Feature post: Enchanting other worlds.
The Shattered Land by Michael Tyne
I’m fascinated by secret worlds. Not the other worlds of “true” fantasy, but those which might exist on the fringes of our own society; hidden, but interacting with it, yet still with their own laws, their own history, their own public figures and ways of doing things.
Imagine if, living among the mundane millions of Great Britain, there were a few folk who were different; who had been touched by a great secret. One they didn’t ask for, but can’t escape. Imagine a hidden society of people who do not age.
That’s the world I imagined at the start of my trilogy, The Shattered Land. A small, scattered, hidden community, no more than a few thousand strong, who have been touched by the greatest secret of all.
They’re terrified. Wouldn’t you be? Immortality is something of which humans have secretly dreamed since they first became consciously aware of death. The threat of discovery, particularly by the powerful and unscrupulous, hangs over them, always. A loose tongue in a public house, an untoward remark, a foolish soul bragging or gossiping about their special status…
So, when someone took charge of this world, one of the first things they did was to employ someone to look after security, and secrecy. His name is Patrick Given, and he is an assassin. A former Colour-Sergeant from 45 Commando of the Royal Marines, he was touched by the Secret on Mount Longdon in the Falklands in 1982 – in fact, according to the official records, he died there. Since then, he has been the ‘enforcer’ of the secret world; the man who silences those who talk. He’s an unusual assassin in the sense that he hasn’t actually killed anyone yet; he’s reluctant to do so. A big, clever, capable man, a Geordie with a surprisingly soft heart, but one who is committed to his own survival and that of the so-called ‘Gifted’; those who have been touched by the secret.
Another problem is identity. In a modern society, you’re identified by computer records, databases, by the internet and the Cloud. If you’ve been the same person for over a hundred years and you haven’t died yet, eventually someone is going to start asking questions. Then there’s money. You have to earn a dollar. But in order to do that, again, you need the paperwork, the passport, the bank accounts. So we have the Identity Man. Step forward, Aengus MacLenaghan, manager of the Manchester branch of a rather secret Merchant Bank, owned by an oblivious billionaire named Thompson. For decades, MacLenaghan has been manipulating the records, both official and financial, providing the Gifted with new identities at periodic intervals, while at the same time laundering their funds. He’s old, now, very old. He, himself, isn’t Gifted. He’s doing this out of loyalty alone, loyalty to the one person who knows the whole truth about this world. Also, he has his own secret. He is not just a bank manager; he is also the last surviving male member of Clan MacLenaghan, who had their hearts torn out by the English on the bitter field of Culloden in the rising of 1745. And, after years of searching, he has finally found his ancestral home…
It’s about immortality. Eternal youth? Well, no. This thing can touch you at random, no matter what your age or circumstances. Consider Freda Moore, originally from Kingston, Jamaica. She was in her seventies in 1941 when the bomb fell in her back yard in Swinton, and an unseen presence touched her and stopped the little clock within. She was ready to die. Only one thing has kept her going for all these years, and that is friendship; the friendship of Jim Wilcox, an Army Padre, who took his wound in the Bocage of Normandy, three years later. They’ve been friends ever since; a kind of love. Jim’s had so many ministries since then that, in the end, he had to retire, because even the Church of England was getting suspicious. His friends had started calling him the Recurring Vicar. But, by then, he was ready to quit; modern society had worn him down. Jim, a tumbling, happy little man, is struggling even to believe in God nowadays. He’s seen far too much sadness.
There are others; Ronnie and Albert Clamp, for instance; wide-boys from North London, who have been permanently middle-aged since the 1960’s, when they were touched by a beam of light from the sky in a wood just off the Retford junction of the A1. They’ve been scraping a living ever since, selling burgers and bacon butties from the back of a van at rock festivals.
Then there’s Joseph Ackerman. He’s the anomaly, because he isn’t British; he’s American. He was wounded on Omaha Beach on D-Day, and has done bugger all of any use since. He’s now hanging round a not-very-good pub in the North of England, and he’s made a mistake. He’s made friends with the head barmaid there, a tough, uncompromising young woman from Oldham named Alison MacGuire who quite likes him, but doesn’t show it, and is about to get the shock of her short life when she finds out the truth…
A world like this needs something – someone – to hold it all together. Someone who sees it as a whole, sees the implications, the dangers and has to plan for the worst. It’s the loneliest job in any world, and this person is lonely. Driven, sometimes ruthless, but never heartless, always afraid, always sad at what she has had to give up, always vulnerable. She is the centre of it all; and she is in the most danger of all.
Because the worst is about to happen. The secret is out….
To learn more about Michael Tyne and his book check out his webside at: http://mtynebooks.wixsite.com/mtyne/books
Amzon link to The Last Five Days: The Shattered Land book1 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Five-Days-Shattered-Land-ebook/dp/B018ZLK6AO/ref=pd_sim_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=G9CM5GVTJWPZS13EV8SX
Amazon link to The Falling Fire: The Shattered Land book 2 https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LHE67UO/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738
Amazon link to Jerusalem The Shattered Land book 3https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jerusalem-Shattered-Land-Book-3-ebook/dp/B071177ZTQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8