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The King's Buccaneer
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The King's Buccaneer

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Author: Raymond E. Feist
Publisher: Doubleday, 1992
Series: Krondors Sons: Book 2

1. Prince of the Blood
2. The King's Buccaneer

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Heroic Fantasy
High Fantasy
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Synopsis

Long recovered from the ravages of the Riftwar, the land and people of the kingdom of the Isles thrive. Nicholas, the youngest son of Prince Arutha, is intelligent and gifted but vastly inexperienced. In hopes of hardening him, his father sends him and his irreverent squire, Harry, to live at Rustic Castle Crydee to learn of life beyond the halls of privilege.

But within weeks of Nicholas and Harry's arrival, Crydee is viciously attacked by unknown assailants, resulting in murder, massive destruction, and the abduction of two young noblewomen. The raiders have come from a pirate haven and are no ordinary foe ... but an enemy connected to dark magical forces that threaten the lands Nicholas will someday rule -- if he survives.


Excerpt

1

Decision

The lookout pointed.

"Boat dead ahead!"

Amos Trask, Admiral of the Prince's fleet of the Kingdom Navy, shouted, "What?"

The harbor pilot who stood beside the Admiral, guiding the Prince of Krondor's flagship, the Royal Dragon, toward the palace docks, shouted to his assistant at the bow, "Wave them off!"

The assistant pilot, a sour-looking young man, shouted back, "They fly the royal ensign!"

Amos Trask unceremoniously pushed past the pilot. Still a barrel-chested, bull-necked man at past sixty years of age, he hurried toward the bow with the sure step of a man who'd spent most of his life at sea. After sailing Prince Arutha's flagship in and out of Krondor for nearly twenty years, he could dock her blindfolded, but custom required the presence of the harbor pilot. Amos disliked turning over command of his ship to anyone, least of all an officious and not very personable member of the Royal Harbormaster's staff. Amos suspected that the second requirement for a position in that office was an objectionable personality. The first seemed to be marriage to one of the Harbormaster's numerous sisters or daughters.

Amos reached the bow and looked ahead. His dark eyes narrowed as he observed the scene unfolding below. As the ship glided toward the quay, a small sailing boat, no more than fifteen feet in length, attempted to dart into the opening ahead of it. Clumsily tied to the top of the mast was a pennant, a small version of the Prince of Krondor's naval ensign. Two young men frantically worked the sails and tiller, one attempting to hold as strong a line to the dock as possible while the other furled a jib. Both laughed at the impromptu race.

"Nicholas!" shouted Amos, as the boy lowering the jib waved at him. "You idiot! We're cutting your wind! Turn about!" The boy at the helm turned to look at Amos and threw him an impudent grin. "I should have known," said Amos to the assistant pilot. To the grinning boy, Amos shouted, "Harry! You lunatic!" Glancing back, seeing the last of the sails reefed, Amos observed, "We're coasting to the docks, we don't have room to turn if we wanted to, and we certainly can't stop."

All ships coming into Krondor dropped anchor in the middle of the harbor, waiting for longboats to tow them to the docks. Amos was the only man with rank enough to intimidate the harbor pilot into allowing him to drop sail at the proper moment and coast into the docks. He took pride in always reaching the proper place for the land lines to be thrown out and in having never crashed the docks or required a tow. He had coasted into his slip a hundred times in twenty years, but never before with a pair of insane boys playing games in front of the ship. Looking forward at the small boat, which was now slowing even more rapidly, Amos said, "Tell me, Lawrence, how does it feel to be the man on the bow when you drown the Prince of Krondor's youngest son?"

Color drained from the assistant pilot's face as he turned toward the small boat. In a high-pitched voice he began shrieking at the boys to get out of the way.

Turning his back on the scene below, Amos shook his head as he leaned back against the railing. He ran his hand over his nearly bald pate, the grey hair around it--once dark and curly--now tied back behind his head in a sailor's knot. After a moment attempting to ignore what they were doing, Amos gave in. He turned around, leaning forward and to the right so he could see past the bowsprit. Below, Nicholas was leaning into the oar, one leg braced firmly against the base of the mast, the oar firmly planted against the bow of the ship. He looked terrified. Amos could hear Nicholas shout, "Harry! You'd better turn to port!"

Amos nodded in silent agreement, for if Harry pulled hard to port, the small sailboat would swing wide of the lumbering ship, getting banged around, perhaps swamped, but at least the boys would be alive. If they drifted suddenly to starboard, the boat would quickly be ground between the ship's hull and the approaching pilings of the dock.

Lawrence, the assistant pilot, said, "The Prince is fending us off."

"Ha!" Amos shook his head. "Letting us push them into the dock, you mean." Cupping his hands around his mouth, Amos shouted, "Harry! Hard aport!"

The young squire only yelled a maniacal war whoop in answer as he struggled with the tiller, to keep the boat centered upon the ship's bow.

"Like balancing a ball on a sword point." Amos sighed. He could tell by the speed of the ship and its location that it was time to ready the lines. He turned his back on the boys once more.

From below came the sounds of Harry whooping and yelling in exultation as the fast-moving ship pushed the small boat along. Lawrence said, "The Prince is holding the boat in front. He's struggling, but he's doing it."

Amos called, "Ready bowlines! Ready stern lines!" Sailors near the bow and stern readied lines to throw to dockmen waiting below.

"Admiral!" said Lawrence in excited tones.

Amos closed his eyes. "I don't want to hear it."

"Admiral! They've lost control! They're veering to starboard!"

Amos said, "I said I didn't want to hear it." He turned toward the assistant pilot, who stood with a panic-stricken expression on his face as the sounds of the small boat being crushed between the ship and the dock grated on their ears. The cracking of wood and tearing of planks were accompanied by shouts from the men on the dock.

The assistant pilot said, "It wasn't my fault."

An unfriendly smile split Amos's silver and grey beard as he said, "I'll testify to that at your trial. Now order the lines, or you'll smash us against the wharf." Seeing the remark didn't register on the shocked man, Amos shouted, "Secure the bowlines!"

A second later the pilot called for the stern lines to be secured, and these were tossed to those waiting below. The ship had lost almost all its forward movement and, when the lines went taut, stopped altogether. Amos shouted, "Secure all lines! Run out the gangplank!"

Turning toward the dock, he peered down into the churning water between the ship and the dock. Seeing bubbles amid the floating wood, line, and sail, he yelled to the dock gang, "Lower a rope there to those two idiots swimming beneath the dock before they drown!"

By the time Amos was off the ship, the two wet youngsters had climbed up to the dock. Amos came to where they stood and regarded the soaked pair.

Nicholas, the youngest son of the Prince of Krondor, stood with his weight shifted slightly to the right. His left boot had a raised heel to compensate for the deformed foot he'd possessed since birth. Otherwise Nicholas was a well-made, slender boy of seventeen. He resembled his father, having angular features and dark hair, but he lacked Prince Arutha's intensity, though he rivaled him in quickness. He had his mother's quiet nature and gentle manner, which somehow made his eyes look different from his father's, though they were the same dark brown. At the moment he looked thoroughly embarrassed.

His companion was another matter. Henry, known to the court as Harry because his father, the Earl of Ludland, was also named Henry, grinned as if he hadn't been the butt of the joke. The same age as Nicholas, he was a half-head taller, had curly red hair and a ruddy face, and was considered handsome by most of the younger court ladies. He was a playful youngster who often let his adventuresome nature get the better of him, and from time to time his sense of fun took him beyond the limits of good judgment. Most of the time, Nicholas traveled beyond that border with him. Harry ran a hand through his wet hair and laughed.

"What's so funny?" asked Amos.

"Sorry about the boat, Admiral," answered the Squire, "but if you could have seen the assistant pilot's face . . ."

Amos frowned at the two youngsters, then couldn't hold in his own laughter. "I did. It was a sight to behold." He threw wide his arms and Nicholas gave him a rough hug.

"Glad you're back, Amos. Sorry you missed the Midsummer's Feast."

Pushing the Prince away with exaggerated distaste, Amos said, "Bah! You're all wet. Now I'm going to have to go change before I meet with your father."

The three began walking toward the wharf next to the palace. "What news?" asked Nicholas.

"Things are quiet. Trading ships from the Far Coast, Kesh, and Queg, and the usual traffic from the Free Cities. It's been a peaceful year."

Harry said, "We were hoping for some rousing tales of adventure." His tone was slightly mocking.

Amos playfully smacked him in the back of the head with the flat of his hand. "I'll give you adventure, you maniac. What did you think you were doing?"

Harry rubbed at the back of his head and attempted an aggrieved expression. "We had right-of-way."

"Right-of-way!" said Amos, halting in disbelief. "In the open harbor, perhaps, with ample room to turn, but 'right-of-way' doesn't halt a three-masted warship bearing down on you with no place to turn and no way to stop." He shook his head as he resumed walking toward the palace. "Right-of-way indeed." Looking at Nicholas, he said, "What were you doing out on the bay this time of day? I thought you had studies."

"Prelate Graham is in conference with Father," answered Nicholas. "So we went fishing."

"Catch anything?"

Harry grinned. "The biggest fish you've ever seen, Admiral."

"Now that it's back in the bay, it's the biggest, you mean," answered Amos with a laugh.

Nicholas said, "We ...

Copyright © 1992 by Raymond E. Feist


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