It is 2020 when a mountain of rock weighing millions of tons hits the planet's atmosphere. As the rigid crust of the planet gives away, a massive chain reaction of earthquakes, tidal waves, and volcanic eruptions follows. The catastrophic event known as the Great Crash is deadly and swift. Life on the planet will never be the same.
Four thousand years later, nine-year-old Prince Jadan studies the disastrous effects of the Great Crash with his tutor. As he learns about the characteristics of Mutants and the differences between Fusors and Cabals, he has no idea that he will soon be putting his newfound knowledge to work. After he escapes the marauding Mutant army that kills his father and steals his birthright, Jadan is forced to hide in the forest where he is taught lessons of survival from a Cabal, half-man, half-spider. Thought dead by the rest of the world, Jadan returns as a teenager to unite his kingdom against Mutant warlords and half-humans. But first, he must prove himself worthy.
In this adventurous tale, not everyone believes Jadan is the Chosen One. Left with no other options, Jadan must embark on a dangerous quest to fulfill his destiny and claim a fabled sword-before it is too late.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.67(d)|
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SKYCAT AND SWORDJadan's Rise and Revenge
By Dan Stanhope Karen Stanhope
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Dan Stanhope and Karen Stanhope
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe angry Cabal stood in front of the king. He shook his wooly head, his large, curling horns stabbing the air to punctuate his words.
"I did not break those jars on purpose!" he insisted in a deep, gruff voice, stamping his hoof. "The shop's aisles are too narrow! I just wanted to purchase some fine-ground nuts and packs of oats. I was as careful as I could be. It's not my fault if my wool accidentally swept some jars off of their shelf!"
"You weren't careful enough!" the shopkeeper retorted. "My aisles are more than wide enough for my normal patrons. I can't rearrange my whole store because one large ... person ... wants to shop here." The man spit the words out, his distaste for the Cabal clear. "You owe me for thirteen broken jars of pickled celery root. I should also charge you for the scrubbing it's going to take to get the vinegar smell out of my store."
Jadan cautiously parted the edges of the cloth that covered the table he hid beneath so he could see a little better. This was only the second Cabal that Jadan had seen in his nine years—and this one was stranger than the last.
He looks like the inside of my pillow, he thought, an inside-out pillow that stands on two legs like a man. Its wooly fur made it look enormous, but the belt cinched around the waist of its trousers showed that it was really a lot skinnier than it looked. It had shorter hair on its face and big yellow front teeth. Jadan could see those teeth clearly now as the Cabal sneered at the shopkeeper.
Jadan looked at the king to see how he would rule. The vertical yellow pupils of the Cabal's eyes rolled wildly around in its big brown eyeballs. The Cabal looks angry enough to chew nails. What's it going to do if the decision doesn't go its way? Jadan wouldn't be surprised if it rammed the shopkeeper with its horns—or even the king! He scooted forward on his hands and knees and stuck his head out a little farther so he wouldn't miss any of the action.
"There you are! Get back to the classroom!"
Jadan jumped at the sting of his tutor's switch on his bare leg and hit his head on the bottom of the table. "No! I'm not going back!" he cried as he scrabbled forward and dashed to his father's throne. He knelt at the king's knee and looked hopefully up at his father's face, but King Raynor only glanced at the boy quickly before turning his impatient look on Humor, the boy's tutor.
"What's the meaning of this?" Raynor asked in an irritated tone. "We're in the middle of court, and you are interrupting the judging of complaints. Can you not manage one small boy?"
"Sire, my apologies!" said Humor, dropping his eyes and placing his hand over his heart. "I only turned my back for an instant, and he managed to get away from me. It won't happen again!" He grabbed the boy's arm and shook it roughly, his fingers digging in until Jadan knew his skin would be black and blue.
Not for the first time, Jadan wished that his tutor lived up to his name. The man had no sense of humor whatsoever. Jadan thought that the situation was at least a little bit funny. After all, he had put a dummy "Jadan" in his chair in the classroom over an hour ago. I'll bet he only just now noticed that I was gone, Jadan thought. I wish I could have seen his face when he realized that he had been teaching a dummy.
But how else will I learn how to king? Jadan asked himself. Humor only teaches me history and language—not king stuff! And Father promised me a ride on Daggar weeks ago. I'll bet he forgot. Feeling justified in his actions, Jadan waited for his father to defend him.
"Yes, yes," the king said absently, ignoring the rough handling and waving away the boy and his tutor. He gave Jadan a disapproving scowl. "You will never learn what you need to know to sit upon this throne if you don't do well at your studies. You are not only shaming your tutor, but you are shaming me in front of my subjects, who have come to me for judgment."
As Humor dragged Jadan away by the arm, the boy protested, "But Father! You promised! You promised that you would take me for a ride on Daggar, but it's been days and you haven't taken me!"
Raynor shook his head. "I will not reward your bad behavior with a skycat ride. Now go back to your studies."
"Yes, the king is a busy man," scolded Humor. "He has much more important things to do than fly about the sky. Come along now and let King Raynor get back to his subjects."
A last look at his father showed Jadan that the king had already forgotten him. Dejected, he allowed his tutor to drag him back to the classroom. What did I expect? he asked himself. Father never has enough time for me. Jadan loved the rare times when he was able to be with his father and continually looked for ways to gain his approval. Unfortunately, his good intentions usually ended up with him in trouble.
Back in the classroom, Humor resumed the lesson, his voice a dull, buzzing drone. At least it's a subject that I like, Jadan thought. The topic was Fusor history and the Great Crash. He half-listened as his tutor talked about the creation of the world. Jadan idly imagined himself as an ancient human in a world full of erupting volcanoes and clouds of dust that blocked out the sun. The boy perked up as Humor launched into his favorite part: the origin of species.
"Over four thousand years ago, the Great Crash caused a burst of highly radioactive dust to sweep across our world. The sudden surge of radiation caused massive physical changes in the evolution of all species—humans included. Genetic mutations and the natural law of survival of the fittest shaped generations of human descendents," Humor lectured. "From our human ancestors, three new species evolved: Mutants, Cabals, and our own Fusor species.
"Jadan, what are the three basic characteristics of a Mutant?" he quizzed.
Jadan knew the answer, but he was still angry at Humor—and his father. He pressed his lips together and didn't reply. Jadan knew that he wasn't acting in a kingly manner, but what did they expect? I never spend enough time with my father to learn how a king behaves! Or how a father behaves, for that matter, he thought mutinously.
Whack! Humor's switch came down on Jadan's desk. "Pay attention and answer me when I ask you a question!" he shrilled. "I would hate to tell the king that you're failing history, not after your behavior today."
Jadan hated that sneering look on Humor's face. He's just waiting for me to do something bad so he can punish me. Jadan decided that he wouldn't give him the satisfaction.
Jadan held up his hand and counted the three Characteristics of Mutants off on his fingers. "Mutants are as tall as humans were and their bones and everything are the same, but they evolved backward—"
"They regressed," corrected Humor.
"—they regressed to be more like earlier humans in some ways. Like, they have heavier muscles and are lots hairier. Their faces are wider, and they have low foreheads and big bony brow ridges and flat noses." Jadan thought a bit more. "And they have big jaws and big teeth and some of their front teeth are sharp and pointed like a dox," he added, referring to the familiar pets that many Fusor families kept to guard their homes.
Humor nodded impatiently, "Yes, yes. What else?"
Jadan held up his second finger. "Mutants aren't nearly as smart as we are. They're meaner and always want to fight. They also think that they are better than Fusors and Cabals."
He held up his third finger. This Mutant characteristic was the most interesting one. "They can regrow lost body parts. I mean, if you cut off their arm or even their head, they'll just grow a new one." He looked at Humor and asked, "I guess that comes in handy for them, with all of the wars that they start, right?"
"That's right," Humor said. "Someday you'll go into battle yourself, and you'll need to keep that in mind."
"Stuff only grows from their chest, though, right? They can't grow another body from, say, an arm," Jadan continued, really interested in this subject. "And you can only kill them by stabbing their heart, but it's hard to get to because of their extra-thick ribs—"
"Yes," Humor cut him off impatiently. "Now, we have time for one more question before I release you for the day. The faster you answer correctly, the sooner you can leave." Sure that he now had his student's full attention, Humor said, "Tell me the difference between Fusors and Cabals."
This was an easy question, according to the history books. But Jadan didn't know whether to believe the books or the people who thought the legends were just fairytales. "Cabals were created when a human was, like, touching another species at the time of the Great Crash when the radiation blast hit. The two—the human and the other—combined into something new. Like a man holding a bird became a man-bird. Most of the time, the combination didn't work, and the new thing died. But sometimes it didn't die, and a new creature was created. The ones that stuck together and lived became Cabals."
"Yes," confirmed Humor. "But what does a Cabal look like?"
Jadan knew that Humor was trying to trap him with that question. But he wasn't going to fall for it. "Of course," he responded, "it depends on what the two species were that combined. Sometimes it was a man and an animal, like the Cabal in father's court. Sometimes it was a man and a plant. I hear that some Cabals say they came from a combination of a human and some kind of precious jewel, so I guess some Cabals come from rocks. Depending on the combination, they look different and they think and act differently, too.
"There aren't many Cabals here at Nye Castle," Jadan said wistfully, wishing that he could see more of these interesting creatures. "Why is that?"
"They pretty much keep to themselves. Most of them live alone or in Cabal communities, maybe because they know many Fusors find them to be strange and ugly," Humor explained. In a darker tone, he said, "Some Cabals are highly prized by the Mutants, who recruit them and their unique abilities for the Mutant armies. Now, finish up. Tell me how Fusors differ from Cabals."
"Well," Jadan started. "Legend says that Fusors are like Cabals ... at least we both started the same way. At the time of the Great Crash, a human combined with another species. But in the case of Fusors, the combination was only temporary. After a little while, the two creatures unstuck and went back to man and animal, or man and plant, or man and rock.
"Supposedly, we Fusors are the human half of one of these combinations, or fusings. Our other half is our familiar. Like, I'm descended from some human ancestor that had fused with something, but I don't know what it was. Someday I might find my other half—my familiar—and we'll be able to fuse if we want. Then we'll look like a Cabal, but we'll be able to unfuse—separate—when we want to."
"That's right," said Humor, not at all impressed with Jadan's correct answer. "Of the three species that descended from humans, Fusors most closely resemble our human ancestors. Of course, not many Fusors believe the old legends. No one has ever seen a real fusing. Some say that we've forgotten how. The only written records of men fusing and unfusing with other species are myths that are hundreds of years old."
"If I had my own familiar, it would be outrageous! It's too bad that we're not born knowing what our familiar is," Jadan said. "I wish it was like the old days, when teenagers went on quests to find their familiars and they had First Fusing celebrations."
"Outrageous, indeed," Humor said sarcastically. "Why don't you run along to your nanny now? Maybe she'll tell you more fairy tales of Fusors and familiars."
Jadan took that as permission to leave and wasted no time bolting out the door. He navigated the stone hallways of the castle until he finally got to the bailey, a kind of central courtyard. The open square was paved with cobblestones and bustling with activity. Little shops were set up around its sides, and vendors called out to the people passing by.
"Get your parsnots here!"
"Get four loaves of cracklebread for the price of three!"
Jadan loved listening to the vendors selling their wares and watching the different kinds of people who came to Nye Castle, the biggest and richest castle in the Fusor world. He took the sash from around his waist and wrapped it around his head, like the turbans that some of the vendors wore. He drew the collar of his shirt high up his neck and untucked his shirt from his short pants. Leaning down, Jadan scooped up some of the dirt off the cobblestone floor and rubbed it all over his face, arms, legs, and clothes. He hoped that this disguise would keep people from recognizing him as the Prince, at least for a while.
Running straight for the Skycat Tower, Jadan started up the stone steps that spiraled up the tower's outside wall. He had gone only a little way, though, when he saw some guards descending the stairs just above him. Jadan quickly did an about-face and ran down the steps before he could be caught.
"Daggone!" he cursed under his breath. He had hoped to see his father's skycat, Daggar. He ducked into the nearest door, which happened to lead into the Great Hall. Wandering through the big room, Jadan looked at the shelves full of books that lined the walls and the clusters of scholars discussing deep topics. He knew that many of these books were rare, collected by his father, King Raynor. The king took great pride in the libraries that drew Fusors from the surrounding kingdoms to study at the feet of Nye scholars. Many of the books were chronicles of history and practical texts on everything from metalworking to farming.
Jadan was proud of his father for creating a kingdom acknowledged as the best ever known in the Fusor world. There was always plenty to eat in the kingdom of Nye, and everyone knew its laws were fair to all. Nye Castle was the seat of power for the kingdom. Its bluestone walls and battlements were as beautiful as they were strong. Nye Castle had a reputation for hospitality, earned largely by the actions of Jadan's mother. Queen Vespa was known for her kindness, generosity, and genuine care for her subjects. She had been the perfect compliment to King Raynor's wisdom and strength.
At least until I came along, thought Jadan. His mother had died immediately after delivering Jadan, her only child. His father had never forgiven Jadan for it.
Jadan reached the other side of the Great Hall and exited it on the side closest to the stables. This was his favorite place to play—alone as usual. As the prince, he was overprotected and never allowed to play with other children. Jadan often watched them from the window of his room as they ran and screamed with laughter. He so badly wanted to play with them, but the few times that he had managed to sneak out to join them, they were afraid of him. Their parents had warned them not to play with the prince, and the children had run to tell the guards that Jadan was there. Jadan would always remember how betrayed he had felt. He wished again that he could just be a normal child.
Jadan hurried to the stall in the back of the stable. Yes! The new kitmice were still there! "There you are," he crooned to the babies. They had outgrown their blind, hairless, crawly state. Fluffy fur now covered their active little bodies, and they squeaked and pounced in the hay. Jadan smiled at their antics and sat close by them. He laughed as they swarmed him, despite the little clawed fingers that scratched as they climbed all over him.
Many fashionable Nyites adopted kitmice as pets, which they called familiars as a symbol of the ancient belief in the Fusor "other half." These days, Fusors didn't search for their other half; they just chose a familiar according to their taste. Cuddly kitmice were prized for their soft fur and variety of colors. Other Fusors were more practical, choosing species like the muscular dox to perform the dual tasks of pet and protector. Dox even made good mounts for riding.
By royal decree, skycat familiars were reserved only for the royal family of Nye. The royal coat of arms boasted two skycats rampant—side views with claws raised against their enemies. It was proudly displayed on the castle's flags. King Raynor's own skycat familiar, Daggar, was his constant companion.
Kitmice are nice, Jadan thought as he tussled with the tiny furry babies, but I want to have a skycat of my own someday.
Excerpted from SKYCAT AND SWORD by Dan Stanhope Karen Stanhope Copyright © 2012 by Dan Stanhope and Karen Stanhope. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. 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
I am not normally a Fantasy or Science Fiction reader, but a good friend recommended this book so I tried it out and loved it. Just finished it and am already looking for a sequel. The story captures you right away and amazes you with imaginative characters and creatures. My favorite of which is the kitmouse (what I picture as a fun furry combination of Cat and mouse). Other characters are not so cute! The authors bring the story to life with deep insights into the loneliness, fear and wonderment felt by nine year old Prince Jadan. A powerful and deep story with political and religious undertones for adults, or just a fun filled ride for kids and those young at heart.
Once I started reading I couldn't put this book down, but I was sorry for it to end. I hope the authors write Part 2. Lots of action and weird creatures. Kind of like the Percy Jackson books, but in the future. I highly recommend it.
Was written for teens but I enjoyed it very much. Children of all ages will love this book. If you are looking for something your children can read and enjoy I highly sucgest getting this book.