Britannia, 1993. In a world where the Roman legionaries never left Britain a man can walk from the walls of York – or Eburacum – to the southern seas without leaving the shade of the greenwood, inhabited by wildcats, wolves and bears, as well as the descendants of the folk who built Stonehenge. Solar-powered air cars journey along straight roads that connect them to the Roman settlements – and link them to the cities of a global empire. When a jealous feud forced three young people into the forest, they discovered an older Britain, where the rules of rational Rome no longer applied. But now their sanctuary has been besieged and they are once more on the run. Their destination this time is Stand Alone Stan, a community built around an ancient standing stone high on the Yorkshire Moors. And it is here that their paths must, at last, diverge, and we begin to suspect the very different destinies that await them. Stand Alone Stan is the second volume of A Land Fit for Heroes.
George was a shoemaker – but not just a simple artisan. He thought a lot, worried too much and questioned everything. But he knew when to keep his mouth shut, and he knew his duty. Life in the Roman Empire was hard these days, and no one could say it might not get harder. Cities to the north of Thessalonica on the Greek peninsula had already fallen to the swarming Slavs and Alars. The tribes were definitely on the move, bringing their powerful pagan demons with them: bats with gleaming red eyes spied out the city, diving on the militia men as they patrolled the city walls; giant wolves whose howls chilled the soul surrounded the city; and there were rumours of worse. Even the satyrs, centaurs, nymphs and other remnants of the Greek pantheon lurking in the mountains around Thessalonica were frightened. George’s city was a Christian light in a sea of pagan darkness. And now that sea was rising, threatening to wash over him and his little island as if they did not exist and were of no account. For George, that was just unacceptable. He was a simple artisan – but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t give everything to defend his family, his city and his faith.
Britannia is a land of forests – it is said a man can walk from the walls of Eboracum to the southern sea without leaving the shade of the greenwood – inhabited by wildcats, wolves and bears, as well as by the descendants of the folk who built Stonehenge. Traversing the forests, linking the Roman cities, are the straight Roman roads on which solar-powered aircars travel from the far north of Britain to expressways that link with London, Rome, Constantinople and beyond. In this world Rome never fell to the Barbarians, the legions never left Britain and now, in the late twentieth century, Rome is the capital of a vast global civilisation. Outside Eboracum, (or York as we know it), and dominating the city, is the Battle Dome, a vast hemisphere enclosing the artificial landscapes where the Games – as brutal, deadly and colourful as ever – are held. Here the destinies of three young people come together when a jealous feud forces them to flee the Dome and take refuge in the forest. There, Viti, Miranda, and Angus discover that the older Britain that has endured for two millennia, where the assumptions of rational Romans and city-dwellers no longer apply. And it is there they find they must learn new lessons about their world – if they are to survive. This first volume of A Land Fit for Heroes is a superb, lyrical novel of cultures clashing in a wonderfully evoked alternate world, filled with magic, wonder and haunting sense of place.