The Dark Defiles extract #4

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Richard Morgan posted a fourth extract for the third and possibly last book (still not confirmed) of the A Land Fit for Heroes series, The Dark Defiles.  The book should be out in August later this year.

The Calm Before the Storm
They waited a full day and night for Ringil Eskiath to show. 
Everyone was briefed, everyone knew their place.  The locals hid in their homes, the League privateers held ambush positions down at the harbour and all along the edges of the bay.  Lookouts took the high ground at either end, and the watchtower at Dako’s Point.  Certain among the imperial marine prisoners were held in a beer cellar not far from the docks, ready to be hauled out and used for bargaining or simply as shields.  Klithren sat at a table in the Inn on League street, played dice against himself and waited for word. 
Ornley held its breath. 
The privateers were sanguine – they knew how to sit tight.  It was part of their trade to wait, sifting the haze at the horizon for signs of enemy shipping or a change in the weather, sometimes for days on end, and nothing to break the monotony but the soft rocking of the vessel on the swell.  You learnt patience out there, you had to.  No percentage in getting all riled up ahead of time.  The fight, the storm – these things would be upon you soon enough.  Take the empty hours and breathe them in like pipe-house smoke, they’d be yours for a meagre enough span in the end. 
The townspeople were less sanguine.  Maybe if you were a soldier boy you could sit scratching your arse like this all day long, but gouging a living out of the Hironish isles took work.  You were up with the dawn or before, out to sea and casting your nets, or into the surrounding hills to tend your livestock.  There were dry-stone walls to be maintained, crops to be checked for blight, crows and gulls to be kept at bay, eventually the harvest; thatches to be renewed or repaired after storms, peat to be dug and cut and stacked for drying.  Nets to be mended, hulls to be ripped of barnacles, scrubbed and pitched; there was gutting and cleaning, salting, packing, the smokehouse to tend.  Did these bloody blade artists ever stop to think how food ends up on their plates and fire in the grate to keep out the chill?  Thank the Dark Queen we never got that garrison they promised us after the war, if this is all they’re good for……
And for the other extracts:
Tidings of Comfort and Joy
Visitation Rites
Quest Fellow Blues


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