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The New Man      Available Now
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Found documents in a medieval Polish ruin reveal strange secrets from a past best forgotten. The eternal struggle to transcend the limitations of the human body and the human consciousness is no modern Invention. Travel the ancient world with the deeply flawed and deeply curious Duke of Masovia as he perfects his art - the art of science, the art of alchemy, the art of necromancy - whatever it takes to achieve the ultimate goal:

The New Man
Peruse the unsettling diary of a 14th century Polish alchemist and necromancer--part Frankenstein, part medieval still life, and part entirely unique. Author Jeffrey Welker, through his languid prose and meticulous footnotes, paints an engrossing picture of life and mysticism in medieval Europe in his debut novel.

The finished product is a handsome paperback 5.5" by 8.5", and at 276 pages, transcends the genre and is destined to be a long-lived classic.
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By all accounts, the day of my birth was marked by storms and lightning crashes. Several of the horses of my father’s stables were killed when a bolt struck the place and it crumbled around them. Naturally, this was taken as an omen by some of the peasants of the village and the servants of the castle. It is perhaps this singular fact that shaped my mind at that young age. The weather on the day of my birth resolved into legendary status in the castle, amongst the servants and pageboys who attended me all through my youth. Hardly a blustery day could pass before some old crone would mutter, with a kindly smile upon her face, that it reminded her “of the day of his lordship’s nativity.” To hear them tell it, it was a veritable Flood that washed over the Polish frontier that October day; the sky rent itself from horizon to horizon, and the thunderous racket was enough to shake the stones from the walls of the granary tower in the courtyard . I have even heard some of them tell that the lake and the river froze over in the night and birds were seen to fall from the sky, their blood frozen solid in their veins. In the morning, a thick layer of snow had fallen, reaching almost to the tip of the gateposts, and a thick coat of ice had grown upon the castle walls.

My mother, of sainted memory, was confined for some time after my birth, the delivery having been uncommonly difficult. My wet-nurse was a peasant woman called Gudmunda, who had nursed several of the babes of the castle, my cousins and my subsequent siblings—even some of the babes of servant-women. She was handsomely paid and made her living with her teats. I have fond memories of her, for even into my boyhood, she was still in the castle, as there always seemed to be a new babe to be suckled amongst the many relations who came to live there in the early days of my life. Later, I was to find that most of these “cousins” were the illegitimate children of my father .

From an early age, I learned my letters and sums. My tutor was a Russian count called Tetchkov, exiled to Masovia for some reason I did not know at the time . He had, of course, heard the tales of my birth day, and so to start me on my lessons in sums, he would instruct me in the making of scientific devices to measure the speed and direction of the wind. He would have me trace and plot the flight of birds that passed my window upon a grid. The first blossoming of the cherry trees in the yard, or the first spring flower he would have me chart, and over the months a great catalogue of data was compiled under his guidance, so that even today I am able to go back and with some small effort discover the weather on a date when I was but a boy of six, when the first crocus popped up from the earth in the spring of 1287, which direction the wind was blowing at bedtime on Saint John’s Day of the same year. It was and remains a great source of comfort and indeed of power to me, this totaling up of the natural world. It has remained a lifelong pursuit, one that I cannot imagine going one single day without. Even today, upon waking, the first thing I do is to peer out my window with a pen in hand, and note down the time, the speed and direction of the wind, the shape of the clouds and their temperaments , the first bird I see or hear singing . The world is merely a vast compendium of data waiting to be accumulated and studied, and once it has been compiled, then the serious work of making sense of life and creation can begin. This is, of course, my only aim in life.

To those ends, under the guidance of my tutor, I engaged in the rudiments of scientific experimentation. My first dissection was under his watchful and educating eye; it was of a sparrow that had landed upon the casement of my window. I had caught it with quick reflexes and the aid of a sturdy overturned flagon. The first part of the experiment was to time how long it would take the little bird to suffocate within its confine, and once the little fellow had expired, my tutor showed me how to spread it upon a makeshift dissecting table, pinning the wings and feet just so, and I watched as he carefully made the incisions and catalogued for me the innards and mysterious pathways of the sparrow’s inmost cavities.

As the months went on, we graduated upward, from rats and other vermin that lurk in the darkness of even the most well-kept castle, to stray cats that I caught while out walking in the village of Płock, which was near the castle. From the time of my first initiation into the mysteries of science until the departure of my tutor when I was ten years old, I must have dismembered several hundred animals, mostly birds and cats, but on some very fortunate occasions, even a dog, a fox, or a stoat found its way onto our table.

I learned to measure the volume of each creature’s blood, to identify its humours, weigh and sum up its organs. I calculated the length of time it would take various species to expire from loss of blood, or exposure to cold or heat. I created a chart to classify the types of sounds each animal made as it died. In short, there was no aspect of these creatures’ lives, or rather deaths, that I could not, and did not, quantify.
 
 
 
 
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