I would have read this between 2000-2005. It's a single scene from a book; it may even just be an epilogue setting up another book, or a "look for by this author" extract after the end of the novel.

There are no overtly fantastic elements that I recall, but I wasn't reading any fiction other than SF in that time frame.

The scene is a mole protecting a harbor; it's deep in a foggy night. (The fog may have been magical, or magically enhanced.) A couple of longboats (ships' boats) with padded oarlocks silently approach; soldiers slip into the sea and crawl up on the mole. It's possible that a patrolling sentry is quietly eliminated. (I believe the term "mole" is used in the text.)

One of the invaders is a leader, possibly the leader of the entire operation. From his viewpoint (he is the main protagonist in this scene) we learn that their goal is to release the chain guarding the entrance to the harbor so the bulk of the invading forces (still on board ships) can be unloaded directly into the city.

And that's about all I remember. I read this very shortly after The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls so the geographical location is confused in my mind with places in the novels.

  • I think that's also a scene out of one of C. S. Forester's Hornblower books!
    – Mark Olson
    Jul 18, 2019 at 14:09
  • @MarkOlson That might be interesting to read, if you can find a reference, but I'm positive I've never read any of those.
    – DavidW
    Jul 18, 2019 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


I have a feeling this could be one of the books in the Serpentwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist. It is possibly the first book, Shadow of a Dark Queen

Erik saw they were out on the tip of the southern harbor breakwater, a long finger of rocks built up to prevent tidal flow interfering with shipping in the harbor. Calis motioned and each man fell into line. They moved carefully along the heavy rocks piled high to form the breakwater. In the darkness the footing was dangerous. After about a half hour of moving slowly, they reached a flat road formed across the top of the stones. Nakor whispered, ‘They must pack dirt on it so they can bring more rocks out in wagons if they need to repair the breakwater after a storm.’

Calis nodded and motioned for silence. He pointed to a tiny light in the distance. There was a small building located a few hundred yards ahead, where the stone breakwater turned into a proper jetty. It was certain to be defended.

Glancing toward the harbor mouth, Erik felt his stomach contract. ‘Captain!’ he whispered.

‘I’ve seen,’ came the answer.

Erik looked back and saw the others had followed his gaze and were now looking at the harbor. Three ships had been sunk in the harbor mouth, to ensure no raiders from the invading fleet could enter the harbor; and, nestled like chicks against a mother hen, a flotilla of ships hugged the docks. But none of them looked to be of shallow enough draft to get past the hulks blocking the harbor.

The pair of guards in the watch building were vigilantly watching across the river, so they were taken without knowing that Calis had slipped up behind. Using only his hands. Calis quickly disabled both men and lowered them to the floor of the hut.

The reason for this feeling is that the protagonist (Erik Von Darkmoor) becomes the leader of an elite group of soldiers that undertake many dangerous missions such as the one described by the OP. He quickly works his way up the ranks to become a General.

  • This seems close enough to what I remember that I'm accepting it. Thank you!
    – DavidW
    Jan 22, 2020 at 20:56
  • @DavidW My pleasure, I hope you enjoy the books even if it isn't an exact match.
    – mwarren
    Jan 23, 2020 at 7:33

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