Shadow on the Sand

Shadow on the Sand – Attempt 1, Part 1

Well, the journey to Vassagonia is the calm before the (metaphorical) storm.

  • We sail for twenty-five days, only stopping off briefly in Port Bax.
  • Hopefully the area around that harbour city is now clear of both Helghasts and Noodnics.
  • During the journey, I am able to master (!!!) the Vassagonian language, having been taught by the crew in exchange for stories of my adventures.
  • I initially rolled my eyes in disbelief at this rate of education, but this blog entry states that factoring in 10 hours a day you can achieve basic proficiency in another language in around 48 days.
  • So, I guess the time frame was ridiculous but not OVER-THE-TOP ridiculous if you know what I mean.

Yes, I still haven’t gotten halfway through the first paragraph of the book; why do you ask?


In any event, but the time the ship arrives at the capital of Barrakesh, I have both mastered the sailors’ language and ‘won their respect’.  Through my linguistic skills, I’m sure.

Yeah, right.


When we sail into sight of the city, the building are truly magnificent, although the view is marred by (ominous musical sting) black flags flying from every tower of the largest building in town (obviously the palace).

Project Aon link – black flags

I’m thinking that can’t be good.  Maybe they also heard about the results of the recent US Presidential election.

Or possibly they’re all just fans of this classic punk band

The envoy informs me with mounting horror that the black flags indicate the death of the previous Zakhan, and the goodwill of his successor is far from certain.

I’m thinking this tune is appropriate for our current mood of ‘anticipation’.

As we alight from the ship a carriage pull up along the dock, and a diplomat / functionary of some kind alights, identifies himself as Maouk, and greets us in the name of…..

Zakhan Kimah!?!

The name means little to me, but the envoy who accompanied me back from Sommerlund has the (predictably) horrified reaction.  This is (literally) cut short by a timely dagger from Maouk, and various soldiers move to surround me.  For some unknown reason, I am able to immediately detect (!) that men these are the Sharnazim, ‘elite Vassagonian bodyguards’.

Aside : Alright, I’m going to have to take issue with the late Mr Dever here on a number of points :

  • How the heck do I automatically know that ‘black-clad’ warriors are the elite agents of the kingdom?  Was that lesson squeezed in amongst the impromptu language classes?
  • The text specifically states that, when the ship arrives, the harbour is deserted save for a ‘few’ people, but suddenly ‘scores’ (remembering that a score = 20) of these elite assassins emerge from the shadows.  Have you ever tried to hide 40+ people in shadows at a medieval harbour for days on the off-chance that the envoy’s ship will return ??  Interesting plan…
  • If it was known that the mere name of the new Zakhan would provoke such fear and outrage, why not just keep that a secret (or, you know, lie) until I was securely inside the palace?  Why give the whole game away at the unsecured port?

Alright, I’ll try to stop being ‘that guy’ now.


I finally get to make a choice!

I can stand and fight (!), surrender (!!) or retreat to the ship.

I know that sometimes these books require you to be counter-intuitive, but I can’t see how either fighting or surrendering is an auspicious way to start this adventure.

As I race backwards towards the still-oblivious crew, I here Maouk doing the customary scream of ‘Take him alive!’

A horseman appears as if from nowhere (!!!) and blocks my path.  I can fight, dive into the ocean or surrender.  Again, surrendering doesn’t seem to be worth the candle.

My MEGASWORD should be able to quickly take out one horseman (gulp!)  I quickly attack, and hope that the horseman takes Maouk’s command seriously…

Project Aon link – horseman

Lone Wolf : CS : 29, E : 26

Horseman : CS : 21, E : 28

I have to win in three rounds or it looks like, to quote Robocop, there will be…..trouble.

Round 1 : I lose 1 Endurance, my opponent loses 12

Round 2 : I lose another 1, my opponent again loses 12 (down to 4)

Round 3 : I finish him off without further loss.

I might actually make it out of this harbour alive after all!


Base Stats : CS : 17, E : 20, GC 50

Current Stats : CS : 29, E : 24

Weapons : Sommerswerd (+8 CS), Sword

Backpack : 2 Meals, 2 Laumspur potions (+4E),

Special Items : Map, Crystal Star, Shield (+2 CS), Sommerswerd, Padded Waistcoat (+2 E), Chainmail Waistcoat (+4 E) Blue Stone Triangle Pendant, Diamond, Ornate Silver Key, Dagger of Vashna

Kai Rank : Savant

Kai Disciplines : Camouflage, Animal Kinship, Tracking, Hunting, Sixth Sense, Healing, Mind Over Matter, Mindblast (+2CS), Mindshield

Paragraph : 125


4 thoughts on “Shadow on the Sand – Attempt 1, Part 1

  1. This might just be my favorite Lone Wolf book. It really has it all. Escapes, chases, plot twists, an alien atmosphere/setting for a northlander such as LW, and a grand finale with epic stakes

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If a monk, who’s demonstrated proficiency in a number of disciplines, is stuck on a ship, surrounded by people speaking a foreign tongue and willing to teach him, with no iPad to distract him, then I totally believe he could master the language in 25 days. Even I might be able to learn and retain some stuff.

    Regarding your number of points:

    1) You could have easily remembered the awesomely-named Sharnazim from your convos/lessons with the crew. And as an experienced warrior, you can quickly tell the difference between elite fighters and run-of-the-mill cannon fodder.

    2) I figure they saw your ship coming from one of the tall towers, and had enough time to plan their attack. Magnificent buildings + desert sun = lots of shadows to hide your ninja warriors.

    3) …that’s a good point. Overconfidence? By the way, this scene sounds like it could have been inspired by an Errol Flynn or a Zorro movie.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. T-Man makes some excellent points. I’d just like to add though that while with regard to the language barrier we can be thinking of someone from Sweden trying to learn Arabic in 25 days, (or someone from Melbourn trying to learn Swahili I suppose) we can’t be that cut and dried on the matter. From The Magnamund Companion we know that the Sommlending and the related Ulnarians of Durenor came from the North while the Vassa/Sadi (of Grey Star) came from the far south we don’t know for certain are then from the same world or different worlds, nor do we know just how different their languages are. Even if they’re very different, the Wastelands (between Sommerlund and Durenor), Casiorn on the southern border of Sommerlund and Cloeasia on the South eastern border of Sommerlund are all Vassa nations. While its believable that Ragadorn would speak Sommerlending (if that’s the name) the other nations would be more of the Vassa tongue so someone who’s job it is to defend the country’s borders would be expected to start with at least a smattering of the Vassa language anyway (bearing in mind the time frame given for how long the Vassa people have been around, these countries could have different versions of theVassa languages similar to the splits in Spanish, Portugese and Italian, that is to say you’d still have to work to actually master it rather than just manage it but it could still be done. Yes, I really did do all that research just to defend one solitary line who’s sole purpose was to explain why you could speak with the natives in this new land.

    And I’m really surprised that you blurred completely over the idea of a Land Lubber being able to tell the most amazing stories that a bunch of SAILORS have ever heard???????

    As for the Sharnazim, in fairness Lone Wolf as a Warrior Lord would be trained in recognising the different uniforms of the local nations. After all you wouldn’t want a Kai warrior drawing his weapon and charging to the attack if he was abroad and saw the local postman or a cadre of the Salvation Army.

    As for revealing the name of the new Zakhan, T-Man is right about Maouk just oozing overconfidence in the course of the first part of the book. But also, I don’t think they would have expected the pathetic fawning diplomat who your King couldn’t stand to actually show some guts and warn you. Usually diplomats will be among the first to suck up to the new boss if they want to keep their job.

    And while I love the Bill Murray poster, you’re not being “That Guy”, as Ed pointed out, “Criticism where criticism is due gives more weight to the praise”. And would T-Man and I have spent as much time thinking about the How and the Why if you hadn’t raised the questions? Sometimes writers leave things unsaid because they didn’t think about them, but other times its to see will you think of the answers they’ve already come up with. Which this was is a matter for debate but Joe Dever was a master worlds builder.

    As for getting out of the harbour alive, of course you will, you’re wanted at the palace. Out of the harbour free though, that’s another story, quite another story…..

    Liked by 2 people

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