As pink light hazed the horizon past the snow-covered crags, a dark shape climbed up over the trees on massive, droning rotors and presently a Luftwaffe sky-fort zeppelin took to making wide circles overhead. A massive blimp, it hovered just below the low, grey clouds, turning lazy arcs and occasionally probing the gloom with the beam of a spotlight.
At one point it came close enough that Boone could see the black cross and crimson disc of the Reich Imperial Army emblazoned on its blunt prow, close enough to disgorge a squad of soldiers in winter camouflage down spidery drop-lines. Then, as the sun came up, the game started. A voice, all hard-edged and brittle sneer, boomed from speaker horns along the massive flyer’s landing skids. In clipped, short phrases of English, the voice laid it out. This was a war game, the voice said. Thirty versus ten. The victory conditions were simple. Survive to nightfall or wipe out the opposing force, and go free.
Boone didn’t believe that for a damn minute, but he had a three-to-one advantage and a bunch of guys with him who wanted some payback. The rest, he decided, he would figure out on the fly. So they didn’t wait for the Reich troopers to play their hand. Thirty men, angry and cold and with a stack of grudges against the Kaiser that were taller than Lady Liberty, swarmed round the ridge line and caught the enemy on the back foot. Gunfire crackled like snapping twigs and the first patches of blood-red hit the white snow, steaming where they fell.
The year is 1954, and in a dark and violent alternate history, the Great War never ended. The free nations have joined together to form the Union under the keen leadership of President Thomas Edison, while the lands of the European Reich lie under a cloud of demonic darkness. Meanwhile, the mighty Matriarchy, thanks to the mystical technology of Nikolai Tesla, has ushered in a new age of gods; and in the Far East, Emperor Meiji has united Japan once more. Its armies now march toward the mainland to join the struggle for power. Balance will never be found while the war still rages, for there can be only one victor. That victory will determine the fate of man.
But when the occult-obsessed Reich unveils a weapon with the power to grant its army demonic powers, RAF pilot Nick Cross and special agent Caitlin “Hoax” Lambsbury must join forces with unlikely allies to capture the device at any cost. In the face of overwhelming odds, can these two agents survive long enough to complete their mission? Prepare for a gripping battle to determine the fate of the world in Enigma, a Tannhäuser novel by James Swallow!
Enigma author James Swallow took the time to share his excitement over this engaging setting, and the story he crafted within it:
If there has ever been a fictional world that was built to push my creative buttons, it must be the “Weird War I” and dieselpunk mash-up that is Tannhäuser; the moment I got my hands on a copy of the board game, I was hooked by the story potential of that background, its mix of high adventure, extraordinary characters, and dramatic possibilities. I grew up watching classic wartime action-adventure movies like Where Eagles Dare, The Guns of Navarone, 633 Squadron, Operation Crossbow and many more, so when the opportunity came to write an original novel set in the world of Tannhäuser, it was my chance to pay homage to those great flicks with a story of plucky Brits and brash Yanks facing deadly danger and a diabolical super-weapon that could change the course of the war.
As Tannhäuser is a warped reflection of our real world, I chose to take something that really existed – the notorious Enigma code machine – and create a phantasmic U-chronic version to threaten our heroes. As well as bringing in some new characters, I was pleased to be able to take on a few notable personalities from the game. I drew on many elements of the Tannhäuser lore to craft the backdrop for this adventure, ranging from battles in the icy wilderness of Norway to the deserts of North Africa, from sky high jet duels to commando raids in the dead of night. I had an absolute blast writing this tale, and I hope readers enjoy the ride as much as I did. Tally Ho!
Learn more about the horror and heroism of Tannhäuser by visiting its website:
The copyrightable portions of Enigma are © 2013 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Tannhäuser is a trademark and/or registered trademark of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.