Deep under the ocean, Simeon Escher, protégé to the leader of the order of Loth Lörion, finds himself an unexpected guest aboard the submersible, Narwhal. Home to a crew of humans, and strange mer-folk few people are aware exist, Simeon is swept up in their quest to find a world within a world, a possible safe haven from the insidious reach of the Kabbalah. Yet how can he think about his mission when the captain’s niece fills his every thought, distracting him from all that’s important to him, including his own fiancée.
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Encante (a Novella) is the first in a new Steampunk series, set in a multiverse known as The Fifteen Solars. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is probably the most well recognised example of a Multiverse-based tale.
The Fifteen Solars is so named due to the fact there are fifteen planets existing in parallel, each very different from the next, but all connected. The inhabitants of these worlds have not yet mastered space travel, and so for the most part the adventure is contained to their own respective worlds. They do however have the means to travel from one parallel world to the next and, consequently, the events and politics of all fifteen planets have become intertwined. As the series unfolds however it will become clear that there is far more at work, and the reasons for these worlds existing as they do is much more complex than simple happenstance.
Encante serves as an introduction to one of these parallel worlds, as well as offering more than a few hints as to what is happening in the wider multiverse, and how the series will unfold. It is a self-contained story in the most traditional Steampunk style, heavily inspired by Jules Vernes’ 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, it is a blending of mermaid folk-lore, Victorian-esque costume values, and the technological quirks that make the Steampunk genre so beloved. It is a tale of romance, of adventure, and of prejudicial values in a seemingly idyllic society. Some of the characters will recur in later books in the series.
There are currently three additional novellas planned to follow Encante, two to be released in 2014, the final to follow in 2015. There will also be at least one full length novel following these. The second novella, Honour, is currently slated for release at the end of March next year, and while the additional two novellas are as yet untitled, I can reveal that the novel shall be titled Soul of Avarice.
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‘“You go too far!” he growled.
I took a step back, confused by the abrupt change in demeanour and, I’m not ashamed to say, more than a little intimidated. Everett was no small man.
“I open my ship to you, my home, even allow you secret meetings with my niece . . . oh yes, I see you thought I was unaware of that? There is nothing that goes on aboard this vessel that escapes me, Escher, nothing! But for you to presume to take liberties with my personal companion—”
“Companion?” I gaped at him for an instant, truly confounded. “Captain, I believe there’s some confusion here; you said I could have a farmer as a guide, I merely thought to have the one with whom I was already acquainted.”
Silence reigned for one uncomfortably long moment, then Everett issued his now-familiar roar of laughter. “A farmer!”
“Yes.” I turned to Harrow, baffled, only to find the man had fled his captain’s rage.
“You think I keep Vee aboard to farm? Oh, son, how naive they breed you on your world! No, my dear boy, she’s not fit to farm the grass between her legs, that one, although I’ll grant you she knows what to do with the quim she keeps beneath.” I stared at him in astonishment. “Vee’s no farmer, boy; she’s a renter.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’re forgiven.” He roared with laughed once more. “You weren’t to know, I suppose.”
I’d been asking for explanation, not forgiveness. “Are you saying the girl is a . . .”
“She’s a whore, boy; they don’t have whores where you come from?”
“They do indeed, sir, although . . .” I’d never think to see one aboard a ship, nor hear a gentleman speak so openly of employing such services. “. . . I’d not thought to see a prostitute aboard a submersible,” I finished lamely.
“A prostitute aboard a submersible, he says.” Everett turned to Newton, who stood in his shadow, echoing the man’s uproarious laughter in obvious discomfort. Evidently I was not the only one who found the captain’s disclosure distasteful.
“I’ve close to a hundred men aboard, Escher, how else am I to keep them happy?” he asked. “Besides, the women aren’t good for much else. Occasionally one can cook or wait at table, but mostly they’re worth their bite and not much more. That said, you’ll never find a human pleasurable again once you’ve tried one, you mark my words.”
“Consider them marked.”’
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