The epic conclusion to Ann Aguirre's USA Today-bestselling Razorland trilogy.
The horde is coming.
Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker, and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.
Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.
This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.
About the Author
Ann Aguirre has been a clown, a clerk, a savior of stray kittens, a voice actress, and a New York Times bestselling author, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but she now lives in a terracotta adobe house in Mexico with her husband and two adorable children. Her young adult novels include the Razorland series, The Immortal Game trilogy, and the standalone novels Like Never and Always and The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things. She also writes the romantic science fiction series about Sirantha Jax, as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. As Ava Gray, she writes paranormal romantic suspense.
Emily Bauer is an award-winning voiceover actress who has read for dozens of popular audiobooks for children and adults, including Margery Williams's Velveteen Rabbit, Meg Cabot's Insatiable, and Ann Aguirre's Enclave. Her film credits include Mona Lisa Smile and Long Distance. She has done voiceovers for Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Pokemon, and has voiced scores of TV and radio commercials as well as cartoons, talking toys, and video games. She lives in New York.
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By Ann Aguirre
MacmillanCopyright © 2013 Ann Aguirre
All rights reserved.
"I smell a wild beast—that way, the way the wind is coming."
—George MacDonald, The Day Boy and the Night Girl
I left without looking back.
This wouldn't be easy, but it was necessary to leave our loved ones under siege to fetch help for Salvation. The decision hurt my heart too; my foster mother's face would haunt me, so wounded and brave, older than I'd known a woman could become yet remain strong and vital. She glimmered like a promise of hope that my flame needn't flicker and burn out before I had a chance to live. Once I'd thought old meant twenty-five, but my time in Salvation had changed my perceptions. Now it was strange to imagine I might not be entering the middle of my life.
Into the dark I quickened my steps, eyes sharp for Freaks prowling beyond normal perimeters. Behind us, I heard them shrieking challenges to the men guarding the walls. Rifles cracked out when they rushed, but I couldn't turn, no matter how much I wished otherwise. My course was fixed by the shadowy line traced on the priceless map secured in the leather folio in my pack. Before we'd left, I had studied it with complete focus, memorizing each twist and turn of the route, each handwritten note left by Longshot about good game-hunting or fresh water. It was two days to Soldier's Pond, two more back, once we mustered the necessary reinforcements. That dot on the parchment represented the best hope of saving the people who had taught me so much about life, that it could be more than just hunting and killing.
Momma Oaks. Edmund.
I couldn't let myself think of them or I'd falter. Instead I pressed on, silent and wary, listening to the Freaks behind us. With a glance over my shoulder, I reassured myself that Fade was still at my back. Tegan and Stalker walked on either flank, she with her lopsided gait and unshakable loyalty, he with his curved knives in his hands and his eyes fixed on the horizon, though he couldn't see what lay ahead as well as I could.
That came with being the night girl. Reflexively I adjusted my pack, reassured by the weight of the book that had traveled with us all the way from the ruins. Maybe I didn't need it, but it had become my talisman, every bit as much as the tattered playing card sewn into a hidden pocket inside my shirt. Edmund had explained that my token from down below was part of a fifty-two-piece set, and it was a low card. That seemed fitting, as it served to keep me humble.
"See anything?" Tegan asked.
"Just some night-prowling animals. The enemy's behind us."
"I know," she said softly.
The grass crisped under our feet, liberally sprinkled with early fallen fronds. It wasn't yet turning time, when all the leaves changed colors and dropped from the branches, but there were always a few to crackle as we went. We ran all through the night with periodic breaks for rest and water while I checked the maps by the moonlight shining overhead. By the time the sun crept over the horizon in delicate whorls of rose and amber, I was exhausted—and disgusted with my own weakness. Down below Fade and I had run a much more dangerous route in faster time, but we had to account for Tegan's slower strides too. Though the girl was all heart, her leg couldn't carry her indefinitely at the same pace that the rest of us set, and she was limping now, brackets of pain beside her mouth. I didn't make the mistake of noting it out loud, however.
"Time to make camp." I signaled for Stalker to scout the perimeter, and it was a measure of how much he'd changed that he didn't balk at the order, merely set off to do as I'd asked.
As I laid out my blankets, Fade asked, "No fire?"
I shook my head. "The sun will be up soon. We won't need it."
Tegan added, "We'll smell them coming if any of those behind us get close."
I nodded at that. This reminded me an awful lot of when we'd wandered the wilderness with only stories handed down by Fade's sire. At least this time we have maps, a route to follow. I wouldn't call it a road, exactly, but I spotted faint lines where Longshot's wagon—along with others, I was sure—had passed back and forth often enough to reassure me I was still navigating the proper course.
As I handed around the meat, bread, and cheese Momma Oaks had packed, Stalker returned. "The general area's clear, though I don't like the way it smells to the east."
"Are we being followed?" I asked.
I ate in economical bites, sufficient to keep me going, but not make it difficult to rest on an over-full stomach. The others did the same, experienced with balancing the need to stay strong against the wisdom of conserving our resources. After tonight, the meat would be gone, but the bread and cheese should stretch all the way to the end of our journey.
Soberly, Stalker nodded. "We should expect an attack while we're sleeping ... and hope it's not more than we can handle."
I swore quietly, the worst word I'd learned during the summer patrols. "I'd hoped they didn't spot us coming out of the tunnel."
"I don't think they did," Fade put in. Out here, he was more his old self, quiet and alert, less of the bleak despair. "I suspect they can smell us just as easily we do them."
Of course. The minute he said it, I remembered—and recognized the truth. The Freaks didn't need to see us emerge; the minute we stepped into the wind, we entered their territory. Like any predator, they noticed such incursions and would take steps to eliminate the threat. If we were lucky, it was only a small hunting party, not a significant portion of the horde. Though maybe that would help Salvation if a large number gave chase—we could lead them away from the town toward Soldier's Pond. The settlers there wouldn't thank us for it, but they might believe the threat was real faster.
"How's that possible?" Tegan demanded, looking offended.
"They're animals," Stalker answered. "They have keen senses like a wolf too, and they notice anything that doesn't match the Freak stench."
"That's how I was able to—" I cut myself off before I said rescue Fade, knowing it would be hard for him to hear.
Too soon. Deep down, I wanted him to appreciate what I'd done, what I'd risked for him, because there weren't any limits on how far I'd go for my boy. But his black eyes flashed; he knew even if I didn't speak the words out loud. With a sinking heart, I watched him turn away to lay his bedroll with exaggerated care.
"Able to what?" Tegan asked.
Stalker replied for me with unexpected tact. "Sneak past some Freaks. Deuce rubbed herself with their parts—blood and worse stuff—until she reeked. They didn't notice her, though most of them were sleeping."
Some was a massive understatement. That was our first sight of the horde, sufficient to slay everyone in Salvation, and then sweep onward to pillage any surviving settlements. The memory swept over me, Freaks awful and staggering in their numbers, and armed with fire they'd stolen from our outpost. I battened down my alarm, knowing I wouldn't do the townsfolk any good if I panicked.
"That's ingenious," Tegan decided. "And disgusting." She cocked her head, thoughtful. "Does that mean they don't see particularly well?"
"I have no idea." To the best of my knowledge, nobody had ever studied the Freaks. Anyone who got near one chose to dispatch it instead, for obvious reasons.
"I'd like to find out," she murmured.
While I wished Tegan luck in her quest for knowledge, I preferred killing them. "It was dark ... and like he said, most were asleep. I wouldn't count on them having impaired vision."
Stalker sat down opposite me, his icy gaze layered. The kiss he'd given me the night before felt like a weight, one I needed to displace before I could be worthy of Fade, who would hate it even more when I told him that I'd kissed Stalker freely in order to get him to promise to run back to Salvation to warn them if Fade and I didn't make it back.
At this point, however, we had more important things to worry about, so I set those matters aside, as Stalker said, "I'll take first watch."
"Second," I murmured.
The others claimed third and fourth respectively, which would grant us all a decent amount of sleep. Fade handed his timepiece to Stalker to make it easier to tell when the two hours were up; once Fade and Tegan would've argued at Stalker guarding the encampment alone, but both of them merely rolled up in their blankets as the sun rose higher. I was tired, so I dropped off immediately, and I dreamed of Salvation burning while Momma Oaks wept, and Silk, the lead Huntress down below, shouted at me that I was a Breeder, not a Huntress. Jolting awake, I rolled out of my blankets onto the sun-warmed grass and lay squinting up at the blue sky threaded with white wisps. Clouds, they were called. Supposedly, this was where rain came from.
Not realizing anyone else was awake, I wondered aloud, "Of all the people in the enclave, why couldn't I keep Thimble in my head? Or Stone?"
My friends from the enclave might not have kept me from making the long walk, but I had fond memories of them. Thimble used to make us things even before she was officially a Builder, while Stone protected us both. I wished I could dream about them instead of Silk, who had put fear into everyone under her command.
"I don't know," Stalker answered. "But I think about this one cub all the time. He followed me everywhere. But he didn't have the heart to take power. He died young."
"What was his name?"
"Rule," he said. "Because he always followed them."
It sounded like the Wolves' naming traditions had been similar to ours, though they focused on a personal trait, not a naming gift. Quietly, I said as much, and Stalker nodded.
"The leader christened our cubs. At eight winters, we earned our names."
"How?" It was odd to think they had traditions other than capturing trespassers and stealing girls from other gangs, but by the way his face tightened, he didn't want to talk about it, so I added, "Never mind. You should get some rest."
"Thanks. It was all quiet." He handed me Fade's watch as he rolled into his blankets.
I pushed into a cross-legged position and served as sentry while the others slept. As I had done down below, I entertained myself with studying Fade, but the activity had more meaning now that I'd stroked his hair and kissed his mouth. The ache those memories roused in me were fierce as a rainstorm, thunder booming in my heart. With sheer discipline I looked away from the curled crescents of his lashes and the quiet curve of his lips. Those hours passed with only the quiet chatter of birds and the scramble of small creatures in the undergrowth. We had chosen a shaded spot, beneath a stand of trees, where the grass was soft and the light filtered through the foliage overhead to dappled green.
I was sleepy again by the time I woke Fade, but I was still alert enough not to do it by shaking him. Instead, I knelt beside him and whispered, "Your watch."
He roused instantly, one hand on his knife. "Anything?"
"No trouble so far."
"Good. Stalker's right, though. They're hunting us."
I had been prey often enough that I recognized the prickling feel of enemies nearby. Unfortunately until the wind shifted just right, it was impossible to know how far away the Freaks were. We had to rest while we could and then press on. Fighting wasn't our top priority; our mission was to summon help, and I couldn't contemplate the cost of failure. If necessary, we'd take evasive action and head for Soldier's Pond even faster.
"I don't like our chances," Fade said.
"Of surviving the run or summoning help?"
He shrugged, unwilling to articulate his doubts. Deliberately I moved over beside him. I set my hand beside his in the grass. He knew—he had to know—that if things were different, I'd lace my fingers through his. But he didn't want that, couldn't stand that, and I read the awareness of my gesture in his altered posture. Fade straightened his fingers beside mine, and for a few seconds, I felt every blade of grass on my palm as if they were his fingertips.
"I hope I prove of some use," he said then.
"You're here. That's enough." I hesitated and decided there might not be a better moment—and I couldn't continue without telling him. So in a quiet rush, I explained what was bothering me about the good-bye kiss I'd given Stalker in the woods and the one he took by surprise the night before, and how those moments conflicted with the promise I'd made Fade regarding exclusive kissing rights. I felt like I'd broken faith with him, but I didn't regret bringing him back safe.
His expression went flat, his eyes dark as night-kissed water. "I don't understand why you're telling me this. You can do whatever you like. I already said, we aren't ..." He trailed off and shrugged, as if I already knew what he meant.
Worse, I did. He was talking about the termination of everything we had been together, but if Fade thought we could just go back to being hunting partners, like we had been down below, before I understood anything about feelings or the way he held my heart in his hands without touching me, then he was purely mistaken. I clenched my teeth against an angry spate of words. Though Tegan had counseled patience, sometimes it was hard.
He went on in a quietly aching tone, "So it doesn't matter what you did to get me back. By then, it was already too late."
"It's not," I said. "I won't let it be. But you deserve absolute honesty. What happened with Stalker wasn't something I asked for, but I'd do anything for you, and that's a fact."
"Some things," he whispered, "you just shouldn't."
I didn't ask if he meant his rescue or the deal with Stalker that involved kissing. I couldn't resist pushing, just a little. "So it won't bother you if I find someone else?"
His jaw clenched, and I saw the muscle move before he got it under control. "I thought you said you'd fight for me."
"And you said it's too late." I offered him a faint smile along with his watch. "So it's a good thing I don't intend to listen to you."
The soft sigh puffed out of him in relief before he could stop it. That was all the confirmation I needed. At least in this regard, I couldn't take Fade's word at face value. His mouth was saying things his heart didn't mean, out of pain and darker feelings that would probably cut me in two. At last I followed Tegan's advice about not pushing him too far, and I shifted back to my bedroll without further conversation. I didn't turn my back when I drifted off to sleep, either. Let him look at me, if he wants to. In fact, I hoped he did, and that he felt one fraction of what I did. It might bring him back to me sooner. Just as in this desperate quest, I was running blind and hoping that the journey ended with Fade beside me.
When next I woke, the world was a blur of snarls and yellow fangs.
By the angle of the sun as I rolled to my feet, it wasn't quite noon, but the Freaks had found us. There were nine monsters, strong and well fed, so this wouldn't be as easy as it had been before. Good thing my companions were all awake and preparing for a fight.
Stalker snapped at Tegan, "Get behind me."
My blades slipped into my palms and I lunged at the four encircling Fade. I caught the first off guard with a slash to the torso, opening a gash in its hide. I noticed these lacked the festering sores of other Freaks I'd encountered. Their skin was sleek but tough, if mottled, gray. The stained fangs were the same, however, as were the razor-taloned hands slicing toward me. I spun to the side, ending the maneuver with a dual downward strike. My left knife nicked the creature's arm, but neither wound was fatal. Bleeding and furious, the thing snarled at me, a challenge in its strangely human eyes. The irises were crystal clear, a stunning amber-yellow, with the sclera white by comparison. I had the unmistakable sense it saw me as a thinking person, not just meat, and yet it still meant to kill me. The realization stunned me, but not enough to keep me from dodging the next hit as another wheeled to face me.
Stalker dropped one of his with an efficient spike into the throat, leaving three. Fade had the next kill, gutting the Freak on the right from chest to groin. Entrails tumbled out in a meaty splatter, staining the grass at our feet. Another keened in grief—that awful, discordant cry that affirmed that the Freaks felt, that they suffered loss—and it went at Fade with a ferocity I found astonishing. It was furious, not just hungry. These behaved so differently from the mindless ones we'd fought down below.
I swiveled beneath the slashing claws and sank both my blades into the Freak's abdomen, then I pulled the knives sideways with all my strength. That was a killshot. The monster went down as the next one lunged at me. I blocked the strike, but took a rake of claws across my forearm in doing so; this Freak was strong, enough that I felt the impact down in my bones. I had to learn a new way to fight them since they didn't die as fast anymore. This was actual combat, not the havoc I once wreaked. Fade cried out as one of them sank claws into his shoulder and used the hold to reel him forward for a fatal bite. To my surprise, Tegan brought up my rifle from where she stood in the trees. I was none too sure of her aim, but the shot boomed out, opening the monster's chest and dropping the one who had Fade. I lifted my chin at her in thanks, then I whirled into motion, my strikes faster, faster.
Excerpted from Horde by Ann Aguirre. Copyright © 2013 Ann Aguirre. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved Loved this series!! They should scrap the Divergent movie and start making this one!
Loved the first and second book... this final book of the trilogy sealed the deal. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it without an ounce of disappointment. The reader isn't left with any loose ends. Three thumbs up!
Razorland is, by far, my favorite young adult futuristic trilogy ever! Better than the hunger games, divergent, never sky, and legend just to name a few. I just love the author's use of similes and metaphors (stars like ice chips and a kiss like a breezy summer's day). Simply lovely. Fade and Deuce are perfect together and their romantic scenes are so sweet and tender (never described the same way twice). Veronica Ross needs to take a lesson from Ann Aguirre on how to sacrifice a major character. I enjoyed the maturation of Stalker. For a character who didn't start out so nice, he really redeemed himself in the end. I was moved to tears more than once throughout this trilogy. I will miss these characters a lot, but I was more than satisfied with the conclusion.
So many times you get to the 3rd book and are disappointed.... but not here. By the end I had tears in my eyes! Do not hesitate with this series. LOVED IT!!!!
This is by far the best ending to a trilogy I have ever read! So beautiful...amazing in every way!
Wonderful ending to an amazing story!!!! It does not disappoint at all!!, if you
I've read the first two and they both have proven to make you love the relationships between the characters while keeping you on the edge of your seat.
This book is very original and definatly worth your time
I love this book! I thought it was a great end to the series. So much happened in this book. It was exciting, there was a lot of battling, and romance. There was a moment when I wanted to cry but couldn’t because I was at work. And if I wasn’t, there definitely would have been ugly tears. There was also a moment of giddiness, I was so happy when I read that. Deuce was fierce in this one. She had a lot to prove since she was a girl. She was just great in this one. She’s still a huntress but also loyal, badass, and determined. Fade has come a long way in this one from the last book. I still just love him. The old and new characters make a great addition to the series also. Oh man, the freaks/muties in this one. Mind boggling. I won’t go into this because it would spoil things but man I thought it was so cool. Definitely different than the normal books. I liked that there was more on the other settlements and the people that occupy them and how they dealt with the muties. I thought this book just was fantastic. Sad that it ended but it ended on a great note. ♥
I loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!
Longest book of the trilogy but a fantastic read with a riveting story line. Look forward to more from Ann Aguirre.
I loved this series. I read all three books in less than a month. If your looking for a great read with awesome adventure and some drama. Read this series.
I loved these books and Horde was just as good or better. I am a mother in my 30's and I think the author writes such an interesting story that it doesnt matter its considered young adult I enjoyed it a great deal.
I couldnt put it down excellent read
I got into this when I decided to get enclave. I have gotten every book in this series. They have always been good. I am also starting her new series.
This book was so incredible! I loved it!!! The whole series is great. I have been waiting for this last book and was not dissapointed. I did not want it to end. I find it rare when an author can really pull you in and you cant wait for the next book to come out and when it does you never want it to end. I kept putting it down to try to make it last longer, but just couldnt wait to keep reading. So many emotions to go through with this book, I wish it wasnt over but so happy the way it ends. I absolutely loved it!!!! Thank you Ann Aguirre this book and series touched my soul! Beautiful characters brrilliant work.
This is the final book in the Razorland trilogy, and I have to say it was a really good series-ender. I was oddly fearful to pick it up and even stalled for a full year because I was worried it wasn’t going to like it. I’m not sure where that irrational fear came from because it’s no secret Aguirre is one of my top authors. Whether it’s a post-apocalyptic zombie story, a science fiction about an alien prison (The Dred Chronicles), or new adult romances (The 2B Trilogy), Aguirre consistently delivers books that I absolutely love with her great writing, amazing characters, and fun storylines. I think my hesitance with Horde was that I couldn’t really see the vision on where the story was headed. In addition, there were a few gruesome (in concept, not detailed in writing) scenes in Outpost that left me a bit sickened and depressed after reading them (I know, I’m a weenie). Either way, when I finally did read it, I really dug it. I think horde was just as conceptually disturbing, but I must have been in a much better mood to read it because I devoured it. I also appreciated where Aguirre took the story – finally giving me some answers behind how the “muties” emerged, which also allowed me to finally understand why she was vehemently offended that people referred to them as zombies… an attitude I find a little strange considering she never really describes their origins until the 3rd book. Anyway, it ended up being rather thought-provoking, which I liked. One of my favorite things about this series was the way the author incorporated all the different humans subcultures in this post-apocalyptic world. She had everything from gangs to religious zealots, and I thought they all added a different wrinkle of perspective to the story. None of it was ironic, and really made the story seem more realistic. I also especially loved Deuce – the main character. She had a lot of conviction, and within all of these different subcultures still managed to adapt and make the best out of each situation (which is why I named her “most adaptable” in my Top Ten Female Characters That Inspire Me! post a few years ago). The Razorland Trilogy might not be my favorite work from Aguirre (which is only a solid 4-stars), but Deuce is easily one of her best characters. I know Aguirre has another series planned for the same world (the first book is called Vanguard, and I think it comes out sometime in early 2017), and I really hope Deuce makes at least a cameo appearance. Although I really liked Horde, the characters do an awful lot of traveling, which got a bit repetitive. Honestly, I don’t know how else the author could have progressed the plot to where she wanted it to go without all the back and forth, but pacing suffered a little bit. Also, when I think of the word “horde” I think a plethora of creatures too numerous to count… not a group of creatures numbering a couple thousand (:/). So in that regard, the overall story conflict felt a lot more narrowly focused than I thought it was going to. It was still good, mind you, it just didn’t escalate to the level that some other books in the genre have. Arguably though, the logistics for this post-apocalyptic story were a lot more realistic, so I guess there’s your trade-off. Overall, I’m really glad to have read this series and am excited to see what Aguirre does with it next. I would suggest the Razorland Trilogy to people who love zombie stories and teen books with an edge. Niki Hawkes- The Obsessive Bookseller
As with any end to a dystopian trilogy, there is loss in this book. Loss in abundance. People we've grown to know and care about or at least tolerate for their role in the dynamic are lost to us and I felt those losses as deeply as Deuce did. At one particular loss, it took me a bit to get back into the story, I felt the loss that greatly. We also make new friends, find new places and discover new talents in our motley crew of characters. I enjoyed watching Deuce grow into the woman she's become, but also watching Fade recover and rediscover his own strength and watching Stalker see the error of his youth and try to make amends. I thought the ending was believable and I love any book that fast forwards a bit past the end, so that you can see more than just imagine the lives after the drama that was the story. Aguirre did a great job with this series and I really enjoyed it.
Love this story. The final was just amazing. I loves the characters and I even cried for Stalker death. This is the best book of the trilogy.
I wasn't sure what to expect when starting this trilogy. The first book had a good cover. Mysterious and eye catching, story sounded interested and thus started reading. And thus, I think I found a favorite trilogy. First one was good, second one very good. And the third, finale probably both. 4 stars for the first half and 5 for the second. So overall, 5 stars it is. From the writing style, pacing and character development for the characters, especially Deuce makes these books fun to read. If I were to describe the MC in one word, it would be genuine. And yes one of the books I stopped reading because wasn't in the mood and yet I wanted to get back to it because I like the other two books. Her character growth shows, from when we met her in the first book to this one. So finally, thought well I read this far so why not finish. Also while yes there is romance, I didn't mind it because I felt that with this couple, they earned it you know, after all they been through, you're rooting for them. The setting was also interesting. As for the finale itself, it was good. I kind of like it and thought the ending was kind of sweet. Maybe I'll read the author's other series.
I Love this genre and this series was well written.