book cover of Crimson Darkness

Crimson Darkness

(The first book in the Venusworld series)
A novel by

Venusworld Vol. 1: Crimson Darkness
by William Barton, 223,000 words

A little more than fifteen thousand years from now, on another world, in a different dimension, a young man named Älendar Vexh-nem will be born to the throne of the world. Unfortunately, it is a world whose culture and economy have been devastated by a series of planetary-scale natural disasters, the most recent of which shone a light from the sky that vaporized entire nations. As a boy, Älendar hated the idea of his inheritance, only wanting to read his religious books, practice his swordplay and marksmanship, and have his way with whatever pretty girls he can get his hands on.

Unfortunately, Älendar's world is in the grip of revolution, both social and industrial, the winds of change picking up speed as he grows into a man. His parents are assassinated in front of him one day, and he winds up on the run, and in hiding for a while. Then, when things quiet down, he finds himself in the clutches of wily politicians. They don't mind if he reads his books and chases after girls, so long as he's available to play the docile puppet princeling when needed. Besides, he's inherited a great deal of money, along with his title. So much money he could buy a battleship if he wanted, or a thousand championship racing dogs, or ten-thousand lovely slave girls. Not such a bad life, come to think of it, but...

What Älendar does, in the end, is run away, and when caught and brought back by the politicians, run away again, and again, and again. Until one day he runs smack into the middle of a horrendous industrial war being born in a faraway northern land where something called a steam engine has been invented. Then the young man who grew up with sword fights and pistol duels, who trained to command tall sailing ships, finds himself on the business end of a machine gun, and imagining what the coming war will be like when the engineers of this faraway country finish inventing something called a dirigible airship, with which they intend to bomb the fairy-castle cities of the south into rubble.

Fair enough? Perhaps. But in the middle of the building war, Älendar is still wondering about all those natural disasters, both the historical ones and the ones memorialized only in the ancient religious texts he loves to study. What, he wonders, was the mysterious light from the sky that vaporized the Lost Continent of Italkor seven hundred years ago? What turned the ancient kingdom of Sinnolta into a desert of roasting black stone? What are the mysterious Alaphorden, who once fought humans for control of the world? For that matter, what are humans, what are dogs, and where in the world did they come from? And what could possibly be casting dark shadows on the other side of the sky?

Crimson Darkness is the first volume of the Venusworld series, which will eventually consist of ten volumes of fiction. To find out more, visit

Warning, this book is not for the faint of heart:

1. There is strong sexual content, and intense scenes of military conflict.

2. It requires sufficient commitment from the reader to learn and interpret a special vocabulary drawn from the native languages of the people in the book.

"People who think it's dangerous to encounter a new idea, or an honest, open, strongly put exploration of an uncommon viewpoint, are going to be scared out of their fluffy-bunny minds by William Barton" --John Barnes, author of Mother of Storms.

"...a galactic empire as convincing as any of those created by Poul Anderson and Frank Herbert." --Analog, review of Dark Sky Legion.

Genre: Science Fiction

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