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Quest for Knowledge (Volume 1 of the FirstWorld Saga) By Christopher Jackson-Ash

Genre/Category: Fantasy Books
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Ebook Synopsis

There are four novels in the FirstWorld Saga and in celebration of the publication of the final volume the author is offering Quest for Knowledge for free.

This is epic fantasy inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and Michael Moorcock. It is elves & dwarves meets sword & sorcery with a few time travel paradoxes thrown in.

FirstWorld is at the centre of the multiverse. It is under a great threat. In Quest for Knowledge we meet our reluctant Hero, Simon Redhead, plucked from his life as a medical student in a pre-apocalyptic future of a dimension of the multiverse much like our own.

How will a quiet, timid medical student who has sworn to do no harm fare when offered the chance to take up the greatest sword ever created and be asked to butcher people in order to save his new friends, FirstWorld, and perhaps the entire multiverse?

Find out how he had a hand in the formation of the multiverse in the first place. Escape with him sanctuary and peace in the past with a Palaeolithic tribe. Will he abandon everyone and everything or will he return to the future to take up his appointed role as Everlasting Hero?

“When the two who are one
Return to the sun
When the flame-haired child
Is first become
While the guardians sleep
Humankind will weep.”
Ancient Prophecy

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Melbourne, Republic of Australasia, 5th February 2043

At first light, the Jihad armies of Islam swept across the southern borders of Europe and Central Asia. Italy, Greece, Turkey, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan bore the brunt of the first attacks. Within hours, thousands of square miles of territory were in enemy hands.

Simon Redhead stumbled out of bed, oblivious to the world's impending doom, and observed himself in the bathroom mirror. Not a pretty sight, he thought. Pale green eyes stared back at him from a drawn and puffy face that showed all the symptoms of lack of sleep. I must get a haircut. His orange shoulder length hair hung in long, lank strands, in desperate need of a wash. 

His thoughts returned, as they often did, to the childhood taunts and the way his ‘mother’ would soothe his anguish. She was all he had had in the world. His stepfather, or rather his mother's husband, had run off with a ballet teacher when he was six. Simon couldn't remember much about him, and didn't want to. The bastard!

Simon emphasised his thoughts with an open handed smack that shook the mirror. The outburst released some of his pent-up anger, but it did nothing for his frustration. He ached for love and companionship. Not for the first time recently, he decided to give the first lecture a miss, and went back to bed. He let his mind wander through a favourite fantasy, involving a fellow student in his class. The feel of Julia’s soft body in his arms; the smell of her perfume; the taste of her kisses; finally exploring a woman’s body. He was just reaching the part where he removed her panties, when his body beat his mind to the finish. The physical relief eased the ache in his body, but did little for the anguish in his heart. Damn, wish I could last longer. How will I ever satisfy a woman? I may never get the chance to try.

In his melancholy, his thoughts returned to the funeral just three years before and the two strangers who had haunted his dreams ever since.


Simon Redhead slumped on his bed, crumpling his newly pressed best suit, his only suit. He tried to distract himself by listening to the modern history module he had received on his E-Pod. It played on the view screen that made up one entire wall of his room, but he closed his eyes and let the words wash over him. He should really concentrate, because he had to pass the general part of his degree before he could begin to study his chosen subject, medicine. The speaker droned on and Simon’s thoughts continued to wander. Some people now had their E-Pods implanted in their bodies, so they would never leave home without them. You couldn’t exist in society without your E-Pod. You couldn’t even take a train or buy a simuburger, so it made sense. Simon wondered whether he should have it done. Some words in the monologue from the screen snapped Simon back to attention.

“The decade was given the name the terrible teens. It began with the great global depression that lasted until 2017, which threw millions of people worldwide into unemployment and poverty. In module seventeen, we will study the causes of the depression. Its results however are considered by many to have saved humankind from extinction. The climate change tipping point had almost been reached. The balance almost tipped into total chaos.”

The words made Simon shudder. His dreams flashed vividly into his mind. He had been having the dreams as long as he could remember. As a small child, his mother had taken him to see a psychiatrist, so worried had she been about his nightmares. Despite all of his probing, the doctor had been unable to find the underlying cause of the problem. Eventually, Simon had managed to control his fear. The dreams had never gone away, though he had led his mother to believe they no longer troubled him.

Simon sobbed and wiped a tear from his cheek. Despite her not being his real mother, she had loved him as if he were her own flesh and blood. The last few months of her suffering had been terrible. It had reinforced his desire to study medicine and to make a difference. In the end, despite the black void it had left in his guts, he felt it was a blessing that she had taken the euthanasia option and ended her agony.

“Australia was badly affected by climate change. Drought, firestorms, cyclones, and floods ravaged the continent. Another type of flood, refugees from the now submerged Pacific Islands and Bangladesh, threatened to overwhelm society. It was only with the election of the first Green government in 2022 that a political solution to the problems facing the country was finally grasped. Along with like-minded governments in the rest of the developed world, they finally provided the leadership necessary to make people realise that their materialistic life-style was unsustainable. They led society to find a new balance.”

There was that word again. The one that he heard repeatedly in his dreams: balance. Except that in his dreams, it somehow had more importance. It was The Balance. Simon didn’t like to think of himself as a wimp, but there was no doubt he was a quiet and gentle character. As a small boy, he remembered breaking down in inconsolable grief when he had found a dead bird on the side of the road. When his school friends captured flies and removed their wings, he would cringe and look away, riven with horror.

Yet in his dreams, Simon killed; not birds and flies but people. Hundreds of thousands of people died at his hands, so that his pale skin was stained red with their blood. The same colour as the ruby, which had been burned into his mind by the nightly visions. It called to him, promising him that he would unlock a missing part of himself if he would only come and find his true destiny. There was a sword too. It was a big jet-black broad sword and it was the cause of all the bloodshed. In reality, Simon could barely swing a golf club, even a left-handed one. In his nightmares, he wielded the black sword and scythed down his enemies as if it were second nature to him. This was the one thing that frightened him more than anything else. He so desperately wanted to take the Hippocratic Oath and do no harm, yet every night he seemed to enjoy bringing death to his seemingly innocent victims.

A knock on the door brought him back to reality. The door opened and Uncle Jack poked his head in. “It’s time to go, Simon. Are you ready?”

How can you ever be ready for your mother’s funeral? Nevertheless, he stood up, looked in the mirror and brushed down his suit. It hung off his skinny beanpole frame in ripples of black crinkles. His pale, almost white complexion matched his shirt and was a total contrast to the suit. However, his shoulder length hair dominated the impression, as it always did because of its bright orange colour. It had earned him so many unpleasant nicknames during his school days: ‘carrot top,’ ‘traffic light,’ and ‘Beaker,’ to name but a few. The most dreadful irony of all was his adopted family name. Redhead by name, redhead by nature, his mother always said, when he came home in tears from school, cursing nature's cruel gift. She wanted him to be proud of his most distinctive feature.  Now she would never comfort him again. He was alone in the world, with his strange genetic gifts from parents he had never known.