Anthony Huso's Black Bottle excerpt

Monday, June 11, 2012 posted an excerpt for Antony Huso's next novel (out in August), the follow-up to the fantastic debut The Last Page, Black Bottle.

A glimpse from chapter 1 (here's the link for the full extract):

Love and warmth and family portraits were gone. Taelin had said good-bye to all of her friends. She walked resolutely, powered on disdain and a small cold brightness between her breasts.
Her journey stretched out behind her like a continental seam. She had struggled to get here, clawing out of the south, away from her father, across Eh’Muhrûk Muht¹ and up through the raw drizzle of the Country of Mirayhr. Her most recent complication had been the bone-jarring twenty-one miles between Clefthollow and the spot where her chemiostatic car had whined to a halt in deep mud. She had left her driver two miles back with half-fare, opting to slog alone with her only suitcase through freezing rain. Now, at last, she stood within eyeshot of this dismal country’s heart: the capital of the Duchy of Stonehold. Huge walls appeared from the weather, hammer and tongs, strung with vapor and steam, like pig iron pulled from its first bath.
1 P: Great Cloud Rift.
Glaring at the towers, Taelin lifted her crimson-lensed goggles back from her eyes and let them snap into brunette shadow. So this is the top of the world? she thought. This is the barbaric Naneman stronghold no one dares touch?
Stonehold had been founded by criminals. In 700 S.K. Felldin Barâk had pardoned several thousand Naneman murderers on condition they explore and settle the north. The ruffians’ progeny had sunk deep into the mountains, turned their backs on the south and—eight hundred years ago, give or take—declared their independence. This cold, rugged land subsisted on fisheries and metholinate gas and a modest export of caviar and other luxury goods. She would have struggled to find it on a map until last year.
Now, being here, wrapped in winter, awash in the legendary ferocity of this place, a chill deeper than weather sank into Taelin. This was what she was up against.
She remembered the day, the place she had been sitting, and the cool
 prickle that had traveled across her forearms when she had heard that the diplomatic vessel Baasha One had been shot down over the Valley of Nifol. That was the summer before last, when the world had changed and the whole south had erupted into a hive of buzzing opinions. It was the day that had brought the Duchy of Stonehold to her attention.
The short, horrible story was that the victims of the crash had been picked over by northerners. Everyone in Pandragor was appalled. Taelin had shared a national sense of disgust.
Then it had leaked that solvitriol blueprints had been in Baasha One’s wreckage. Solvitriol secrets had fallen into the barbarians’ hands!
The papers had kept the drama going, an entire summer of real-life cloak and dagger. Taelin had to admit that despite her fear over Stonehold’s solvitriol program, the daily news had offered a kind of terrible entertainment. Shame had followed her to the newsstand every day where she indulged in Pandragonian accounts of her country’s diplomats: arrested in the far north. The saga of accusations, interrogations and executions had lasted for several weeks. Everyone had assumed that Pandragor would get involved.
Her father had told her that was precisely the articles’ purpose: to whip up public sentiment. Pandragor was going to throw the gauntlet down right in the middle of Stonehold’s brewing civil war.
And it had almost happened.
But one day, all the propaganda, all the support drummed up by the press had fallen flat when a Pandragonian airship full of diplomats had gone down under Stonehavian guns. Not the guns of Caliph Howl, the High King that Pandragor opposed, but the guns of Saergaeth Brindlestr4m the provincial leader Pandragor had been backing.
When the very arm that the emperor had been sponsoring stabbed him in the back, what else could Pandragor do? Emperor Jünn1 had backed down. He had said in an address that the south would, “let the North sort out the North.”


Sebastian Clouth said...


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Sebastian Clouth
Books Editor, Before It's News

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