Riding the Serpent's Back - kindle ebook by Keith Brooke


The origins of this novel go back several years to a short story of the same name, published in the British science-fiction magazine Interzone in 1995. The story was set on an island-continent set in a sea of molten lava on a colony planet; as sometimes happens, a story doesn't lose its grip on my imagination even when it's been written and I started to realise there was something bigger here, and that this world with its molten sea would make a terrific setting for an epic fantasy. Once I'd made that leap, the rest of the world started to fall into place, and increasingly I found myself thinking in terms of an end of era story, with the world and its people heading relentlessly towards catastrophe.

The original story revolved around the dynamic between two main characters, Leeth Hamera, the son of a wealthy merchant who has run away to escape the pressure of expectations, and Chi, the enigmatic leader of a small band of renegades living beyond the reach of the law on the island-continent. In the novel Leeth becomes the trusted sidekick of Chi, who turns out to be the son of an aging mage who, in his final years, decided to pass his Talents on to a new generation. Set against a backdrop of impending disaster, the mage’s children come together to resist a rogue church leader who is trying to use ancient earth magic to strengthen his grip on power – with potentially devastating consequences. It’s a big book, with lots of twists and turns, and fantastical settings, and lots of history and conflict between the siblings and those around them.

Keith Brooke is the author of fourteen novels, six collections, and over 70 short stories; his most recent SF novel alt.human (published in the US as Harmony) was shortlisted for the 2013 Philip K Dick Award. He is also the editor of Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: the Sub-genres of Science Fiction, an exploration of SF from the perspectives of a dozen top authors in the field. Writing as Nick Gifford, his teen fiction is published by Puffin, with one novel also optioned for the movies by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish's Caveman Films.