Babylon 5: Armies of Light and Dark: Legions of Fire: Book II Mass Market Paperback – May 2 2000
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Vir stood before the giant, crackling energy gate. The ground around him was littered with bodies. On the other side of the gate loomed something so dark, so evil, that he was paralyzed with fear, and then he remembered a time--days, even hours ago--when he had been convinced that he could never, would never, be afraid of anything ever again. He would have laughed at his arrogance were he not too terrified to laugh, and his thoughts spun back to that period a short time before--
It seems to Vir a lifetime ago that he had stood before the techno-mages and trembled. In fact, it had not even been the techno-mages themselves. Instead he had quivered as shadows in a darkened corridor had loomed around him in a most threatening manner.
Vir had been going to speak with the techno-mages on Londo's behalf. The mission had seemed fraught with peril at the time. Londo had required him to inform the techno-mages that he, Londo, wished to meet with them.
That was it. That was all. Tell them that Londo wanted to set up a meeting. Beginning, middle, end of the assignment. But oooohh, how his knees had knocked, and oooohh, how the breath had caught within his chest, all because of an assignment that had involved nothing except acting as Londo Mollari's messenger boy.
He reflected upon that incident, and found the man he was at that time to be rather amusing, even buffoonish. What a charming, amusing individual he had been. He had always acted out of concern for everyone's needs.
That person was dead.
His death had not been abrupt. Instead it had been an agonizingly slow process, as he died by degrees. The final death-blow had been when he had slain the Emperor Cartagia--
No. No, on second thought, that wasn't it at all. No, the deathblow to the man that Vir Cotto had once been had come on the day when he had waggled his fingers cheerfully at the severed head of Mr. Morden, as it adorned a pike outside the imperial residence. Oh, certainly, he had once commented how much he looked forward to such an event, but he hadn't really meant it. The truth was that it hadn't been all that long ago that seeing a bodiless head would have been enough to make him physically ill.
Yet there he had stood, reveling in the death of an enemy. Granted, Morden had been the incarnation of evil, but even so--it had been a truly hideous punishment. And the Vir of old would never have taken such personal joy and satisfaction in witnessing its aftermath.
But that was the Vir of old.
Vir had been struck by fear over many things in his life. Those huge Shadow ships, or the techo-mages, or the sight of Londo sliding toward darkness while he, Vir, could do nothing to stave off the inevitable.
However, the single most frightening thing he had ever had to contend with was pondering the future. If a few short years had turned him into the current incarnation of Vir Cotto, what in the name of the Great Maker would he be like years further down the line?
Casting aside these thoughts, the Vir-of-the-moment, however, was determined not to dwell on such things. Instead he tossed restlessly in a small vessel belonging to the every beings from whom he had cowered in fear, only a few years before.
On some level, he knew that he should be afraid of even entering a vessel belonging to techno-mages. However, in the past week alone, Vir had discovered that the new, deliriously joyful love of his life, Mariel, had actually been stringing him along. She had been playing him for a fool, using him simply to position herself so that she would have greater access to assorted diplomats and ambassadors on Babylon 5. He could guess why, although he suspected that espionage very likely had something to do with it. Then he had learned that Londo was involved with beings that were servants of the long-gone Shadows, creatures called the Drakh. One of them was named Shiv'kala, and the mere mention of the name had been enough to get Vir thrown into a Centauri Prime dungeon. If Londo had not interceded and freed him, Vir would already be dead.
He wondered just what it had cost Londo to purchase Vir's freedom. What had he promised to do in exchange? What further piece of Londo's soul--presuming there was any of it left--had been traded away so that Vir could continue on the twisted path of his own destiny?
He couldn't remember the last time he had slept soundly. Once he had entered the techno-mage vessel, however, the female named Gwynn had led him to a seat and told him in no uncertain terms to go to sleep.
"Sleep," he had said bitterly, the stink of the dungeon still heavy in his nostrils. "You can't be serious. Sleep, my dear woman, is absolutely the last thing that I'll be capable of. Thanks anyway."
Whereupon Gwynn had touched two fingers to his temple, and suddenly the room was swimming. Vir's eyelids had been unable to sustain him, and in an instant, he had passed out. It was not, however, anything remotely resembling a peaceful dream state. Images of Mariel, Londo, Timov, Durla, all tumbled one over the other, fighting for dominance in his mind. There was Londo, white-haired and tired, many years hence, with a glass of some sort of liquor clutched in his hand. He appeared to be waiting for someone.
And then someone was approaching him. It was Vir, and he had his hands out, and they were around Londo's throat, strangling him. Suddenly Vir's hands were transformed into Narn hands, and Vir was cast outside of the moment, watching as G'Kar stood over Londo with murder in his eyes--no. In his eye.
Durla was there as well, and he was dancing--yes. He was dancing with Mariel, while Chancellor Lione plucked away an aimless tune that Vir could not identify. Curiously, both Mariel and Durla were covered with blood.
There was a full-length mirror standing nearby. Vir stared into it, and he saw himself clad in the imperial white. He turned back and there was Londo, with no G'Kar in sight. He looked as he had when Vir had first met him. He looked so young. Only nine, ten years had passed since that day, but Great Maker, what a decade it had been. Londo, who had seemed so burdened with his crushed expectations of what the Centauri Republic should be, nevertheless seemed relatively carefree compared to what he would eventually become. He raised a glass to Vir and tilted it back.
Blood poured from the glass and splattered all over Londo's face. Then he placed the glass down and reached toward Vir with a blood-covered hand. Vir stepped back, back, then bumped against a wall. There was nowhere for him to go, nowhere for him to retreat. Marial and Durla waltzed past, onto a balcony, and then went over the railing and vanished from sight. Vir opened his mouth to cry out, but his voice was not his own. Instead it was the cry of millions of souls issuing from his single throat. Outside the balcony off which Mariel and Durla had just plunged, he could see Centauri Prime--and it was burning. Great tongues of flame were licking a sky thick with inky black smoke.
Top Customer Reviews
This volume gathers nearly the entire cast of characters from "Babylon 5," as they relate to the Centauri homeworld, and uses them variously as foils or informing observers to the action going on with Londo, Vir, and several other major Centauri characters introduced in the first book. The Drakh, imitating their Shadow masters as the universe's newest evil puppeteers, are setting up the Centauri as their unwitting allies, and one Centauri stands in their way. On to book three...
Peter David continues to shine as a writer in this book. Once again, the characterizations from the series are perfect, and the references to events in both Babylon 5 and Crusade make the book lots of fun for the devoted fan. Vir changes dramatically in this book into a leader. Yet he powerfully retains his innocence and soul. The book leaves you anxious to pick up the last book in the series to get the full picture of the events from WAR WITHOUT END.
That is my main problem with the story, however. After the build up of the first book, this one seems to drag in spots. It's like it knows it's just the placeholder between the opening and ending of the trilogy. It's still worth reading; I was just expecting a bit more after the excellent first book.
Once again, the devoted Babylon 5 fan will enjoy this look into the story hinted at but never told in the series itself. Readers not familiar with the series will still enjoy the story without being lost, but they won't fully grasp everything happening. Either way, it will leave the reader anxious for the conclusion to the story of Centauri Prime.
The first book of the trilogy "The Long Night of Centauri Prime" began at the end of 2262 spanning for five years, telling us the tale of Londo, and giving us insights of the character never seen in the TV-series.
This second book of the trilogy begins where the first one left off, reaching the year 2273 by telling mainly the story of Londo's one time protegee Vir Cotto, while still continuing in the wake of the first book to explore Emperor Londo Mollari. And while the first book was a mere grounding for the story, this novel has a solid story-structure, meaning the book is packed with twists and huge build-up that promises the story of your life, wich, by the way, is what you get from reading the last book of the trilogy "Out of the Darkness".
The most impressive thing in this book, however, is the way Peter David, one of the most prominent Star Trek authors, and the writer of two Babylon 5 episodes, portrays the growth of the character of Vir Cotto.
'Growth' isn't actually the right term. 'Change' is.
Vir changes dramatically during the course of this book, and Mr. David does a remarkable job with holding the character together through it.
Yet again another definite must-read.
Most recent customer reviews
This book, based on an outline from Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski (so you know it's official), covers the period in B5's history detailing the continuing rule of Emperor... Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2004 by Jason Montgomery
Great continuity of the best trilogy. Out of all chracters Vir is most unlikely to become leader of the resistance. Very good character development. Read morePublished on Feb. 5 2003 by Z
I just finished reading Jeanne Cavelos series on the Techno-Mages before reading this series. The difference in quality is amazing. Deep vs. shallow. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2002 by Amazon Customer
The middle part of the Centauri Trilogy dwells on Vir and his personal growth from a bumbling, affable, goof to the man who will save Centauri Prime from the Drahk. Read morePublished on Aug. 14 2002 by Jamie Jeffords
This is a good book for Babylon 5 fans. It dives deeper into the problems that led to the destruction of Centari Prime(the second time) and the eventual liberation of the Centari. Read morePublished on June 14 2002 by J. Lindsay
There is NO QUESTION that this trilogy (Legions of Fire) did not skip a beat where the PSI CORPS/Bester (J. Gregory Keyes) books left off. Read morePublished on Dec 3 2001 by Robert G.
This is the second chapter in Peter David's trilogy Legions of Fire, based on Babylon 5. The first book was really great sci-fi literature; now let's have a look at its... Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2000 by Dmitrij Gawrisch
Once again, as in the previous book in the series, I had absolutely no trouble seeing this played out in my mind's eye. Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2000 by happydogpotatohead
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