These are a set of four novels set in my Gas-Lamp Fantasy World. The novels are Deserter, Valley of the Kings, Kali and Boxers. The novels were an attempt to introduce a bit of a rogue into my novels, a character totally unrelated to Briggs and Prenderghast. As a character Jack Blain does not have the charm of a Prenderghast, it is true. The man is a villain – or, at least, he tries to be, but quite often ends up playing the hero, despite himself. He is not totally without morals.
The first novel, Deserter, is set in 1894. The novel takes place in darkest Africa, and features one of those lost cities which it seems like heroes were constantly finding in Africa in books set in this period. Sometimes it seems like there are far more lost nations in Africa than for which there is room.
The second novel is Valley of the Kings and, as may be inferred from its title, it is set in Egypt, in 1896. The novel features exactly what a person might expect from a fantastical novel set in Egypt during this period.
The third novel is Kali, set in India in 1898. The novel concerns a perverted Kali cult, in a fictional princely state in the north of the subcontinent.
The fourth – and so far final – novel is called Boxers, set in Peking during the time of the Boxer rebellion. Jack Blain finds himself trapped along with the other foreigners, and does his very best, this time, to avoid doing anything heroic. While this is a historical event, any history majors should not expect the events to be one hundred percent ‘correct’, as all four novels are set in a counterfactual world where Magick is real.
I only wrote four novels because I feared that the novels might become samey, if there were too many featuring such a rogue Therefore, while I was writing Deserter, I began plotting the other three, deciding to have the novels set two years apart, so that the final novel could be set in 1900. The character of Jack Blain was unlikely to change so, in such novels, it is the background which must vary: southern Africa, Egypt, India and China. I think that any more novels might simply end up seeming repetitious as there are only so many times that you can have your main protagonist bemoan the fact that somebody is, yet again, trying to kill him, without it becoming tiresome.
Extract from Deserter
A lone rider went through the landscape of southern Africa. He was no longer wearing his army uniform, as that might have proved to be injurious to the health of Jack Blain. He wore the sort of clothing that a Boer farmer might wear – indeed the clothes had belonged to a Boer farmer, before Jack Blain had ‘borrowed them’. He’d borrowed the horse, as well.
So he was no longer in the British Army. But that was not the first thing he had been kicked out of (although the army had wanted to do more to him than just kick him out). But, in the mind of Blain, all that it really amounted to was that he had been drummed out of the army. There had been no way that he would ever have let them kill him, anyway. He would have made sure of that.
He had been drummed out of the army. He had been expelled from High Tor. He had been kicked out of every gentleman’s club which he had ever joined. He was homeless. Penniless. But he was still one of the best damn shots with a revolver that the world had ever seen.
He laughed. He felt wonderful. He was alive, and that was all that mattered.
Deserter, Valley of the Kings, Kali and Boxers are available as e-books on the Amazon Kindle store.