THE METHADONE LIST: THE SKYBOUND SEA
To answer a frequently-asked question of late: No, I’m not going to DragonCon. (I got home from Younger Daughter’s wedding and a short recuperative stay in the UK just day before yesterday. I have to stay home and write!)
BUT….Sam Sykes, epic fantasy author (and brother of the bride) came home from the wedding much earlier, has already recovered from the festivities (in spite of being struck in the face with a handful of rice thrown by an inebriated guest shouting “Viva los Novios!”), and _will_ be attending DragonCon, at which he’s launching his third novel, THE SKYBOUND SEA (published in the US by Pyr Books; UK publication happens a little later this fall, published by Orion/Gollancz).
[Pyr booth, #709 at DragonCon, Marriott Marquis Hotel]
Scott Lynch says of Sam’s books:
“Sam Sykes does blood and noise in the liveliest tradition of contemporary fantasy, with all the brash vigor of youth, and with a sly, penetrating sensitivity all his own. Not many writers can give you fireworks and subtlety at the same time like he can.”
Which is a great quote, and pretty accurate—though my favorite of Sam’s cover quotes is this one:
“I do not wish Sam Sykes dead.”
THE SKYBOUND SEA is the third book in the “Aeon’s Gate” trilogy, which began with THE TOME OF THE UNDERGATES and continued with BLACK HALO. And as always, the best illustration I can give you of the virtues of the book is to provide a brief excerpt [with permission of the author]:
THE SKYBOUND SEA [excerpt]
Copyright 2012 Sam Sykes
And his foe, all seven green feet of him, stared back.
Another pointy-eared human, he recognized. A pointy-eared green human. A pointy-eared green human with hands for feet and what appeared to be a cock’s crest for hair.
There had to be a shorter word for it. What had the other pointy-eared human called it? Greenshict? She had carried their scent, too.
This one was taller, tense, ready to spill blood instead of teary emotions. The greenshict’s bones were long, muscles tight beneath green skin, dark eyes positively weeping scorn as he narrowed them upon Gariath.
He liked this one better already.
At least until he looked down to his foe’s hand and saw, clenched in slender fingers, a short, stout piece of wood.
“A stick?” The fury choked his voice like phlegm. “You came to kill me with a stick?”
The shict snarled, baring four sharp teeth. Gariath roared, baring two dozen of his own. The stones quaked beneath his feet, the sky shivered at his howl as he charged.
“I WAS EATEN TODAY AND YOU BROUGHT A STICK?”
He lashed out, claws seeking green flesh and finding nothing as the greenshict took a long, fluid step backward. He flipped the stick effortlessly from one hand to the other, brought it up over his head, brought it down upon Gariath’s.
It cracked against his skull, shook brain against bone. But this was no cowardly blow from behind. This was honest pain. Gariath could bite back honest pain. He grunted, snapped his neck and caught the stick between his horns to tear it from the greenshict’s grasp.
The stick flew in one direction, his fist in the other. It sought, caught, crushed a green face beneath red knuckles in a dark crimson eruption. Bones popped, sinuses erupted, blood spattered. A body flew, crashed, skidded across the stones, leaving a dark smear upon the road.
Therapeutic, Gariath thought, even as the blood sizzled against his flesh. It hurt. But he couldn’t very well let the greenshict know that.
“I AM RHEGA!”
Yelling hurt, too. Possibly because his teeth still rattled in their gums. A trail of blood wept from his brow, spilling into his eye. The greenshict had drawn blood—with a stick.
Impressive, he thought. Also annoying. He snorted; that hurt. Just annoying.
The greenshict did not so much leap as flow from his back to his feet like a liquid. He ebbed, shifting into a stance—hands up, ears perked, waist bent—with such ease as to suggest that he had simply sprung from the womb ready to fight.
Suggestions weren’t enough for Gariath. He needed more tangible things: stone beneath his feet, blood on his hands, horns in the air, and a roar in his maw as he fell to all fours and charged.
And again, the greenshict flowed. He broke like water on a rock, slithering over Gariath, sparing only a touch for the dragonman as he leapt delicately over him and landed behind him. Gariath skidded to a halt, whirled about and found his opponent standing.
And just standing.
He didn’t scramble for his stick. He didn’t move to attack. He just stood there.
“Hit back,” Gariath snarled as he rushed the greenshict once more. “Then I hit you. Then you fall down and I splash around in your entrails.” His claw followed his voice, twice as bloodthirsty. “Don’t you know how this works?”
The greenshict had no respect for Gariath’s instruction or his blows, leaping away, ducking under, stepping away from each blow. He never struck back, never made a noise, never did anything but move.
Slowly, steadily, to the floating corpses.
The next blow came and the greenshict flew instead of flowed. He leapt away and up, hands and feet finding a tether and scrambling up. Hand over foot over foot over hand, he leapt to the fresh netherling corpse and entangled himself amongst its limbs, staring down at Gariath.
“Good,” he grunted, reaching out and seizing the tether. “Fine.” He jerked down on it. “I’ll come to you.”
Hand over hand, claw over claw, he pulled, drawing his prey and the corpse he perched upon ever closer.
One more hard pull brought him within reach and Gariath seized the opportunity. His claws were hungry and lashed out, seeking green flesh. That green flesh flew again, however, leaping from the corpse. The flesh his claws found was purple and wrapped around a thick jugular.
That promptly exploded in a soft cloud of blood.
Engulfed in the crimson haze, he roared. His mouth filled with a foul coppery taste. His nostrils flared, drank in the stench of stale life. No sign of the greenshict, no scent of the greenshict. Annoying.
But merely annoying.
At least, until the shark.
He saw the teeth only a moment before he felt them as they sank into the flesh of his bicep. He had seen worse: steel, glass, wood. That was small com- fort when this particular foe was hungry, persistent. Its slender gray body jerked violently, trying to tear off a stubborn chunk.
Gariath snarled, struck it with a fist, raked at it with a claw. The beast tightened its grip, snarled silently as it shredded skin, growing ever more insistent with each attempt to dislodge it.
It was only when he felt the stick lash out and rap against his skull that he remembered there was a reason for trying to fight off a shark on dry land. He staggered out of the cloud, his writhing parasite coming with him, his suddenly bold foe right behind him. The corpse went flying into the sky and the rest of the sharks flew for the easy meal. Not his. He would have to get the only shark with principles.
The greenshict leapt, stick lashing out like a fang. It struck against wrist, skull, leg, shoulder, anywhere that wasn’t a flailing claw or a twisting fish. The pain was intense, but it wasn’t as bad as the insult of being beaten with a stick. Gariath fought between the two, dividing his attention between the shark and the shict and failing at fending off either.
A choice had to be made.
And the shark was only acting out of hunger.
Here is a link to Pyr’s DragonCon author signing schedule (though please note, it is Booth 709, not 209):
For those not lucky enough to be attending DragonCon this weekend, you can get the book at
*(We hope this sentiment survives DragonCon, as I understand Sam will be accompanied once again by Mr. Scalzi’s stand-in, “John Spudzi”.)
**Anyone wanting a signed copy of THE SKYBOUND SEA (or any other of Sam’s books) can get one from The Poisoned Pen bookstore. Email Patrick@poisonedpen.com and tell him what you’d like inscribed in your book. The Pen ships everywhere in the world.