Several hundred years after a change in the orbit of Jupiter sent the Earth into a new Ice Age, remnants of civilization battle over territory and technology.
A generation has passed since Sam Monroe defeated the Great Khan, became King of Middle Kingdom, and ushered in an era of peace and prosperity, a time when Middle Kingdom grew even more powerful, driven by trade and emerging technology. In a grand gesture, Sam and Queen Rachel adopted the young son of their former enemy and raised him as a prince, second only to the heir to Middle Kingdom's throne.
The accidental drowning deaths of the King and Queen trigger the assassination of the Crown Price. Bajazet, too, is attacked, lest he serve as a rallying point for those who support the royal family. Barely twenty, the once-pampered Bajazet flees for his life.
Stumbling through the forest, prey where he once was the hunter and with the usurper King's forces on his heels, Bajazet is rescued by a trio of genetically engineered "Persons": Richard, who is almost more bear than human; Nancy, a cunning little vixen; and Errol, whose very human exterior hides a weasel's cold, cruel heart.
Boston, buried under glacial ice, gave them life. Boston's perverted technology, used to conquer and oppress, seems almost like magic to the North Americans who are slowly dragging themselves back up the ladder of civilization. Now the rulers of Boston eye the chaos in Middle Kingdom and find it ripe for conquest.
Bajazet's new friends are plotting the frozen city's destruction. The one-time Prince, now a lonely warrior, has one choice---help destroy Boston, or die.
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About the Author
Mitchell Smith is the author of critically-acclaimed novels of suspense, including Reprisal, Sacrifice, and Karma. His evocations of the natural world and of human nature, as in Due North, earned him a devoted readership. Smith has also written a trilogy of near-future, post-apocalpytic novels which illuminate what the Earth might be like after the next Ice Age: Snowfall, Kingdom River, and Moonrise.
Smith and his family live in Washington state.
Mitchell Smith is the author of critically-acclaimed novels of suspense, including Reprisal, Sacrifice, and Karma. His evocations of the natural world and of human nature, as in Due North, earned him a devoted readership. Smith has also written a trilogy of near-future, post-apocalyptic novels which illuminate what the Earth might be like after the next Ice Age: Snowfall, Kingdom River, and Moonrise.
Smith and his family live in Washington state.
Read an Excerpt
Book Three of the Snowfall Trilogy
By Mitchell Smith
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2004 Mitchell Smith
All rights reserved.
Someone chased with a sense of humor.
A hunting horn winded along the river's bank. The hoofbeats following those notes came cracking through the last of Lord Winter's failing snow and puddle ice, fell softer over mud. Someone called — perhaps a name, perhaps an order.
These were Heavy Cavalry reservists, unsuited to rough-country chasing, which was certainly why Bajazet was still alive. Light Cavalry, Light Infantry, would have filtered here and there until they had him.
It was a blessing of both Blue Sky and Lady Weather to have gifted him with terror enough to smother sorrow, so he could lie trembling beneath a frozen log, fallen to rot years before, thinking more of staying alive than remembering the king, his Second-father, and his Second-mother, Queen Rachel. Remembering Newton — named for a royal grandfather — and his brother in all but blood.
It seemed to Bajazet, lying hunched in puddled ice under frozen wood, that the true world had been taken from him, with only this desperate dreamed one left. And the taking accomplished in only a day. He heard the hunting horn again ... but distant.
Newton, a year younger, but bigger, stronger, kinder — older in every important way — had seemed indestructible as the king had seemed indestructible. Prince Newton, only nineteen years old, but already with endless hours spent in tedious councils, and study with ancient Wilson, while Bajazet, even quite young, was amusing himself in Natchez brothels ... also amusing himself puncturing, though not murdering, less accomplished swordsmen — husbands, for the most part. This, until the king, one day, came into the salle, gestured the bowing Master aside, chose two fighting rapiers from the rack ... tossed one to Bajazet — and attacked to wound or kill him.
They'd fought across the slippery oil-puddled floor, until the king parried a desperate thrust in quarte, reposted ... and, during what had seemed recovery, reversed and ran Bajazet through the left shoulder. Then, the king had stepped in to disarm — breaking Bajazet's right wrist — and while stepping out, had kicked him in the groin so he fell, curled in three agonies.
Portia-doctor had done wonders with a short slender iron rod, heated to only dull red. Then done more wonders with a wrist-splint, and very gradual exercise — Queen Rachel coming, anxious, to stroke Bajazet's forehead, leave imperial chocolate candies, and a kitten for company. Newton coming to make jokes ... play checkers and chess. So that after the so-short summer, Bajazet — then barely eighteen, after all — had been left with only rapier memories, and an occasional ache in his left shoulder. The wrist was good as ever.
Healed, he'd encountered the king in the West Glass Garden. Sam Monroe had smiled. "Lessons learned, Baj?"
"And what lessons were they?"
"... That there is always someone better. And only luck prevents the meeting."
"Dueling is one thing. Fighting is another."
"A decisive blow may be struck in retreat."
"Pain is too important to be suffered or inflicted without good cause."
Then, the king had gathered Bajazet into his arms as if he were still a child, and hugged him hard before letting him go. Strong arms, and the scent of leather and chewing tobacco. "Your First-father," the king had said, "— the Lord Toghrul, would have been proud of you."
And on the first day of Lord Winter's festival, the king had given Bajazet a sword — a rapier made by Guild-master Rollins himself, its blade (of imperial wootz steel) folded and hammered again until even Rollins had lost count of the doing, so the slender double-edge, slightly sharper than a barber's best razor, and needle pointed, could with great effort be bent into a curve — to then spring humming, perfectly straight. The sword's grip was wound with twisted silver wire, its coiled guard forged of simple steel. A fighting instrument, its only decoration a cursive along the base of the blade — WITH GOOD CAUSE.
This weapon, its belted black-leather scabbard matched with that for a long left-hand dagger as finely made, was the only thing of value Bajazet had with him under the frozen log. — And if he hadn't already been up and dressed for before-dawn's hunt breakfast when men in Cooper livery came kicking through the lodge doors, he would have had to flee naked out the upstairs window and down the wooden fire-ladder — Old Noel Purse shouting, Run ... RUN! amid the noise of steel on steel, breakfast tables toppling, the screams of dying men.
Naked, Bajazet would himself have died in the icy day he'd been hunted through East-bank woods. But, up early for pig sausage and fried chicken-eggs when treachery came calling, he'd snatched up his sword-belt, then run in imperial cotton underthings, buckskin jerkin and trousers, wool stockings, fine half-boots, and a pocket knife with a folding blade. A long wool cloak as well — plucking that from a wall peg the only thoughtful act of a frantic scurry down the corridor from his chamber to the window and its fire-ladder, while a few brave men bled for him below. His only thoughtful act ...
If he'd always been alone in the world — unknown, unknowing First-father or Second-father — he would not be weeping now, for shame. Shame at imagining what Toghrul Khan, what Sam Monroe would have thought of him scrambling along the hall, breathless as a girl, then half-falling down the ladder to run into the woods — the formidable duelist, the dangerous boy, proved only a Lord of Cowards, and a fool.
Old Noel Purse had said, "Better not," at the notion of going to the hunting camp. Had said, "Better not," but hadn't explained. Bajazet had assumed it was thought unseemly, with the king and Queen Rachel lost for only months. ... But his brother — crowned Newton-the-Second only weeks before — had said, "Nonsense; I know you loved them," and turned back to a desk half-buried in paper-work.
"Can't I be of some help ...?" had been Bajazet's only and casual offer.
Newton had turned again to smile at him. "And I'll need your help, Baj. I'd be a fool to waste the son of Toghrul Khan. ... But for now, one of us at least should be without care. So go hunting, for the both of us."
It was ... unbearable to remember. As the royal family's affectionate adoption of a baby boy — sent by the Kipchak chancellor to save him from Manu Ek-Tam, the would-be khan — as that was unbearable to remember. All memories that could be ended by simply standing up out of mud and ice from under a rotting log, and shouting until green-armored cavalrymen heard him and came riding. Then, out sword, and an end to it.
Only anger prevented him. Anger at himself — even more than at Gareth Cooper — for carelessness in not considering what opportunity must have been seen after the king's death, with Newton only nineteen, and kinder than most at Island. A kind and thoughtful prince. Too kind ... too thoughtful. The king had held the river lords down, the Sayres, DeVanes ... and Coopers. Had held New England to caution as well. Boston and its Made-creatures stepping lightly in country of the King's Rule.
Newton should have caught up those reins at his crowning, set the bit hard at once — with his adopted brother to help him. But Newton had been young, thoughtful, and kind. And his brother had gone hunting.
And now, was hunted ... and deserved to be. It didn't occur to Bajazet to even wonder if Newton were still alive. Cooper and his friends — known also as friends of Boston — would have made no such blunder. As they must also have considered Newton's brother, and found him worthy of at least casual killing.
... He lay beneath his icy log into the evening, and made no noise, though his nose ran from weeping, his empty stomach muttered as glass-hours went by. Lying huddled there, Bajazet found that the rapier thrust, broken wrist, and bruised balls of almost two years before, had been no pain at all compared to the loss of loved ones.
Daylight faded slowly to nearly dark, so he lay safer though aching with cold, heard no hunting horns, and dreamed an uneasy dream of being warm and fed. A celebration, a shifting remembrance of Tom MacAffee's welcome dinner, Boston's Ambassador sent to Island after years of none, and bad feelings. ... The food at Bajazet's place, set on hammered silver, was lamb-chops, roasted carrots, and potatoes. He saw this clearly, and seemed to eat, but — distracted by MacAffee's laughter — somehow never quite chewed and swallowed, though he tried to keep his mind to it. In his dream, he did consider how clever Boston had been to send a fat and cheery man to represent so frozen and grim a state, its nastiness born in palaces of ice.
Bajazet dreamed, but was filled by no dream food, warmed not at all by the six great iron Franklins rumbling down the dining hall. He did watch the king and Queen Rachel, and stole glances at Newton, sitting beside him, with great attention, as if to be certain of remembering them, though his dream offered no reason for it.
... From the colors and confusion of that lamp-lit banquet, Bajazet woke — trembling with cold, sick with hunger — to the odor of leaf-mold, wet wood, and soaked snow. The evening wind, come with fading light, hissed in the trees. That wind mentioned death as it passed over, so — with lying still and dying the alternative — he rolled stiffly out onto frozen mud, sheathed rapier tangling his legs, and tugged folds of his cloak free of skim-ice. He managed up onto all fours, crawled a little way cramped and sore as if badly beaten ... then, grunting like an old man with the effort, staggered to his feet to stand hunched, shivering in darkness.
"What ...?" Bajazet asked aloud, as if his First and Second fathers both lived, and stood under the trees, listening. They listened, perhaps, but didn't answer him.
What should be done? What could be done, but run or die — and more likely run then die?
His First-father would likely have said, "Surprise is the mother of victories." But what surprise was possible, now? The hunters would hunt again in morning light — and be surprised only by how long it had taken to catch and kill him.
"Lessons learned?" His Second-father had asked in the Glass Garden.
Among the answers: a decisive blow may be struck in retreat.
Feeling faint, Bajazet leaned against a birch for strength, and felt that unless he attempted something, sorrow and shame would kill him, sure as the cavalrymen. He would fail, and wish to fail, and the horsemen or the cold would catch him. — Why not, instead of certain losing, at least attend his fathers' lessons?
"Something," he said to the tree. "Something surprising ... and attempted by a man in retreat." He'd called himself a man, to the birch, and supposed now he would have to be one while he lasted, and no longer only a young prince, the king's ward, and in so many ways still a boy.
He stroked the tree's sheeted bark as if the birch were a friend, and cared for him. "Good-bye," he said to it, imagined a poem about the dignity of its stillness, so superior to mens' foolish motions ... then found the dog star through the birch's branches, and began to walk west, back toward the river, the way he'd come. It seemed a strange and foolish thing to do, to pay a debt of honor owed only to the dead, and himself.
* * *
He was walking, hurrying, hooded cloak wrapped tight against the wind, before he was clear in his purpose. Still, it seemed certain the way he'd come was the way to go ... go quickly as he could, back through frozen tangle as darkness began to grow deeper.
Gareth Cooper — no doubt swiftly crowned King Gareth now — was a tall, slender man, as his father had been, stooped, prone to illness and not strong, though Coopers had always been strong enough in purpose. A reedy man, whose wife had died of crab-cancer years before. ... Now, a new king — by treachery — and with only one child. One son and heir to prove a dynasty to the river lords and other magnates of the Great Rule along the Mississippi, south into North Map-Mexico, and west to the Ocean Pacific.
Bajazet, barely twenty years old and an improbable successor, would not have been important enough for the king to come kill him ... but perhaps slightly too important for some liveried captain's responsibility. Who better, then, to deal with the last of family business, than the king's only son?
It certainly seemed possible, even likely. Bajazet, trusting in the first hints of cloudy moonlight for his footing, trotted back through the woods as if cold and hunger were sufficient sustenence. He traveled as certain of direction as if backtracking the lingering scent of his own terror the day before. Moving fast, ducking through tangles, then running full out where occasional clearings widened to shallow snow and wind-burned grasses, he traveled due west through evening into deeper night, short-cutting all the meandering ways he'd fled — and cowered here and there to hide.
In this forest, standing back from the river's east bank, there was only one place — the Lodge — suited to house a new Prince of the Rule as he directed a hunt. ... No doubt young Mark Cooper's people had scrubbed the blood from the dining-room flooring, washed it off white plaster walls, mopped it from the stair risers where Purse's men had stood and died to give Bajazet his moments running.
Mark Cooper — a playmate since childhood, plumper than most of his family, lazy, and amiable even as a little boy. Seeming lazy and amiable, cautious of a fierce father ... an even fiercer grandfather while that unpleasant old man had lived.
Could Mark have always been called a friend? Yes.
* * *
After what must have been at least six glass-hours of woods-running, of dodging sudden trees, scrambling over fallen logs ... of exhausted stumbles, scrapes and scratches from frozen branches as he'd shoved and wrestled through to the next clearing, Bajazet smelled at last the smoke of camp.
And as he came nearer, heard horses whinny ... heard the quieting noise and banter of troopers — the last of their patrols long since ridden in, their mounts grained and tended. The men, now also fed, would be settling into sleep at the fires, weary after riding the long day, and into night.
Bajazet paused at the edge of the lodge clearing, stood shadowed under the branch-broken crescent moon, and took deep recovering breaths. He was shivering with weariness and cold. ... There seemed to be no sentries posted, except for two men standing a distance to the left, talking, by the lodge front's wide half-log steps. No reason for many guards to be posted, after all. ... A hound was yodeling in the kennels, interested in these stranger cavalrymen come to camp.
The hounds hadn't been set after him, the whole chase. It must have been thought they weren't to be trusted to track and pull down one of their accustomed masters. And true, there wasn't a soft-eyed scent-hound or brute mastiff there that Bajazet hadn't played with as a puppy. Even more than Newton, he'd had a way with them.
"You don't respect him," he'd said once to his brother, concerning a hound's stubborn disobedience.
Newton had smiled. "I find men difficult enough to respect, Baj. I don't have enough left for even an amiable dog." Though, as was Newton's way, he was more patient thereafter.
... The kennel quieted after a time. The lodge camp quieted. Only a fire's hiss and crackle, only an owl far away, only the night wind sounded through the trees as Bajazet walked cloaked into camp as if he were a forester with ordinary business there — had perhaps been out to john trench, and was coming back to coarse blanket and pack pillow. Though the two men at the lodge's steps, if they'd noticed, might have wondered why he strolled around to the back of the building, where no fires burned.
Bajazet threw back the cloak's hood, managed his scabbarded rapier clear, and climbed the fire-ladder back up the way he'd come, a coward fleeing, the morning before. The climb — a dozen rungs up a simple ladder — was surprisingly difficult; he had to stop once to rest, and hung there, very tired.
Excerpted from Moon Rise by Mitchell Smith. Copyright © 2004 Mitchell Smith. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Collapsed to the ground relieved. Oh my goodness. she said. She picked herself up and web to the warriors den.
Everyone out they know to come here evac kits first that is their priority
His life has been one of a prince though his father the Khan was defeated by the couple who ultimately raised him (see KINGDOM RIVER). He is second in line to the throne. However, when King Sam Monroe and his Queen Rachel die in an apparent boating accident in the Gulf and the heir Prince Newton is assassinated twenty years old Bajaret does not receive the crown; instead he flees for his life. Bajaret knows that if his enemies catch him he is dead....................................... In a nearby forest where he is now the hunted, Bajaret meets people reengineered in the Boston labs beneath the ice. Richard who is more beast than human; sly Nancy, and cold hearted Errol demand that Bajazet aid them in their efforts to destroy Boston, a place where evil rules. Bajazet would prefer to hide, but also learns that the Bostonians plan to attack his beloved Middle Kingdom, currently in chaos caused by the royal deaths. He begins to question whether conspiratorial murders occurred.............................. This terrific science fiction occurs approximately six centuries after Jupiter' orbit changed causing a new ice age (see SNOWFALL). The story line is action packed but makes the climatic apocalypse world seem so real. Mitchell Smith augments that feeling of realism with the deaths of some of the heroes. Fans of futuristic tales will be reminded of the Sterling Lanier's Hiero novels with this wonderful trilogy...................... Harriet Klausner