Sean McMullen, one of Australia's leading genre writers, took America by storm with his sweeping Greatwinter Trilogy, a post-apocalyptic science fiction tour de force that won over critics and readers alike. Now McMullen delivers Voyage of the Shadowmoon, a fantasy epic of daunting skill and scope. The Shadowmoon is a small, unobtrusive wooden schooner whose passengers and crew are much more than they seem: Ferran, the Shadowmoon's lusty captain who dreams of power; Roval, the warrior-sorcerer; Velander and ----- At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
Fans of McMullen's epic far-future SF Greatwinter trilogy (Souls in the Great Machine, etc.) will be pleased to find that the Australian author has brought his world-building expertise to his first fantasy novel, eschewing the genre's typical cookie-cutter black vs. white conflicts. Emperor Warsovran plots to take over the world with Silverdeath, a legendary weapon buried centuries ago in a ravine for fear that its awesome power would be misused. When Warsovran digs Silverdeath up and unleashes its wave of immense heat on the continent of Torea, the only survivors are the motley crew of the schooner Shadowmoon, a cargo vessel with some curious enhancements and a decidedly secret mission. Aboard the Shadowmoon are several individuals bent on countering or even stealing Silverdeath. As various lords and nobles scramble to take advantage of the power vacuum created by Torea's destruction, alliances crumble and reform. Boatmaster Feran Woodbar, the warrior Roval Gravalios and his companion, vampyre Laron, warring priestesses of the nearly extinct Metrologan Order and a host of dispossessed royalty bent on revenge are among the large cast of distinctive characters portrayed with wit and skill. McMullen has once again crafted a marvelously unpredictable and intricate story, full of swashbuckling intrigue and adventure on a grand scale. (Dec. 18) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 31, 2004
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Excerpt from Voyage of the Shadowmoon by Sean McMullen
Miral dominated the sky as the deepwater trader docked, an immense green, banded disk at the center of three scintillating green rings. The ship had scarcely bumped against the stone pier when there was a frantic scramble by the sailors and officers to get the gangplank over the side and secured. A thin, short figure wearing a calf-length cloak and carrying a small pack over one shoulder had been waiting beside the mainmast, and relief surged through the crew like a cool breeze on a summer evening as he stepped over the rail and walked from the ship.
"I've faced storms, wrecks, battles, a couple of sea monsters, and even a dinner party with all five sets of my parents-in-law, but I've never been so frightened as on this voyage," confessed the shipmaster to the steersman as they stood watching from the quarterdeck.
"So what now, sir---" responded the officer as he tied the steering bar.
"Unload the cargo, load another, and sail on the morning tide. We have seven hours. We can do it."
"After two months at sea, sir-- The men will want to go ashore and carouse."
"Are you trying to tell me that any of them will want to be ashore in the same port as that--" snapped the shipmaster, pointing at the small, dark figure walking away along the stone pier.
"Ah, yes sir. Point taken."
"He casts no shadow in Miral's light, yet lamplight gives him a shadow," the shipmaster suddenly observed.
"I'm more concerned about why eight of our passengers vanished during the voyage. Now all the others want to go straight back to Acrema without setting foot ashore."
"Well, it saves us the trouble of advertising for passengers," said the shipmaster as he set off to supervise the unloading.
The night sky was clear, and three moonworlds were quite close to Miral: orange Dalsh, blue Belvia, and white Lupan. The color of Verral had been the subject of debate for millenia, but the weight of scholarly opinion favored green. To the people of Verral, Miral was the source of all magic, just as the sun was the source of all life. They knew plants died without sunlight, so the sun, obviously, was the source of life. Experiments to show that Miral was the source of magical ether were a little more difficult; in fact, only one experiment had ever produced results. Sorcerers had observed that the only vampyre on the whole of Verral slept as if dead when Miral was not in the sky. Unfortunately, this vampyre had escaped before further experiments could be performed, and generations of sorcerers had been pursuing him for centuries in order to do those experiments. Quite a few others had been pursuing him merely to try to end his undead life, but seven centuries on the run had honed his survival skills to be as sharp as his fangs. Now he had arrived in Torea.