THE GHOSTS OF DREAD FLESH: Ghosts of the gods

THE GHOSTS OF DREAD FLESH

I know I’ve probably mentioned this before but the older I get and the more I study ancient and pagan myth (and I’ve studied them since I was a teenager, and a lot in college when I majored in religion and philosophy) the more firmly convinced I am that myth was not a religion or religion at all (certainly not as we think of religions) but was actually proto-psychology and in some rare cases, primitive observations on natural phenomenon (proto-natural-science).

All of the pagan “gods and goddesses” were far too human to be anything other than psychological (psuche – soul, as the Greeks would say) observations upon human nature and the human soul. Plus all pagan “gods and pantheons” tended to behave abysmally, at least from time to time and as the mood struck them, with even the chiefs of gods being immoral at a whim, or at the very least amoral. And the more “moral gods” were almost universally relegated to background or secondary positions of no real power (other than that of cunning and craft). Precisely why Socrates could not believe in the gods and preferred his conception of God.

No, the ancient pagan gods were all soul-gods, that is to say “human gods” not spiritual gods at all, as we would think of God.

(That meaning a Real God who supersedes his Creation and who supersedes human behavior by being absolutely moral. Though the Norse gods and goddesses tended to be far more moral than let’s say the Greek or Asiatic ones and I think that to a large degree this was precisely because of the fact that they knew they were doomed and would be called to account at the Ragnarök. They knew they were limited in lifespan, they had no illusions that they were either omniscient or omnipotent, and they knew they would be eventually destroyed and replaced. It was hard-wired into their very prophecies and that kind of thing tends to often act as a governor against immorality – intentional malignance, and against amorality – not caring one way or another.)

When pagan myths were not proto-psychology they were observations on natural phenomenon and on things that could not be explained by a very limited proto-science, such as Chimeras.

No, over time I’ve come to realize that the ancient and pagan gods were real alright, and are still real, just not as really having anything to do with religion or the spiritual or God at all. They were real as proto-psychology, not as religion, and later and even today they have been largely absorbed into modern psychology as archetypes of human behavior and as exemplars of the human soul. But not of the Spirit. They are the Ghosts of Dread Flesh, not the Holy Ghost.

And this is why I think, that relatively speaking, they were later so easily overturned by and replaced by religions (like Judaism and Christianity and even to some extent by Hinduism and Buddhism – though Buddha himself was an atheist, so again, it depends very much upon your definition of “religion”), and that is because, as much as I like and respect the Psyche, it is very small and limited in relation to the Spirit, and to God.

The gods were absorbed into psychology (which still serves a very important function, just not a religious and spiritual one), because in fact, that’s what they were – soul-gods, and replaced by God, the Spirit-Lord, against whom no soul-god can really compete or is really qualified to compete.

Just as no man can compete against God, he can only ally himself with God and seek a beneficial relationship, or reject and rebel against God.

(I’d go ahead and turn this into a decent essay but I’m pressed for time right now with my novel and with my other works. Maybe later. Though I may also turn this idea into a lecture, and/or add the concept as a chapter to be included in my Meisterwerk on Psychology, The Four Inherents.)

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THE FLESH AND THE BOOK

THE FLESH AND THE BOOK

 

APPENDICES, INDEXES, ETC.

Appendices

On the True Size of the Armies and the Battles
On the Great Wars
On Languages and the Variations of Pronunciation
On the Scripts and Writing in Iÿarlðma
On the Art and Architecture of Iÿarlðma
On the Known Lineages and Lines of Descent
On Lifespans and the “Yorluin” (The “Graces” Given)
On the Ancient Eldevens
On the “Great Crafts” (Theurgies and Sciences) of the Eldevens
On the People’s Before (The Pre-Dwelvens)
On the Animals and Creatures of Iÿarlðma
On the Fauna and Flora of Iÿarlðma
On the Climate of Iÿarlðma
On the Lords and Rulers
On the Samarls
On the Eladruin
On the Great Chronologies
On the Histories (Extant and Extinct)
On the Ghans, Folk, People, Races, Tribes, and Nations
On the High Calendars
On the Translations
On the Eons and Epics

Indexes

Poems, Songs, and Verses
References to Other Works in Terra (Our World)
References to Other Works in Iÿarlðma
Important Personages
Great Beasts and Monsters (Oiyluin and the Korreupt)
Geography and Important Places
The Objects

The Marvels and Wonders

The Pre-Dwelven and Pre-Historical Wonders
The Ancient Wonders
The Elturgical Wonders
The Present Wonders
The Prophesied Wonders

The Three Great Myths (Lae-Iÿarl-sel) of the Eldeven Peoples

The Anÿlîsos
The Redelyost
The Earlwé-Iÿarl-Skëma

Magic and Miracle and Science (Theurgy/Thaumaturgy/Technicae and Elturgy/ Sarlementh/Eldarik)

Elturgy and Ilturgy

The War Between Magic and Miracle (Elturgy and Thaumaturgy)

Translations (complete and partial) into English of Selected Eldeven Works

Glossaries

The Wyrdros (The Wyrding Road)

Maps (Antique and Modern)

Other Linkages

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Above you will find a listing of the various Appendixes, Indexes, Glossaries, etc that will be found in my Mythological and Fantasy series of novels about the Basilegate. This material will be supplemental to my novels themselves and will provide the flesh to cover and support the skeleton of the story itself. This will probably be the final form of this supplementary material and with each novel in the series new Appendices, etc. will be added at the end of each book until the last, when all supplementary material will be provided.

Some of this supplementary material is already finished, as a matter of fact a good deal of it has already been finished (in my Notes and Plot Maps), although I may edit and rearrange some of this material into a more refined product. Some of the supplementary material has not yet been finished or has been reworked several times or I have yet to create it.

Although most of this material I have been writing or creating concurrently with the novels themselves.

Eventually, after the novels are written and published, and assuming they are a success, I intend a complimentary books with much expanded supplementary materials but I intend to hand that over to other writers with my notes so that they can write that book while I go on to other works.

If you wish to comment on this material, although it is only an outline, you are welcome to do so.

A special thanks to my daughter Kes who has typed up much of my handwritten notes and manuscripts after my wrist break. Thank you very much baby, your father loves you and you do superb work.

And thank you for the other books and poems and songs and such you have been typing for me as well. You’ve allowed me to proceed apace. And I greatly appreciate that. You’re a superb problem-solver.

THE IMPERFECT BUT IDEAL CHRISTIAN WIZARD

ALTERNAEUS, THE IMPERFECT BUT IDEAL CHRISTIAN WIZARD

Yesterday I relaxed yet still worked upon my Alternaeus or “Wizard novels.”

(Though it seemed more sport and word-play to me than work. Gladly, I can say that about most of my Work.)

Anyway I sketched out dozens of possible stories about Alterneaus the Wizard, who has become one of my favorite characters. Now many of my characters are actually a proxy-me in fictional form. For instance Marsippius Nicea is the warrior in me, Steinthal is me as a detective and infiltrator, Vlachus represents the monk and priest in me, Thrasher the frontiersman and woodsman and Vadder/explorer in me, Tristas the futurist, scientist and God-Technologist in me, and Alternaeus has come to represent the Christian Wizard in me. He is me as a fictional character. Or more accurately as a fictional example of a Christian Wizard. For I, like everyone else alive, am far more than just one thing. But as far as the Christian Wizard goes he is my paragon or ideal example of one written in fictional form.

But also he has become my fictional exemplar of what an ideal Christian Wizard/Genius should be. Therefore his stories are not just stories but provide a sort of Guidebook in Fiction for how a Christian Wizard should behave and conduct himself in various difficult situations. And in life generally speaking.

Although I am writing a non-fiction set of books about the Christian Wizard/Genius/Theurgist the stories I am writing about Alternaeus sort of flesh out how a Christian Wizard should behave in day to day situations, even though the stories take place in an mostly historical Medieval milieu. Yet the techniques and morality Alternaeus expresses should be applicable to any time period. And to most any situation. That is indeed my exact intent in writing these stories. In addition to being entertaining tales in their own right they will also compliment my non-fiction books on the same general subject matter.

The stories will consist of short situational work tales and moral fables about Alternaeus (as a Christian Wizard/Genius) sort of like most of the cases of Sherlock Holmes or the adventures of Conan. They will be arranged into book form but can easily stand alone as well. They will not be dependent upon each other but will build upon each other.

In any case I spent some time this afternoon and evening briefly sketching out the major stories involving Alternaeus and the lessons he will teach through his stories. Some of these stories will be short, no more than a couple of pages, others quite long depending on the subject matter and what the story describes.

Also I have decided that each book of stories in the novel set, and perhaps even each story, will be introduced with a short section of verse from a long poem about Alternaeus, which, when taken altogether will be a sort of Summary in Verse (Summa Versa, or Summa Esse) of all of Alternaeus’ adventures and will contain, encoded in the verse, various lessons for the Christian Wizard.

This will be very similar to what I have done and am doing with the Viking Cats (found at that link). However, in this case, rather than the Poetic Section merely being a retelling in verse of the prose tales, the prose tales will be types of moral lessons, while the accompanying poem will be a sort of encoded form (in verse) of instructional lessons for the Wizard.

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Short Stories involving Alternaeus

A Cup of Seasoned Blood Held High and Close
A Summer’s Still Frozen Tomb
A Tincture of Tantrels, Thiggers, and Thieves
Alternaeus and the Afflatable Axeman
Alternaeus and the Ageless Alchemist
Alternaeus and the Ancient and Infinite Desert
Alternaeus and the Apothecary of Arcadia
Alternaeus and the Architect of Always
Alternaeus and the Assentuary
Alternaeus and the Barbarian Scout
Alternaeus and the Cauldron of the Ken and Kithmen
Alternaeus and the Cunning Craftmaster
Alternaeus and the Eldritch Occultist
Alternaeus and the Fateful Forge
Alternaeus and the Forest of Forever
Alternaeus and the Greek Philosopher
Alternaeus and the Harrowed Hide-Man
Alternaeus and the Hermit Saint
Alternaeus and the Hoary Hoardsmen
Alternaeus and the Invisible Merchant
Alternaeus and the Jewish Physician
Alternaeus and the Knight’s Errant
Alternaeus and the Limitless Librum
Alternaeus and the Long and Lamentable Pilgrimage
Alternaeus and the Loom of Longing
Alternaeus and the Maiden’s Moon
Alternaeus and the Man to Come
Alternaeus and the Minstrel’s Tale
Alternaeus and the Mountain of the Magae
Alternaeus and the Pipe of Splendrous Price
Alternaeus and the Plate of Plenty
Alternaeus and the Prince’s Philologist
Alternaeus and the Quidnunc
Alternaeus and the River of Everywhere
Alternaeus and the Roman Engineer
Alternaeus and the Satyrion
Alternaeus and the Serious Syrian
Alternaeus and the Seven Spjallsangers
Alternaeus and the Son’s Last Sun
Alternaeus and the Stalwart Shire-Reeve
Alternaeus and the Surreptitious Sorcerer
Alternaeus and the Theokardia (Heart of God)
Alternaeus and the Thespian’s Thunderstone
Alternaeus and the Unchanging Thing
Alternaeus and the Unknown and Wondrous Ruins
Alternaeus and the Village Pugilist
Alternaeus and the Warrior Monk
Alternaeus and the Wightwright
Alternaeus and the Wild Woodsman
Alternaeus and the Withered Witch
Alternaeus by the High Sea
Alternaeus on the Ocean of Eternity
Echo No More
His Brandish Blade, Before and Beneath Him
Invention and the Erstwhile Industry
Salt and Cloth and Ashes
Slurry of the Norsemen
That Glass that Looked Upon Us All
That Language Long Lost to Man
The Battle of the Earnest Men
The Book, The Bell, the Candle, and the Corpse
The Cleverly Hidden Tax-Taker
The Clock of Hard and Holy Water
The Colorful Cap of the Cloistered Clergyman
The Crucifixer’s Conundrum
The Day of Lost Things
The Dog, the Owl, and the Fish of Christ
The Fall That Rose Above Itself
The Gamboller’s Gamble
The Grail of Living Waters and the Grael of the Drowned Men
The Hapless Hagiographer
The Hearthland and the Foreign Firepit
The Hospitaller’s Honor
The Insistent Incense of the Incensed Man
The Lord’s Last Avenger
The Lotus-Eater’s Lamp of Little Oil
The Lover’s Lonely Lock
The Lute that Wept When the Women Sing
The Madonna’s Terrible Tears
The Mistaken Martyr
The Mnemonic Mansion of the Mind
The Mosaic of No-Man
The Mystikal Map of the Other World
The North-African Acolyte
The Novice of Necessity
The Parchment of the Buried Pearl
The Port of Many Merciless Plagues
The Proverbial Provencial
The Rod of Earth and the Rood Above
The Ship Saved by Sedition and Circumstance
The Sirens of Sumorsǣte and the Persistent Polymath
The Skalding of the Bitter Bard
The Stars Are Distant, Our Troubles Near
The Templar’s Torment
The Theurgist and the Thamuatugist
The Tower of Intemperate Times
The Undiminished and Unbroken Staff
The Deflowered and Uncaring Spring
The Virtuous and Valiant Layman
The Wandring Ghost
The Warmth of Winter
The Wise-Man’s Secret Heart
The Wizard and His Wyrdpack
The Wizard Who Would
The Wizard’s O’erwhelming Wyrd
The Wizard’s Withy Wand
Wendel’s Wanderlust

ONE WORLD, OR BOTH

I have a question to ask my readers. Something I’d like to ask your opinion and advice on.

I have been working a series of three novels now for awhile. I keep going back and forth on how to best arrange the overall story-line and plot. The tale takes place on two different worlds. Worlds which are separate and distinct, but ultimately related. One of those worlds is our world, circa 800 AD (in the Byzantine Empire, northern Africa, and the Middle East), and the other is another world, at about the same time period (though they reckon time differently).

Without becoming overly complicated in my request my question to you is this:

As a reader would you prefer the first book to take place in only one world (our world for instance,) and the second book to primarily take place in the other world, (the third book will move back and forth between these two worlds), or would you prefer the story to move back and forth freely between both worlds in all three books?

I have been going back and forth on which idea would be better as a story arrangement and plot device. And have still reached no definitive conclusion.

So to you, as a reader, which would you find more pleasing and interesting as a story form or manner of progression – One World at a Time, or freely skipping from One World to the Other in all three books?

By the way here is a link to some of the posts I have made about this book series – The Kithariune

 

HIGH AND LOW FORTUNE – HAMMER, TONG, AND TOOLS

HIGH AND LOW FORTUNE

“You ask me how I know this and I can only tell you what I’ve seen.

High Fortune came upon me like a silent serpent, slithering from behind in such a stealthy manner as to conceal his true intent and to scarcely warrant my attention.

Low Fortune approached me like a titled lord, resplendent all in showy pomp and decorative circumstance, attired in the lofty regalia of finely whispered shadows spun from venomous spider silks.

Low Fortune is, you see my friend, the King of Seeming and the Prince of Cunning Craft yet I advise you eschew his long seducing and ever seductive company. For his court is all fantastic façade and fraudulent fashion and his manner and his manor are both estates of ruin.

High Fortune, on the other hand, wears no glittered crown of kingship nor rankish robes of high office nor encrusted jewels of state, he is as plain of face, as rough-built by effort, and as quiet in nature as if stable bred. Yet if on turning round by chance or calculation you find him standing nearby then reach out your hand quickly and grasp him in so firm a hold that he cannot escape, and never let him go until he promises to bless you as his friend.

Leave Low Fortune, brother, where he dwells, even if he home in temple renown or palace grand, for he is the sure slum-lord of soon-to-be sad misdeeds and the master of all unenviable fools.

Instead set your watch and wait patiently for High Fortune, for one day he will approach you in sly disguise, silent and unannounced, to see what can be made of you if you will ever dare. For he is your steadfast, stalwart, and subtle Friend and the Maker of that Fortune you truly seek.

Low Fortune churns like stormy waves, he ebbs and flows and never settles ought. High Fortune stands alone and trembles not, he shelters and secures all Men of Enterprise.”

from the Kithariune  (link)

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Since the beginning of this year I have been in one of the most productive periods/phases of my entire life as far as the creation of poems, songs, short stories, novels, scripts, and other literary works are concerned. I have recently produced hundreds of pages of new works.
 
Above is a section of my novel series the Kithariune. In this passage the Welsh Bard Larmaegeon is trying to explain the difference(s) between High and Low Fortune to his friend and companion, the Spanish Paladin Edimios. And why he should wait upon the one and avoid the other.
 
Anyone is welcome to comment upon it, of course.

KAL-KITHARIUNE – THOUGHTS ON THE END

KAL-KITHARIUNE

I finally have the ultimate titles for my set of mythic/high-fantasy novels. They shall be called Kal-Kithariune (Or, The Fall of Kitharia). Originally the series was to be called The Other World but I was never really pleased with that. It was only a preliminary and place-holder title anyway.

The Kal-Kithariune shall link back to another myth/history or time epoch called the Kol-Kithariad (or the Rebirth or the Establishment of Kitharia). I have not really decided if the Kithariad will refer to a period of time 300 years prior to the Kithariune (when Kitharia undergoes a Rebirth or Renaissance) or to a period 3000 years prior when Kitharia is first established and founded.

Ideally I’d like to work it out so that the Kithariad refers to the Rebirth of Kitharia, 300 years before its Fall, but realistically I’m having real trouble making that fit and so it may have to refer to the Founding. It may be better to use the Founding as the other reference point anyway, to contrast the Genesis with the Armageddon and End. But I’d prefer the Rebirth. Though that might be impossible.

Kitharia is a both an analogy and a metaphor for America. And all of the Eldeven lands for the West even though the events take place in what would in our world be The Orient (near our Real World Samarkand).

The individual novels in the series will be entitled:

The Basilegate (The Emperor’s Legate)
The Caerkara (The Expeditionary Force)
The Wyrding Road
The Other World (or perhaps Lurial and Iÿarlðma)

The novels will be a tetralogy. Now that I finally have all of the titles, know the plots and endings of all four books, have the languages developed, many of the poems and songs written, some of the maps and illustrations drawn, have hundreds of entries in my Plot Machine and thousands of notes, and about 200 pages of the each of the first two books written I suspect I can complete the entire tetralogy in under 2 years.

This is by far the very most complicated thing I have ever constructed (to date), at least as far as writing goes and that includes a couple of epic poems I’ve written. I first conceived it in 2007 as a single book and I’m sure I have thousands and thousands of hours sunk into it since then. Despite my other workloads.

Eventually I plan to write a set of children’s short stories connected to it and to at least plan out or begin the Kithariad though that will likely have to be passed on to others.

Before I start either of those though I just want to complete the Kithariune and then move on to my other novels, such as my sci-fi series The Curae (which will be every bit as big as the Kithariune), my detective novels, and my Frontiers novels, such as The Regulator and the Lettermen. And I want to complete my literary novels such as Modern Man and The Cache of Saint Andrew. Plus I want to finish my epic poem America. And I want to write some scripts. Not just TV scripts but movie scripts. So once I finish the Kithariune it may be a long while before I return to myth and fantasy, such as after my “retirement” (though I don’t plan to ever really retire).

I have however learned much by writing the Kithariune. I now know exactly how to plot out both long, complex novels and series, and much simpler single books. So the learning and research and study period was worth it alone in that respect. And it should both add to the richness of the Kithariune and to all of the other novels I write thereafter.

THE OLD STANDING STONES – FIRST VERSE

THE OLD STANDING STONES (Both Versions)

Last week I sat down and wrote a song that I had originally intended for my Bard (his name is Larmageon and he is Welsh) to sing in one of my novels, the Basilegate. As a sort of a lament, and a dirge. It was supposed to be a rather dark song about a myth of a submerged city off the coast of Ireland that rises every so often at midnight on Samhain and the city is populated by ancient dead warriors. It was a symbolic dirge of a supposedly lost song that the Bard then used to analogously lament what had happened to his friends. That is the first version of the song/poem you see below.

Thereafter I looked at the song and said to myself, “This really is close to an Irish/Welsh real myth and I should rewrite this song as a real world song or poem.” So I did using real Irish/Celt/Welsh place and symbolic names. That version, the second version, came out to be much brighter and more upbeat, but the tempo is changed slightly. By the way after the less well known Gaelic names or terms I included, in parentheses, the more original pronunciations, and their meanings.
I like both versions but the first is a far more generalized version written for an English audience and specifically for my book. The second version is really more of a throwback Irish mythological song.

So that being said, which do you like best?

Or do you think I should keep and use, perhaps for different purposes, both versions? Or does one version strike you as good and the other bad? Let me know what you think and anyone is welcome to comment.
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THE OLD STANDING STONES (version 1)

The old standing stones
Where the ghosts all still roam
Below the Seas of Sarsa
Submerged neath the Mere
They all still come here
To haunt the tides of Current
The walls in the waves
The moon long enslaved
Both shine so like the Danaan
The People long passed
The present now past
Upon the Road of Waters
Formorian chants
Who sings of the chance
That tombs are remade Towers?
The barrows below
The streams that bestowed
The last Great Ship of Showern
To the old standing stones
Still guarding the road
Beneath the flood of Faran

Oh can you still hear
The chants and the cheers
When Chulainn took the Island?
And do you still dance
Or sing the Romance
Of the last men still left standing?

Submerged neath the waves
Deep waters their graves
The Green-men go a’feasting
The blue in their blood
The tides and the flood
Their numbers all decreasing
The stars brightly gleam
The moon often seen
To kiss the Ring of Rona
Yet still can you hear
If the night is all clear
The Lost Hope of Ilona
So tell me of old
Of the place far below
Of the dark halls deeply downing
Where the old standing stones
Still guard the last road
To the Hall of Sorrow’s Drowning…

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THE OLD STANDING STONES (version 2)

The old standing stones
Where the ghosts all still roam
Below the Seas of Saorla (Say-la – the noble queen)
Submerged neath the Mere
They all still come here
To haunt the tides of Cara (meaning, the friend)
The walls in the waves
The moon long enslaved
Both shine so like the Danaan

The People long past
The present now passed
Upon the Road of Una (Oo-nah, or Wony, meaning unity, or lamb)
Formorian chants
Who sings of the chance
That the tombs are to be Towers?

The barrows below
The streams that bestowed
The last Great Ship of Tara (tower, or crag)
To the old standing stones
Still guarding the road
Beneath the flood of Fallan (grandchild, or grandchild of the chieftain)

Oh can you still hear
The chants and the cheers
When Chulainn took the Island?
And do you still dance
Or sing the Romance
Of the last men still left standing?

Submerged neath the seas
Their limbs now at ease
The Gweneth men go feasting (Gweneth – fair or river men)
The blue in their blood
The tides and the flood
Their hall a loudly singing
The stars brightly gleam
The moon often seen
To kiss the Ring of Roise (roh-suh – a rose)
Yet still can you hear
If the night is all clear
The Last Hope of Isleena (Ish-leena – vision, the foretelling)
So tell me of old
Of the place far below
Of the dark halls deeply moaning
Where the old standing stones
Still abide all alone
In the Hall of Sorrow’s Gloaming…

STILL NO JOY – TUESDAY’S TALE

STILL NO JOY… BUT GETTING CLOSER

I know it’s very little to complain about, relatively speaking, but as a writer I just had the most frustrating night/morning of my life.

I went to bed about 11 to 11:30 last night, totally exhausted, and then rose again sometime not long after midnight. Ideas for my novel were running through my head, a lot of them, too many to just note on my bedside table notebook and so I went downstairs to my office and fired up my computer.

I then worked from shortly after midnight until 4 AM on nothing but the title of the novel series I am currently writing. I know exactly what each of the four books in the series will be called separately but I’ve gone through several incarnations of the title for the entire series and have never settled on anything that seems to really fit. My latest, or the Working Title for the series is The Other World or The Other Worlds, which fits to a degree, but isn’t entirely accurate or encompassing of what the books are truly about.

I ran through terms and titles after terms and title with still no joy and nothing availed. I felt like I had been awakened with a purpose but everything I thought of remained frustratingly just of reach and meaning.

At almost four o’clock I sat back in my office chair, cold, tired, and defeated. It was kinda like working a scientific experiment and everything I tried got close to a solution, but eventually all iterations failed.

Finally I looked to my left and saw my new copy of the Poetic Edda and thought to myself, of course, “I’ll use a title something like the Eddas,” suggestive, but not all encompassing or limited. Because for a very, very long time I’ve wanted to use a title like the Aeneid, or the Odyssey, which would be perfect if not for the fact that the books are not really only about one character, even Prester John. So I thought, maybe something like the Eddas?

So I began reading one of the Eddas (about Odin testing himself against the wisest giant) and a later one about Thor dressing as a Freya to recover his hammer by deception. But still nothing specific came to me.

 

At last I put the book away because I was too tired to continue, my brain simply wouldn’t function, but I was still too frustrated to give up. So I began asking God to help me title the series with the perfect title, something I’ve done before many times, but everything he seems to show me in language seems just beyond my perception. As if it is something beyond my own language.

At that point I fell into a kind of trance which was almost a blank mind, but not quite. It was like I was sleeping in darkness but all around me, in the background, I could hear voices whispering and saying things but I couldn’t quite make out the words or exactly what was being said. It was more like images trying to take on the form of words than words forming images. And they were all in the background and still hazy or shadowy. When I came out of that finally it was about 5:00 and I still had nothing specific except the suggestion that maybe I should invent the terms and title I wanted in another language, perhaps in Sidhelic or one of the other Eldeven languages.

Then I was struck by the idea that maybe there should be multiple titles for the series, each expressing a different aspect of what the books are about and each from a different viewpoint, but settle upon a single version for publication.

 

So I began developing this idea, one title each, each title being in a different language. Each title expressing a different aspect or focal point for the series. Such as a title concerning:
  1. The Main Character or Person – Jhonarlk, or Prester John
  2. The two (or 3 actually, though you never get to see the Third World, only hear of it) worlds involved, something along the line of the Other Worlds
  3. The Weirding Roads (central to the story and implying much, much bigger things than simply a Road between worlds)
  4. (The Fall of) the Vanished Eldevens – the penultimate event of the series and the seeming point of the entire tale, but not really the point of the tale
and 5. The War of…

 

Only one of these terms will be attached to the books but all of the terms will be spoken of in the books as being different histories covering the same events. And I’ll include little excerpts from these “parallel histories, “ (and I may speak briefly about their authors) each implying a different aspect or idea-set about what really happened and what the tale was really about but I’ll settle on one title for the series. Most of the histories will be in prose or in narrative form, as mine will be, but at least one will be in poetic form (probably the Lay of the Fall of the Vanished Eldevens – English translation, not the Eldeven term) and most of the poems in my series will reference that history as poetic extracts.

But I’ll not write full versions of those histories, only hint at them and include extracts from them and those versions will also have some alternate versions of the events in my book.

 

I’ve therefore, because of last night/this morning written a little author’s introduction to the series.

(The claimed author will not be me, but will be a man by the name of Wyrdlaef, a seemingly very minor character in the books who follows Larmaegeon to Constantinople and then to the Isle of Avalona and after the destruction of the Other World returns to our world and secretly writes his account of these events and hides his books in an Irish monetary which then eventually makes its way back to the Other World. )

The introduction is very rough so far but goes something like this:

“These books recount the history of the Great but Invisible Wars that took place on our world and upon the lost world of Iÿarlðma in the years of our Lord 797 to 835. At that time an ancient and noble but since vanished people fought alongside Man for the fate of the Earth and Heavens and the preservation of their own kingdoms. Great these people were but of what their true nature, like that of man, a created being, or like the very angels in flesh, or like some entirely other thing I still cannot tell, though I lived among them for a long time. Five accounts there were of these events, that I know of, but to my knowledge only my brief and poor and incomplete account remains. But if all were told as it truly happened then, as was said of our Lord, not all of the libraries of the world could contain those accounts for the splendour and wonder of the tale. These books then, my account of these fantastic and horrid events, I call the Fall of the Vanished Eldevens and they speak as well as I am able of the final encounter and friendship between Man and the Eldevens against many ancient evils and monstrosities I still do not understand. For it has been said, with good reason and as I witnessed with my own eyes, that the Eldevens were entirely destroyed by their enemies, wiped from the face of their world, with those small numbers of survivors who did escape driven into the wilds to be hunted to extinction by their remorseless enemies. But I have also heard, from both the seers of that strange people and from the prescient prophets of our own devout holy men that one day, far into an uncounted future, Man and the Sidhs of the Eldevens would once again meet as friends on the shores of yet other distant and undiscovered worlds, and that God would have mightily blessed and enlarged us both. Of that time, if it ever comes, if it is ever true, I shall see nothing, for I shall be long dead and buried. But I hope and pray that my account survives, and that perhaps this prophecy is real. For everyone would be the better for it…”

Wyrdlaef (the Wanderer)

PLOT BOARD FOR THE BASILEGATE – HIGHMOOT

I meant to put this up for Tuesday’s Tale, but work and other things interfered so I’m putting it up here today for Highmoot.

What you see below are the creation materials (or some of them anyway) for my four novels of the Other World, specifically the first in the series, The Basilegate.

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Actually I have 1200 to 1500 pages of research materials (mainly historical but also containing other materials) for all four novels already, most of it on CD or DVD and on computer files on my main work system. The rest is in hard files, collected notes (post it notes in the big white container that say BOOK I), in my notebooks and sketchbooks, outlines, timelines, etc.

I laid all of that out on Sunday and had my youngest daughter take pictures of it. This week I am taking all of that material, my chapter outlines for the first book (Basilegate), my notes, etc. and transferring it all to my Chapter and Plot Board. You might think of this as a Case Board by which I’ll run the plot and structure of my novels (in this case, the first in the series) as they progress. I already have about a hundred or so pages of the first novel finished, and various sections of all of the novels completed (as first drafts anyway), not counting the various scenes I have sketched out for each of them. My overall aim now is to collate and compile and arrange all of these scenes and what I already have written into a coherent and consecutive and consequential novel storyline, and thereby push on to finish the first novel while simultaneously arranging all of the other serial plots.

In this collection you will see all of my files, notes, the plot board itself (before being arranged), notebooks, research materials (on CD and DVD), some of the maps I’ve created, and the poems, songs, and music I’ve written and arranged to be included in the books/novels.

(You might ask, “Why does he have the AD&D and 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guides as apparent research materials?” Simple, not for the research itself, but because these two books are the best fictional writing guides I’ve ever read. Anywhere and on any fictional subject. If you are a writer and you do not have these writing guides then you really should, they are simply superb and extremely useful for all kinds of story arrangements, including plot arrangements.
You might also ask, “why the harmonica?” Well, because I often like to play the harmonica when I become stuck on some aspect of the story. It helps me think.)

Once I’ve gotten everything fully arranged and up on my Plot Board in proper Order I’ll take a new set of photographs and post those here too. I’ve been working on this novel series for years now, and as a general idea for a decade or more, but I’m finally in a position to push on and finish all four books now. I’m now satisfied that all of my major research and preparation work has been properly conducted and finished and I’m now ready to finish the novels without anymore large-scale or wholesale plot revision. Just minor tinkering at the edges left really, and then the finished writings.

Which is a big relief to me as I intend this novel series to be one of my Magnum Opae (one of my major Life Works – I literally cannot say Magnum Opera as that construction seems wholly silly and inappropriate to me in English).

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THE IRON GATE: PART ONE – BOOKENDS

This is part of a draft chapter from my book The Basilegate (from The Other World novels). Rather than explain or detail the background I’ll just let you read the story for yourself.

This chapter begins at the Iron Gate, winds through what today would be modern Russia and ends along the frontiers of the Byzantine Empire.

But this is only the first part of the chapter.

I will be serializing parts of this novel here, on Wyrdwend. For Bookends.

THE IRON GATE: PART ONE

He passed through the Iron Gate and none bothered to oppose him. Why should they? Death would come soon enough.

He had seen men watching him as he stumbled past them, had noticed them as they studied him, pointing, or whispering to themselves. He had seen the guards; skins burned dark by long life lived outdoors among the frontiers, their flesh the color of fine but sanded clay. He had seen them take notice of him, and realizing that he was alone, and doomed, had seen them finally turn away or gaze on at him in curiosity, but not in fear.

He staggered forward, impelled more by main force and force of will than by any desire to make any kind of camp, or achieve any end, other than the one he suspected lay not long before him. He was a mass of Northern muscle, and in a more carefree age, a mass of unconcern. But not this day. Not this hour.

He was a mass no more, except of wasted flesh, blood-clotted black and clinging to limbs still driven hard, but all a’quiver. His clothes were ragged, and perhaps more threadbare than he. His boots were tattered, consumed with holes by hard wear and patches from long poverty. His cloak was gone, it covered him no more. His helm was likewise long ago departed. His armor, what was left upon him, did creak and hung loose and much abused. His single weapon, his langsax, was chipped and knotted, bent at places, it’s sharpest tip now broken blunt. His skeg axe was missing, already lost a’field from many days before. His sword was shattered, having given its last service long before he himself had been likewise cleaved from himself, run to ground by desperation and long flight at night. His spear had been splintered along the banks of a river he had long traveled, but never heard named. And with it went his last hope of war when he found himself numbered among the doomed of his watch.

His shield had long lasted, but round at the edges it had been burst sharp through the center, till like the timbers of a battered prow it had been smashed to pieces, along with the spine of his arm. At that blow he had staggered, a man drunk with too much of the wine of close combat, and toppling like one of the frigid giants of old he had crashed from the cliff into the gelid waters below. And this, this fall from manly grace and the unnatural fire of a ferocious battle he could not have won, into the cold of the waters from the earth underneath, this had stilled his heart with shock and preserved his life with a flood of harsh ice. But only for a moment.

The cold had slowed his wounds, made blood freeze in his veins, made him sluggish, numbed the bright agony of his broken arm and shattered knee, had helped to staunch the long gash torn through his calf, had wearied his mind so that death approached slow and as bedraggled as he. The river had turned him, tossed him, oriented him away from his companions, and his brothers at arms. Yet deep in the recesses of his darkest thoughts he knew they were no more. Colder even than he. Once men, and large, and well made, trophies now to despoil.

He pulled himself from the waters, a mist of stinking furs and wounded flesh, injury the common lot that ran the entire life-course of his body. He was insensible of the pain of his catastrophe, or perhaps it is better to say that he was nothing but hurt. So much harm inflicted that he could no longer mark any particular pain, but rather pain seemed all he was, and all he wished to end. He tried to stand, collapsed, breathed hard and harshly, his mouth steam rising like that of a newborn calf, his stance no straighter or better. But he grimaced, and would not relent. He stood, and staggered, and felt something rend inside his leg each time his knee did make to support his weight. He shed his cloak as a serpent would his elder skin, in long and frustrating effort, it peeled away from him as if in regret and with the anchored weight of besoaked hide. He grunted. He stuttered. He could not speak, groans his only tongue. He rested, sought to scan the horizon with his eyes, the land having been made flat again by the time the river had disgorged him like a misspent meal. But his vision was blurred, dim, closed in and frozen. It extended no farther than his imagination, and his imaginings were all of darkness, and dread.

The sun made to collapse in the West, behind mountains he could sense in the distance, but not see with his eyes. The warmth of the day, what small comfort it had given, was already fading, his own heat wasted and stolen by the drench of his baptism by water and trial by ice. He made to the tall grass, then fell to the dry ground, rolling and coating himself in the dirt as he could, hoping it would absorb the wet and help dry his shaken frame. A frog scampered by and he caught it with his unruined arm, and tore off its head in his mouth. The cold blood was warmer than his and the skull of the frog he did gnash in his teeth as he chewed. The sound comforted him. He could still eat, and he could still kill. Therefore he could still live if the long night would let him. He found he was hungry, and that the gnaw in his guts did wear hard, and began to grow and inflame, and as it did so, so did his limbs. And the ache of his body was far worse than the hunger he felt. But as he ate he regained some lost measure of hope, and there settled into his mind a new will to press forward. He tore off one of the back legs of his catch, and then the other, eating slowly, watching the night fall. Then he pulled out his langsax from his battered belt, and used the blade to slice open the belly of the frog and he did, as he could stand it, smear the blood and the entrails of the thing onto the deep gash in his calf, and along the break in his arm, where the bone did protrude from the mottled blue skin. For he had been told in times past by the Rus that if he smeared the blood of a beast upon an open wound then the clot of gore would help seal his own cut, and help knit it together and scab it clean. He did not know if this were true or not, but he was full for the moment and it seemed foolish to him to waste the entrails by tossing them aside.

He slept uneasily for awhile within sound of the river, crackling sounds sometimes startling him, as if the ice sheets from further upstream were still washing down and clashing against each other to shatter like frosted glass. The dew came down and reminded him again of the damp that still covered him, causing him to shiver while shards of sweat and frozen drops did run along his back from time to time.
He was cold beyond reckoning, but with the rise of the moon he took once more to stand, and after several tries he regained his feet. He moved West, into the darkness, towards the mountains he had felt in the distance. Towards the land that the Rusmen had told him could not be conquered. Towards the land of the Roman, and the place they called, the City of God

THE BRAIDS OF STRANGULATION AND THE DEAD ROADS – HIGHMOOT

THE BRAIDS OF STRANGULATION AND THE DEAD ROADS

I meant to post this yesterday, for Highmoot, but I was out of the office.

Had an odd dream night before last about a set of murders that woke me up at about 4:00 this morning. In the dream there was a living, malevolent force which, and I kid you not, had twisted the hair of three girls into a weird, almost supernatural looking set of complex braids which I could tell from looking at had been “encoded” in some way. I only saw the partially disentangled braids after the murders had occurred at the various scenes though, so they were altered from their initial appearance. Apparently all three had visited the same salon where the braids had been twisted. Somehow, as the girls slept (all young, in their mid-twenties, and all lookers with no apparent other connections between them) their “braids” had become animated and strangled them in their sleep. All of them however had apparently awakened during the strangulation process. Except for one girl, the braids had slithered down her throat and slowly suffocated her.

Well, upon waking and thinking on it awhile (it was a very weird case and left me with an uncanny and disturbing feeling – you know, like when you’ve witnessed some evil at work and it takes awhile to dissipate) I realized I could use the same idea in one of my Other World novels. So I sketched out the possible scene and here is what I got:

The Samarl of Samarkand (who we would call Prester John) invites emissaries from all of the surrounding people and races to try and get them to ally together (for the first time in thousands of years) against a common enemy and threat he has foreseen. He even openly invites human representatives from the Byzantine empire who have accidentally ended up in his world.

While staying in the capital city and in the palace of the Samarl the ladies of the dignitaries are “attended to” out of courtesy – entertained, feted, etc. including being provided with free clothing for the upcoming counsel (which they are also invited to attend) and having their hair decorated and perfumed. Seven women are invited to be so attended, but one demurs, just out of a sort of uneasy instinct and because her people do not want to be beholding to, and are suspicious of, the Sidh, the Samarl’s folk. On the third night after their arrival all six women are murdered and dead, five by strangulation and the sixth by having been suffocated, all by their own magically woven braids (called Balial – which before this time are considered highly decorative, enchanting, and a sign of great prosperity and Good Fortune). I’ll save the how for both a political and Ilturgical (sorcerous) mystery later in the book.

The woman who refused to be attended survives, of course, but one of the women, the one who had been suffocated by swallowing her own braids, her husband was first killed by his wife’s braid. The murder incident causes a huge uproar in the capital, and a near Civil War breaks out, with some of the represented peoples either fleeing the city out of fear or outright and immediately refusing alliance, suspecting the Samarl or his supporters. A riot breaks out in part of the capital that takes another three days to put down.

This of course has almost exactly the effect that the conspirators behind the episode had envisioned.

But it gets worse. As those ambassadors who have either fled the city or decided against alliance return home they are misled by still more sorcery (Ilturgy) to take “Dead Roads or Dead Ways” (called Iaklits) as their pathways. The Iaklits are actually old and ancient roadways, long abandoned which no one but criminals now use, and even then rarely (because they are considered both useless and haunted), but to the emissaries they seem to be the normal and proper roadways, because of the sorcery and illusions lain upon them.

Upon coming to the still elaborately decorated but partially ruined Chavoeth (a series of ancient bridges that had once crossed mighty rivers) the parties momentarily hesitate and there is a debate. Confused because they don’t recognize the old bridges, but misled by the enchantments and not wanting to turn back they decide to cross. But as they reach the centers of the bridges the illusions fade and the bridges collapse killing many under the rubble but also drowning quite a few in the stinking morasses and fens and pits which the Chavoeth now span. A few survive from each party to tell the tale of both the strangulation murders at Samarkand and of the Iaklits and the traps at the bridges.

None of which has a happy effect upon the efforts of the Samarl (Prester John) to form a Grand Alliance against the approaching enemy.

But all of this happens due to the naiveté of the Samarl and the Sidh, and the other Eldevens (the related Peoples), to understand both what they truly face (they have bred war out of themselves through a long period of unchallenged peace and have become incredibly soft and unsuspecting) and the conspiracy within their own midst. Then rather than recognizing these potential dangers they begin fall to Civil War among themselves completely ignoring the real enemy, both the external one, and the one worming it’s infectious way through their own culture and government.

The Strangulation Braids and the collapsing Bridges and the “Dead Roads” therefore are not just events, they are also underlying metaphors for these facts and weaknesses.

I’m gonna write up a couple of drafts and samples containing basic work-outs of these scenes, maybe starting tonight, but for now I have a nest of wasps to kill and then I’m spending the day with the family.

Have a great day folks.

THE ALLUSIONS OF THE OTHER WORLD

Lately I have been compiling the literary allusions that will appear in my Other World novels and inserting those allusions at the appropriate places in the plot structure of MY books.

My novels will have allusions to many previous works of literature but rarely will I quote or mention by name or source the allusion. Rather I will take the allusionary reference from the original source of literature and rewrite it to fit the events of my own novels, yet, nevertheless, the allusions will be there encoded within the works if you know what to look for or if you are familiar with the passages from the original works.

I will include allusions to the following works, among others:

A Song of Ice and Fire, GRR Martin
Acts of the Apostles
Aeschylus (various plays)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Beowulf
Book of the Fallen
Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
Elric of Melnibone, Michael Moorcock
Harry Potter, JK Rowling
Icelandic Sagas
Jonathan Strnage and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Kalevala
Le Morte De Arthur, Tennyson
Lyonesse, Jack Vance
Oz Books, Frank Baum
Siegfried
Shakespeare: Henry the IVth, and MacBeth
The Gospels
The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
The Song of Roland
The Torah
The White Stag
Thomas Covenant Books, Stephen R Donaldson

 

As an example of how I intend to insert such allusions into my own novels here are two illustrations of my process of my process:

The Aenied, Virgil

Original Line: “Sleep! Sweet gift of the gods… It was the time when the first sleep invades languid mortals, and steals upon them, by the gift of the gods, most sweet.”

My Line: “And where will you go now?”

“I would lay down upon the ground and go to my death if I could, but failing that I would go to my dreams.”

“To your dreams? And who will you meet there?”

“I do not know, but this is too much and I must sleep. For I am weary and if God himself finds me in my dreams may he finally gift me with forgetfulness of all I have seen and done. That alone would be sweet and meet to me now.”

The Worm Ouroboros, Eddison

Original Line: “There’s musk and amber in thy speech,” said Juss. “I must have more of it. What mean they to do?”

My Line: “Musk scents your voice with something strong and dank, but amber seals and occludes your real meaning. Speak clearly to me now or I will slice open the rank resin of your speech with my keenest hunting knife and peer into your throat to smell for myself your true intent.”

HORSE MIGHTY FOR HARM

From the Worm Ouroboros, by E. R. Eddison, which I have recently been re-reading. I love that book and it is, no doubt, one of the greatest books of fantasy/myth ever written. Pure poetry in prose, and often, outright song:

She took the heavy volume with its faded green cover, and read: “He went out on
the night of the Lord’s day, when nine weeks were still to winter; he heard a great
crash, so that he thought both heaven and earth shook. Then he looked into the
west airt, and he thought he saw hereabouts a ring of fiery hue, and within the ring
a man on a gray horse. He passed quickly by him, and rode hard. He had a flaming
firebrand in his hand, and he rode so close to him that he could see him plainly. He
was black as pitch, and he sung this song with a mighty voice–

Here I ride swift steed,
His flank flecked with rime,
Rain from his mane drips,
Horse mighty for harm;
Flames flare at each end,
Gall glows in the midst,
So fares it with Flosi’s redes
As this flaming brand flies;
And so fares it with Flosi’s redes
As this flaming brand flies.

“Then he thought he hurled the firebrand east towards the fells before him, and
such a blaze of fire leapt up to meet it that he could not see the fells for the blaze. It
seemed as though that man rode east among the flames and vanished there…”

THE DAUFIN AND THE EGG?

In my Other World novels the Sidhs use a code word (or the Samarl and his allies do in any case) to describe a being they believe to have existed for a very long period of time using a most unusual method of life extension. (Or possibly it periodically dies and is reborn again.) The Samarl and his allies believe this being to be evil and an enemy.

The word used to describe this being among themselves (so no one else will understand who they are really talking about) is Daufin. The Daufin is typically also identified or represented by a code symbol, as well as a drawing of a mythical beast (which actually exists and is controlled by the code-named Daufin, though few believe it actually exists anymore), and by a code phrase.

The term Daufin is not to be confused with the French term Dauphin though I readily admit that I took the term directly from the French term. And yes, for those who know me well you must be thinking, “French?” As you know I have little interest in modern things French, but in Ancient things and Medieval things French (the Franks for instance, and Charlemagne, and the ancient Romances, and the Gauls) I have great interest.

And I have great interest in the Dauphin, both the one denoting the Medieval prince and the more ancient term I suspect it is derived from, and what that implied. The Dauphin has always fascinated me though I rarely mention it.

In any case before I insinuate the conspiracy surrounding the Samarl and the Daufin too deeply in my novel I have been trying variants on the term, as I actually very much adore the term Dauphin and think it perfect though being French, even if it is early French, it is not linguistically suited to the Sidhs and the other Eldeven peoples of the novels. With that in mind here are a number of variants upon the term Daufin which I might use. If you have a favorite variant or you wish to suggest one of your own that strikes you as particularly pleasing then please leave a comment and let me know. If you want to explain why I’ll be happy to know that as well.

Variants on the term Daufin/Dauphin:

Daughfin

Dolfign/Dalfign

Dalphin

Dahlfin

Dalphang

Dolfang

Daufang (this sounds a bit too Oreintal to me, but given the origins of the Daufin it might serve well)

 

Below is the code phrase (in verse) used to describe the Daufin, and it seems a sort of song, and it is, but it is also a set of codes by which the speaker identifies what he knows about the Daufin. As more is learned more verses are added. It is obviously translated into English from the original Eldeven:

“Arose the Daufin from the seas, as deep and dark as Tântalos
Whose ruin ran the riven world three times round the sunken hosts,
What is this thing, whence did it rise, who sired it or set it loose?
How many times to be reborn, how many mortals yet seduce?
A secret thing crawls in the Egg, the Sun has never seen its face  
When will it hatch next in the world, all other things to then erase?”   

 

The seeming symbol for the Daufin is a mythical beast,  but the symbol for the real Daufin is of a multi-headed sea-serpent hatching from a giant egg along the flooded beach of a sinking island.

 

THE CAREER

Yesterday I spent most of the day writing client reports, preparing presentation materials for a speech, creating new documents for my Business, doing research and so forth.

Whereas I often greatly enjoy my business there are also times I grow tired of it and so today, after lunch, I will spend the rest of the day plotting out the last two novels in my fantasy/Myth series The Other World, drawing maps, and creating materials for by books.

I look forward to this with a great deal of enjoyment.

There are also times I greatly enjoy my Career.

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE – ĦLO’SĶIEŊL

Tome and Tomb

III. Being a Small Section of the Lay of the Myth of the Eldevens – Below is to be found a small section of one of the most ancient versions of the Lay of the Eldeven.

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE
THE LAY OF THE ELDEVEN

ĦLO’SĶIEŊL
Before All

Being the Account of the Arrival and of the Old World

Before all there was another Iÿarlðma (another world, another Ghanae). In those days many ancient and wondrous things visited Iÿarlðma from elsewhere, wandering this world and inhabiting it for brief seasons, yet never long lingering. The world in those days was broad, and deep, and untamed, filled with many archaic and dangerous creatures full of strange life. Many things did creep and crawl and did seek out the untrodden secrets of hidden recess which are now long buried beneath the deep mounds of great age. But none with mind and soul, as we think…

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THE MYTH OF THE WRITER, AND THE FANTASY THEREOF

Last night a friend and I were having a discussion regarding Myth and Fantasy on his Facebook page. Since this is a subject I have much studied and long thought about I decided I would post my reply to his discussion on this page. So here is my summation of some of the more salient differences, and some of the basic similarities, between Fantasy and Myth.
This is in the form of my Facebook page response, of course, but later I will create an essay out of this and related material I have written in the past on the same subjects.

 

SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES BETWEEN FANTASY AND MYTH

To me it mostly depends on if you’re writing Myth or Fantasy.

Myth, such as Tolkien wrote is filled with footnotes and endnotes and much of Tolkien’s myth refers directly to real world history or is a thinly veiled modification of it, just as Classical myth is, e.g.. Homer and Virgil.

The Black Gate is a modification of the Iron Gate of the Byzantines, Rohan was a modification of a real place and people, etc..

If it is fantasy it might also contain heavy historical elements, but they are greatly modified and changed significantly. In that kind of fantasy (swords and sorcery fantasy) magic is more important than myth, the supernatural more important than technology or realism, story more important than history, and character more important than culture (typically).

Tolkien for instance created very realistic cultures and landscapes that were well developed enough to imagine living in, or wanting to live in. Howard, with Conan (fantasy), created heavily modified versions of semi-realistic, but mostly underdeveloped proto-human cultures that few if any would really want to love in. Same with Moorcock (another fantasy writer). A lot of underlying history and myth in both Howard and Moorcock, no real admirable cultures or worlds to live in. No real higher mythic and spiritual content, a lot more grunt-work and gritty adventure and survival.

I follow that same general pattern. I’m writing a mythic series (The Other World) which is a mix of Byzantine realism and the mythos of Prester John. It is also a retelling of the Fall of Constantinople and the founding of America in mythic form. It has a lot of “high, mythic, poetic, and spiritual content.”
I am writing another series of what I call magic and miracles fantasy which is based on what we now know of pre-historic and proto-human cultures, but the emphasis is not on sweeping myths or great cultures, but on personal adventure, and individual supernatural and magical experience.

(And this is paradoxically why poetry and song so rarely appear in pure fantasy, and when it does, it is almost always of very inferior quality – but in myth really good song and poetry is a primary and necessary component – Beowulf and the Iliad are poetic, in Conan real poetry and song are absent. Real Myth is poetic, by nature. Fantasy is prosaic, comparatively speaking.)

In myth magic is tightly controlled and there is little of it, especially overtly. Magic is underground and few can master it. Magic is an elite force employed by an elite few. In fantasy it is usually ubiquitous yet extremely dangerous and likely always out of control, or completely uncontrolled. In fantasy the elite think they can master magic but it almost always it overmasters them. In myth they often can master magic, be it Gandalf or Wotan, though it always has a price for the greedy and unwise. (Such as Fafnir.)

On the other hand, Conan being a fantasy character and a barbarian and a primal man instinctively knows this about his world, he lives in a supernatural and fantastical environment (not a mythic one) , well above his personal pay-grade. The way to equalize magic is not to make it rare and tightly controlled, like in myth, but to avoid it altogether, or destroy it if possible. In myth magic is really a spiritual force, good or bad, and not easily understood or mastered. In fantasy magic is not a spiritual force, but supernatural nitro-glycerin.)

In myth there are also obviously miraculous and apparently fated events. In fantasy fate is what a man makes of himself.

And to me therein lies another of the real differences. In myth, although the characters are very important, the myth is Fundamental. Obviously much bigger things than the individual are at Work.

The myth is what is really being discussed; the characters are archetypes in action.

In fantasy the cultures and the environment are the archetypes, it is the characters being discussed. The individual is what is at Work. The person is in reaction, struggling to bring things under his own control, and usually failing.

In my second series, the fantasy series, the books are about the adventures of Solimar, who is renamed by his god and given a mission to fulfill in the world. So he roams the world seeking to fulfill his mission and understand his supernatural origins, both at birth, and at “rebirth and renaming.”
Solimar, who begins as Soar (So-ar), is really a retelling of the stories of Jacov and of Abram (Solimar’s god, Olim, or Holim, inserts his own name in the middle of Soar’s name to remake him into his representative in the world) in a vaguely Conan like form. Though Solimar is not a warrior but more of a spy, and a Jack of all Trades adventurer, who has become his god’s semi-reluctant and covert Agent.

Now all of that being said I still think there is plenty of room in the middle. As a matter of fact GRR Martin and his series is exactly that. Half-mythic realism, half-magical fantasy. Half Westeros mythos (and Real World history – Dunk and Egg), and half Dragon-Egg/White Walker fantasy. And you can clearly see how the two separate worlds impinge upon and overlap one another, and you can also clearly see how they are separated by, “A Wall.” (In Tolkien the wall of separation was the frontier of Mordor.)

So if you ask me you can lean towards the ends of the bell curve, or, if you wish, seek the top and the middle.

Plenty of room to roam landscapes in all directions if you so wish.

 

 

THE OMENS AND PROPHECIES: THE KEIN, THE KITHE, AND THE KÏTHÊL

THE KEIN, THE KITHE, AND THE KÏTHÊL

Before starting to work on my novel, The Viking Cats, I decided to take Sam for our regular afternoon mile walk through the woods. As we did we came across a large herd of cattle in one of the adjacent fields because a neighbor is clearing the next field for pasture land.

The herd was mixed white and black cattle. When I saw this it gave me an idea for an omen in one of my other novels, the Fantasy/Myth novel of The Other World.

In these novels a series of prophecies and omens appear which forewarn the various nations and characters of what is about to happen, but few pay any attention to such omens anymore. As a result only a small minority of people actually understand and prepare for what is about to occur.

In any case this is the background of this particular omen:

In the other world (Iÿarlðma) there is a tradition among the Sidèhl and the Lorahń (the two most contentious, numerous, and powerful races among the Eldeven peoples) of Symbolic Sacrifice Exchange.

The Sidh and the Lorahn have often fought in the past, usually involving small skirmishes, but in the distant past they fought many bloody and desperate wars leading to great destruction and on occasion even Civil War. So almost 3000 years ago they developed a ritual act of Peace and Fealty through Mutual Sacrifice Exchange.

The Sidh developed a herd of pure white cattle (not really cattle as we think of them, far more massive, powerful, and wild creatures but for purposes of illustration I will use the term cattle) with white eyes and without any blemish or other coloring. This herd is called the Kein, or the Kein-Sidh.

The Lorahn developed a herd of absolutely black cattle with jet back eyes. This herd is called the Kithe, of the Kithe of the Lorahn.

Each folk keep a herd of 300 or so such cattle only for the purpose of the exchange and as an act of peace-keeping and bond-searing.

Every three years, at the summer solstice, the herds are intermixed and interbred. Whatever is produced, regardless of numbers, if it is all it black goes to the Lorahn, if it is all white then it goes to the Sidh. If the offspring are of any other color, blemished, have any other color eyes, or are in any other way not like their father or mother herd then they are given to other folk, such as the Jukarn.

But every now and then, every few hundred years or so, one cow will give birth to a set of Twin Cattle, alike in every way except coloring. One calf will be blood-red in coloring, the other sea-blue in coloring. These twin calves are called the Kïthêl, and they are a powerful omen of things to come.

Almost inevitably one calf will be born with a congenital defect and will die within a few weeks of birth.

If the blue calf dies and the red one lives then it foreshadows a disastrous and destructive war, not necessarily between the Sidh and Lorahn (though that might be the case) but possibly one that will afflict all of the Eldeven peoples. Or the omen may signal an invasion upon the Eldevens by a powerful foreign force or people.

If the red calf dies and the blue calf lives then it foreshadows a terrible plague, catastrophe, or disaster that may well kill large numbers of Sidh, Lorahn, or the other Eldeven peoples.

However, on very, very rare occasion both calves may either be stillborn or may die shortly after birth. In this case there is an ancient but well known prophecy that such an event signals both a terrible war and horrible catastrophe.

But in the novel which I am writing the Kïthêl both live and begin to grow to adulthood as healthy and massive and seemingly tame and intelligent animals, an event that has never before occurred (that anyone knows of) and no-one can interpret what this actually means.

Some assume it testifies to a long period of peace, prosperity, and plenty, others assume it means the collapse of either the Sidh or Lorahn peoples; others have no idea what it might signify.

Actually there is a very ancient prophecy that was written and hidden away, being encoded within another text and even within an artefact, that was proclaimed long before the herds of Kein and Kithe ever existed. It tells of a blue calf and a red calf, born of the same mother, who grow to adulthood and what that prophesies for the future. But none of the characters in the book are immediately aware of this ancient prophecy or even that it exists. Only slowly do the characters become aware of what it is and what it might mean.

Well, I had best return to writing my novel.

By the way, this is a prime example of what a good walk does to stimulate your imagination…

FLIGHT AND FURY

A brief scene of combat between Marsippius Nicea (the de facto commander of the Byzantine special forces team the Basilegate) and a creature he has never before encountered.

This creature had been attempting to ambush Marsippius as he traveled alone through unknown territory but Marsippius observes him first and sets for personal combat.

From one of my Other World novels.

This is the second draft of this scene.

_________________________________________________

Marsippius bent his stave so fiercely that the bow seemed to double backwards like the horns of a fresh waxing moon, halving in height while multiplying many times in deadliness. He drew the shaft end all the way back past his furthest eyesight, feeling the soft fletching touch his ear like the passing wings of a fleet bird of prey at the final swoop. His left arm held steady being guided by the narrowing of his sight, the subtle turn of his stance, and the short hold of his breath. The spine of the shaft seemed perfectly still and straight, being of Eldeven make, and nearly perfect in heft and balance, and absolutely square and true in line. It was a killing shaft, an instrument of unfettered war and swift death, and he meant to use it as such, having been trained by the Sidèhl themselves in its best and most effective use. Both stave and shaft had been made for him, and he alone, presented as personal presents for his leal and long service to the Kitharians and the Samarl of Samarkand, and he had high faith in their making and great certainty in their sharpness and surety of purpose.

The creature came on in a rush, howling and growling all at once, its unnatural darkness and emanations of malice preceding it like an angry stormcloud swelled with preternatural fury. It ran in a lope, explosively at each new stride, seeming to leap both upwards and outwards to cover great distances as it moved in a bizarre, uncanny, and unsteady gait. Yet on it came, eerily but surely, 120 feet away, 100 feet away, 80 feet away, 60 feet away, and then Marsippius loosed his arrow. The shaft sped ahead a few feet into the open space before him, quivering and twisting in the air as it too lept forward uncannily, and then the shaft disappeared from sight as if Marsippius had loosed a thunderbolt, and not a crafted shaft of mortal make.

Marsippius saw nothing of the arrow’s flight but the shaft reappeared almost instantly, buried deep within the monstrous folds of fat and muscle that were the thing’s lower belly. It howled anew, grunted ferociously, twisted in its wild careen, fell sidelong with its massive and hairy arms outstretched to try and absorb the blow it would feel as it crashed to the broken ground in a wreck. The black soil churned when it struck, and a cloud of dark debris exploded violently at the impact. The thing rolled catastrophically, filling the air with guttural and awful noises, and screaming unknown curses in an unknown tongue. If it was a tongue, and not the signaled sound of diseased damnation spout out from the ugly mouth of hell. The creature rolled out lengthwise and then stopped moving.
Yet only for a moment.

Then it twisted away from the earth as if the ground underneath offended it, stood to one knee, and ponderously, painfully, used its powerful hands and forearms to rise once more to its monstrous height.

Marsippius bent forward slightly and quickly plucked another upright arrow from the ground where he had placed five more silver shafts before him. He nocked the new arrow, drew once more, and lowered his aim upon the hard gasping but still living thing.

The speed and momentum of its crash and fall had cast it forward towards Marsippius even farther than perhaps its loping run might have, save for the momentary pause as it stopped to rise and examine itself and the severity of its wound. Barely more than thirty feet now separated the Roman soldier from the obscene and unnatural beast – the thing, the monster, whatever it might in truth really be.

Marsippius could see the slick and slimy foam fleck upon its bloody and crusted lips, and a sort of black ichor was seeping from the terrible wound left by the arrow the Roman had shot deep into it. The fall and roll had shattered the Eldeven shaft, leaving only a few splintered shards of dirty debris still protruding from the gape that the crash had made by gouging out an even bigger and more vile tear in whatever this thing called flesh. Marsippius reasoned, or perhaps hoped, that the fall had not only broken the Sidhelic shaft and torn the wound too wide to heal, but had perhaps driven the remaining end of the shaft and arrow head deep into its bowels, therefore assuring it bled to death in time, or eventually killed the creature with a black infection grown from its own foulness and rot.

The creature stood erect again, but then bent forward, heaving to breathe, its dreadful and reddened, bulging orbs fixed upon the Roman like the terrible eyes of venomous serpents spawned in the torture pits of the far Orient. Marsippius could see the thing debating with itself – would it try and close the gap between them as quickly as possible, risking another wound like the terrible one it now suffered? Or would it turn and attempt a reckless and wholesale flight hoping the Roman could not shoot it twice with the same skill and near lethal effect?

Marsippius for his part considered that if he shot again and missed he might not have enough time to make a good third shot before the thing was upon him, and in his own mind he rehearsed his next actions in sequence, as his training and experience had taught him to imagine and prepare for each engagement. First he would fire, and kill the thing or not, he would then draw his Spatha from its sling along his back and await the charge of the monster, hoping that in its fury or desperation he could spy a spot to drive his blade so deeply and true that the shock and force would prevent a counter-attack, and do the thing swiftly to death. In his mind Marsippius was practiced, cold, watchful, and wary, as his years of combat and warfare had taught him to be when faced with great danger, but in his heart he knew that if the creature took him in its grasp it might very well rip him to pieces as a man might pull apart the soft limbs of a roasted hare well before he might hope to kill it.

So the Roman aimed for the center of the beast, at its deep barreled and protruding breast, focusing his attention so absolutely that he saw nothing else but what he imagined to be the misshapen and misbeaten heart of the fearsome creature. Hearing nothing but the ragged breathing of the beast as it struggled to catch its breath and overmaster the agony of its vicious wound. If it came on he would place another shot with all his skill and the full fury of his toxon, and if it fled he would exchange its rounded chest for its flat and wide back as the target of his aim.

Almost as if sensing what he thought the creature turned sideways, making itself a much smaller target than before and momentarily confusing the soldier’s aim. It also almost assured that even if Marsippius hit him squarely, it would likely not be a lethal wound, since unless struck in the head or neck the thing’s cobbled and disordered armor or his thick muscled chest, thighs, or arms would most likely absorb the greater part of the damage of the shot. Marsippius therefore refocused his aim, for he still meant to either partially cripple or hobble the creature, but he now suspected he could not kill it with but another single shaft. He also now wondered if the thing might hope to stand still long enough to exhaust his bow arm, attempting thereafter to dodge or deflect his shaft, then come rushing on with whatever strength it might have left intending to overpower Marsippius in close combat. Again the Roman practiced in his mind what he would do next; fire, draw his blade, await the charge, and strike his best blow, or if the thing avoided his shot and then took to flight, whether to pursue or try to shoot him again as he fled.

Marsippius waited, but the thing shifted not again, and even seemed to calm, to relax, to gain mastery of its breath and pain to such a degree that it seemed to become more inanimate stone than living thing. Marsippius resisted the urge to shoot until he felt both his arms begin to quiver slightly, and fearing that exhaustion at the long draw might weaken him at sword-arm should combat become necessary, he relaxed monetarily, caught his breath, and loosed.

The shaft hummed warmly as it took flight, quivered, sped like a flash of lightning, and disappeared. It seemed to Marsippius that the shaft flew entirely true but the creature was cunningly crooked, or else some unnoticed witchcraft was hard at work as the arrow sped, for the flight went awry and clearly missed its mark. This time Marsippius thought to himself, the thing was ready, and not arrogant and reckless in attack. It now knows I am dangerous, it now will be doubly so.

Marsippius cast his bow aside, reached down and slung his shield to his left, sliding his hand and forearm into the bracings and setting himself for the coming fight. He reached behind him and swiftly drew his Spatha, the weapon of his youth and the ancient heirloom of his command. Having been recently recast by Eldeven art at the request of the Samarl it seemed to both shiver and shimmer in the noonday sun, but the creature came on again covered in grim and grimy gore, hot with renewed fury and bent on unholy vengeance. It met the Roman’s bright blade with a darkness it cast out from itself. If there was to be any further flight, thought Marsippius, then it would be because one of them fled this world entirely and for the very last time.

THE LEXICON OF IŸARLÐMA (THE OTHER WORLD)

Because the plot, story, and terminology of my novel series (The Other World – the Kithariãd) has become so complicated and involved over time I have begun the construction of a Lexicon so that I and my readers may track all of the various languages, neologisms, and terms I have invented for the novels.

It will eventually include all of the arcane and neologistic and specialty terms I use or have invented in Latin and Greek and Hebrew and English as well, but for now I am only compiling those terms I have invented for the various Eldeven languages used in the book.

At this point it runs to 20 pages or so, but I expect it to grow significantly over time and I have yet to alphabetize the lexicon for ease of use. A hard chore but a necessary one.

Eventually I expect this Lexicon to be to my mythopoeiac works something like Alfred the Great’s lexiconographical works were to the Real World.

HARROWHOARD AND HALLOWHOARD

Crap, I had to get up out of bed and work again this morning even though I didn’t want to. Nevertheless I had three ideas far too good to lose. So I just got up and started working them.

They occurred to me as I was reading Tolkien’s reworking of the Lay of the Völsungs – Sigurd and Gudrun. Specifically the section just after Sigurd slays Fafnir and he and the dwarf Regin are discussing the outcome which has some of my favorite Tolkienic lines of the Lay.

“Nay, blame not thyself,
Backward helper!
Stout heart is better 
Than strongest sword.”
“Yet the sword I smithied,
The serpent’s bane!
The bold oft are beaten
Who have blunt weapons.

I love these lines, especially the ones I have emboldened and italicized as both are true. For different reasons yet both true.

Then the poem goes on to speak of Regin cutting out the heart of Fafnir and encouraging Sigurd to cook it so that Regin can eat it and gain the dragon’s magical powers. Sigurd does so but accidentally burns his fingers and touches the cooking blood to his tongue to cool his finger and he gains the magical power to understand the languages of beast and birds.

Thereafter Sigurd learns of Regin’s treachery, slays him, and takes the Rhinegold for his own only to later learn of the tragic curse upon the treasure.

This gave me three related ideas to use in my own novels. The first is of a group of Lorahn (a powerful but more rural and rustic and primitive fairy people distantly related to the Sidhs, the Lorahn remain basically a wilderness or frontier people while the Sidhs have over time become more urbanized and moved to the interior) who go about the inhabited parts of Iÿarlðma hunting down and slaying any Korreupt (a monster created by exposure to Elturgy, or magic) they can find. After slaying them it becomes a common practice for these hunters to eat various parts of the monsters they kill thereby temporarily (not permanently) gaining their powers (The Blood of Uncanny Monsters). Only later do they discover that some of these monsters are actually their own people who have been transformed by exposure to Elturgy. Therefore these hunters have been practicing cannibalism unawares. With later drastic and disastrous consequences.

Secondly thinking about both the Cursed Gold of the myth and the forging of Gram by the dwarf Regin I had an idea for a large Hoard (treasure trove) of powerful and ancient artefacts and items that is also cursed but one that is cursed in a very peculiar way. The discoverer of the hoard can take any object he wishes from it without harm, any object he likes or desires (and some of the objects evoke an almost lustful desire to be possessed) but only one (that is the first nature of the curse) and the hoard itself often tries to lead the item-taker in particular choosing-directions. Often a hoard-object seems the perfect item for a given individual to possess but later on the hero or item-taker discovers that the object taken was the entirely wrong object, or an object that is as much a burden as a boon. The hoard also never seems to appear in the same place twice and furthermore if one intentionally goes looking for it then it can almost never be discovered. It is almost always stumbled upon by seeming accident. How the curse of the single-item will work I have yet to precisely decide but I have a couple of ideas about how it might function. I call this treasure trove the Harrowhoard, that being a play on words meaning both, “the Hoard of Suffering,” and the “Harrowed, or Plowed-under, Hoard.” Because the hoard is both often found underground or in harrowed lands, and for the habit of the hoard in suggesting false choices thereby “plowing under” (burying) the item taker with his treasure.

The third idea I had, and the second for a hoard, is not what one would typically think of as a hoard at all but rather is more like a shrine containing hundreds of powerful relics smuggled away from their original hiding place on our world by secret Eldeven agents who steal the powerful relics of various Saints and take them to their own world, that of Iÿarlðma. The Eldevens (mostly Sidhs, but others as well) build a hidden and Elturgically concealed and protected shrine to house and store these relics. Occasionally though someone will stumbled upon this hoard or pierce the elturgical enchantments protecting it and make off with a relic only to find that within a short period of time, although they still possess the relic, they have no memory of the location of the hoard. Also not knowing what the relic is or what it is for these relics are often as obscure to the owner as they would be to anyone else who knew not what they possessed. I call this hoard the Hallowhoard. For obvious reasons.

I still have to devise the proper Eldeven and Sidhelic terms (in those languages) for both Harrowhoard and Hallowhoard but I’ll do that later.

Anyway it is nearly 2:30 AM now and I must get back to working to integrate these ideas into my novel.

Thank God my wife is off work tomorrow and I can sleep some during the day. I’d like a few hours of uninterrupted sleep at least.

THE WRATH OF WROTHCHOLIRE

Two nights ago I wrote a poem (As We Age) and then started working on the fragments for The Wrath of Wrothcholire. Wrothcholire is an indestructible sword that appears in my high fantasy writings comparable to Gram and Durandal and Caliburn (Excalibur) in myth and legend.

It was forged of dark red (blood red) meteoritic rock but when finished the blade came out to be black and scored with an odd pattern and design. As far as is known the blade cannot be broken but will bend and flex. It is easy to sharpen and will hold an edge for many combats. Wrothcholire goes all the way back to my teenage years and was my imagined embodiment of the “perfect sword” and “ideal personal weapon.”

Wrothcholire is said (by those who have wielded him, and many famous heroes over several ages have wielded him) to possess a will or intelligence of his own, not that it can speak but rather that it will impel it’s bearer to great anger and fury if it desires the destruction of an enemy.

Wrothcholire (and this is the English name for the Sword, it has many different Eldeven names and names in other tongues) means wroth, or wrath, and choleric, and iresome. It also means, from the root terms, twisted (because of the pattern in the metal), to writhe (because of it’s seeming to writhe like a serpent when angered), and riven.

Wrothcholire is never said to be owned, but rather borne or that it’s user “bears the wrath of Wrothcholire upon and within himself.”

This goes back to when I was a young man and would become intensely angry and dangerous and do things I later deeply regretted. So also is Wrothcholire. Wrothcholire often pushes its bearer to fearsome and even horrible deeds, and sometimes even close to murderous deeds. Wrothcholire is really my own personified Fury, both a source of great strength for me, and probably my greatest lifelong vice. It took me a long time to conquer my own Wrothcholire, and a few bearers over time do tame the blade and they become lifelong friends. Many others Wrothcholire uses as much as they use him.

I have over time written many shorts stories involving Wrothcholire, in which the weapon appears either overtly as itself, or covertly and in disguise, but recently the idea has occurred to me to write some poetic fragments about the blade that I will eventually combine into either recited Skaldic verse or a Bardic song, maybe both. In either case his Lay shall be called, “The Wrath of Wrothcholire.”

So last night I began that. Here is what I first devised:

No voice of life could he (Wrothcholire) engender
Yet Fury burned, a shining beacon
Within his wrath, a terror vengeanced
Yearned to make of his foe’s ending…”

Another stanza,

He writhed, he bled, the foeman fled
An ancient anger soon caught flame
The Whore of Heaven made a bed (or dug a grave)
Of endless night, and brutal shame…

Another set of verses

He brake the Drake
Did slay the Würm
An endless wound that would not heal
Far better had they perished both
Than in such anger ruthless killed…”

The last I composed,

The End of All Illness comes to he
Who in such fury burns so bright
This blade of death, so distant sent
Has pierced my heart, and now I’m spent (or, variantly, my soul is rent)

Wrothcholire is said to be the Blade of Nine Names.

As far as those who know of him he has had Nine Names over time, and I have translated them all into English.

The Nine Names of Wrothcholire:

Wrothcholire (Eternal Fury or Writhing Fury)

The Fell-Black Sword (from its color and twisted pattern)

The Sword of Starless Night (because when it kills it is said to “blanket the foe in a starless night.”)

The Blade of Fury (self-explanatory)

The Brand of Vengeance (also self-explanatory)

Battle’s Beacon (said because it forewarns the bearer that another soon intends to attack, even if the other pretends peace)

The Wound Eternal (said because it typically leaves a wound that will not heal in the foe, or it leaves a wound of anger in the bearer that will not pass)

The Serpent’s Snare (because it is a Würm-killer, or dragon and monster-slayer)

The Whore of Heaven (this is actually an English mistranslation of a Sidhelic name – the Sidhels call Wrothcholire the “Blood-Ore of Heaven” because of the meteoritic fragment from which it was forged, but this was later mistranslated into English as the Whore of Heaven, sometimes the Whorl of Heaven, because of its writhing, and the name stuck by repetition)

The Sword will figure prominently in some of my fictional works, such as my High Fantasy novels and myths.

CONAN AND ME, PART ONE: LANGUAGE, PULP, RACE, AND FICTION

Lately I’ve been re-reading (actually listening to on CD) some of R.E. Howard’s later stories on Conan, such as The Conquering Sword of Conan.

Now every year, usually in the Fall (but at other times as well) or as the weather changes I get a desire to read or listen to Conan, or Solomon Kane, or the stories of HP Lovecraft. Adventure and horror stories. Don’t know why, I just do, it’s sort of a recurring literary theme with me. I associate Autumn and early Winter with adventure, and patrolling, and exploring, and the coming dark.

(I also at this time of year like to read or listen to the radio plays of Jack Flanders or the Green Hornet or John Carter of Mars or Doc Savage or other types of things like that I used to listen to as a kid.)

Now I’ve always liked the stories of Conan (though I have much more in common personally with the character Solomon Kane) as I enjoy a lot of pulp fiction. It’s adventurous, and that’s what I like about it. Adventure stories and pulp fiction tend to roam widely in space and time, and this very much appeals to the explorer and Vadder in me. As well as to the historian in me, as pulp stories are often pseudo-historical and often contain historical and archaeological allusions and references. I wish far more modern writers wrote really good adventure stories, especially for young men and boys, but also even for girls, such as my daughters. Alas, aside from children stories adventure yarns seem a dying or dead art. More is the shame.

But a couple of things have always bothered me about Conan and his adventure stories. One is Howard’s sometimes ridiculous use of inappropriate language, mixing antique, antiquated, and outmoded terms all in the same paragraph or sentence and doing so without a broader context. The same can be said for his general world building tendencies as well, he sometimes mixes wholly inappropriate matters and allusions and settings and events and places and personages together haphazardly and without any logical framework. I know this is part of his Sword and Sorcery Shtick but it can detract heavily from the appeal of the story. As a writer I certainly understand that every writer is at least to some extent a product of his times, and of what is known in his time. As well as a victim of his own his ideas, and a bondsman of his ideas about writing. Finally he is in at least in some sense a slave of his own language, real or invented, and his use of that language. But Howard’s language often descends into “pulp-speech” in a way that is almost an obvious caricature of pulp. In other words his writings become the very caricature of the pulp genre to such an obvious degree that it becomes impossible to read some of his phrasing without saying to yourself, “this story is pulp.” Instead of, “this story is a great adventure.”

True, sometimes his phrasing and language use is clever, even inspired, at other times though it is both simultaneously banal and overwrought. At times like that you easily remember within your own mind, “this is fiction,” and that’s precisely what you want to avoid in fiction writing.

The second thing that bothers me about Conan is Conan’s obsession (in some of his stories at least) with race and tribalism and ethnicities and “groups.”

to be continued…