Now published! The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home

I’ve finally published my first fiction title, The Long Way Homeand it’s available now from Amazon in Kindle and paperback, and also from Smashwords and their distribution channels in a variety of formats. It’s the first book in a sci-fi saga for kids up to early teens, although anyone who enjoys a bit of classic sci-fi would enjoy this one.

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The Long Way Home: The first instalment in the Earth Legacy series

As well as the world-changing “An Infinite Number of Monkeys“, which looks at how organisations can maximise the value of modern communications systems, I’ve been working on a short novel, aimed at children but enjoyable for all, called “The Long Way Home”.

It is the first in what will become a trilogy (perhaps of the Douglas Adams variety, who knows?), which I’m calling the “Earth Legacy” series, which is set far in Earth’s future – an environment within which other ideas of mine are creeping onto paper too.

The whole book should be out on Kindle and in paperback soon. To whet your appetite, here’s the prologue. Enjoy!

Prologue

Brandon stared down, eyes flaming with passion and heart thumping wildly, at the scene of chaos in the town below him. The beautiful, tree lined avenues of Linfallon seethed with screaming hordes desperate to escape the soldiers who moved triumphantly, house to house and shop to shop, taking what they wanted and caring little for the lives of any brave souls who dared to stand in their way.

He felt a surge of triumph well up from deep within that blackened, twisted heart. His long, oiled hair gleamed in the light of the fires around him as he threw back his head and bellowed like some victorious great ape, fresh from a killing spree. Now his father knew pain. Now his father knew despair. Now, finally, after years of hiding his true self: now, his father knew his son!

Around him, the ancient castle burned. Stronghold of King Ferez, the adored ruler of Gondwana, it had long stood as testament to the beauty and tranquility of the kingdom: proud, noble, fair and just. Now lay in ruins, walls marred by gaping holes, towers leaning drunkenly or collapsed into rubble. The stench of destruction hung in the air where, just hours before, the sweet scents of spring had cheered the hearts of the merry citizens milling around the blossom-filled courtyards as they celebrated liberation day. The date which marked the fall of evil and the rise of the good kings was always a time of great festivity. A time when spirits were high and the populace was carefree. Brandon had picked his moment carefully.

A clatter of small stones made him turn, as he remembered that his victory was not yet complete. His father was his prisoner, but his brother, that awful bane of his pitiful existence these past 25 years; that loathsome spoiled brat of a younger brother who taunted him so with his achievements. His brother Xanda still lived free.

And instead of fleeing, as any sensible man would have done, like the fool that he was his brother had sought him out. He had somehow evaded the warriors which Brandon had sent to capture him and had fought his way across the castle, hunting out the architect of this vile treachery, intent on ending the bloodshed, exacting revenge… or dying in the attempt.

There was no denying Xanda’s physical strength or courage, he could beat any man in armed combat and had clearly bloodied his blade many times while searching for his brother, but to Brandon he suddenly seemed a comical figure and he fought the urge to laugh out loud. Did Xanda believe that blood ties would save him? Or perhaps his wit or charm? It was certainly not going to be his sword! No, none of that was going to prevent a delicious revenge. He, Brandon, held all the power now.

Xanda’s face was a mask of anger and torment, his chest heaving from his fight with Brandon’s men and his scramble up the ruined stairs. Behind him appeared the figures of two of Brandon’s men, but Brandon gestured them away impatiently. This was his moment, and his alone.

Xanda paused to regain his breath and to study the triumphant figure in front of him, conscious that his brother held all the aces in this deadly card game. For a time, neither man moved. Neither man spoke. It was as if the two men were each trying to see into the other’s mind.

‘So it has come to this,’ Xanda shouted at last across the few feet which separated them, the crashes and cries of battle below drifting up and conspiring to drown his words. ‘Hate has finally destroyed my brother. But why? Why have you chosen war over peace? What,’ he went on, his voice cracking as rage overcame the calm he had temporarily managed to muster, ‘what have you done with our father?’

Now Brandon did laugh. A deep, booming, haunting laugh not of humour but of malice. Xanda stared in disgust, then took a step forward intent on ending this nightmare there and then. Brandon raised his right hand and thrust it towards Xanda as if to throw something at him. But instead of a physical object, a beam of energy lanced out and if Xanda had not foreseen the move and raised his shield he would have joined the legions of dead which already littered the castle walls. Instead, the bolt of lightning bounced from the shield and sizzled back at Brandon forcing him to duck in alarm. This did nothing to lighten his mood.

‘The time for talking has passed, brother.’ Brandon almost spat the last word out in his fury, like it was some vile disease of which he was talking rather than his own flesh and blood. ‘Your time has passed, yours and all those like you who schemed and hid from me our family legacy, our great birthright and the true power we should wield over the subjects of this land. You and my so-called father always treated me as an outsider, but now it is you who is on the outside. The power is mine and mine alone, this land belongs to me! Your life is in my hands now. Do you wish to beg for it?’

Xanda remained cowering behind the shield, aware that with this powerful weapon he could not hope to beat his brother in open combat. Common sense finally prevailed, and he knew that if he was to right this terrible wrong then he needed to save himself, to flee so that he could muster the forces he would need.

With fumbling fingers, he tugged from within his tunic a small object which hung from a chain around his neck. It was a simple golden cylinder, etched with a delicate tracery of patterns which, to those who knew the language, spelled out its secrets. With his shield hiding his movements, he grasped the talisman tightly and mentally repeated to himself the words which he had learned off by heart many years before.

Realising that Xanda was hiding something, Brandon sent another bolt of energy racing towards him, trying to find a way around or through the silvered surface of the rectangular shield. The energy reflected and smashed into the battlements, splitting the heavy rock and raining fragments down into the moat below. He had not counted on this: this shield which Xanda had always cherished had been forged in the distant past, and clearly held secrets which Brandon had not been aware of. No ordinary shield would have been able to withstand such forces.

In fury, Brandon sent blast after blast, the impacts visibly pushing Xanda back along the walkway towards the gaping hole where, until just minutes before, the tall and magnificent east tower had stood.

The effort of bracing the shield against the onslaught was immense, and with a long cry of anguish Xanda realised his time was running out. Death was almost upon him.

With a tremendous effort of will, Xanda forced himself to ignore the tumult around him and closed his eyes, ears and mind to the world. By some miracle, he managed to create the inner peace he needed and once again started to say to himself the words of the spell of Columb.

Time stood still for Xanda, but for Brandon the seconds raced by as he roared with triumph. After the tremendous efforts of the day, the huge outpouring of energy focused on his brother’s glowing shield were tiring him fast. But with one final huge effort he forced his hated brother back just a few more inches and watched, with manic fire in his eyes, as he slid over the edge of the ruined walkway and plummeted down, down, down onto the jagged remains of the tower. As he hit the rocks far below, he was lost in a cloud of dust.

Brandon’s eyes dimmed, his pounding heart throbbed in his ears and he slumped against the battlements. His victory was complete. The land of Gondwana was his.

The Christmas Mouse

Here’s a story I wrote this Christmas for my boys. I claim copyright on it, so please do not circulate it without my permission for profit or otherwise, but feel free to read it to your own kids if you like it. In fact, if you’re artistic and would like to collaborate on creating some artwork for it then please get in touch!

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