Duskby Tim Lebbon
Uncertain where to begin, Kosar turns to A'Meer, an ex-lover and Shantasi warrior whose people, unbeknownst to him,
Kosar the thief senses that Rafe Baburn is no ordinary boy. After witnessing a madman plunder Rafe's village and murder his parents, Kosar knows the boy needs his help. And now, for a reason he cannot fathom, others are seeking the boy's destruction.
Uncertain where to begin, Kosar turns to A'Meer, an ex-lover and Shantasi warrior whose people, unbeknownst to him, have been chosen to safeguard magic's return. A'Meer knows instantly that it is Rafe who bears this miracle of magic. Now Kosar and a band of unexpected allies embark on a battle to protect one special boy. For dark forces are closing in–including the Mages, who have been plotting their own triumphant return.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
"Tim Lebbon displays the sort of cool irony and uncanny mood-making that drive the best Twilight Zone stories."—New York Times Book Review
“This is fantasy for grown-ups….An excellent book.”—Paul Kearney
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.14(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.85(d)
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By Tim Lebbon
Random HouseTim Lebbon
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When Kosar saw the horseman, the world began to end again.
The horse walked toward the village, the rider shifting in fluid time to his mount's steps. The man's body was wrapped in a deep red cloak, pulled up so that it formed a hood over his head, shadowing his face. His hands rested on his thighs. The horse made its own way along the road. Loose reins hung to either side of its head, its mane was clotted with dirt, and its unshod hooves clacked and clicked puffs of dust from the dry trail. Only one man on a horse, and he did not appear to be armed.
How, then, could Kosar know that death followed him in?
With a grimace he stopped work and squatted. A warm breeze kissed the raw flesh of his fingertips-the marks of a thief-and took away the pain for a few precious moments. Blood had dripped and dried into a dust-caked mess across his hands and between his fingers, and they crackled when he flexed them. The unhealing wounds were a permanent reminder of the mistakes of his past.
Kosar decided that the irrigation trenches could wait a few minutes more. It had taken two years for the village to decide to commission them; another moment would make no difference to the crops withering and dying in the fields. Besides, they needed much more than water, though most would refuse to believe that was so. And now there was something more interesting to grab his attention, something that might bring excitement to this measly little collection of huts, hovels and run-down dwellings that dared call itself a village.
He stared along the road at the figure in the distance. Yes, only one man, but a threatening pall hung about him, like shadowy echoes of evil deeds. Kosar looked the other way, past the old stone bridge and into the village itself. There were children playing by the stream, diving and resurfacing in triumph if they caught a fish between their teeth. Elsewhere, drinkers sat silently stoned outside the tavern, mugs of rotwine festering half-finished in the sun, the other half coursing through veins and inducing a few cherished hours of catatonia. It was a false escape that he, Kosar the thief, would never be permitted again. At least not where any form of law still applied.
The market was small today, but a few traders plied their wares and squeezed tellan coins and barter from the village folk. Skinned furbats hung from hooks along one stall, their livers intact and ripe with rhellim, the drug of sexual abandonment. He had already seen three people skulking away, a furbat beneath their shirt and their eyes downcast. Their children may not eat tonight, but at least the parents would be assured of a good screw. Another trader sold charms supposedly from Kang Kang, banking on the fear and awe in which that place was held to make the buyers see past the trinkets' obvious falseness. There were food sellers too, offering fruits from the Cantrass Plains. But the journey from that place was long, the route difficult and most of the fruits had lost their lively hue.
Kosar turned once again to the stranger. He was much closer now, and the sound of his progress had become audible in the heavy air. The figure raised his head almost imperceptibly. The cloak shifted to allow a sliver of the falling sun inside, and Kosar squinted as he tried to make out what it revealed. His eyesight was not as good as it had once been, scorched by decades in the sun and weakened by lack of nourishment, but it had never misled him.
The stranger's face was as red as his cloak.
Kosar stood and shielded his eyes. His first impulse was to grab the pick he'd been using, so he could swing it up in a killing arc if necessary. His second urge was to turn and run, and this surprised him. He'd always been a thief but never a coward. It was why he was still alive now, and it was the reason he could live among people, even with the terrible unhealing brands on his fingers.
He also listened to his hunches. Instinct was for survival, and Kosar followed his as much as possible.
But not this time. Instead, he crept back along the trench toward the bridge. Every step felt heavy, each movement against good sense. Something inside shouted at him to turn and run, abandon the village to whatever fate this red man brought with him. The place had never really done anything for Kosar. Acceptance it had given grudgingly, but never affection, never any true sense of belonging. They'd put up with him because he worked for them, nothing more. He'd spent the last mid-summer festival skulking past the stone bridge while the town cabal handed out ale and food. The revelry had jibed at him as he watched the setting sun alone, even though the jibing was mostly his own.
Turn and run.
But he could not.
Turn and run. Kosar, you bloody fool!
Even though instinct urged him to flee, and good sense told him that death's shadow was already closing over the village, there were children here, playing in the stream. There were a few women in the village that he liked, or would like to like, given the chance. And more than anything, Kosar was a good man. A thief, a criminal, branded forever as untrustworthy and devious, but a good man.
The horseman was no more than two minutes away from the village. Kosar had almost reached the end of the trench where it joined the stream, the bridge a hundred steps away. The children had finished their fishing and playing and climbed the bank, and now they sat on the bridge parapet, swinging their legs over the edge, laughing and joking and watching the stranger approach. Such trust, in a world where hunger and fear made trust so precious.
He was about to call out to the children, when the horse broke into a gallop.
He could have warned them. He should have shouted at them to turn and run, go to their homes, tell their parents to lock their doors. Kosar had seen enough trouble in his life to recognize its flowering, and he had known from the instant he'd laid eyes on the horseman that he was not here for a drink, a meal, a bed for the night. He could have warned them, but shouting would have drawn attention to himself. And in this case, instinct won out.
The man in red dismounted on the bridge and approached the children. His horse remained where it had stopped, head bowed as if smelling the water through thick stone. The children stood, jumped around, giggled. Kosar glanced across into the village and saw several people looking his way, a couple of them striding quickly toward the bridge, one woman darting into the brothel where the three village militia spent most of their time.
For a moment all was still. Kosar paused, unmoving. The breeze died down as if the land itself was holding its breath. Even the stream seemed to slow.
The man in red spoke. His voice was water running uphill, birds falling into the sky, sand eroding into rock. Where is Rafe Baburn? he asked. The children glanced at one another. One of the girls offered a nervous smile.
Later, Kosar would swear that the man never even gave them time to reply.
He grabbed the smiling girl by her long hair, pulled his hand from within the red robes and sliced her throat. His knife seemed to lengthen into a sword, as if gorging on the fresh blood smearing its blade, and he swung it through the air. Three other children clutched at fatal wounds, shrieking as they disappeared from Kosar's view below the parapet. The two remaining boys turned to run and the hooded man caught them, seemingly without moving. He beheaded them both with a flick of his wrist.
Kosar fell to his knees, the breath sucked from him, and rolled sideways into the irrigation ditch. He cringed at the splash, but the hooded man strode across the bridge and into the village without pause. Kosar peered above the edge of the trench and watched through brown reeds as the man approached the first building.
The village was in turmoil. A woman screamed when she saw the devastation on the bridge, and others soon took up her cry. Men emerged from doorways clutching crossbows and swords. Children ran along the street, their eyes widening with a terrible curiosity when they saw their dead friends. Goats and sheebok scampered through the dust, startled to the ends of their tethers, crying and choking as leather leads jerked them to a standstill. The man in red walked on, the robe still tight around his body, hood over his head. From this angle Kosar could see only his back, and for that he was glad. From the glimpse he had caught of the red face, he had no desire to see beneath that hood again.
A woman, mad with grief, tried to run past the man to hug her dead child. His arm snaked out and buried the sword in her stomach. He jerked it free without breaking his step, the woman's blood splashing his robe. Her scream wound down like an echo in a cave. There was another shout from the village, and the whistle of a crossbow bolt boring the air.
It struck the man in the shoulder. He paused momentarily-
This is when he goes down, Kosar thought, and then they'll fall on him and he'll be torn to shreds.
-and then continued on his way. The bolt protruded from his shoulder, pinning the cloak tighter to his body. The shooter reprimed his crossbow, loaded another bolt and fired again, his eyes blinded with grief but his aim still true. This one struck the man in the face. Again he paused, his head snapping back with the impact. And again he went on his way once more. His pace increased, dust kicking up from beneath his red robe, clotted black with his own spilled blood.
Someone stumbled from the door of the brothel farther along the street. It was one of the three militia, naked, flushed and erect from his regular afternoon dose of rhellim, yet still of sound enough mind to bring his longbow with him. A whore staggered out after him, frenzied from rhellim overdose, grabbing at the soldier's crotch even as he strung an arrow and sighted on the red-robed man. He nudged the whore aside with his knee. She sprawled in the dust and shouted her rage up at him. The soldier let loose his arrow.
It thudded into the man and burst from his back. He stood for a moment like a red butterfly pinned to the air. The first man with the crossbow ran at him, raising his weapon to strike the murderer around the face, but the aggressor moved so quickly that Kosar barely saw the sword shimmer through the air. The crossbow spun across the road and into the stream, closely followed by its owner's head, mouth still wide in a silent scream.
Another bolt struck home, fired from somewhere beyond Kosar's field of view. Another, then another. The man barely paused this time, as if becoming used to the impact of wood and iron, his body adjusting itself around the alien objects puncturing and shredding it. He reached the tavern where the regular drinkers were stirring from thoughtless slumber and slaughtered all six of them. He did so slowly, seeming to relish every thrust and slice of his sword, oblivious to the bolts and arrows pounding into his red-robed body.
The other two militia had emerged from the brothel and all three now stood in the street, ridiculously naked and sweat-soaked and hard on rhellim. The whores huddled back against the brothel wall and watched as their men plucked arrows from their quivers, strung, fired, strung and fired again. Each arrow found its mark, and the nearer the man in red came to the militia, the more damage they did.
One shaft struck his throat and exited the back of his neck, carrying a stringy mess of gristle and veins with it. The air was thick with blood. Kosar could not believe what he was seeing; the man should be dead. He resembled was a cactus-there were two dozen arrows and bolts peppering his body, and more hitting home every few seconds-and yet he walked. He swung his sword, hacked at the villagers, and their bodies spilled blood into the dust. Kosar watched aghast as the man in red reached the militia. They stood their ground as they were trained, wide-eyed and terrified. They took up their swords, engaged the arrowed-peppered figure together and died together. One was split from throat to sternum by a twitch of the blade, another lost his rampant genitals before his guts followed them to the ground. The third, mad and brainwashed to the last, ran at the enemy with the intention of wrestling him into the dust. The robed figure spun at the last instant, and the soldier was impaled on his own arrows.
With the militia dead, the massacre of the villagers began in earnest.
The man in red still wore the hood over his face. His hands barely seemed to move before another body fell to the ground. And arrows and bolts still thrummed into him.
Time to leave, Kosar knew. He glanced at the bridge, queasy because he had not gone to help those children. But at least this way he still had the stomach to feel sick.
He turned and made his way along the trench on his hands and knees. Each splash in the shallow water was accompanied by a scream from the village, or a groan, or the thud of another useless arrow finding its mark. He'd seen some things in his time, some strange, some unpleasant, some weird and wonderful. But he had never seen a man fighting with thirty arrows letting his blood and twisting up his insides.
He started to pant, and realized only then that he was panicking. The sounds from the village were receding as he lay distance down behind him. They were worse than before-the screams of children once more-but they were quieter now. Certainly not easier to hear, but less of a threat.
Kosar paused for a moment and lifted his hands from the muddy water. The ground was clay here, hardly ideal for planting crops but perfect for coating unwary crawlers with a bloodred deposit. He hung his head until his long hair dipped in as well, perhaps willing himself to be blooded. He had done nothing. Those children on the bridge, innocent, ignorant only because their parents were ignorant, so alive, so trusting . . .
He had done nothing.
"Oh Mage shit," he whispered wretchedly.
The noise from the village stopped. No more screams. No more shouts. No more crossbows twanging, arrows whistling through the air or swords met in sparkling fury. Nothing but the slow, methodical footsteps of one man.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpted from Dusk by Tim Lebbon Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Tim Lebbon's books include the British Fantasy Award-winning Dusk, Dawn, Berserk, The Everlasting, Hellboy: Unnatural Selection, Face, Exorcising Angels (with Simon Clark), Dead Man’s Hand, Pieces of Hate, and the novelisation of the movie 30 Days of Night (shortlisted for a Scribe Award). Future publications include Fallen and The Map of Moments from Bantam Spectra, The Reach of Children from Humdrumming, and The Secret Journeys of Jack London (in collaboration with Chris Golden) from Atheneum. There are also more books due from Cemetery Dance, Necessary Evil Press and Night Shade Books, among others. He has won three British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, a Shocker and a Tombstone Award, and has been a finalist for International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Awards. His novella White is soon to be a major Hollywood movie, and several more novels and novellas are currently in development in the USA and UK.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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If you enjoy the dark side of fantasy you just hit the jack pot this book leaves out nothing just because its sensitive material. You recieve the full picture but the picture of the actual story is somewhat distored. You believe that you know whats going on but it only hints at it in the book, so you feel that you know whats happening but you truly don't know the truth because no one in the novel even knows the truth. Like the reader they know only bits and pieces. The end of the novel gives you a mental beating leaving you gasping and asking how the story will continue(but it does hint at possiblities). If you feel like a story that challenges and pleases your mind then this is the book you've been waiting for. Enjoy.
Lebbon has always challenged the reader to follow his dark imagination into less comfortable surroundings. I have to say though that Dusk really is a departure from his usual style. Lebbon invents a world beyond the kid gloves of Tolkein and the like. The first time I read Dusk I really felt swept away with the pace of the book, tearing at the pages to keep pace. On second reading I took the time to appreciate the characters and lavish setting. This really is a fantastic read and for the first time I apprecited the difference between dark fantasy and horror. I suspect that this really will place Lebbon comfortable alongside the likes of Barker in terms of daring the reader to surrender their imagination to his. Absolutely superb.... Yours, F.Wasp
The Cataclysmic War ended the reign of magic with mages fleeing for their lives. Over the next three centuries, in spite of the demise of magic as a combat tool and the thought that the Cataclysmic War was the war to end all wars, battles continue using savage mundane methods to kill or maim your adversary. --- In 2208, the Year of the Black, Kosar the Thief watches the rider in red serendipitously comes to the village Trengborne. He is stunned as the stranger begins a slaughter killing the young and anyone else offering resistance even the militia while taking blows that should have left him dead. Kosar notices one teenage boy escapes up the dark hillside. That lad Rafe Baburn saw his parents and others murdered by what had to be a demon. Evidence has surfaced that magic has been rebirthed in the young the Red Monk and his minion plan to eradicate it before the one soul possessing the skill can mature enough to use it against them. Kosar meets and teams up with A¿Meer the Shantasi warrior in a search to find and protect Rafe from the Red Monk, but first must expedite him from Hope the witch. --- This epic coming of age fantasy grips the audience from the moment the Thief fearfully observes the red-robed killing machine and never slows down as Kosar finds allies to protect the dying world¿s perhaps last hope Rafe. The exhilarating story line paints a dark gloomy Poe like atmosphere throughout especially when the adversaries take center stage. The key characters in particular the teen and his champions are unique individuals that make their realm seem even more nightmarishly real. Tim Lebbon paints the darkest DUSK that will have readers keeping the lights on until dawn breaks. --- Harriet Klausner
I assure you, Tim Lebbon knows what you have dreamed and you will find it written across the pages of DUSK. Having first sampled Lebbon¿s work in his novel ¿Desolation,¿ I was already familiar with how deftly he can move between the ethereal and the fundamentally ordinary. He finds beauty and wonder in the smallest things, and yet he is just as gifted in flinging out the expanse of the universe like a mad astronomer. I have been thrilled to experience a preview copy of DUSK and I can already envision myself and a group of friends sharing a drink and having lively discussions about all it has to offer. Anyone in that scenario who admitted they had not read DUSK would be immediately given the empathy typically offered to the homeless and impoverished, because not to have paid a visit to Lebbon¿s Noreela universe is to be truly poor in body and soul. I must say it again, Lebbon knows what is in your nightmares and he will show them all to you again. Others have described Lebbon as having a wild imagination but I fear it is much worse than we suspected. He could be mad or at the very least quite ill. How else could he have created such creatures of horror, the seen and unseen. There¿s the Red Monk, the skull ravens, the tumblers and furbats, the Nax and shades and weapons and the smell of rotwine rotting in the hot sun. There¿s Trey with the yellow eyes and the beautiful, sensual A¿Meer who likes it over a chair. There¿s Hope the Witch and Rafe Baburn, the last hope for a dying world. And there¿s more¿there¿s always more to the eye where Magic is concerned. DUSK is an epic story, but don¿t let that frighten you if you¿re not fond of them. This one will wrap your heart in chains with each successive chapter and will not let you go. You will find yourself swept up into the story of unlikely heroes and sworn enemies, of the ancient machines left over from the Cataclysmic War, of a love story in a place where primal fears reign supreme. Just as the sun is going down, reflected in fire and water, blood and smoke, all hell and all doubt, you will find that which that stands unwavering and timeless in the face of impossible odds¿and pray for the DAWN.
She snarls, panting.
Picks him up and bashes him into a table
human doesnt care that its a warriors rp but eh i could do better with a wrewolf rp but what ever 14 years old brown hair green eyes and jeans and a tee-shirt
Gender--she cat// Personality--meet me// histoey-- ask me// rank--warrior// appearence--russet she with crimson tipped ears and paws. Light blue eyes
Its a warning for you not a threat~Cougarpaw
Its about a six or seven. Not the best grammar. Stroylimes a bit fast. But if you said ur suroundings. It would be better.
Name~Fawnheart~Age~30 moons.~Rank~Deputy of DuskClan.~Personalities~Kind and very hating of BloodShed.~Family~Ask any time!~Other~Hates blood shed and is very hpy most of the time.