It was time to visit an earlier effort, the fifth novel in the Drakul series. It had always felt that Tepesch Drakul was in some ways unwelcome in that narrative, which concerned a future London dominated and terrorised by a monstrous demonic tree that emerges from the Natural History Museum. The Cazash Tree is part fungus, part animate and needs to escape Earth to continue its expansion, but to do so requires the sporing, using infected humans as disseminators of male spores.
The demonic tree has an army of followers addicted to its deadly sap (‘kine’). The tree is an offence against Nature and soon enough a champion is resurrected by nature goddess Annan, in the unlikely form of druid and mage Myrddin Wyllt. Myrddin must use ancient magic to defeat the Tree. He will be helped by seven heroes. These include Hama, the woman who originally caused his death at the hands of a fanatical monk, a hell-hound and a 17 year old blind gunslinger named Swift.
Many of the Nature loving Edenists living in the forests surrounding London become infected by female spores and are changed to become living spore-bearers. They serve the will of the Tree, trying to prevent Myrddin. Ultimately, they are doomed to die when the sporing comes. However, two of the heroes are ‘gifted’ children – possessing powerful magic, the result of the apocalypse.
Fortified towns are hidden within the forests, containing relict civilisations. The former city of Guildford is one such town, run by the De Veres. Obsessed with securing the Gifts, Gwynne De Vere kidnaps gifted children to experiment upon. However, she is also destined to become one of Myrddin’s followers, alongside two of the bough runners (servants of the demonic tree). These are Swift, a blind gun slinger, and the mother who abandoned her.
Myrddin’s quest is to secure the magical symbols with which he can summon a demon capable of defeating the Cazash Tree, but the demon in question is far more dangerous than that, and it does not come alone.
By the end of the novel, the planet is faced with a new future and must choose which direction to take.
Very topical these days.