Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My novels #12: Imperial Black

NIKOLAI DANTE: Imperial Black [Black Flame, 2005]

In this riotous tale of the near future, Nikolai Dante is cuaght by the Parliament of Shadows: a cabal planning the overthrow the Tsar. He is given a stark choice - do the cabal's work or face execution. Decisions, decisions...

The Russian rogue is team with beautiful assassin Mai Tsai, and sent to the Himalayas where a lost mountain fortress hides a secret weapon. But nobody has ever found the Forbidden Citadel and returned alive. Meanwhile, the Tsar's notorious Imperial Blck regiment - renowned for their cruelty and brutality - also searches for the citadel. This deadly army is led by Ivanov the Terrible, a ruthless sadist who has an old score to settle with Dante.

The snow runs red with blood as Nikolai fights for his life on the roof of the world!


Now that back covr copy definitely sounds like something I'd like, featuring as it does a lot of allitertion [though not by anxious anchors placed in perilous posts]. This was the second of my three Dante novels. Having played things for laughs in the first, I decided to go a bit darker and more serious with this book. The character's stories in iconic British comic 2000 AD oscillate between romps and bleaker tales, so I wanted to reflect that in my prose version of the character.

Of course, that didn't prevent plenty of humour creeping into the finished tome. I seem to recall an extended chase sequence in the opening chapters with Dante fighitng off an attacker armed only with a metre-long double-ended phallus for protection, and he also has to swim across an indoor pool of warm sake. There's plenty of other hi-jinks among all the blood and thunder.

The title for this tome was created by another author who had pitched a Dante novel to Black Flame. The book was solicited to the trade but the writer didn't get contracted, so I was asked to adopt the name for my novel. I didn't mind as it provided a title for the bad guys' regiment, but still feel kind of bad about being given a slot promised to another author - sorry, Andrew.

Not much else to say about Imperial Black. I was writing a new novel every three months at this point, so the experience of writing them all blends together. This particular book is out of print, but you can buy all three of my Dante novels in a big fat omnibus edition appropriately entitled From Russia With Lust.

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