The Blade In The Angel’s Shadow by Andy Darby ~ Book Tour & Giveaway 6/6 – 7/6

An Empire born through Angelic magic, or a hell on Earth? One woman’s sword may decide it all.

The Blade in the Angel’s Shadow

by Andy Darby

Genre: Historical Fantasy, Swords and Sorcery

The Angels want to usher in Revelation, and what better way than through the creation of the British Empire?

Infamous swordswoman Captain Lament Evyngar awaits execution in the Tower of London, charged with heresy and attempted regicide, but all is not as it seems. Unwittingly entangled in the schemes of the Angels, she recounts her tale to the Queen’s sorcerer, Dr Dee, who is more than a little responsible for her predicament.

Dr Dee has designs for a British Empire that will dominate the world for ages to come, and with the aegis of the Angels, he has the power to make it a reality. But, two elements are missing, and through blackmail and occult ritual, Lament and her giant Dutch comrade are forced to journey to the war-ravaged Spanish Netherlands on a quest that will reveal the truth about strange entities that use humans to fight out their eternal conflicts and in doing so alter the course of history forever.

So, a bargain is made, a child is created, and death is no longer an option for Lament as she is swept back and forth through time and space, her identity suddenly made fluid until she can at last return to the London of Queen Elizabeth I and face the cosmic horror that is unveiled in the royal court.

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It is only Lament’s unnaturally fast reflexes that save Garrat from the quarrel that fires from somewhere within. Lament pulls him out of line with the door as she hears the snap of the crossbow releasing, and the missile travels a hair’s breadth past his skinny frame. Unfortunately, the Bishop is not so lucky. Standing square on to the doorway, eager to see what is inside, he takes the quarrel full in the chest, and he dies with a surprised look on his ageing cherub’s face.

“So, we can assume there are traps then.” Lament’s irony causes Pieter to smile as Garrat pats himself all over, not quite believing that he has not been hit. He stoops and collects his tools as Pieter takes the lantern from the ground by the body, and they peer cautiously inside.

There are stone steps leading down into what would appear to be a dimly lit chamber. The rest of the stone structure is littered with barrels and baskets that look as if they once held food stuff or other supplies. But Lament’s interest lies on the back wall directly opposite the door where a metal bracket holds a large crossbow and a thin cord stretches from its release mechanism through a counterweight and to a ring set on the back of the door.

“This could only have been set from inside, so methinks that this van Ijzendoom is at home. Therefore, we proceed with caution.” Lament runs her fingers along the cord and must give some credit for the skill of the trap. She turns as she hears a grunt and sees Pieter dragging the Bishop through the door by one ankle, the cassock riding up to reveal a fat arse, and then propping him in the corner behind some barrels.

The Dutchman looks up and grins. “Well, we don’t want anyone stumbling over the little fat bastard, do we? I would say our necromancer might be enough trouble without a visit from the Watch.”

They descend the steps slowly, aware that there could be more lethal devices lying in wait. The lantern casts a peculiar, sickly glow on the stones of the stairwell, and then they are in a broad corridor that runs away from them. There is light. Candles set in iron sconces illuminate the corridor as it transitions from the entrance and becomes something else – the vaults.

Pieter and Garrat gasp in superstitious awe at the images painted on the wooden panels that clad the sides of the vault walls. Biblical images from the Old Testament fill the righthand wall in a profusion of colour and detail. On the left-hand wall, scenes of hell and damnation scream out at them in lurid detail. As good Protestants, Pieter and Garrat see terrible heresy, but Lament grew up Catholic, and although she has never seen images quite like these, she is not offended by them. She recalls hearing of a Dutch painter called Bosh, whose visions of what awaits the damned have been vilified by those of all religious persuasion for the hysteria they have caused. Perhaps these are similar? Lament’s attention is caught by a depiction of the Garden of Eden to her right. Is it a trick of the flickering light, or is the serpent really moving amongst the branches of the tree?

“Jesu, preserve us!” Garrat backs away from the images of the inferno on the opposite wall. The mix of lantern and candlelight makes it seem as if the fires of Hell are truly ablaze and the souls of the damned are writhing in torment. Perhaps it is just the cleverness of the artist, but it makes the blood run cold.

Another passage crosses this one at right angles, and as they approach it, there is the sound of a voice droning what Lament thinks, from recent experience, can only be an incantation. She holds up her left hand in warning as she quietly draws her sword. The ceiling of the vault seems no longer to be a painted depiction of the heavens but to be filled with billowing clouds. As Lament cautiously peeks around the corner in the left wall, there is a drawn-out groan that seems to come from the walls themselves.

The new passage is a vision of lunacy. The walls are entirely covered with images of devils and demonic forms, punishing the sinners who have now to pay the eternal price for their transgressions against God. In the centre of the passage is a figure clad in garments of a deep maroon slashed with gold panels. A hood covers his head, and a cloak falls back across his shoulders as he stands with his arms raised. The droning voice comes from that dark cowl, and as the companions round the corner, it rises to a crescendo of inhuman sound.

Andy is a lifelong fan of fantasy, swords and sorcery, and weird tales. He also has a bit of an obsession with historical fiction/fantasy and alternate histories.

Andy lives on the north coast of Cornwall in the UK with his artist wife, teenage daughter, three cats, and two ponies. He is contantly running out of shelf space for the ever-increasing book collection.

Other books by Andy:

Me and the Monkey: Chronicles of the Monkey God Vol 1 & 2

The Paddington Incident

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