Joe Abercrombie and Richard Morgan both posted extracts from their upcoming novel, Red Country for Joe and The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes book 3) for Richard. Here are the links and extracts from the extracts:
They were laughing when they clattered over the rise and the shallow little valley opened out in front of them. Something Lamb had said. He’d perked up when they left town, as usual. Never at his best in a crowd.
It gave Shy’s spirits a lift besides, coming up that track that was hardly more than two faded lines through the long grass. She’d been through black times in her younger years, midnight black times, when she thought she’d be killed out under the sky and left to rot, or caught and hanged and tossed out unburied for the dogs to rip at. More than once, in the midst of nights sweated through with fear, she’d sworn to be grateful every moment of her life if she ever got to tread this unremarkable path again. Eternal gratitude hadn’t quite come about, but that’s promises for you. She still felt that bit lighter as the wagon rolled home.
Then they saw the farm, and the laughter choked in her throat and they sat silent while the wind fumbled through the grass around them. Shy couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, couldn’t think, all her veins flushed with ice-water. Then she was down from the wagon and running.‘Shy!’ Lamb roared at her back, but she hardly heard, head full of her own rattling breath, pounding down the slope, land and sky jolting around her. Through the stubble of the field they’d harvested not a week before. Over the trampled-down fence and the chicken feathers crushed into the mud.
She made it to the yard – what had been the yard – and stood helpless. The house was all dead charred timbers and rubbish and nothing left standing but the tottering chimney-stack. No smoke. The rain must’ve put out the fires a day or two before. But everything was burned out. She ran around the side of the blacked wreck of the barn, whimpering a little now with each breath.
He felt the change as soon as he stepped over the threshold of the croft. It came on like icy water, sprinkling across the nape of his neck and his shoulders.
He tilted his head a little to send the feeling away, traced a warding glyph in the air, like taking down a volume from a library shelf. Around him, the croft walls grew back to an enclosing height they likely hadn’t seen in decades. The boiling grey sky blacked out, replaced with damp smelling thatch overhead. A dull, reddish glow reached out to him from the hearth. Peat smoke stung his throat. He heard the hoarse whistle of breathing, the creak of……
A worn oak rocking chair, angled at the fireside, tilting gently back and forth. From where he stood, Ringil could not tell what was seated there, only that it was wrapped in a dark cloak and cowl.
The ward he’d chosen was burning down around him like some torched peasant’s hut. He felt the fresh exposure shiver through him. Reached for something stronger, cracked finger-bones etching it into the air.
“Yes – becoming quite adept at that, aren’t we.” It was a voice that creaked like the chair. Wheeze and rustle of seeming age, or maybe just the breathlessness at the end of laughing too hard at something. “Quite the master of the ikinri ‘ska these days.”