If you’ve ever considered trying the work of my pseudonym, James Wilde, now’s a good time. Until the end of January, Amazon is offering Pendragon for just 99p as part of the Kindle Monthly Deals. That’s a whopping £14 saving. Will appeal to anyone who likes Game of Thrones, Arthurian myth, Age of Misrule, and historical fiction. Here’s the link.
Here is the beginning of a legend. Long before Camelot rose, a hundred years before the myth of King Arthur was half-formed, at the start of the Red Century, the world was slipping into a Dark Age…
It is AD 367. In a frozen forest beyond Hadrian’s Wall, six scouts of the Roman army are found murdered. For Lucanus, known as the Wolf and leader of elite unit called the Arcani, this chilling ritual killing is a sign of a greater threat.
But to the Wolf the far north is a foreign land, a place where daemons and witches and the old gods live on. Only when the child of a friend is snatched will he venture alone into this treacherous world – a territory ruled over by a barbarian horde – in order to bring the boy back home. What he finds there beyond the wall will echo down the years.
A secret game with hidden factions is unfolding in the shadows: cabals from the edge of Empire to the eternal city of Rome itself, from the great pagan monument of Stonehenge to the warrior kingdoms of Gaul will go to any length to find and possess what is believed to be a source of great power, signified by the mark of the Dragon.
A soldier and a thief, a cut-throat, courtesan and a druid, even the Emperor Valentinian himself – each of these has a part to play in the beginnings of this legend…the rise of the House of Pendragon.
For US readers, this is the final trilogy of the nine-book sequence that began with Age of Misrule. Jack Churchill returns, along with the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, Fabulous Beasts, Celtic gods, Ragnarok, the Otherworld and the wrapping up of every single plot-thread wound over the series.
Can I suggest to all the readers who have been complaining about Gollancz’s failure to reprint the long-sold-out UK version to pick this up on import. It should be available on both Amazon and the Waterstone’s site.
The band that was, perhaps, the greatest influence on the Age of Misrule, all those years ago. The album, And Did Those Feet, mixed a contemporary world with ancient horrors, and captured, in its rhythmic, crazed-folk drive, the sound of rural England – cider-drunk locals stumbling through graveyards on the way home.
Lyrically, there was nothing like them. Any band who can start a song, ‘Unctuous, prattling pecksniffs quake and quail and quiver, as the Badger Boys come down the street like pike down an empty river’ have got to be worth a listen…
I’ve just been informed that my novel, World’s End, the first book of the Age of Misrule sequence, has been shortlisted for Prix Julia Verlanger, France’s premier SF/Fantasy book award.
Under it’s French title, La Nuit sans fin, the novel was published by Orbit towards the end of 2009.
The other nominees are:
Ceci n’est pas un jeu – Walter Jon Williams (L’Atalante)
Cygnis – Vincent Gessler (L’Atalante )
L’Empire ultime – Brandon Sanderson (Orbit)
Le Nom du Vent – Patrick Rothfuss (Bragelonne)
Nuigrave – Lorris Murail (Robert Laffont/Ailleurs & Demain)
L’Odyssée du temps 1 – Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter(Bragelonne)
Rien que l’Acier – Richard Morgan (Bragelonne)
You don’t want to seem like a nutter when you’re on public radio. So when the host asks me – as they always do – where do you get your ideas from, I steer clear of the truthful answer: “psychic connections through the aether” or “hypnagogic messages dictated by our mysterious overlords“. I usually mutter something about stumbling across an interesting fact. Always go for the boring option. It keeps you out of the coats with no arms.
But we can speak honestly here. We all know about the mysterious connections in life. The stuff that goes on behind all those scientific processes. The weird, inexplicable occurrences lurking in the corners of day-to-day existence. The gods and imps and fairies and demons that we like to call other things because, you know, that whole coats with no arms thing…
When I say “the universe speaks to me”, I mean it speaks to all writers, all musicians, all artists. We each tend to put a different face on it, but it’s the same voice. So where do my gods and fairies and demons lurk?
In pubs with stone and timber and glowering locals and beer with strange names. In deep rural life which city folk think is backward, but is wild and dangerous and so removed it might as well be another planet. In bands that you might stumble across in the back rooms of pubs and never hear from again. In stone circles, crumbling ruins, lonely pools, old houses. Across those city liminal zones – industrial estates under sodium at 3am, empty, broken-windowed factories and wasteground with rainbow-streaked puddles. In black-faced, mirror-glassed morris men and biker gangs. In snatches of music heard after midnight. In moots and meets and markets held under moonlight. These are the places where stories are born. These are the locations where my writing gods live.
And for a specific example, here’s one of the inspirations for Age of Misrule…
The Dancing Did remain one of my favourite bands, a quarter of a century after they split up. Characterised as “neo rustic pagan bop” or “a cross between The Clash and Steeleye Span”, you can find out more about them here.
Their album, And Did Those Feet, is little-known but essential, particularly if you like fantasy or any of those things I listed above. The lyrics are clever, witty and poetic and deal with ancient things encroaching on the modern world – listen to ‘The Wolves of Worcestershire‘ or ‘Charnel Boy‘. A remixed version with a booklet and additional tracks is available from Cherry Red.
The Dancing Did’s thematic equivalent today may well be Cornish collective Kemper Norton though the music is very, very different. I came across them through the regular ravings of Warren Ellis, another fan. More inspiration. I bet they never imagined they’d be dragging a story about Elizabethan spies and Faerie into the light…
Here’s the new cover to the US edition of The Devil in Green (Book One of The Dark Age) coming from Pyr in May:
The art, as with the previous and interlinked Age of Misrule titles, is by the great John Picacio.
Careful viewers will note the thematic links with John’s cover for World’s End, which echoes the themes in the two stories.
The blurb: Humanity has emerged, blinking, from the Age of Misrule into a world substantially changed: cities lie devasted, communications are limited, anarchy rages across the land. Society has been thrown into a new Dark Age where superstition holds sway. The Tuatha De Danaan roam the land once more, their terrible powers dwarfing anything mortals have to offer. And in their wake come all the creatures of myth and legend, no longer confined to the shadows. Fighting to find their place in this new world, the last remnants of the Christian Church call for a group of heroes: a new Knights Templar to guard the priesthood as they set out on their quest for souls. But as everything begin to fall apart, the Knights begin to realise their only hope is to call on the pagan gods of Celtic myth for help.
Came across a quote today (from Rabbi Jonathan Sachs, used in relation to the US finally passing its health care legislation) which perfectly summed up the theme of Age of Misrule, The Dark Age and Kingdom of the Serpent:
“Hope is the faith that, together, we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope is an active one. It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to have hope. Hope is the knowledge that we can choose; that we can learn from our mistakes and act differently next time. That history is not a trash bag of random coincidences blown open by the wind, but a long slow journey to redemption.”