This third and final exciting volume of The Sun Song Trilogy finds Sorlie and Ishbel working together in one last attempt to save Esperaneo. As The Prince’s health deteriorates he hands over leadership of the Star of Hope’s mission to Sorlie and Ishbel. But what is the Star of Hope?
All they know is that it will free the native race from slavery. On mainland Esperaneo Major, Ishbel travels north through a hostile artic forest while Sorlie, Reinya and Dawdle head for the southern dry lands. On the way both parties battle extreme weather and betrayal, but it is only when the two missions meet that the frightening truth of their world is revealed.
And one final betrayal decides the fate of the mission and their fight for freedom. The Sun Song trilogy explores life in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Britain where society’s norms have broken down and life has to be lived differently.
We rounded the bend in the river and sure enough there was the rampart, but before that, across the river, a barricade had been built. A higgledy-piggledy conglomeration of plastic chairs, duckboards and boxes. On top of the barricade, beside a fluttering flag, stood a tousle-haired girl of about twelve years old with two younger kids on either side like gateposts. The two youngsters held bats.
‘Baseball bats,’ Dawdle informed us. ‘The kind made fae reclaimed plastic. Tough, smooth and very, very hard.’ The flag was white with a yellow circle crudely painted on its centre.
‘What the snaf?’ I said.
‘Thur just kids,’ Reinya snapped.
‘Yeah,’ Dawdle said, quickly stowing his bag in the provisions box below his seat. ‘But we dinnae ken what’s behind them.
‘Maybe thur orphans.’ Reinya’s face was soft and I guessed she was thinking about Kooki.
‘Who cares?’ Dawdle reached down into the water and pulled the remnant of the net into the boat.
‘Oi,’ the girl said with a booming voice that belonged to someone much older. She pointed to the net. ‘That property Sun Court.’ The way she said it gave the words upper case status.
‘Ah dinnae gie a snaf who it belongs tae,’ Dawdle shouted. ‘Let us through.’
‘What’s Sun Court?’ I asked.
‘We Sun Court.’ The girl said, spreading her arms and twirling in a circle.
‘Oh no. Look,’ Reinya said pointing right and left to the escarpment. The skyline began to blot out as ragged children appeared. Hundreds of them aged between about four and twelve years of age. Each carried a crude weapon. Catapults, slings and more of those plastic bats.
‘Jupe sake,’ I said.
‘Who’s boss?’ Reinya shouted to the girl.
‘I boss,’ the girl answered and her little bodyguards nodded in agreement.
‘Who cares? Let us past.’ Dawdle’s face pulsed with boiled blood. He was beeling.
‘No! Ransom,’ the girl said rubbing her fingers together to denote the need for credit.
‘We don’t have anything to give you,’ I said in the most reasoned voice I could muster.
‘Liars,’ said she of few words.
Dawdle looked at the bags under our seats that contained all the goods we had to last the journey.
‘We’ve nuthin tae give,’ he said. The girl narrowed her eyes at Dawdle. The kids on the ridge stretched their slings. ‘Look, if ye let us past we won’t tell anybudy yer here.’
Reinya sniffed. ‘Yeah and that’ll work. Look at thum, they don’t care.’
‘You’re little kids, should be in a reservation,’ I said. ‘We can help you. We know a good one where you’ll be safe.’
‘What’s wrong wi you two?’ Reinya started. The girl moved down the barricade, held her hand up.
‘No look…’ Dawdle said holding up his hand in peace. The girl dropped her left arm and a rain of pebbles fell on us from the left flank. I cowered and held my arms over my head, but a rock the size of a builder’s fist bounced off my shoulder and a searing pain shot through my wounded arm. I could hear Reinya yelp as she was being pepper-dashed by chuckies.
The girl held up her right arm. ‘This side – boulders, rocks. Give us ransom.’
‘Just give them the bloody stuff, Dawdle. You’ll be able to get more,’ I said wiping blood from my hand. Dawdle stood up in the canoe, setting it rocking.
‘Ah’m Noiri, nae kid’s stealing fae me.’
The girl began to let her arm fall.
‘Stop!’ Reinya shouted. And miraculously she did. ‘Dawdle, we won’t tell. Just give thum the stuff.’ His shoulders slumped. ‘We’ve no choice,’ she said.
‘OK.’ He turned to the girl who still had her arm ready to fall. ‘You win, hen,’ Dawdle said through gritted teeth. ‘How bouts we gie ye half?’
The girl jumped onto the boat, rocking it violently.
‘All,’ she said.
The throb on Dawdle’s neck bounced in jig time as he handed over the supplies. ‘Know what, wee hen, ye’ll come a cropper wan day.’
She spat in his face. ‘Animal.’
I am a Scot with Irish roots. Although born in the Scottish Borders I was brought up in a small Fife mining village. I resigned from a finance role in Shell Oil in 2005 to concentrate on writing. I am a very youthful granny to three lovely children. In my spare time I garden, play guitar and whistle and try to get out on the hills when I can but find since compleating my Munros in 2006 other things take priority. I live in Stirling with my husband Colin.