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The Downs-Lord Triptych

The Two Confessions

The Downs-Lord Triptych

(As it was pitched -- though things turned out differently)

Downs-Lord Dawn
Downs-Lord Day
Downs-Lord Doomsday

Three opening scenes, both the beginning and the end of the series, a saga curving cyclically back in on itself:

Our world, the Isle of Capri, somewhen in the 1700s. A Jacobite in exile is astounded to encounter a beggar speaking flawless English. Questioned, the broken old man says:

'"I have fallen far ..... I am the first of a long line of kings ...."

"The last in the line, surely ?" his benefactor corrected.

For an instant there was backbone in the beggar, but it was fleeting, like a stillbirth's soul. Whilst it still lived he spoke.

"What I have said I have said" he told them firmly.'

An indeterminate year. The 'God-King of Wessex' slumps wearily on his crystal throne, half listening to the supplications of his subjects, conveyed along voice-tubes through the vastness of his castle-palace. Ninety-nine wide-spaced silken veils separate him from the closest worshippers, a throng drawn from myriad races and species. Distracted from the ceaseless praise, the absolute monarch gazes through a slit window at the settled kingdom his ancestor carved out long before. The first God-King's diary has been found. Those subversive words cause him to travel back down the years ....

England in the 1640s. A schoolboy's attention wanders from the Latin grammar before him, to observe the sweep of the South Downs visible through the window. His master notices it for the umpteenth time:

'"The trouble with you, boy" he says, resignedly, "that you live in a world of your own."

The youth forces his eyes back to the text, but thinks to himself: 'If only ....'

Later in life his wish is granted ....

Initially - and very briefly - 'our' world, circa 1660, that is to say, England of the 'Restoration' period, and then mostly - save for short raids back 'home' - a parallel Earth, readily accessible to the main character. In this 'other place', the world is geographically and geologically etc. the same as ours, but all else is different. For example, the Downs, the river Thames, the Pennines and so on, are all present and correct - but the story played out upon them has been markedly changed. Consequently, there exist convergences between this other Earth and our own; a settlement naturally arises in the spot were London should be, 'Dover' is still a port but under another name, people raise cattle (sort of) in the fertile south-west, 'Romney Marsh' is still boggy - and so on. However, the differences far outweigh the similarities.

Mankind has evolved there, but so have other species, intelligent and otherwise, with whom it must compete. For instance, in the area in which the hero first emerges, ['Hang on; I know this place - this is Selsey !' ] the life-form holding the whip-hand is the Null, a twice man-sized, dark purple skinned and hive-dwelling humanoid. Humanity lives cowed in burrows, a species hunted for meat. Re-establishing human control over 'New-Surrey', 'New-Sussex' and 'New-Kent', is therefore an initial priority ....

A person of no great account in 'our' world, aspiring to empire and indulging his wildest dreams in a 'blank-slate' Earth. The deterioration of his character under the effect of unbridled temptations and 'stern necessity'. His partial redemption after suffering and terrible reversals.

From time to time he is obliged to return to his previous life - to acquire weapons and reinforcements, and his contrasting lowly status there presents scope for my favourite sort of dry humour. The text might briefly be in diary form.

An Anglican curate, of no great learning or piety or drive, whose personality unfolds given the opportunities and challenges this new world presents. There being no restraints on him there, the more .... uninhibited aspects of his persona develop alarmingly.

[and a female main character - a native of this new world - who is told in youth by her doting father, 'you'll always be my princess' - and who strongly wishes to be the real thing.]

The principal character's 'blue-stocking' wife who also 'blossoms' unpredictably once through the portal into the new world and her husband's proto-empire.

And : his 'Giles' type Cromwellian Grandma. A cast of the wilder Rakes, fops, Ranters and religious maniacs of Restoration times recreated anew in an even less corseted world. A megalomaniac rival God-King with access to deadlier technology than the hero's. 'Monsters' galore.


Downs-Lord Dawn - The establishment of Empire, war against the Null.

Downs-Lord Day - Empire's zenith and the rise of a new enemy

Downs-Lord Doomsday - Defeat, redemption and a new dawn for humanity.

The struggle to liberate humanity from the heel of the vicious predator Null species. The recruitment in 'our' world of soldiers, craftsmen, concubines and poets to stock the hero's beachhead. Dramatic successes consequent on introducing firearms into the new world. Battles against exotic empires.

The revelation of 'sorcerous' abilities amongst a small proportion of rescued humanity; its discovery, initial suppression and later harnessing. The development of Mages and Arch-Mages. Consequent contact with higher powers and demons. Mysteries uncovered by the character, viz., why should certain ancient monuments be inexplicably present in both worlds, and where Richard Cromwell really went to after fleeing England. The ideals of Decadence versus Puritanism made manifest and fought out for real. The discovery that other individuals from other periods of 'our' history have made their way through and established themselves. A War against the enclave established by a Victorian academic in 'Essex' and the siege of his castle. Wild erotic shenanigans, tragedy, philosophy and low jokes.

Circa 100,000 words per book. Plus MAPS! of the new land, initially sketchy but increasingly detailed as the hero explores or is contacted.

The main character has ambitions of Imperial proportion and this new world is his to explore. When he fails or grow bored in one place, it is open to him to move on, to 'France' or 'the Americas' or wherever. In turn, those who follow after him in the dynasty he establishes, will also have their own projects to pursue, whilst still maintaining ties ( albeit weakening ones ) with the 'Old World'


The Two Confessions

Set in the world of A Dangerous Energy and To Build Jerusalem, this book concerns events in the life of a young would-be industrialist, chafing against the reactionary constraints of his civilisation. Thwarted in attempts at steam-powered mass armaments production under the eyes of The Church and Crown and the Labour-Guilds in London, he is dispossessed and exiled to the wilder climes of his native West Country. Close to the unquiet border with semi-independent Cornwall (or 'Kernow') and the pirate infested Bristol Channel, he hopes to find the laxity and lack of supervision required to achieve wealth and power.

There he stumbles upon a deep secret from the past and, with a powerful military patron, is commissioned (as an expendable person of ill-repute) to solve a centuries old mystery. What the Church would have all believe to be a worked-out mine proves to be something of far greater - and sinister - import. Events shift underground.

Initially all goes well but the 'hero' has not bargained for the 'mine' having other, equally implacable, users. He finds himself striving against forces as influential and ruthless as his own backer, and waging a war against half-glimpsed enemies, above and below ground. In desperation, reinforcements are deployed as events move to a dramatic conclusion between the most powerful forces of the age.

The Two Confessions continues (and concludes) the exploration of the detailed alternative history described in A Dangerous Energy and To Build Jerusalem, and is a further insight into that very different England, this time away from the Church and political circles previously described.

The principal character - in our world a relatively unexceptional entrepreneur - is there a dangerous radical, travelling light in terms of the prevailing ethos. The book draws in strands but lightly touched upon before, such as the free Celtic areas of Wales and Kernow, and the less settled life therein. The increasingly driven 'hero' also encounters his world's more marginal types, such as pirates operating out of Lundy, the 'Grey Neighbours' or Elve-folk and, most importantly, a manic conspiracy in deadly opposition to 'Christendom'.

The title is a reference to two crucial instances of the sacrament of confession and the struggle for supremacy between two irreconcilable ideologies (i.e. 'confessions'). It also bears a eye-catching similarity to the .... intriguing 'True Confessions'.

In recounting the 'hero's battle against calculated conservatism above ground and unearthly forces below, this story both dovetails into a previously existing storyline and comprises a stand-alone novel of ideas and action.


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