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The Empire of Fear

Short Stories
THE EMPIRE OF FEAR is a magnificent epic of alternative history, which spans three centuries and moves from England to the heart of Africa, to Malta and finally to the New World. It is set in a brilliantly imagined world ruled by a powerful aristocracy of vampires: long-lived, extraordinarily handsome humans who are immune to pain but must drink the blood of their common subjects.

The story begins in 17th - century London. Edmund Cordery, Mechanician to the court of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, believes that the secret and supposedly magical process whereby vampires are made from common men must have a natural explanation. His knowledge becomes dangerous in the eyes of his masters when he learns how to build a microscope, and he brings his treasonous career to a swift and dramatic climax. He entrusts his secrets to his son, Noell, who must become a fugitive, living in fear of discovery by the vampires of Europe.

Noell's adventures take him to Africa, where vampires are revered as holy men. Accompanied by other soldiers of fortune, and by the woman who loves him, he journeys into the interior to witness the strange and horrific rituals in which men receive the gifts of immortality and freedom from pain. But when he returns to Europe to use his discovery he must face the awsome might of a great armada sent to destroy his base in Malta, under the joint command of Coeur-de-Lion and the infamous Vlad the Impaler. Only in the final chapters of the book, set in the 1980s, are the ultimate effects of Noell's discovery made clear.

Published in 1988 by Simon & Schuster Ltd.
Cover art by Brian Salmon. Jacket design & concept by Osborn & Stephens Ltd.

Dedicated to: "My wife Jane, without whose support and encouagement such a book as this would never have been thought of, let alone written."



In 17th century London, Edmund Cordery, Mechanician to the Court of Prince Richard, seeks out the sinister formulae that sustain an aristocracy of vampires as immortal overlords holding whole continents in sanguinary thrall.

His son Noell carries his father's dangerous knowledge into the dark heart of Africa and on to the fortress island of Malta at the head of a company of soldiers of fortune. There he awaits the coming of the awesome armada of Vlad the Impaler and Richard Coeur-de-Lion across the Middle Sea when the battle lines are drawn up for the last great conflict between subversive science and sinister superstition...

Brian Stableford's THE EMPIRE OF FEAR is a fabulous adventure spanning three centuries and three continents, an epic feat of imaginative storytelling...

'A tremendous story ... beautifully written, carefully researched... a remarkable book. Highly recommended - CRITICAL WAVE

'Original, thoughtful and hugely entertaining' - INTERZONE

Published in 1990 by Pan. ISBN:0-330-30874-2

Cover by San Julian


England in the seventeenth century is a land ruled by the Undead, an empire upon which the sun never rises. Feared and envied, worshipped and despised, Richard the Lionheart and his aristocracy of vampires rule with terror and the darkly-seductive promise of life eternal for the lucky few.

For centuries it has been thus. But now, even in the very shadow of their vampire masters' tyranny, mortal resistance is brewing.

Edmund Cordery, member of the cabal pledged to penetrate the mysteries of the vampires and destroy them, strikes the first blow. But it will fall to his son, Noell, to carry on the crusade of human against inhuman. And it will fall to those who come after Noell to keep the struggle alive for over three centuries - from England to Malta to modern-day America, where destiny will decide finally whether the forces of horror or humanity will hold sway over all....

"Stableford shines, re-creatincy the world in a surreal, alien fashion while taking the reader on a swashbuckling adventure....[He] turns the typical vampire story on its ear." - San Francisco Chronicle

Published 1st October 1993 by Ballantine.

  “Richly detailed . . . sure to fascinate history buffs—alternative and otherwise.”—Publishers Weekly

In an epic novel the Washington Post called “riveting,” Brian Stableford brilliantly imagines a world ruled by a powerful aristocracy of vampires: long-lived, extraordinarily handsome humans who are immune to pain but must drink the blood of their common subjects.

The story begins in seventeenth-century London and spans three hundred years—moving from England to the heart of Africa, to Malta, and finally to the New World. Edmund Cordery, Mechanician to the court of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, believes that vampire beings must have a natural explanation.

But when his discoveries make him dangerous in the eyes of his masters, Edmund entrusts his learned secrets to his son, Noell, who in turn becomes a fugitive. When he returns to Europe he faces the awesome might of Coeur-de-Lion and the infamous Vlad the Impaler.

This classic has been translated into five languages and “turn[ed] the typical vampire story on its ear” when it was published, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Published 1st June 2011 by Skyhorse Publishing.
ISBN: 978-1616082635

  Published 1st September 1991 by Carroll & Graf.

Published in 1992 by Book of the Month Club.
Published in 1992 by Quality Paperback Book Club.
Translated into German as: Das Reich der Angst.
Translated into Polish.
Translated into Portugese as: O Imperio do Medo.
Translated into Russian.
Translated into Spanish as: El Imperio del Miedo.

Review by Ian Braidwood

Cast of Characters:
Edmund Cordery, Noell Cordery, Quintus, Richard I - Coeur de Lion, Prince John, Lady Carmilla Bourdillon, Vlad Tepes - 'Dragulya' , Blondel de Nesle, Michael Beheim, Quintus, Selim, Leilah, Lady Cristelle d'Urfé, Mary White, Langoisse the pirate, Brother Innocent, Ralph Heilyn, Ntikima, Ngadze, Shango, Mburrai, Ghendwa, Msuri, Kantibh, Berenike, Michael Southerne, Thomas Southerne, Dr Chadwick.

I think it fair to say that this novel is a classic and that it marks the emergence of Brian as a top flight author. The fact that we don't see Brian's name splashed just about everywhere has nothing to do with justice. I'm sure if she had her say, we would.

The book starts in the first quarter of seventeenth century, in London. Medieval Europe is ruled by a vampire aristocracy, which maintains its position by a combination of reward and fear.

Edmund Cordery, mechanician to Richard I and contemporary of Francis Bacon, has been given one of the world's first microscopes to assess for the king. Richard encourages scientific endeavour as a way to distract mortals from thoughts of rebellion; though Edmond is interested in using it to discover the secret of vampirism and overthrow the regime by making vampires of his own.

After the death of Lady Carmilla, Edmund's son Noell has to flee to a monastery in Wales, where he is able to use the library, including secret texts hidden beneath it. Then he is discovered and has to escape Europe, settling on the western coast of Africa, where he lives as trader.

Noell has his father's scientific bent and also his determination to destroy the vampires' dominion. He spends years building up supplies for an expedition into the heart of the jungle in search of the fabled birthplace of vampirism. Then just as he is ready to leave, the vampires of Adamawara send for him...

This is an epic novel, which features a love story, pirates, battles on both land and sea. It spans over three hundered years and is quite different to anything Brian has written before. He has evoked a feeling of antiquity without the showing off, which marred Gibson and Sterling's The Angel of Goliad.

The Empire of Fear is beautifully researched and detailed: for instance Brian gives the microscope chromatic aberrations, whereas many SF authors would have assigned it the perspicacity of an electron microscope. Edmund would have soon unravelled microbial secrets, which have taken real scientists centuries.

Although it features vampires and is set so long ago, The Empire of Fear is a real science fiction novel and a very honest one.

No book on this site carries a higher recommendation.

Read Brett Bligh's Review HERE

Read Barbara Godwin's Review HERE

The Brian Stableford Website