Thursday, 12 January 2012

The 'Black Wolf of the North' is unleashed

Here at last is the finished cover art for DARK NORTH, my next novel, which is due out from Abaddon Books in March this year.

As part of the Knights Of Albion series, DARK NORTH tells the tale of Sir Lucan, the infamous ‘Black Wolf of the North’, who held King Arthur’s northern frontier against the Celtic armies of Rheged and the Pictish hordes of Alba.

Forged in battle from his earliest days, Lucan was one of the most difficult characters for Arthur to manage at his Round Table, combining knightly beliefs and skills with a vengeful nature and innate ferocity, which made him almost unstoppable on the battlefield and a dominant warlord in the wintry wilds of northern Britain. Only the constant presence of good people – his older brother, Sir Bedivere, his idealistic squire, Alaric, King Arthur himself, and more important than any of these, his beautiful wife, Trelawna – kept Lucan on the chivalrous straight and narrow. In times of peace, he became as good a lord to his tenants and as loyal a subject to his king as anyone could ask for. But in times of war, a more sinister personality would emerge.

What then could Arthur’s court expect when a war to end all wars was suddenly declared on Camelot and its allies? When an army more colossal than any previously seen in Dark Age Europe was massed across the Channel, its intent to invade Britain and wipe out every last vestige of the Arthurian renaissance?

In Le Morte d’Arthur, Thomas Malory (1405-1471) writes tantalisingly about an attempt to reconquer Britain by the newly reinvigorated Roman Empire. Few real details are given, but he hints at prolonged and torturous campaigns, epic battles and astonishing death-tolls – he describes a war comparable with modern wars in terms of the numbers involved and the destruction wreaked. He talks of Albion (pre-Saxon England) as a nation-state suddenly battling for its very existence.

This is the backdrop to DARK NORTH. This is the theatre in which the Black Wolf of the North must finally come of age as a warrior and a man – because for Lucan there will be a war within this war.

Not long before Rome’s intentions are made clear, his beloved wife, finally seeking a better life than that she has known in Lucan’s rugged castle at Penharrow, absconds with a young Roman officer. Lucan thus answers his monarch’s call to arms with angry delight. For him, the coming battle, with all its resulting slaughter and devastation, will be very, very personal … but there are other forces at work here, not least the fearsome Malconi clan, to whom Trelawna has unwittingly attached herself: a ancient Roman dynasty with the power to raise demons!

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