Here is something new for Geek To Me readers! Courtesy of Wunderkind PR comes this excerpt from The Mongoliad Book Three by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey and Cooper Moo.
Here is how the book is described and the excerpt. Let me know what you think and if you'd like to see more of these on Geek To Me:
THE MONGOLIAD: BOOK THREE (47North, February 26, 2013; $14.95 trade paperback, $9.99 digital) is the riveting third and final installment in this epic tale.
The shadow of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II hangs over the shattered Holy Roman Church as the cardinals remain deadlocked, unable to choose a new pope. Only the Binders and a mad priest have a hope of uniting the Church against the invading Mongols. An untested band of young warriors stands against the dissolute Khan, Onghwe, fighting for glory and freedom in the Khan’s sadistic circus of swords, and the brave band of Shield-Brethren who set out to stop the Mongol threat single-handedly race against their nemesis before he can raise the entire empire against them. Veteran knight Feronantus, haunted by his life in exile, leads the dwindling company of Shield-Brethren to their final battle, molding them into a team that will outlast him. No good hero lives forever…or fights alone."
The Shield-Brethren buried Finn on the hill where they had set up camp. “It is not as grand as one of those burial mounds—the kurgans—we have seen,” Raphael pointed out to Feronantus, “but it has a view of where we came from, and the sun will always warm the ground.” Given the choice, Finn had always preferred to sleep outside, where the sun could find him and warm his bones in the morning. Finn may not have been a sworn member of the Shield-Brethren, but he was a feral brother to many of them.
One by one the members of the Shield-Brethren attacked the rocky ground of the hilltop. Without coming out and saying as much, they all wanted to be the one to dig Finn’s grave, as if the backbreaking labor would somehow assuage their individual guilt. It was not that they valued Finn above their other fallen comrades—the loss of any brother was equally horrific—but each was racked with a sense of responsibility for the circumstances of the hunter’s death.
As he prepared Finn’s body for burial, Raphael tried not to let his thoughts dwell on other members of their company whom they had lost. Or even his own role in the deaths of those dear friends. With Vera’s assistance, he laid the small man’s body on Percival’s cloak—the knight refused to hear otherwise—and arranged Finn’s limbs as best he could. The stiffness that creeps into a man’s body in the wake of death had filled Finn, and one of his arms resisted Raphael’s efforts. His face, once it had been tenderly washed by Vera, was surprisingly boyish. Raphael felt the weight of his years when he saw the delicate lashes and the unlined swath of forehead clearly for the first time. Too young, he thought, to die so far from home.
And he realized how little he knew of Finn. How little any of them knew.
“Wait,” he said to Vera as she made to cover Finn’s face with Percival’s cloak. He strode to his bags and dug out his worn journal and his writing instruments. With the sun peering over his shoulder, he sat and carefully sketched Finn’s face on a blank page. There will be a record, he promised his dead friend. You will not be forgotten.
As Raphael painstakingly tried to capture the essence of Finn’s character—an amalgamation of the peaceful features before him and those memories he had of more exuberant expressions—Vera busied herself with washing Finn’s feet and hands. The leather of his boots had been soft and supple once, but months and months of being in the wilderness had hardened the material into a second skin over Finn’s feet. She tugged at them briefly, and then gave up, opting to run a knife along the thin seams instead.
“Strangely fastidious,” she noted when she got to his hands. Raphael looked up from his sketching as she showed him Finn’s palms. Calloused, as expected, but surprisingly clean. The nails were long, but there was no dirt or filth beneath them.
The Binder, Cnán, approached, and with some interest examined Finn’s hands. “Like a cat,” she said, and Raphael nodded in agreement.
“They’re done with the grave,” Cnán reported. “Though,” she snorted, “I think Percival would like to keep digging.”
Raphael nodded. “Yes, I can imagine he would.”