The Brimstone Network (The Brimstone Network Series #1)

( 3 )

Overview

Thirteen-year-old Abraham "Bram" Stone has never lived an ordinary life. Home is a monastery in the Himalayan Mountains, where the monks train him in otherworldly fighting skills. Bram's father, Elijah Stone, leads a group called the Brimstone Network, an order of warriors and sorcerers who provide the last line of defense against all paranormal dangers.

Bram always knew that one day he'd take his father's place. But that day comes far too soon when a bizarre man named Mr. ...

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The Brimstone Network (The Brimstone Network Series #1)

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Overview

Thirteen-year-old Abraham "Bram" Stone has never lived an ordinary life. Home is a monastery in the Himalayan Mountains, where the monks train him in otherworldly fighting skills. Bram's father, Elijah Stone, leads a group called the Brimstone Network, an order of warriors and sorcerers who provide the last line of defense against all paranormal dangers.

Bram always knew that one day he'd take his father's place. But that day comes far too soon when a bizarre man named Mr. Stitcharrives at the monastery and breaks the news to Bram: Every member of the Brimstone Network, including Elijah, has been assassinated. Suddenly it's up to Bram to form a new Brimstone Network out of the rubble of the old, in the hope that he can rise to the challenge in time to stop a terrifying threat to humanity.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Bram Stone is training at a monastery in the Himalayas. His father heads the Brimstone Network, an organization dedicated to protecting the world from the paranormal. Once Bram's father is killed, Stitch, a creature made from the parts of the finest Brimstone agents, is animated. He travels to tell Bram that the responsibility of heading the Brimstone network has passed from father to son. Bram must now assemble a new network as he learns how to fight the forces of darkness. While the premise is nothing new, Bram and the other characters are very sympathetic, especially the gray character of Tobias, a boy who works for evil in an attempt to save his ill sister. The action is vividly described, and there is a lot of it! This is an exciting ride that will leave readers looking for the next book in the series. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416951049
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 8/5/2008
  • Series: Brimstone Network Series, #1
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas E. Sniegoski is the author of more than two dozen novels for adults, teens, and children. His books for teens include Legacy, Sleeper Code, Sleeper Agenda, and Force Majeure, as well as The Fallen, The Brimstone Network, and the Magic Zero series. Also a comic book writer, Sniegoski collaborated with Bone creator Jeff Smith on the prequel miniseries Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails. Sniegoski was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his wife Leanne and their French bulldog, Kirby. Visit him at Sniegoski.com.

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Read an Excerpt

prologue

We have always been afraid of the dark.

Even in our most bestial state, mankind has feared the deep inky blackness of the night, the velvety depths of shadow.

But it was not the darkness that the first vestiges of humanity feared, back in its earliest days of existence. No, it was what waited within its ebony folds that taught mankind to fear the dark.

They would eventually call him He Who Kills the Darkness.

But in the beginning, he was known simply as Atuk, son of Elab.

The valley folk had been two hundred strong, living peacefully in a lush, jungle basin that in five millennia would be part of North America.

Atuk knew that he was different; somehow more in tune to the dangers of life in those early days of the world.

And this set him apart from the others.

Deep down, Atuk knew that he had a special purpose; that it was something far above being the strongest, or the most handsome to the females in the tribe. He was meant for something of much greater importance.

And it was when the children of his tribe began to disappear during the nights that he sensed his time had come.

The tribe's warriors set a trap for the predator, hoping to catch what they were certain was some cowardly beast that came in when the sun had set, for it feared the strength of the valley folks' most mighty.

As it had done before, the night hunter came in search of children, but found the warriors instead. And even though they were the bravest and strongest of the tribe, they too were taken.

The valley folk were paralyzed with fear, for if their most powerful could be taken with such ease, what hope did the others have?

As the elders discussed what was to befall them, and the women cried over the loss of their children and their brave men, Atuk felt an awakening.

Not brave enough, or strong enough, to have stood with the tribe's warriors, he had instead watched from the shadows, and had seen what hunted them. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before: not animal, not man, and Atuk knew that it did not belong in this world; that it had come from some dark and awful place.

He also knew that he was destined to destroy it.

Atuk tried to explain this to the elders, but they scoffed at him. The women were even more cruel, mocking him for even thinking he could be as great as those who had been lost to the beast that stalked them, he was just a boy.

But Atuk did not listen to any voice other than the one inside him, the voice of his newly awakened instincts taking him down the path to his destiny.

He found himself thinking of the dark hunter: how it moved with such amazing speed, using the shadows to conceal its presence, and how its glistening black flesh could not be pierced by the stone tips of the warriors' hunting spears.

And in these details he saw how he would confront the enemy of his people, and defeat it.

Atuk ventured out into the wild, accompanied by the jeers of those who remained, for they believed he was running off to hide in fear.

First he needed a weapon, something stronger than the points at the end of the warriors' spears; and he found it at the base of the fire mountain. The rocks, flung from the open mouth of the mountain when it was angry, were as black as the flesh of the hunter, and seemed just as tough. Atuk worked the rock, sharpening the edges and filing the tip to a point that he was certain could pierce his enemy's tough hide.

But his search for the black stone had taken far more time than he had imagined, forcing him to be away from his village when night fell again. Atuk imagined the screams of those remaining as the hunter came for them. His only solace was in knowing that he would soon destroy it in the names of those who had been taken by the foul monster.

As the sun rose, Atuk returned to his village and found what he had feared most. No one remained.

A part of him cried in despair, but as he stood in the empty village, in the early morning rays of the sun, a new Atuk awakened. Tightly clutching his spear, its black tip glinting sharply in the light of dawn, Atuk set off into the jungle. He knew what he had to do, and now was the time.

The dark hunter did not hide its trail. After all, who was left to track it? Still, the sun was high by the time Atuk found its cave.

Standing before the yawning darkness, he felt what he thought was fear, but then realized was anticipation. This was what he was supposed to be doing, no matter what his other senses were telling him.

He stepped closer to the mouth of the cave. A horrible smell that made the thick hair on his neck and arms stand on end drifted out of the yawning darkness. It said to him, Stay away, little man; there is death for you here. But Atuk did not listen. Holding his spear tightly, he entered.

The floor of the cave tilted down and Atuk found himself walking deeper and deeper under the ground, the nasty stink of the place growing stronger, thicker, with every step. A green fungus growing on the damp cave walls cast just enough of an eerie glow to light his way.

For a moment, Atuk believed his journey would never end, but then he came to an area blocked with rubble, except for a tight opening between the top of the stone and the tunnel ceiling. He crawled atop the loose rocks, carefully sticking his head through the opening. It was pitch-black on the other side, so he smeared some of the glowing fungus on his hand and stuck it through the hole into the chamber beyond.

Almost at once he wished for darkness again, for it would have spared him from the nightmarish sight that would haunt him to the last of his days.

The hole emptied into the dark hunter's nest. The floor was littered with bones, animal and human, and all had been picked clean of any meat.

Something white in the far corner of the chamber caught his attention and Atuk pushed himself farther through the opening, holding out his glowing hand for a better look. He had seen similar things in the webs of spiders in the jungle: prey wrapped in bundles of white, sticky webbing; stored, to be consumed later by the predator. There were many bundles lying in that corner of the room, and some were moving.

Below the wrapped bundles something else stirred. Atuk moved his hand again, then stifled a gasp when he saw the hunter, curled and asleep, its back to its supply of food.

It was as Atuk suspected. The hunter was nocturnal. How deep it had come to escape the light of day told Atuk much about the beast.

The hunter did not stir as Atuk crawled through the opening, lowering himself to the chamber floor. It was cold inside, and slippery beneath his feet. Quietly, he moved toward the sleeping hunter, careful not to disturb any of the hundreds of bones strewn about.

At last, he stood before the beast. Even with the glow from his hand, he could barely discern where the shadows ended, and the hunter began.

He looked around the chamber at the remains of so much life taken by the hunger of the hunter in the dark. Some had been his friends, and this just fueled his purpose all the more.

Atuk turned back to the sleeping terror, and raised his spear.

It was awake.

Atuk gasped. Multiple eyes glowed like balls of fire suspended in darkness, and when the creature hissed, razor-sharp teeth glinted dangerously in the dwindling illumination of the chamber.

Channeling his fear into his strike, Atuk stabbed the spear down with all his might, puncturing the hunter's leathery hide.

The monster's scream of surprise was deafening in the confines of the chamber. It had not feared him when it opened his eyes and saw him there.

But it feared him now.

Atuk pulled the spear up and brought it down again and again and again. The hunter fought to rise, but each strike drove it back.

A horrible smell that burned the inside of Atuk's nose blossomed in the cold, damp air and he knew that the beast was bleeding.

With a final stab, he withdrew his spear, dropping it to the ground, turning to where he remembered the opening into the hunter's lair to be. He listened to the sounds of the angry beast scrambling to its feet as he pulled himself up and out of the chamber.

The monster was enraged.

Atuk slid down the rocks back into the main tunnel and raced up the passage. He could hear the monster behind him, its lethal claws scraping on the stone. Atuk turned his head slightly to catch sight of the beast as it scuttled after him.

Its eyes were wild, and in the greenish light thrown by the glowing mold, he saw the areas upon its thin, muscular body where his spear tip had punctured its seemingly impervious flesh. It ran along the sides of the walls, crawling up onto the ceiling as it chased him.

Atuk forced himself to run faster, the faint, enticing aroma of fresh air somewhere up ahead, giving him the extra strength he needed to continue. The muscles in his legs burned, but still he pushed on, chancing another quick glance to see the monster's progress.

The hunter had dropped back down to the cave floor, and was closer. It would not be long before the beast would be close enough to reach out and snag him with a claw, dragging him back to its lair in the ocean of darkness.

The entrance to the cave was suddenly before him, and he stifled a surge of excitement that was nearly overwhelming. Atuk slowed his pace, allowing the monster to close the distance between them. He could smell it now, the stink of its blood and aroma of evil. It was close, very close.

As was the mouth of the cave.

As were the rays of the sun outside.

Feeling the tickling brush of its claws on his back, Atuk burst from the cave into the jungle, and the scream of pain behind him was even louder than when the beast had been stabbed with his spear.

He turned, his lungs burning as he gasped for air.

The hunter writhed upon the jungle floor. Wisps of oily smoke leaked from its slimy black flesh, bubbling blisters erupting everywhere that was touched by the light of the sun.

His instincts had told him that this thing of shadow would not tolerate the sun's warming rays, and they had been right.

The hunter's wails of pain continued, its leathery flesh making a sound very much like meat sizzling on a fire. It had managed to flip onto its stomach, sinking its claws into the earth, trying to drag itself back to the cave, to the soothing comfort of the dark.

Atuk grabbed a boulder from the floor of the jungle and, hefting it in both arms, moved to stand between the mouth of the cave and the monstrous predator. It roared in protest as it lifted its awful head and saw him standing there. But Atuk felt not the slightest bit of sympathy, for even as it burned in the sun its many eyes were filled with cruelty and hate. He raised the heavy stone and threw it down upon the monster's head, ending its life with a mercy that he knew the beast was incapable of offering.

The flesh of the monster seemed to smolder and smoke all the faster. Soon there would be nothing left to prove that it had been there other than the memories of the terror it had wrought. Memories that Atuk, and the surviving members of his tribe, would carry with them to the ends of their lives.

Atuk was but the first of those who have dedicated themselves to the protection of their people.

Of humanity.

In the early days of civilization they were known as the Order of Brimstone; as centuries progressed, the Brotherhood of Brimstone; later, the Brimstone League; and now, the Brimstone Network. Appearing whenever a threat from the countless other realms emerged from the shadows, they destroy evil with a cold efficiency.

And the world has never needed them more.

Text copyright © 2008 by Tom Sniegoski

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2013

    Good for teen readers, but not up to his other works.

    I genuinely enjoy Tom Sniegoski's books and have read all of the angel series. This book has a good premise and a lot of promise, but is not as polished as his other works. It is still enjoyable, but the story does not flow smoothly. That said, I will probably still buy the second book in the series and see if its stronger.

    You write good books Tom and I apologize for the middling opinion on this one.

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  • Posted January 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.com

    Since the earliest days of civilization, humanity has always stood a fragile step away from the dark forces that exist in other realms, and the Brimstone Network--in one form or another--has always protected and maintained that veil. <BR/><BR/>However, the testing of the atomic bomb during World War II damaged the magickal barrier separating Earth from the other realms, and Elijah Stone, leader of the Brimstone Network, refuses to let his guard down now that the Earth is in more danger than ever. One day, his worst fears come true, and a well-orchestrated attack of demons, trolls, and other nightmarish creatures brings the Network to a violent end. <BR/><BR/>To Elijah's son, Abraham, the struggles of the Brimstone Network take place a whole world away. Shuttled to different schools all his life, he is now holed up in the Himalayan monastery of P'Yon Kep, where his father had hoped Bram would learn to control the specter power that he inherited from his mother. <BR/><BR/>When a heavily scarred man named Mr. Stitch arrives at the monastery to tell Bram that his father is dead and it is up to the two of them to rebuild the Network from scratch, Bram can hardly believe it... <BR/><BR/>...until the Yeti attack. <BR/><BR/>Bram realizes fast that, to keep the rest of humanity safe, he has to own up to his responsibility and become the leader that his father meant him to be. Quickly, he and Mr. Stitch work to gather their resources, for the mastermind behind the Network's end has larger plans to end humanity's rule on the earth forever, and, any day now, may discover that Bram exists. <BR/><BR/>A well-told, action-packed story that reads almost like a graphic novel, the mesh of monsters, magick, and mayhem here will appeal specifically to older preteens who like a darker, more violent edge to their stories. Please note that the level of gore and squishy monster death may be too much for the squeamish.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2008

    Read this book!

    Sniegoski really keeps a steady flow as he paints a mental picture of a world going to hell. The story takes the paranormal into a different direction, especially with an assistant to the hero whose 'birth', so to speak, is unheard of and brilliant. I believe this is a story that kids and adults will enjoy equally. I can not wait until the release of the second book in this series. It's a keeper.

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