From award-winning author Tim Lebbon comes this harrowing tale of an epic journey, crossing the forbidden boundary separating us from all we fear the most....
To the unknown corners of Noreela, the Voyagers have traveled, returning with fantastic tales of their journeys and discoveries. But no one has ever returned from the Great Divide: a sheer cliff soaring miles above the clouds and rumored to be the end of the world. Until now.
Voyagers Nomi Hyden and Ramus Rheel would be mortal enemies if their lives and fates weren't so closely entwined. But now the unlikely pair are brought together for what will be their greatest--and perhaps final--journey. When a grim wanderer named Ten arrives with an ancient parchment he claims to have brought back from the Divide, its arcane glyphs hint at the existence of a realm most consider a myth...and at something amazing sleeping there.
Accompanied by the warrior Beko and his band of armed Serians, Nomi and Ramus set out to discover the truth behind the legends. But soon ambition drives them apart, this epic Voyage becomes a race...and each Voyager is faced with a choice that may alter the history of Noreela forever.
Stoker-winner Lebbon successfully combines quest adventure and horror in this gripping and disturbing tale. Some 4,000 years before the events of Dusk (2006), the people of Noreela are just beginning an era of expansion, with explorers going constantly further into unknown territory for profit and glory. Blocking the voyagers' southward journeys, however, is the Great Divide, a cliff that reaches into the clouds. Ramus Rheel, an aging explorer battling cancer, and Nomi Hyden, whose wealth has not diminished her craving for adventure, are "friendly enemies" who set out to scale the Divide and earn recognition as the greatest voyagers of all. When they find the lair of one of the ancient Sleeping Gods, they get considerably more excitement-and terror-than they bargained for. Lebbon creates vivid and convincing major and minor characters, places and creatures, blending wonder and nightmare in this dark and memorable novel. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 28, 2008
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Excerpt from Fallen by Tim Lebbon
RAMUS RHEEL HATED the moment between sleeping and waking. It was a strange place, haunted by recent dreams and the ghosts of those long since passed, and he loathed it even more when one of the fading dreams was a good one. This latest had been about a voyage, though one he had not yet made. Dreams about voyages he had made were more usually nightmares.
He sat up and held his head as the dizziness filtered away and real life forced itself in. He was forty-four years old. He could recall a dream he'd had when he was six--sailing west from the shores of Noreela and finding the edge of the world--but he had already forgotten the one he'd just had. He wondered whether this was peculiar to him.
Yet what had woken him? It was not yet dawn, and the streets were quiet. A dog whimpered somewhere and surreptitious footsteps echoed, but Long Marrakash was still largely asleep. And so should he be, if he knew what was best for him.
Something banged in the room next door. It was the main room in his home and contained the only door onto the street.
He froze, listening hard. Another knock, wood against wood. That was my chair being nudged into the table, Ramus thought. He stood quickly, wincing as his knees popped, and reached back across his bed. He kept his leather weapon roll on a shelf above where he slept, but it had not been used for a while. He grabbed one trailing strap, pulled, and the roll unraveled onto the bed.
Something scraped across the floor, and he heard a muttered curse.
Ramus's heart was thumping. He'd had occasion to fight several times on his voyages, but he had never thought himself a fighting man. He had no grace of movement and his reaction speed was slow, and he had scars that bore testament to that.
He drew a short knife from the roll and knelt beside the bed, losing himself in deeper shadows.
"Ramus?" The voice was low and uncertain.
Ramus half stood, then thought better of it. Just because they know my name doesn't mean they're here for anything good.
"Ramus, are you--?" Whoever had broken into his home tripped as they reached for his sleeproom door. They grunted, fell into the door and knocked it open.
Ramus pressed his knife to the invader's throat.
"Ramus, by all the gods, it's me!"
"Nomi?" Ramus fell back and dropped his knife, appalled. Was I really going to slice her throat? Maybe, maybe not. Like his dreams, his true intentions already seemed to be fading away, and for that he was glad.
"I think I've broken my wrist."
"You scared the shit out of me, Nomi!"
"Can we have some light in here? I need to see if the bone's sticking out."
"If the bone were sticking out you'd be doing more than whimpering about it." Ramus stood and went to the window. He drew the curtain aside to let in death-moonlight, its pale yellow glow revealing more of the room's shape and depth.
Nomi was still sitting on the floor by the open door, nursing her left arm. "Don't you have a lamp?"
"Running low on oil."
"I'll give you some money for oil, Ramus."
Ramus sparked his lamp and turned it up. He sheathed the knife and retied the weapon roll. Nomi mumbled something and Ramus looked at the back of her head. She seemed bedraggled and flustered, which was rare for her. Not good for her image.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Came to see you." Nomi held her hand up, flexed her fingers and sighed, seemingly happy that her wrist was not shattered.
"I doubt it'll even bruise," Ramus said. "Nomi, it's obvious that you've come to see me. But why break in? And why sneak around in my rooms like a thief?"
She stood and brushed herself down, smiling contritely. "I suppose I look like a fool. But I came to tell you something. Ask you something." She sighed, sitting on the bed and brushing loose hair back from her face.
"Spit it out," Ramus said. Nomi had been to his home a hundred times before, but this was the first time she had been in his sleep-room. It made him uncomfortable.
"I'm not thinking straight," she said. "Give me a beat. Something like this doesn't happen every night."
"You got humped!" Ramus said, mock-elated. He threw his hands in the air and reached for a bottle of wine on a shelf.
"Ramus, this is important!"
He popped the cork with his teeth and sat on a chair. "Fine," he said, taking a swig of wine. It was good--a gift from Nomi following her latest importation of Ventgorian grapes--but the first taste always made him cringe. He offered her the bottle and she accepted, taking a long draught herself. "So tell me."
"I met someone," she said. "Last night, just before midnight in the First Heart Wine Rooms. He looked exhausted, like he'd been walking forever. I knew he was a wanderer--there was a distance in his eyes, as though he'd seen things no one else could imagine. He looked around, then approached the bar and asked if they had root wine."
"So, a wanderer ordered a drink. Are you going to get to the point?"