Katy Rose Pool’s There Will Come a Darkness was one of the most critically-acclaimed young adult fantasies of 2019. The epic story of a prince, a killer, a leader, a gambler, and a dying girl in a world prophesied to die drew comparisons to Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes, but proved to be a story all its own.
The second book in the Age of Darkness series, As the Shadow Rises, is set to hit bookshelves September 1st of this year, and we have an exclusive first look at the cover as well as an excerpt featuring characters Anton and Jude. Before you dive in, here’s the official synopsis for the book:
The Last Prophet has been found, yet he sees destruction ahead.
In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed There Will Come a Darkness, kingdoms have begun to fall to a doomsday cult, the magical Graced are being persecuted, and an ancient power threatens to break free. But with the world hurtling toward its prophesized end, Anton’s haunting vision reveals the dangerous beginnings of a plan to stop the Age of Darkness.
As Jude, Keeper of the Order of the Last Light, returns home in disgrace, his quest to aid the Prophet is complicated by his growing feelings for Anton. Meanwhile, the assassin known as the Pale Hand will stop at nothing to find her undead sister before she dies for good, even if it means letting the world burn. And in Nazirah, Hassan, the kingdom-less Prince, forms a risky pact to try to regain his throne. When the forces of light and darkness collide in the City of Mercy, old wounds are reopened, new alliances are tested, and the end of the world begins.
Here is the gorgeous cover…
And here is our exclusive excerpt…
Anton sat up, gasping in the darkness. His sheets had been pushed off the bed, his neck and forehead damp with cold sweat. He raised a shaking hand to his face to wipe at a stray tear.
The images from his dream swam behind his eyes. The Nameless Woman, his grandmother…and the Hierophant. It had felt so real, like he’d really been in that room, watching the Witnesses torture that prisoner, his screams ringing around them.
Could it be real? Or had it been conjured from Anton’s own terror? He had never dreamed of the Hierophant in such visceral detail. Anton knew that was who the masked man was, though he’d never actually seen him before.
But it was impossible. It was a dream, nothing more. Just his mind churning through its worst fears.
He gazed out through his window at the black sky, cold dread pitting his stomach as he thought of what awaited him in the morning. More nightmares. More of the same. The thought of facing it again made him suddenly, impossibly weary, a kind of exhaustion that sleep could not soothe.
What was he even doing in Kerameikos? Subjecting himself to some test devised by people who didn’t care about him, only the visions in his head, the way his grandmother had, the way his brother had, the way the Hierophant had. It didn’t matter to them what Anton wanted, and it never would. And if their digging and prodding turned him mad, they wouldn’t care, either.
The thought came to him, sudden and inevitable—he could leave.
It would mean at least a week’s hike in either direction—Anton wasn’t sure exactly where in the Gallian Mountains they were, but he knew if he followed the river long enough, he’d hit a coast eventually. From there, he would figure the rest out. He always did. He would be alone, but he’d been alone his whole life. Why should now be any different?
It was supposed to be, a voice in the back of his mind whispered. This time, you were supposed to have someone to protect you.
He shoved the thought away viciously, climbing out of bed and throwing a few changes of clothes into one of the sheets, tying it up like a sack. He slipped outside, closing the door behind him as quietly as he could, and crept across the darkened courtyard toward the barrack’s storeroom. In the absence of the fort’s usual noise, the rush of the river sounded twice as loud.
The storeroom was unlocked, the door slightly ajar. Anton supposed that as isolated as they were here, they didn’t need to worry about petty thieves.
Once inside, Anton tapped on the incandescent light until it illuminated the cavernous storeroom. Starting down the first row of shelves, Anton began gathering his provisions, fingers skimming the shelves and plucking out whatever looked serviceable—a few root vegetables, a skin of water, a sack of grain. He turned the corner to the next row of shelves and peered at a row of unlabeled jars. He grabbed one at random, opening the lid to sniff at it carefully.
“Why is it,” a voice spoke from the darkness, “that whenever I can’t sleep, there you are.”
Anton jumped, fumbling and knocking a stack of crates into the nearby shelf. The jar broke open at his feet, spilling salt grains all over the floor.
Anton didn’t move to pick it up. Instead, he stared ahead, eyes adjusting to the dimness until he could see Jude half leaning against the shelf that ran along the storeroom’s back wall. His posture was crooked and slumped, like he was hurt.
“You dreaming about me, Jude?” Anton asked. This was, he realized, the first time they had been face-to-face since arriving at Kerameikos. Since the Tribunal had barred them from seeing each other.
Jude’s head lolled to the side, his gaze focused on Anton. “First the Hidden Spring,” he went on, as if he hadn’t heard him. “Then on the ship. Now here.”
An uncharacteristic bitterness suffused Jude’s words, and there was something else about his voice that sounded wrong. As Jude lifted a jug to his lips and took a long gulp, the whole image of him came together. The heavy slump of his shoulders. The unfocused gaze. The slur of his words.
Jude wasn’t hurt. He was drunk.
The impossibility of this simple fact rendered Anton speechless for a long moment. He recalled the disdain with which Jude had refused even the smallest cup of wine by the crew of the Black Cormorant in Pallas Athos. Before arriving in Kerameikos, Anton had assumed all the Paladin abstained—but it was just Jude. Until now, anyway.
In the silence that stretched between them, Jude raised the jug of wine, taking a long drink from it.
“All right,” Anton said, kneeling at Jude’s side and gently tugging the jug away from him. “I think that’s enough.”
Dealing with overindulgent patrons was something Anton had gotten a lot of practice at when he’d worked as a server at Thalassa Gardens. This wasn’t any different, really.
Jude let Anton drag the jug away from him, his eyes unfocused and bleary.
Anton set the jug down behind him. “Why don’t we get off the floor?”
Jude wiped at the corner of his mouth with his palm. “I am exactly where I belong.”
Anton swallowed and pushed himself to his feet. He stood there, considering Jude for a moment.
“What are you doing in here?” Jude asked, as if the question had just occurred to him.
“Nothing, Jude,” Anton said, hitching the sack up on his shoulder. “Go back to your room and go to sleep. You look terrible.”
Jude’s gaze caught on Anton’s sack of stolen goods and he lurched to his feet abruptly. He stood over Anton, his cheeks flushed from the wine and his eyes burning in the dim light. “You’re leaving! You—You can’t do that. You’re the Prophet.”
Anton set his jaw. “So?”
“This is where you belong,” Jude said sharply. He wasn’t slurring anymore.
“Says who?” Anton retorted, turning to leave.
Jude spun and took a wavering step toward him. His brows drew into a taut line. “Says…me. I say. I won’t let you do this.”
A sudden stroke of anger flared inside Anton, a spark of the resentment that had been kindling inside him since they reached Kerameikos. “Really? The drunk swordsman who can barely stand up straight is going to stop me?”
Jude flinched and then went rigid, steeling himself.
“You are the Prophet,” he said, raising his voice. “You are destined to fulfill the final prophecy and stop the Age of Darkness. I have spent my whole life praying for you, waiting for the day when the world would find its savior. Yet you turned out to be nothing but a coward.”
“At least I’m not hiding down here and drowning my problems in a bottle of wine,” Anton replied evenly. “You’re the one who’s so obsessed with your duty, Jude. You know none of that means anything to me, so why should I pretend that it does?”
Jude’s mouth twisted. “If the Prophets were still here, they would be laughing at us for ever pinning our hope on you.”
Anger grew bright in Anton’s chest and behind his teeth as he met Jude’s blazing eyes.
“Then find someone else,” he bit out. “Let me go, and find someone else to be a savior or whatever it is you think I am, because I never wanted any of this.”
“There is no one else!” Jude roared, backing Anton into the shelf. The scent of sweet wine hit his nose as Jude loomed over him. “You were the one who was meant to do this! From the moment you were born, from the moment the skies lit up for you, it was always going to be you. Don’t you get that?”
Jude’s eyes blazed like a storm. His hands gripped the front of Anton’s tunic, pinning him in place. Silence crackled between them.
“It’s hard, isn’t it?” Anton said, working to keep his voice from trembling, willing himself not to look away from the tempest in Jude’s eyes.
Jude swallowed thickly. “What is?”
“To believe in something so much, only to have it disappoint you.”
Jude made a low noise like he’d been struck. His hand fell away from Anton and he stepped back, stricken.
A wave of guilt swelled inside Anton. He forced it down, adjusting the strap on his shoulder and turning toward the door.
Jude’s voice sounded behind him, quiet and small. “They’re going to exile me.”
Anton froze. He felt suddenly cold, as if a draft had whisked into the storeroom. Exile?
In the hold of the ship Illya had imprisoned them on, Jude had been utterly defeated and without hope. That was how he looked now. Crushed. Back then, it was because Jude had thought he failed the Prophet. Failed Anton.
“How can they do that?” he asked. “After everything you did? After everything you sacrificed?”
“The oath of the Paladin is sacred,” Jude replied. “And I tarnished it.”
“But you found the Prophet,” Anton argued. “They can’t just deny—” He stopped. They could deny it. Because Anton hadn’t proven himself. And without that proof, Jude’s sacrifice meant nothing. Without that proof, he had failed in their eyes.
“The Tribunal will deliberate tomorrow, but my heart already knows what the outcome will be,” Jude said, bowing his head. “I will accept the punishment for my mistakes.”
Mistakes. Those mistakes had put Jude in Anton’s path. Those mistakes had led to Nazirah. To the top of the tower, to the bottom of the sea. To Anton finally facing the vision that had haunted him almost his entire life.
And now they meant Jude would lose the one thing that meant anything to him.
“Come with me,” Anton said suddenly, the words tumbling from his mouth before he could consider them. He took a step toward him, suddenly overcome with this foolish, reckless possibility. “Jude—come with me. Leave before they can make you.”
But when Jude raised his eyes, Anton saw the hollow resignation in them.
Keeper or not, Jude would stay. He would accept whatever the Order decided because nothing was more important to him than his duty.
Not even the Last Prophet.
As the Shadow Rises is now available for pre-order. It is slated to be released on September 1st, 2020.