All available as Red Fox paperbacks
This quartet of science fiction/fantasy novels are especially important to me; first because of the characters, and secondly because it was the first time I had really let rip and created a whole new world and everything in it. The books are, The Relic Master, The Interrex, Flain’s Coronet, The Margrave.
The Relic Master
Raffi is apprenticed to the Relic Master, Galen, whose task it is to keep safe the relics of a bygone age. But his powers are weakening and he and Raffi set off to meet the makers in the City of Crow to find out why. Will they survive? Or will the ever-present Watch eliminate them.
Having tapped into the Crow, Galen is charged with a force beyond anything he, or his apprentice Raffi, has ever known. So when he receives a message from the makers urging him to find the Interrex – the child of the last great Emperor – he knows the keepers are tantalisingly close to revolution.
Galen has spent the winter in Sarres, building a power-base round the symbolic leadership of the Interrex. But as Relic Master, he knows that to face the mysterious Margrave he needs to seek out the Coronet of Flain to complete his powers. Also, Galen and Raffi rescue two men from execution by the Watch: a keeper and a sceptic. These new men severely test Galen’s and Raffi’s belief in the order’s ultimate success. Meanwhile, Carys continues to struggle to leave the Watch and its way behind as she gradually accepts the help given to her by the Sekoi.
Raffi is scared about the Deep Journey, Carys has been captured and Galen is determined to destroy the dreaded Margrave, leader of the Watch. Galen’s quest soon leads them into the Pit of Maar and face to face with the Malgrave and the evil world at the heart of the Watch.
The Relic Master was the first book I wrote as a full-time writer, and I think a lot of pent-up energy went sweeping into it. It takes place on Anara, a planet colonised and terraformed in the past by a group known as the Makers, now thought of as semi-divine, rather like archangels. But the work was never finished, vast swathes of the planet are chaotic, and the Relic Masters, an Order of men and women able to communicate with trees and deal with the remnants of technology are being hunted to death by a sinister organisation called the Watch.
There are four main characters; Galen, the Relic Master himself, a bitter, reckless man who becomes the mythical Crow: his assistant Raffi, scared, weary and trying to keep himself and his master alive; Carys, a clever orphaned girl brought up in one of the Watchouses and now secretly their spy; and the Sekoi, one of the seven-fingered catlike creatures that once had the planet to themselves and still want it back.
I enjoyed the complexity of this world, and this was the first time I imagined a whole back-story, with all the scriptures and histories and flora and fauna to go with it. It was also fascinating to be able to develop the characters to a greater depth than any I’d invented so far; four books gave me a lot of space, and by the time I wrote The Margrave I had lived with these people for several years.
There are many real places mixed in with the imaginary landscapes of Anara. Certainly Glastonbury, Wells, and whole swathes of Mendip are in there somewhere; Taskeron is a mixture of Oxford and a lot of Rome, and the Broken Hills can be found along the Amalfi coast of Italy.
I think The Margrave is my favourite of the set; at the end of it I really felt I had achieved something that-you never know- might outlast me.