Iron Chamber of Memory

A St. Patrick’s Day gift to my loyal fans, both of them:

The small island of Sark in the English Channel is the last feudal government in Europe. By law, no motor vehicles run on the road, and no lights burn at night. Only the lord of the island may keep hounds.Into the strange, high house of Wrongerwood wanders Hal Landfall, penniless graduate student at Magdalen College, looking for his missing friend Manfred Hathaway, who has just inherited the lordship, the house, and the island. What he finds instead is the lovely, green-eyed Laurel, a beautiful girl from Cornwall who is Manfred’s wife-to-be. 

There is said to be a haunted chamber in the house, erected by Merlin in ancient days, where a man who enters remembers his true and forgotten self. When Hal and Laurel step in, they remember, with fear and wonder, a terrible truth they must forget again when they step outside.

From the reviews:

  • “A wonderfully creepy, profound, sad and yet uplifting story. Wright’s latest is another fantastic and inventive piece from an author whose imaginative faculties boggle the mind.”
  • “There are few authors who can maintain extremely high 5-star quality in every single piece of work they produce. JCW is one of the very few grand-masters who manages to pull this off consistently.”
  • “It was a roller coaster ride, and I mean that in a great way. Few works have affected me like this novel.  I quit reading it twice in order to think about things.”

Iron Chamber of Memory, John C. Wright’s latest novel, is now available exclusively on Amazon. It is 242 pages, retails for $4.99, and is DRM-free.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE: This is the first novel I wrote after my conversion, and it came to me as if in a dream, all at once, and I climbed out of my sick bed to my desk and wrote up the outline and notes in one sitting, in a strange fury of inspiration.

While an author cannot help but put his own stamp on what he is told to write, just as a singer cannot help but sing in his own voice, in this case the song was given to me. It is not the kind of thing I would normally invent. I am only the co-author, so to speak. Who wrote the rest, I know not.

Call it my subconscious mind, if that myth comforts you. The alternative is spookier.

It is based on THE HAUNTED WOMAN, a novel by David Lindsay, the forgotten and erratic genius who wrote the forgotten and erratic A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS. He was a Gnostic, not a Christian, and so did not take the interesting premise to its logical conclusion. And there were no talking animals in his book.

I have told readers that this tale takes place in the same background universe as my short story ‘Pale Realms of Shade’ which appeared in the BOOK OF FEASTS AND SEASONS anthology. That is not technically true: this story came first, which means that ‘Pale Realms’ takes place in the ‘Iron Chamber’ universe, not the other way around. (And sharp eyed readers will note that both take place in the Everness universe.)

It is not, strictly speaking, science fiction or fantasy, albeit there are some elements of both. The only books I can name in the same genre are the ‘metaphysical thrillers’ of Charles Williams, the third Inkling behind Lewis and Tolkien. A metaphysical thriller is one where reality is out of joint, and the mystery is not who did what, but what is what. The mystery is discovering the enigma of the cosmos and man’s enigmatic place in it.


Sark Island is a real place, also called Sercq in French. In the native language, Sercquiais, it is called Sèr or Cerq (but no one knows how it is spelled, because the native language has no written version).

But in our world the feudal government was reworked in 2008 to make it more ‘modern’ at the conniving of two newspaper owning millionaires living on an island nearby, who were annoyed by the ancient medieval law forbidden them from keeping their dog on the island.

The elements in the book that sound the most fantastic, such as the fact that it is a ‘Dark Sky’ island, the attempt by the French nuclear scientist to conquer the island by himself (thwarted by the local volunteer constable), or the ancient ‘Clamor de Haro’ where one must recite the Lord’s prayer and call on the Prince for help, or the fact that the language of the island is not written down, and so on … all those odd things are real.

The house called Le Seigneurie is real, and has some of the architectural features described, but in our reality it is not surrounded by a vast wall and vast lawns, located on the site of a vast and ancient Mythago Wood style forest, and the house itself is not a giant Gormenghast style Lovecraftian witch-house with wings and casements opening up on perilous seas of faerie.

The real island would probably fit inside my make-believe version of that house.

But the thousand foot tall three-foot wide causeway connecting the north and south island which children have to crawl across on hands and knees to avoid being pitched into the sea by the wind, that is real.