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After completing the latest draft of The Scar-Crow Men, the next Will Swyfte book, I took a week off to re-charge in one of my favourite UK locations, the Penwith peninsula on the far tip of Cornwall. Some time in the surf, local beer and good food, with a lot of reading and a trip to Tate West thrown in.

It did the job – which is good because I’ve come back to several projects piling up on my desk. More on those later.

The Sword Of Albion – Review

Another perceptive review of the first book in the Swords of Albion series:

“Faeries. British Folklore. Alternate Elizabethan History. Magic. Spies. Political Intrigue. Christopher Marlowe. If these fantastic components weren’t enough to get me excited about reading The Silver Skull, the first novel in the new Swords of Albion trilogy, the fact that Mark Chadbourn is the author sealed the deal.”

The Silver Skull is out now in the US. The UK version – re-titled The Sword of Albion – is out in May.

The Silver Skull US Cover

Here’s the cover for the Pyr edition of The Silver Skull, by Chris McGrath, published in the US this October.

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From the blurb:

A devilish plot to assassinate the Queen, a Cold War enemy hell-bent on destroying the nation, incredible gadgets, a race against time around the world to stop the ultimate doomsday device…and Elizabethan England’s greatest spy!

Meet Will Swyfte – adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham’s new band of spies.

But Swyfte’s public image is a carefully-crafted façade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work – and the true reason why Walsingham’s spy network was established.

A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have been preying on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated.

But now England is fighting back!

The Swords of Albion – New Book Deal

Today I signed a major three-book deal with UK publisher Transworld for an epic Elizabethan fantasy. ‘The Swords of Albion’ will be published annually from 2010, in the UK and Commonwealth. The sequence has also been acquired by a US publisher, and I’ll be talking more about that later.

It’s an epic story filled with intrigue, mystery, adventure and romance, set against the rich backdrop of the Elizabethan era. I hope it’ll appeal to readers of both fantasy and historical fiction. I’m very excited to be working with Transworld for the first time on the launch of this new series.

You want to know what it’s about? Here’s the pitch:

‘Spies are men of doubtful credit, who make a show of one thing and speak another.’ ~ Mary, Queen of Scots

A devilish plot to assassinate the Queen, a Cold War enemy hell-bent on destroying the nation, incredible gadgets, a race against time around the world to stop the ultimate doomsday device…and Elizabethan England’s greatest spy!

Meet Will Swyfte – adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham’s new band of spies. His exploits against the forces of Philip of Spain have made him a national hero, lauded from Carlisle to Kent. Yet his associates can barely disguise their incredulity – what is the point of a spy whose face and name is known across Europe?

But Swyfte’s public image is a carefully-crafted façade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work – and the true reason why Walsingham’s spy network was established.

A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have been preying on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated.

But now England is fighting back!

Magical defences have been put in place by the Queen’s sorcerer Dr John Dee, who is also a senior member of Walsingham’s secret service and provides many of the bizarre gadgets utilised by the spies. Finally there is a balance of power. But the Cold War is threatening to turn hot at any moment…

Will now plays a constant game of deceit and death, holding back the Enemy’s repeated incursions, dealing in a shadowy world of plots and counter-plots, deceptions, secrets, murder, where no one… and no thing…is quite what it seems.

The entire world is the battleground – from Russia, across Europe, to the Caribbean and the New World. And while great events play out in the public eye, the true struggle takes place behind the scenes: the Spanish Armada, the Throckmorton Plot, the colonisation of the Americas, the Court intrigues, the battles in Ireland and against Spain, the death of Marlowe, the plagues, the art, the music, the piracy, the great discoveries…all are simply window-dressing as the great sweep of recorded history is peeled back to show the truth behind.

Year’s Best Fantasy

My short story, Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast, starring Will Swyfte, Elizabethan England’s greatest spy, has been selected as one of the best short stories of the year for the prestigious Year’s Best Fantasy anthology.

Edited by David G Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, the annual book – this one is number eight – also features work by Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Tad Williams, Elizabeth Hand, Jeffrey Ford and more. Full list on the link above.

The story, originally published in the Solaris Book of New Fantasy has received a fair amount of pleasing praise from various corners, including media commentator and editor Lou Anders among others.

All of this bodes very well for more tales of Will Swyfte and his secret war with faerie.

Solaris Book of New Fantasy

Pimp alert. The good people at Solaris have kindly offered to publish one of my short stories in their excellent new anthology. The story is called ‘Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast’ and features Elizabethan England’s greatest spy, Will Swyfte, the devilish forces of Faerie, intrigue, romance and a touch of swashbuckling.

And if that’s not enough – and why should it be? – the book also includes work by Steven Erikson, Juliet E McKenna, Lucius Shepard, Jeff Vandermeer, Hal Duncan, Janny Wurts and more. Find out more about it here and buy it in the UK here for the very reasonable price of £2.82 (currently) and in the US here for $7.99.

Elizabethan England’s Greatest Spy

Will Swyfte, who made his debut in the Elizabethan chapter of Jack of Ravens will be going solo in a new short story to appear in a prestigious fantasy anthology from Solaris later this year.

Entitled ‘Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast’, the tale fits into the mythos established in my recent books. It’s Christmas Eve, 1598, and the aristocracy of Elizabeth’s court has gathered at a country house for a night of debauchery. Will Swyfte, Elizabethan England’s greatest spy, is despatched by spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham to prevent a terrible turning point in the cold war with Faerie. But the Tuatha de Danann are gathered in the cold wastes beyond the house and will do anything to achieve their aim before dawn breaks.

Details on publication date and other authors coming shortly.