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The Hand of Dinotopia (Dinotopia)
Synopses & Reviews
The words echoed in Will Denison's head as he repeated them to himself, over and over. No matter how many times he spun them through his mind, they still made no sense. The force of repetition could not hammer them into anything that "made" sense.
The utterly unexpected and irrational revelation had hit him hard, all the more so because everything had been going so well: not only between them, but in his new life in general. As if that were not enough, it was an exceptionally beautiful day.
Now, the assertion on the tiny message scroll that had been delivered to him had shattered the feeling of peace and contentment that had been luxuriating within.
The other passengers on the ferry ignored the silent, brooding skybax rider. A few took notice of his distraught expression and were sympathetic, but no one approached him. It would have been impolite to interrupt his contemplation. Not knowing the cause of his distress, it would have been presumptuous of any of them to offer any kind of solace or condolences. Privacy was a valued commodity in Dinotopia, one no one could put a price on.
The ferry was embarked on its regular morning run between Belluna, the principal town on Grand Isle, and Sauropolis, the capital of Dinotopia. The large, square canvas sail of the modified Roman galley billowed in the steady breeze that blew down the Polongo River as her oars rose and dipped in time to the beat bleated out by the energetic young "Parasauralopbus" in the hold. The customary winsome drone was clearly audible up on deck.
As the ferry cruised close to the north shore, humans and dinosaurs could be observed working side by side to gather the bountyof the great river. Using their flat bills, hadrosaurs, edmontosaurs, krittosaurs, trachodonts and others slogged their way through the reed-choked shallows, probing the sand and mud in tandem with swimming humans.
Upon locating a cluster of oysters, clams, or crabs, the duckbills would proceed to root them out. Those shellfish not gathered gently in long, flat bills would be netted or pulled from hiding places by the human divers. Heavy canvas sacks strapped to the backs of the big duckbills bulged with the river's abundance. Young men and women armed with flat-tipped knives were busy prying the more recalcitrant shellfish from their underwater perches.
Farther inland, where the shore became even more marshy and the footing difficult, humans riding camarasaurs and apatosaurs filled sacks suspended from massive flanks with hand-gathered wild rice. While the great sauropods were not averse to devouring the harvest right out of the marsh, like their human companions they much preferred the final, threshed product.
As they grazed, men and women riding on swings suspended just above the waterline used delicate primate fingers to pluck the rice. When gathering baskets were full, they were hauled up onto the lumbering, slowly rolling broad saurian backs by other humans waiting there, and the accumulated rice dumped into larger sacks secured to small storage buildings. In this fashion a single sauropod and its attendant human crew could harvest an area that would take dozens of humans working from many boats an entire day to process.
The shellfish gatherers and rice harvesters looked up frequently from their work to wave to the passengers on passing boats, including those aboard theferry. Children and parents watching from the railings waved back, but Will did not join them. His thoughts had been turned to unpleasant possibilities.
The message had arrived, literally, like a bolt from the blue. Well, like a sheaf of paper from the blue, anyway, he corrected himself. The ferry had hardly left Belluna when Will, soaking up the morning sun on deck, had heard the little girl standing just forward of him cry out, "Look, mother — there's a skybax without a rider!"
While it was not unusual to see the great skybaxes at play or simply out exercising their vast wings, this was not a common sight in the immediate vicinity of Sauropolis. The skies above the capital were usually filled with resolute riders either departing for or returning from the distant corners of Dinotopia. Lifting an idle glance skyward, Will was shocked to see that the circling, soaring Quetzalcoatlus was none other than his very own skybax, the noble great-winged Cirrus.
While visiting friends in Belluna, he had left Cirrus behind at the main Sauropolis skybax rookery. What had prompted his membranous partner and companion to come looking for its rider on his own?
Utilizing the whistling calls he had learned from Oolu, the master skybax instructor, Will had finally managed to gain Cirrus's attention. To the delight of the human and saurian youngsters on board the ferry, the skybax had responded with a direct dive at the boat, folding its wings and dropping steeply, only to open them again at the last moment to sail majestically past the bow. The plunge was designed to do more than spawn squeals of delight from the assembled children on board, however.
The tightly bound scroll that Cirrusdropped on deck was caught by a fast-moving crewman, who was quickly joined by Will. Sure enough, it was intended for him. Expecting to find himself reading some sort of official communique, he was stunned to discover that the enclosure was a personal message directed to him. He read it twice to make certain he had not misunderstood.
Now the import of it churned his thoughts as he stood at the railing, watching the teams of humans and dinosaurs harvesting the bounty of the riverbank, seeing but not hearing the men and saurians handling the smaller river craft like dhows and paddleboats that hugged the shore. One small fishing boat pulled alongside the ferry while several handsome jawless fishes were passed to eager customers on board. Will paid no more attention to the brisk commerce than he had to a passing, frolicking school of ichthyosaurs.
Sylvia was missing.
This paperback publication debuts on a wave of momentum created by ABC's Dinotopia miniseries (May 2002) and Dinotopia weekly series (Fall 2002). State-of-the-art computer animation has brought Dinotopia to life on screen, earning record-breaking ratings. Alan Dean Foster's epic novel takes Dinotopia fans even deeper into this mysterious world of dinosaurs and adventure.
Since its first publication a decade ago, James Gurney's Dinotopia series has found its way into millions of homes in eighteen languages around the world. Now The Hand of Dinotopia is poised to reach out to a new generation of middle-grade Dinotopia fans.