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  • Ice Claw
  • Written by David Gilman
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780440422402
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  • Ice Claw
  • Written by David Gilman
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375893780
  • Our Price: $9.99
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Ice Claw

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Written by David GilmanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Gilman

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List Price: $9.99

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On Sale: October 12, 2010
Pages: 448 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89378-0
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

High in the freezing French Pyrenees, Max Gordon's race to win an X-treme sports challenge has become a race to survive. He witnesses the last moments of a mysterious Basque monk, who screams a cryptic clue before plummeting to his death. The clue? A prophecy that foretells a cataclysmic ecological event that will kill millions of people across Europe. Max is desperate to find a solution, but instead he's accused of causing the monk's death, and the hunt is on to find him.

Excerpt

1

It was too beautiful a day to die.

Max Gordon gazed up at the mountaintops that scarred the crystal-clear sky. A whisper of mist soared up the valley beyond them, twisted briefly and escaped across the peaks. Flurries of snow scattered from the rocks like a flock of white butterflies disturbed from a meadow. But this was no gentle English summer landscape. Max was two thousand freezing meters high in unpredictable weather, and no one knew that he and his best friend, Sayid Khalif, were there.

A massive blanket of snow clung precariously to the rock face a hundred meters above him. One shudder from the breeze, a single tremor from the overladen trees, and a thousand tons of snow would avalanche down and crush him and his injured friend to death.

Fifty meters away Sayid lay twisted in pain and fear. Max had to reach him and get him off the mountainside. There wasn't much time. A sliver of the loosely packed snow crunched down, tumbling beyond Sayid.

"Don't move!" Max shouted, an arm extended towards the boy in warning as he trod carefully, using his upended snowboard to probe the snow.

Max's breath steamed from his exertion as he slumped to his knees next to Sayid. Using his teeth, he pulled off his ski glove and tenderly cradled his friend's leg.
Sayid cried out. His eyes scrunched up, then widened at the pain.

"Sorry, mate," Max said, keeping one eye on the threatening field of loose snow above them.

"It's broken," Sayid mumbled.

"Your leg's all right. Probably just a twisted ankle."

"You think so?"

"Yeah," Max lied. "Serves you right, going off-trail. The whole idea was to stay on safe slopes." He eased Sayid into a sitting position, straightened the crooked leg and wiped snow from the boy's face.

A stupid bet: Sayid on skis against Max on his snowboard--who'd get to the bottom first? But Sayid had veered off several hundred meters back and dipped into this dangerous cleft. It was a deceptive snowfield promising fast skiing, and Max's warnings had been ignored. When Sayid hit the fallen tree trunk lying just below the surface, he'd tumbled forwards for another ten meters. He was lucky he hadn't snapped his neck.

Max busied himself with the broken ski. Pulling the tie cord from Sayid's ski jacket, he strapped the good ski across the snapped piece, forming a cross.
"You making a splint?" Sayid said.

Max shook his head. "You don't deserve one, you idiot. This is your way out of here."

"Are you kidding? I'm in agony. I need a helicopter."

Max finished the binding. "You won't need anything if that slips off the mountain," he said, nodding towards the snowfield.

An ominous crunch reinforced his warning as a huge chunk of snow gave way. It growled down the far side of the slope, a frightening display of weight and power.
"Max! What do we do?"

"If we don't get out of here in a hurry, panic would be a good idea. We've gotta move, Sayid. Grab the crosspiece." Max clamped Sayid's hands onto the broken ski, which now served as a handlebar. "Sit on the good ski, hold on tight, and aim for down there."

Sayid scrambled for something in his pocket. "Wait. Hang on!" He pulled out a string of small black beads, spun them round his fist, kissed them and nodded nervously at Max. "OK. Go!" he said.

Sayid's fear for his life overcame the stabbing pain in his foot as Max shoved him away. Looking like a child on a tricycle whose feet had come off the pedals, Sayid sliced through the snow, the rush of wind carrying his yelps of fear back towards Max.

Max had just clamped his boots onto the snowboard when the mountainside fell. The scale of the huge block of snow mesmerized him. It dropped in slow motion, a fragment of time during which he knew he could not outrun anything that powerful or fast. A shudder came up through the ground. Max bent his knees, lunging away as the blurred power smashed the trees two hundred meters to his right. Swirling powder smothered him and the gust of wind from the avalanche pummeled his back. He threw his weight forward and curved away as fast as he could. The avalanche ran parallel to him for more than a hundred meters, growling destruction, like a frustrated carnivore hunting its prey.

A surge of adrenaline pumped through Max's veins. The lethal risk of riding the edge of this terrifying wave was forgotten as a wild excitement overtook him. He laughed out loud. Come on! Come on! I can beat you. I can win!

A boulder-sized chunk of snow broke loose from the main fall and careered towards him. A sudden reality check. Max arched his back, veered inside the block of snow and felt the swirling edge of the avalanche smother his knees. Don't fall! Not now!

And then it was suddenly over. The monster snowfall smashed only meters away from him onto compacted snow, rocks and the tree line.

Spraying crisp, white powder, Max turned the board side-on and stopped. Looking back, he saw that where he and Sayid had been only moments earlier was now unrecognizable.

The silence was almost as frightening as the short-lived roar of the avalanche. Sayid had skimmed beneath snow-laden branches and gone through to the other side. He was well out of harm's way. Max gulped the cold air. The voice inside his head was still laughing with victory, but Max was under no illusion. If that avalanche had veered his way, he'd have been buried alive and crushed to death.


From the Hardcover edition.
David Gilman

About David Gilman

David Gilman - Ice Claw

Photo © Charles Shearn

I had so many flights of fancy while I was growing up, I should have enough air miles for life.

Stop daydreaming! Concentrate! Words that still echo from my childhood. “Leave me alone– I like watching clouds,” I wanted to shout back. I began telling stories when I was very young, mostly to get myself out of trouble. I had an ability both to amuse and to get my own way. It was probably a serious character flaw, which insisted that I be the centre of attention while believing that I was so amusing and imaginative that no one could possibly think of punishing me for my misdeeds. It did not always work. It took many years to morph such whoppers into more serious attempts at storytelling.

But where is this mysterious place that stories come from? And why do writers want to share their stories? My early years were without television, so comics and radio were my first love. Exciting plays and drama serials–of all genres– created wonderful pictures in my mind. It was all edge-of-the-seat stuff. I think those very early cliffhanging stories threw me into wild imaginings. They were my escape, letting me experience other worlds. That’s what I want to create for my readers, to drag them right into the story and let them see the images and feel the emotions as they unfold.

But it took a long time to get there. I was impatient. My attention span was about five seconds on a good day, so sitting down in a chair for however long it took to write something was not for me. I wanted to experience life and I wanted it to be as rich and full and exciting as I could make it. The places I went and the things I did gave me a profound reality check, but all those experiences and stories were gathering momentum, and eventually their colliding energy could not be restrained. Quantum physics might be able to explain it, but I can’t.

So I was quite old when I eventually taught myself the craft of writing. It was difficult (and at times it still is) and, no matter how good I thought a story was, back then I did not have the skills to tell it on the page. I began writing plays and serials for radio, and that was my apprenticeship. I devoted every night and weekend to writing, and the work was getting broadcast. I wrote for every genre– crime, horror, supernatural, adventure, and comedy. Ideas never stopped bubbling, but finding the ones that had a resonance to carry the story through satisfactorily was the tricky bit. Then I learned another discipline– that of writing for television– which brought me, finally, to the big jump: writing a book.

I had to step into the harsh reality of the world when I was fourteen to help support my family, so I found in my young hero, Max Gordon, the spirit of adventure that I think lies within everyone, and because I had been scared on many occasions in my life, I tempered his resourcefulness with vulnerability and fear. This teenager has physical and emotional challenges to face, not least the exploration of a son’s love for his father–and that started his first adventure: The Devil’s Breath.

So how to bring words onto the page? There’s magic in the air if you look for it. Inspiration is a wonderful, firework-moment. Slack-jawed, eyes glazed, you stare into space as it flares in the darkness of your mind. But the Fourth of July comes around only once a year, so if you want to write, inspiration plays only a small part in the process. I read as much as I can– lots of different things that interest me.I research and I travel. But you don’t have to be a globetrotter to tell stories– there’s a treasure chest called imagination, and when you look inside there is everything you could ever want in this or any other universe.

Writing this has made me look back on my life. There are times I feel sorry for that floundering boy who didn’t know where he would end up in the world, who seized every chance to do something different and interesting. Did he learn anything? Not a lot, though he did it with a free spirit and the one thing his father taught him– never to give up– has been a constant companion. This is especially valuable if you want to become a writer. And for me the thrill of it all is undiminished. When every new writing adventure starts, excitement gnaws at me, like doing a parachute jump at night. It’s a roller-coaster ride in the slipstream, but you can’t see when you will hit the ground.

I’m sitting looking out of my window at the changing season. There’s a river and wild geese honking their way home. Clouds wrestle each other across the low hills.
And there is no teacher telling me to stop daydreaming.

Air miles.

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