Five Hundred Years After
First edition cover
|Series||The Khaavren Romances|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|Pages||443 (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||0-312-85179-0 (first edition, hardback)|
|LC Class||PS3552.R84 F58 1994|
|Preceded by||The Phoenix Guards|
|Followed by||The Paths of the Dead|
Five Hundred Years After is the second novel in the Khaavren Romances fantasy series by Steven Brust. It is set in the fantasy world of Dragaera. The novel is heavily influenced by the d'Artagnan Romances written by Alexandre Dumas, and Brust considers the series an homage to that author. The book's title corresponds with the second Musketeer novel, Twenty Years After.
After five hundred years, an older and wiser Khaavren has become the de facto commander of the Phoenix Guards. Pel continues to scheme and study the Art of Discretion, while Aerich and Tazendra live quietly on their estates. Khaavren learns that the now-decadent Emperor Tortaalik has allowed his Empire to hover on the brink of financial collapse. After Khaavren survives an attempt on his life, he learns that several key members of the court have been killed and deduces that a conspiracy is underway to damage the fragile Empire. A shadowy figure called Greycat has planned the murders as part of a scheme to cause chaos in the Empire and then come to its rescue, so that he may gain a place at court.
Aerich, Pel, and Tazendra learn of their friend's danger and come to his aid. They are also helped by the powerful enchantress Sethra Lavode. Adron e'Kieron, the Dragon Heir, and his daughter Aliera arrive at the city as well, but the growing tension between the Emperor and Adron threatens to break into full-scale sedition. Greycat continues to send minions in failed attempts to kill Khaavren, while his conspirator Grita works to start a riot in the city.
Grita successfully sparks a riot that is only barely contained by Khaavren's men. The city lies in shambles and resentment toward the Emperor runs high. Meanwhile, Greycat hires a naive but highly skilled Jhereg assassin named Mario to kill the Emperor and gives him a fake magic weapon for the task. Greycat plans on Mario failing, but will use the fake assassination to further unnerve the Emperor. Mario does fail, but manages to escape with the help of Aliera, who now truly hates the Emperor. Tortaalik has her arrested for her complicity.
Adron has become so disgusted by the actions of the Emperor that he decides to start a revolt and seize the Orb for himself. He does not have the military might to do the deed, so he plans to use outlawed Elder Sorcery to steal the Orb directly. While Adron begins his spell, Tortaalik's forces engage his troops. Meanwhile, Khaavren and his friends are met by Greycat, Grita, and their thugs. Khaavren and company recognize Greycat as the former Duke of Garland, who had been disgraced by the group's actions during the events of The Phoenix Guards. During the fight, Khaavren kills Greycat, and a horrified Grita reveals that he had been her father.
During the fighting, Mario returns to the Imperial Palace to free Aliera. Together, they return to the throne room and kill Tortaalik. As the Dragon Heir, Adron is now the Emperor in truth, but his spell cannot be stopped. Caught in a logical loop, the spell continues to grow until it will eventually explode. Adron knows that he has doomed himself and the city with his pride. He uses his fleeting moments of immense power to teleport Khaavren and his friends to safety. Back in the castle, Sethra Lavode comprehends what is about to happen. She teleports Aliera and Mario away, and sends the Orb to the Paths of the Dead. Adron's spell explodes into a sea of chaos that destroys Dragaera City, a cataclysm later called Adron's Disaster.
Khaavren, Pel, Tazendra, and Aerich arrive safely in the duchy of Arylle. Without the Orb, there is no Empire. A lawless time of plague and strife called the Interregnum has begun.
- Khaavren's description of the Consort's bedchambers being a good place to stage the farcical murder drama Who Dropped Her First? is a reference to the Abbott and Costello routine Who's On First? and the lay-out of a baseball diamond.
- The foreword's mention of the play Redwreath and Goldstar Have Traveled to Deathsgate is a reference to Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard