The Domino Men…in 60 Seconds

Fantasy author Jonathan Barnes told that his new novel, The Domino Men, is set in the same world as his critically-acclaimed debut, The Somnambulist, but a hundred years or so later.

“I love the Victorian and Edwardian eras but I was keen to push myself into doing something slightly different,” Barnes said in an interview. “I wanted to create a more realistic and recognizable setting—an ordinary, everyday environment into which the weirdness of The Somnambulist would slowly bleed. Although The Domino Men is a brand new, standalone story which requires no knowledge of my debut there a few characters and situations that hark back to its predecessor. If you wanted to know more about the machinations of that mysterious wing of the secret service which calls itself the Directorate or the grisly ambitions of the schoolboys, Hawker and Boon, then you can do so here.”

The Domino Men takes place in London, in the present, during the last days of a secret civil war that has been fought for generations between a covert wing of the U.K. government and the British royal family. “Upon the incapacitation of his grandfather, an innocent man becomes its most crucial player,” Barnes said. “The Prince of Wales is groomed by a drug addict for a dark future. And deep beneath the corridors of power, two strange figures, ageless, indestructible and clad in the uniforms of schoolboys, sit waiting for the chaos to begin. Someone described the book as being like an H. P. Lovecraft story crashing into an episode of The Office. I think I’m pretty happy with that!”

Apart from his appearance in an embarrassing TV sitcom as a child, the protagonist, Henry Lamb, is wholly unremarkable. “His job is crushingly dull, he lives in an unexciting part of London and the only splinter of interest in his life is his unrequited passion for his landlady,” Barnes said. “Until, that is, his grandfather collapses in a pub halfway through telling a joke which, had he finished it, might have changed the world. Until he is pressganged into the Directorate and introduced to Mr. Dedlock, its embittered leader. Until he realizes that the city and everything he cares for stands a heartbeat from annihilation.”

Barnes could relate to his protagonist, as he’s worked in his fair share of dull offices. “Like most people, I’ve sat at my desk day after day, dreaming that something exciting would happen to wrench me away from filing and spreadsheets and faxes,” Barnes said. “The Domino Men is partly my attempt at projecting such a fantasy and partly my own riposte to such daydreams, namely: ‘be careful what you wish for!'”


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