The Armies of Daylight (1983) is the third fantasy novel of the Darwath trilogy, following The Walls of Air. In the previous volume, Ingold and Rudy fled Dark infested Quo and walked back across the windy plains. Ingold remained silent for days, but finally Rudy confronted him and forced him to consider his responsibilities.
When they reached the Keep of Dare, Ingold and Rudy were greeted by the thirty or so wizards -- of all ages, sexes, and talents -- who had responded to the summons. Gil and Alde revealed all the information that had been found in the oldest records and confirmed Ingold's suspicions of the nature of the Nests. Then Ingold showed them the secret of the wizard lights.
In this novel, Ingold is now the senior wizard within Darwath. Since he already has the Master-Spells, he is now the Archmage. Yet he only has a coterie of about thirty wizards and still lacks any clue to how to defeat the Dark.
Gil has used her skills as a scholar to learn about the early days of the last Dark infestation. She had learned of the existence of a Dark Nest within Quo before Ingold and Rudy had their encounter with the possessed Archmage. Now she studies the polyhedrons that are magical visual records of the previous civilization.
Rudy is convinced that flamethrowers are the weapons that will overcome the Dark. He constructs as many of the devices as he can with the available parts. But he knows that these weapons had not been used to defeat the prior incursion of the Dark.
Altir is now approaching his first birthday. He is able to stand while holding onto a support. And Altir is still as fearless of heights as a monkey.
Thoth was the Master of Records at Quo. He was the only wizard that escaped the destruction of the city. He had spent days, weeks or even longer as a grass snake until the summons came from Ingold.
In this story, Ingold devises a cloaking-spell to protect humans from the Dark Ones. The strongest wizards test these new spells by staying out at night while the Dark Ones fly oven the land. Rudy is terrified, but holds his shields even when the Dark lurk around him.
However, one wizard lets his terror gain control and his shields slip a tad. The Dark Ones detect him and take his life. Unfortunately, the dead wizard was the man that Ingold expected to lead the reconnaissance into Gae.
Ingold had planned to stay in the Keep, but now he must venture into the ruined capital to reconnoiter the Dark Nest. Ingold, Rudy, Kara and Kta enter Gae by the Street of Oleanders. They slip through back alleys, colonnades, shopping arcades, ruined courtyards and empty mews. They pass little bands of dooic and families of ghouls.
Reaching the Palace, they clamber down into the vaults and then follow the stairs down into the Nest. They wander individually, mapping the tunnels and caverns. The tunnels seem endless, winding down and down and down. The Dark Ones are everywhere, crowding the walls and ceilings.
Rudy also finds others within the Nest. The herds of the Dark -- bandylegged, bulge-eyed humanoids -- are scattered about the Nest. So too are bands of humans taken by the Dark. Then Rudy finds the nursery of the Dark Ones.
This tale follows the human armies as they invade the Nest, trying to destroy the Dark Ones and especially the nursery. As usual in warfare, the plan goes awry soon after they enter the Nest. Rudy learns that mage power isn't everything.
Gil learns the reason for the retreat of the Dark Ones from the surface into their Nests after the last incursion. Yet the leaders of the human armies fail to believe her discovery. Then more disasters fall upon the humans.
This work is the concluding volume of the trilogy. However, other volumes continue the tale. The next installment is Mother of Winter. Read and enjoy!
Highly recommended for Hambly fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of high wizardry, armed combat, and political intrigue.
-Arthur W. Jordin