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Pyromancer

A firemaster wizard's young apprentice must quickly learn the ways of pyromancy before the dreaded Ice King turns the world into a wasteland as cold as his wicked soul...

The sign nailed to the twisted, rickety gate in the broken-down wall read:

APPRENTICE WANTED

to learn the MYSTERIES and SECRETS of WIZARDRY in the Discipline of FIRE from a MASTER MAGICIAN, SUPREME SPELLCASTER, WONDERFUL WIZARD AND PRESTIGIOUS PYROMANCER!

I require a bright, obedient, well-witted lad of at least ten summers and at most sixteen winters to assist me and learn the ART and SCIENCE of PYROMANCY. Must be neat, prompt, well spoken and have a LARGE BUMP OF CURIOSITY.

Also should be able to read, to write a fair manuscript, and not snore except when asleep on his back. Signed... The Wizard Flarman Flowerstalk

INQUIRE WITHIN

Book 1 of the Mancer series

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Don Callander

Donald Bruce Callander
March 23, 1930 -- July 25, 2008

Don Callander was the best-selling author of the 'Mancer series and the Dragon Companion series. Don originally worked as a travel writer/photographer and graphic designer before retiring to start his writing.

Don was born in Minneapolis, brought up in Duluth, Minnesota, and graduated from high school there before enlisting in the U. S. Navy in 1947. After serving four years on active duty (including the Korean War) he transferred to the Naval Reserve where he served as a 'weekend warrior' for twenty additional years.

He settled in Washington, D.C., where he married, raised four children, and worked on the Washington Post newspaper and in National Headquarters of the American Automobile Association (40,000,000 members!) until his retirement in 1991.

During his retirement, Don lived in Florida and at the age of 62, began writing his bestselling fantasy books until he passed away in 2008.

Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

The first time I read this book, I was about sixteen, and I loved it. I liked the characters and the style of the writing. I couldn't wait for the inevitable sequels. However, when I read it again, only two years later, it wasn't quite the same. I read the whole book and I couldn't put my finger on what was missing. Well, again two years passed and I read it one more time and that time I was able to identify what was less than perfect about it.

First, though, it was well-written. The book was fun. I will definitely read it again in the future and I will enjoy it. All the characters, even the little mentioned ones and the "bit players", are enjoyable and likable. The villians are bumbling and fun to laugh at and also somewhat likable. The first time I read it I got quite caught up in the plot and I enjoyed reading about the hero's training.

Sunhi -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite novels!

This book is one of the novels that I like the best! I usually don't read novels very often, but I made an exception for this book. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down! I've always been a fan of fantasy and sci-fi books, so I really liked Pyromancer, because it has a lot of fantasy elements in it. Basically this book is about Douglas Brightglade, a young boy who's chosen by Flarman Flowerstalk to be an apprentice Pyromancer. A Pyromancer is basically a fire wizard who conjures and controls all forms of fire. If you like this book, be sure to get the other books, as well!

Dana Geremonte -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful fairy tale, light-hearted escapist fare

Pyromancer is perhaps the perfect book to read after you have finished any particular difficult and brain-numbing time in your life (i.e. graduate school). Although this is definitely not great literature, Callander is a talented story-teller who makes many old plot devices seem quite fresh. You can relax into his often humorous world and enjoy the good relationships that the main characters enjoy.

Unlike so many of today's current fantasy authors, Callander does not drape his book in dark overtones or pretentious. Instead it is a merry little tome.

All in all, you can finish it in one day on the beach and feel like you are on vacation.

A Customer -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational

This book is, all in all, a wonder to me. I've read all kinds of novels and literature, from Terry Brooks to Piers Anthony to Isaac Asimov, and I have to say that Pyromancer and the books that follow it have some of the best descriptive language that I have seen so far. You know all the tones that the other authors have, well just read the first 3 to 5 of pages and you'll see what I mean. I've had three copies of this book and lost them all. What I want is a reprint!!

A Customer -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars Need some fun and relaxation?

Pyromancer is the first book of the 'mancer series. You will really enjoy Flarman and Douglas. This book introduces characters you will meet again in the rest of the series. You will become "hooked" on the series, with the fun and fantasy. Enjoyable and relaxing!

A Customer -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic story with magically journeys into another world.

This fantasy adventure takes you into places you always dreamed of going to. Young Douglas and his Master, Flarman Firemaster, conquer many feats they face using their knowledge and skills. The author makes this book come alive as its readers read on. This book is highly recommended to all that have a vivid imagination and a longing for a magically journey in the lands of wizards and mystical creatures.

A Customer -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK!

I loved this book, It takes a while to get into it, but once you are it is a wonderful story, makes me wish I lived in a land where such powerful magic existed, I can't wait to read Aquamancer :)

A Customer -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars Best fantasy I've ever read

This is one great book! The best fantasy I have ever read. And having in mind that it was translated to my language (Bulgarian), it must have lost one bit of it's magic in the translation process. So far I have read it more than 20 times, but soon I'll read it in original (English), to gain on the lost effect.
Wonderful!

"art_ist_ic" -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars Time for a re-release!!

Don Callender's series moves and breathes without skipping the details of world building, but without bogging you down with it either. My boy doesn't like most stories because he gets bored when the character is just walking through a forest appreciating the scenery, etc, but he liked this. I was just so sorry it was sooooo difficult to find. I think they need to have another printing run!

Sharon Dorrans "TallRedhead6" -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars Every Angle

A teenage boy travels up a winging road along Crooked Brook, to find a sign advertising for an apprentice of a wizard of the pyromancy disciple. He, Douglas Brightglade, applies, and is soon put to work learning what is needed to be a good pyromancer.

Soon, Dead Winter, a very cold winter, sets in. The people of Dukedom begin to starve and freeze. Douglas, and his master, Flarman Flowerstalk, set about helping the residents of Valley make it through the winter.

Then the journeys and battles begin...

Don Callander is skilled at showing many sides of the story, not just the main character's point of view. Chapters in the book are even from the point of view of the lesser-evil characters. I believe that this is so that the reader can see the stark contrast between them, and the pure evil king, who is so evil that there isn't a point of view from even him.

Bryon Eldridge "BarkerJr" -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars More than it appears to be

A very interesting and entertaining book with well developed characters, a nice plot, and a good coming of age story as well.

Richard C. Barbee III -- Amazon



5.0 out of 5 stars

Don Callander is a great author who puts magic into everyday objects and everyday work. His books are enjoyable and make you forget about the real world for a while.

Ryan Baker -- Amazon



5 Stars

Douglas Brightglade needs work. His father was lost at sea five years before the start of this story and his mother has entered a nunnery. Douglas must now make his own way. He decides to answer the sign nailed to the gate of a rickety fence. He enters through the gate and applies for the position of apprentice to the Wizard Flarman Flowerstalk. Once Flarman decides to accept him, Douglas is introduced to a very strange and wonderful household, run by a big, blue teakettle.

Don Callander has written a magical fantasy novel filled with a large variety of interesting and well-developed characters. As Douglas’s education progresses, he learns that there is a war developing. The wizard Frigeon is trying to take over the world and turn it into a wasteland. Those on the side of good must fight and must win, according to Flarman. “We can never entirely destroy evil. The best we can do is expect it, face it squarely, and fight it. To do otherwise is to let the Dark and Frigeon win, don’t you see? Well, we will win!”

There are so many wonderful characters in this story that it is hard to pick favorites, but the bronze owl is not only magical, but very smart and witty as well. There are also fairies and dwarves and various other species and each is described in rich detail as are their homes so that I really felt as if I were in the middle of this world.

The action is fast and well-paced. I found that the pages just flew by and I had a very hard time putting the book down. The suspense grows as Douglas and Flarman have to complete their traps for Frigeon, and time is running out. I enjoyed my trip through the various locations in this world, whether it was the dwarves’ caves or the undersea world of the Sea Fire. And all through the various events there was the underlying mystery of whether or not a way could be found to defeat Frigeon, and once the plan was conceived, was there enough time to carry it out.

Lovers of fantasy set in magical worlds are sure to enjoy Pyromancer, and I for one have already picked up the two other books in this series because Douglas’s adventures are definitely not to be missed.

Cyclamen -- Long and Short Reviews
Excerpt

Chapter One

The sign nailed to the twisted, rickety gate in the broken-down wall read:

APPRENTICE WANTED

to learn the MYSTERIES and SECRETS of WIZARDRY in the Discipline of FIRE from a MASTER MAGICIAN, SUPREME SPELLCASTER, WONDERFUL WIZARD AND PRESTIGIOUS PYROMANCER!

I require a bright, obedient, well-witted lad of at least ten summers and at most sixteen winters to assist me and learn the ART and SCIENCE of PYROMANCY. Must be neat, prompt, well spoken and have a LARGE BUMP OF CURIOSITY.

Also should be able to read, to write a fair manuscript, and not snore except when asleep on his back. Signed... The Wizard Flarman Flowerstalk

INQUIRE WITHIN

The young boy put down his bundle and read the sign three times carefully, wondering what a “Pyromancer” could be. At last he pushed through the rusted gate. He climbed the stone path to the wide green front door of the cottage under the brow of the rounded hill beside the rushing stream.

He stood on the rough stone stoop about to lift his hand to knock or ring—there was a bronze owl knocker in the middle of the door and a rope bell pull hanging to one side—when the owl spoke:

“Well, will you knock, or ring, or both?”

The boy started but, deciding that a talking door knocker was only to be expected at a Wizard’s door, summoned a portion of courage that was large for his size.

“I was about to ring...or knock,” he announced stoutly. The owl ruffled brazen wings with a loud clatter, a creak, and a rustle but said no more, so the visitor reached out and pulled the bell rope firmly.

Deep within the house there was the sound of jingling, like sleigh bells in winter across a far field. The lad waited.

And waited.

His name was Douglas Brightglade. He was about fourteen years old, but smallish for that age. He shifted from foot to foot and tried to decide whether it was polite to sit on the stoop while he waited, or to ring again. He was tired and had come a long way since morning.

He was plainly dressed in a pair of stout corduroy trousers of the sort that Seamen wear, and a striped green-and-white cotton jumper, worn but neatly mended at the elbows. His hair was fair, down to his shoulders, and his eyes were a clear sky blue. Between them was a short stub nose, a wide, generous mouth below, and strong chin that made up in determination what the nose lacked in maturity.

“I’ve rung,” he said at last, addressing the bronze owl knocker. “What now?”

The owl looked right, then left, as if seeking anyone who might be eavesdropping—and from the thatched eaves above dropped a tiny green lizard, which scuttled away swiftly before either boy or owl could comment.

“Try knocking,” suggested the knocker in a hoarse whisper.

So Douglas—who hesitated to take such a liberty with the metal bird—instead rapped on the oaken panel of the green door with his knuckles.

With his third rap the door swung abruptly open wide and in it stood a plump, bearded little man whose pink scalp showed through wisps of snowy, uncombed hair. Dressed in a long deep-blue robe that fell to his ankles, dotted with tiny stars and moons, he was half a head taller than the boy. He was frowning in a most unfriendly fashion.

Douglas gulped nervously.

“Well, well!” said the Wizard, puffing out apple-red cheeks, “and what can I do for you, my good man?”

More than a bit flustered yet flattered by being called a “man” when he was used to being addressed as “little boy,” Douglas stammered somewhat, saying: “I saw your sign and thought...”

“Sign? What sign? What are you talking about?”

“Why, the sign at the gate,” gasped Douglas. “The one...it says...Apprentice Wanted...”

“Oh! Oh, yes! Oh, oh, oh, yes, yes, that sign. I thought I took that down ages ago. Not many apprentices pass this way these days. Once upon a time there were dozens, you know.”

Douglas’s disappointment showed on his face and drooping shoulders and stopped the Wizard Flowerstalk from continuing. “Oh, I see. You were about to apply for the position!”

“Yes, sir,” said Douglas. He smiled halfheartedly but went on, “If the position is filled...would you consider a second apprentice? I will work very hard and try to learn everything and I can be useful in many other ways, too. I can cook some and sew a little and talk to plants and horses. And I am small—I don’t eat overmuch...”

“Well, well, young man,” said the other, embarrassed. “I really...really...there was a time when I thought...no, I didn’t hire anyone at all. No one answered the advertisements, you see, and I had to make other...arrangements...”

“Other arrangements, hogwash!”

The metal owl had been listening with evident interest, its brazen eyes swiveling with metallic clicks first to one and then the other speaker.

“Hogwash,” he repeated when the two stopped in surprise. “You made a surrogate, didn’t you? Tried it out as an apprentice, but it didn’t work!”

“That’s true, entirely,” admitted Flarman Flowerstalk, sheepishly. He paused to smooth the white strands of hair over his pink bald spot.

“It was a sad mistake, of course. When you make clones you can’t help but make ’em too much like yourself. I tried my best to get it to apprent but it just wouldn’t! Too many of my own bad characteristics. Anyway, he’s gone, thank goodness! ...And I’ve changed my mind now. Fewer people around the place the better, I say. Hmmph!”

He turned as if the conversation were ended

“And he made those terrible stenches, too. Stinks, I should say. No, no, no, no apprentices need apply. Good day to ye, Sir!”

He appeared so worried and unhappy that Douglas hesitated, looking for assistance to the owl.

The Bronze Owl winked (with a soft clash of eyebrows), as if to say, don’t give up yet, laddie.

Douglas took a deep breath and said, calmly enough to surprise even himself, “Well, I am certainly very disappointed. When I saw the sign I said to myself, what a good apprentice magician—Wizard, I mean—I would make! I’m bright. I’m fairly obedient and I suppose I do have a wit or two. I’ve been making my own way for some months now and I guess that takes some wits.”

“Ummm,” Flarman said, hesitating in the doorway.

“Sounds like just the boy you’d be wanting, if you wanted one,” observed the Bronze Owl.

“I can read very well and I write, although I must admit I need some practice on the writing.”

“Hire the boy,” urged the Owl, abandoning all pretense at subtlety. “Maybe you could get him to polish me once a week or so. I’m rather dullish these days, you can see.”

The Wizard snorted wryly, jumped up and clicked his heels together twice, then bent down and touched his toes, a feat that belied his rather ample tummy, Douglas thought. The Wizard closed his bright, gray eyes and intoned in a low voice:

“Merlin, Oscar Zoroaster Diggs, Mandrake, Harry Houdini, and Gandalph the Gray!”

Then he motioned the boy to follow him and, turning, went through the green door into the cottage, saying, “Take down the sign, please, before you enter.”

Running back to the gate, Douglas pulled the board from its place with a creak of rusty nails, tucked it under his left arm, winked at the owl, and trotted happily after the Wizard. They turned into the first room on the left and the Wizard waved his applicant to a seat.

The room was rather small but sunny and chintzy, a bright parlor full of overstuffed furniture with crocheted doilies on their arms and furred bottoms, as if they had been used by generations of kittens to sharpen claws. A large redbrick fireplace—he later found that every room in the cottage at Wizard’s High had a stove or a fireplace—sprang afire as they entered.

“Well, well, we’ll have some tea and talk, anyway,” said Flarman. “Mind you, I’m not convinced that you can be my Apprentice, or even that I want one these days. But it won’t harm to talk and then look at the tea leaves. You can tell a great deal from a man’s tea leavings, you see.”

He proceeded to pour water from a blue enamel teakettle over a generous pinch of tea leaves in a stoneware pot, making a swirl of pink steam.

“Sugar? Milk?”

“No milk, please, but a bit of sugar would be pleasant,” said Douglas, who had learned manners at his mother’s knee. He perched on the edge of an overstuffed armchair. The chair said softly, “Lean back and relax, youngster. Make yourself comfortable.”

“I’m afraid I’d go right off to sleep,” apologized the boy, beginning to get used to this talking-to-things business. “Begging your pardon, chair, and thank you so very much.”

“S’all righ’,” murmured Chair, drowsily. “I like everybody to be at ease.”

“Now,” said the Wizard, frowning mightily at the chair and passing a cup of fragrant pink tea to Douglas. They sipped in silence except for small talk such as all polite people make at tea parties—or used to in those days—until at last the Wizard said, “Now, where were we?”

“You were going to study the tea leavings,” prompted the Owl, who could hear everything from his nail in the middle of the open front door.

“Yes, but some talk first. What is your name, sir, for a beginning?”

“Douglas Brightglade. I am the son of Douglas of Perthside, the famous shipwright, sir. My father and mother and I lived on the edge of Farango Water to the west for as long as I can recall; since I was born, I suppose. Five years ago my father went to Sea in one of his new ships. After two years, when he didn’t come home, as the law goes, he was declared missing and presumed drowned.”

Said Flarman, grimly: “But to be lost at Sea is never for certain, they say.”

“It was five years this last spring. People who depended on my father needed their money. His workers needed to be released to look for work elsewhere. She tried to carry on but two years ago my mother decided to sell all, settle accounts, release her workers. She put herself in the Nunnery of Glothersome.

“As for me, I was placed into apprenticeship of a family friend in the shipyard business some distance from Perthside. I parted from Mother and home with a heavy heart, but I tried to do it with courage and determination, too.

“All could have been well, except that I soon discovered that the friend who had agreed to take me as apprentice couldn’t afford to feed his own sons. All were older than I and more advanced in their craft.

“So I asked to be released from indenture. After much discussion he agreed. He actually had little choice. There just wasn’t enough work.”

He paused to take a deep drink of the bracing pink tea and Chair said, sympathetically, “There, there, boy, lean back and let me hold you for a moment.”

“Sorry,” said Douglas, swiping a tear from the corner of his right eye.

“The truth is,” said the Owl, “that your lady mother in her nunnery doesn’t know you are out on your own in the world?”

“Her order forbids any kind of contact with the world for two years after initiation,” Douglas explained, “which is why I hoped to get a place before that time came so that she would have no need at all to worry.”

“If you had been able to stay with the wright?” Flarman left the question dangling.

“I already know a great deal about working wood and using tools, and about ships and their ways, too. My father taught me from my earliest years. And he was the best of shipwrights, everyone said.”

“Yes, yes,” said Flarman, thoughtfully. “Handy thing knowing how to work wood, use tools, saw and all. Handy for an Apprentice Wizard, too...”

“Used to hard work and long hours, too, I’ll warrant,” put in the metal bird from the doorway.

There followed an embarrassing silence during which Douglas finished his tea, the owl remained silent, and the magician stared pensively into the fire.

“Well, I really mustn’t take any more of your valuable time,” said Douglas. “I’ve got to be moving on to find a place for the night. How far is it to Trunkety, please? I hear they have a good blacksmith there who might have some work for me...”

He picked up his bundle and started out the door. The owl stopped him with a rattling wing.

“Where are you going?”

“I thought to go on to Capital. There are jobs there. I could become a cook in the Ducal Palace, don’t you think? I wouldn’t go hungry, at any rate.”

The Bronze Owl twirled his head fully around and screeched in his loudest voice, “Tea leaves, you oaf of a Fire Wizard!”

From within came the sounds of a roused Wizard. “What? Where? Eh! Oh, yes!” and the man appeared in the doorway carrying Douglas’s teacup. He grasped Douglas’s hand with his own left and held the cup to his eyes with his right, studying the leavings intently, muttering, “Hmmm! Very interesting! Yes, yes, yes, most diverting...”

This continued for several moments while Douglas stood patiently by, trying not to fidget in the Wizard’s surprisingly strong grasp. The owl stared off into space, humming to himself.

“Patience!” said Bronze Owl to the boy at last.

“Oh, I’m being patient,” said Douglas, “but my hand is going to sleep!”

Flarman opened his eyes wide, looking shocked. Then he chuckled aloud.

“Here, my boy! Stay, Douglas Brightglade! I’ve decided to keep you, to take you on as Apprentice! Bring your things and shut the door. It’s beginning to look like a rainy evening. Welcome to Wizard’s High, your new home!

“I’ll have to draw up an indenture for you to sign,” he went on, leading the lad down the central hall. To Douglas’s surprise, the Bronze Owl flopped off his doornail and flew after them, with great clashings.

“Meanwhile, let’s have some supper and get to know everybody! A party! You’ve got a lot to learn, Apprentice Wizard, and a lot to unlearn, relearn, and learn again, and even to forget to learn!”