David Mack is joining us today to talk about his novel, THE SHADOW COMMISSION. Here’s the publisher’s description:
The wizards of the Cold War must uncover a secret cabal responsible for the Kennedy assassination in The Shadow Commission, New York Times bestselling author David Mack’s globe-spanning historical fantasy sequel to The Iron Codex.
November 1963. Cade and Anja have lived in hiding for a decade, training new mages. Then the assassination of President Kennedy trigger a series of murders whose victims are all magicians―with Cade, Anja, and their allies as its prime targets. Their only hope of survival: learning how to fight back against the sinister cabal known as the Shadow Commission.
What’s Davids’s favorite bit?
In the second book of my Dark Arts series, characters who began as enemies in World War II became grudging allies during the early years of the Cold War. In The Shadow Commission, the third and final volume of the series, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 sparks a global hunt for the world’s last remaining free sorcerers. With seemingly all of the world’s governments against them, former foes are compelled to unite for mutual defense.
In the series’ second book, American-born mage Cade Martin achieved a kind of détènte with Icelandic former Axis magician Briet Segfrunsdóttir. Now, in book three, Briet forms a fragile bond of trust with Cade’s wife (and wartime ally), Russian-born fellow mage Anja Kernova.
After a battle in The Shadow Commission takes a turn for the gruesome, Anja and Briet share a moment of frustrated commisseration that previously would have seemed unthinkable:
After the roar … silence. The conjured sirocco died out, but not before it tattered the dark fog, revealing that Niccolò and Hatunde were gone, and the magickal texts with them.
A wide swath of the ground was painted with blood and shredded viscera. Tujiro’s body had been blown to pieces, all four limbs parted from the trunk. Half his head was missing. What remained look like a charcoal briquette. Coils of intestine hung tangled in tree branches. The entire grisly mess smoldered; pockets of fat inside the mangled torso were still burning.
Stunned by the speed with which the confrontation had unraveled, Briet stared down at the carnage and shook her head. When she saw Anja levitate down from her tower to the courtyard, she used Palara’s gift of telekinesis to float herself down to meet her.
She found it hard to read Anja’s expression as the woman nudged one of Tujiro’s arms with the tip of her boot. Briet sidled over to her. “Fucking hell. What a mess.” She clocked her grim ally’s sidelong look. “I ordered this medium-rare.”
“You think this is a joke?”
“It’s not? Let’s review, shall we?” She made a show of counting with her fingers. “Cade’s still a prisoner. Yasmin’s in the wind with two million dollars. The enemy has the Iron Codex and all of Cade’s research. And we’re knee-deep in this guy’s pancreas. Yeah, I’m really loving this plan, girlfriend. You’ve outdone yourself.”
Bitter silence festered between them.
Anja sighed. “Could be worse.” She noted Briet’s prompting glance. “Could be raining.”
Thunder rumbled. Seconds later, the sky unleashed a storm of Biblical proportions.
Torrential rain flattened their hair and filled their shoes.
Briet scowled at Anja. “You just had to say it, didn’t you?”
Anja stared at the sky. “Could be worse—”
“Don’t you say another fucking word.”
What I like best about this scene is that it offers the reader (and the characters) a moment of levity and camaraderie (albeit of a cynical variety) in a story that’s packed with graphic violence and crushing despair. There are a few other moments like it in the book, but this one is my favorite because it comes at the end of a scene in which we get to see Anja and Briet cooperating for the first time—a harbinger of the tragic bond they will come to share by the story’s end.
David Mack is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of three dozen novels of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure. His new novel The Shadow Commission is available now from Tor Books. Mack currently works as a creative consultant for two animated Star Trek television series.