The Spiral Series

'...mixes sea adventure, voodoo, and strange buildings out of time in... a rousing contemporary fantasy that has an air of old-fashioned wonder and magic... Rohan does a fine job of mixing the mythic with the mundane, with a number of memorable characters.'

Carolyn Cushman, Locus

What is the Spiral?
Journey's beginning
The people of the Spiral
The birth of the Spiral


What is the Spiral?

The Spiral is the commonest name its inhabitants give to this world of shadows and space-time flux surrounding our own, which they call the Core. Others, less imaginative, call it the Wheel, with us as the Hub. Both names are far too simple. It exists as an underworld, an overworld and a world that's forever at our backs, made up of the constantly shifting shadows we cast into time, the myths and legends we create. All that has happened is there, interplaying and intermingling, all that will happen; maybe everything that can happen, or might. You may spend a lifetime searching for a brief entrance, and finding it, forget again forever - or in the space of a heartbeat be plunged in so deep that you never emerge again.


Journey's beginning...

The Spiral is strongest at places like ports and crossroads, places where ways have met and journeys begun for many long years, and where distances and perceptions become hazy, on the infinite oceans and among the clouds, and under the shield of night. You can sail off into the sunset, among the archipelagoes of cloud; you can step through gates which have become more than mere entrances and exits. Sometimes it may reach out, roll over its bounds briefly, and envelop you in the beauty and menace of living myth. Its limits nobody has ever traced.


The people of the Spiral

About these worlds men and women voyage, finding their way by mathematics and by time-honed instincts; mostly they live by trade, in strange commodities from even stranger places. And if they survive and keep moving, if they do not sink back into the Core, into the snares of time, they do not age, they do not die. They only change. Around the Core the worlds of the Spiral are much like our own, though filled with the magic and menace of legend; but as you explore them, and move outward, they change -- and so do you, if you somehow survive so infinitely long. Until at last, as you near the Rim, you enter a world of absolutes, a realm where qualities such as good and evil exist as tangible realities. Sometimes they reach inward, towards the Core. And sometimes, more rarely, those explorers, transformed, turn back once more, towards the worlds of men...


The birth of the Spiral

In some ways the Spiral stories are the most off-the-wall I've written, but they're also the ones that stem most directly from me; this is my own personal mythology. It had some suitably strange beginnings.

The day I finished the last of the Winter of the World stories, The Hammer of the Sun, I felt exhausted. My publishers wanted more, but I knew I didn't want to go on. In fact, I determined to quit fantasy altogether, spend a year doing something else entirely.

I should have known better.

The next evening, in a soft summer twilight, we had to pull up short at some busy traffic lights on the Leeds ring road. I sat there like a sack - very tired, drained, uncreative. And then, while I was waiting, I looked up at the sky, the way I'd done as a child. Approaching my home city, Edinburgh, from the southern hills, you see its great river estuary, the Firth of Forth, stretched out before you in an endless sequence of bays and islands; and as a child I'd seen the same patterns in the clouds. Now I saw them there again, in the warm shades of approaching sunset - blazing blue sea, stretching out between an archipelago of grey-black cloud islands, tinged with fringing beaches of blazing gold.

I could imagine a ship sailing away among them to infinity, to isles of light and laughter, in the words of an old Hebridean song - a ship with a crew of immortals, and one very ordinary man among them. The weary-looking guy stuck in the car just in front of me, maybe; but with discoveries to make out there, about himself and others, and with a destiny of his own to fulfil.

By the time I got home I knew something about who he was, and where he was going; and the next day, still very much against my will, I sat down to write... and write...


The four books in this series are:

Chase the Morning | The Gates of Noon | Cloud Castles | Maxie's Demon

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