By Steph Swainston
Steph Swainston returns to the remarkable, dizzying global of the Fourlands with the audacious sequel to her acclaimed novels The 12 months of Our warfare and No current Like Time. Jant Comet, the messenger, has survived lethal bugs, internecine politics, or even his personal debilitating, life-threatening habit. yet now he faces a problem more than any he has met within the final a number of centuries, person who may well shake the rules of the Fourlands ceaselessly. For the Emperor himself is using to front, and not anything is because it turns out . . .
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Stay awake! The numbness seeps deeper and I have no choice. It steals up inside my core. While my consciousness fights fiercely to stay awake, a part of my mind falls asleep, then another, blocking it in. I can’t revive my memory. I can’t wake my sense of hearing…touch…vision…I am surrounded by sleeping mind; I die. CHAPTER 1 I woke. I tried to sit up and banged my head hard on a wooden plank above me. Shit, had they put me in a coffin already? I was curled up tightly in a tiny space, tense with suppressed panic.
A flash of movement on my left, and an Insect’s head with open mandibles lunges at my waist. My elbow’s levered up, and before I can stop it, the head is under my shield. I flinch away inside its jaws, with a fast reaction but I can’t dodge far enough: it turns and plunges its open left mandible into my stomach like a dagger. I go rigid with the shock of it penetrating. It tosses its head like a bull goring and I feel the razor mandible gouge upwards. My skin parts before it. My loose hauberk rucks up over its head with a metallic rasp.
I lay with my wings outstretched and let it carry me–square blocks and mortar streaked down past my eyes–I could have filed my nails on them. Along the whole length of the dam the wind went rocketing up the incline faster and faster until it burst vertically from the edge of the walkway around Lightning and Eleonora and up into the sky. ’ ‘Perhaps. ’ I found the right balance to hang motionless above their heads. My shadow fell over them and my boot toes dangled at the level of their faces. They drew back and shaded their eyes, seeing me suspended in the middle of six metres of glorious wingspan.
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