The first part of the serialised sequel to our novel, The Best Weapon, is due for release on Friday 21 September. It is difficult for me to talk why we wrote it and the thought processes behind our ideas without inadvertantly spoiling it.
So, instead of talking about it, and thankfully without further ado, I give you Sorrow Part 1: The Ring of Steel. Below is a brief synopsis and an excerpt.
An uneasy peace has descended over the World Apparent. The Winter Realm and the Old Kingdom are recovering from the cataclysmic events of the Twelfth Reconquest, while in the south, the Djanki and the Sharib retreat to lick their wounds from the battle at Temple Rock. To the east, the divided Empire of Temeria is nearing the end of a long civil war, in which rival Generals have fought like mad dogs to seize the long-vacant Imperial Throne.
Meanwhile, in an obscure and barren desert, far away from wars and politics, a peaceful nomadic tribe is attacked at night and wiped out by a mysterious enemy. There is only one survivor, a young boy named Sorrow after an ancient prophecy.
As the world looks for redemption, those who crave total power will stop at nothing to get to acquire the child, Sorrow.
“The Jagged Blade slid in a great arc as she turned north, then continued to bear round to larboard in a giant half-circle which eventually brought her up the stern of the slower flute.
As they gained ground Colken could make out figures rushing back and forth on the upper deck, casting barrels over the side in a vain attempt to make their ship pick up the pace. Silt cursed at every barrel lost to the depths.
He could also see a coat of arms embroidered on the white sails. It showed two horses, one red and one blue, rearing up either side of a red and blue shield. In the centre of the shield was a horse-shoe which appeared to have been embroidered in gold thread and shone bright in the sun. He had heard that the horse-shoe was a symbol of good luck in the Winter Realm, although whichever family this coat of arms represented, it had apparently not worked.
By the time the Jagged Blade came alongside the hapless flute, Silt was in a vile rage, having watched the crew of the smaller vessel empty most of its cargo overboard in their vain attempt to outrun the pirates. His red face seethed with fury as he spat and swore at the boarding party to slaughter everyone.
“On my command, you swaggering half-fits! Hook her and pull! As soon as she’s pinned, kill everyone! Bring me anything of value!”
For the first time Colken caught sight of the name painted on the hull. The Queen Heloise.
“Another family fleeing the strife in the Winter Realm,” cried Silt, “out of the frying pan and into the fire!”
A great chunk of sun-burnt muscle to Colken’s right, known as Scutum, nudged Colken in the ribs. Criss-crossed with the white arcs and nicks of scar tissue from innumerable fights, Scutum was a wall of battered flesh. His anvil jaw creaked open to show a vast cavern sporting five or six brown teeth as he wheezed his amusement at the Winter Realm’s recent tendency to provide prey for the pirates of the Western Isles.
The truth was, there was civil war raging in the island kingdom following the death (or murder, as the rumour went) of its infant queen, and those without the stomach for the ensuing fight for power, or simply too much to lose, were fleeing west and south, to start again.
Unfortunately for them, these waters were patrolled by ruthless pirates, and without a heavily armed escort or some prior arrangement with the Raven Queen, the mysterious female monarch who ruled over the pirates, the fugitives were doomed.
Scutum laughed again. “Another ship named after their dead queen! How many have we taken? Five? Six?”
Colken shook his head silently and gazed down at the deck of the Queen Heloise and the thirty or so grim-faced men in red and blue livery preparing for a fight to the death. He had to admit, they didn’t look like a pushover, but they were outnumbered two to one just by the boarding party.
This fight should be over pretty quickly.