The English Assassin

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The third novel in The Jerry Cornelius Tetralogy.

Publishing History (UK)

  • Hardcover, Allison & Busby, 254pp., ISBN: 0-85031-043-1, 1972, Cover by Richard Glyn Jones
  • Mass Market Paperback, Quartet, 240pp., ISBN: 0-704-31039-2, 1973, Cover by Peter Till
  • Mass Market Paperback, Quartet, 240pp., ISBN: 0-704-31039-2, 1975, Cover by Patrick Woodroffe
  • Hardcover, Allison & Busby, 254pp., ISBN: 0-85031-043-1, 1976, Cover by Richard Glyn Jones
  • Mass Market Paperback (Revised Edition), Fontana, 256pp., ISBN: 0-00-615342-9, 30 August 1979, Cover by Bill Sanderson

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Omnibus Publication (UK)

Publishing History (US)

  • Hardcover, Harper & Row, 254pp., ISBN: 0-06-013003-2, 1972
  • Paperback, Titan Books, 240pp,, ISBN-13: 978-1783291816, April 2016

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Omnibus Publication (US)

Summary

This summary lists the chapters and sub-sections of the novel, gives a precis of each and comments where appropriate. The novel is told in a series of short sections which may not necessarily relate to the previous section, or indeed any other story.

Prologue (commencement)
Excerpt from Leavetaking, 1961 by Maurice Lescoq
Shot One
Clipping from Kensington Post, September 26 1969
A Bundle
Tintagel Bay, possibly in the winter of 1975, a butcher and a retired chemist spot a corpse in the water. A girl in a yellow sou'wester later retrieves the body.
Major Nye
Major Nye is in a lab in Cornwall, Jerry Cornelius is spreadeagled on a table. Major Nye takes the insensate Jerry in an ex-military lorry to Ironmaster House.
Una Persson
Prinz Lobkowitz and Eva Knecht are in Berlin as a Zeppelin begins a bombing run. Una Persson delivers the body of Jerry Cornelius in a coffin. Eva then shoots Lobkowitz dead. Una then shoots Knecht in the heart. Cornelius is left in the coffin with a small black and white cat on his chest.
Sebastian Auchinek
Una and Sebastian Auchinek are in a dry limestone cave full of crates in Macedonia.
Mrs C. and Colonel P.
Mrs Cornelius and Colonel Pyat are in Berlin in the room where Cornelius was delivered - the Zeppelins have been routed. They drink vodka as Jerry continues to revive.
Reminiscence (A)
Late News
Clippings from Sunday Times, April 5 1970; The Times, April 11 1970; Guardian, April 14 1970
The Alternative Apocalypse 1
Major Nye and Jerry Cornelius watch the barbarian migration across a ruined Tower Bridge as it collapses into the Thames.
The Alternative Apocalypse 2
Jerry is crucified on the mizzen mast of a three-masted schooner off the Kent coast. Mitzi Beesley, Karen von Krupp, Frank Cornelius and Bishop Beesley are on the ship.
Late News
Clippings from The Sun, September 28 1971; Guardian, November 19 1971; Guardian, November 20 1971; The Sun, November 22 1971.
Reminiscence (B)
Mrs C. and Frankie C.
Frank helps his mother down the stairs into her basement flat and make small talk about their lives. Frank leaves and Mrs C. falls asleep.
In this universe each of her children has a different father, Frank's is an American GI. There is mention of dead twins and three abortions.
Auchinek
General Auchinek is standing with Lyons, the Israeli colonel in Athens. It is sometime after the collapse. Soldiers are laying charges to blow up what is left of the city.
Persson
Una is on the River Dnieper and meets Karinin, the Ataman of the Zaporozhian Cossack. The Cossacks are hanging a dandy.
The blond haired dandy is dressed in a yellow frock coat, lilac cravat, yellow shirt and blue, wide-brimmed hat. Is this Jhary-a-Conel or Jerry Cornelius or both?
Nye
Major Nye is at home, Ironmaster House, having a sparse tea with Mrs Nye, his wife and his daughter Elizabeth and Catherine Cornelius.
This section fills some of the blanks - Catherine had asked Elizabeth to get her father to collect Jerry from Cornwall. Una convinced Catherine that Prinz Lobkowitz could cure Jerry of his hydrophilia. Catherine was deceived into supplying the collateral for the guns that helped reduce Athens and delivering Jerry into the hands of Colonel Pyat. This would suggest that most of Shot One takes place in the same universe.
J.C.
Pyat is on a train with Jerry's coffin outside Coventry. England is in chaos. Later the train arrives at King's Cross station. Pyat manhandles the coffin to an untended horse drawn hansom cab in an apparently unhabited London. The cab heads for Ladbroke Grove.
Prologue (continued)
More from Leavetaking, Maurice Lescoq.
Shot Two
Clipping from London Evening News, December 3 1969
The Observers
Colonel Pyat and Colonel Cornelius meet in the Conquistador Hotel, Guatemala City in the early days of the 1900-75 War, prior to their return to Europe on the aerial clipper Light of Dresden.
With references to O'Bean, Light of Dresden and Land Ironclads this is a universe is similar to those of The Warlord of the Air and The Land Leviathan.
The Performers
Una is due on stage at the Empire, Leicester Square. Her agent, Sebastian Auchinek, is with her. The theatre is firebombed by anarchists. A young man, with a long lean face and wearing a dark yellow frock-coat walks into the burning building and into the heart of the inferno.
The Seducers
Mrs Cornelius is thirty and getting ready for a night out. There is a fifteen year old boy helping her, her son, whose father may have been Sammy from the pieshop, the Prince of Wales or a Russian. Lighting is by gas. The boy goes to Sammy's pieshop and works behind the counter.
The Interpreters
Captain Nye reports to his CO, Colonel Collier, an anarchist army is camped in Glen Coe. Nye flies north in a small dirigible captained by Bastable. Nye meets Gareth-mac Mahon leader of the army, who is being advised by an Englishman, Cornelius, who has assembled an aerial fleet of one hundred massive aerial man-o'war.
The Explorers
Catherine leaves her brother's lodgings in Powys Square. Arrives at her house at 61 Elgin Crescent, where Prinz Lobkowitz, Miss Brunner and Mr Smiles await her. There is small talk about her brothers and the upcoming conference.
Reminiscence (C)
Late News
Clippings from Guardian, April 13 1970; May 12 1970; Two from June 2 1970; June 29 1970; December 6 1969.
The Alternative Apocalypse 3
Jerry returns to London, his headquarters at the Convent of the Poor Clares is in ruins. Jerry takes a cab to the airport.
The Alternative Apocalypse 4
Colonel Cornelius, Shakey Mo Collier, Karen von Krupp and Bishop Beesley are in a 1917 Austin-Putilov half-tracked armoured car trying to reach St. Michael's Mount where Beesley believe he has friends. Cornelius is worrying about his wife, son and daughter - it was years since he last remembered them. They enter a minefield.
Late News
Clippings from Guardian, December 29 1969; February 11 1969; Two from April 2 1970; Daily Express, June 8 1970; The Scotsman, December 19 1970.
Reminiscence (D)
The Lovers
Una and Catherine are lovers. Miss Brunner enters the bedroom and introduces Mrs 'Vaizey' the new maid. Mrs 'Vaizey' is Mrs Cornelius. Mrs C. throws the contents of her bucket over Miss Brunner and leaves. Prinz Lobkowitz and friends are due at six.
The Businessmen
Major Nye and Sebastian Auchinek are walking over the moors. Auchinek is trying to arrange bookings for Una after she lost the Empire. The vicar finds them and informs the Major that his son has been captured when armoured steamrollers of some kind broke through their lines.
The Envoys
Prinz Lobkowitz meets Colonel Pyat outside the boarded-up Buckingham Palace, they walk to the fairground in St James's Park. Small talk about Cornelius and Finland.
Pyat refers to 'Dead singers'.
The Gatherers
Mrs Cornelius is having one of her 'special' Sunday luncheons, her children are there with their guests, Miss Brunner, Mr Smiles. Sammy was the 'man of the house'. Mrs C. pinch faced son was there.
Miss Brunner says 'Tasty'. Jerry is not there - the boy is not named again.
The Rowers
Captain Nye is a prisoner-of-war and is boating on Grasmere Lake with Catherine, who is his gaoler. They cross to Merlin's castle where Captain Nye finds a decomposing body somewhat ape-like with facial features that remind him of Catherine.
The Peace Talks
Preliminary Speech
Prinz Lobkowitz gives a speech at the Court of Appeal shortly before his exile.
The Ball
The major social event during the Peace Talks was the Gala Ball at San Simeon, William Randolph Hearst's house that had been relocated to the site of the Convent of the Poor Clares. Various characters attended, see the list. Jerry tries to reclaim the building by arranging for the musicians to swap their instruments for automatic weapons and to start shooting. Frank Cornelius and Spiro Koutrouboussis are killed.
Concluding Remarks
Prinz Lobkowitz makes a short speech as he returns from exile
Prologue (continued)
More from Leavetaking, Maurice Lescoq.
Shot Three
Clipping from The Sun, August 23 1971
The Theatre
Una Persson is on stage playing one of Simon Vaizey's heroines. Auchinek is visited by two policemen and leaves with them.
The Flying Boat
Captain Nye pilots the Dornier DoX flying boat from Lake Geneva. The city on the shore is in ruins. On board are Frank Cornelius, Miss Brunner, Professor Hira and Catherine Cornelius. They are heading for Rowe Island. Cargo consists of a skeleton of a boy aged between 10 and 12 with a large regular shaped hole in the skull.
The Pier
Mrs Cornelius and Colonel Pyat are on the beach at Brighton, on their honeymoon day excursion. They visit the pier and go on the dodgems.
The Hills
Outside Simla Major Nye is driving his Phantom V to his bungalow. His butler, Jenab Shah is there. Nye reminisces about Sharan Khang. Nye leaves Simla and then leaves India on the SS Kao An.
One of the books burnt is A Cure for Cancer. The universe is similar to the 1903 world in The Warlord of the Air.
The Statue
Prinz Lobkowitz is in Prague with his aide General Josef in an open staffcar when there is an explosion. Lobkowitz returns to the Presidential Palace - a statue explodes outside. Una enters his office.
Reminiscence (E)
Late News
Clippings from Morning Star, February 9 1971; Guardian, February 9 1971; March 2 1971; March 15 1971; June 29 1971; June 30 1971.
The Alternative Apocalypse 5
Jerry is in Sandakan with his major domo Dassim Shan. Hostilities resume.
The Alternative Apocalypse 6
Bishop Beesley, Mitzi Beesley, Shakey Mo Collier and Jerry Cornelius are near Grasmere. A train with open truck piled high with dead troops passes. They nead for Dove Cottage, home of Wordsworth, there are signs of fighting. They ransack the museum and then blow up the buildings before leaving for Rydal.
Late News
Clippings from Morning Star, February 23 1971; Guardian, May 3 1971; June 10 1971; Three from August 23 1971
Reminiscence (F)
The Airship
The AS Light of Dresden is bound for India via Aden. Mrs Cornelius is flying for the first time. Her son, who in his mid-teens is with her. Bishop and Mrs Beesley are also on board. The Bishop and Mrs Cornelius dance then go back to her cabin for sex. Her son walks in on them.
The Locomotive
It is the year 193-. Colonel Pyat is on an armoured train heading for Kiev. The train is attacked by ironclads, but the locomotive and the first carriage reach a tunnel undamaged. The fate of the rest of the train is unknown.
The Steam Yacht
Una Persson is on board the Teddy Bear on a fogbound Lake Erie. Prinz Lobkowitz is also on board. They are lovers. The steam yacht is at anchor without communications.
The Flying Boat
Captain Nye is flying the Dornier DoX away from a ruined Rowe Island. Frank, Catherine, Professor Hira and Miss Brunner are on board.
The Raft
Jerry is on a raft in the middle of the Arabian Sea - he halluciates conversations with Miss Brunner, a child, Professor Hira, Karl Glogauer (who Jerry confuses with Flash Gordon) and Captain Cornelius Brunner.
Prologue (concluded)
More from Leavetaking, Maurice Lescoq.
Shot Four
Clipping from Morning Star, September 4 1971
Observations
Lieutenant Cornelius is on board the destroyer Cassandra in the Mediterranean. Ships, submarines and 'flying ironclads' are stalking each other. On board the ship are Jerry's No.2, Mo Collier and Frank Cornelius. The ship has deck cargo - a big box that begins to go critical.
Guarantees
Major and Mrs Nye are living in a beach hut in Brighton. Ironmaster House has been requisitioned by the local territorials, the War grinds on. The girls had volunteered for work in London. Isobel looked after her brother who was still at school. The Nyes have tea, then the Major goes for a paper. He walks back past the pier with its anti-aircraft gun.
Estimates
Una Persson catches a plane from Dubrovnik - it is a flying boat and she is a refugee. Colonel Pyat is on board. The plane is heading for Windermere.
Applications
Sebastian Auchinek is in a Brixton prison cell being questioned by a security policeman. Later Catherine Cornelius rescues him and they head for the Thames.
Securities
Mrs Cornelius and Old Sammy are in The Portobello Star pub. Colonel Pyat joins them - Mrs C. is now his wife.
Reminiscence (G)
Late News
Clippings from Morning Star, September 24 1971; Two from Guardian, September 10 1971
The Alternative Apocalypse 7
Una and Jerry are in a house. Jerry has stripped down the Banning cannon. They fire out of the window taking out Mo & Karen then through the door killing (not for the first time) Mitzi and Frank. Finally they kill Miss Brunner and Bishop Beesley.
The Alternative Apocalypse 8
Jerry and Catherine walk hand in hand through a ruined, melted London. Hawkwind is playing on his personal stereo.
Late News
Clippings from Guardian, November 23 1971; November 24 1971; Two from Shropshire Star, December 18 1971
Reminiscence (H)
The Forest
Frank, Catherine, Mrs Cornelius and Colonel Pyat are walking through the wood. The colonel ponders on the whereabouts of Jerry and remembers his destroyed homeland of the Ukraine. They have a picnic. Prinz Lobkowitz finds them and shoots Pyat before jumping into a pool, presumably to his death.
The Farm
Sebastian Auchinek is bringing the cows home. There is a shot. Auchinek then undertakes chores - he lives by himself on a farm.
The Village
Una Persson has parachuted into a village. She has been held for two days. They strip her then rape her.
The Hill
Major and Mrs Nye have left Brighton and are living in a village. Major Nye is dying. Elizabeth Nye has left the girls school she was teaching at and is looking after her parents.
The Seaside
Elizabeth Nye cycles down to the harbour town after father's death. Mrs C. leads Cath and Frank to the front. They eat at a cafe, then they go on the beach. Children digging find a coffin – inside is Jerry. Cathy and Jerry go to the harbour where the Teddy Bear is waiting. They get aboard and the ship leaves. Una watches a destroyer drop anchor. Elizabeth Nye cycles home. The destroyer fires and destroys the house and the forest. The farm is already burning.
From Securities onward there is a consistent story.

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