‘Gardens of Earth’ The Sundering Chronicles Book I
My new novel, Gardens of Earth, has been years in the making. A previous book took only six months, however, the pandemic and other issues contrived to keep pushing this tale back. Like many of us, I contracted covid and it knocked me sideways for several months, and recovery even longer. Now, however, I feel that I’m back into my stride.
‘GoE’ is the first book in The Sundering Chronicles, a military scifi crossed with both fantasy and horror – a true cross-genre novel and something that I’m quite proud of. My protagonist suffers from PTSD, something that many combatants go through. Sufferers can be fine for years and then all of a sudden their barriers disappear and the nightmare begins. Thankfully, there are charities out there that help enormously; not just Help for Heroes and Combat Stress but the inordinate amount of work that ‘The British Legion’ puts in behind the scenes.
My hope is that those who get the book not only have a damned good read, but learn more about the horrors of PTSD – what suffers go through and the strategies that can be used to help.
About the author:
Born and raised in Slough, Mark Iles began studying the martial arts when he was 14 and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17.
A voracious reader he used to devour up to three paperbacks a day – primarily science fiction, fantasy, and horror – by the likes of John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Ray Bradbury, Brian Lumley, Frank Herbert, Stephen King, and a plethora of others.
After The Falklands War Mark was drafted to Hong Kong, where he began writing features, for a variety of martial arts magazines, and short stories for a wide range of markets. In 2012 he decided to challenge himself and undertook an MA in Professional Writing, followed by Diplomas in Copywriting and Proofreading.
With over 200 short stories and articles under his belt the book he wrote for his MA Project, A Pride of Lions was published by Solstice – followed by two other novels, a short story collection, and four novellas. His latest novel, Gardens of Earth, book 1 of The Sundering Chronicles, will be published by Elsewhen Press in August. Currently Mark is working on the second in the series, as well as another short story collection. Now a 9th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, Mark is still involved in martial arts and has also written both a book and an app on the subject.
Book cover by the wonderful Alex Storer: The Light Dreams – Art and music by Alex Storer (wordpress.com)
Corporate greed supported by incompetent surveyors leads to the colonisation of a distant world, ominously dubbed ‘Halloween’, that turns out not to be uninhabited after all. The aliens, soon called Spooks by military units deployed to protect the colonists, can adopt the physical form of an opponent’s deepest fear and then use it to kill them.
The colony is massacred and as retaliation the orbiting human navy nuke the planet. In revenge, the Spooks invade Earth. In a last-minute attempt to avert the war, Seethan Bodell, a marine combat pilot sent home from the front with PTSD, is given a top-secret research spacecraft, and a mission to travel into the past along with his co-pilot and secret lover Rose, to prevent the original landing on Halloween and stop the war from ever happening. But the mission goes wrong, causing a tragedy later known as The Sundering, decimating the world and tearing reality, while Seethan’s ship is flung into the future.
The Spooks win the war and claim ownership of Earth. He wakes, alone, in his ejector seat with no sign of either Rose or his vessel. When he realises that his technology no longer works, his desperation to find Rose becomes all the more urgent – her android body won’t survive long in this new Earth. Gardens of Earth is the first book of The Sundering Chronicles. The story tackles alien war, a future that may be considered either dystopian or utopian, depending on who you ask, and a protagonist coping with his demons in an unfamiliar and stressful environment – not to mention immediate threats from a pathological serial killer, the remnants of Earth’s inhabitants now living in a sparse pre-industrial society under the watchful eye of the Spooks, and returning human colonists intent on reclaiming Earth.
“All hell’s breaking loose. The five of us – that’s me, Abbott, Chung, Jameson, and Manson – we got stranded here on Halloween and now they’ve stopped all flights back out, including for the military. Oh and… err, Manson’s dead. Just thinking about it freaks me out. Don’t even ask.”
“The carrier’s fighter wings are now flying interdiction to ensure nothing leaves this shithole. I’ve spoken to the Flight Commander over the air and he says there’s nothing he can do, that they’ve already lost two frigates trying to get people out. The Spooks got aboard them somehow and they ended up being sanitised by the fleet. I know a few life pods got away and landed out there in the wilderness, but God knows where. No one’s even tried to find them – after all, flying’s out and it’s unsafe on the ground. I hope the poor buggers got to safety but I sincerely doubt it. There isn’t anywhere safe on Halloween. Not anymore, since the Spooks revealed themselves.”
Steff jerked violently as something scratched at his door with long, ear-piercing sounds like fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard. His eyes followed the noise as it screeched slowly towards the electronic lock. Then it stopped, and a deep, unearthly chuckle came from the other side.
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