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Talon Sacker
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Talon Sacker is aimed at the young adult market and extends to about 68,000 words by computer word-count. It is set in England about three hundred years in the future – an England of mostly dysfunctional, mediaeval style, city states – and tells the story of Talon Sacker and his involvement in a rebellion aimed at restoring the rule of law and installing a new, more progressive, government.

The catastrophes that environmentalists had long predicted have happened. Global warming has devastated much of the world but the Gulf Stream has diminished and the ensuing, almost arctic winters have brought misery to northern Europe. AIDS has been cured but the cure has turned out to be worse than the disease. Populations throughout the world have plummeted. Technology has gone into irreversible decline. Ideas of right and wrong have changed. Most people who aim to marry do so in their teens, some as young as fifteen or even fourteen. Now, as in mediaeval times, marriage has to be early if people are to survive long enough to rear their children before they die of disease, war or, if they are lucky, of old age in their forties. The attitudes and behaviour of Talon, Lara and Kim, the principal protagonists in the story, are the outcome of more than two centuries of environmental disaster, political upheaval and catastrophic social change.

It is a society where most people just have to do the best they can and the rest can go hang. It is a world where witches are flogged to death to avoid the possibility of their malignant spirits infecting the rest of the community, and where public hangings are accompanied by fairground revels.

Talon is a young NCO in the army of the Duke of Wareham, dictator of the poverty-stricken, ill managed city on the south coast. He is interested in badger-baiting, cock-fighting, drinking and, except for his undeclared love for Lara (a teenage soldier in his unit), not much else. Indeed, apart from the public hangings, there is little else to occupy a vigorous young man, and Talon, unusually for the age, dislikes hangings, or ‘dancings’ as they are called. His friend, Justin, has recently introduced him to ‘The Society’, a rebel group which, he has been told, is dedicated to overthrowing of the city’s current duke and which aims to bring the rule of law and a new progressiveness to to the city’s governance.

He meets Kim, a feisty young woman from the countryside beyond the city walls, and is besotted with her, trying, at first unsuccessfully, to get her into bed and, in the process, sidelining Lara who, we suspect, loves him as much as he loves her. As a country girl, Kim is more gentle by nature than the typical person of the time and, over the period of the novel, she works on Talon to change his ideas. But Talon falls foul of troops of the duke’s personal bodyguard – the Household Yeomanry – and accidentally kills one of them. He is forced to flee to Caen in the Kingdom of Normandy were he again meets one of the leaders of The Society whom he had previously helped to escape execution. He discovers that this man is, in fact, the overall leader of the rebellion. Later he is joined in Normandy by Kim and they become sexual partners. They are heavily involved in the projected invasion of Wareham but become increasingly concerned that the motives of their fellow conspirators are inspired less by a wish to improve the lot of the citizens than by personal ambition.

Their concern is horrifyingly proved to have been justified but it is too late to escape their commitment to the invasion which takes place as planned. Talon is involved in the attack on the ducal palace and Justin, his friend, attempts to rape the duke’s fourteen year old wife but the now reformed Talon forcibly prevents him. While their attention is concentrated on their personal confrontation, the duchess stabs Justin in the back and then rewards Talon for his intervention by helping him to escape from the palace which, following the rapid and bloody defeat of the invading forces, is now back in the hands of troops loyal to the duke. Talon sees Kim brutally murdered by troops of the Household Yeomanry and, while he is grieving over her dead body, is joined by Lara who is also on the run. She tells him that Kim was pregnant and helps him to come to terms with his feelings about the loss of Kim and his unborn child. He is reconciled with Lara to whom he declares his love for the first time and they escape to safety and a shared bed in the City of Sherborne.

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