Alpona strolled around the tree trunk, which contained deep grooves. It looked very old.

On the other side sat a man, propped up between two thick roots at the base of the tree. He had short, dark brown hair and looked around forty years old. He wore a long hooded jacket that was worn but had been mended in places with patches of many greens and browns. The man’s boots were caked in mud and moss. His belt had a metal ring on one side from which an old pistol hung suspended, like one Daniel had seen in a museum in Dumfries he had visited with his mum and sister.

This is an extract from Closeburn Crossing by Giles J.M. Blackley, the first book in the Altinor trilogy.

It’s just before Daniel first meets Ketch, a flintlock pistol-wielding Collector.

‘Collector’ is an Altinorean term describing a mix between an inventor and an engineer.

Ketch is another major character in the novels.