12 days of Winter is back for 2019!

A yearly tradition I do each year celebrating the hobby each day up till Christmas day, with posts ranging from hobby projects, art, stories and random stuff.

This year I’m going bolder with my plans for the 12 day challenge! I’ve got some big posts that I’m currently working on, which means November will be very quite from me.

So what to expect for the 12 days of Winter? Well, I can’t reveal all of what I’ve planned, but here’s what’s in store.

  • A three part post on the lore of the Astral Bears, including artwork!
  • My top ten books of 2019
  • Fan fiction of the Fly on the Wall podcast, Post Apocalypse story part 1 (unofficial and fan fiction)

There’s a lot more to come, but for now mark your calendars for December 13th!

Because I like treating you guys with sneak peaks, I’ve got this WIP artwork of a certain Chapter Master who will be featured in my Astral Bears lore series.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

Books, books and more Warhammer books

Today’s post is another treasure hunting find that may or may not be worth much, but the history and content of these books are worth a lot to people like me! After months of nothing, my usual car boot hunting of items gone dry and my luck running I thought that would be it for me. But……a couple of weeks ago I’ve found some interesting findings!

Inferno vol 6 and vol 27, these books have some rare material that I haven’t seen be reprinted for years (well apart from GW’s limited reprint of Inferno issue in celebration of the return of the new Inferno).

Up next two very very old books that were published during the Boxtree years (old publication before GW set up the Black Library as their fictional book publication), Deathwing and Konrad. I also found other Boxtree books like Harlequin and Chaos Child. I picked the other two as I didn’t want to read the Ian Watson books as I’ll need the first book in order to read Harlequin and Chaos Child.

I’m currently reading Konrad which is so far a good book, still need some time to read it all and see who or what Konrad himself is. Is he the same Konrad as Konrad Von Carstein?

That’s all for tod……… wait, just today I’ve found this…..

I got Gileads Blood a few weeks ago and got Gileads Curse today. It was on sale at my local library as stock is changed over, only months ago it was still on the shelf. I’ll be reading this once I’ve done Konrad.

That’s all for today!

Until next time,

-Bjorn

Fly on the Wall podcast Post Apocalypse series: The Road Ahead, prologue [fan made story]

Fly on the Wall podcast Post Apocalypse series: The Road Ahead, prologue [fan made story]

Fan made prologue to the finale to the Post Apocalypse series featured on the Fly on the Wall podcast. None cannon story that takes place years later following the events from the podcast, following Woz, Luke, Keith and Glenn as they finally discover the source of the virus.

Inspired by the podcast, I wanted to create a non canon story using story elements that were laid out by Luke and Woz. Crafting these story lines into a conclusion that ties up many plots and events with a few twists (you’ll be shocked what I’ve got in mind for the main finale story if this prologue story gets a few positive feedback and the Luke and Woz seal of approval!). Imagine this as an alternative timeline.

Who caused the virus? What will happen to Keith and Woz in the future as mutants? Will Glenn redeem himself? And is Luke as fine as he says he is in the story?

All will be revealed in my fan made non canon prologue, with some artwork I did to better describe the four weirdos of the wasteland.

Please support the official Fly on the Wall by following IRO blog (ImperialRebalOrk) or check out the podcast on your favourite podcast station.

Just before you read this story, I recommend listening to Mitch Murders EP album, Hardwired. It fits well as a background music for reading this story, a bit of dark noir synthwave to immerse yourself in the post apocalyptic world. The single of the same name as the EP, Hardwired, is a must to listen to, a mix of synthwave and 80’s horror style. I listen to it when I read James Herbert’s books, including The Rats Trilogy.

With that, I hope you’ll enjoy this story. Enjoy!

(Be warned, I’m not the greatest story teller……….)

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In the dry deserts of Australia, there were four dark silhouette shapes walking across the blazing heat and dry earth. The post apocalypse had turned this once grassy and forested area into a desert corpse. Once there were trees as healthy as the highlands, grass as vast as the eye can see, birds, crocodiles, Horses and kangaroos making noises in a living and breathing nature paradise.

But the virus took that away, all of it. The trees were dead and hollow as a carcass, grass so grey it could be confused as grey clouds and the animals either killed, extinct or mutated into horrible abominations of perversion. It didn’t just affect the human population, it affected nature itself like a freak climate change that couldn’t be averted in time.

The mutated crows with two heads and four wings encircled high above watching these dark shapes move through the wasteland, like phantoms in daylight. Hoping for a tasty snack of dead meat, the birds wait until the time was right to feast on the corpses.

The dark shapes were in the far distance and Shimmering like water. Then the unidentifiable dark silhouettes slowly formed into humanoid shapes of different shapes and sizes, half looked human, the others odd shaped.

Soon they were clear as day, the sight would either make you gag until your intestines run dry, or your sanity gets messed up just by seeing the odd looking freaks. The first of the four was the sore thumb of the lot, a big muscled ape like man with four arms and two tusks. It’s body was covered in orange fur, skin as dark as a ripe grape, eyes golden green, ape like in looks. It walked on all six limbs as it carried crates of supplies, tents, food, and other supplies on its broad back.

This mutant was once known as Keith, now he’s known as Krakstrong, pack leader of his mutant family and ally of the roaming gang he now follows. The virus infected Keith and his family during the initial stages of the outbreak, falling prey to the illness with fever, headaches, pale yellow looks and as Luke would point out, “a rash ass”.

Luckily Keith survived the infection along with his family, recovering quite remarkably despite the blood loss that Keith had lost. But soon it was obvious that he and his family weren’t in the clear, for Keith had started to mutate with one of his arms getting swollen with muscle and strength.

The changes would result in Keith and Glenn, his long time friend, being spilt apart by Keith’s sudden primal outburst. He took a bite out of Glenn’s wife’s shoulder, blood dribbling down his chin as he chewed on the warm flesh. Glenn already being affected by the apocalypse went ape shit, swearing to kill the mutant that was once his friend. He nearly did too at gun point with his shotgun aiming at Keith’s head, but he couldn’t kill him in the end as he could still see Keith behind the mutants eyes.

Since then, both have not spoken to each other for awhile, six years to be precise. His relationship with Luke and Woz is a mixed bag of stable and absolute hatred. Luke, Krakstrongs man slave (translated to advisor and human ambassador), is the closest to retaining any verbal communication. Luke believes that Keith still lives inside the mutant ape, hidden behind the primal and primitive persona of Krakstrong. His efforts to bring Keith back as of yet are going nowhere.

As for Woz, Krakstrong despises Woz for his symbiotic bonding of man and machine, part man, part bike, part vibrating dishwasher, part anything electrical. He hates the sight of this abomination for it was not by nature’s design nor the virus’s doing, the machine is the enemy of the mutants and should be destroyed.

Krakstrong would soon evolve and change to become a four armed ape who is hardly recognisable anymore unless you knew him before the change. He has become the leader of his mutant ape family clan, beating his rival brothers and sisters in combat. Suited for this new world of the post apocalypse, Krakstrong has faced many dangers including bandits, cannibals, killer clowns, mutant rabbits (the second most dangerous creature in the wasteland), mutant creatures and the mysterious mutant rats.

Lately he has been looking south in a sort of day dream, even his family too in a strange hivemind like connection. Maybe he wants to move on with his clan, to resettle and grow his clan to be big and strong. Or, maybe he still seeks to find his nemesis and the only threat to his clan, the Silverback Chimp Tribe led by Gornicus, the face ripper.

Whoever wins in that war, will decide the fate of the wasteland and the new mankind’s survival.

The man he once was had died years ago, and the ties he had with his friends and none mutants have eroded for a few years now. Krakstrong and the soul of Keith

***

Next there’s the lone warrior of the group, Glenn. He had a serious alcoholic problem during the apocalypse when most of his friends, family and his pet dog, Keith, were perished by the virus. Losing all hope in life, Glenn wanted to give up and die in the wasteland. But he was denied death by his friends, an act that would result in the creation of the legend of the lone bounty hunter centuries later.

His only companion was his wife called Glenn’s wife, no one knows her name for they forget it as soon as they hear it. At one time, Keith tried solving this issue by recording what she said her name was on a recording tape, what came back was nothing but static noise…………..

Glenn would amass a small gang of ex working class construction workers, calling themselves the ‘Fixers’ as they fix the wastelands problems by killing the bandits with construction tools. They would be at relative peace with the caravan group that was set up by Luke and Woz. Although Glenn’s increasing consumption of alcohol and fighting some of the Fixers has caused damage to the small settlement. It was decided that by Luke and Woz that Glenn and his gang be assigned as a scouting party. The front line of both close assault and heavy weapon teams, assessing the enemies strength and weaknesses.

But disastrously, the Fixers were all killed by a mutant surprise attack led by the Butcher, a massive mutant brute who has been longing to kill Glenn and his gang for screwing his plans. In one awful turn of events all the gang members were killed, eaten or ‘bonded’ to the mutants as new sustenance to evolve.

Glenn hated all mutants from that day as well as some of his friends that had been infected by the virus. He would kill them all even if it meant killing Luke, Woz and Keith to rid the wasteland of its taint.

More tragedy would follow as Glenn lost his wife during the groups effort to save his wife from the Butcher, as he sliced her into meaty bits. In rage, he hold no sympathy or remorse as he tore the hood from the swollen deformed monster. Even as he saw the purest face of a youthful man with bright blue eyes and an expression of fear and confusion. Glenn let loose as much bullets as he can into the abominations complexion, 100% confirmed kill.

A man lost of hope, life, love and friendship of old, Glenn left the group to go solo to help the people in need. Bounty hunting criminals, monsters and bandits wherever he went. Years later however by chance, Glenn had an encounter with his old friends when he was hunting down a mutant named Jackson Creeker. Jackson was a serial murderer, pillager and a Slicer. Slicers were a mutant group who worked for the ‘Dark mind’, a mysterious player in organising raids on settlements and safe towns. They would act as the infiltrators poking weak holes inside the cities and towns of pure stock humans, ready for the main mutant army to flood into these well protected places.

There were three outcomes if you were a citizen of said town, you either die, sliced slowly, be a slave or be used as spare parts to produce new mutant soldiers.

Luke, Woz and Krakstrong were helping one such settlements defence against the mutant army, and rat out the Slicer before the chaos could happen. Glenn was on a contract to hunt down Jackson Creeker, and by chance he saw his old friends.

He was a different man than what he used to be for he was now a solider of sorts, gone was the depression, recovering alcohol addiction and letting go of life. Now he was a killer bounty hunter, a moral one at least.

He reluctantly helped the gang save the settlement as it nearly got overrun by a back door entrance. The Mayor had a secret entrance in his office where the mutants can raid at the heart of the settlement. It was only thanks to Krakstrongs instincts and Glenn’s investigations that led them to accuse the mayor of working against the people. With the old mayor dead in his own office as well as his sheriff who also conspired to help the invasion, two positions needed to be filled.

Glenn became the sheriff, a role he only kept as a temporary position until he and his gang locate and kill the Dark Mind. Luke became mayor of the settlement (turns out Jackson Creeker was actually the mayor of the town named after his alias, Moorton), a role he didn’t ask for but took on the mantle of responsibility, with the help of Glenn as sheriff, Krakstrong as the mutant ambassador and Woz as the Chaplin of the faith of the machine.

Now Glenn has one purpose, a journey that he must complete without mercy, emotion and second thoughts. He and his friends must find the source of the mutant virus and put a stop to it before their world is destroyed. The risks are too great to falter, to find the Dark mind and kill it before it unleashes the Final Apocalypse. Glenn hunter by the horror of the Butcher

***

Luke is Luke, he’s been the same from then to now. The core of the group (not leader, Krakstrong is considered to be the leader, though in name only), his humanity and moral philosophy is still very much alive despite everything that’s happened. He and Woz were the leaders of the caravan escape during the beginning of the apocalypse, taking their family and friends away to safer lands.

After many adventures to find supplies, scouting missions, bandit attacks and growing mutant sightings, the gang had bonded closer now that they had to survive together.

They established a small caravan town that knew relative peace for a time, until the mutants led by the Butcher attacked their settlement. Many would be killed or eaten, including friends of Luke who he knew decades ago. Even in his sleep he can still see the faces of the dead, cursing him and tormenting him for letting them die.

Only a handful of survivors escaped to go in search of a new and safer home. Luckily, they found land that was on a hill side with running pure water. Not the safest spot to settle but better than no water at all. Everything seemed to be finally on track as the community started to recover from the mutant attack.

But behind the facade of his over confidence, jokester jest, eagerness and never backing down, Luke is slowly dying from the virus. The Butcher took Luke on in a brawl during the downfall of the caravan settlement, pinning Luke down as he injected Luke with a degenerative disease of the virus into Luke’s bloodstream. At first Luke thought he was going to become a mutant like Keith, but luckily the changes never came.

However, the interior of Luke’s body fared worse as he suffered nerve loss from time to time, losing his control of limbs and in some cases eye sight. Using medication that’s available, Luke hides his degrading health to ensure he and his family and friends live long enough to find a safe place to live.

Only one person in his family knows of his health problems, and swore not to share this knowledge to anyone, even to Woz. As Luke continues his fight he is surely to pay dearly for what will come once the virus gets stronger.

He became mayor of a settlement after defeating the Dark Minds mutant army and ratting out Jackson Creeker. His new role has loosen his role as a fighter and group leader in supply gathering, which benefited him to hide his falling health. Wearing a pirate outfit with a taxidermy parrot named Frank, Luke would organise and build the settlement to become bigger, stronger and more open for trade with other settlements. He can now assure his family will be safe now that they have found a safe home.

At last, Luke must join his old friends one last time as they travel to a location far east of Australia, to an abandoned testing facility of water purification called ‘H.J Water purification facility’. There he and his gang will stop the source of the virus outbreak and save their homeland. Luke only has scarce supplies left to delay the inevitable as he is soon reaching the point of no return. This may be his last trip………….. Luke

***

Finally there’s Woz, half man half machine infused symbiotic bonding. Once he was the most human of all the gang as he placed his moral duty and belief before aggression and nihilism. A peacekeeper and Lukes twin by a brother to another mother quote, Woz handled the complex side of the affects of the apocalypse to the caravan settlers.

He unfortunately had a fatal incident with the Butcher as Woz had his hand sliced off, leaving a few fingers and a thumb left. But something miraculous happened as his arm bonded to machine parts, reforming his hand as organic and mechanical symbiosis. Woz by all accounts was not a mutant, for no other creature had the strain of bonding, but rather evolving by its own mutation and absorbing organic only.

Woz became half man, half machine, able to absorb from a fall of 8ft and more, reconstructing broken bone into new parts. Soon Woz was seen as a god by the tech nerds who saw him as a machine god. But Woz refused to be seen as a god, just a lucky bugger.

However, Woz would lose something in exchange for these enhancements as he slowly lost his humanity. The one biggest strength that Woz has was his humanity and moral ideals from right to wrong. But as he absorbs more machine parts, the more he has lost that which made him the man he was. His unemotional appearance, cold calculating plans and disregard for innocent life has made him a danger to his friends and family.

His family out of concern tried to get him the help needed to bring him back to normal, but the damage was done and nothing can be done to save him. Only those vague good memories are what keeps Woz from losing the identity he has left. He has now passed on the mantle of responsibility to his next of kin, to carry on the traditions and values that he himself had followed. With that, he left his family with such cold and unfeeling separation like it wasn’t Woz anymore, like a stranger.

He became a Chaplin to the faith of the machine, a cult of worshipers that use barely running computers to pray. Sermons start at 1pm with the first song of binary numbers of 1s and 0s. Members are required to use treadmills to run the computers as the power lines went dark during the apocalypse.

This cult would soon grow old to Woz after much grovelling by the tech worshipers, he only came as he needed to build his mind and machine soul to be stronger. Deification was a distraction from his intent to absorb as much knowledge as he can from the database archives. This was where he found the source location of the virus.

leaving the church to find his family who he hasn’t seen for a year. A hope of the old Woz returning, or just an error in his mechanical logic?

Now Woz joins his flesh mortals (friends) on their last trek to find the source of the virus, and save mankind from total extinct. Somehow after much research Woz found the location to the source of the outbreak at an old water purification site. Strange, he didn’t have evidence to suggest this was the location or even if it was still there. He just has this feeling in his mind that it is there, as if something is calling out to him. Telling Woz to go find it like a beacon transmission……… Woz, the man machine

End of prologue……..

Fan art of the Corum trilogy (Knight of the Sword)

For the past three months I’ve been doing some work on a side project, that I’ve been working on in between my usual miniature painting projects. After finishing the Corum book Trilogy by Micheal Moorcock, I was inspired to illustrate the characters, locations, Gods and events that took place in the trilogy.

The Corum book trilogy is by far one of my favourite Eternal Champion book series, a story of pain, war, sacrifice, destiny and the complexity of the God pantheons. Each book not only has its own amazing adventure story, but each one expands on the lore of Corum’s world (or time age, in the Eternal champion series).

So I did some illustrations of what I would imagine the first book, The Knight of the Sword, to look like in my perspective whilst respecting the source material. This book is one of my favourite out of the three for it’s story of Corums journey. From being the last of his race and physically tortured by the rising Mabden race led by Glandyth-a-Kae, to a powerful tragedy to use his new ‘gifts’ to defeat Arioch to restore balance to the five realms.

I wanted to share my fan artwork with you today, mostly from the first half of the Knight if the Sword book, and hopefully it might inspire you to take a look at the Corum trilogy book series. There are other fictional works by Micheal Moorcock that deserve a read too, I can’t list them all here (and I’ve got a lot to catch up on reading the Eternal Champion series) but they are just as good if not better. Enjoy!

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Corum Jhaelen Irsei, Prince in the Scarlet Robe

Glandyth-a-Krae, Earl of the Denledhyssi.

The Horned Bear (Mabden vassal God) The Dog (Mabden Vassal God)The Giant of Laahr

Knight of Moidel Castel Moidel Earl Moidel of Allomglyl, the Margrave returned from the depths of the sea Shool the wizard ???

The Eye of Rhynn and the Hand of Kwll Arioch, Knight of the Swords (Chaos Lord)

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I hope you have enjoyed this art filled post! If you want to see me do more fan art for the second half of the first Corum book, post a comment below and if I get enough feedback I’ll do some more!

Again, I’d highly recommend reading The Eternals Champion series and other Micheal Moorcock literature works.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

note: I do not own the names, locations, story nor creation of Corum and The Eternal Champion series. All works of fiction mentioned here were created by Micheal Moorcock. This post is only for free expression and none profit.

Yearly book reading challenge update and the Prince Corum book series

Back in April I’ve posted an update on my yearly book reading challenge, after reading a total of twelve books last year, I wanted to best that record by reading more books. Below is a recap list of what I read this year.

  • The Rats, by James Herbert
  • Lair, by James Herbert
  • Domain, by James Herbert
  • Chacarodons: The Outer Dark, by Robbie Mcniven
  • The Horus Heresy: Galaxy in Flames, by Ben Counter
  • The Horus Heresy: Crimson Fist, by John French
  • Nagash: The Undying King, by Josh Reynolds
  • Legacy of Dorn, by Mike Lee
  • Elric of Melniboné, by Michael Moorcock
  • A knight and his horse, by Ewart Oakshott

Today I can announce (a late one) that I’ve now passed my goal, with six more books read! This year I have so far read 16 books, three of which are part of a trilogy of books. Below is a list of what I’ve read since April’s update post.

  • The Knight of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Queen of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The King of the Sword, by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Land Leviathan (the Oswald Bastable trilogy), by Micheal Moorcock
  • The Dark Powers of Tolkien, by David Day
  • The Fog, by James Herbert

The first trilogy in the Corum series written by Micheal Moorcock.

So now that my goal has been met, I’m going to read some more books and see how far I can go before the end of 2019.

After reading the Sword Rulers trilogy by Micheal Moorcock, I was really inspired by the story and creations by Micheal, a fun and interesting series relating to the multiverse. I think it’s a series that’s hardly been talked about with today’s generation (including me for a time before I found out about Micheal Moorcock). I’ve got an idea that I’ve been working on for weeks now, that will hopefully attract more new readers to the Corum series and other Micheal Moorcock books……

Until next time,

-Bjorn

How I would change The City (by James Herbert)

How I would change The City (by James Herbert)

The City by James Herbert is a mixed bag for many readers, who have read all of the Rats books this graphic novel offers nothing new, but for new readers it’s quite interesting if vague. For me, this is where I started reading James Herbert’s work on The Rats, and after reading the trilogy and discussing all of the books, I now return to the last book that ends this series.

I want to discuss what I would change for this graphic novel that would give it more purpose, and a finality to end the saga. This isn’t to disrespect James Herbert’s work on The City as I’ve enjoyed reading it for its unique visual journey into the nightmare world of The Rats. However, I would like to offer my criticism not out of knowing what would make it perfect or how my opinion is right, but to offer alternative ideas and suggestions that could improve the story.

Let’s begin!

The protagonist

In The City, we meet our protagonist named David who is a lone survivor by the name of ‘The Traveller’, who search’s for his wife and daughter in the warped post apocalyptic nightmarish city of London. Now ruled by the Black Rats, David search’s for his family whilst slaughtering the rats.

When he finds his family his daughter is nothing but a carcass and his wife has gone, too far lost in her delusion. When he discovers that she is nursing a White baby rat, he ensures the vermin is destroyed and sadly mercy kills his wife.

Then suddenly he has a new mission in which he kills the Mother creature who’s nest is in St Paul’s Cathedral. After he kills the beast, he leaves London to walk the wasteland alone.

The Character lacks any connections to the previous books and we don’t really get to know David in the story. His mission doesn’t really pull you in and make you sympathise with him, his story is a mystery. A mystery character can be written well in some stories with some hints here and there about their past, but David just feels vague with nothing to make you question where he came from.

How does he know where the Mother Creature hibernate? Who does he work for? How did he know his family might be alive? Was he an ex military man? How did he survive the nuclear apocalypse?

I have two alternative suggestions that could make The City a good send off to the franchise, and to bring the story full circle.

1. Have Luke Pender be the protagonist of the story, he was the main protagonist in the second book, Lair. He knows about the Rats and their ugly hierarchy during his time as a investigator for Ratkill. Have the story briefly explain his life after Lair, his marriage and how he left behind Ratkill and his vengeance went for the Black Rats. Then go into the apocalypse and how he and his wife were lucky to be in one of the safer areas that weren’t attacked before sees-fire. Skip a few years in the future and show Pender as a lone traveller who is now back with Ratkill. After his wife was killed by the returning horrors of the Black Rats, Pender seeks revenge for her death and kill the Mother Creature.

2. Second suggestion would be that Harris would be the main protagonist due to him being the first person alive to have witnessed the beginning of the Black Rats first outbreak. Although he has no military background or combat expertise, he did survive several rat attacks through the first book, The Rats. Last we know of Harris in the series was that he survived the attack in the nest and reported to HQ (Ratkill) of what he saw. After that there’s nothing, his story just ends in the series and not even if he survived the nuclear fallout years later. Having him as the protagonist in The City would make the story feel like a full circle, a finality to the series as Harris returns to London to face a old enemy one last time.

Post Domain story with reference to Culver and how society has fallen

Domain ends with Culver and two other survivors leave London by the military, who saved them during a gruelling battle on a boat against the rats. We’re told that there are some areas that weren’t affected by the fallout, chaotic but fairly ordered mostly. The story ends on a cliffhanger of sorts as the rats are still active in their goal to take over the world. By the time The City arrives we see humanity at the whims of the rats as society is completely destroyed.

Maybe explain post Domain what happened to Culver and the others. Was it China that dropped the nuclear bombs? Did they do a second wave of attacks months later? How did the rats took over?

There’s a lot to explain in just a single graphic novel with barely 70 or so pages, so it’ll either have to be a short 2-4 page explanation or a prequel story. Or alternatively, just show how the rats finally dominated the country, as in Domain they’ve just about took over London after the fallout.

The Ratkill as a Guerrilla task force

By the time the third book come around Ratkill had completely disappeared, no mention of the group nor of Howard. Domain’s story was a few decades (10-20 years) after the events of Lair, roughly in the 80’s or 90’s. It was almost as if this book wasn’t connected to the last two when reading the first few chapters, until later on we get exposition on previous events on the Black Rats.

During The City we see unknown groups of people who help the Traveler during his mission in London, they seem to be from an established group who knew who David was. Could they be from Ratkill, surviving inspectors who now work as a task force to take down nests? Or are they a retaliation group who were in one of the many safe nuclear bunkers?

It would be a nice nod to either Domain or the trilogy to include Ratkill as an existing group, who are fighting an eternal war against the rats.

~~~~~~~~~

That’s all I can suggest for how I would change The City to make it more meaningful. It’s not to say that my ideas are perfect as I’m not the master of this fictional world, James Herbert is the only one who can ultimately write The Rats franchise. But unfortunately, he sadly passed away early this decade, so I doubt anyone could continue the franchise as good as James’s work

The City was released in the 1990’s, about two decades after his first book, The Rats, was published. The City was James Herbert’s last work on The Rats franchise as a fourth sequel in the rats saga. He had changed since his early days of writing as he moved away from violent and graphic horror into more complex horror.

In a way, James Herbert was moving on from his most famous fictional franchise and wanted to create new stories rather than milking his best work. Besides, by the time Domain came out the horror was becoming too familiar and less frightening.

How can you make a graphic novel end a well beloved horror series, and meet expectations? The answer is not that simple, and because James hasn’t done a graphic novel before or since, it’s understandable that The City would feel mediocre.

But then again looking back on The City, I have this strange nostalgia now that I’ve read all of the books. Seeing the Black Rats, the post fallout remains of London, the White Rats and the Mother Creature all being illustrated actually makes us see how horrendous and evil these things are.

I think the book was never meant to be the next best thing but rather a visual story to thank the fans for supporting decades of fiction by James Herbert. Instead of writing a fourth book, a visual story was made for us, the reader, to witness the horror for one last time. To see the mutant rats for the first time as they glare at us with their evil, cunning red eyes.

The Black Rats ultimately won the battle and dominated the earth, as humanity annihilates itself by nuclear fallout. Then we get to see what we created by accident decades ago (from atomic bombs ironically) destroy our species.

The final page of the traveller walking across the crimson red horizon after leaving London is the story’s end. Unlike previous books there’s no epilogue about surviving rats nor another White Rat mutant, just the main protagonist waking away as a broken man who’s lost everything in his life. He only has revenge against the rats as something to live for.

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I hope you have enjoyed this post, and I hope this final post on my thoughts on The Rats saga was enjoyable. I’ve been really inspired to write several posts on The Rats series after reading all the books, and I’ve done few post covering my thoughts on each book.

It’s been a pleasure to have found James Herbert’s fiction and The Rats franchise, it’s helped me to start reading more Horror book genre now. It’s a shame that James Herbert isn’t mentioned much in media and bookshops today, hardly much of his books are in my local Waterstones (only second hand shops have his books).

However, I hope that I’ve helped spread the word about James Herbert to a new generation of book readers. Hopefully we can still pass on the tales of horror of The Rats for decades onwards.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

The future of The Rats after Domain?

The future of The Rats after Domain?

After reading all three books of The Rats trilogy (and The City graphic novel), I’ve decided to look back and theories the connections of each books revelations to the end bomb shell book of Domain.

Below I’ll be giving brief catch ups with each books endings relating to the rats, and where there origins started. This will relate to my theory on the series finale, and how it effects the future in a post- apocalyptic world rule by the rats.

This post will have major spoilers for The Rats, Lair, Domain and The City!!!

In the first book we find out through the course of the story that Under-Secretary, Foskins, had found information about the Black Rats origins. They were created by an atomic bomb test in New Guinea, which a professor (Zoologist) by the name of William Bartlett Schiller took one of the rats back to the U.K.

He went to a canal in London in a small house and started breeding the brown rats with the black rats, resulting in the creation of the mutant breed. However to no ones surprise, the Black Rats break free and start breeding and infesting London’s sewer network.

Harris (protagonist), knew where this old canal house was went straight to it to reach Foskins in time, during the big purge against the rats in an abandoned city of London. When inside, Harris finds all sorts of stuff in a study room including a black board with a faint image of a rat. It’s only when he goes downstairs does he finally realise how significant this place is.

For within this house we find our first White Rat, a mutated monstrosity who’s obese, crippled, hairless and distinctly has two heads. We also find it’s mutated bodyguards who are much bigger than the Black Rats. After battling his way through the bodyguards (and found out the fate of Foskins), Harris kills the mutant rat king.

Meanwhile as the military massacres the hordes of Black Rats from their hiding places (using ultra sounds to attract them), a few however were trapped in a storage room unable to get out. The mother rat gives birth to a strange White Rat before she dies from stress, the White Rat leads its kin away from the city.

In Lair, the protagonist by the name of Pender, finds the new nest of the Black Rats, which reveals more about its hierarchy system. I’ve listed this below to quickly explain the lowest to highest in the rats lair.

  • Black Rats are the foot soldiers who deliver fresh meat to its superiors, decapitated heads are much needed to the brood.
  • Bodyguard rats are much bigger and stronger than the foot solider, who guard the mutated white rat and it’s group of similarly afflicted kin.
  • White Rats are mutated monstrosity’s who tend to be leaders or in place of authority to the Lair. They demand food on a constant basis to replenish their hunger, for their crippled affliction makes them useless to hunt for food.
  • White Rat (king) is the leader of the lair who bends all to his will and demands for more fresh heads to eat. Being bigger than its kin, this rat has two heads, one being useless apart from either eating or sniffing, sight is blind.

After a dispute with one of the Black Rats who the White Rat king was feasting on its new meal, the Black Rat strangely disobeyed its orders and attacked its king. Tearing its throat out and forging on its flesh, along with the rest of the Black Rats. The bodyguards and its White Rat masters were killed off too, making the lair go into outright chaos.

In the end, Pender managed to escape as the army destroys the abandoned house with rockets and explosions, supposedly killing off the Black Rats forever.

But a few survived and went back to the city…..

In Domain, it’s revealed that the rats have a Mother Creature, a massive White Rat who commands all to her commands. Not only is she like her white kin, but she can also breed to create more rats.

After the nuclear apocalypse the rats had grown bolder and left heir nest to find a world in ruin. Regaining their confidence they terrorise many survivors, killing them and taking food back to the nest.

By the end of the story, it’s revealed later on in the last chapter that when the protagonist looked back at the horror he witnessed seeing the Mother Creature, he realised that her litter looked awfully familiar. They were human in appearance with rat features, almost as if the litter were an evolution in the rats cycle. Did mankind evolve from rats, not apes?

Finally in The City, we discover yet another Mother Rat in illustration, and a first visual illustration of what this human/ rat looks like.

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So with all that information out of the way, what can this all mean?

From everything I’ve gathered from all three books, and how the author developed his stories, I have theory.

The Rats are a product of a nuclear blast which changed their DNA to make them abnormally stronger, smarter, more cunning than their smaller kin. However, it has caused a mutation where a few newborn become the white rats. Eventually these rats become deformed and crippled either by genetic failure or it’s part of the hierarchy gene that makes them above the Black Rats. Like bees, the rats produce a unique litter that will lead its nest if ever the King or Queen is slain.

One rat may become the mother creature, who breeds many rats including her own white kin. Unlike her own kind, her newborn are alien to the Black Rats who see them as a threat. But they won’t harm them for their Queen has total command over the nest.

These newborn are the next evolutionary step in the rats species to evolve into more humanoid beings. Wether they are the return of mankind’s ancestors or something entirely more disturbing will never be answered.

This is the true horror of James Herbert’s trilogy of The Rats. Whilst each book is horror filled with rat attacks and mutilations of victims, these pale in comparison to the real horror that connects all the books.

Domain ends the trilogy by showing mankind’s downfall for its recklessness with nuclear weapons, massacring everyone and everything on this earth. The rats, a product of nuclear bomb tests decades ago (the irony that mankind had created such horrors) were a mistake created by mankind’s recklessness (and a professors stupid idea to breed them). The rats took this opportunity to rise up from their long absence from the upper world.

They breed and kill the now weakened but surviving groups of mankind, whilst their queen breeds a new race to rule the earth.

The true horror is that the rats have become the next dominant species of earth, and theses new breed of humanoid rats will inherit this world once mankind becomes extinct. The rats hate them and are more than willing to kill them, but this new breed may live long enough to survive as long as their queen is still in power.

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Whilst the revelation of the new inheritors of earth is an interesting theory, it’s only what I think might happen. You may have your own theories on what The Rats trilogy ending could mean, I’m interested to hear your own theories in the comments below!

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you have enjoyed this post and, hopefully you may be interested to read more or James Herbert’s literature.

Next up I’ve got one more post on The Rats series with my own ideas to improve The City, and how I would give it more meaning as a finale to the series. I’ll explain the positives and negatives of the original story, and wether it could continue the saga with a sequel if James Herbert had continued the series.

Until next time!

-Bjorn

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Sources:

  • Herbert James, The Rats First published in 1974 by New English Library. Edition 1999 Re-published by Pan Books
  • Herbert James, Lair First published in 1979 by New English Library. Edition 1999 Re-published by Pan Books.
  • Herbert James, Domain, First edition 1984 published by New English Library.
  • Herbert James, Miller Ian, Balchin Judy, The City, First edition 1994 published by Pan Books.