait to find out how the war ends. When is she going to make the next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. Lotr fans prepare for another great series. It was the best and I am waiting on the edge of my seat for the next book. They leave you dying to know what happens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book could have been great, but the characters were poorly developed and the names were very difficult to pronounce. Also, the author never really explained any of the political happenings, and the reader is always confused with where the characters are. I think a map and a pronunciation guide would have helped, but nothing could make up for the poor character development.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Long ago two empires arose with one following the light and the other embracing the dark. Eventually they warred with wizards fighting mages. The outcome was civilization was destroyed. Gradually mankind rebuilt much of what was lost, but failed to understand the real lesson of the past...................................... For almost four decades, the Empress Ouriana has ruled the island kingdom of Phaorax while turning her neighbors into slave states. Her mightiest weapon is the Furiadhim, warrior priests dedicated to the dark powers, but subject to the will of the Empress................................... Ouriana¿s sister gives birth to a daughter that many believe is the child of prophecy that says someone with the empress¿ blood will defeat her. Wizards and men willingly die to insure the princess will survive. Currently she lives in the home of King Ristat of Sturra under a false name. Nineteen years have passed since her birth and war is everywhere. The wizard Sinderian feels the time is near to fullfll the prophecy, but she must find and protect the princess from her aunt¿s minion whose mission is to kill her........................... Sword and sorcery fans and followers of Tolkien and Brooks are going to love THE HIDDEN STARS. The princess has no idea of her heritage, who she is, and what is expected of her as part of hiding her was to keep even her from knowing until the time was right. Her naive innocence is a perfect counterpoint to battle scarred Sinderian who has seen sacrifice for the cause. Madeline Howard¿s debut tale us a terrific high fantasy (what do you expect with that last name ¿ a stooges¿ tale?) that readers will enjoy and look forward to the next novel.......................... Harriet Klausner