Forward the Mage

Even the Philosophical Strangler's
Hands are Tied when the King's Dreams
Became Nightmares ...

The youthful artist-swordsman Benvenuti Sfondrati-Piccolomini arrived in the city of Goimr just in time for disaster to strike. The evil sorcerer Zulkeh had driven the King of the realm insane, then fled from the city!

So much for Benvenuti's plans to become the Royal Artist ....

Injury was added to insult when Benvenuti was immediately arrested by the Secret Police. Then, after barely managing to escape the clutches of the authorities, he found himself embroiled with a revolutionary agitator and a gigantic madman.

Things were not as they seemed. The wizard Zulkeh and his apprentice Shelyid were, in fact, guiltless. Zulkeh had been summoned to interpret the King of Goimr's mysterious dream, which the sorcerer came to realize foretold an impending catastrophe for civilization. Zulkeh and Shelyid had actually left Goimr to discover the really important implications of the dream, beyond the trifle of the dynasty's destruction.

Much to the artist's dismay, his adventures and those of the sorcerer were hopelessly intertwined. Soon, Benvenuti and his two companions were off in pursuit of Zulkeh, trying to save the entire sub-continent of Grotum from conquest by the Ozarean Empire. Benvenuti was swept up in a whirlwind of revolutionary plotting and perilous wizardry as he traveled across the vast sub-continent. The only certainty was that he was on a quest the end of which he could not possibly fathom, accompanying a female revolutionary whose beauty was only outdone by her ferocity.

It didn't help that he'd fallen in love with her, especially since her brother's help would be vital to the success of their enterprise. Gwendolyn's brother Greyboar was the world's greatest professional strangler. And they didn't call him the Thumbs of Eternity for nothing ....


Eric Flint has already demonstrated his talent as a gifted new star of military and alternate history SF and now shows a masterful skill at fantasy adventure. His first novel for Baen, Mother of Demons, was picked by Science Fiction Chronicle as a best novel of the year. His alternate history novel, 1632, sold out its first printing almost immediately and received lavish critical praise. With David Drake he has collaborated on five novels in the acclaimed Belisarius series, the next of which will be The Dance of Time. A longtime labor union activist with a degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in African history, he currently resides in northwest Indiana with his wife Lucille.

Richard Roach was born in Philadelphia and has lived most of his adult life in southern California. He earned a master's degree in history from UCLA in 1971. He has worked at various times as a boat builder, real estate broker, paralegal and special education teacher, but has been a painting contractor for the past fifteen years. In 1969, he and Eric began working together on what eventually became the Joe's World series some thirty years later. He lives in Ventura, California with his wife Margaret Merryman and three cats.

Cover Art by Larry Elmore

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This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

First printing, March 2002

Distributed by Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Flint, Eric.
Forward the mage / Eric Flint, Richard Roach.
p. cm.
"A Baen Books original"—T.p. verso.
ISBN 0-7434-3524-9
1. Artists—Fiction. 2. Women soldiers—Fiction. I. Roach, Richard. II. Title.

PS3556.L548 F67 2002
813'.54—dc21 2001056468

Production by Windhaven Press, Auburn, NH
Printed in the United States of America

ISBN-13: 978-0-7434-3524-6
ISBN-10: 0-7434-3524-9

Copyright© 2002 by Eric Flint & Richard Roach

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

A Baen Books Original
Baen publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471

Electronic version by WebWrights

This book is dedicated to our wives and mothers, who always believed; and to those great pioneers who first aroused our enthusiasm for fantasy: Francois Rabelais, Miguel Cervantes, Voltaire, and Jonathan Swift; and, of course, to the world's Sancho Panzas.


Baen Books by Eric Flint

Joe's World series

The Philosophical Strangler
Forward the Mage (with Richard Roach)
Mother of Demons
Rats, Bats, and Vats (with Dave Freer)
Pyramid Scheme (with Dave Freer)
The Shadow of the Lion (with Mercedes Lackey & Dave Freer)

The Belisarius series, with David Drake:

An Oblique Approach
In the Heart of Darkness
Destiny's Shield
Fortune's Stroke
The Tide of Victory

By James H. Schmitz, edited by Eric Flint:

Telzey Amberdon
T 'n T: Telzey & Trigger
Trigger & Friends
The Hub: Dangerous Territory
Agent of Vega & Other Stories
By Keith Laumer, edited by Eric Flint: