In this powerful beginning to a complex family saga, 15-year-old Quin Kincaid, her biracial cousin Shinobu MacBain, and their friend John Hart train on the Kincaid family’s Scottish estate to become Seekers, warriors who slip through space and time. Historically, Seekers used their powers and weapons—chameleon whipswords and nightmarish, sanity-stripping disruptors—to right wrongs. When Quin and Shinobu venture on their first mission, they find they’re destined to be assassins for Quin’s brutal, manipulative father. The novel’s appeal lies less in the slightly futuristic, slightly alternate-history setting, than in the way the nascent Seekers cope with betrayal: Quin and Shinobu flee to Hong Kong, where Quin chooses a path of therapeutic amnesia, and Shinobu plunges into drug use and dangerous salvage diving. Meanwhile, John risks becoming what he most despises as he seeks revenge and possession of his family’s “athame,” the tool that allows Seekers to cut through the fabric of reality. Worldbuilding can be sketchy, but Dayton (Resurrection) excels at creating memorable characters, among them Maud, the “Young Dread,” an ageless child whose mysterious clan is linked to the Seekers. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Feb.)
“This book will not disappoint.” —USAToday.com
“Fans of Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Marie Lu’s Legend, and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games series: your next obsession has arrived.” —SLJ
A genre-bending sci-fi/fantasy about a group of teens who are trained to kill and marked to die.
The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.
As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world. And she’ll be with the boy she loves—who’s also her best friend.
But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes. Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought. And now it’s too late to walk away.
More praise for Seeker, book one in the Seeker series:
“[A] genre-blending sci-fi, fantasy…[with] action-packed scenes.”—Booklist
“In this powerful beginning to a complex family saga . . . Dayton excels at creating memorable characters.”—Publishers Weekly
“Secrets, danger, and romance meet in this unforgettable epic fantasy.” —Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures and author of Unbreakable
“A tightly woven, action-packed story of survival and adventure, Seeker is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones.” —Tahereh Mafi, author of the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series
Katniss and Tris would approve.”—TeenVogue.com
"This book will not disappoint."-USAToday.com
"Fans of Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Marie Lu’s Legend, and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games series: your next obsession has arrived."-School Library Journal
"In this powerful beginning to a complex family saga...Dayton excels at creating memorable characters."-Publishers Weekly
“[A] genre-blending sci-fi, fantasy…[with] action-packed scenes.”—Booklist
"Secrets, danger, and romance meet in this unforgettable epic fantasy." —Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures & author of Unbreakable
"A tightly-woven, action-packed story of survivial and adventure, Seeker is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones." —Tahereh Mafi, author of the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series
Gr 8 Up—A life of honor, using her training for the good of humankind—that's what Quin Kincaid has been promised. Under the watchful eye of her father she has learned to use the tools of the Seeker: the "whipsword" with its deadly ability to assume the form of any weapon, and the "athame," a stone dagger that can slice through the threads of time, space, and matter, transporting the user to almost any destination. But upon taking her oath, she finds that her father's idea of the honorable work of a Seeker leads her to commit terrible acts. When a fiery siege is launched on their compound, Quin takes the opportunity to escape. Now she and her training partners, John and Shinobu, must come to terms with the dark deeds of their past, reclaim the honor of their families, and determine the true and proper duties of a Seeker. This novel combines all of the modern components for a successful young adult novel: a heroine with a perfect mix of innocence and lethal force; a society that, while not quite dystopian, needs saving; a love interest who is dangerous and forbidden; and the promise of sequels-to-come. Dayton has created a complex and intriguing set of characters here. Fans of Veronica Roth's "Divergent" (HarperCollins), Marie Lu's "Legend" (Putnam), and Suzanne Collins's "The Hunger Games" (Scholastic) series: your next obsession has arrived.—Sara Saxton, Wasilla Public Library, Wasilla, AK
Read an Excerpt
It would be nice to make it through alive, Quin thought. She ducked to the right as her opponent’s sword came whistling past the left side of her body, nearly slicing off her arm. Quin’s own whipsword was in her hand in its whip form. With a crack, she flicked it out, and it solidified into a long sword. It’d be a shame if he split my head open now. I’m so close to success. The enormous man she was fighting looked delighted at the thought of killing her.
The sunlight was in Quin’s eyes, but on reflex she raised her weapon over her head and stopped her opponent’s next strike before it cut her skull in two. The force of his blow against her sword was like a tree trunk falling upon her, and her legs buckled.
“Got you, haven’t I?” her adversary roared. Alistair MacBain was the biggest man she knew. He stood over her, his red hair glowing like an evil Scottish halo in the dusty sunbeams coming through the skylight. He was also her uncle, but that didn’t mean anything at the moment.
Quin scuttled backward. Alistair’s huge arm swung his oversized weapon as if it were no more than a conductor’s baton. He really intends to kill me, she realized.
Her eyes swept the room. John and Shinobu were staring at her from where they sat on the barn floor, both clutching their whipswords like life preservers but neither able to help. This was her fight.
“Useless, aren’t they?” her uncle commented.
Quin got a knee beneath herself and saw Alistair’s wrist flick, changing his enormous whipsword from the long, slender form he’d been using to a thick and deadly claymorethe preferred sword for a Scotsman about to strike a death blow. The dark material of his weapon slid back upon itself like oil, then solidified. He raised it above his head and drove it straight down at her skull. Quin wondered how many of her ancestors had been turned to mincemeat by swords shaped like this one.
I am thinking, and it’s going to get me killed, she told herself.
Seekers did not think when they fought. And unless Quin stopped her mental chatter, Alistair was going to spill her brains all over the clean straw on the barn floor. Which I just swept, she thought. And then: For God’s sake, Quin, stop it!
Just as she would tense the muscles of her hand to form a fist, Quin focused her mind. At once, things became quiet.
Alistair’s claymore was hurtling through the air toward her head. His eyes looked down on her as his arms swung the sword, his feet slightly apart, one in front of the other. Quin saw a tiny shake in his left leg, as if he were off balance just a bit. It was enough. He was vulnerable.
In the moment before Alistair’s sword should have crashed through her forehead, Quin ducked, pivoted toward him. Her wrist was already twisting, commanding her whipsword into a new shape. It melted into itself, becoming an oily black liquid for a split second, then solidifying into a thick dagger. Her uncle’s claymore missed her and made a heavy impact with the barn floor behind her. At the same moment, Quin launched forward, burying her weapon in Alistair’s left calf.
“Ahh!” the big man screamed. “You’ve got me!”
“I have, Uncle, haven’t I?” She felt a smile of satisfaction pulling at her lips.
Instead of cutting flesh from bone, Quin’s whipsword puddled into itself as it touched Alistair’s fleshit, like Alistair’s sword, was set for a training session and would not actually harm its opponent. But if this had been a real fightand it had certainly felt realAlistair would have been disabled.
“Match!” Quin’s father, Briac Kincaid, called from across the room, signaling the end of the fight.
She heard cheers from John and Shinobu. Quin pulled her weapon away from Alistair’s leg, and it re-formed into its dagger shape. Alistair’s own blade was stuck six inches into the hard-packed barn floor. He flicked his wrist, collapsing the whipsword, which snaked out of the ground and back into a coil in his hand.
They’d been fighting in the center of the huge training barn, whose old stone walls rose around the dirt floor with its covering of straw. Sunlight streamed through four large skylights in the stone roof, and a breeze came in the open barn doors, through which a wide meadow was visible.
Quin’s father, their primary instructor, stepped to the center of the floor, and Quin realized her fight with Alistair had been only a warm-up. The whipsword Briac was carrying in his right hand was a child’s toy compared to the weapon he wore strapped across his chest. It was called a disruptor. Forged of an iridescent metal, it resembled the barrel of an enormous gun, almost like a small cannon. Quin kept her gaze locked upon it, watching the metal flash as Briac moved through a patch of sunlight.
She glanced at Shinobu and John. They seemed to understand what she was thinking: Brace yourselves. I have no idea what’s happening now.
“It is time,” her uncle Alistair said, addressing the three apprentices. “You’re old enough. Some of you”here he looked at John“are older than you should be.”
John was sixteen, a year older than Quin and Shinobu. He should have taken his oath already, by the normal schedule, but he had started his training latehe’d been twelve, while Quin and Shinobu had started at eight. This was a source of ongoing frustration to him, and his cheeks reddened at Alistair’s comment, an effect quite noticeable on his fair skin. John was handsome, with a finely carved face, blue eyes, and brown hair tinted gold from the summer sun. He was strong and quick, and Quin had been in love with him for some time. He flicked his gaze to her and mouthed silently: Are you all right? She nodded.
“Today you must prove yourselves,” Alistair continued. “Are you Seekers? Or are you poxy lumps of horse dung we’ll have to shovel up off the floor?”
Shinobu raised his hand, and Quin suspected he was going to say, It happens I am a poxy lump of horse dung, sir. . . .
“This is no joke, Son,” Alistair said, cutting Shinobu off before his quips could begin.
Shinobu was Quin’s cousin, the son of the giant red-haired man who had just attempted to decapitate her. Shinobu’s mother had been Japanese, and his face had taken the best features from the East and the West and combined them into something nearly perfect. He had straight, dark red hair and a wiry body that was already taller than that of the average Japanese male. He turned his eyes to the floor, as if to apologize for making light of the moment.
“For you and Quin, this may be your final practice fight,” Alistair explained to Shinobu. “And for you, John, your chance to prove you still belong here. Do you understand?”
They all nodded. John’s eyes, however, were fixed on the disruptor strapped across Briac’s upper body. Quin knew what he was thinking: Unfair. And it was unfair. John was the best fighter of the three of them . . . except when there was a disruptor involved.
“Does this bother you, John?” Briac asked, slapping the strange weapon on his chest. “Does it hurt your focus? It’s not even on yet. What will happen when it is?”
John wisely did not answer.
“Take your weapons out of practice mode,” Alistair ordered.
Quin looked down at the grip of her whipsword. At the end of the hilt was a tiny slot. Reaching into a pocket in the old leather of her right boot, she drew out a small object like a flattened cylinder, made of the same oily black material as her sword. She slid this into the slot on the handgrip, her fingers automatically adjusting the tiny dials on the attachment. As the last dial moved into place, the whipsword in her hand gave off a delicate vibration, and immediately it felt different, as if it were ready to do what it was made to do.
She grabbed the tip with her left hand and watched it melt and puddle around her skin. Even “live” it would not harm her flesh. But everyone else’s flesh was now fair game.
Quin’s heartbeat was speeding up as she watched her father and Alistair taking their own whipswords out of practice mode. A “live” fight was no easy task. But if she did well, she was minutes away from her father’s approval, from joining her ancestors in the noble duties of a Seeker. Since early childhood, she’d been listening to Alistair’s stories of Seekers using their skill to alter the world for the better. And since the age of eight, she’d been training to develop those skills. If she succeeded now, she would finally be one of them.
John and Shinobu had finished adjusting their own whipswords, and the barn was now filled with a different sort of energy, a sense of deadly anticipation. Quin’s eyes met John’s, and she gave him a look that said, We can do this. He nodded subtly back to her. Be ready, John, she thought. We’ll do this together, and we’ll be together. . . .
A high-pitched noise cut through the barn, so piercing that Quin wondered for a moment if it was only in her head. The look on John’s face was enough to tell her different. The strange cannon-like gun her father wore, the disruptor, had come to life. The base of it covered her father’s whole chest and had to be held in place with straps over his shoulders and around his back. The barrel was ten inches wide, and instead of a single hole, there were hundreds of tiny openings in the iridescent metal. These openings were randomly placed and of different sizes, and somehow this made it look worse. As the disruptor came fully alive, the high-pitched whine faded, replaced by a crackle of electricity in the air around the weapon.
Shinobu shook his head like he was trying to get the sound out of his ears. “Isn’t that toy a bit dangerous with so many of us fighting?” he asked.
“If you fail in this fight, you are very likely to be injured,” Alistair said, “or even . . . disrupted. Anything is fair today. Take a moment to understand this.”
The three apprentices had seen the disruptor fired before, had even practiced avoiding it in one-on-one drill sessions, but they had never seen it used in a live fight. The disruptor was made to instill fear, and it was working. Our purpose is worthy, Quin repeated to herself. I will not be afraid. Our purpose is worthy; I will not be afraid. . . .
With his whipsword, Alistair hooked something floating in a metal trough at one side of the barn. The object was a heavy iron circle, about six inches across, covered in thick canvas and soaked in pitch. He sent it flying up into the air.
As the iron circle arced high above him, Alistair lit a match. The disc fell toward him, and he caught it again with his whipsword. He touched the match to it, and the three apprentices watched as it burst into flames. Alistair twirled the disc around his sword, an evil glint in his eye.
“Five minutes,” he said, looking up at the clock high on the wall. “Let no flames spread, keep yourselves alive and sane, have the disc in your possession at the end.”
The apprentices glanced around the barn. There were bales of hay against the walls, loose hay across the floor, racks of old wood holding fighting equipment, climbing ropes hanging down from the ceiling, not to mention the barn itself, with its wooden beams and rafters supporting the stone walls. In short, they would be tossing around the burning disc in a room full of kindling.
“No flames!” Shinobu muttered. “We’ll be lucky if we don’t burn the place to the ground.”
“We can do it,” Quin and John both whispered at the same time. A quick smile passed between them, and she could feel John’s arm pressing against her own, warm and strong.
Alistair tossed the disc high up into the rafters.
“Prove yourselves!” Briac roared, cracking out his own whipsword. Then he and Alistair ran toward the apprentices with their weapons raised.
“I’ve got it!” yelled Shinobu, leaping out of Alistair’s way and running for the center of the barn, where the disc was now spinning down toward the hay covering the floor.
Quin saw Briac heading straight for John. Flicking his whipsword into the shape of a scimitar, Briac swung it in a wide arc aimed to slice John in half. She watched John’s whipsword flash out to block, and then Alistair was upon her.
“I have it!” yelled Shinobu as he landed the burning disc on his whipsword. It slid down toward his hand, the flames burning his fingers, and he had to spin it back up to the tip of his sword.
Alistair slashed at Quin, and she moved to one side, changing her sword into a shorter blade and striking at his back. He was already pivoting to meet her attack, turning her weapon aside.
“Not fast enough, lass,” he said. “You hesitate when you strike. Why? You’ll have the most precious artifact in the history of mankind in your hands, won’t you? You can’t hesitate. And when you’re There, when you step between, hesitation will be fatal.” This was Alistair’s mantra, which he’d been drumming into their heads for years.
John and Briac were exchanging blows. Briac looked like he had every intention of killing John as soon as he got the chance. Yet John was keeping up with himhe was a superb fighter when he focused. But a glance told Quin that John was fighting angry, and he was terrified of the disruptor. Sometimes you could direct anger and fear into useful energy. But usually, emotion was a disadvantage. It scattered your mind, made you spend energy unwisely.
Suddenly Quin realized that Alistair had backed her right into John, and now he was fighting them both. Briac was freed to turn toward Shinobu. The hum of the disruptor intensified to an unbearable volume.
“I’m tossing the ring!” Shinobu shouted. In the same moment, the disruptor on Briac’s chest fired. Shinobu threw the disc high up toward the rafters above Quin and John as the barrel of the disruptor released a thousand angry sparks of electricity. These sparks rushed through the air toward Shinobu, buzzing like a swarm of bees.
Shinobu hurled himself down beneath the volley and rolled away. With no human target to strike, the sparks collided against the back wall of the gym in bursts of rainbow-colored light.