The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars by Michael Moorcock
“Michael Moorcock returns after more than a decade with a brand new trilogy that pries deep into the history of fantastical storytelling
Back in the Thirteenth Century, King Henry III granted a plot of land in the heart of London to an order of Friars known as the Carmelites. In return, they entered into a compact with God to guard a holy object. This sanctuary became a refuge for many of ill-repute, as the Friars cast no judgment and took in all who were in search of solace. Known as Alsatia, it did not suffer like the rest of the world. No Plague affected it. No Great Fire burned it. No Blitz destroyed it. Within its walls lies a secret to existence–one that has been kept since the dawn of time–a bevy of creation, where reality and romance, life and death, imaginary and real share the same world. One young man’s entrance into this realm sends a shockwave of chaos through time. What lies at the center of this sacred realm is threatened for the first time in human existence. Science fiction and fantasy legend Michael Moorcock launches his first new trilogy in ten years with The Whispering Swarm.”
This is exciting news for Moorcock fans. It sounds like the trilogy follows a young man’s journey through an alternative London. The author promises to include semi-autobiographical information, promising an intriguing insight into the mind of Moorcock himself.
Below is from an article by Joe Gross of the New Statesman:
Right now, Moorcock is enmeshed in The Whispering Swarm, the first book in the planned “Sanctuary of the White Friar” trilogy.
“I’m not sure if I really should be working on trilogies at my age,” Moorcock laughs, “but this one is essentially an autobiographical novel with a very heavy fantasy element.”
Whispering Swarm is about London, but a London with a key difference. “There was a part of London called Alsatia that was a sanctuary for those who had broken the law,” Moorcock says. Located between the River Thames and Fleet Street, and including the Whitefriars monastery, Alsatia held the sanctuary privilege (and a certain measure of lawlessness) for centuries before being dissolved by Parliament in 1697.
It’s an extremely attractive idea, and Moorcock imagines it has continued to the present. But he adds that the book is autobiography, mostly. “I’m trying to look at the ways I used escapism at crucial moments in my life, my two previous marriages, for example,” he said. “Whether I used escape routes and how I used them.”
There isn’t a publication date yet — “It isn’t scheduled because I’m only a third of the way through the bastard” — but may he live to finish it and a dozen more, on this Earth and others.
In my soon to be released, updated and revised book about Moorcock’s work, The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock, I include previously unseen extracts from letters and interviews. One comment Moorcock makes about this new novel is this:
“I’m thinking about God and who created whom quite a bit in my current partly autobiographical fantasy, The Whispering Swarm. I rather enjoy not knowing – none of us can ever know – which came first. Even if we have a perpetually self-renewing multiverse, as I have in my cosmology, we still don’t know where it all started. Good to speculate about, though.”