Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Extract - The Wewelsburg Covenant

Autobahn 5
The rider’s mechanical horse was black as the night, a ‘vintage’, dangerously fast, modified version of the 2000 Suzuki Hyabuso. The man riding it had been called by Wolfschanze HQ with an urgent assignment. Enemy agents were arriving at Frankfurt Airport. They’d had been followed there from Vienna and his brief was: ‘Kill the men, take the woman alive.’
The BMW M3 straddling the road ahead was surprisingly fast. But his shock was replaced with confidence as he cranked up the throttle and marvelled at how quickly he caught the M3 as they reached Kessel and then veered left towards the countryside of North-Rhine Westphalia; the small dancing lights of the farmhouses bobbing like illusions at the dizzying speed.
‘He’s still on our tail.’
Anna was peering out of the back window and made out the figure in leather, glowing red in the tail lights of the car dangerously close behind them. She’d never been in a car as fast as this, and leaned sideways to look at the speedometer which clocked 295 kph.
Now, they were gambling, Anna thought. The other player at the table was a dark rider, while death played Bank, handing out an inevitable hand.
‘Hold on, we’re going to make a sharp turn. A short cut.’
Anna clutched the door handle and closed her eyes against the pull of the car as it veered onto an off ramp and Heydrich slammed on brakes. Anna felt as if she were about to be sick, but swallowed hard and forced her eyes open. She looked back to see the rider still dangerously close on their tail.
Heydrich swung the car through the apex of the turnoff perfectly and the road narrowed to a country track as he pushed the pedal down and the car roared through its lower gears. Anna breathed in short breaths of cold air that did nothing to loosen her chest. Now there would be increased hazards on the country roads – cows, tractors, dogs and people crossing and sharp kinks, potholes …
‘Don’t worry!’ shouted Heydrich, seeming to read her thoughts. ‘I know these roads well.’
Anna felt the car rise up onto a hill and knew what was coming. As the car crested the hill it took off and they were airborne for a few split seconds before the car touched down again with sparks flying out from beneath the chassis.
‘He’s still there!’
The red eyes of the back of a truck loomed up ahead on the road that twisted like a snake through the farmlands. Beside it and some distance away was a pair of glowing yellow lights – an oncoming car. The road seemed to veer off to the right and the approaching car was rounding the bend. As the BMW neared the truck, so too did the pair of yellow lights.
Heydrich slowed the car deliberately. Anna saw the biker catch up.
‘I have a plan,’ Heydrich shouted madly as he brought the BMW dangerously close up behind the truck and straddled both lanes. The approaching car’s lights were too close for comfort. It flickered in warning. Heydrich seemed frozen. Suddenly they lurched forward and veered into the oncoming lane.
‘Heydrich!’ Anna screamed. He flicked a switch beside the steering wheel again and Anna felt the car kick up yet another gear as the nitro came into effect. Flames erupted as they pulled in front of the truck just in time as there was the terrifying ‘pop’ of the motorbike smashing into the car behind them.
They travelled the rest of the way in complete silence and ambled into the village of Wewelsburg like stricken dolls strapped into their seats.
Tree branches closed over the road like the fingers of a bony hand. It was winter and the bright stars of a country sky glittered through the branches. Heydrich drove off the road onto a gravel track, slowed up and pulled off into an open field.
The car beeped as the doors opened and they got out. They crowded over the open boot that glowed yellow in the surrounding gloom. A fine mist had rolled in over the plain and in the distance, Wewelsburg Castle was impressive. The north tower poked through the mist ominously. On top of the tower, the searching torch beams of Trevellian Enterprises guards scanned the surrounding countryside.
Heydrich took out Anna and Ben’s bags, held down a latch and pushed the back seats forward to reveal a vault filled with every imaginable weapon Anna and Ben could want.
‘Take your pick,’ said Heydrich as Ben whistled softly.
‘Impressive,’ Anna commented, holding up an MP5 machine gun. She turned aside, pulled off her coat and jersey, put on a bulletproof vest and pulled her jersey and coat back on. She also pulled out some C4 packs made of a putty-like substance with small charges, and strapped them onto her waist beneath the bulletproof vest along with a detonator which she tucked into her belt. She also took an innocent-looking pair of gloves. Ben selected a sniper rifle with a silencer, a large knife and a Beretta. Heydrich opted for an AK-47 only.
They closed the car’s boot and doors and slipped into the shadows of a forest on the western side of the castle leading up to an embankment. Ben led the way, followed by Anna and Heydrich. They crept north, carefully, and stopped in a wooded area above the north tower. Ben whispered quietly as they huddled together. Ben raised his rifle, switched the night-optics on and looked.
‘Three men, patrolling in the moat, at the entrance to the crypt.’
Anna raised a pair of binoculars, flicked the night optics on and scanned the moat that ran along the eastern edge of the castle. The three guards outside the door to the crypt were tall, with semi-automatic machine guns held out in front of them, undoubtedly Trevellian Enterprises soldiers, Anna thought. One stood on either side of the door and another was directly in front of it, patrolling a short stretch that ran parallel to the castle’s walls.
‘If we get rid of them quickly enough,’ said Ben, ‘no one will notice.’
‘But how?’ Anna asked. ‘The minute one falls, one of the others will shout and notify those guys on top of the tower.’
‘Watch and learn.’
Ben raised the rifle again and paused, waiting for the perfect moment. The rifle stung with three quiet whips. Anna watched through her binoculars. The guard closest to them beside the door fell, and before he’d hit the ground the one on the opposite side of the door crumpled. A second later the third patrolling man fell to the ground. Anna turned to look at Ben in awe.
‘What?’ he said. ‘I haven’t been in an office my whole life, you know.’
They hurried, crouching, to the bodies and began to drag them towards the arched wall that ran over the dry moat that led to the castle’s main entrance. In the middle, beneath the moat, was a hollow between the arches. They dragged the bodies into the darkness and rushed, in single file, along the eastern wall of the castle, pulling up short of the door that led to the crypt of the north tower. Ben motioned for Anna to move across to the other side of the doorway. Anna moved quickly and quietly. Then Ben motioned to her that he was going in. Anna nodded. Ben crouched and slipped inside, followed by Heydrich and Anna.
They descended some steps into the cavernous crypt, Himmler’s hall of the dead. It was empty. Anna pressed into the middle of the chamber while Ben and Heydrich fanned out along the walls.
‘There’s no one here.’ Anna’s voice echoed around the chamber. She turned around.
Guns were pressed into Heydrich and Ben’s heads and one was aimed at her.
‘We’ve been expecting you,’ said James Trevellian.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Wewelsburg Covenant by John Braun now available for shipping through Createspace

Publishing a book is a bit like planting and growing a tree. It starts with a seed, a small (but incredibly powerful) distant dream that holds so much promise. With love, and with patience, the seed is planted and the sapling grows. Before you know it, the trunk and branches are reaching out, feeling for purpose, and the author, in the book’s springtime, breathes life into the blossoming flowers. In full summer, the fruits of labour are sweet, and the book ripens. Then comes the autumn of editing. The author watches his wild ideas and eccentric language fall like leaves to the ground. A cold winter of uncertainty sets in before the book is published: how will it be received? And then, pregnant with hope, spring comes once more, and new seedlings are planted.

Thanks to everyone who has made this possible.

Visit my Createspace page to buy or read more info:

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Pushing the big red button

The Wewelsburg Covenant started as a dream I quit my job for. It was a chance I was willing to take, and when I submitted my book for The Citizen book prize in 2009, I was confident that it was a story that would entertain people, and fortunately, I was right in the sense that hundreds of people voted in favour of my book's synopsis, and The Wewelsburg Covenant took home the honours of winner of The Citizen book prize 2009.

It has been a while in the making. The detailed research and writing took just under a year, and it has been a long journey, but finally the day has arrived to push the big red button - the one that says 'print', or in this case 'publish to Kindle'.

The Wewelsburg Covenant is available on the Kindle platform, for all devices, including PC, iPhone, iPad, Kindle of course, and Android devices (see a full list here of devices you can read Kindle books on). The print book will also be available on Amazon (through Createspace) shortly.

If anything, visit the book's product page on Amazon to try a sample. There are at least 10 free chapters to read. I hope you will enjoy what you read, and if you happen to, kindly share it with anyone you think might be interested, or write a review, and email me if you have any comments, I'd love to hear from you (wewelsburgcovenant at gmail dot com).

And thanks for your support!

John Braun

To read The Wewelsburg Covenant on Kindle, simply click here:

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Kingdom by Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler covers are epic. Simple, clean and evocative, these covers for me are the kind that inspire you to buy the print version of a book even though it's more expensive than the Kindle version.

And Cussler's new novel, The Kingdom, is no different. With backgrounded Himalaya, snow and dark skies, the book puts you in comfortable-read mode even before you've cracked the spine.


I haven't read any Cussler before. Mostly, aside from the cover, I was drawn to this book by its interest and link in/to the kingdom of Lo Manthang (spelled Monthang in the book but I'll stick to Manthang) in Nepal.

By way of disclaimer, and like any writer would do, I was drawn to read Cussler's exploration of this mystical part of Nepal, because it is also forms the backdrop for crucial scenes in my own upcoming novel.

We are after all as Westerners, it seems, possessed with the idea of a secret Asian kingdom, variously known as Shangri-la or Shamballah, and The Kingdom of Lo in Nepal is one of the best settings to vent this Western Shangri-la fantasy.

The Kingdom starts with a bang. Dakhal, a Sentinel, protector of a magical artefact called the Golden Man, is pursued by evil forces trying to lay siege to the Golden Man. He skillfully throws his attackers off and presumably holes up in a cave, protecting the Golden Man, lost to posterity.
Fast forward to present day. Husband and wife adventure- and hero-team Sam and Remi Fargo are contacted by tycoon and all-round baddie Charles King to find his father who has gone missing in Nepal several years. The couple, used to hunting for treasures and historical artifacts, agree to take on the case. In reality, King is hoping to set them on a goose chase that he hopes will yield the Golden Man, for his own purposes.

Their search leads them to Kathmandu, having discovered a secret Devanagari (an ancient script of India and Nepal) parchment which they have translated by a local professional.

The Fargos will follow a set of clues that lead them to Tibet, Nepal, China, Venice and Siberia to uncover the secrets behind not only the ancient Golden Man legend, but also Charles King's nefarious business dealings.

The race leads to Shangri-la, an ancient complex overgrown with jungle, where they must battle King's wife and two diehard twin children to ensure that King doesn't lay hands on the mysterious artefact.

Along the way, Sam and Remi's characteristic humour and domesticity to approaching life-threatening situations is lighthearted and colourful.

I enjoyed this novel overall, not least because of its Lo Manthang setting, but also for the racy plot and diverse characters: evil where they need to be but not overly stereotypical or flat, and good characters who aren't too saintly, offset by quirkiness.

All round, a light, easy and enjoyable, well-researched read soaked in adventure. Four out of five stars.

Friday, 29 July 2011





Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Wewelsburg Covenant by John Braun

Share your thoughts with me on the cover design of my upcoming novel The Wewelsburg Covenant

Getting the cover right for my up-coming novel, The Wewelsburg Covenant (available in October/November this year through, was always going to be a tough one.

Some of the crucial elements involved were:

1. The cover had to be dark. It had to be broody, as my book deals with the rise of the Fourth Reich while at the same time reaching back in history to throw the spotlight on some of the most bizarre bits of non-fiction you'll ever read: Himmler's knights of the round table, a secret order of Nazis who practised dark magic and, of course, Himmler's belief in and pursuit of the Holy Grail. If the Holy Grail is what the Nazi legend said it was, i.e. that it was a stone of unsurpassed power that could re-awaken the ancient Norse gods like Odin and Fanrir to help the Nazis win World War II, how could the cover of my new novel which deals with all of this and more afford not to be dark? 

2. The cover had to be mass-market and striking in appeal. Your very first impressions of a cover are crucial. In the first split seconds that your eye dances over the cover: does it immediately say 'buy me', or is your reaction rather luke-warm?

3. Very important, does the book's cover appeal to the intended audience and match the content of the novel? My book needed to shout: 'conspiracy and/or mass-market fiction', even while ringing true of a dark, brooding plot line based on quite a bit of historical research. The use of symbols - the Nazi party Iron Eagle and the Black Sun behind it - give the subtle impression that evil is afoot, some disquiet lurks in the secret crypt of Wewelsburg Castle, the Fourth Reich is on the rise ...

Now I'd like to ask you ... Read the book's blurb below, look at the cover and tell me - send me a message on Facebook, Tweet me, email me, or post a comment below - tell me what you think ... Does this cover work?

I really like it and I hope you will too.

John Braun

In 1944, with the Allied armies closing in on all fronts, Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler set up a secret organisation to continue the Nazi cause, the persecution of Jews. From Renaissance-era Wewelsburg Castle twelve knights undertake a covenant and swear lifelong loyalty to the Nazi way. After the war, a Nazi front company, Trevellian Enterprises, is set up in Argentina with war loot deposited in Swiss Bank accounts ...

It is 2012. Armed with nuclear weapons, columns of genetically perfect Aryan warriors and a powerful fleet of submarines primed to attack Israel, the Fourth Reich is on the brink of resurrection.

Director of Operations of Israel’s intelligence service Ben Hariri learns through a double agent that Führer James Trevellian is about to travel to Moscow. He sends in two Mossad assassins with turbulent pasts, alluring Anna Leoniv and troubled Agent Fox. Anna’s mission is not to kill but to woo Trevellian ‘by any means necessary’. But Trevellian is in Russia on a more sinister mission, searching for an occult object of unsurpassed power.

The attack date is set: 21 December 2012. Trevellian is on the eve of victory, but he has inconceivably fallen in love with a Jewess, and he learns an earth-shattering secret that sends him spiralling in turmoil to make a final decision between destruction and love that will decide the fate of the world.