The Edge Chronicles 2: The Winter Knights: Book 2 of the Quint Saga

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9780552569637: The Edge Chronicles 2: The Winter Knights: Book 2 of the Quint Saga
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The second book of the Quint Saga, part of the bestselling Edge Chronicles series.
     Freezing cold. Bitter rivalries. Welcome to the Edge.

     As the Floating City of Sanctaphrax strains to break free of its tether, ancient feuds threaten to tear its people apart.

     What can Quint, a young squire of the Knights Academy, do to avert disaster? On his own, nothing. But with the help of a band of loyal friends he might just be able to loosen the grip of the city's never-ending winter.

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About the Author:

PAUL STEWART and CHRIS RIDDELL are the creators of the hugely successful Edge Chronicles, which have sold over three million copies and have been translated into over thirty languages worldwide. Their other collaborations include the Barnaby Grimes series and the Far Flung Adventures, the first of which, Fergus Crane, won the 2004 Gold Smarties Prize.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER ONE

THE SCHOOL OF COLOUR AND LIGHT STUDIES

The academic, in his grubby, paint-spattered robes of faded 'viaduct' blue, turned the crank lever with his free hand. The cog wheels in the rotating tower high above him chattered and squealed like angry ratbirds, and a shaft of light cut through the dusty air. The academic levelled the brush in his other hand and tilted his head to one side, his pale yellow eyes fixed on the youth before him.

'A little more to the left now, I think, Master Quint,' he said, his voice soft but insinuating. 'So the light catches you. Just so...'

Quint did as he was told. The early morning light streaming in from the high tower window fell across his face, glinting on his cheekbones, the tips of his ears and nose and, with its rusting pipes and gauges, the battered armour he wore.

'Excellent, my young squire,' the academic muttered approvingly. He dipped the tip of the hammelhornhair-brush into the white paint on his palette and dabbed lightly at the tiny painting on the easel before him. 'Now we must let the light work its magic,' he murmured. The dabbing continued. 'The highlights complete the picture, Master Quint. But I must insist that you hold still.'

Quint tried to maintain the pose -- but it wasn't easy. The tower was small and airless, and the heady odours from the pigments, the pinewood oils and the thinning varnishes were combining to make his eyes water and his head ache. The rusty, ill-fitting armour chafed his neck, and his left leg had gone quite numb. Besides, he was dying to see the finished portrait. It was all he could do not to turn right around and inspect it for himself.

'The dawn light,' clucked the academic. 'There's nothing like it for illuminating the subject...' His pale yellow eyes darted back and forth over Quint's features. 'And what an illustrious subject we are, my young squire.'

He chuckled, and Quint tried not to blush.

'The protégé of none other than the Most High Academe of Sanctaphrax...' He turned away and began stabbing at the palette like a woodthrush after a spanglebug. 'How lucky you are, Master Quint, not to have to scrabble about with the rest of us in the minor schools, but to be given a place at the most prestigious academy of them all. I wonder...' The academic's voice was laden with sudden spite. 'I wonder what you actually did to deserve it?'

The academic's eyes were fixed on Quint's face once more. They were so pale that there was almost no difference between the irises and the yellowish white that surrounded them. It was a mark of his trade, Quint told himself, trying not to shudder. Just as years of working as an Undertown rope-turner resulted in spatula-shaped fingers, and just as a slaughterer tanner from the Deepwoods ended up with skin the colour of blood, so, as the years passed, the eyes of Sanctaphrax portraitists were gradually bleached by the vapours of the thinning varnishes they used -- and Ferule Gleet had been a portraitist for many, many years.

'I was the Most High Academe's apprentice...' Quint looked down, his cheeks blazing as he remembered the monstrous gloamglozer and the night of the terrible fire.

'Keep still!' rasped Gleet, irritatedly dabbing at the portrait. 'Ah, yes,' he smiled thinly. 'There was that fire at the Palace of Shadows, wasn't there? Strange and dreadful business... How is the Most High Academe? Recovering well, I hope.'

The pale yellow eyes bored into Quint's once more.

'As well as can be expected,' the youth replied, but the words rang hollow in his ears as he thought of his mentor lying in the gloomy bedchamber at the School of Mist.

Linius Pallitax had suffered grievously at the hands of the terrible gloamglozer. He had almost been destroyed. Perhaps it would have been better if he had, for now he never left his bed, and his haunted eyes stared into the distance, seeing neither his faithful servant, Tweezel, nor Quint his apprentice - nor even his own daughter, Maris, who sat beside him for so many hours, praying for him to recover.

Ferule Gleet daubed at the tiny painting in silence for a moment.

'As well as can be expected, eh?' he mused at last. 'Doesn't sound too good. You wouldn't want anything to happen to him, my fine young squire. Not in your position.'

'My position?' said Quint, trying not to move.

'You're the High Academe's protégé, aren't you? Without him, you don't expect that the Knights' Academy would accept you into its hallowed halls, do you? Of course not!' Ferule shook his head. 'Sanctaphrax born and bred, that's always been the rule. The rest of us have to get by at the minor academies as best we can.'

He wiped his brush on a piece of rag, and turned the easel round.

'There,' he announced.

Quint found himself staring at the miniature painting of a young knight academic in gleaming armour, with deep indigo eyes and a smile on his face. Ferule Gleet of the School of Colour and Light Studies had done a fine job all right. Quint shivered.

'Is anything wrong?' Ferule asked.

'It's nothing,' Quint said quietly.

He had no intention of telling the pale-eyed academic about the memories the miniature painting had stirred - memories of the first time he'd had his portrait done.

How young he'd been then. Four, maybe five years old; the youngest of six brothers. His father, Wind Jackal, had commissioned the mural of the whole family for the grand hall of their palace in the Western Quays. What happy days they'd been. But they hadn't lasted, he thought bitterly. Within a year of the painting being completed, Turbot Smeal -- his father's treacherous quartermaster -- had torched his master's house. Quint's mother and brothers had perished in the blaze, and with them, the painting itself had been destroyed.

'Of course, there's one thing you haven't captured at all accurately,' Quint said quickly.

'Indeed?' said Gleet, raising his eyebrows.

Quint tapped the pipes and gauges on the armour he was wearing, each one more corroded and tarnished than the next; then nodded towards the picture. 'The armour there sparkles like burnished brass and silver,' he said, 'newly forged and freshly polished. Whereas this...' He looked back down at the breast-plate.

Gleet laughed, revealing a mouthful of thin, pin-like teeth. 'You're right, Master Quint,' he said. 'The armour you are wearing has indeed seen better days. I use it as a mere prop. Once you enter the Knights' Academy, you will have to work hard to win the honour of wearing a suit of armour as fine as the one I have painted; a suit of armour fit for a knight academic on a stormchasing voyage. That is why every squire has a portrait painted -- to remind him always of his ultimate goal.

Quint nodded solemnly and reached for the miniature portrait.

'Not so fast!' snapped Ferule Gleet. 'There is still the background to do. The School of Mist is your mentor's academy, I believe. I must go up to the balcony at the top of the tower to paint in the Mistsifting Towers before the sun rises too high and I lose the shadows.' He began packing up the paints and brushes into a small leadwood box. 'If you would care to join me?' he said.

'I certainly would,' Quint replied, rubbing his eyes. 'I could do with some fresh air.'

With Gleet carrying the heavy box in one hand and the tiny half-finished picture in the fingertips of the other, and Quint manoeuvring the cumbersome easel up the circular stairs, the two of them made their way to the upper balcony.

At the top, Quint leaned over the balustrade and took deep gulps of air. It was a crisp, clear morning, with broad billowing clouds sweeping majestically across the sky, and a golden light falling across the towers of Sanctaphrax.

To his left and right, lining the broad span of the mighty viaduct, were the minarets and turrets of the two hundred minor schools. At one end was the stately Great Hall, its dome and belfry gleaming in the morning light; at the other end, towering above every other building in Sanctaphrax, was the magnificent Loftus Observatory, with the unmistakeable outline of the twin Mistsifting Towers just beyond.

Quint looked across at them. The huge globes, like two vast balls of twine, rotated and shimmered in the morning breeze and, as they did so, they produced a soft, haunting music of exquisitely subtle harmonies.

It was the sounds of Sanctaphrax, even more than the sight of its resplendent buildings, that always thrilled Quint. Now, on the balcony of the Viaduct school of Colour and Light Studies, there was music all round, filling the air, the paraphernalia of every tower adding to the mighty symphony. It was said that the blind could never get lost in Sanctaphrax. All they had to do was keep their ears open to know exactly where they were. Quint didn't doubt for a moment that it was true.

Cocking his head to one side and closing his eyes, he listened dreamily. There was the buzz of pinwheels, the clatter of hail-weights, the timpani of wind-vanes and fog-clappers. From the Academy of Wind, there came flute-like notes as the breeze blew over the calibrated air-apertures, and the mesmeric hum of the sifting-combs; while from the Raintasters' Tower there came a constant tinkling sound, as the glass collecting-bottles which hung down in great bunches from the jutting gantries overhead knocked softly together.

It wasn't only the buildings that were making a sound that morning. As Ferule Gleet began sketching in the outline of the Mistsifting Towers, Quint could hear a babble of voice bubbling up from the viaduct below.

He opened his eyes and looked down at the viaduct walkway, flanked by towers on each side, stretching into the distance. Every one of the two hundred towers was different - some were castellated, some had spires; some were shaped like pepper pots, others like colanders. One, tall and conical, was bedecked with small lanterns that hung from hooks. Another was strung with wind-chimes. And one, he noticed, had fluted columns, like a small scale parody of the School of Light and Darkness itself. The only thing they all had in common was the number of individuals scurrying in and out of them.

Most wore robes of 'viaduct' blue, showing that they were academics from the lowly viaduct schools, housed in the towers. On one side of the School of Colour and Light Studies was the School of Refraction and Reflection, full of academics polishing and grinding lenses for the telescopes of the major academies. On the other, Quint could see the School of Sight and Smell-Filtering, where academics busily spun spider-silk and soaked woodmoth gauze in scented tinctures for the delicate weather instruments of the more important schools of Wind, Rain, Cloud and Mist.

Across the way, a group of academics in the red capes and black and white chequerboard collars of the School of Mist, barged the blue-robed academics aside. Approaching them, a dozen white and grey-robed professors from the Institute of Ice and Snow raised their noses snootily in the air, and close behind, a gaggle of yellow-caped apprentices from the College of Cloud gossiped and laughed noisily.

'A little more ochre, I think,' Gleet was saying.

Just then, a furtive-looking individual caught Quint's eye as he emerged from the door at the bottom of a battered turret opposite. He glanced over both shoulders -- clearly forgetting that someone might be looking at him from above -- and pushed a gleaming phial of dark red liquid inside his gown, before scurrying off. He was thin and stooped, and from his flapping green gown with its distinctive fur trim, Quint could tell he was an under-professor from the Academy of Wind.

Quint looked more closely at the turret. It seemed neglected. The windows were shuttered, the roof had missing tiles, while the walls were cracked and in need of serious repair. He wondered what viaduct school it might be. Maybe the clue lay with the dried corpse of the vulpoon - an ungainly bird of prey with straggly plumage, a viciously serrated beak and razor sharp talons - suspended from a jutting hook above the door.

'What do they study there?' Quint asked Gleet, nodding down at the strange tower.

The portraitist followed Quint's gaze and shook his head. 'A fine young squire of the Knights' Academy doesn't need to concern himself with such schools.' He smiled thinly. 'Or the services they offer.'

He held up the disc of wood and Quint could see, in the background, the two Mistsifting Towers of the School of Mist.

'Once it is dry,' said the academic, gathering up his brushes and paints, 'you can get it fixed to the handle of your sword. You do have a sword, I take it?'

'Of course,' Quint nodded, unsheathing the long, curved sky-pirate sword his father had given him.

Gleet laughed unpleasantly as he eyed the sword with disdain. 'Yes, well,' he sniffed. 'There won't be many squires at the Knights' Academy with swords like that, I can tell you.'

Quint's face fell.

'Just as well you're the protégé of the Most High Academe is all I can say...'

Just then, as Ferule was turning to go, the loud sonorous tones of a tolling bell filled the air. Quint looked up to see the huge bell of the Great Hall swinging back and forth. As if in answer, rising up from the Stone Gardens and filling the sky above Sanctaphrax like a mighty swirling snowstorm, there appeared a vast flock of white ravens. They wheeled through the sky, a great halo high above the Viaduct Towers, looping round at the Great Hall and the Loftus Observatory. And as their numbers grew, so the raucous cawing became a deafening cacophony that drowned out the sound of the ringing bell that seemed to have summoned them all in the first place.

Quint gripped the balustrade, his face ashen white. 'No!' he cried. 'It can't be! Not now, after everything...'

Ferule Gleet turned and shook his head, his yellow eyes glinting and a malicious smile on his thin lips.

'The tolling bell; the white ravens... It can mean only one thing.' He handed Quint the miniature portrait. 'Your mentor, the Most High Academe... is dead.'

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Book Description Random House Children s Publishers UK, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Quint Verginix has enrolled as a squire in the Knight s Academy. After his training, he will be able to pilot stormchaser sky-ships into the heart of Great Storms, and retrieve the solidified lightning - stormphrax - to weigh down the floating rock on which Sanctaphrax is built. But as a freezing winter takes hold, and the city strains to break free of its tether, ancient feuds threaten to tear its people apart. On his own, Quint can do nothing to help avert the impending doom. But with the help of a band of loyal friends he might just be able to avert disaster. The Winter Knights is the second book of the Quint Saga - first trilogy in The Edge Chronicles, the internationally best-selling fantasy series, which has featured on the UK and the New York Times best-seller lists and sold more than 3 million copies. There are now 13 titles and four trilogies in the series, but each book is a stand-alone adventure, so you can read The Edge Chronicles in any order you choose. Seller Inventory # AAZ9780552569637

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Book Description Random House Children s Publishers UK, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Quint Verginix has enrolled as a squire in the Knight s Academy. After his training, he will be able to pilot stormchaser sky-ships into the heart of Great Storms, and retrieve the solidified lightning - stormphrax - to weigh down the floating rock on which Sanctaphrax is built. But as a freezing winter takes hold, and the city strains to break free of its tether, ancient feuds threaten to tear its people apart. On his own, Quint can do nothing to help avert the impending doom. But with the help of a band of loyal friends he might just be able to avert disaster. The Winter Knights is the second book of the Quint Saga - first trilogy in The Edge Chronicles, the internationally best-selling fantasy series, which has featured on the UK and the New York Times best-seller lists and sold more than 3 million copies. There are now 13 titles and four trilogies in the series, but each book is a stand-alone adventure, so you can read The Edge Chronicles in any order you choose. Seller Inventory # AAZ9780552569637

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Book Description Corgi Childrens. Condition: New. 2014. Paperback. As the Floating City of Sanctaphrax strains to break free of its tether, ancient feuds threaten to tear its people apart. What can Quint, a young squire of the Knights Academy, do to avert disaster? On his own, nothing. But with the help of a band of loyal friends he might just be able to loosen the grip of the city's never-ending winter. Series: The Edge Chronicles. Num Pages: 400 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: 5AK; YFH; YFJ. Category: (J) Children / Juvenile. Dimension: 195 x 127 x 25. Weight in Grams: 288. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Seller Inventory # V9780552569637

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Book Description Corgi Childrens, 2014. Condition: New. 2014. Paperback. As the Floating City of Sanctaphrax strains to break free of its tether, ancient feuds threaten to tear its people apart. What can Quint, a young squire of the Knights Academy, do to avert disaster? On his own, nothing. But with the help of a band of loyal friends he might just be able to loosen the grip of the city's never-ending winter. Series: The Edge Chronicles. Num Pages: 400 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: 5AK; YFH; YFJ. Category: (J) Children / Juvenile. Dimension: 195 x 127 x 25. Weight in Grams: 288. . . . . . . Seller Inventory # V9780552569637

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