John Whitbourn - Orion Publishing Group

John Whitbourn



John Whitbourn (1958- )
John Whitbourn is an archaeology graduate and has been a published author since 1987. His first book, A Dangerous Energy, won the BBC/Victor Gollancz Fantasy Novel Prize in 1991. Whitbourn's novels and short stories tend to focus on alternative histories set in a 'Catholic' universe. Key characteristics of his works are wry humour, the reality of magic and a sustained attempt to reflect on the interaction between religion and politics on a personal and social scale.
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Downs-Lord Dawn

John Whitbourn

Thomas Blades, a 17th century curate, discovers a magical door to another world - or rather to an alternative Earth. But here, humanity is not the top of the food chain, as Blades finds when the poor, burrow-dwelling humans he stumbles over are hunted and eaten by the Null - mighty, ravening beasts whose intelligence and killing ability makes them top predator.Returning to our own world for weapons, Blades vows to become humanity's saviour on his new earth and, over the years, builds an empire of which he becomes the first God-king. Power shifts between humanity and Null but as the humans grow in sophistication, so comes treachery, jealousy and murder - and God-king Blades will change much from the timid cleric who first happened upon his domain...

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Downs-Lord Day

John Whitbourn

Thomas Blades has been released from his time as God-King in the alternative world he fought and ruled over. His descendants rule and fight but he cannot bear to return and meddle in their lives.

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Downs-Lord Doomsday

John Whitbourn

Meek and mild curate Thomas Blades discovered an alternative earth where humanity languished at the base of the food-chain. Over eventful years, Blades defeated the bestial Null master-race and carved out the empire of 'New-Wessex'. Shedding all former inhibitions, he ascended its throne as unchallenged 'god-king'. Exiled in turn by overpowering new enemies - the 'angels' - Blades was rescued by his own descendant, Guy Ambassador, after centuries of absence. Under Blades' strangely charmed leadership, the enigmatic and merciless angels were repulsed and humanity enjoyed a respite of liberty. But now, decades later, the venerable god-king broods in seclusion, refusing to die; the fountainhead of bitter thoughts and deeds. Meanwhile, Wessex sinks-into anarchy and neglect. Guy Ambassador travels amongst the bickering princedoms and warring states, wavering in the faith that has cost him family, friends and home. All around him the world of New-Wessex is moving towards resolution of its ultimate destiny and reason for being. Forces beyond human comprehension invade the already baroque realm.

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A Dangerous Energy

John Whitbourn

England, 1967: ruled by the power of the Catholic Church, as it has been since the failure of the Protestant Reformation. In this England there are steam trains, but no internal combustion engine; rifles but no electricity; heresy but no democracy.And in this England, magic works.England, 1967; young Tobias Oakley, out on an illicit nighttime expedition, meets an elven woman - and is chosen for initiation into the secrets of necromancy. Tobias has a powerful talent and his injudicious use of it brings him to the attention of the Church - whose Thaumaturgical Division soon recruits him.And so Tobias enters the Church, beginning his career amid the brothels and taverns of the teeming slums of the diocese of Southwark. From there his progress, if not steady - there is something about Tobias that arouses unease in his superiors - is generally upwards. As a curate, as a priest, as a soldier in the bloody war against heresy and finally as an eminent expert on diabolism, Tobias becomes a power in the English Catholic Church.And as he does so, he pursues his second career: as liar, drug smuggler, rakehell, mass murderer, betrayer, vicious libertine and consorter with demons. For the elf legacy that has shaped his life has robbed him of something vital. And when Tobias, in an effort finally to discover some meaning in life, embarks on a fantastic and perilous quest through supernatural realms he finds himself at the last confronting a savage irony.

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Popes and Phantoms

John Whitbourn

Admiral Slovo was a man of his time, but of more than one dimension..In his sixteenth century, a pirate might be followed by the corpse of his victim, walking across the ocean, until putrescence claimed it. Or an interview with the Pope might be mirrored, exactly, by one with the Devil. Reality shifts could cause a King to see his capital city shimmer into another Realm entirely.Through such scenes of macabre hallucination, mayhem and murder, Slovo is a man alone, set apart by his stoic beliefs from the rigours of human fears and passions. As such, he was a valuable find for the Vehme, a clandestine, subversive society that ensnared its members from an early age, securing loyalties by the expedient methods of blackmail, bribery and barbarism.But Slovo is more than a Vehmist puppet, and whether as a brigand on the high seas, or emissary to the Borgias, or as the Pope's Machiavellian Mr Fix-it, he plots a course that suits his own ends as much as those of his paymasters. He knows that, in the words of his mentor Marcus Aurelius, "in a brief while you will be ashes of bare bones; a name, or perhaps not even a name". And there are few things that cannot be solved by a stiletto in the eye.

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To Build Jerusalem

John Whitbourn

One morning in 1995, Jonah Ransom, clothier, is going about his everyday business when he meets a beautiful demon in his storecupboard. At around the same time, the King of England with his entire court, vanishes abruptly before the astonished eyes of his public as he prepares to attend Mass. Even in an England where the Reformation failed, and magic has become a commonplace tool of the all-powerful Catholic Church, such events could be described as unusual.Before long, it is apparent that something very different is abroad - magic ceases to work in its accustomed way, instability and political unrest threaten to disrupt a society used to order and rigid social obedience. Eventually the Pope is sufficiently perturbed to send one of his beloved (by him) and dreaded (by the public in general) Sicarii to investigate the disturbance. Arriving late on the scene, Adam (he has no other name), Sicarii extraordinaire, sometime spy, sometime security officer, sometime assassin, discovers a mystifying, malicious power at work, a power that can twist not only souls, but his entire world inside out.

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The Royal Changeling

John Whitbourn