Today, I can announce the publication this week of my novel entitled Dark Inheritance: a Mediaeval Fantasy.
The setting for the book is Europe in the years around 1348, when the world is ravaged by the Black Death. Medical science is almost non-existent. Instead, people believe that God visits these plagues on humanity because of its sins. There are no vaccines, no cures. But one man is at least thinking about it ….
Here is a copy of my book cover:
I append an extract here:
“In the Greek province of Magnesia, in the shadow of Mount Pelion and surrounded by the ruins of the ancient city of Demetrias, two women are walking on the shore.
It is evening, an hour or so before sunset. Away out to sea, dark clouds are retreating on the eastern horizon. The day has been too wet for the couple to take their daily walk, salvaging the flotsam and jetsam from passing ships or sifting through the wreckage of any vessel unfortunate enough to fall foul of the rocks on the headland. Now, whatever they find is placed in a hand-cart they have brought along for that purpose.
The older woman’s name is Kolba; the younger is Tessera, her daughter and fourth child. Their skin is darker than that of the natives of Magnesia, their hair thicker and glossier. They are newcomers to this land, refugees who have recently arrived from Anatolia by way of the many islands that separate its coast from the Greek peninsula. Kolba’s people have come a long way in the ten generations since their flight from persecution in India. They have crossed the salt deserts of Persia, the Zagros Mountains and the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia. Kolba’s ancestors continued to Syria; others of their race turned south towards Egypt. They have their own language, their own history, their own dress and their own gods.
As far as Kolba and Tessera know, their clan is the first to set foot on Greek soil. Later, their kind will multiply; they will become known to the Greek people as Atzinganoi – Untouchables – and to the Italians as Singari.
They will be called other names too, many of them insulting and offensive. To themselves, they are the Doum.
The villagers of Pelion mostly leave them alone and the Doum, for their part, keep themselves to themselves, living in tents and taking what the land and sea freely give them. There is as yet no animosity between the two peoples and whenk brought together by accident or for occasional trade and barter, their relations are polite and respectful.
The Doum have no great skill at either agriculture or fishing but they have their own animals, which, along with coarse bread made from crushed wild seeds, provide the bulk of their diet. They have a talent for carving wood, and for working and stitching leather, which they make into saddles and bridles for their own ponies and for barter with their neighbours.
The shore along which Kolba and Tessera walk has a broad expanse of golden sand that sweeps round the bay and out of sight beyond the rocks. The light is poor but there is enough of it for them to see that the beach is not empty. A ship has come to grief in the storm. From headland to headland, the sand is littered with debris: broken chests whose contents have spilled out, splinters of driftwood, pieces of torn sailcloth and foodstuffs spoiled by the sea. Kolba and Tessera pick their way among these offerings, prising open the whole chests with broad-bladed knives, checking for items that might be of use in their camp or that can be sold to the Greeks for extra provisions.
Kolba, who is forty-five years old, has seen several shipwrecks. Only once has she known there to be survivors. The rocks take most of them, tearing their flesh and clothing into pieces so that what remains is no longer recognisable as having once belonged to a human being.
Occasionally, the sea throws up a human corpse and then there is an opportunity to gather weapons or jewellery; not that the Doum have much need of the former, being unskilled in the crafts of war, but they love rings, necklaces and other trinkets. And it is no crime to take such things when their former owners no longer have any use for them.
Today, neither Kolba nor her daughter sees any bodies, living or dead. They haul two complete boxes up the beach towards the cart and then look around for other items of interest. Near the shoreline is what appears to be a bundle of clothing tied to a wooden pallet. Beside it, something glistens in the last shaft of setting sun. Full of curiosity, Tessera runs down to the sea. The object that shines is a single gold coin. She bends to pick it up and as she does so hears a sound like the wail of an animal in pain. She prods the bundle with her finger. To her astonishment it moves.
With beating heart, Tessera pulls aside some folds of cloth and finds herself looking into the face of an infant of no more than a few months old …..”
With our present day world facing a crisis of a similar kind, we can be thankful that our species has moved on from primitive superstition. Science is working very hard to find a solution – and it will find a solution – to the new coronavirus epidemic. In the meantime, while trying to keep myself as isolated as possible from others, I find reading and writing a consoling pleasure.
Until at least the end of May, Dark Inheritance: A Mediaeval Fantasy will be available here at a price of £0.99/US$0.99/Eur0.99 [and equivalent prices in other currencies.]