Centuries ago, Terra, the world, was nearly destroyed by humans. In the wake of that destruction, Terra created the Guardians—a group sworn to protect Her. But humans have returned to their plundering ways and Terra needs the Guardians. The Guardians are now fractured, their leader murdered years before. They need a new leader—a new Terra Protectorum—but when a young girl is chosen, outrage ensues. Questions demand answers. Why has Terra selected a girl with no knowledge of the Guardians? Why has she chosen a human when it is the humans destroying the earth? And most importantly, why has she chosen the girl whose father murdered the last Terra Protectorum?
About the Author
Alex Lyttle is a pediatrician living in Calgary, Alberta with his wife and four children. His first novel, From Ant to Eagle, was based on his experiences as a doctor and won several awards. His second novel, The Rise of Winter, steps away from the medical world and enters that of fantasy.
Read an Excerpt
I never knew my father. Aside from telling me he'd died when I was very young, Granny never spoke of him, which was odd because she spoke about my mother, who had died during childbirth. She told me that my mother had been sweet and kind, and loved my father immensely. But my father ... not a word. Any time I'd try to ask questions she'd close up like a clam, with a tight-lipped frown. I knew something was odd that day when she finally did mention him.
Come to think of it, a lot was odd about that day.
For starters, I counted eleven cars on my walk to school, which was two more than I'd ever counted before. Every day, someone in town was trading in their horse and buggy for one of the Society's new Dorf Model Bs, and it felt like the whole town would soon be overrun by those metal beasts.
But I guess that wasn't so strange. The Society had built new roads, and the price of their cars had dropped. Plus, everyone said driving made getting around easier.
I suppose the first really unusual thing happened at lunch. Right around the time I was getting my butt kicked by Penny and her cronies.
"What kind of name is Winter, anyway?" Penny asked, pushing me against the brick wall of the school. "Who names their daughter after a mythical season where cold stuff falls from the sky? Your parents must have been weird. It's probably a good thing they're both dead."
I tried to take a swing at Penny, but Carly and Marly — the Twin Terrors, as I liked to call them — grabbed my arms and pinned them to the wall.
"I bet your parents were freaks just like you," Penny continued. "They probably had the same weirdo eyes. What are you, some sort of cat?"
I gritted my teeth. Penny was right. Cat-like eyes did run in my family. My cousin Alectus had them, Granny'd had them before she went blind, and apparently, my father had had them, too (or so my uncle said).
A family trait.
Nothing helps you fit in at school like being different. I could probably write a short book on all the names I'd been called. And I'd pretty much started answering to cat calls in the hallways.
"You know what I wish?" Penny asked, her face so close I could see every bump and boil on her skin.
"That the Society would invent a cure for acne?"
It was a stupid comment. Penny pummeled me in the stomach for it, and I felt the air leave my lungs. I should've kept my mouth shut, but I was never good at that.
"No," Penny growled. "I hate that they let a freak like you into my father's school. It makes us all look bad. Besides, grade nine is hard enough without having your eyes to give us nightmares."
Marly and Carly laughed right on cue. They were Penny's goons and followed her everywhere. Aside from the fact that Marly wore her blond braid over her left shoulder while Carly wore hers over her right, they were almost identical — like two giant, ugly bookends. They followed Penny around because her father was the principal of the school, and it basically gave them immunity; they could do whatever they liked.
"You think about my eyes while you're sleeping?" I said between gasps. "That's sort of creepy."
Penny's face contorted into an ugly scowl. She reminded me of a comic-book character, as if steam were about to pour from her ears. She punched me harder, and this time I crumpled.
"Any more funny comments?" she asked.
It took me a minute to stand back up, and I shook my head to concede. Penny turned to Carly and Marly. "What should we do with her today, girls?" she asked. "She's in a particularly hilarious mood. We'll have to fix that."
"We could take her behind the school and pound her," Marly suggested.
"Yeah, we could pound her," Carly agreed.
Poor twins, they were about as smart as two rocks.
"Nah, I've got a better idea," Penny said, grinning and turning around to face the sidewalk at the front of the school. "You see that group of boys over there?" She pointed to some kids from our class, standing by the road. "I want you to crawl over to them and purr like a kitty cat. Since you already look like one, you might as well act like one, too."
I groaned inwardly. I would have preferred the pounding. The last thing I wanted was to make a fool of myself in front of the boys.
When I didn't immediately get down on all fours, Marly and Carly pushed down on my shoulders. They were both almost six feet tall and stronger than anybody in the school. There was no resisting.
"Good," Penny said, once I was down in the crawling position. "Now start moving."
I slumped my head low so that my hair fell over my face, hoping it would hide my identity, and started crawling across the lawn. Penny's white sneakers followed closely beside, while the twins brought up the rear.
I crawled until I was a few feet away from the boys and stopped. I couldn't see their faces, but their shoes turned toward me and they stopped talking.
"Go ahead," Penny said.
When I didn't make any noise, Penny began shifting back and forth on the spot. She was always trying to impress the boys, but most of them thought she was either mean or annoying. Which was probably why she was always angry.
A low murmur spread through the boys, and Penny nudged me with her knee. She bent down so that her mouth was beside my ear.
"Purr," she ordered.
"What the heck are you doing, Penny?" one of the boys asked.
I could sense Penny's agitation growing as she straightened back up. "I'm just walking my pet around the school," she said. "What's the matter, Winter? Cat got your tongue?"
Marly and Carly forced a laugh, but none of the boys seemed to find this funny.
Penny bent down again and hissed, "Purr!"
When I still didn't make a sound, she kneed me in the side, sending a sharp pain through my ribs. I was about to give in and do what she wanted when suddenly the boys broke into laughter. And not just a chuckle — this was a full-force, stomach-clenching roar.
It was followed by the sound of Penny screaming.
I looked up to see two of the boys keeled over, while a third was practically in tears. The whole group was howling and pointing at Penny as if they'd just seen the funniest thing in the world.
I turned to see Penny standing a few feet away, her hands flapping as she jumped up and down frantically. The twins were desperately swiping at her forehead.
A small sparrow swooped down near Penny's head and she shrieked, pulling away from the twins and ducking. That's when I saw it: a large glob of bird poop running right down her face.
I couldn't help but laugh.
Marly — or maybe it was Carly — tried again to wipe Penny's face, but it only smeared the glob through her eyebrow.
A crowd began to form and Penny was hysterical. As much as I was enjoying myself, I decided it was a good time to slip away. I backed up slowly, preparing to make a run for it, when —
The shrill voice came from above, and I turned to see a second glob of poop land on Penny's ear, dangling like an earring. There was another round of laughter and Penny took off, screaming, toward the school.
The sparrow swooped and pulled at Penny's hair as she went, causing her to trip over a stray backpack and face-plant on the lawn. The twins rushed to help her up, and the three of them went barreling toward the front doors of the school. All the while, the bird continued to dive at them.
Only when they had disappeared inside did the sparrow give up. It circled a few times before flying off over my head toward the trees beyond. As it passed I heard the same small, high-pitched voice say, "Serves her right!" I looked around to see if anyone else had heard the voice, but no one seemed to have noticed.
Where had it come from? Had it been from another student? One of the boys? It seemed so clearly to have been coming from above. Almost as if it was from the sparrow. But birds couldn't talk!
Was my mind playing tricks on me?CHAPTER 2
When I got home from school I was still thinking about the bird. I paused briefly on our back porch, looking out at the orange grove in our backyard. We lived on the outskirts of Dunvy, a small town in the heart of Nacadia, nearly a five-hour trip to the coast or the capital. It was a quiet town, known for its oranges and sugar cane, but ever since the Society had extended their massive roadway up to the mountains, we'd had a lot more travellers passing through.
I rested my chin on my hands, leaning on the railing. I must have hit my head on the wall when the twins pushed me. Maybe I had a concussion and that's what made me think the bird was talking.
I shook my head.
Yes, I concluded, I must definitely have a concussion.
I took one last look across the yard, breathing in the rich scent of citrus before going inside.
I dropped my bag carelessly on the kitchen floor and walked into the living room.
"Granny?" I called.
Normally when I got home, Granny would be sitting in her worn-out armchair by the window, but the chair was empty.
That was unusual.
"Granny?" I called again, this time louder.
Granny was stone-blind but her hearing was better than anyone I knew. Besides, the house wasn't big. She should have heard me.
So, where was she?
I ran up the stairs to look in her room.
"There you are," I said, breathing a sigh of relief. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, facing the dresser and holding something in her hand. I moved around to see what it was. It looked like some sort of stone, only it was white, like pearl, with gold etchings carved into its surface. Granny was rubbing the face of the stone and mumbling under her breath. She appeared to be in a kind of trance, and still hadn't noticed me.
"Granny?" I said again.
I got close enough to see the object more clearly — it was a necklace with a circular stone pendant the size of my palm, mounted on a gold chain. The etchings were symbols, some running around the outside edge of the pendant like numbers on a clock, and more in the middle. I leaned in closer to see what they were.
As I did, I brushed against Granny's shoulder and she jumped.
"Great Terra!" she yelled, while at the same time I jumped higher and yelled something less appropriate.
Granny turned around. "I didn't see you," she said with an embarrassed grin.
It was her favourite joke. Of course she hadn't seen me — she had lost her vision in a farming accident a long time ago, or so she said. Two large scars ran straight down her face, passing through each of her eyes.
"What is that?" I asked, reaching out to touch the necklace.
She yanked it back abruptly, knowing, even without vision, exactly what I was doing.
I pulled my hand away, irritated. Why was she always so secretive? I didn't doubt that she loved me — she'd looked after me since I lost my parents — but sometimes she still treated me like a child.
"Why can't I look at it?" I asked.
Granny hesitated. I could see that she was thinking hard about something. She turned back toward me and held out the necklace.
"Really?" I said, reaching to take it.
The moment my fingers touched the smooth rock, a jolt shot through my hand and up my arm.
"Ouch!" I yelled, yanking my hand away.
One of the gold etchings around the edge of the stone glowed a deep green, and Granny's mouth twisted into a frown.
"So it is," she whispered.
"So what is?" I asked, shaking my hand and inspecting it. There didn't appear to be any marks or burns.
Granny stood up and held out the necklace again. I hesitated to take it, the pain in my fingers still lingering, but like the glowing green of the symbol, it faded quickly. I reached out and took the necklace, and this time there was no jolt.
It was smooth like glass and heavier than I'd expected. I turned it around in my hand and looked at the symbols. There were twelve around the edge, each in the shape of a different animal. In the middle were three more: a drop of water, mountains, and three swirling lines.
"What is this?" I asked.
"Old," Granny replied.
I rolled my eyes. "No, I mean, where did it come from?" Granny exhaled slowly as if carefully choosing her words.
"Your father had it the day he died."
I was shocked. Granny never spoke about my father. Ever. And suddenly she was offering information?
"It was my father's?" I exclaimed.
Granny shook her head adamantly. "I did not say it was your father's. I said he had it the day he died."
I was suddenly filled with an overwhelming need to ask questions. "Where did he get it? What do you mean it wasn't his? Did he steal it?" Then another thought crossed my mind: If my father had it the day he died, then Granny must have had it for years. Why had she never shown it to me?
Granny took the necklace back and tucked it into a blue velvet pouch before putting it into the top drawer of her dresser.
"What are you going to do with it? If my father had it last, maybe it should be passed down to me."
"Maybe," Granny said, "but right now I'm hungry. Let's go eat."
And just like that, the discussion was over. It was the longest conversation we'd ever had about my father.CHAPTER 3
As Granny set about making dinner, I gathered the garbage and went to take it out back. The evening air was warm and the sun was already hidden behind the trees, causing shadows to wash over the porch. With the rainy season over, the air felt dry. It probably wouldn't rain again for weeks.
The bag was heavy and banged noisily as I dragged it down the stairs to the bin. I opened the top and threw it in.
On my way back to the porch, the thought of that strange necklace troubled me.
Why had Granny kept it from me for so long? I didn't have any siblings, so shouldn't my father's treasures be mine? I hated how secretive she was about him. She still hadn't told me how he'd died! Sometimes I wished —
"Woo-wee, dinner is served!"
I spun around mid-thought. Someone had spoken behind me.
I scanned the backyard quickly, but didn't see anyone. "I-is someone there?" I called.
The orange grove was shadowy and dark — was someone hiding there? Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me again, like with the sparrow.
I climbed the porch steps to go inside, and the voice spoke again.
"Sure would be easier if I were a little taller," it said.
This time I was sure I'd heard it. I turned and went back down the stairs, looking around. Again, I saw no one — only the fat raccoon that lived under our deck, who had apparently come out to sniff through the garbage. He was sitting on top of the garbage can trying to pry off the lid.
"Did someone say something?" I called out.
Nobody answered me, but I'd obviously startled the raccoon. Its ears twitched and it turned around to face me, then craned its neck left and right as if searching for something.
"Doesn't look like there's anyone here but me," the voice said, and this time I was certain it had come from the raccoon.
"You — you can talk?" I asked.
The raccoon's jaw dropped and its eyes widened. "You — you can understand?"
We stood staring at each other for what felt like an hour.
"I must be dreaming," I finally muttered, backing away from the raccoon but tripping on the bottom stair and falling on my butt in the process.
"Oh, Terra, I've finally done it," the raccoon said, jumping from the top of the garbage can and shaking its head. "One too many cans of Meatys! And I knew it, too! I kept saying to myself, 'Don't do it, Proctin, don't eat the Meatys, it's not real food.' But did my stomach listen? Noooo. It kept on growling and saying, 'More, more, more!'" The raccoon placed its tiny paws over its eyes and fell over backward. "Look what I've done! My poor brain, the largest of its kind, ruined! I mean, take my beauty, sure, but my brain? Oh, not my brain!"
The raccoon lay on the ground, smacking its paws against the sides of its head, tail swishing back and forth in the air, wailing over and over, "My brain! My brain! My brain!"
Dream or no dream, I couldn't help but laugh. I walked over and looked down at the raccoon while it continued its fit.
"I beg your pardon," I said.
"And I begged for more Meatys!" cried the raccoon.
"No, I beg your pardon, as in, excuse me."
"You're excused," said the raccoon. "But I'm not. How can I excuse myself when I've gone and ruined everything?"
A little frustrated, I reached down and touched the raccoon on its shoulder.
Immediately it stopped its woeful cries and looked up at me.
"You touched me!" it said, shooting up from the ground onto its paws.
I pulled my hand back. "I'm sorry. I was just trying to get your attention."
"No, no, you touched me," it said again, this time with excitement in its voice. "Do it again!"
I was confused, but reached my hand forward and felt the soft fur behind the raccoon's neck.
"Aha!" cried the raccoon. "You're real!" It jumped toward me and wrapped its little arms around my leg. "Absolutely, physically real! I can touch you!"
I shook my leg slightly, trying to get it off me without seeming rude.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Rise of Winter"
Copyright © 2019 Alex Lyttle.
Excerpted by permission of Central Avenue Marketing Ltd.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is Mogli if Mogli was about climate change. From the very first page, you want to keep reading and know more about Winter, a strong, funny girl who discovers that she is not as common as everyone else. One of the best things in this book other than the history itself is the dialogues: funny and smart, complementing the plot perfectly and unveiling the personality of each character. I also loved the talking animals, Proctin, the somewhat cowardly raccoon with a heart of gold became my favorite in his first scene. This book is amazing at helping kids to understand the price of climate change, and once that they will be the ones paying the price for the past generations mistakes, it is a good thing that they are learning about it since they are young and this is a fun and quick way to do so.
Sometime in the far off-future...we neglected to heed the warnings and almost killed our mother Earth. Now it has recuperated to an extent and there is again a misbalance. Terra is choosing who will bring back that balance with 4 Guardians from the air, sea, and land, on each of wisdom, power, agility, and speed. Winter suddenly finds herself in this world. The animals don't all trust the new human member. After all, her father killed another Guardian when he had the job and humans are slowly introducing the technologies that caused the problems in the first place. Now Winter has been chosen to lead. Can she do so when others cannot forget? The first in a series. I love that the imbalance of resources and the dangers of climate change ( this future world has only two seasons and winters are considered mythological). A great way to educate kids about the dangers we inflict on our world.
This book reminded me a lot of Red Queen The Dark Crowns and Cinder in a way where a girl is destined to save a kingdom from its ruins and the protectors that shape it. Every page was an eye-opener and really brought excitement to the plot. Choosing a random girl with no knowledge of the kingdom to be its saving grace is realistically impossible but in the fantasy world, exciting to follow and read on. This book will want to make you curious to see what happens to Terra and what of the fate and destiny of the guardians and the girl that saved them. We will definitely consider adding this title to our YFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.