HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Welcome to Free Book Sunday.
Last day to get my new book The Trouble for FREE. Details below. Click all links for more information.
Ending Dec. 15, today's StoryOrigin giveaway is for novels that include famous historical, mythological, or fictional characters in new roles.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that witches raised as mundanes are going to be very, very confused." Jane Austen's famous opening lines to Pride and Prejudice? More like Katherine Gilbert's new Pride, Prejudice & Penguins.
My latest tale, GULLIVAR JONES AND THE TREASURE OF THE TSAR, features oodles of famous and not-so-famous real-life characters, along with an adventurous explorer many consider the grandfather of the adventure genre, Gullivar Jones.
PS: That a certain other famous fictional explorer is also named Jones is not lost on this tale.
US Navy Lt. Gullivar Jones first appeared in Edwin Lester Arnold’s pioneering 1905 pulp novel, Lieutenant Gullivar Jones: His Vacation. There he inspired Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novels and Burroughs’ Mars-based swashbuckler, John Carter.
Gullivar Jones has made a few appearances since, as he and his story are in the public domain.
In my new adventure set around 1935, retired Captain Gullivar Jones -- now in his early fifties -- joins two British spies with smarts and snark. Abigail Bradshaw and Archibald Smart. Together they criss-cross the globe to find the Fountain of Youth before Hitler or Stalin can use its fabled waters to create armies of immortal soldiers.
The story of the Fountain's origins reads like a historical Who's Who. Seeking the water to cure his hemophiliac son Alexei, the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, launched a 1914 expedition shrouded in such secrecy, Jones and company must travel the globe seeking obscure clues. The Tsar had to assure the malevolent mystic Rasputin never learned of the Fountain's powerful secrets.
Such a large undertaking needs allies, and the Tsar wasn't alone. He'd become friends years earlier with the Japanese Emperor Meiji, who had both a cultural -- Japan has a long Fountain of Youth-seeking history -- and personal interest in finding the healing waters. Meiji's son Yosihito, who would succeed him years later, had been ill since infancy after he contracted meningitis.
As the story moves across the globe, we meet the work of a famous Russian icon painter and political rebel, Grigory Gurkin. We learn about an ancient sect of Russian Christians, the Soshigateli.
Across the Atlantic to the Amazon jungle, we encounter the legend of the *real* Amazon women, a people known as the Icamiaba. And in the jungle: the story's main villains, a rogue's gallery of Nazi doctors in training, every one of them real life, but here in fictional re-creations.
Here's Gullivar's first encounter with a young Joachim Mrugowsky.
I AWAKENED ON A hospital table to one of the ugliest faces I’d ever seen. Pock marks, blemishes, a scar on his cheek, his gloved hand swabbing the crease in my forearm.
“You don’t look like a nurse,” I said.
“Doctor,” he said. “Mrugowsky.”
He picked up a syringe with a big needle and brought it toward my arm.
“What’s that?” I said.
No answer as he positioned it.
“I said, what’s that?”
I tried to pull away, but a strap across my waist and wrists pinned me. I writhed then swung my legs back and slammed my feet into his head.
He dropped the syringe and stumbled back.
I worked my hands up to the strap buckle while he hunted around for the lost syringe. Two brass prongs burrowed through holes in the leather and they were tight, so I sucked in my gut to loosen the buckle.
Mrugowsky found the needle and was upon me. I kicked up and he swayed out of the way and came at me again.
My legs flew back, like a gymnastics tumbling routine, him ducking and dodging, relentlessly silent, me working the first prong through the first leather hole, the second prong sticking so I sucked my gut in farther and with eight fingers and a thumb, got the last prong out of the strap and flew up, bashing his head with mine and damn near knocking us both out.
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