I'm delighted to be able to bring you this exclusive excerpt from the Marc Turner's upcoming book Red Tide. If you haven't read any of Marc's books you're missing out. They combine the wide breadth and scope of epic fantasy with scintillating and swashbuckling action more reminiscent of pulpy sword and sorcery stories.
I love them, and I suspect you will too. Read on for Marc's introduction to this scene, and then dive on into to the action itself!
Much of Red Tide is set in a place called the Rubyholt Isles, a shattered nation of pirate-infested islands and treacherous waterways. In the following passage, one of the protagonists of the book, Galantas, is fleeing in a boat from a ship commanded by a race of people called the Augerans (also known as the stone-skins). With the enemy closing fast, Galantas seeks to escape by sailing through a notorious waterway called the Dragon’s Boneyard. Here is the beginning of the scene.
The channel had now narrowed to the length of three ships. In the water ahead were threads of what appeared to be fireweed, but Galantas knew them to be the strands of a vast underwater web spun by the creature that dwelled there—the Weaver, it had come to be called, after the spiders of the same name that infested Bezzle’s underground aqueduct.
Its lair was at the foot of the southern heights, so Barnick steered the boat toward the cliff on the north side. As he did so, he let the wave beneath the craft recede. The slower pace would allow the stone-skins to get closer, but it would also reduce the Islanders’ chances of catching the Weaver’s eye.
The water seemed unnaturally still. Beneath the surface, Galantas could make out two towers that might once have guarded a road between the cliffs. To the west, the skeletons of four more dragons jutted from the water, while at the base of the southern bluff was a patch of shimmering blackness that marked the portal between this world and whatever hellhole the Weaver called home.
As the boat drew level, Galantas held his breath. These were the critical moments, he knew. If the beast remained in its lair until the stone-skins arrived, its attention would surely be drawn to the larger ship.
Assuming it wasn’t already lying in wait somewhere ahead.
Time crawled. The channel was in shadow, and the air had an unmistakable chill to it. Qinta frowned at a flock of starbeaks overhead, but when he opened his mouth to explain the birds’ import, Galantas forestalled him with a raised finger. The boat crept forward. In keeping close to the northern cliffs, Barnick was forced to take the craft through the partly submerged rib cage of one of the dragons. Each bone was as thick as the trunk of a ketar tree. The boat was traveling toward the head of the creature, and as it cleared the chest cavity, Galantas glanced down to locate the beast’s skull in the water.
Only to find it was missing, the bones of the neck bitten through.
Suppressing a shudder, he looked back the way they had come. The Augerans were still following, but the wave of water-magic under their vessel had subsided just as Barnick’s had. They couldn’t know what awaited them in the channel, yet the warning in the dragons’ bones was clear. One set would have been a curiosity, two, a coincidence. Five, though . . .
The Augerans’ caution was understandable, but it stood to play into Galantas’s hands, because the lower their ship rode in the water, the greater the chance that their keel would tangle in the Weaver’s threads.
“Galantas!” Qinta said, pointing toward the rent.
Something moved in the darkness, spreading through the water like a bruise. Coming for Galantas’s boat? The stone-skins couldn’t be the Weaver’s target because their ship hadn’t yet entered the strait. Nor was that likely to change if they had seen the creature too.
Time to be going.
“Barnick!” Galantas yelled. “Go, go, go!”
You can buy Red Tide online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and at all other good book retailers. Be sure to check out Marc's other books in this series as well, and stay abreast of all his news by checking out his website. He is, as Starburst Magazine said, one of the best newcomers in fantasy right now.
Marc Turner was born in Toronto, Canada, but grew up in England. He graduated from Lincoln College, Oxford University, in 1996 with a BA (Hons) in law, and subsequently joined a top ten law firm in the City of London. After realising that working there did not mix well with simple pleasures such as having a life, he fled north first to Leeds and then to Durham in search of a better work-life balance. Unfortunately it proved elusive, and so in 2007, rather than take the next step and move to Scotland, he began working part time so he could devote more time to his writing. Following the sale of his debut epic fantasy novel, When the Heavens Fall, he started writing full time.
Why writing? Because it is the only work he knows where daydreaming isn't frowned upon, and because he has learned from bitter experience that he cannot not write.
The authors whose work has most influenced him are Steven Erikson and Joe Abercrombie. Consequently he writes fast-paced, multi-threaded novels with a liberal sprinkling of humour; novels written on a panoramic scale, peopled by characters that stay in the memory. Or at least that's the theory.
He lives in Durham, England, with his wife and son.