The Novels of Tom Arden

The Orokon Series (1997 - 2001)

The Harlequin's Dance
The King and Queen of Swords
Sultan of the Moon and Stars
Sisterhood of the Blue Storm
Empress of the Endless Dream

Click here to read an essay by Tom that explains much of the theme and content of The Orokon.

Other Novels

Shadow Black (2001)
The Translation of Bastain Test (2005)


The Orokon

Book I
The Harlequin's Dance (1997)

"[Characters] as memorable as any characters Dickens created. The Harlequin's Dance is full-blooded, vivid stuff" - Starburst

"builds to a stunning climax" - SFX

 

Click here to read an extract

The god Orok gave to his five children crystals of surpassing beauty, to be embedded in a circle on the Rock of Being and Unbeing, whence had sprung the gods, the earth and all its peoples. This circle, known as The Orokon, ensured the harmony of life, until the dark god Koros plucked his crystal from the Rock and plunged the world into chaos and despair.

The true king of Ejland, Ejard Red, has been betrayed and captured, and his throne seized by his twin brother, Ejard Blue. In the village of Irion the crippled boy known as Jemany Vexing lives with his dying mother and his fanatical Aunt Umbecca. Unable to walk, Jem is condemned to a wretched half-life, until he meets a mysterious dwarf ... and with his new strength comes a new friendship, with the wild girl Catayane.

As the horrors of the Bluejacket regime begin, Jem becomes aware of his greater destiny - to find and reunite the five crystals of The Orokon. But he is not the only seeker: the evil sorceror Toth-Vexrah has his own plans and will let no one stand in his way.

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Book II
The King and Queen of Swords (1998)

"Arden takes some attractive risks ... a writer in whom we can have real confidence" - Dreamwatch

"A triumph of which Arden should be justly proud" - SFX

 

Click here to read an extract

Once there was a land with five evil kings, and each king had an evil queen. These were the King and Queen of Quills, of Wheels, of Spires, of Rings. Each of these rulers wielded great power, but most powerful of all, most wicked of all and, above all, most feared, were the King and Queen of Swords.

That was long ago and now the King and Queen of Swords are only painted faces on playing cards, flicking across the green baize of gaming-tables. Or are they?

For Jemany Vexing, true Prince of Ejland and Key to the Orokon, keeps hearing their names, in song and in story, as he sets out on the second stage of his quiest, seeking the long-lost mystic crystsals of the gods.

On the run and lying low, Jem is disguised as a wandering Vaga-player, making for the great southern city of Agondon. There, he hopes his mysterious new guardian - promised to him by the enigmatic harlequin - will guide him to the green Crystal of Viana. But Lord Empster is not all he appears to be, and Jem must wonder if his guardian is really good or evil - until adventure overtakes him and there is no time to wonder any more.

Meanwhile Cata, Jem's lost love, is caught in the machinations of the evil, ambitious Aunt Umbecca. Robbed of her memory, scrubbed and civilized, the wild girl has been turned into a lady. Cata recalls nothing of her powers -- or of Jem. But her memory is beginning to stir, and soon she discovers a destiny that leads her from a mysterious meeting in a midnight wood to a bloody battlefield in a distant land.

Rich in magic, mystery, horror and humour, The King and Queen of Swords, the second volume of Tom Arden's sweeping fantasy epic, vividly depicts an eighteenth-century world of armies and assassins, brothels and bandits, love and longing, ransom and rape - and looming over it all, the ancient riddle of the King and Queen of Swords.

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Book III
Sultan of the Moon and Stars
(1999)

"Treachery abounds and wild magic is almost commonplace [in] this womderful baggy monster of an epic ... mixes thrills and ironic humour with delightful camp profusion" - amazon.co.uk

"A wildly innovative, marvelously unpretentious mix of chaos, magic, manners, satire and adventure ... like a Jonathan Swift tale rewritten by Jane Austen, turned into a play by Oscar Wilde and then filmed by Terry Gilliam, it must be read to be believed" - Wavelengths Online

Click here to read an extract

The vision came in the wilderness long ago, commanding the Sultan's ancestor to lead his peoples to the place that would be called the Sacred City. There, deep within a rocky cavern, there burns an immense, roaring column of fire: the Sacred Flame. Worshipped by millions, it is the source of the Sultan's power. But the Flame harbours a terrible secret - and so does the Sultan.

For generations, the Sultans of Kal-Theron have held their desert realm in a cruel, implacable grip, but now, as a ruthless invader threatens, not even the Sacred Flame may save the ancient empire.

Into this seething hotbed of political machinations and rebellion stumbles Prince Jemany, son of Ejland's deposed king and true heir to the throne, as he plunges into the next stage of his perilous quest, seeking the long-lost crystals of the Orokon. Already the anti-god, Toth-Vexrah, has burst free from the Realm of Unbeing and is working his evil upon the susceptible and easily swayed. Only Jem stands in his way, but now he faces dangers closer at hand.

In an Arabian Nights world of eunuchs and genies, magic carpets and mysterious veiled women, dark magic is stirring. Cut off from his companions, Jem is trapped in the bizarre, horrifying dreamworld of the enchanter Almoran. Meanwhile, his lost love Cata becomes embroiled with the Shimmering Princess, the idol of millions, whose fate holds the key to the Sultan's empire - and to the whereabouts of the third crystal, the pulsing red crystal of the fire god Theron.

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Book IV
Sisterhood of the Blue Storm
(2000)

"It's grim. It's witty ... the story is so cleverly written, the characters are so engaging/enraging ... vastly entertaining on several levels" The SF Site

"Witty, stylish and gloriously convoluted" Dave Langford, Amazon.co.uk

"Altogether, great fun" Interzone

Click here to read an extract

In a time lost in legend, the many Isles of Wenaya were united in worship of Javander, goddess of the seas. From her vast, fantastical palace beneath the waves, Javander presided over a caste of priestesses, linked in a thrumming psychic web. Then the web was broken, Javander's peoples turned to false gods and the priestesses who once served her so well became the evil Sisterhood of the Blue Storm.

Ten boys on the cusp of adulthood arrive on the empty tropical island of Xaro to undergo their Manhood Trial, an age-old ritual meant to build character as they leave childhood behind. They thought they could survive alone. But that was before the killing began. That was before the Blue Storm.

To this island of dark magic comes Jem and his companions, to pursuing their mystic quest for the long-lost crystals of the Orokon, desperate to find Javander's blue jewel before Jem's rival, the anti-god Toth-Vexrah gets there. Never has the quest been so perilous.

Meanwhile the beautiful young Triarch's daughter, Selinda, determined to escape ritual murder, begins a strange odyssey of her own that soon shall entangle her in Jem's quest.

And so begins a bizarre and phantasmagorical tale, where slave galleys, ghost ships, shipwrecks and sea monsters are only preludes to Jem's confrontation with the evil Sisterhood. Bursting with marvels and strange magic, Sisterhood of the Blue Storm, the fourth volume in Tom Arden's enthralling fantasy epic, is a whirling fantasia of swashbuckling adventure, tragedy and triumph, of comedy and romance, of heart-stopping action and unforgettable, larger-than-life characters, caught up in a quest that shall decide the fate of the world.

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Book V
Empress of the Endless Dream
(2001)

"Few writers are as adroit as Arden at conjuring up something as idiosyncratic as the 18th-century fantasy world here ... As a purveyor of epic fantasy, Arden is very much in the upper brackets" - Starlog

"Imagine a feverish cross between Georgette Heyer and Mervyn Peake ... Arden is a master of the macabre, with a wonderfully twisted sense of humor and adventure" - Locus

"The apocalyptic climax will astound and enthrall Arden's legion of admirers" - amazon.co.uk

Click here to read an extract

Long ago, the mysterious bearers of a golden, magical jewel retreated to the Lamasery of the Winds, high in the mountains, seeking transcendence into another dimension. Then came the avalanche, just in the moment when transcendence was nigh. Many think the lamasery has been destroyed. Others know the truth is stranger by far. Caught between dimensions, its powers persist and grow. But are they powers of good - or welling, insidious evil?

Returning at last to his rightful kingdom, Prince Jemany faces the final conflict in his desperate battle to reunite the sacred Crystals of Orok and defeat his evil rival, the anti-god Toth-Vexrah, whose campaign of conquest is now almost complete. In an icy, midwinter city, torn by terrorism, brutal murder and impending war, Jem struggles for clues to his last, most mysterious, and most powerful prize, the searing, sun-like crystal of the sky god Agonis.

Meanwhile Cata, Jem's lost beloved, is embroiled with the rebels and their sinister mastermind Bob Scarlet, whose increasingly wild and dangerous plans threaten their lives almost as much as the machinations of their enemies.

Only after a terrifying escape from near-death can Jem come together with Cata again and their loyal companions Rajal, Littler and Myla for a last-ditch race against time - and Toth - to seize the final crystal and save the world from doom.

From its mysterious opening scenes to its devastating climax, Empress of the Endless Dream, the fifth and final volume of Tom Arden's apocalyptic fantasy epic, is a helter-skelter, heart-stopping rush of black humour and horror, murder and mysticism, the divine and the depraved. Nothing is what it appears to be and heroes and villains alike must confront deception, treachery and catastrophic loss before their destiny - and the world's - is revealed at last.

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Other Novels

Shadow Black (2001)

"Tom Arden's Shadow Black is sinuous, sensual, and strange, with lashings of macabre humour and a feverish eroticism. This is Sunset Boulevard set on the English coast and directed by Fellini." - Molly Brown

 

Click here to read an extract

England, 1955. Harriet Locke accepts an invitation to the seaside mansion of Shadow Black and looks forward to joining her fiancé Mark Vardell, the handsome avant-garde artist who is painting the reclusive Lord Harrowblest. Her life is about to change, and change forever, in a household of bizarre characters bound together by ties of deceit, lust and half-truths.

At Shadow Black, Harriet meets Yardley Urban, faded Hollywood goddess, and Cora Van Voyd, elderly, seven-times-married gossip and grande dame. There is crippled, embittered media mogul Lord Harrowblest and his faithful servant Collidge; pathetic, drunken songwriter Jellicoe Travers; Milly, the hare-lipped parlourmaid; and Toby Chance, the lonely fifteen-year-old science fiction fan who somehow links them all together.

And then there is Mr Vox, mysterious agent of a force that will tear away the veils of deceit from Shadow Black, and from Harriet too, in a climax that boldly mingles fantasy, social comedy and gothic horror.

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The Translation of Bastian Test (2005)


On a rocky Scottish coast lies Castle Drumhallurick, ruinous home of a long-lost laird. But who is the reclusive millionaire who has taken over the castle? And what is it that links him to a fantastical alien world, circling the faraway star system of Antares?

It is 1926, and a horrifying scientific experiment is about to unfold, altering forever the life of a boy called Bastian Test.

For all his life, Bastian has been kept in seclusion, shut away from the world by his eccentric artist mother. Now, after her sudden death, Bastian learns that he has a guardian he has never heard of before, and a mysterious destiny that lies in wait for him on the rocky shores of Drumhallurick.

Cast into the world, Bastian meets one peculiar character after another: cocktail-swilling flapper-girl, Magnolia Touch; pin-striped lawyer Mr Quench, who dresses after hours in the strangest of ways; Sir Farley Elphinstone, florid Shakespearean actor-manager, with his unnervingly odd twin son and daughter. There is stuttering bird-watcher Mr Bridie, and Jolly, the former cannibal from the heart of Africa. There is a woman who stares from a window with a mask-like face. There is the crazed sadistic scientist, Dr Feuer. But who is really good and who is evil? And will Bastian find out, before it is too late?

From the author of offbeat fantasy epic The Orokon comes a bizarre science fiction adventure, rich in mystery, malevolence and something close to magic. Erotic, moving, hilarious and disturbing, at once coming of age story, gothic mystery and macabre phantasmagoria, The Translation of Bastian Test is a haunting, atmospheric work of visionary imagination that will haunt the mind forever.

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