The shaft of the arrow was black and fletched with crow feathers, but Hylas couldn’t see the head because it was buried in his arm.
Clutching it to stop it wobbling, he scrambled down the slope. No time to pull it out. The black warriors could be anywhere.
He was ragingly thirsty and so tired he couldn’t think straight. The Sun beat down on him and the thorn scrub gave no cover; he felt horribly exposed. But even worse was the worry over Issi, and the aching disbelief about Scram.
He found the trail that led down the Mountain and halted, gasping for breath. The rasp of the crickets was loud in his ears. The cry of a falcon echoed through the gorge. No sound of pursuit. Had he really shaken them off?
He still couldn’t take it in. Last night he and Issi had made camp in a cave below the western peak. Now his sister was missing, his dog was dead, and he was running for his life: a skinny boy with no clothes and no knife; all he had was a grimy little amulet on a thong around his neck. His arm hurt savagely. Holding the arrow shaft steady, he staggered to the edge of the trail. Pebbles rattled down to the river, dizzyingly far below. The gorge was so steep that his toes were level with the heads of pine trees. Before him the Lykonian mountains marched off into the distance, and behind him loomed the mightiest of them all: Mount Lykas, its peaks ablaze with snow.
He thought of the village farther down the gorge, and of his friend Telamon, in the Chieftain’s stronghold on the other side of the Mountain. Had the black warriors burned the village and attacked Lapithos? But then why couldn’t he see smoke, or hear the rams’ horns sounding the alarm? Why weren’t the Chieftain and his men fighting back?
The pain in his arm was all-consuming. He couldn’t put it off any longer. He picked a handful of thyme, then snapped off a furry gray leaf of giant mullein for a bandage. The leaf was as thick and soft as a dog’s ears. He scowled. Don’t think about Scram.
They’d been together just before the attack. Scram had leaned against him, his shaggy coat matted with burrs. Hylas had picked out a couple, then pushed Scram’s muzzle aside and told him to watch the goats. Scram had ambled off, swinging his tail and glancing back at him as if to say, I know what to do. I’m a goathound, that’s what I’m for.
Don’t think about him, Hylas told himself fiercely.
Setting his teeth, he gripped the arrow shaft. He sucked in his breath. He pulled.
The pain was so bad he nearly passed out. Biting his lips, he rocked back and forth, fighting the sickening red waves. Scram, where are you? Why can’t you come and lick it better?
Text copyright © 2012 by Michelle Paver. Published by arrangement with Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved.
What a treat for fantasy lovers! With Gods and Warriors, Michelle Paver (of the award-winning Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series fame) whisks readers back to one of the most treacherous and exciting periods in time—the time of the lost city of Atlantis and the curse of Tutankhamen— and really ramps up the action from the very first page.
When a boy named Hylas finds himself at the center of an ancient prophesy, he’s forced to face ferocious warriors and beasts and the gods of sea and land to save his sister and his life. Sounds like impossible odds, but he doesn’t have to do it alone. With the help of a friendly dolphin and an Oracle’s daughter who’s starting to understand her own powers he just might succeed. (Ages 9-12)
Hardcover Book : 320 pages
Publisher: Dutton Children'S Bks/Div Of Pengui ( September 01, 2012 )
Item #: 13-631123
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 inches
Product Weight: 15.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
There's been a recent swarm of fantasy books that try to tell a story in the style of another culture (Arabian stories, Russian and Chinese folk tales, etc), and this one tries to do a early Greek epic. I really, really like the visual and literary imagery in this book; she's captured the sound and illustrative value of the Greek language, and some of the language is just so elegant you want to jump up and down and cheer for the quality of the writing.
Unfortunately, that imagery can't really sustain the weak plot. It's very contrived, and while the characters are well described, they're almost plastic -- you don't really get much into them, and they're so stereotypical for this kind of story that you tend to discount them as "not really real". Cratos (the main bad guy) is almost 2D in his Bronze-Age-Bad-Guy image; you know exactly what he's going to do every step of the way, and you know that something really bad has to happen to him soon.
The whole book reminds me somewhat of a China Mieville experimental novel; pretty, but no substance. I'd recommend it to new writers who want to see a really good set of descriptive language, but not overall.
Reviewer: David B