Character Names: William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe
Relationship: Roommates; Playwrights; Co-authors
World: New Hell
Books: Rogues in Hell; Dreamers in Hell; Poets in Hell; Pirates in Hell (Heroes in Hell series)
How and where did you meet?
Will Shakespeare: When alive, we met as rival playwrights, Kit holding forth in the ‘Admiral’s Men company’ wheresoever the troupe played, or at the Rose; and I at the Globe, where I owned an interest in the house.
Kit Marlowe: Eyewash, all that. Shakespeare’s a famous liar. My Tamburlaine the Great, Parts I and II, were performed in my lifetime; the rest, posthumously, but for Dido, Queen of Carthage, writ by me and Thomas Nashe, and ‘performed’ by the ‘Children of the Chapel,’ as fair a clutch of boy charmers as ever gamboled on any stage. I met my death not too long after I met Will, a matter of my spying here and lying there, most times with Walsingham, whose wife took umbrage, as women will, when boys and men make love. Still, those plays set a new standard in quality and introduced blank verse. Mine were not, like Will’s, tripe writ for money-grubbery by the uneducated and for the uneducated. I helped Will write his Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three and got no credit for it. Still, my own four plays performed on Earth after I arrived in Hell did what art should do: shined lights on evils hidden and calumny of the vilest kind.
Will: Kit, let’s not linger on this question, unfortunate as it may be. We were sometime lovers, sometime haters of one another, but always haters of repression and Elizabethan frippery. If your spying got you killed, Kit, your love of controversy sparked it — yea, incited it.
Kit: Incited? Poor choice of words, methinks. Edward the Second was first performed five weeks after my death; so that play, at least, retained its bite.
What is it you like most about the other person?
Kit: Like about Will? His soft white skin, his ample buttocks — his mobile mouth, empowered tongue, and nubile breasts.
Will: Kit means he adores my ear for language, my deeply probing artist’s soul, and my knack of staying out of trouble whilst I slip and slide among the rich and reprehensible at Court. Do recall I’m not the one who ended life with a bodkin thrust deep in that eye so like a doe’s.
What is it you hate most about each other?
Will: We said that. But, since you ask for more: his blasphemy and his need to fill his pages with the ‘vile heretical conceits’ that sent him to trial before the Privy Council.
Kit: We told you that, and, like the Privy Council, you’ll acquit me on the grounds that truth itself can’t be denied — for long.
Will: Christopher Marlowe, like your English Agent in the Massacre at Paris, I hate your overweening pride and lurid need to confess your days of secret agency under so thin a guise as that play. What were you thinking, to warn Elizabeth of agitators, a theme far too dangerous to survive? And how many refugees from the low countries died of your ideas planted in their tiny little heads?
Do you think your partnership will last?
Kit: Henry Sixth answers that, for my part. It’s what Shakey would have writ had he an education or a life made dangerous enough to enjoy. And the rest, you see before you: two souls forever doomed to one another’s company in the bowels of perdition, to count eternity’s every day, and nights more deadly still.
Will: Kit’s a good boy, a young fellow led astray by childish derring-do, and with a taste for the hurly-burly that snuffed his life before its time. But now I have infernity to reform him, and Satan provides the irritant around which we’ll secrete a necklace of pearls while we write as we’ve never writ before.
Describe the other person (max 100 words):
Kit: Will, go ye first, and light our path with your dulcet tones, so like a cello but a string or two short.
Will: Master Marlowe, my thanks for your recital, though it best be delivered later and revisited daily, as the Privy Council sentenced you to come before them every day: every day of the ten you had yet to live . . . Withal, I’ll try to answer the question: this Marlowe creature hungers for adoration and thirsts for justice, both of which were as precious scarce in life as they remain dubious in afterlife. Nevertheless, his talent is wider than the face of Paradise and tempered by a lifetime few would have dared to live — and I love him for his childish heart and indomitable soul.
Kit: My turn, then, to laud the Bard in terms free of spite and full with admiration: such a mind for the human animal has ne’er been seen on the black earth — not before he lived his quick span, or at any time thereafter. Although glorifying humanity may be an empty effort, he’s made them look into themselves, and find there what joy can be had, and give it value.
Describe how you think the other person sees you
Will: I think not, for safety’s bereftest sake.
Kit: As my better half insinuates, ‘twould take a three-part comedy of errors to do that story justice. So I’ll not begin it, lest it never stop till eternity runs out.
Tell us a little about your adventures.
Will: Then or now? Becoming famous in life holds no candle to sustaining afterlife. We’ve written three plays now for Satan, and suffered the attendant woes of those who know true ignominy. We wrote Hell Bent, and died in it every night. We wrote The Witch and the Tyrant, and fell afoul of its graveyard stench. We wrote another, Pirates in Perdition, and found the very sounding of its name an incantation to summon fiends and demons and all manner of unexculpated souls.
Kit: Read our plays writ here, to Abbadon’s order, or don’t. But be warned: you’ll risk your wizened hearts every time you turn our pages and let your eyes rub words too dangerous to speak aloud.
Tell us about your world – and your part of it.
Will: Hell is the Reformation come to grief, with no Third Act to cure it.
Kit: Hell is where the heart is, and seldom beats. But when it does, that heart beats as only love can. We are Satan’s personal poets, and no worse can befall a soul who yet owns an ear for courage or for rhyme.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Kit: Right here. Scoffing at evil while we glorify every flaw that makes man human. What else, in hell, is a playwright to do?
Will: Enough, Kit. The last line of this comedy is mine: We’ll be here as long as ghosts roam the world and fools rule it; as long as regrets power penance and singers keen their pain.
You can find Will and Kit in the following:
#Swiftsix #fantasy #talesoferana #Meetacharacter
Which book/world do you live in?
I live in the Jagged Peak mountains, they are in the world called Erana by those who live there. I am in a book? I know of books and lore. Then am I not real? – I feel real, and the mountains around me seem real. Is it, perhaps, that I am real here, and you are the myth, you are the imaginary?
Tell us about yourself: (Name, race/species, etc.)
I am an ancient elemental, a Goddess to some. Born of the mountain, and the pounding waterfalls when the world was young and the magic free. It was so long past I could not tell you how many years or centuries of your time. Once there were many of my kind – creatures of magic and wild places but the magic was chased away, corrupted and sickened and many of us fell, or hid, or faded. Now I am a myth, a legend told around the fire and a drop of blood here and there in lineages old and noble. The Plague came and everything changed. The land changed, the magic changed.
My myths say:
‘Many creatures were born when the magic was wild and free. Guardians of the wild places they would become, and when there were mortals to believe they would become gods; for those whose lives end often seek out those who endure. Acionna had been born of the rock, the water and the snow. She was a child of all and none, a child of the raw magic of the earth and streams. So it was the elemental walked among the rock and water, a goddess of sorts.’
My hair is white like the fresh-fallen snow, and my skin blue-black like the beloved mountain which spawned me. To you I would appear naked. Elementals feel no shame of their bodies, nor a need to cover themselves. Shame is a mortal emotion. But even elementals may love, and experience loneliness. For everything which lives craves company of some sort. I do not fear death, but I do fear this awful loneliness lasting until the mountain falls to dust.
I’m an adventurer – why should I recruit you to accompany me?
I have had my adventures, I have warred, and lost all save myself. I have walked the mountain paths and fought with monsters and men who would seek to kill every last trace of magic. Why should I wish to adventure again?
If I were to consent I would bring you elemental magic, of the oldest sort. The Power of the elementals, the Power of nature and the furious waters and mighty peaks.
Tell us about your companions? How do they see you?
I have none. My mate is long dead, now nothing but a statue and even I cannot undo the curse. My daughter is gone, fallen to wicked magic and I walk these peaks alone. Sometimes the trolls come and bring offerings but they see me not. For I know now that mortals and immortals should not mix.
What’s your most heroic exploit to date?
We fought the Sal tribe, with their wicked fae-bought magic. There were no winners in that war, but I cleansed the mountain of its taint of stolen and bargained dark sorcery. No more did the trolls bargain with the fae.
What’s your greatest failure?
We lost the war. The Plague came anyway and the land was blighted. My mate was killed, by allied tribe scattered and the Relic of the Moon was lost.
Where do you think you’ll be in a decade?
To an immortal time is nothing. I was born of magic and mountains, and with luck, I will fade when they do. The magic is hunted, it is purged, and it is tormented but magic cares not. Magic is and always shall be wild and free. The Order of Witch-Hunters are mortals, they rose and they will fall sooner or later. I have seen the tribes of men come and go like the seasons, but through them, magic remains. I concede it hides and shows itself in places of mystery and crafty ways but the magic is as old as the land and will not die completely.
Do you have a great love? (This could be a person/trait/item)
Talin Var – Hirik prince of the Var tribe of trolls. Is it wise for an elemental to love a mortal? No, usually it ends in tragedy, but love is a sister to magic and she finds her way when one expects or desires it not. Love cannot be controlled or denied. Talin was brave, strong and honourable and he gave his life for his people.
My love for Talin persists, even after so many years.
Links to book etc
The Moon on the Water appears in the Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends – this appears in Mythic Tales Box Set.
Mythic Tales can be found at the following stores:
Mythic Tales on Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/mythic-tales
Mythic Tales on Kobo http://bit.ly/2fI2Ons
Mythic Tales on Amazon http://amzn.to/2fFWnkI
Mythic Tales on Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2xLbdLi
Mythic Tales on I-tunes http://apple.co/2xMaolH
Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends
In a world where magic is illegal, and elves enslaved dare you hear the tales of old? Five tales of myth, magic, and monsters from the world of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles.
Audio editions narrated by Michael Legate
Amazon audio http://amzn.to/2hKoUoZ
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2j0DJnK
Amazon UK audio http://amzn.to/2iBbmM8
Audible UK http://adbl.co/2bxgVrw
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2i31N56
I -books http://apple.co/2hKO19z
More than Human will be on sale for only $5 until 11th November 2017.
Check out the links here: More than Human. 11 brilliant books in one bargain box – now even cheaper!
Review for Tempus Unbound
This particular Tempus/Sacred Band book is a little different – for a start, it’s all from Tempus’ point of view, and we have only Tempus himself, Cime and Askelon from the former books. Don’t let this put you off, there’s a host of worthies – not least Mano the mercenary from the future and bad guys to rival anyone in Sanctuary.
Called to Lemuria, a strange citadel between the worlds, and times it’s a chance to right wrongs if only you can work out WHICH wrongs. Tempus is lonely, alone save for his petulant and truculent god. Who is who, and who needs whom? That’s one of the questions asked as Tempus fights an old enemy in a new and unfamiliar world. The future is dark, and war will out. Strife is all and king of all. And so it was in his own time, and in this possible future. We see our hero struggle with technology he can barely imagine and his friends see power and courage they can barely comprehend. Gods, magic and tech fight as Tempus tries to save his sister, and save the world from his deadly sister. Choices are made, and regrets are put aside in the names of love and courage. Ideals are questioned, and truth is harsh.
As usual, the characters are supremely crafted, with a richness that brings emotion and a real sense of reality. In Morris’s world, anything is possible, and the reader believes it. These aren’t easy reads, they have a high level of violence, sex and themes that require the reader to engage their brain. But this, and the other Sacred Band/Tempus books are worth the time, and the brainpower. Rarely does a reader find a world so rich, or characters so enchanting, or writing so lyrical. The tempo of the book is a call to war, a call to stand for what is good, and a call to give all.
Heartily recommend this – even if you’re unfamiliar with the characters, and setting Tempus Unbound takes the reader on a journey from ancient times, to a future and it’s a thrilling journey and is a great intro to Tempus and his worlds.
Title: The Path of Water (Quests Book 1)
Author: Barbara G.Tarn
Main character description (short).
Hinrik is a warrior and a half-blood trying to find his place in the world. Interview wih Hinrik and Bellinda on author’s blog.
Hinrik survives the battle outside the walls of Moriana, battered and hurt. He drags himself to the River Ondan to put an end to his misery.
But it’s just the beginning of a new life of discoveries about himself and the world, a quest for his true calling in life. He is a half-blood and must learn what it means with the help of Bellinda the healer and Keneith the magic user.
The warrior, the healer and the magic user are all outsiders or outcasts looking for a place to call home in a hostile world, away from the aggressively expanding Varian and Blackmore Kingdoms.
A story of the northern kingdoms of Silvery Earth with magic and pain, loss and rebirth.
Brief Excerpt 250 words:
Hinrik’s eyes widened in shock. This couldn’t be. He was already dead and the underworld was underwater.
The man’s hand on his chest calmed his heartbeat. He looked sorrowful now.
“You are my son, Hinrik. And you are badly hurt. But the kingmaker is coming this way and he is with an excellent healer, she will help you.”
Hinrik closed his mouth and gulped. He still couldn’t believe all this was happening underwater. His mother had told him his father was a magical being, but he wasn’t expecting this! She’d been blamed all of her life for having a son outside of marriage and now, twenty-five years later, this… stranger walked, no swam up to him and told him he was his father!
“You are half-Waiora, Hinrik, that’s why water heals you. But what you’ve been through needs more healing power, and only the Genn can give you that. Go back to the surface, the kingmaker is making camp on the river shore with his friends, you will find him easily and they will help you.”
“I don’t want anybody’s help!” Hinrik’s scream was lost underwater. He didn’t want anybody to see him right now. He was naked, bruised and hurt. He wasn’t going to go back to the surface and meet people.
His father hugged him and gently rocked him as he burst into sobs. His tears were lost in the water and he was too weak to free himself from the unwanted embrace.
Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?
A personal, non-heroic quest to find one’s place in the world in the company of other “different” people.
is also in Quests Volume one http://www.unicornproductionsbooks.com/books/quests-volume-one-the-paths-of-water-and-air/
and the First Glimpse of Secondary Fantasy World bundle along with 11 other authors.
Title: Star Minds Next Generation
Author: Barbara G.Tarn
Genre: science fantasy
Main character description (short).
Shan-leo Shermac is the descendant of the last emperor, but he’s never going to sit on his grandfather’s throne. He’s not interested.
A sequel to Star Minds – the Trilogy, it’s the story of Shan-leo, Ker-ris’s son, now no longer an imperial prince.
Raised as imperial prince, Shan-leo doesn’t miss his former status. At twenty-two, he gets to define his destiny without being forced on a path traced by his family. Following his love for calligraphy, he discovers a black market of stolen manuscripts, which starts the adventure of a lifetime.
Aristocratic adventurer on a starship called “outlaw”. The next generation of Star Minds is out in the galaxy.
Brief Excerpt 250 words:
Shan-leo got out of bed, showered and dressed, grabbing his bandanna. He went downstairs and found his father and uncle in the living room, seated at the breakfast table side by side as usual.
Uncle Kol-ian saw him first and greeted him. “Good morning, birthday boy!”
“Good morning,” he answered as his father rose to give him a bear hug.
“Already twenty-two… where did time go?” he whispered in Shan-leo’s ear.
“You mean the past twelve years went even faster than the previous ten?” Shan-leo teased, giving the bandanna to uncle Kol-ian who wrapped it around his nephew’s arm with a smile. Shan-leo knew his father disapproved of his showing off the bionic arm – especially when he had on a tank top like today – but Uncle Kol-ian was very supportive, having had prosthetics himself.
“Shan-leo…” his father chided.
Shan-leo smiled at him. It wasn’t his fault if he’d been mind-controlled for all the time he’d been married to Shan-leo’s late mother and had missed most of his son’s childhood.
“I love you anyway, Father.” He sat with them to eat breakfast. “Even if you want to hide my beautiful prosthetic! Why don’t you ever suggest Uncle Kol-ian cover the scars on his back with synthetic skin?”
“Your uncle doesn’t go around bare-chested to show off his scars!” his father protested while Kol-ian guffawed.
Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?
If you loved the Trilogy and the Snippets or if you’re new to the Star Minds universe, you will enjoy this wandering prince’s adventures in space.
Title: The Carnelian Throne
Author: Janet Morris
Genre: allegorical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, political fiction
Main character description (short).
In a far and dystopian future, three rulers seeking to make truth of prophecy explore the “shores of which none are empowered to speak,” a forbidden continent where humanity no longer rules.
Brief Excerpt 250 words:
“Gate!” he bellowed over the storm, his dripping lips at my ear. The deluge had made us sparing of words. Under leathers soaked to thrice their weight, I shivered in spasms. Arms clutched to my sides, I stared into the rain. The driven sheets slashed me for my audacity. Lightning flared, illuminating the riverbank white. A moment later, the bright noise cracked through my head. The hillock trembled.
Over the gate danced the lightning. Its crackling fingers quested down thick-crossed slabs of iron, seared flesh. Emblazoned as they tumbled were those six-legged amphibians, their streamered tails lashing, scaled, fangful heads thrown back in dismay. I saw their afterimage: beryl and cinnabar, aglow upon the storm. Then their charred remains splashed into oblivion, spun away on the fast current.
“Down!” One man shouted, the other shoved me, and as I staggered to kneel in the sedges, the god that washed this land shook it, grumbling. I crouched on my hands and knees on the bucking sod, between them. Little protection could they offer up against shaking earth and searing sky, not even for themselves, without divorcing themselves from the reality they had come here to explore. And that they would not do.
Somewhere far off the weather struck earth again. We knelt on a fast-declining shore. On our right and left, steeps ascended, cresting in a plume of dense rain forest. In that moment of illumination the whole river valley and the gate set into the river stood bared of shadow. Six times the height of a man was that gate.
Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?
The Carnelian Throne makes you think as it explores the revenge of nature upon humanity once we have despoiled land and sea, and what our manipulation of genetics may mean for the future as the three foretold seek truth in prophecy where men no longer rule.
Kindle On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XDC8Y4K/
Hardcover on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Carnelian-Throne-Silistra-Quartet/dp/099775835X/
Trade paper on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Carnelian-Throne-Silistra-Quartet/dp/0997758341/
The Silistra Quartet on Black Gate Magazine: https://www.blackgate.com/2016/03/19/vintage-treasures-the-silistra-quartet-by-janet-morris/
About the Author: Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels. She wrote the bestselling Silistra Quartet in the 1970s, including High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne. This quartet had more than four million copies in Bantam print alone, and was translated into German, French, Italian, Russian and other languages. In the 1980s, Baen Books released a second edition of this landmark series. This third edition is the Author’s Cut edition, newly revised by the author for Perseid Press. Most of her fiction work has been in the fantasy and science fiction genres, although she has also written historical and other novels. Morris has written, contributed to, or edited several book-length works of nonfiction, as well as papers and articles on nonlethal weapons, developmental military technology and other defense and national security topics.
Today I am showcasing new erotica/fantasy novella Tales of the Golden Mask.
This steamy novella by Alexa Lynsey and Belle De Ver is on pre-release (release date 31 Jan 2017). It’s a tale of sex, desire and magic in a fantasy land. Currently, it’s only available on Amazon, but should be appearing on Smashwords and the associate stores in due course.
Most definitely adult rated for sexytimes;)
Sultry and sensual adventures to warm your cold winter nights or steam up your long summer days. Set in a fantasy world where nothing is quite what it appears, an old book and a strange golden mask bring power and pleasure.
Originally posted here – http://www.bookwormiespot.com/2016/04/interview-alexandra-archer.html
Although I did notice the blogger seemed to think my name was Alexandra Archer – no idea where that came from!
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m A.L Butcher (Alexandra), a British fantasy author. I have a background in sociology, history, mythology and politics.
Thus far I have three novels in the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series: think sex and sorcery – it’s adult (definitely) fantasy/fantasy romance, several short stories set in the same world in the Tales of Erana series, and a number of other anthology pieces, including one in Heroika: Dragon Eaters – an exciting new anthology of heroic fiction from Perseid Press.
I’m working on a novella for Tales of Erana, a second edition of The Shining Citadel (Book II of the Chronicles) and Book IV of the series. Hopefully there might be a short horror collection this year – but as I have been saying that for the last 4 years don’t hold your breath!
Which writers inspire you?
Lots – Alexandre Dumas, Gaston Leroux, Mary Shelley, Terry Pratchett, JRR Tolkien, Homer, Ellis Peters, Colin Wilson, Victor Hugo, Bram Stoker…..
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
Novels no, short fiction yes. I’ve written historical style fantasy with author Diana L. Wicker. Outside the Walls is a tale of love in the aftermath of war, and courage to do what is right.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I always get asked this – I don’t think one ‘becomes’ a writer. It’s like any other form of art either you are an artist or you’re not. Painters paint, musicians play and writers write – even if it’s just for themselves. How many songs have been written that have never been played, or stories written that are never read? Thousands, maybe more. Just because the story wasn’t published doesn’t mean someone isn’t a writer.
I’ve always been creative, writing poems and short stories all my life. Poetry helps me cope – it can be a very evocative form of expression. I think I was what’s called ‘an imaginative child’ – which translates as doesn’t concentrate because she’s off in some other world. I spent a while writing fanfic and adventures for games. The novels sort of morphed from a project I’d written for something and never used.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I have a full-time day job so I tend to write in the evening and at weekends.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I tend to see where the adventure goes. I’ve tried outlining but I usually end up doing something else entirely so I let the story take me where it needs to go. Sometimes it doesn’t work, mostly it does.
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
Not really. Readers will review – or not. Can’t make ‘em do it. As a I reader I don’t review every book I read, maybe 1 in 5. I try if it’s an indie author or I particularly liked a book, but not always.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Reviews are a particular reader’s point of view. It might vary wildly from the opinion of the next reader. Not everyone has the same tastes, looks for the same thing from a book or interprets a book in a certain way. Negative reviews happen, get over it. If an author wants a review then they must take the good and bad. A review should be honest, if a reader doesn’t like a book then they don’t like it.
As an author it’s nice to be told someone likes your work but reviews are for readers. If an author isn’t confident in their work how can they expect a reader to be?
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
My blog or my author profiles on Good Reads and Amazon.
Any comments for the blog readers?
Fantasy and folklore are at the core of our cultures – every culture had and still has folklore and myth, storytelling and song. Of course now there are movies, miniseries, books, e-books, audio, plays, radio etc. and so the scope for it is vast. Think about it – within, say even just British culture we have King Arthur, St George, dragons, fairies, ghosts, Shuck, giants, monsters, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy…. They may be stories we tell our kids, or were told as kids but they are still there ingrained in our culture. Look at the success of Harry Potter, Thor, Batman, Superman, Ironman, Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit… to a greater or lesser extent fantasy pervades and is very popular.
There are several places which claim to be Camelot, the Welsh flag has a dragon and dragonlore is big in Wales. We have the Giant’s Causeway, a few places called the Giant’s Seat, Giant’s Hill or whatnot. Of course some of the myths harken back to pre-Christian religions and beliefs, adapted Christian beliefs or simply a way for people to understand the universe. That’s part of the key though – it’s a way to understand the world – perhaps not our real world but pseudo worlds or alternate worlds. We follow heroes and antiheroes who are larger than life – gods, demigods, wizards, reluctant heroes, or even just the guy who is brave enough to step forward when the midden hits the windmill (thank you Frodo). We see part of ourselves in these heroes. It’s rarely as simple as good vs evil. Fantasy is an escape as much as anything else. For a while we find these people/creatures who slay the monster, bring the gifts, deal with the evil overlord – perhaps so we don’t have to.
Any feedback for me or the blog?
Erm….no I don’t think so.
This post previously appeared as part of https://jenniferloiske.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/author-interview-meet-a-l-butcher/ which featured last year to promote Heroika: Dragon Eaters
Dragons – why do they captivate us?
Dragons have been part of mythology for centuries. The Welsh, for example, have Y Ddraig Goch, the Red Dragon as the national emblem – a dragon passant (standing with one foot raised) on a green and white background. Although the currently flag is relatively new the mythology of the Welsh Dragon is at least fifteen hundred years old, possible even Roman. The kings of Aberffraw used it to symbolise their power and authority after the Romans left. The first recorded use of it to Symbolise Wales is from the 9th Century (Nennius – Historica Brittonum). Geoffrey of Monmouth linked the dragon to the Arthurian legends – after all King Arthur’s father was Uther PENDRAGON, and so again the dragon is intrinsically interwoven with British myth.
Henry VII (Henry Tudor) had a dragon on his coat of arms – the Welsh heritage again coming to the fore and during the reign of his son, the might Henry VIII the red dragon standard was often flown on Royal Navy ships.
In the Mabinogion the Red Dragon fights the invading White Dragon and his pained shrieks cause women to miscarry, animals to perish and crops to fail. The king of Britain (King Lludd) visits his French brother Llefelys and, on his advice, digs a huge pit, filled with mead and covered with a cloth. The Dragons cease their battle, drink the mead and fall asleep, still covered in the cloth. They are then trapped beneath Dinas Emrys in Snowdonia. Centuries later King Vortigern attempts to build a fort there, and every night the castle foundations are demolished. Wise men tell him to find a boy with no father and sacrifice him – to appease whatever is causing the problem. That boy is Merlin, who will become the Great Wizard, and he dismisses this advice and tells the king about the dragons. The two dragons are freed and continue their fight – the Red Dragon symbolising the people of Vortigern and the White Dragon the Saxons. The latter is defeated – thus these are the Saxons who failed to subdue the people of Vertigorn who would become the Welsh.
Dragons symbolise great power and strength. They are, perhaps the most legendary of beasts and to defeat one (or field one) was only the territory of the greatest of heroes. Chinese, Indian, Malayan, Japanese, Khymer, Phillipino, Korea, Catalan, French, Greek, British, Germanic, Scandanavian, Slavic, Romanian, Albanian, Pre-Islamic, Tartar, Judeo-Christian and Turkish mythology all speak of dragons, wyverns, wyrms or basilisks. The ancient Egyptians worshipped a crocodile named the Messah – which later became a dragon, and the sign of Kingship. Think about it – the Nile Crocodile is a supreme predator, a feared monster and little can best it. What better ideal for kingship – powerful, terrifying and unbeatable.
Then of course we have the symbolism of dragons as the ultimate evil – the devil or other wicked beast destroying the good Christians and being vanquished by a Christian Hero. On the other hand Chinese Dragons are seen as lucky.
Dragon literature is diverse – Christian mythology (as mentioned), Norse, Celtic, Beowulf, St George, to name but a few. And more modern writers such as Tolkien, Cindy Lyle, George RR Martin, Cressida Cowell, JD Hallowell, David Gaider and many, many more feature a dragon of one sort or another. Here’s a challenge – type Dragon in the search engine of Good Reads – I tried and there were over 100 pages of books with ‘Dragon’ in the title and that’s just the beginning. Movies, video games, table-top games and toys feature the most legendary of monsters. Dragons are all around us – some kind and benevolent and some much less so. We are culturally bound with Draco and his kind.
St George and the Dragon
This part originally posted here:
I am British, and Britain has a very rich heritage of myth and folklore; we have dragons, we have knights who slay them, we have mythical kings and magic swords, we have monsters inhabiting Scottish Lochs, we have fairies, pixies and ghosts aplenty, we have heroes and antiheroes. Yet many people scoff at fantasy, thinking it is simply elves, dwarves or similar; a genre read by geeks and nerds. Well yes, in part it is, but fantasy and folklore have been with us from the dawn of time in one form or another.
Let’s look at one of the best known English myths – that of St George and the Dragon.
Most accounts claim St George was born in Cappadocia, in what is now Turkey, of Darian origin. He enlisted in the Roman army, and quickly achieved a reputation for his physical strength bravery, loyalty and courage and he achieved a rank of Tribunus Militum, in charge of over 1000 men. He was martyred during the reign Emperor Diocletian in 303 AD in Lydda, Palestine, for refusing to persecute Christians, when Diocletion brought in edicts against what was then a reasonably small but vociferous sect. Including the burning of churches, the destruction of holy scriptures and the execution of Christians. George defended the Christians and their faith and was imprisoned, tortured and executed. There are various accounts of is martyrdom, some claiming it took seven years as God restored him to life three times. His fame was carried as far as Russia, with his head was carried to Rome. His emblem of the red cross on a white background was carried on the tabards and shields of crusader knights. It is also the flag of England and forms the red cross part of the Union Flag of Great Britain. St George is the patron saint of England, taking the role from St Edward the Confessor who is now often forgotten. His tomb attracted pilgrims, and his fame spread when Richard the Lionheart introduced his military cult to England during the crusades and the Battle of Acre, before this his cult appeared in Byzantium. John Cabot carried his emblem to Newfoundland and both Sir Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake flew his standard. It was also carried by the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower.
Jacobus de Voragine in his Golden Legends (13th Century) speaks of him in Silene in Libya. Another 10th Century account places St George in the fictional area of Lasia, ruled by a tyrannical emperor called Silinus. The area had a lake, inhabited by a venomous dragon, local inhabitants would feed it sheep to keep it passive, and then when these failed to satisfy it, children were chosen at random. One day the lottery fell on the king’s daughter, the king offers half his kingdom if his daughter was spared. This is an idea which appears in other mythology – the king – unable to defeat a monster offers his daughter and riches to a hero. St George, the knight, happened to be passing and wounding the dragon with his lance (and with God’s blessing) then capturing the dragon with the princess’s girdle allowed it to be led by the noble lady to the city gates, where St George converted them to Christianity and duly slew the dragon.
In some accounts he was the son of an English Lord, Lord Albert of Coventry and his mother died in childbirth. The babe was stolen by a ‘wild-woman’ of the woods (possibly a witch or gypsy) but he eventually outwits her and becomes a knight. Of course after the slaying of the dragon and rescue of the princess he married the maiden, returned to England and lived happily ever after… Although as with many legends another version states he faces a second dragon, in Warwickshire, kills it but subsequently dies of its poison.
Of course this is a religious myth, and many would say not fantasy as such – the dragon represents evil, and those who slay them champions of Christianity. He is also believed to have protected horses from witchcraft – one should hang a flint with a hole over the stable door with verse depicting him vanquishing a hag. But there is more than religious allegory, he epitomised courtly and chivalrous values; he was a warrior, saviour of damsels in distress and vanquisher of monsters. And some would say religion uses elements we class as fantasy, and ideas which appear in religion appear in myth and folklore. The two are intertwined. The more magical elements of the myth probably appeared after the Reformation, with the overtly Christian inferences stripped out by the Protestants and the more romantic elements of the story take the fore.
His heart (allegedly) lies in Windsor and was a favoured relic of King Henry V, who invoked him at the siege of Agincourt (1415), where the English were victorious against the French, but later kings have claimed his protection and as the patron saint of England his influence is firmly entrenched. There are other local English myths – including one in an Essex village where a dragon (probably a crocodile escaped from the king’s menagerie) was killed by a local nobleman – one Sir George Marney. The Uffington White Horse, in Berkshire, England (an ancient white chalk horse cut into the landscape) has a dragon myth. There is a hill named Dragon Hill, is claimed by Thomas Hughes in his book The Scouring of the White Horse (1859) to have been the site of the slaying of the dragon by ‘King George’. The bare patch is supposed to be where the blood of the dragon spilled, nothing will grow. Hughes cites another region, Aller in Somerset, where a shepherd tells of a hill which saw the death of the dragon and the burial of its slayer. The horse at Uffington is itself curious being linked with Alfred the Great, (878 AD) Hengist the Anglo Saxon leader, Celtic (100BC) but in fact has been in existence since the Bronze Age – around 1000BCE. Brinsop in Herefordshire also claims ownership of St George – its parish church has a medieval carving of the deed being done. The dragon apparently residing in the local ‘Dragon’s Well’ and the next village being known as Wormsley – ‘worm’ or ‘wyrm’ being an alternate word for dragon.
Heroika: Dragon Eaters
This brings me to Heroika: Dragon Eaters. This anthology turns the tables. Our dragons are not the nice sort. They are the alpha predator, the scourge of land, water and sky, they are true monsters. Only the bravest, most desperate or foolhardy take them on and fewer life to tell the tale. Dragon Eaters came from an idea from fantasy author Janet Morris – who wanted a ‘snake eaters’ type of anthology. The best of the best fighting the worst of the worst you might say. What was born was seventeen diverse tales from ancient mythic to futuristic and steampunk. They share a theme, albeit a loose one, and all types of dragons are slayed, vanquished and devoured. I suppose you could say the winners eat the losers. As you’d expect it is filled with blood, scales, fire and magic, swords, airships, flying beasts and so very much more.
Do you have a favourite dragon story? If so feel free to comment on it.