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Chapter One

THE BLINDING KNIFE is the second book in The Lightbringer Series. If you haven’t read THE BLACK PRISM, don’t read any further! The following excerpt contains spoilers.

Gavin Guile lay on his back on a narrow skimmer floating in the middle of the sea. It was a tiny craft with low sides. Lying on his back like this in the past, he would almost believe he was one with the sea. Now, the dome of the heavens above him was like a lid, and he a crab in the cauldron, heat rising.

Two hours before noon, here, thirty leagues from the Seers Isle, the Cerulean Sea should be a stunning deep blue-green. The sky above, cloudless, mist burned off, should be a peaceful, vibrant sapphire.

But he couldn’t see it. Since he’d lost the Battle of Garriston four days ago, wherever there was blue, he saw gray. He couldn’t even see that much unless he concentrated.

His fleet was waiting for him. Hard to relax when thousands of people are waiting, but he needed this measure of peace. He looked to the heavens, arms spread, touching the waves with his fingertips.

Lucidonius, were you here? Were you even real? Did this happen to you, too?

Something hissed in the water, a sound like a boat cutting through the waves.

Gavin sat up on his skimmer.

Fifty paces behind him, something disappeared under the waves, something big enough to cause its own swell. It could have been a whale.

Except whales surface to breathe. There was no spray hanging in the air, no whoosh of expelled air. And from fifty paces, for Gavin to have heard the hiss of a sea creature cutting through the water, it would have had to have been massive. His heart leapt to his throat.

He jumped to his feet and began sucking in light to draft his oar apparatus—and froze. Right beneath his tiny craft, something was moving through the water. It was like watching the landscape go by when you’re in a speeding carriage, but Gavin wasn’t moving. The rushing body was huge, many times the width of his craft, and it was undulating closer and closer to the surface, closer to his own little boat.

A sea demon.

And it glowed. A peaceful, warm radiance like the sun itself on this cool morning.

Gavin had never heard of such a thing. Sea demons were monsters, the purest, craziest form of fury known to mankind. They burned red, boiled the seas, left fires floating in their wakes. Not carnivores, so far as the old books guessed, but fiercely territorial—and any intruder on their territory was to be crushed. Intruders, like boats.

This light was different. A peaceful luminescence, the sea demon no vicious destroyer, but a giant traversing the seas and leaving barely a ripple to note his passing. The colors shimmered through the waves, grew brighter as the undulation brought the body close.

Unthinking, Gavin knelt as the creature’s back broke the surface of the water right underneath his boat. Before the boat slid away from the swell, he reached out and touched the sea demon’s skin. He expected a creature that slid through the waves to be slimy, but the skin was surprisingly rough, muscular, warm.

For one precious moment, Gavin was not. There was no Gavin Guile, no Lord Prism, no scraping sniveling dignitaries devoid of dignity, no lies, no satraps to be bullied, no Spectrum councillors to manipulate, no lovers, no bastards, no power except the power before his eyes. He felt small, staring into incomprehensible vastness.

Cooled by the gentle morning breeze, warmed by the twin suns, one in the sky, one beneath the waves, Gavin was serene.

It was the closest thing to a holy moment Gavin had ever experienced.

And then he realized the sea demon was swimming straight toward his fleet.