To stop the coming apocalypse, a fellowship was formed…
We’re thrilled to reveal the cover and preview an excerpt from James Rollins’ The Cradle of Ice, book two in the Moon Fall series—available on February 7, 2023 from Tor Books.
The second book in the New York Times bestselling Moon Fall series from thriller-master James Rollins, The Cradle of Ice is a page-turning tale of action, adventure, betrayal, ambition, and the struggle for survival in a harsh world that hangs by a thread.
To stop the coming apocalypse, a fellowship was formed.
A soldier, a thief, a lost prince, and a young girl bonded by fate and looming disaster.
Each step along this path has changed the party, forging deep alliances and greater enmities. All the while, hostile forces have hunted them, fearing what they might unleash. Armies wage war around them.
For each step has come with a cost—in blood, in loss, in heartbreak.
Now, they must split, traveling into a vast region of ice and to a sprawling capital of the world they’ve only known in stories. Time is running out and only the truth will save us all.
James Rollins is the #1 New York Times bestseller of international thrillers, sold to over forty countries. His Sigma series has earned national accolades and has topped charts around the world. He is also a practicing veterinarian, who still spends time underground or underwater as an avid spelunker and diver.
Nyx held her hand up against the brilliant swath of stars. The warmth of her breath misted the icy darkness, obscuring the view enough to make it look like some spellcast illusion. Alone atop the middeck of the Sparrowhawk, she gazed at the wonder above. She had never imagined such a radiant glittering existed beyond the sun’s glare.
Then again, how could I have known?
As the wyndship continued its westward flight under the arch of the night’s sky, she recognized how small her existence had been until recently. All her life had been spent within the Crown, where night was but a dimmer gloaming of the day. She pictured the bronze orrery in her old school’s astronicum, where the sun was represented by a spherical kettle of hot coals around which tiny planets spun on wires and gears. She pictured the third orb—the Urth—driven by the orrery’s complicated dance. As her world circled the sun, it never turned its face away. One side forever burned under the merciless blaze of the Father Above, while the other was forever forbidden His warmth, locked in eternal frozen darkness. The Crown lay between those extremes, the circlet of lands trapped between ice and fire, where the life-giving love of the Father Above nurtured those below.
And now we’ve left it all far behind.
She shifted her hand toward the reason for this perilous flight. With the cold numbing her bare fingers, she measured the full face of the moon, as bright as a lantern in these dark lands. She tried to judge if its countenance had swollen any larger, searching for evidence that her prophecy of Moonfall could be true. She again heard the screams from her vision, felt the thunderous quake of the land—followed by the deafening silence of a world destroyed as the moon crashed into the Urth.
She could not tell if the moon’s face had grown any bigger, but she did not doubt her poison-induced prophecy from half a year ago. Alchymist Frell had confirmed the same with his own measurements, in scopes far more precise than Nyx’s fingers. According to him, the full moon had been growing incrementally larger, more so over the past decade. The bronze woman, Shiya, had even assigned a rough date to the world’s end: No longer than five years, maybe as short as three.
Nyx felt the pressure of that narrowing timeline. It weighed like a cartload of stones sitting atop her chest. Even when resting, she often found it hard to breathe. Their group had spent the tail of summer and most of autumn in preparation for this journey into the dark Frozen Wastes. They dared not rush their efforts, especially when so little was known about these icy lands. And now with the winter solstice rapidly approaching, they still had hundreds of leagues to travel, with time ticking rapidly away.
Despairing, she lowered her arm and slipped her fingers back into her fur-lined gloves. Since crossing over the mountainous Ice Fangs—that jagged barrier of snowy peaks that marked the boundary between the Crown and the Frozen Wastes—the moon had waxed and waned three times over. Thrice, Nyx had watched the dark Huntress chase the bright Son around and around. Each time the Son showed his full face again, Nyx had snuck away, like now, and climbed to the open deck of the Sparrowhawk to judge the moon’s cold countenance.
Still, that was not the only reason she had abandoned the warmth of the ship for the frigid ice of the open middeck.
She shifted along the starboard rail, craning past the girth of the ponderous gasbag that obscured most of the sky. She searched for the telltale sickle of her brother’s silhouette against the stars. Her ears strained for his call through the darkness. She heard the ice cracking loose from the huge draft-iron cables that linked ship to balloon, but all else lay quiet. Even the flashburn forges that propelled the vessel through the air remained silent, their baffles sealed against the cold, trying to keep the warmth locked inside the wyndship.
For most of the journey, the crew had relied on the current of the westward-flowing sky-river to carry them ever onward. The ship’s forges certainly could have hastened their flight, but their supplies of flashburn had to be conserved, even with the extra tanks welded along the Sparrowhawk’s hull. They needed enough fuel not only for the trip out across the Wastes, but also for their return if they were successful in their quest.
She leaned farther over the rail, scanning the sky, her heart pounding slightly harder.
“Where are you?” she whispered through her scarf.
As she searched, the wind brushed the loose strands of her dark hair about her cheeks. The breeze no longer carried any hint of its former warmth. She pictured the twin rivers that flowed across the skies. The higher of the two—through which the ship traveled—carried the scathing heat of the sunblasted side of the Urth in a continual westward flow before returning in a colder stream that hugged land and sea. It was those two streams—forever flowing in two different directions—that blessed the lands of the Crown with a livable clime. Hieromonks believed it was due to the twin gods, the fiery Hadyss and the icy giant Madyss, who blew those rivers across the skies, while alchymists insisted it was due to some natural bellows created between the two extremes of the Urth.
She didn’t know which to believe. All she knew for sure was that this far out into the Wastes, that hot river carried little of its life-giving warmth. And from here, their way would only grow colder. It was said that, if one traveled far enough out into the Wastes, the very air turned to ice.
Knowing this, she searched the stars for her bonded brother. He needed these brief flights to stretch his wings and escape the tight confines of the Sparrowhawk’s lower hold. But he had been gone far longer than usual. Concern constricted her throat. Her limbs shivered from more than just the cold.
Come back to me.