Adrian’s first published novels were THE DREAM LORDS trilogy from Zebra Kensington (N.Y.) These were A PLAGUE OF NIGHTMARES (Feb 1975), LORD OF NIGHTMARES (Nov 1975) and BANE OF NIGHTMARES (Dec 1976).
These were a mixture of fantastic adventure, sword & planet and sorcery, very much inspired by ERB, Frank Herbert’s DUNE and Dennis Wheatley’s black magic books. Although Adrian had not read any REH at the time he wrote the books, they were promoted as being “in the tradition of Conan” – probably in part because Zebra were actually publishing a lot of REH books at the same time. (Adrian did go on to become a big REH fan.) Lin Carter commented in his Year’s Best Fantasy Stories, vol 5, that: “...I read (the trilogy) and thought it showed a lot of promise...”
The first two volumes had particularly garish covers, but were reprinted when volume 3 came out, all with striking new covers from American artist Tom Barber. The cover for BANE was clearly influenced by the work of Frank Frazetta. Ironically, although these new covers were far superior to the originals, the second volume (LORD) was billed as volume 3!
From 1976 – 1981, Adrian had 4 SF novels published by Robert Hale (UK). These were hardbacks aimed mainly at libraries and were hugely influenced by old school pulp SF, notably the works of John Lymington. Long out of print now, these were:
MADNESS EMERGING (1976) – something of a Quatermass clone set in a Cornish village (not unalike Gunnislake, where Adrian lived as a youth for 5 years). Richard Davis, who was at the time Adrian’s literary agent, said that the book reminded him very much of George Romero’s THE CRAZIES, although Adrian had not seen the film at the time.
PATHS IN DARKNESS (1977) – an alien invasion novel set in rural Wales. (For some reason the spine of the book reads PATHS OF DARKNESS.)
WARGODS OF LUDORBIS (1978) – set on a games world where humans are pawns in the machinations of the aliens who rule.
THE LUCIFER EXPERIMENT (1981) – the LUCIFER of the title being a computer that controls human dreams and subsequent actions. This book was reprinted as one of the very last Reader’s Union SF Book Club editions.
Adrian followed the Hale books with his first ventures into the children’s market, 2 books written for “young adults” although they are as much for adults as youngsters. (Their main protagonists are teenagers.) Adrian worked at the time for the Local Education Authority and one of his colleagues had set up his own publishing house, Spindlewood Press, based in Barnstaple, near Adrian’s home. The 2 published books were MOORSTONES (1982) and THE SLEEP OF GIANTS (1983), both hardbacks which were illustrated by Devon Artist, Stuart Littlejohn. Their genesis came about in a slightly unusual way: Adrian had sold a dragon story to Orson Scott Card, the American editor and novelist, for an original collection. The story, Dragon Under Stone, was a 10,000 word novella and although Card paid for the story, it never made the final line-up of his collection, which came out in 2 volumes, Dragons of Light and Dragons of Darkness. However, Card suggested to Adrian that he ought to consider turning Dragon Under Stone into a novel – and MOORSTONES was the result.
MOORSTONES is set on Dartmoor, based in real places so that the journey made in the book can be walked by anyone keen enough to try what can be very challenging terrain. The book contains a fold-out map, detailing the journey made by Aaron Scorn and Kelvin, in search of an injured dragon.
THE SLEEP OF GIANTS is set variously on Lundy Island, North Devon, the edge of Dartmoor and St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, visiting many local landmarks and deals with an attempt to save the giant Rorngard from an evil nemesis.
Both books were used by some secondary schools as part of their English curriculum. MOORSTONES was also Adrian’s first novel to be published abroad – there was a Catalan paperback edition. Both books were popular enough to enjoy a second printing.
The OMARAN SAGA and Beyond.
The 4 volume heroic fantasy saga, collectively known as THE OMARAN SAGA, was published both in the UK and the USA between 1986 and 1991 and was Adrian’s most ambitious project at the time. It was picked up by George Allen and Unwin after they had read MOORSTONES and suggested to Cole that he write an adult heroic fantasy for the line that they were then promoting. Joy Chant, herself a notable fantasy author, read and recommended the first Omaran novel, A PLACE AMONG THE FALLEN to Unwin.
It was published in a hardback edition by them in 1986 and in paperback in 1987. David Hartwell bought it for Arbor House in the USA (1987) and it was also published in the USA as a paperback by Avon Books.
It is now available in a revised edition from e-reads.com
The original covers of the UK and USA covers are shown below.
It was followed by:
THRONE OF FOOLS – Unwin UK, 1987 and Avon in the USA, 1990.
KING OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS – Unwin UK, 1987 and Avon in the USA, 1990.
GODS IN ANGER – Unwin Uk, 1988 and Avon in the USA, 1991.
The first 2 volumes have subsequently been published in Russian hardback editions, which both have beautifully coloured maps as endpapers.
The maps in the original 4 volumes were all reproduced from drawings by Adrian and were initially used by him as a guide to the geography of Omara in order not to confuse the action time-line and the interplay of the numerous characters and nations in the saga!
A PLACE AMONG THE FALLEN has enjoyed recent reprintings: E-Reads (USA) have made it available in hard copy (2002) and as an e-book (2003) while in the UK, Victor Gollancz have released it as a Kindle book (2012). These new editions are slightly revised versions of the original printing – some extra text has been added and some minor amendments made to the original text.
The Omaran Saga is currently being re-released under the Victor Gollancz SF Gateway imprint.
** insert images
George Allen and Unwin became Unwin Hyman and published Adrian’s next series of books, STAR REQUIEM. This is another 4 volume fantasy, but with SF and horror elements fused into it, the story of the last remnants of mankind fighting for survival against powerful alien oppressors, the Csendook. The books, released in the larger, trade paperback format, have splendid covers by British artist, Lee Gibbons. His work perfectly evokes the weirdness of the novels – Adrian and Lee discussed these at the planning stage. (The covers were subsequently used for the USA editions.)
The four volumes are:
MOTHER OF STORMS, published in UK by Unwin Hyman in 1989 and by Avon in the USA in 1992.
THIEF OF DREAMS, published in UK by Unwin Hyman in 1989 and by Avon in the USA in 1993.
WARLORD OF HEAVEN, published in UK by Unwin Hyman in 1990 and by Avon in the USA in 1993.
LABYRINTH OF WORLDS, published in UK by Unwin Hyman in 1990 and by Avon in the USA in 1993.
Unwin Hyman was subsequently bought out by Harper Collins and although there were initially plans to reprint STAR REQUIEM (with some new covers actually drafted) the books were eventually dropped. The series has been re-released as e-books by e-reads.
The original UK covers are shown below.
Avon Books (USA) published a one-off dark fantasy novel in 1993, BLOOD RED ANGEL, a book very much influenced by the significant success of horror fiction at the time. It remains the most unusual of Adrian’s works, reflecting the more bizarre side of his fiction.
In 2000, Adrian was approached by US print-on-demand publisher, Wildside Press. They were interested in his work, in particular the sword and sorcery stories about The Voidal (see separate section). They were also interested in any of his new novels and published another one-off, STORM OVER ATLANTIS (2001, USA). This was a fantasy set during the great deluge, linking the drowning continent with an ancient civilization in Central America (the Olmecs). Some of the interior artwork, proto-Egyptian glyphs, was drawn by Adrian’s daughter, Katia.
Adrian was commissioned by US gaming publisher, Wizards of the Coast to write the first novel in their WAR-TORN series, set in the then-new gaming world of Eberron. THE CRIMSON TALISMAN (USA, 2005) is a fantasy very much in the Tolkien vein, although, being set in Eberron, it draws on every kind of fantastic hero and scenario – vampires, elves, steampunk technology, etc!
Pressure of work at his day job meant that Adrian wrote only 1 novel over the next 6 years: Wildside Press published it, NIGHT OF THE HEROES (USA, 2011) a work that celebrates the pulps and all the old style writers that Adrian admires – HRH, HPL, REH, Sax Rohmer and many more. It also included the first appearance of Nick Nightmare, the hard-boiled, Spillane-like detective who has subsequently started to appear in new stories of his own. (See short story section.)
Following his retirement, Adrian is now concentrating on writing again and the first product of what he hopes will be a fertile new period is the SF novel, THE SHADOW ACADEMY. It is set in an alternative Earth, “no more than a breath away from our own”, where Britain has become mainly forested and technology has almost become lost. The book deals with a repressive Authority, bent on controlling the surviving civilization and its conflict with the insurgent pagans of a remote part of the country, Dumnonia (equivalent to the rural Devon of our own world). In places the book reflects Adrian’s fascination for myths and legends and features the Green Man and his followers.
THE SHADOW ACADEMY has been published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing (Canada) in August 2014, together with an audiobook from Audible at the same time. This will be Adrian’s first audiobook.