Tragedy has decimated Tim Blackburn's safe and comfortable existence. Having already lost a son in a terrorist attack, he must now cope with the death of his beloved wife, killed in a mysterious explosion at sea. And all that remains of his destroyed family is his missing daughter Nicole, last seen in the company of Caspar von Rellsteb--the mad, charismatic leader of the shadowy environmental activist group called Genesis--who keeps an iron-fisted hold over his fanatically dedicated followers. Determined to free Nicole from the crazed, self-proclaimed "protector of the planet," Tim sets sail aboard the sloop Stormchild, with the beautiful, story-hungry journalist Jackie Potten. But their hunt for the hidden lair of Genesis is leading them into dangerous and terrifying waters--and the darkness that waits for Tim Blackburn on the far side of the world could destroy both his sanity and his soul.
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April 26, 2005
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Excerpt from Stormchild by Bernard Cornwell
The sea was weeping.
It was a gray sea being kicked into life by a sudden wind; a sea being torn into raggedness and flecked white. The fishermen called it a weeping sea, and claimed it presaged disaster.
"It won't last." My wife, Joanna, spoke of the sea's sudden spite.
The two of us were standing on the quay of our boatyard watching the black clouds fly up the English channel. It was the late afternoon of Good Friday, yet the air temperature felt like November and the bitter gray sea looked like January. The deteriorating weather had inevitably brought out the wind-surfers whose bright sails scudded through the gloom and bounced dangerously across the broken waters of the estuary's bar where the high bows of a returning fishing boat battered the sea into wind-slavered ruin. Our own boat, a Contessa 32 called Slip-Slider, jerked and pitched and thudded against her fenders on the outer pontoon beneath our quay.
"It can't last," Joanna insisted in her most robust voice as though she could enforce decent Easter weather by sheer willpower.
"It'll get worse before it gets better," I said with idle pessimism.
"So we won't sail tonight," Joanna said more usefully, "but we'll surely get away at dawn tomorrow." We had been planning a night passage to Guernsey,where Joanna's sister lived, and where, after church on Easter morning, my wife's family would sit down to roast lamb and new potatoes. The Easter family reunion had become a tradition, and that year Joanna and I had been looking forward to it with a special relish, for it seemed we had both at last recovered from the tragedies of our son's death and our daughter's disappearance. Time might not have completely healed those twin wounds, but it had layered them over with skins of tough scar tissue, and Joanna and I were aware of ordinary happinesses once again intruding on what had been a long period of mourning and bafflement. Life, in short, was becoming normal, and being normal, it presented its usual crop of problems.
Our biggest immediate problem was a damaged four-and-a-half-ton yawl which had been standing ready to be launched when our crane-driver had rammed it with the jib of his machine. The damage was superficial, merely some mangled guardrails and a nasty gash in the hull's gelcoat, but the yawl's owner, a petulant obstetrician from Basingstoke, was driving to the yard next lunchtime and expected to find his boat launched, rigged, and ready. Billy, our foreman, had offered to stay and make good the damage, but Billy was already covering for my absence over the Easter weekend and I had been unhappy about adding to his workload.
So the ill wind that had made the sea weep at least blew Billy some good, for I sent him home to his new wife while I towed the big yawl into the shed where wind and rain rattled the corrugated tin roof as I stripped out the damage under the big lamps. I planned the next morning's sail as I worked. If the marine forecast was right and this sudden hard weather abated, we could leave the river at daybreak and endure an hour of foul tide before the ebb swept us past the Anvil and out into mid-channel. We would make Guernsey in time for supper, and the only possible inconvenience in our revised plans was the probability that the visitor's marina in St. Peter's Port would be filled by the time of our arrival and we would have to find a mooring in the outer harbor.