Reaching the finishing line of the marathon

Yes, it’s true: at last I’ve finished the novel! Or to be more precise, I now have a complete manuscript, checked three times for inconsistencies, typos, creaky bits, stylistic sickeners and general infelicities, and tomorrow I shall dispatch it to a literary consultant for objective critique. I’ll have to wait a good three weeks for the consultant to respond. What fun the anticipation will be! I know how much Damocles enjoyed that supper party – he told me.


So what, you might ask, is this novel about? Well, I’m no good at genre labels, but it’s a sort of comic fantasy adventure spiced with a bit of social and political satire and a few philosophical jokes. Here’s the synopsis, prepared at the literary consultant’s request (sorry – command):


Synopsis of National Cake Day in Ruritania

Rory Redman, a university drop-out and minor criminal, accepts a commission from a mysterious nobleman during a birthday party. While he’s executing the commission he’s assaulted and robbed by the beautiful and elusive Klarissa. As a result he becomes embroiled in a covert military/security operation conducted by Britain on behalf of Ruritania, a feudal country with no fixed geographical location.

Ruritania has many peculiarities because of her close association with the Faerie Realm, but her government – run by thirty-one hereditary baker-aristocrats under the command of the ruling monarch – is under threat from an illegal communist organisation known as SPAR. According to intelligence obtained by the Ruritanian security force (the Order of the Blue Primrose) and their British advisers, SPAR’s insurrection or Revolution is planned for the annual solstice celebration, National Cake Day, which immediately precedes the Ruritanian general election. SPAR is implacably opposed to the monarchy and aristocracy – and to the dependence of Ruritania’s economy on the manufacture and consumption of cakes – but its relationship with the Faerie Realm is a matter for speculation.

Impulsive as ever, Rory travels to Ruritania, partly to find and question his assailant Klarissa, partly to escape the commander of the British military/security operation, and becomes ever more deeply embroiled in SPAR’s activities and the efforts of the security forces to thwart them. Before long he’s being threatened by both sides and he’s under increasing pressure to commit himself either to SPAR or to the Ruritanian government. Initially sceptical about the Faerie Realm, he discovers it’s at least as real as Ruritania herself and no less inimical to his wellbeing. He has supportive friends, both native Ruritanians and British members of the Slug Defence League, but in order to dodge his two opposing sets of enemies (not to mention a denizen of the Faerie Realm who wishes to eat him), and to decide whether to commit himself to one side or the other, he can rely only on his personal skills and abilities: marathon running, morris-dancing, and facility with logic puzzles.

Will these be enough to enable him to make the right decisions – and to survive in the face of such an entertaining diversity of threats?


Will they indeed? I shall report the further vicissitudes of this novel in future blogs.


  • Mishka Zakharin 26.10.2013 - 21:00pm

    Well, I didn’t think it sounded much like my cup of tea–but then you said “vicissitudes”, so I’m rather intrigued…

    (No, no–but seriously, my intrigue was piqued way back at “thirty-one hereditary baker-aristocrats”… sounds like, mayhap, an open doorway to cannibalism…? {But, no, can’t get my hopes up!))

    I look forward to the finished product!

  • Mark Henderson

    I wouldn’t trust those baker-aristocrats further than I could throw them, though I don’t believe they’ve been accused of cannibalism – yet.

    Maybe the novel wouldn’t be quite your cup of tea, Mishka, though you’d probably enjoy a few of the jokes (which some readers are likely to miss. Sigh.)

  • This sounds intriguing Mark. I came to your blog looking for your comments on the Palestine Police. Haven’t found them yet but loved your photos. My serendipitous discovery of the day!

    • Mark Henderson

      I’m sorry my post misled you, Margaret! But thanks for commenting. I’ve taken a look at your website and I’ll recommend your trilogy to our literature group (they liked my recommendation of Leon Uris’s “Exodus”, published in 1959, which has much the same theme as your work).

      As for my little “Ruritanian” political satire, it’s in the hands of a publisher and might appear this year or next…

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