by Mat Nastos
Ian MacAndrew’s mission to kill the Butcher of Prague in the heart of Nazi-ruled Prague teams him up with a pale-skinned titan, Donner Grimm, against the legendary forces seeking to unleash Ragnarok and the end of the world.
Synopsis: In May of 1942, Scottish soldier, Ian MacAndrew, parachutes into the heart of Nazi-occupied Prague on a mission whose success could alter the course of World War 2 itself. MacAndrew and his men are set to kill Reinhart Heydrich, the man best known as “The Butcher of Prague.” When things go from bad to worse, the veteran soldier finds himself thrust into a battle of myth and legend itself. With the marble-skinned warrior, Donner Grimm at his side, MacAndrew must face off against necromancers, Nazi berserkers, and the power of the demons known as the Jotnar, all vying to bring about Ragnarok and the end of humanity.
Nazis, Norse Gods, and Lovecraftian monsters: what more could you ask for in an action-adventure novel set in the midst of World War 2? “Man With the Iron Heart” is perfect for fans of Hellboy, Indiana Jones, Supernatural, or Inglourious Basterds.
Check out what critics are calling “a thrilling alternative history adventure,” “urban fantasy done right,” and “the sort of adventure that keeps readers on their toes from page 1.”
Review: “Nastos continues to show why he is the next great voice in sci-fi. —Rob Liefeld, Creator of Deadpool, Cable, Youngblood and X-force, and founder of Image Comics
“Mat Nastos is one of the most exciting writers working in the field of adventure fiction today. Every page is an adrenaline rush and by the end of the story, you’re left breathlessly anticipating the next. If you’re not reading Nastos, you’re truly missing out.” -Barry Reese, Award-winning author of The Rook, Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger
“It was the best 80’s action movie I’ve read in a long time.” -Derrick Ferguson, New-Pulp author of Four Bullets for Dillon and The Adventures of Fortune McCall
“It’s rare when a book takes both the front line experience as well as the supernatural elements so readily associated with World War II and the Nazi party and turns them into something seamless and intriguing. “Man with the Iron Heart” does that exceedingly well and the characters live, scream, fight, and die right off the page, not content with just leaping.” , – Tommy Hancock, Award-winning author and publisher of Pro Se Press
“The Man With the Iron Heart’s tight and snappy prose takes grounded supernatural mysticism, a charming cast of very human characters and then hurls it all into an adventure that revels in the unapologetic grandiosity of classic action movies!” – David A. Rodriguez, Writer of Finding Gossamyr and Lead Writer for Skylanders: SWAP Force
May 27, 1942. 10:30 A.M.
Head nearly engulfed in smoke and standing with his back to the roughly paved Dresden-Prague road, Glasgow-born Ian MacAndrew puffed furiously away on his long-stemmed cherry wood pipe, desperately trying to finish off one last pinch of St. Bruno tobacco. If he was going to get himself killed in the middle of nowhere a thousand miles away from home in Czechoslovakia or Bohemia or whatever it was the blasted Germans were calling it these days, there was no way in hell he was going to let go to waste the only civilized blend to be found on the war-torn continent.
They could take his life, but, God and Queen be damned, they’d never take his tobacco.
The burly Scotsman shivered a bit in his ridiculously over-sized wool coat in spite of the morning already topping 27 degrees Celsius. He’d finally admitted to himself the truth of what Brigadier Gubbins and the boys back at the Special Operations Executive had told him when he volunteered to fly out from Sussex three days earlier: this was a suicide mission.
Up until that moment, the Captain in the Scottish Guard had been deluding himself into thinking it would be a walk in the park. All he had to do was jump out of an airplane into the heart of the Hun Empire, meet up with a rag-tag group of Czech rebels, and assassinate SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotecktor of Bohemia and Moravia, one of the most powerful men in all of Nazi Germany. A man known more often as ‘the Butcher of Prague.’
A grunt, masquerading itself as the Scotsman’s version of a chuckle, slid out from between MacAndrew’s lips, causing the bristles of his thick, red mustache to bounce under the shade of the dark hunting cap he wore pulled down low over his eyes. The man had done his best with the hopeless task of disguising his large frame. After all, a six-foot two, two-hundred and twenty pound lad from Scotland with flame-red hair would stand out almost anywhere, especially lounging on the side of a village road just outside Nazi-occupied Prague.
“Captain?” came a soft, worried voice in German from behind and below MacAndrew’s left shoulder, snapping the soldier back from his musings. “Is everything all right, sir?”
MacAndrew’s large head, trailing twin coils of smoke like some ancient dragon of legend, swung slowly over to take a good look at the young man who had spoken.
In his late-twenties, Jozef Gabcik, was a slight man, standing just over five-feet eight-inches and one-hundred and fifty pounds. Expressive, cheerful eyes, undaunted by thoughts of dying, shown out, pale blue, from under his own wool cap, which kept shifting into what MacAndrew could only describe as a ‘jaunty’ angle. Even before he had escaped the German invasion of his homeland a year before and found his way to the highlands of Scotland for training, the young man had been a fine soldier, having been awarded the French Croix de Guerre in 1940.
Talented, good-natured, and cheerful even in the worst of circumstances, Gabcik had done well under MacAndrew’s harsh training for what was sure to be his last mission.
Pride welled up in the Scotsman and the bright emerald eyes tucked back beneath his thick red eyebrows. MacAndrew was proud to serve with Gabcik and the other men he’d trained for Operation Anthropoid. They were the reason he volunteered to come to this stretch of road, halfway between Prague and Brezary, and give up his life to kill one of the most evil men on the planet. Gabick, his best friend, Jan Kubis, and Lieutenant Adolf Opalka, had trusted in their training to get them through the mission – had trusted in Captain Ian MacAndrew’s training – and he wasn’t going to stand by and let them do it on their own.
Grinning widely, MacAndrew clapped Gabcik roughly on the back with a big hand and laughed, “Jozef, my lad, it’s a brilliant day. I’ve got my boys, I’ve got my pipe, and I’ve got the urge to kill a Nazi. What could be better, eh?”
Jan Kubis checked his wristwatch for what must have been the hundredth time and looked up at the rest of the group, eyes narrowing, “It’s almost time.”
“Aye, it is. Everyone get into position,” MacAndrew whispered, acknowledging the intense Kubis with a nod. The man, not much bigger than Gabcik, whom he’d known most of his life, was wound tighter than a steel spring. Earlier in the morning, MacAndrew had ordered the man to sling his British-made Sten Mk. II machine gun over his shoulder for fear the twenty-eight year old Moravian man would accidentally fire it in his nervousness. The Colt 38 revolver clenched tightly in his fist, half-hidden in the sleeve of his raincoat, was much less likely to go off before it was supposed to. MacAndrew just hoped Kubis remembered he had a bag full of grenades hanging across his torso.
If they lived through this, MacAndrew would make sure to carry any jury-rigged explosive devices himself.
A hiss from the tall, good-looking Lieutenant Opalka snapped everyone to attention. The immaculately groomed member of the Czechoslovakian underground had been a late addition to their little group. He’d been successful in a number of other sabotage missions and the higher ups back at Baker Street had been convinced he’d be handy to have. Opalka kept lookout for a signal from Josef Valcik, stationed about one hundred yards down the road, hidden in a thick hedge just off of the hairpin turn that would cause Heydrich’s driver to slow his car down enough for their ambush. The sixth member of their team, Karel Curda, a dirty little man with a rat’s face, stood sentry across the road, seated in a poor imitation of relaxation at a stone bench.
Valcik was to warn the merry band with a flashing mirror of Rela Fafik’s approach. Rela was Gabcik’s girlfriend, set to precede Heydrich’s car and let them know if he was alone or accompanied by an escort of soldiers on motorcycles.
“Rela comes…I see her hat,” said Opalka, letting them all know that Heydrich’s car was alone.
Hearing the sound of Rela’s old auto echoing off the trees around them, MacAndrew sighed as he tapped the last few pieces of burning St. Bruno’s from his pipe before stashing it away in the front pocket of his old vest. “Get ready, lads. It’s time,” was all he said, reaching into his coat to check the slide of his Owen machine gun.
The charcoal gray coach bounced past and the group caught sight of the beautiful, raven-haired Rela. Gabcik flashed the girl a quick half-smile as he anxiously stroked the side-mounted thirty-two round magazine of his Sten gun, inexpertly hidden under the well-worn, knee-length wool coat draped over his shoulders.
MacAndrew knew the young Czech wanted to shout out to the woman he loved, after all, this might be the last time they’d get to see one another, and was relieved by the man’s restraint. The thunderous roar of Heydrich’s open-topped Mercedes-Benz 320 B roadster announced that their prey was close and such a gesture could give the men away to the enemy. The car was a monster and the Reichsprotecktor’s confidence in his own power kept the car’s convertible top opened and exposed to the world. That overconfidence would spell his downfall, MacAndrew mused to himself.
In a few seconds, thought Ian MacAndrew, it would all be over. One way or the other.
Two flashes of light from Valcik’s mirror silently spoke volumes to the rebels: Heydrich’s driver, Johannes Klein, was making the turn, and the pulsating bleat of the car slowed to a murmur as it reduced in speed.
The sound, rumbling closer and closer, fortified the resolve of every man present as they moved into their predetermined positions. MacAndrew, the most easily noticeable of the bunch, faded back into the thick hedge row lining the road for tens of miles in every direction, sliding the compact Owen gun from its hiding spot in his coat, ready for action. Lieutenant Opalka trotted across the road to join Curda on the bench, faking a conversation with the little man. In the distance, MacAndrew saw Valcik mimic his own disappearing act.
Only Kubis and Gabcik remained where they stood. For, to them, went the most important part of the mission – confronting and killing Reinhard Heydrich. Nearly a year of planning and training came down to their ability to conquer fear and every ounce self-preservation in their bodies, and face a man directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of their country men.
If all went according to plan, thought the big Captain from Scotland, the Reichsprotecktor would be dead in less than a minute and no one would be savvy to the men responsible.
Ian MacAndrew should have known better.
As the sleek black roadster pulled around the corner and the two Czech soldiers angled for the vehicle, ready to open fire, the Scotsman heard the sound of a second, larger engine in the distance and was nearly blinded by a frantic series of flashes from the hidden Valcik’s signal mirror.
Nothing ever goes according to plan.