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I love this book and the whole series

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An ancient sword. A dark secret. A new enemy.

Tom loves his new life in the Otherworld. He lives with Arthur in New Camelot, and Arthur is hosting a tournament. Eager to test his sword-fighting skills, Tom’s competing.

But while the games are being played, his friends are attacked and everything he loves is threatened. Tom has to find the intruder before anyone else gets hurt.

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Excerpt –

1  The White Wolves of Inglewood

Deep in the tangled centre of Inglewood, Tom eased his horse to a stop. In the silence that followed he listened for movement – the crack of a branch, the rustle of leaves, the skitter of footfall. Thick mist oozed around him, muffling sight and sound, and he admitted to himself he’d lost the hunt.

And now something was following him.

Tom heard the low throaty growl of the wolf moments before it leapt at him. He pulled Galatine free of its scabbard and lashed out, knowing he had only seconds before the wolf ripped his throat out. He felt its hot breath and thick matted fur, saw a flash of its wild yellow eyes, before feeling the sword cut deep into its side. It fell back into the trees, yelping.

Midnight bolted, and Tom grabbed the reins and held on, trying to calm her down. As they pounded through the wood, a branch whipped across his chest, knocking him to the ground. Midnight disappeared into the mist. Winded, Tom lay on the damp forest floor, wincing as he felt his ribs aching. He hoped Midnight hadn’t gone far. Enisled was a long walk away.

He rolled to his feet and immediately froze as he again heard the low cunning rumble of the wolf, followed by a spine-tingling howl, repeated again and again as the pack arrived.

He was surrounded.

Pale yellow eyes glimmered through the mist. As the wolves crept closer, their white fur and sharp snouts inched into view, until Tom could see the whole length of their low crouching forms ready to spring at him. Now he hoped Midnight was a long way away. They would rip her to shreds, and him too if he didn’t do something.

He couldn’t possibly fight them all off. The nearest tree was only a few paces away. He inched backwards until he felt the rough bark pressing into his back, and then turned and scrambled upwards, grasping at small holes and irregularities in the trunk until he reached the first branch. He heard the wolves snapping and jumping for his feet, and swung himself up, higher and higher. By the time he reached a fork he could comfortably wedge himself into, his hands were scratched and bleeding, and sweat trickled down his neck.

Gripping a branch, Tom peered down. These wolves were lean, strong, and battle-scarred, and they gazed up at him with avid hunger, settling back on their haunches, preparing to wait him out. How long could he stay here? Already the chill mist was reaching into his bones.

If he could take out a couple, the rest might flee. From his precarious position, he pulled his bow round in front of him and aimed for the largest wolf in the centre of the pack. The arrow fell short. He knew he should have paid better attention to his lessons. He aimed again. This time the arrow streamed through the air, heading straight for the wolf … then it veered off, missing it completely.

A cloaked, deeply-hooded figure emerged from the mist and raised an arm towards Tom. Not knowing if the person was threatening him or protecting the wolves, Tom lifted his bow, preparing to fire. He felt a sharp tug at his waist and looked down to see Galatine moving, struggling out of its scabbard. His hand flew to the hilt and he gripped it tightly, securing it under his jacket and cloak. The figure continued to point and Galatine continued to wiggle, and Tom quickly took aim and fired at his unknown attacker who, with a quick flick of the hand, turned the arrow. It thudded into the nearest tree.

Tom was preparing to shoot again when he heard the sound of horses approaching, and voices shouting his name. The figure turned and ran, and the wolves fled too, disappearing into the trees.

Woodsmoke, Arthur, Merlin and Rek cantered into view. Tom smiled when he saw them, feeling relieved. They were all close friends now, particularly Woodsmoke and Arthur. Woodsmoke had been the first fey Tom had met, and was now a brother as much as a friend. And of course Arthur, who had been King Arthur, sitting astride his horse, looking fully in command. Tom’s relationship with him changed constantly. Sometimes Arthur was a friend, sometimes a father figure, sometimes reckless, sometimes protective.

Orlas and Rek were in their stag form, the two shape-shifting fey standing as high as the horses. The pair had been a great help when it came to finding Merlin.

And of course there was Merlin himself, whom Tom could never categorise. Old, wise and powerful, he was completely changeable, his whims and fancies unpredictable. But a good friend regardless. Merlin had also shape-shifted into a stag, one of the wizard’s favourite animals.

Tom shouted down, “I’m up here!”

As they halted and looked up, the stags changed into human form, Rek and Orlas’s skin dappled in browns and creams, like deer markings.

“What you doing up there, Tom?” Rek called.

“Escaping from wolves,” Tom shouted to the old grey-haired Cervini, as he climbed down to join them.

“I thought maybe you were trying to turn into a bird?” Merlin said, raising his eyebrows.

Tom landed with a thump. “Funny, Merlin.”

“We’ve been following your trail,” Woodsmoke said, sliding off his horse. He looked the same age as Tom, but was in fact several hundred years older. “We saw the wolves’ footprints. Are you all right?”

“I’m fine, but Midnight has bolted. She headed that way,” he said, pointing into the trees. “But someone is out there, with the wolves.”

“What do you mean, someone?” Arthur asked, immediately on his guard. He scanned the surrounding area.

“I don’t know who – I couldn’t see their face, but they had magical powers, because they could deflect my arrows. And I think they were trying to steal my sword, sort of summon it with magic.”

“Show us where,” Arthur said.

Tom led them to the spot where the figure had stood. “Here. As soon as you arrived, they disappeared.”

Woodsmoke examined the ground. “Strange. I can’t see any tracks, not even the wolves’. I can’t smell anything, either.”

Orlas agreed. “Nor I. But here’s your arrow.” The Cervinis’ leader was tall and muscular, with long dark hair. He plucked the arrow from the tree and handed it back to Tom.

“I wonder who wants to hide their tracks,” Merlin said, deep in thought.

Arthur shook his head. “Well there’s not much we can do about it now. At least you’re not hurt, Tom.”

Tom grinned. “No, I’m fine. Sorry I lost you,” he said referring to the hunt. “I thought I was behind you, and then I hit a thick patch of mist and the next thing, you were gone. Did you find the boar?”

“We found some boars, and killed a few, but didn’t find the boar,” said Arthur. “For such a huge beast, the damn thing is able to disappear pretty quickly.”

Arthur had organised the hunt for the Black Boar of Inglewood, as they had named it. The forest began a few miles beyond Enisled, in a deep valley on the edge of the moors. It was dark and damp, and prone to pooling mists that hung around for days. However, it was full of wild deer, pheasants, and boar (and wolves, unfortunately) and had become Arthur’s favourite hunting ground. Since moving in to Ceridwen’s old castle at Enisled, he’d established some of his old routines, one of which was hunting. Slaying the Black Boar was becoming an obsession. The animal had first appeared a few weeks ago, its size making it an obvious target. But it was quick. Tom half wondered if it was enchanted.

“Anyway,” continued Arthur, “the rest of the group have taken back the spoils, and we came looking for you.” He held his hand out to Tom and pulled him up to sit behind him on his horse, Cafal. “Come on. We’ll help you find Midnight.”

They found the horse’s trail, and eventually spotted her grazing a few miles on from where Tom had fallen.

A few hours later they crested a low rise, and Enisled’s castle appeared in the distance. It was early evening and lights shone from the towers, the rest of the building melting into the twilight.

The castle looked very different to when they had first seen it. Then it had been sealed up, access forbidden by Herne, due to the life-giving Ceridwen’s Cauldron inside. Tom and the others had been allowed to enter because Herne wanted Merlin to be resurrected.

Now that the cauldron had been destroyed by the sylphs, there was no further need for the castle to be sealed.

Up ahead, Orlas stopped to look at the view, changing to human form. “I still can’t believe how different this looks, Arthur,” he said, when the others drew level. “It was in a pitiful state when you bought it from me. And look at it now!”

Arthur laughed. “I have Merlin to thank for some of that. And of course the Cervini and my new employees.”

“Are you really going to call it New Camelot?” Tom asked.

“Why not? I loved Camelot; it seems appropriate.” Arthur seemed slightly put out that Tom should question his decision.

Merlin agreed. “It feels like home.”

“But it’s not very original!” Tom said.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” Arthur said, gazing fondly at the castle and ignoring Tom’s protests.

“Very,” Woodsmoke said, rolling his eyes. He was used to Arthur extolling the virtues of his castle. “You stay and admire it, I’m heading back.” He spurred Farlight on, racing across the moor, quickly followed by Rek and Orlas.

As if reminding him of the late hour, Tom’s stomach rumbled. “Come on, Arthur, you’re the host. No-one eats until you do. Get a move on!” And he raced away, leaving Arthur and Merlin to catch up.

As Tom strode through the door into his large second-floor bedroom, Beansprout flew from the seat in front of the fire and launched herself at him, hugging him fiercely. With the wind knocked out of him it took him a few seconds to speak.

“Beansprout!” he eventually spluttered. “Are you trying to kill me?”

“I’m just saying hello, Tom! It’s been so long.” She stepped back to look at him. “You’ve grown! And look at those shoulders! You’ve got all muscular, Tom.”

“It’s all the fighting practice Arthur and Woodsmoke make me do!” he said, feeling secretly flattered. “And it hasn’t been that long – only a few months.”

She smiled, and Tom couldn’t help smiling back. Beansprout was his cousin, always happy and positive about everything, and she looked particularly relaxed at the moment. Her pale red hair was tied in a loose plait, and she wore a long vivid-green dress.

He gestured vaguely. “I think magic is suiting you, you look all smiley.”

“It does suit me! Nimue says I’m a natural.” Nimue was the priestess of Avalon who had now become the Dragon Sorcerer of Dragon’s Hollow. She had replaced Raghnall, who’d been killed by Arthur and Woodsmoke after he tried to trap them in his weapons room. Without Nimue’s protection spell, Dragon’s Hollow would be a ruin inhabited only by dragons.

“Show us some magic, then,” Tom said, curious to see what Beansprout could do.

“It’s not a parlour trick, Tom,” she said indignantly. And then she winked. “Maybe later.”

“So Nimue was happy to let you leave?” Tom dropped his cloak on to the floor, before sinking into a chair and pulling off his boots.

“Not really. She said it’s too soon, and I should have a full year of practice before leaving, just to learn the basics. But I drove her mad asking, and in the end she said yes. I promised I wouldn’t be long, but I had to come for the tournament.” She grinned at her small victory, and sat in the chair opposite him.

Arthur had decided to hold a tournament in which his new friends and the local fey would compete in sword fighting, archery, knife throwing, wrestling, and horsemanship. So many wanted to take part or spectate that it had turned into a much bigger event than originally planned, and was now being held over three days. Arthur had asked friends to adjudicate, as well as compete. The competition would begin in two days’ time in the castle grounds.

“By the way, Nimue says hello.” Beansprout wrinkled her nose. “Tom, you stink.”

“I’ve been hunting all day – I was nearly eaten by wolves! Of course I stink! How is Nimue?” Tom tried to sound offhand. Nimue was probably the prettiest, cleverest woman he’d ever met, and her green eyes haunted him.

“She’s amazing, of course. She teaches me so much! One day maybe I’ll know half of what she does.” Beansprout leaned back with a sigh. And then she added, as offhand as Tom had been, “And how’s Woodsmoke?”

“Woodsmoke’s … you know, like Woodsmoke. All Zen, except when Arthur goes a bit control-ish.” He frowned. “Did you travel on your own?”

“No! Granddad and Fahey are here too. You’ve got a terrible memory, Tom.”

“Oh, yeah,” Tom said, as comprehension slowly dawned. “So they made it to Dragon’s Hollow, then?”

“And loved it! They loved Nimue too.” She smirked. “I think it’s because she just let them get on with things. Unlike Fahey’s sister …”

Tom looked puzzled. “Fahey’s sister? Who’s that?”

“Driselda. Apparently she’s been living with another sister for years, but they had an argument and she arrived just after you left with Woodsmoke, with her two daughters and three sons. I think. If I’m honest, I lost track,” she said, looking sheepish. “In the space of one week she succeeded in turning their routine upside down.” She giggled. “It sounds quite funny really.”

Tom laughed. “I bet they didn’t think so. So they’ve moved out?”

“Sort of. It coincided with their trip, but I think they’re going to see how much they like living here.”

Tom looked surprised. “Here? Jack and Fahey might move in?”

“Why, will they cramp your style, Tom?” Beansprout asked with silky sarcasm.

“No! Yes, maybe.” At least the castle had lots of room. As much as he loved his grandfather, he wasn’t sure he wanted to live with him all the time.

“Arthur wouldn’t mind, surely. He has to put up with you,” she said, grinning.

“Funny.” And then he had a thought. “I presume you didn’t encounter any dragons on the way?”

“No! Nimue has things well under control. You should come and visit – I’ll be heading straight back after the tournament.”

“Maybe, but I feel like I’ve only just got here.” He was enjoying living in the Other and didn’t want to go home, but every now and again he wondered what on earth he was doing, and now he just wanted to stay at Arthur’s for a while.

“Anyway, Tom, I’m starving and you stink, remember? Get in that bath or no-one will speak to you all night.”