“The King of High Adventure,” Starlog.
A thousand years ago the world of Gaeia fell to the Terrarchs, cruel and beautiful alien invaders with a deadly secret. Masters of sorcery and intrigue they have ruled humanity with a fist of steel inside a glove of velvet. For a thousand years, ancient demons have slept, waiting for the moment of their return. Now the stars are right. Old and evil gods are wakening. New revolutions are being born. A genocidal war that will destroy civilization sweeps ever closer.
In a world of magic and gunpowder, the half-breed Rik must rise from simple soldier to the deadliest assassin the world has ever known.
In Death’s Angels, Rik and his fellow soldiers of the Seventh Infantry uncover a sinister conspiracy to waken an ancient slumbering evil. They encounter the lovely and terrible Lady Asea, immortal sorceress and ultimate manipulator of men and nations for the first time. Their deadly quest takes them to the haunted city of the cannibalistic Spider God to face the hidden peril lurking there.
Death’s Angels is a thrilling tale of muskets and magic blending Lovecraftian horror with adventure and very dark humour by the bestselling creator of Gotrek and Felix.
Join the adventure today!
Available at Amazon.com and Amazon UK and free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers
If you are a British man of a certain age (OK, my age) you probably remember Sven Hassel. He was the author of a series of pulp paperbacks that were passed around under the desks of the classrooms of my youth. They featured the soldiers of a German punishment battalion fighting on the Russian front in World War 2 and were, by the standards of the day (and even today), quite brutal. They followed the adventures of a particularly seedy and unheroic bunch of misfit warriors across the frozen landscapes of Russia and beyond.
Reading a book told from the German point of view was a novelty (my parents’ generation had fought in what was always referred to as THE War as opposed to the Great War and remembered it quite vividly) and any indiscretions committed by this array of shirkers and convicts was partially explained and exonerated by the fact that they were foreigners. (The 70s was a different and more prejudiced world. I am not defending my teenage self’s point of view, merely saying what it was. I grew up on a Council Estate in 60’s and 70’s West Coast Scotland. It was not a hotbed of Guardian-reading, liberal tolerance.)
The characters were funny and realistic in a very dark way and their adventures while grim were certainly enthralling. The books have lived in my memory for near 40 years so you can judge the impact for yourself.
There was something else about them too. For all their flaws, the characters seemed like real people, not square jawed heroes of the variety I was familiar with from the Victor and other comics of my youth. There was something about Tiny and Porta and the Old Man and the others that rang a bell, a gallows humour that I have since realised is quite common among the real world soldiers of my acquaintance.
At the time I was about to start Death’s Angels I was looking to do something different. I had enjoyed pretty huge success with a tale of two wandering sword and sorcery heroes with Gotrek and Felix but I was a bit burned out after seven books. I wanted to do something that was not at all a traditional fantasy novel. I knew I definitely did not want to write about a world that was full of elves and dwarves and innocent young swineherds gifted with god-like powers and a mighty destiny.
I had been travelling in South Africa and, for some reason, I kept coming across Sven Hassel books. Something clicked in the murk of my brain. I decided I wanted to write gritty military fantasy with a very dark sense of humour set in a very unconventional fantasy world.
So I began this tale of a group of seedy misfit warriors, fighting for a regime that they don’t agree with in a vast landscape not unlike the Russian Front, only with Lovecraftian Elder Gods and Nazi Elves.
Oh yes, the Nazi Elves! In some ways the Terrarchs are Tolkien’s Elves but they lack the cosmic righteousness that the Eldar of Middle Earth possess. They do speak the language of righteousness. They make all the claims that a Galadriel or an Elrond might, but they live in a world much like our own. They have no conduit to the Undying lands and the supreme creator. It does not stop them from claiming that they do. Indeed such claims are one of the planks on which their mastery of humanity rests.
The Terrarchs are beautiful people gifted with awesome powers and near immortality. Unlike most such people in fantasy novels, they are not an outcast minority persecuted by the mundane majority they secretly protect from great cosmic evil. They are the ones doing the persecuting.
The Terrarchs are a Master Race and they know it. It is their destiny and their right to rule lesser beings and they feel completely justified in doing so. After all they are smarter, better educated, far more beautiful and gifted with great powers. If God had not meant for them to rule, things would not be this way. It’s an old argument, used by every aristocracy and every winning side in history. Unfortunately for them, in their world things are changing. Gunpowder has altered the way wars are fought and introduced a great equaliser to magic on the battlefield. Ancient powers are stirring again as well.
Yes, these would be the Lovecraft-style Elder Gods. Sven Hassel was not the only 70s pulp that influenced Death’s Angels. Back when I was a lad, sword and sorcery was a lot more common, and, as I have remarked elsewhere, it was as much influenced by H P Lovecraft as it was by the Norse fantasy of Tolkien. So some siblings of Cthulhu managed to sneak into the story as well. The nightmarish spider people and their daemon god, Uran Ultar would be right at home living next door to sunken R’lyeh and happy to pop in and borrow a cup of sugar.
All this being the case, it was only a matter of time before our heroes found themselves dabbling in forbidden lore. Unlike the doomed heroes of a Lovecraft story, when the soldiers of the Seventh Infantry find a book full of terrifying ancient secrets they don’t read and summon a fate worse than death upon themselves; they try and sell it to the highest bidder, an action which has equally nasty consequences and ends up with them marching into the mouth of a particularly nasty hell.
Here’s a very nice review from the Founding Fields.
Available at Amazon.com and Amazon UK.
25 Replies to “Death’s Angels”
I have a nook color and wish to download this book in a suitable format or pdf so i can read this series. How do i do so please?
Right now there is no way to do so, Keith, since the books are exclusive to Kindle Select for 3 months. Once that period expires they may well become available via Smashwords, Barnes and Noble etc. Sorry about that.
Just wanted to let you know that the Terrarch series is now available on the NOOK once again.
Mr. King. I just finished Death’s Angels, and I have purchased and am preparing to read books two and three. I enjoyed the story very much, and I’m wondering if there is any other history or back-story to the worlds of Gaeia and Al’Terra? In any case, I’ll enjoy following along with Rik, Sardec, Rena, and Lady Asea
Hi Matt, thanks for the kind words. There was actually a massive backstory to these worlds. I wrote the background up as I would the background for a Warhammer Army Book or RPG sourcebook and used it as a guide. I have occasionally toyed with setting a sword and sorcery series in the pre-Terrarch Gaeia. I do eventually plan to get the present day characters to Al’Terra at some point but that’s for the far future. I have also had some ideas for some world jumping stories along the Angel’s Gates. These are all at the “just an idea” stage though. When I was young I used to love stories like Andre Norton’s Witch World and C J Cherryh’s Morgaine series where characters would jump from world to world. I’ve always wanted to do something similar.
The main character on the cover looks like the character from the witch hunter rpg game. I can’t wait to read these books!!
I don’t know that game, Debz. I’ll take a look for it!
I just finish all 4 books, I want book 5.
will there be a sequal ???
Thanks Culain. There will indeed be a book five but it’s going to take me some time to get round to writing it since I am contracted to work on other projects until October.
Hi. Think I might pick up this serie while I await the Angel of Fire. The sales pitch that got me? Sven Hassel. Its probably 20 years since I read those books, but I still remember the cat race, Wolfs flower gift and all the other stories that one minut makes you feel sick and the next minut make you laught out so loud that you get stomac cramps. So a book with dark, cynical soilder humor and some fantasy is a perfect read in the sun here in Norway.
And if you want some real life inspiration, you could check out the survivors stories from the Utoya massacre. Sometimes its good to know that heroism also exists in the real life. But you have to be though to read those stories. So I wont recommend it to everyone. Here is a essay from Andre Brink that might be a suitable introduction to the case. And it also show that sometimes royalties actually behave like the king and queens in the books.
Good luck with your future writing.
I have to agree: I finished the fourth book last month, in the middle of the semester. Now that finals are over, I’m ready for book 5, too! 😉
I am really liked this series. You really managed to mix blood, swords, sorcery and a touch of gunpowder into something really amazing. It reminds me a little of “The Black Company” which also had this great characterization of military members and a magic system that is just magical and mystic (In my opinion many authors today explain their magic systems too well.. the systems lose a lot of appeal if you explain them like a science) The world you created is quite interesting and I can´t wait to see what happens next.
Thanks, Thor, I take the comparison to the Black Company series as a great compliment. Glenn Cook is one of my favourite writers. With regards to magic, I have been working on a blog post about this forever. I agree that a lot of modern fantasy uses a very mechanistic view of magic. I attribute this to the rise of role playing games and their tendency to codify magic. I am sometimes really nostalgic for the sword and sorcery of my youth where magic was mysterious, and frightening and, well, magical and not a delivery system for assorted technology-like effects. Something I admire about George R R Martin’s work is that he manages to capture the essentially elusive and frightening nature of sorcery.
Just started this series and I must say, I already love it! Good to take a break from the Warhammer books, great job!
Thanks, Erik :).
Just started reading Death’s Angels. Do you have maps somewhere, is there one in future books?
I drew a map before I started the series– wrote about 50000 words of background as well. Unfortunately I drew the map on paper and it seems to have vanished during one of my many moves. So no maps in any of the books. Sorry.
You should really redraw and release it. I’d love to see a map. All of the major fantasy books I can think of have them. LOTR, Shannara, Riftworld, Song of Ice and Fire etc…. Please think about it, it would add so much.
Hi! It seems that the Kindle edition of Death’s Angels is $0.00 on Amazon.com, but is £3.99 on Amazon.uk.
It happens sometimes, William. There’s not much I can do about it since this relies on Amazon price matching other stores. Sorry about that!
I already got mine years ago (and would gladly pay £3.99 again should it ever become necessary), but someone pointed it out when I was recommending the Terrarch Chronicles. I never noticed it myself since I use Amazon.com, but I’ll keep the discrepancy in mind from now on.
Thanks, William. I have tried adjusting the price down to 1.99 to see if this jogs Amazon’s algos. If nothing else, it will be cheaper for people in the UK to pick up. It’s also very nice to hear that you are recommending the Terrarch Chronicles.
I read the Terrarch Chronicles some time ago and I really liked your mix of genres as well as your unique approach to the elves and their conquest of the human world.
In fact the setting and your story inspired me so much, that I used it for a pen and paper campaign (for the mechanics we used Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition), where the players took the roles of the main characters. Especially the conflict of the elven officer commanding a company of human soldiers and the “halfbreeds” struggle with his nature as well as the chances and dangers of magic played out very well.
Perhaps you should consider publishing your setting (and the story as a campaign) as a module for a pen and paper game. Maybe via Kickstarter? In fact I really would like to read some adventure module written by you. Did you ever write something for a pen and paper game?
A shame though that your background material for the Terrarch books got lost…
Anyway, me and my friends would be very enthusiastic about a new release in the world of the Terrarch.