This past weekend, Robert V.S. Redick unveiled the UK cover art (see above) to The Night of the Swarm, the fourth and final volume in The Chathrand Voyage. The artwork is once again provided by award-winning artist Edward Miller, and like the author, it’s my favorite cover out of the four, although The River of Shadows by Edward Miller is a close second. As an added bonus, Robert V.S. Redick provided a short excerpt (see below) from The Night of the Swarm featuring the demon—or more properly, maukslar—depicted on the cover:
Thasha snapped awake. The raft was not moving. ‘What happened? Did we wreck?’
‘Softly!’ whispered Hercól. ‘We are not wrecked, but beached in the shallows, and we are all of us blind. Ramachni’s vision-spell has ended. There was a strange sound from behind us. Like thunder, or a monstrous drum.’
Thasha groped along the edge of the raft. Perfect blackness; every one of them blind except Ramachni. ‘Where’s he gone?’ she asked.
‘Up a tree, with Ensyl,’ said Bolutu. ‘We couldn’t talk him out of it – or very well prevent his going. Hark!’
This time she heard it: a deep rumbling, far off but furious. The sound seemed to carry through the very fabric of the forest. When it ended the silence was profound.
‘Ramachni’s singing,’ Pazel whispered. ‘I think he’s weaving a new spell. And that wasn’t thunder, Hercól. It was a voice.’
‘A voice.’ Dastu spoke with undisguised scorn. ‘You’re mad as mockingbirds, you know that? What sort of voice?’
Pazel made no answer, and the silence lingered. Then he said, ‘A demon’s?’
Even as he spoke, light appeared, a stabbing red light that made them all recoil. Wincing, Thasha forced herself to look: the glow came from about a quarter-mile away, at the height of the forest roof. Already it was growing, spreading. ‘Tree of Heaven, that’s fire!’ said Corporal Mandric. ‘The mucking forest is on fire!’
‘Do not move!’ said Ramachni suddenly. Thasha heard the mage and Ensyl scrambling aboard, felt Ramachni’s sleek shoulder brush her arm. ‘Be silent, now,’ he said, ‘and whatever happens, do not leave the raft. We are in unspeakable danger.’
The light became a sharp red ring: the leaf-layer, burning outward from a central point, like dry grass around a bonfire. The fire’s glow danced on the river beneath it, and soon the red-rimmed hole was as wide as the river itself. But there it stopped. The blinding light faded, leaving only a fringe of crackling fire, and another light replaced it: pale blue and gentle. It was the Polar Candle, the little Southern moon. The fire had burned through all four leaf-layers and opened a window on a clear night sky.
Oh Gods, it’s true.
In the fiery gap a monstrous head had appeared. A hideous sight: part human, part snake, a head twice the sized of an elephant's. Fire dripped from its jaws, dark runes were etched upon its forehead, and its eyes were two great yellow lamps. A long neck followed, snaking in through the burning hole. The lamp-eyes swung back and forth, casting the trees in a sickly radiance. When they passed over her, Thasha felt a prickling in her mind. She shuddered. Now it was Pazel’s turn to reach for her, pull her close. The lamp-eyes returned. When they touched the raft again they grew still.
Beside her, Ramachni tensed, bearing his tiny teeth, flexing his claws one by one. Then the creature roared: a deafening, complex blast of noise that shook them to their bones. Beside her, Pazel’s face showed a horror unlike that of the others, and suddenly she knew that he was understanding. His Gift had given him the demon’s language. There was meaning in that sound.
According to Amazon.co.uk, The Night of the Swarm is currently slated for a May 17, 2012 publication via its UK publisher Gollancz. Hopefully the book will come out then, but for now I would take the release date with a grain of salt until the US release is confirmed, which will be published by Del Rey. For more information on Robert V.S. Redick and The Chathrand Voyage, please visit the links below:
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “The Red Wolf Conspiracy”
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “The Rats and the Ruling Sea”
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “The River of Shadows”
Read A Conversation Between Robert V.S. Redick & David Anthony Durham