And then after walking all day through a golden haze of humid warmth that gathered about him like fine wet fleece, Valentine came to a great ridge of outcropping white stone overlooking the city of Pidruid. It was the provincial capital, sprawling and splendid, the biggest city he had come upon since-since?-the biggest in a long while of wandering, at any rate.That's the beginning of this classic fantasy ... which I have reviewed for SFFaudio. Whether you choose to read or listen, it is not to be missed.
There he halted, finding a seat at the edge of the soft, crumbling white ridge, digging his booted feet into the flaking ragged stone, and he sat there staring down at Pidruid, blinking as though newly out of sleep. On this summer day twilight was still some hours away, and the sun hung high to the southwest beyond Pidruid, out over the Great Sea. I will rest here for a while, Valentine thought, and then I will go down into Pidruid and find lodging for the night.
As he rested he heard pebbles tumbling past him from a higher point on the ridge. Unhurriedly he looked back the way he had come. A young herdsman had appeared, a boy with straw-colored hair and a freckled face, leading a train of fifteen or twenty mounts down the hill road. They were fat sleek purple-skinned beasts, obviously well looked after. The boy’s own mount looked older and less plump, a wise and toughened creature.
“Hoy!” he called down to Valentine. “Where are you bound?”
“Pidruid. And you?”
“The same. Bringing these mounts to market. Thirsty work it is, too. Do you have wine?”
“Some,” Valentine said. He tapped the flask at his hip, where a fiercer man might wear a weapon. “Good red mid-country wine. I’ll be sorry to see the last of it.”