In this roaring alternative history adventure by Brian Falkner, dinosaurs from a forbidden world have been turned into unstoppable weapons by one of the most ferocious military leaders of all time: Napoléon Bonaparte.
In the wake of his crushing victory at Waterloo, Napoléon unleashes his vicious French general Marc Thibault and his brigade of giant battlesaurs to strike terror across Europe. England stands alone, but an invasion is looming. Its only hope is a secret attack led by Willem, a magician's son, deep inside enemy territory, to the very heart of Napoléon's terrifying new army.
In Battlesaurus: Clash of Empires, the stunning sequel to Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo, deception and betrayal threaten the mission from its outset, but the courage and perseverance of Willem the "Saur killer" and his compatriots lead to a clash of titanic proportions.
Praise for Battlesaurus:
“A stunning conclusion . . . the dinosaur battles are terrific and should appeal to teen readers with a penchant for action and suspense.” VOYA on Battlesaurus: Clash of Empires
“Part historical fiction, part dinosaur fantasy mash-up, this book will appeal to history buffs and dinosaur fanatics alike. The battle scenes between Napoléon's army and the British are depicted in incredible detail, making readers feel as if they are right in the midst of the fight... The first of a promising duology that readers will find thrilling and positively addicting.” School Library Journal on Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo
“This alternative history asks, what if Napoléon won the battle at Waterloo... The novel quickly ramps up to suspense, immersing the reader in the swiftly moving plot. Characters are very well drawn, capturing the reader's sympathy. With an ending wide open for a sequel, complete with a plot-thickening cliff-hanger, one can only hope that Falkner is a swift writer.” Booklist on Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo
“Falkner gives Napoléon a toothy secret weapon in this decidedly alternate history.” Kirkus Reviews on Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo
The Battlesaurus Books:
Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo
Battlesaurus: Clash of Empires
About the Author
Brian Falkner was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, and now lives in Australia. He is the award-winning author of several futuristic adventures, including the Recon Team Angel series and Brainjack.
Read an Excerpt
Clash of Empires
By Brian Falkner
Farrar, Straus and GirouxCopyright © 2016 Brian Falkner
All rights reserved.
The officer at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast of London, wears the uniform of an artillery major of the Third Netherlands Infantry Division. But he is neither a soldier nor Dutch.
His papers identify him as Major Johannes Hendrik Lux. But that is a lie.
Willem Verheyen is the name he has used since he can remember, although even that is not his true name.
Playing the part of a soldier and an officer came awkwardly at first to Willem. But now he wears the role as comfortably as another would wear a cloak. "Major Lux" is merely an illusion and Willem is a masterful magician.
The sky is overcast, a typical dull London morning. In the dismal shadows of the high-walled courtyard at the rear of the Royal Artillery Barracks the cold air bites like saur-bugs and every breath hangs in crystalized white.
Willem stands in the center of the courtyard, observing as a group of six artillery lieutenants approach a line of tethered herbisaurs.
Today is the final day of their training. It is Willem's last day also.
In a week he will be behind enemy lines.
He puts those thoughts out of his mind and watches. The nervous, wide-bellied, duck-billed herbisaurs rear up on their hind legs as the soldiers draw near. Not to attack, for that is not in their nature, but to flee. They cannot: the leather collars, chains, and heavy metal stakes keep them in place. They emit warbling calls of alarm and thrash their necks from side to side, but the stakes are strong and deep in the ground.
These saurs are imported especially from Asia. They are large, nearly twice the height of a man. They were the largest known saurs in the world before Waterloo, although still not nearly as big or anywhere near as ferocious as Napoléon's battlesaurs.
If the circumstances were different Willem might smile at the awkward-looking creatures with their wide, childlike eyes. But he does not smile. He knows what is coming.
"Ignite," Willem calls.
The soldiers strike flints, creating a constellation of tiny stars.
The British soldiers call these "sparkle sticks." A mixture of gunpowder, magnesium, and glue along a stiff wire. They burn like the souls of sinners in the misty morning gloom.
"Begin," Willem calls.
The stars begin to move as the soldiers weave an intricate pattern with the sticks. Bright lines fade slowly on the gentle mist of the soldiers' breath.
The saurs pull away in fear, then settle slowly as their attention is captured by the dancing lights.
"Approach," Willem calls.
With one exception the soldiers are young men, most not much older than Willem. Willem watches their faces as they move even closer to the large saurs. He pays particular attention to a tall Scotsman, Hew McConnell. McConnell has a feeble mustache and a thin strip of beard down his chin.
McConnell is the son of a nobleman. The others call him Sir Hew behind his back, although he does not hold that title. They do it because of the way McConnell wears his birthright like a badge of honor. McConnell has the potential to be a good soldier, Willem thinks, but he has a weak character, which he covers with bluster and bravado. He will pass this training, but Willem worries that he will be found wanting on the battlefield.
For different reasons Willem keeps a close eye on the exception, the oldest and largest of the lieutenants, Joe Hoyes. He is Irish and a grizzled veteran of many campaigns, a former sergeant promoted (against his will) in the aftermath of Waterloo. A battlefield commission, like many, to help fill a shortage of lieutenants after so many were killed in that hellish encounter. Big Joe, as they call him, sports a bushy mustache and a cleft chin. His face bears a jagged scar. He has a healthy disrespect for everything military, but has impressed Willem with his great steadiness and determination.
"Hold," Willem calls as McConnell reaches too soon for his scabbard.
The saurs are ready, but Willem wants the men to see how long they can be held this way.
"The longer the dance, the deeper the trance," he says. Then, finally, "Draw."
Now the soldiers pull swords from their scabbards, holding them ready in front of them. Still the sparkle sticks etch their patterns on the cold air.
"Strike," Willem calls.
A flash of steel as the swords jab upward at the soft tissue on the underside of the herbisaurs' jaws.
A short, sharp thrust up into the brain, as Willem has taught them, then a quick extraction before the head can fall and trap the blade.
The herbisaurs remain standing for a moment after they are dead. They look at their killers with startled, confused expressions, if that is possible for a saur.
Almost in unison they collapse, to the front or to the side, falling in awkward piles of flesh and pools of blood.
He should feel bad, Willem thinks. But these lieutenants will face much worse in battle and this is the only way they can truly learn. Besides, he has done this often enough now that he has ceased to feel anything; his heart is as steel at the sight of the slaughter. At least that is what he tells himself.
"Withdraw," Willem calls.
Stepping back, the soldiers drop their exhausted sparkle sticks and wipe blood from their swords with oilcloths.
One of the lieutenants, a prematurely balding eighteen-year-old named Weiner, is smiling, but Willem thinks it is not happiness at the kill. Weiner's expression is a permanent smile that might be mistaken for insecurity, or even a lack of intelligence. But Willem has found it to be a reflection of a constant good humor.
Already the butchers' carts are moving in to dismember and remove the carcasses.
"Good work, gentlemen," Willem says. "Stand down."
"They seem ... efficient," a voice says behind Willem. He turns to see the young blind army officer, Lieutenant Hunter Frost. He had not heard Frost arrive. Next to him stands an equally young subaltern, clearly acting as his guide.
"You saw this?" Willem asks, although he knows this cannot be true. Frost wears two eye patches.
"I smell the smoke and hear the sound of the scabbards," Frost says. "I hear the rupture of skin and the quieting of the beasts' breathing. I smell the blood. It paints a picture for me almost as clear as your eyes do for you."
Willem nods. Frost has not let the loss of his sight affect his spirit or his career. Such is his character. He has earned special dispensation from the War Office to remain a serving officer. He no longer serves in the artillery, nor even in the infantry. A soldier without eyes cannot sight a cannon, aim a pistol, or fight with a sword. Instead he now reports to Lieutenant Colonel Grant, of the Intelligence Service. Willem has heard that his incisive mind and sharp wits have already proved invaluable in analyzing information gained from spies and intercepted enemy dispatches.
"Thank you for coming, my friend. It is good to see you," Willem says. "How is Whitehall?"
"A battlefield of a different sort," Frost says with a smile. "I would not bore you with the details."
"And you got my letter?" Willem asks.
"I did," Frost says. "But do not let me interrupt your training session." He turns to the subaltern and dismisses him with a quiet word.
Willem turns back to the line of soldiers.
McConnell is bragging about his fighting skills. He was born with a sword in his hand, it would seem. He demonstrates with cuts and thrusts and appears, to Willem's eye, genuinely talented, although the other lieutenants conceal their disdain behind fixed expressions.
"Gentlemen," Willem says, recapturing their attention. "Take a break. Go and select a trojansaur. Join me on the parade ground in an hour."
McConnell sheathes his sword and all six lieutenants stand to attention and salute before making their way from the courtyard.
"You have become quite the dashing young major," Frost says when they are out of earshot.
"An illusion," Willem says. "Smoke and mirrors, nothing more."
"So what do you really think of your new saur-killers?" Frost asks.
"Do you inquire as a friend or as an officer of the Intelligence Service?" Willem asks.
"Does it matter?"
Willem shrugs. "I think they are well equipped for an attack by an army of herbisaurs."
"And battlesaurs?" Frost wonders.
"There is only one way to find out," Willem says. There is more that he could say, but he doesn't. Not even to Frost.
"Hew McConnell?" Frost asks. "Is he ready?"
Willem is amazed at how little escapes Frost's notice, even without eyes.
"He is the one who worries me most," Willem says. "He is a braggart, and I think of very little substance."
"He may surprise you," Frost says. "My father knows his father. We spent time together as children."
"I apologize," Willem says quickly. "I did not realize he was your friend. I meant no offense."
"None was taken, and I do not count him as a friend. Far from it," Frost says. "We were ill-suited to each other's temperaments. But I know this: Hew has lived all his life in the shadow of a great man, his father. Even as a child he was constantly trying to prove himself worthy. Perhaps he will. He comes from good stock."
"I hope you are right," Willem says. "Come, let us warm up for a moment in the officers' mess."
He takes his friend by the arm and leads him toward the main entrance of the barracks.
"I have heard many stories about you," Frost says. "You have achieved a certain infamy on the other side of the English Channel."
"What kind of infamy?" Willem asks.
"They call you the Wizard of Gaillemarde," Frost says. "Napoléon's soldiers fear you. They say you are no conjurer but a sorcerer, capable of true magic."
"Let them think that," Willem says. "Perhaps it will work to our advantage."
"Napoléon of course spreads word that it is not true," Frost says. "That you are just a boy with a box of conjuring tricks. But his soldiers believe that you can turn yourself into a dinosaur, that you can control the weather, that you can disappear from one place and reappear in another."
"If that were so, this war would already be won," Willem laughs. "I would turn myself into a battlesaur and appear in Napoléon's quarters during a thunderstorm."
He mimes picking meat from between his teeth.
"If only this were true," Frost says.
"But we will have to make do with my 'simple conjuring tricks' when we reach the forest," Willem says.
"When do you leave?" Frost asks.
"Today is the last day of training," Willem replies cautiously.
Frost stops in his tracks. "Do you not trust me?" he asks.
"Of course," Willem says, encouraging Frost forward with a gentle tug on his sleeve. "Again I owe you an apology. You are perhaps the one person in this country whom I do fully trust. We sail in seven days."
"How many men?" Frost asks.
"Just six," Willem says.
"Six trained saur-killers." Willem smiles to cover his own anxiety. "Along with the two hundred infantry who will overwhelm the abbey and allow us to slay the battlesaurs in the cavern below."
"You will emerge through the cave?" Frost asks.
Willem nods. "Right in the heart of the abbey while the French are occupied with the threat from without."
Frost nods. "The journey to the Sonian will not be easy."
"We go by night," Willem says. "The Royal Navy will create a diversion near Zeebrugge while we slip quietly down the Oosterschelde."
"Surely there are lookouts," Frost says. "Even at night they will see you and raise the alarm."
"You no doubt remember Sofie and Lars, who helped us escape from Antwerp?" Willem asks.
"I did not meet Sofie," Frost says. "But Lars would be hard to forget."
Willem smiles. Lars is a giant of a man.
"I have sent word to her and received a reply," Willem says. "The lookouts along the Oosterschelde will be looking the other way, or sleeping. Those who can be bribed, will be bribed. The others will be dealt with. Sofie has many friends in that part of the Netherlands."
"And after you land?" Frost asks.
"Lars will meet us in Krabbendijke," Willem says. "And guide us past any French encampments."
"You seem concerned," Willem says. "Is there something I should know?"
"I did not say anything," Frost says.
"And yet you are holding something back," Willem says. "Is it about Héloïse? What have you learned?"
Héloïse, the wild girl, who lived for many years in the Sonian Forest outside Willem's village after her mother was taken by a firebird. She was one of the few survivors of the massacre at Gaillemarde. She had helped Willem, Frost, and Jack Sullivan escape from Europe, traveling with them through the sewers of Antwerp and sailing out of the harbor under the nose of Napoléon himself.
Within a week of her arrival in England, Héloïse had bitten a British officer and was taken to the St. Luke's Hospital for Lunatics despite the loud protestations of Willem and Frost. She escaped twice in the first week, was recaptured both times, then disappeared altogether.
"Is Jack here?" Frost asks. "I should like to see him."
Now it is Willem who stops walking, which stops Frost as well. He looks at Frost for a moment, trying to read his expression.
"The officers' mess can wait," he says. "Jack builds and maintains the trojansaurs."
"Really?" Frost says.
"But you already knew that," Willem says. "As I think you already knew the details of our mission. Come, let us go find him."
Frost manages to look suitably offended as Willem takes him by the arm and leads him toward the workshops.CHAPTER 2
The abbey is old. Older than Cosette can comprehend. She cannot look at the crumbling walls without thinking of those who built this place so very long ago. It is older than the church in Waterloo or the ancient saur-wall at Brussels. She thinks the world must have been young when men carved out this clearing in the dense Sonian Forest and quarried stone to build the high walls and even higher bell tower.
Who were they? Why did they come here to build a place of worship in such isolation? And why did they build the abbey over the entrance to a vast underground cave? Was it as an escape route if the abbey came under attack?
Napoléon's men have enlarged the opening to the cave, walled it off, and fitted it with great wooden doors. She keeps well away from that part of the abbey. She knows what lies beneath.
A few weeks earlier Cosette and Madame Verheyen — Willem's mother — had been confined to their cell with no reason given. They cowered and held each other as the floor and even the thick stone walls trembled. The light from the high stone window had dimmed as something vast passed by. Then another. And another. She could not see them, but in her mind's eye she had clearly pictured the malevolent eyes, cold steam breath, and huge, jagged teeth of the terrible thing that had lunged at her that night in the village.
Now she hurries through the courtyard with breakfast: a bowl of rice gruel to share with Marie Verheyen in the church that is the base of the bell tower. They spend most of their day there. Their cell is too small, merely a square room with two sackcloth beds and a pail for toileting. After a few weeks of imprisonment Marie negotiated with Baston to allow them to use the church. The French soldiers do not use it, except on Sundays for mass.
A soldier is tending one of the vegetable patches that take up most of the courtyard. Private Deloque, a brute of a man with a brute of a beard who seldom speaks except for grunts and lewd remarks when she passes. He is turning earth with a hoe, mixing in manure. It smells like dinosaur dung.
He steps out of the garden as she approaches, blocking her path. She steps to the side but he moves in the same direction and when she steps back, he steps back also. He grins, a gap-toothed smile, and grunts unintelligibly.
"Excuse me, sir, I would pass," Cosette says.
Deloque grunts again.
Cosette makes to step to the left, but changes direction quickly to the right, stepping nimbly around Deloque. He thrusts out the hoe as she passes, however, catching her foot, and she falls, sprawling into the vegetable patch.
"What is going on here?" A voice comes from over her right shoulder. Cosette sits up, covered in mud, manure, and gruel, to see Belette, a lumpy-looking sergeant, emerging from a doorway.
Excerpted from Battlesaurus by Brian Falkner. Copyright © 2016 Brian Falkner. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Château de Brest, France,
Book One: Invasion,
Running the Passage,
A Proud and Lucky Ship,
Escape from Bedlam,
The Road to Cork,
Council of War,
Change of Plans,
An Unexpected Visitor,
Book Two: The Mission,
The Siege of Fort Carlisle,
The Attack Begins,
Life and Death in a Meat Cart,
A Man of God,
The Road to Calais,
The Devil's Return,
The God of War,
A Desperate Act,
The Wizard of Gaillemarde,
By the River,
Riding to Calais,
In the Name of the Devil,
About the Author,