Monthly Archives: April 2015

Why I like Noble House by James Clavell . . .

Noble House by James Clavell is a book I have read too many times over the years that I lost count, but it is still one of my favorite novels.

The book may not be the best written because of two-dimensional characters, head-hopping, and incomplete plots, and other plots that seem to disappear.

Amazon has the following blurb for Noble House on its web site:

“The setting is Hong Kong, 1963. The action spans scarcely more than a week, but these are days of high adventure: from kidnapping and murder to financial double-dealing and natural catastrophes–fire, flood, landslide. Yet they are days filled as well with all the mystery and romance of Hong Kong–the heart of Asia–rich in every trade…money, flesh, opium, power.”

This post is not a review or a critique of Noble House, but the reason why this book is important in my fantasy novella series.

The last line of the blurb encapsulates why I read this book as many times as I have: “money, opium, and power.” (I am not really interested in the flesh part, so I will not refer to in this post.)

Noble House has three components – among many – that interests me the most: (i) high finance; (ii) espionage; (iii) and crime.

The high finance component is in the plot line featuring large conglomerate, Noble House, which has been owned and operated for a few centuries by the Struan-Dunross family and its descendants. Family loyalty, cultural issues, double-dealing, corporate takeovers, corruption, and the like are prominent issues in the high finance component.

The espionage component is in the plot line featuring the suspicion of a few people in Noble House considered to be spies for China and the Communist Party, Soviet Union, and the tactics used by espionage and counter-espionage agents and spies. One side spreading propaganda, while the other side is countering one hand, and spreading their own propaganda on the other.

The crime component is in the plot line featuring corruption, drug dealing (the opium reference in the blurb), financial crimes, murder, gun running, kidnapping, and revenge.

I have published three novellas in longer fantasy series:

Hondus Pointe:

This fantasy novella features a great deal of espionage, corruption, and criminal activity, and it features black elves, gray dwarves, kobolds, red orcs, and other fairly standard fantasy tropes.

Nestor deNeffo, a black elven corrupt and rogue operative in Nambroc Knives, plays a cat-and-mouse game with Thrado Marche, his immediate superior officer, as he interacts with drug and spice traffickers and hob-nobs with enemies of the black elves of Nambroc in the Underground because he wants more money to acquire the finer things in life, and power, and also enjoys be an operative in the Nambroc Knives, a black elven intelligence service and the pre-eminent in all of the Underground..

In order to raise his cost of living, he has nothing but his skills, training, and experience to acquire money as much as he efficiently and fast as he can. The only thing he knows is being an intelligence operative, and so a black elf without any loyalty and qualms can earn a great deal of money and wield a great deal of power because of who he is and what he is willing to do.

Nestor deNeffo:

This fantasy novella is a continuation of Hondus Pointe, but Nestor expands is scope of his criminal and traitorous activities when he involves his co-conspirators in smuggling weapons to beings living on the Surface.

While Nestor is focused his energy, resources, assets, and time on his criminal and traitorous activities, counter-intelligence operatives in the Nambroc Knives are getting wind of what he is doing and begin to focus their energy, resources, assets, and time on investigating him and his co-conspirators.


This fantasy novella is the third in the Nambroc Sequence, a fantasy series, and features a great deal about finance, commercial enterprises, government corruption, criminal involvement in legitimate businesses, money laundering, counterfeiting, double dealing, and murder. This novella also deals with the base emotions of ambition, loyalty, truthfulness, greed, and the like.

Crepier is an elven accountant and financier for a mid-tier crime lord, and he wants to establish a bank to (i) have a better life and early retirement, and (ii) transition from being involved in criminal enterprises to legitimate enterprises, and (iii) get out from under the big bosses in the criminal organization.

The problem is that people who he is beholden to are not all on board with this idea of the bank.  The mid-tier crime lord does not want the big bosses in the criminal organization to learn about the bank because they would demand a cut of the bank profits, and the crime lord does not want to share. Yet, Crepier and the mid-tier crime lord realize that in order for the bank to be successful and flourish many of the denizens of the city’s underworld has to use the bank to keep their ill-gotten gains.

The bigger problem is that the big bosses in the criminal organization get wind of the bank, and they demand a cut of the bank profits.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,



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Crepier is the third book in the Nambroc Sequence is live and available for purchase at  Amazon.

The blurb for Crepier:

The scene shifts to Hartshire in the Earth Realm from Nambroc in the Nether Realm in Crepier, the third novella in the Nambroc Sequence, a fantasy series.

Crepier, an accountant and black market financier, wants to retire and be financially set for the rest of his life.

To achieve this goal, he convinces Watley Greywall, local crime lord in Hartshire, to get behind his idea of establishing Hartshire Bank.

Other elements of the Hartshire criminal underworld are of two minds about this possibility.

One segment of the Hartshire criminal underworld wants to get involved with this opportunity to start a bank because it is a legitimate commercial enterprise and a way to launder their ill-gotten gains.

Another segment believes the bank will the draw attention of the Hartshire Constabulary, which would be more problems than it is worth.

All that matters to Crepier is establishing the Hartshire Bank, and nothing or no one will stop him.

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Bregan D’aerthe and the Fantasy Stories that I enjoy to read and write.

I  like reading about organizations, particularly criminal organizations. My background is in sociology and the law, and I guess there is where I developed an interest in organizations.

I also like reading fantasy.

In fantasy novels I have read, there are not too many criminal organizations featured or mentioned. J.V. Jones’ A Sword of Shadow Series features in a mysterious espionage-type of organization of rangers called the Phage which I would like to read more about.

I’m sure there are many types of criminal and espionage organizations featured in urban fantasy stories, but I don’t read urban fantasy.

In epic fantasy, I have read about mercenaries and mercenary companies. The Golden Company featured in A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. The Northmen featured in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law books. The Black Ajah in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson.

I have also enjoyed reading about the Corleone Family in the Godfather novels, Professor Moriarty and his organization in the Moriarty novels written by John Gardner, and the Union in the Union Trilogy in the James Bond novels written by Raymond Benson.

I would like to read more about the Black Sun in the Star Wars novels.

The closest  I have come to reading about this idea in a fantasy novel or fantasy series is the character of Jarlaxle and his Bregan D’aerthe orginization in the Drizzt novels written by R.A. Salvatore.

Bregan D’aerthe is a mercenary company comprised primarily of male drow elves that are involved in criminal and shady commercial activities both in the Underark and other areas that are part of the Forgotten Realms.

R.A. Salvatore wrote A Servant of the Shard which featured Jarlaxle and Bregan D’aerthe, but not Drizzt,and I think this novel is the best of all of R.A. Salvatore’s Forgotten Realm novels.  This Forgotten Realm novel by R.A. Salvatore is only one of three that does not feature Drizzt.

I think there could be a demand for the certain type of readers that enjoy Salvatore’s work who would be interested in reading more stories set in the Forgotten Realms setting that feature Bregan D’aerthe and its members. The stories do not have to be full-length novels, but shorter pieces of works and along the same lines as A Servant of the Shard.

I also reading stories about process, and I can understand why other readers may find this type of story boring because there is not too much action, great deal of dialogue, and all the characters are involved in political maneuvering or machinations.  No one does this better than George R.R. Martin.

The first two books in the Professor Moriarty series by John Gardner, Return of Moriarty and Revenge of Moriarty, are good examples of novels featuring process in relation to criminal organizations.

One of the primary reasons why I wrote Hondus Pointe and Nestor deNeffo is because of my interest in criminal and espionage organizations featured in fantasy stories.  My next story, Crepier, features characters that are part of a criminal organization.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

R.D. Henderson

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