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Cover Design: Reese Dante
Length: 111,600 words
Lancaster’s Luck Series
The Gilded Scarab (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner
Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy…
Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.
Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?
About The Series
The Gilded Scarab
The Jackal’s House
Lancaster’s Luck is set in a steampunk world where, at the turn of the 20th century, the eight powerful Convocation Houses are the de facto rulers of the Britannic Imperium. In this world of politics and assassins, a world powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston and where aeroships fill the skies, Captain Rafe Lancaster, late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Aero Corps, buys a coffee house in one of the little streets near the Britannic Museum in Bloomsbury.
So begins the romantic steampunk adventures which have Rafe, a member of Minor House Stravaigor, scrambling over Londinium’s rooftops on a sultry summer night or facing dire peril in the pitch dark of an Aegyptian night. And all the while, sharing the danger is the man he loves: Ned Winter, First Heir of Convocation House Gallowglass, the most powerful House in the entire Imperium.
Find out more about the Lancaster’s Luck books and the world of Rafe and Ned
The antiquities shop was in a distant corner of the Khan el-Khalili, far inside the tangle of twisting, narrow alleys. By the time we emerged, dusk had fallen over the city and filled the alleyway with a plum-purple twilight. Most of the shops opted for old-fashioned brass lanterns rather than aether globes, and the wavering candles inside barely touched the gloom. Before we entered the shop, the cramped lanes had been crowded with a few tourists and many local people in their traditional garb: galabeyyas for the men and billowing black chadors, like draperies, for the women. Now the alley was empty.
As we passed a sweetmeat store, the owner slammed closed the shutters inside, a booming clash of wood against stone. My heart gave a great bound in my chest, and every sense was heightened. Hushed voices sounded behind the shutters, and the smell of honey, cardamom, and caramel seeped out to fill the alley with sweetness.
Todd’s head had whipped around at the sound. He had his pistol in his hand. He scowled at me. “This isn’t right. Stay alert. And stay close.”
“Trouble?” I shifted the lantern box to my left shoulder and pulled my pistol from its holster, thumbing it on. The aether chamber glowed blue-green.
“Something’s coming our way.” Todd’s gaze darted around at the gathering shadows between the shops where the alley intersected with crisscrossing lanes, and his obvious readiness prompted a little knot to curl in my stomach and lie heavy as lead. “Come on. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
We started down the lane. We walked quickly, but didn’t run. In the near distance came a rushing sound with a soft pounding underneath it. It grew louder. Closer.
The lead weight in my gut twisted and curled some more.
“Get ready to use that gun,” Todd said, terse but calm. “Wait till I tell you.”
We were at a crossroads when they came at us, boiling out of the shadows of the intersecting alley, whirling and spinning.
I reacted without thought, turning in a flash to face them coming at me, Todd at my back. Behind the crowd, a man’s voice was raised in a chanted prayer. The dervishes didn’t appear to notice that we were there and for an instant—only a few seconds really, though it felt like long minutes—they spun past us, jostling and crowding in, whirligigs with billowing robes, eyes half-closed and arms outstretched for balance.
I was pushed and prodded at as they went past in a haze of faces. The slap-slap-slap of their slippered feet on the rough pavement and the voice of the singer echoed in my ears, in a cycling cadence of booming and fading, booming and fading. I half turned to be aligned with the flow of bodies, and lost my balance against their gyratory rushing when something hot prodded me hard in the left arm. I whirled myself then, leaping a small step to one side to steady myself again, breath coming hard and fast. The hair on my neck lifted as cold ice washed over me.
Beside me, Todd yelled, shooting his pistol into the air. The aether and phlogiston ignited with a roar of white flame that exploded the darkness into a lightning flash so bright it hurt the eyes. And then the crowd was past us, across the junction of alleyways, rotating and dancing up the one opposite from where they’d entered.
My chest heaved, aching to get some air into it. I just couldn’t catch my breath. They’d been close. So close. That noise… that odd whooshing noise in my ears… as if I’d pressed a seashell to my ear, washing in a rushing tsunami of sound. Another breath pulled in against the thumping behind my ribs. And another. And my eyes, my damned damaged eyes, suddenly so acute that my mind replayed every detail they’d seen: the billowing dark robes with flashes of colored cotton beneath, scarlet and blue and green, the odd, flowerpot-shaped felt hats, the quiet ecstasy on the dancers’ smooth faces, the glint of cold silver.
I’d dropped the box of lanterns when the crowd had rushed at us. Lucky, that. When everything went a bit wavery and the warmth running down my left arm dripped red from the tips of my fingers, the box was very handy as a seat.
I sat down before I fell down.
Pre-order The Jackal’s House and send a copy of the email confirmation (or a screengrab of it) to email@example.com and
(i) Anna will send you the first chapter and some deleted scenes by email. The deleted scenes will be exclusive until the end of the year; and
(ii) Your name will be entered in a draw for
1st prize—a signed paperback of the first Lancaster’s Luck book, the Gilded Scarab.
2nd prize— a Gilded Scarab travel coffee mug.
3rd prize— an Anubis pendant.
Winners will be announced on publication day.
(i) If you’re one of the first 15 people to respond, you’ll also get a little bag of Jackal loot, a cool Anubis temporary tattoo and a matching Anubis brooch;
(ii) One of the next 30? You’ll get a bag of loot and a tattoo.
Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.
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