Living in a tin shack, on a great plain, with only the wind for company; what could be better? But with Mary Petrie rapidly turning your house into a home, and the charismatic Michael Hawkins enticing your neighbours away, suddenly there are choices to be made. Should you stay? Or join the exodus?
Set at the dawn of the great age of exploration, the era of Shackleton and Perry and Scott, the book presents the adventures of two intrepid teams, both vying to reach the AFP, or Agreed Furthest Point-a worthy, even ennobling cause. The competition is friendly but conditions are extreme. To get through the arid, lifeless landscape, both teams must learn to make sacrifices, sacrifices that will change just about everything.
As the wet Lakeland fells grow misty and the holiday season draws to a close; as the tourists trickle away from the campsite, along with the sunshine, and the hot water, and the last of the good beer — a man accidentally spills a tin of green paint, and thereby condemns himself to death.
Far away, in the ancient empire of Greater Fallowfields, things are falling apart. The imperial orchestra is presided over by a conductor who has never played a note, the clocks are changed constantly to ensure that the sun always sets at five o' clock, and the Astronomer Royal is only able to use the observatory telescope when he can find a sixpence to put in its slot. But while the kingdom drifts, awaiting the return of the young emperor, who has gone abroad and communicates only by penny post, a sinister and unfamiliar enemy is getting closer and closer…A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In is Magnus Mills's most ambitious work to date. A surreal portrait of a world that, although strange and distant, contains rather too many similarities to our own for the alien not to become brilliantly familiar and disturbingly close to home. It is comic writing at its best — and it is Magnus Mills's most ambitious, enjoyable and rewarding novel to date.
In a lush meadow, bounded by dense forest and a sparkling river, the flags of several tents flutter in the breeze, rich with the promise of halcyon days.
Yet all is not as tranquil as it may seem: the balance of power wrought between the occupants of The Great Field, as it is properly known, is a delicate one, and relationships are stretched to breaking point when a new, large and disciplined group offers to share its surplus of milk pudding. Only the narrator acknowledges the gesture, but by forging links with the newcomers he becomes a conduit for change, change that threatens The Great Field.