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The Last Offering by Donald Huffman Graff

The Last Offering

by Donald Huffman Graff

362 pages
With a web of dark spells the sorcerer Dahlor Magman had ensnared the maiden Pazhè. The hunter Atírin would dare anything to free her -- but would even a witch challenge the mightiest mage in the lost land of Armágin? And as a forgotten evil from the deeps of time wakes, madness looms for those who seek its power and those who resist alike.

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Category: Fiction:Fantasy
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About the Book
The Last Offering is the story of the young hunter Atírin and the maiden Pazhè, set long ago in a land called Armágin. Here their people, the Arbir, hunt, fish, and garden by its lowland waters. But all is not idyllic, for the people depend upon witches as healers and diviners while fearing their curses, and demand blood vengeance for wrongs.

When Pazhè accepts Atírin's proposal of marriage, a rival suitor strikes a deadly bargain with Dahlor Magman, a sorcerer from a far island, to possess Pazhè nevertheless, leading to abduction, treachery, murder, and the waking of an ancient evil.

Falsely blamed for Pazhè's disappearance, Atírin must find her before a blood feud destroys both their kin. He journeys the length of Armágin, glimpsing the mysterious Forest People and encountering friends and foes among the Arbir and the mountain-dwelling Hill People, their ancient enemies.

Meanwhile Pazhè's journey, fraught with near-escape, near-rescue, magical bondage and magical deceit, leads her ever farther from home and hope and deeper into despair. One of Dahlor Magman's apprentices, the witch-woman Sharsil, reveals that the hideous beings of Pazhè's visions and nightmares are the Primordial Ones. Relics of their pre-human civilization dot the land, dark altars where Dahlor Magman makes his blood sacrifices.

Close to death from his hard journey, Atírin is aided by Bekor, an old healer who gives him an emerald within which a spirit seems to stir. Gift-giving is the way of Armágin’s people, yet this gift is not disinterested: Atírin is now close to Dahlor Magman's island and all nearby live in fear of the sorcerer, who has subjugated or slain all rival witches and anyone else who challenges his mastery. Though Bekor knows not how to use the emerald's magic, it is all the help the healer can give, save to counsel that Atírin put Pazhè's freedom above all else.

Pazhè has now been brought to Dahlor Magman's island, which is covered by a ruined city of the Primordial Ones. She now knows that he is obsessed with their relics, convinced these are the key to unimaginable power by inscriptions only he seems able to read. Yet there is much she does not understand, such as what he intends for her -- whether it is forced marriage or death, or whether these are somehow twistedly confused for him.

Dahlor Magman finds that his henchmen cannot be trusted to guard Pazhè and sends her to a house up the coast, where Sharsil alone guards her. To hold Pazhè there, Sharsil reveals her own magical power, showing Pazhè a prowling tiger out of an old tale and an invisible spirit wielding a flaming spear. Pazhè presses Sharsil about the tiger, rescuer of a maiden in the tale, since all the magic she has seen since her abduction has been horrible and threatening. Torn by conflicting emotions, Sharsil says it need not all be so, and shows Pazhè a vision both beautiful and cryptic.

Atírin learns Pazhè's whereabouts and comes to the house, where he tries to free Pazhè but finds himself facing Sharsil. Spells are unleashed, loyalties tested as bonds are broken and new ones forged, the Forest People reappear in the midst of fiery magical combat followed by capture and betrayal, and the secrets of magic are revealed. The emerald works a mysterious fascination upon Dahlor Magman, as he prepares to cast a deadly curse and loose destruction upon the earth.

The code of vengeance may not provide the courage against impossible odds that Atírin must find in the final confrontation, as reality itself seems to go mad and the power of his love for Pazhè is pitted against the power of illusion. And the spirit of the gift may in the end demand that the last offering be of oneself.



About the Author
Originating in Ohio, Donald Huffman Graff's road has led him through New York, New England, Louisiana, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Kansas, the suburban sprawl around Washington D.C., the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, and the deserts of the American Southwest. He has yet to gather any moss.



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