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Dominion Cover Reveal & Extract

A lot of Fantasy-Factioners will have read and enjoyed Peter McLean’s Drake by now. If you’ve not, it’s about an anti-hero named Don Drake who is forced to carry out an assassination to pay his debt to a demon. There is a catch to this transaction though, and very quickly Drake finds himself facing death at the hands of a force far, far more dangerous than the demon he originally gambled with. To get himself out of this mess, Drake will need the help of an almost-fallen angel called Trixie and his dangerous accomplice The Burned Man… It’s really not a million miles off Sin City or the Dresden Files, so if you like either of those two, definitely give it a shot.

Anyway, for those of you who have picked up Drake already, we’ve a treat for you today! How about the first chapter of book 2,  Dominion, and an exclusive cover reveal? 🙂 Before we get to that though, here’s the blurb:

In the tunnels deep under London, the Earth Elementals are dying.

Hunted by something they know only as the Rotman, the Elementals have no one trustworthy they can turn to. Enter Don Drake, diabolist and semi-reformed hitman, and an almost-fallen angel called Trixie.

The matriarch tells Don that Rotman is actually the archdemon Bianakith, he knows this is going to be a tough job. Bianakith is the foretold spirit of disease and decay whose aura corrupts everything it comes near, and even the most ancient foundations of London will crumble eventually. Now Don, Trixie and the Burned Man have to hatch a plan to keep Bianakith from wiping out the Elementals and bringing down the city. But the Burned Man has other plans and those may have dire consequences for everyone.

The past never stays buried, and old sins must be atoned for. Judgement is coming, and its name is Dominion.

All sounds pretty exciting, right? Well, check out the cover by Raid 71:

Dominion-144dpi
Quite different to the first cover, isn’t it? Drake was a bit darker and a bit more focused on the gangster type elements I feel (with the featured women, cars and architecture). Dominion‘s cover features London’s Underground and I can’t tell whether the red eyes in the tunnel mixed with Drake’s expression promise action, amusement or horror (I’m presuming a blend of the three). When I add it to the blurb though, it feels like this book could be much darker than the first and more deadly and with higher stakes – which is something I’m looking forward to diving into. Overall, I have to say that these covers really do match the tone and style of Peter’s books perfectly and they make a nice change (as is Angry Robot’s forte) to most of what is already on my bookshelf.

And, finally, here’s that extract we promised you:

Chapter 1

The gnomes called it Rotman, and I was starting to see why. I swung my legs over the railing and hung nervously for a moment, my feet trying to get some purchase on the crumbing concrete ledge below me.

“Come on,” the gnome hissed.

I let go of the rust-eaten metal and edged to my left while the ghostly underground wind whispered in my ears. It was dark as the devil’s arsehole down there, with only the dim light of the gnome’s torch to see by. Somewhere above us a train hurtled through a tunnel. I had to stop for a minute and let the vibrations die away before I dared move again. There was a sheer drop on the other side of the ledge, and in the darkness I had no way of telling how far down it went. It could have been three feet or it could have been fifty. I flattened myself against the soggy wall behind me and edged sideways after the gnome. Something didn’t smell very nice, and I could only hope it wasn’t me.

The gnome turned to look back at me, the beam of its torch playing wildly across empty space as it moved. I caught a glimpse of the decaying skeleton of a collapsed catwalk, flaky with rust and roped with bundles of old, rotted cables and torn insulation. Now that I could see, the drop in front of me looked to be about twenty feet. That was at least eighteen too many in my book.

Get a grip of yourself, Don, I told myself.

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” I said, wishing it would keep the light still.

“We’re nearly across,” the gnome said.

It turned abruptly again and shone the light of its torch over a grey metal door at the end of the ledge where it looked liked the catwalk had once been attached to the wall. I shuffled sideways as fast as I dared, blinking dust from my eyes and trying not to think about anything. Least of all about sheer drops onto twisted, rusty metal. That went about as well as you’d expect, to be honest with you, and I have to admit I’d worked up a bit of a sweat by the time the gnome’s clawed hand reached out for the door handle. I could hear another train somewhere above, coming closer. The door opened with a scream of rust-clogged hinges and the gnome shuffled through. I may have shoved past it a bit, clinging nervously to the doorframe as the train clattered overhead and flakes of decaying concrete showered onto my head.

“Bloody hell,” I muttered.

The gnome fumbled about for a moment and then there was light at last. Sort of, anyway. A feeble piss-yellow glow spilled from the caged bulbs that lined the wall of the concrete corridor at twenty foot intervals. The gnome turned to look at me.

“You know, I thought you were going to be a little bit more heroic than this,” it said.

“Who the fuck told you that?”

I’m no one’s idea of a hero, not by a long way I’m not. Come to that, the thing in front of me wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured a gnome to be either. It looked sort of like a cross between a bushbaby and a giant bald molerat, if molerats were five feet tall and wearing baggy old jeans and a stained red hoodie. Its whole head looked far too pointed for comfort, with big round eyes and a twitching nose. It didn’t actually have whiskers but it looked like it should have done, if you know what I mean. It was a funny looking little bugger, all things considered, somewhere in a weird place between cute and hideous. It flicked the torch off and pushed its clawed, shovel-like hands into the pockets of its hoodie.

“That’s what I get for making assumptions,” it said. “My mother always told me she didn’t raise her daughters to go making silly assumptions, but I do seem to.”

“You’re a girl?” I asked it in surprise. Bit rude of me I suppose, with hindsight.

“Yes,” it said. She said, I mean. She blinked at me. “Why, aren’t you?”

“Er,” I said. “No.”

“Course you’re not,” she said. “There I go again, see? When I meet something new I always just sort of assume its female.”

“Well I’m not,” I said. “And I’m someone, not something.”

“Course you are,” the gnome said again. “I’d been sort of thinking of you as ‘it’ so far.”

“Well don’t,” I said, for all that I had to admit I’d been doing exactly the same thing. “Look, is it much further?”

“Yes,” she said.

I sighed and ran my hands through my hair to get the bits of concrete out.

They felt wet and sort of spongy. I lifted a finger to my face and sniffed. The soggy concrete smelled horrible.

“Jesus,” I muttered.

“It’s because of the Rotman,” she said. “This is just the edges, it’s a lot worse down below. You’ll see.”

“I can’t wait,” I said.

The gnome led me down the narrow corridor. There were thick bundles of cobweb-encrusted cables running along the ceiling, puddles of stagnant water underfoot and, somehow, inexplicably, graffiti on the walls. I marvel at the determination of London’s delinquent youth sometimes, I really do. How the fuck the little bastards had got down there I had no idea. The corridor ended at another rusty door which the gnome opened with one of the many keys she carried on a big jingling bunch. There was a single caged bulb on the far side, and a circular ledge around a hole in the ground. Above, the shaft ended a few feet above my head in a rough slab of unsmoothed concrete. The only other feature was the curved top of an iron ladder which was bolted to the side of the hole and extended down into the darkness. I crouched and examined the ladder carefully. Rust flaked off under my fingers and tumbled gracefully away into the darkness. That was hardly encouraging, to put it mildly.

“Really?” I asked.

The gnome nodded. “Really, hero.”

“After you, then,” I said.

“Depends if you want to do it in the dark,” she said. “I thought you might like me to hold the torch for you.”

I swallowed. Fair point.

“Right,” I said. “Cheers.”

I tentatively tried a foot on the ladder. It creaked, but seemed like it would hold me. I took a deep breath and trusted it with all my weight, ready to brace my back against the wall behind me to stop myself falling if something broke. I went down slowly. The gnome shone her torch down the shaft so I could at least see the rungs as I went, but that was about it. It was a shock when my feet touched down in a puddle at the bottom.

“I’m down,” I called back up the shaft.

“Out of the way then,” she replied.

I stepped to one side and found myself plunged into total darkness as the gnome started down the ladder. She climbed fast, but that was still far too long to stand there blind as a bat as far as I was concerned. I could hear rats skittering in the distance. At least, I sincerely hoped they were just rats. This deep there could be night creatures wandering around anywhere and I really didn’t want to bump into one of those on their own turf.

Night creatures are horrible fucking things, and the tunnels under London are lousy with them. Picture a sort of upright alligator with big sharp claws and far too many teeth, that can hide in shadows and make its own darkness so you don’t even know it’s there until it’s too late. They like to rape and kill people, and they aren’t fussy about what sex you are or what order they do it in either. No, I really did not want to bump into any night creatures while I was alone in the dark.

Eventually the gnome’s grubby trainers splashed down into the puddle beside me and the light returned with her. She had the torch clamped between her teeth for climbing. Those teeth were chisel-shaped and raked sharply backwards, and they looked awfully strong.

“This is almost the bottom of the modern level,” she said, and pushed her hood back from her head as though she was starting to feel at home.

I nodded, relieved. “Good.”

“From here we go down to the old parts.”

“Oh,” I said. “Oh goody. That sounds like fun.”

London, as you probably know, is an old city. A very, very old city. I followed the gnome down a twisting flight of concrete steps then back along what I thought was the way we had come, but now the rotting carcass of the catwalk was rather worryingly hanging above our heads. We went down more yet steps, brick ones this time that were running with water, and then into a long vaulted tunnel. Wherever we were now was Victorian by the looks of it. I began to wonder how long the batteries in her torch were good for. If the light had gone out then I think I might have had some sort of breakdown.

I kept following the gnome, watching her trainers splashing in dank puddles and the beam of her torch bobbing along in front of her. I kept closer than I really wanted to, my eyes fixed on the back of her wrinkled, hairless head.

“What’s your name, anyway?” I asked after a while.

I didn’t really care what her name was but it was something to say, and I’ve always thought gnomic names might be long and impressive with lots of apostrophes in them.

“Janice,” she said.

“Oh,” I said, feeling rather disappointed. “I’m Don Drake.”

“I know,” she said, and that was the end of the conversation for another ten minutes. It was a bit of a let down as these things go.

We finally stopped at a place where the crumbling Victorian brickwork of the tunnel wall had been roughly hammered out into an open arch. There was another tunnel on the other side, this one sloping down and looking almost natural. The gnome, who was apparently called Janice of all things, stepped through and turned to face me. She showed me her big strong teeth in what I can only assume was meant to be a smile. If it was meant to be a reassuring one it failed dismally.

“We’re home,” she said.

I followed her through the arch and my shoulder brushed lightly against the brickwork as I went. The brick seemed to sag and wilt against my coat, and a great rancid clump of it broke away and oozed down my sleeve. It stank like month old meat left out in a damp room. I gagged and shook it off.

“It’s getting worse, isn’t it?” I said.

“I told you it did,” she said. “Watch what you touch.”

“So this Rotman of yours has been here?” I asked her.

She shook her head. “No, it’s not that bad. You’ll know when you’re somewhere it’s actually been. This is just the…I don’t know, the edges of its effect, I suppose. You’re the wizard, you tell me.”

I felt like telling her I wasn’t a sodding wizard, for one thing, but that seemed like a fairly fine distinction to be making right then. I am a magician though. A diabolist, to be precise.

“So have you ever seen it?” I asked her instead. “This Rotman, I mean.”

“No,” she said. “No, but Alice has. Come on, I’ll introduce you.”

She led me down the tunnel and into a sort of roundish chamber with a low ceiling and various other tunnels leading off from it, some sloping up slightly and others going further down. They all looked uncomfortably like burrows. There was furniture after a fashion, a table that rose from the ground like some sort of natural rock mesa with benches around it, all of one piece with the floor. That must have taken some serious carving, I thought. It took me a few moments to realise that I could see far more than the torch was illuminating.

“I can see,” I said.

“Oh good,” she said, and turned the torch off. “Batteries cost money.”

Now that the electric light was gone I realised the walls of the tunnels or burrows or whatever they were seemed to be giving off a pinkish light of their own. I looked at Janice’s big, clawed hands, and I thought about burrowing animals and bioluminescent secretions. I decided I had absolutely no interest in finding out exactly what made the light. None whatsoever, but I was glad of it all the same.

“So,” I said after a moment, “you were going to introduce me to this Alice of yours.”

“Yeah,” Janice said, and shuffled her feet. “Look, about Alice… she saw the Rotman, like I said. And the Rotman saw her. Only from a distance, of course, and she ran like a rat to get away, but…”

“But?”

“Well, you’ve seen what Rotman’s doing to the warren.”

“Ah,” I said. I had a nasty feeling I knew where this was going.

“Poor Alice,” said Janice. “Try not to stare, OK?”

Alice was in a small chamber by herself, and staring was the last thing I wanted to do. She was curled up on a sort of shelf-like bed that looked to have been carved directly out of the side of the burrow, with a thin grey blanket half covering her naked body. She was quite obviously dead, the body pretty far gone to putrefaction. It smelled indescribably vile in there.

“Hello Alice,” Janice said.

The rotting corpse lifted it’s head and smiled weakly. “Hi Jan.”

“Jesus,” I whispered.

I couldn’t believe the poor little thing was still alive. Her skin was a mottled greenish blue, with black rotted holes in some places and puss oozing from others, her bones visible in some of the deep fissures in her flesh.

“This is Don. He’s here to help,” Janice said. “Tell him about the Rotman.”

Alice turned her huge, blind white eyes towards me. Putrid milky fluid leaked from them and trickled down her cheeks.

She giggled.

If you are a fan of the series, I’m sure you already have all this. But be sure to find Peter online at his website, on Twitter @petemc666 and on Facebook (and, very often, our Fantasy-Faction Facebook Group too!).

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