Interview with A.L. Butcher

Here’s my interview on the Platinum Journal

The Platinum Journal

What happens when a lonely magician finds companionship with a creature of the storm?

Storm-Born is one of five short stories in Tales of Erana, an enchanting anthology that links fun adventures, jealous magic, and strong, sometimes mortal characters. Seriously, what more could you want from a fantasy book?!

Without further ado, we bring you our conversation with A.L. Butcher herself!

tales of erana
1. Please tell us a little about your book. What inspired you to write this book?

The book I’d like to discuss is Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends. It’s a collection of short stories set in the world of Erana, a fantasy world of elves, magic and mischief where magic is forbidden but persists. The stories range from a tale about a wise old herbalist imparting her final knowledge to gods who love mortals and the strife that brings. Most of the stories take place before the events of the novels the book…

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Book Review – The Lore of the Land

The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends, from Spring-heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys  by Westwood and Simpson

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Lore-Land-Englands-Spring-heeled/dp/0141021039/

This is a fascinating book covering every county in England. Tales of ghosts, giants, heroes, villains, monsters, place-names, kings, witches and so much more. England has a very rich history of folklore – some of it very strange indeed! The accounts are about a paragraph or so each, interspersed with longer two-page spreads, images and at 900 or so pages is a hefty read. This is a must for any fan of English history, folk-lore, fairy tales, ghost stories, and the general oddness of folk.

Many of the counties had similar beliefs, some now seeming strange to us and some of the accounts are sad, some funny, and some just plain weird. Most are from the fairly recent or more distant past – when science was in its infancy and religion accounted for most people’s knowledge of the world. Yet it wasn’t clear cut as belief in god went hand in hand with belief in fairies, giants and dragons.  You’d be surprised how many churches were moved; how often the Devil tried to drown/bury or otherwise play havoc with a town; how many dragons and giants stride the land and how many ghosts, headless horses and boggarts haunt us.  This is a book which shows us the mythic past of England.

The book is long but a great resource, and a great book to dip into.

 

The Fish, the Fighters and the Song-Girl – Review – Fantasy

The Fish, the Fighters and the Song-Girl – Janet and Chris Morris.

This is another great collection of stories from the Thieves’ World/Sacred Band of Stepsons mythos seamlessly woven into a larger tale of what starts out as a simple journey. However nothing is simple where the demigod Tempus and his band of fighters is concerned, at a whim of one god or other as they are.

Some of the stories recount previous adventures, cunningly sculpted as a training tool for the younger Stepsons, and some are new, reminding the reader of why this series and this world are so exquisitely crafted. There is humour, albeit dark, love in many forms, loyalty above and beyond the norm, and of course a good helping of heroes – mythic and mysterious, dangerous and deadly but heroes nonetheless.  These are heroes in the mould of Odysseus or Beowulf, and the tales bring the reader closer to our mythic past.

The action starts early and does not let up, even for a moment, and the reader is drawn into the tempestuous world of war and its aftermath and is not for the faint of heart. This is gritty and many-layered with characters real enough to stay with a reader for some time to come.

Excerpt – Wizardwall- Sacred Band Fantasy

To celebrate the recent release of the author’s cut of Janet Morris’s Beyond Wizardwall she has kindly provided an excerpt.

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(c) Janet Morris – shared with permission from the author.

Fragile flesh, so hard to mend when so much of it is damaged.

And yet before this ravaged boy, who needs the god’s blessing to send him safe to heaven, Tempus cannot even find the words.

He simply kneels there.  Right now he’d gladly die himself, if only he could, trade soul for soul to the hungry gods, accept heaven or even hell in Niko’s stead.

He calls Enlil.  Gets no answer.  He waits, and calls again.  And listens again.  And hears nothing again…  No sound; no mercy from the storm god of the armies, his new ally.  So be it.

Then Niko groaned, the softest sound, and flinched.

Tempus put his hand on Niko’s sweating forehead and the boy tossed his head.  His mouth worked; he seemed to smile.

Niko whispered something:  “Riddler?  Is that you?” in a voice so faint that Tempus had to bend his head to hear it.

“Rest, Niko.  I’m here.”

Then:  “Don’t… worry.  I didn’t tell them.  This time… I didn’t tell them.”

And then Tempus’ eyes filled with tears and he roared to heaven:  “No!  I won’t accept this, greedy god!  If You have any power, any right to be; if You give Your faithful anything worth having, then take away these wounds, ease this pain, give me this one soul back!  I’ve never asked for such a thing before and, by my own word, if You deny me, I’ll never again lift my arm in Your service –”

Then he broke off, bit his lips, and tears blurred his sight – a blessing, considering what lay before him in the ravaged person of a boy he’d thought to love, and train, and save.

Years ago, when Abarsis had come to Tempus and sought death in his service, the Riddler had sent him off to heaven, built the pyre and said the rites.  And in that smoky farewell on a Sanctuary hillside, his eyes had smarted from the smoke and pain.  But Abarsis had needed only death; Stealth, called Nikodemos, still loved life.

And that cut deep into the Riddler’s heart, so that he rejected what he saw.  Even when he looked up and saw the shade of dead Abarsis, wizard-haired and wise and full of grief, as elegant as a ghost can be, reaching out his arms….

“You’ll not take him… not from me.  This is my boy – the closest I’ve ever come to one – and I swear by all the muck in heaven, I’ll do hell’s service if he dies unknowing, half awake.”

Then Abarsis coalesced, his satin skin and smooth cheeks as real as life.  In gleaming armor, with a silken smile, he knelt down on Niko’s far side.

And the ghost said gently:  “Riddler, don’t give up.  You who were my inspiration in life, don’t threaten or defame the gods.  We love you.  Your place awaits in heaven.  Someday you will claim it.”  The ghost of the Slaughter Priest smiled tenderly and put a gentle, almost opaque hand on Niko’s brow.  “Sleep,” whispered the ghost.  “Sleep, sweet fighter, your time’s not come if your will is strong.  Live, Stealth called Nikodemos.  Live to fight again.”

And then the shade of Abarsis, who’d formed the Stepsons and still brought them glory and a special place in heaven, looked again at Tempus soulfully:  “Riddler, give Niko water.  Give him solace.  Give him time.”

In Abarsis’ ethereal hand, a flask of crystal flickered into being.  Reaching for it, Tempus touched the ghost’s hand with both his own.  And they clasped hands there:  a ghost who had loved a man who saved him when he was but a boy, and a man who could not die.

“Give me your death, Slaughter Priest,” Tempus whispered.  “Take me up to heaven in his stead.  Death is sweet to me, and theft to him, who’s just begun to live.  I can’t bear this soul’s weight upon my heart if he’s maimed, or if he dies with witches hunting him and dream lords thirsting for his spirit.”

“Listen, Riddler….  I’ll say it once again and I must go:  have faith and we can heal him, you and I, who fell out of love with life.  If he loves it still, he’ll mend.”

Tempus felt the vial in his hand grow heavy.  As it did, the shade who was once called Stepson began to fade.

Tempus tried to clutch that hand again, stay the ghost, but it was too late.

When Abarsis was gone, the sun was wholly set.  Tempus sat upon the ground before a youth struggling for each breath he took as the night’s chill came, and darkness whispered that perhaps the ghost was right.

So Tempus opened the vial and, with his hand under Niko’s head, helped him to drink.

He didn’t know what else to do:  Abarsis had come and not taken Niko’s soul; said some words and left, leaving Tempus shaken, unsure of anything, distressed.

Somehow, he had to get Niko out of here, somewhere better for healing or dying.  But moving that tortured body would bring great pain.

The Aškelonian stallion butted him, as if to say, “I’ll gladly bear him anywhere,” but Niko’s wounds were worst just where a man sat a horse.

In the end, he carried Niko in his arms, the horse following behind him, through Ranke’s streets.  And everywhere he went, he laid curses upon Abakithis and the Rankan empire, wishing death and destruction upon it all.  When he came to the mercenaries’ hostel, where he and the boy were lodging, there was a chariot outside, its car worked with ancient skill, borne by horses whom his own steed greeted like brothers.

Inside, sitting sorrowfully in the anteroom, grit and trail dust on clothes and face, was the mageling Randal, supremely out of place among a score of hard-bitten fighters who jumped up when they saw Tempus and his burden.

As the mercenaries crowded around him, inflamed by the sight of Niko, the slight mage demanded, “Let me through!  Let me pass! He’s my friend!”

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/beyond-wizardwall-review-fantasymythicheroic-fantasy/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICAPn0E7NC0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTaDPNWAtHk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8FqgC4eK6A

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Band_of_Stepsons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempus_(novel)

http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-quotes-about-sacred-band-ethos/reference

Here are book links in chronological order, beginning with Beyond Sanctuary, the Author’s Cut, first book in the Sacred Band of Stepsons Beyond Trilogy.  Beyond Sanctuary  will be free March 7, 8, 9, 2014):

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Sanctuary-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FPDG

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Veil-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FIG0

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Wizardwall-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FH6G

http://www.amazon.com/Tempus-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-Tales-ebook/dp/B00BI175EY

http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00AMLKJAI

http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY

Here are Kindle Single links (shorter Sacred Band of Stepsons fiction):

http://www.amazon.com/Man-His-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B008MZ1T14

http://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Weather-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00BEJX8MS

http://www.amazon.com/MAGE-BLOOD-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B006ZK8PLU

http://www.amazon.com/Wake-Riddler-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B0087OSP0S

Here are the Audio book links:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/A-Man-and-His-God-Audiobook/B00BEJ7LI0

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Mage-Blood-Audiobook/B00CXVRDWM

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Wake-of-the-Riddler-Audiobook/B00AU7IQZE

Character Interview – Tempus – Fantasy

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s):  Tempus, called the Riddler, the Black, the Obscure, the Sleepless One, Tempus Thales, Herakleitos, Favorite of the Storm God, the Hero.

Age:  I’ve lived for centuries, in different countries, through different times, different dimensions.

Please tell us a little about yourself:  I am a mercenary of the storm gods, servant of the gods of war.  Sometimes I find my path solitary, but often I have warriors serving with me who also serve celestial purpose.  When I was young, I contested with a sorcerer to save my sister.  From this struggle came my curse and my immortality:  those I love are bound to spurn me; those who love me die of it; I regenerate any wound I take, except wounds of the spirit or the heart.  I’ve been thrust by gods and demiurges and even my sister from one world to another, so time for me is fluid. I was born in a lost place we called Azehur then, a philosopher-prince who loved the glory of truth above all things.  Now I go where the storm god of the armies leads, carrying him in my heart and in my flesh.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less:  Two meters tall, horseman’s body, eyes that show my age.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?  I have one; I wrote one; I live one.  The Sacred Band Ethos serves me most times.   At its core is this truth:  live by the Logos; fight shoulder to shoulder for freedom; honor those who die in battle.  In living I have found that character is destiny.  My character tells me this:  grab reality by the balls and squeeze.

Would you kill for those you love?  Without hesitation, I always do.

Would you die for those you love?  If I could, I would.  But death is denied me.  Once I offered to trade my immortality to save another, to no avail.  I live on, amid the strife on every battlefield, from war to war.  Some say no war I fight can be lost, no cause I champion fail, but that is mythos, not reality.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?  Strengths I have many; governing those strengths is my hardest task.  My weakness resides in loving too much, all my fighters, my partners, and the world the gods have made.  For untold years my weakness was my sister in arms, Cime; then for a time it became Nikodemos, my partner.  Love of life itself, lived with heart and soul, is weakness:  one must want neither too much to live nor too much to die.  Rage is power, yet rage is weakness. Only so much can be borne from men, so much from gods.  My greatest strength is knowing one simple truth:  in change lies all good, all rest.  Glory and wisdom are all around you, in every breath taken, yet no man can discover the limits of soul.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? I greatly prize my relationship with my Sacred Band of Stepsons, and with one special Stepson, Stealth called Nikodemos.  My relationship with my sister Cime, who was cursed with me so long ago, yet confounds my heart.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions?  Here too are gods:  in every creature free to breathe is proof of heaven. There is no animal that is not more noble in its way than humankind.  Horses are my greatest allies, friends and companions.  In a horse is nature’s greatest impulse, realized.  We breed some special horses in the Sacred Band:  Trôs horses, so fast they run holes in the wind; Aškelonian horses, created by the demiurge, who can run on water; we have even a ghost horse, who cannot die or be hurt whatever men may do.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them.  My Sacred Band of Stepsons is my family.  They mean the most to me.  Niko, my right-side partner, is the best of those, the closest to me.  As for my sister Cime …  some say we have no consanguinity, but we grew up together, fought a sorcerer together, staggered under our curses together; when we were younger and more angry, we wreaked great destruction together – her against sorcerers and me against human folly.  I have a mistress, Jihan, a Froth Daughter sired by Stormbringer, who begat all weather gods.  And I have a few sons and daughters, scattered here and there:  some of those are worth succouring, and so I do.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? I remember something from my youth, but you would not call those days my childhood, nevertheless, from earliest days I have taken the side of Reason against Unreason. I have spoken above of my encounter with a sorcerer, trying to protect my sister Cime, and the curses that fell upon both our heads because of that. If she hadn’t come to me to save her, would things have gone differently?  Would I have stayed where I was born, assumed my kingship?  Been content to philosophize and teach, but never act?  Probably not.  For war is all, and king of all… and all things come into being out of strife.  Unlike most, I know what gods and heroes are.  My curse and the warlike life I’ve led colors all: the battles I have fought; the dead I carry in my heart, from battlefield to battlefield, war to war. My battle with all sorcerers is not yet over; may never be.  Trying to help Nikodemos takes me back to my own young days of strife and fury.  The best men choose immortal glory in preference to mortal good. In teaching Niko, Cime and I have another chance to know the name of justice, to prove that opposition brings concord as we guide this hero, closer than any blood son to me, toward a worthy future.

Do you have any phobias?  No.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. When I am in battle, I am faster than any other upon the field.  If I am on a Trôs or other such horse, I can transfer my speed to my mount.  And, of course, any wound I take will heal, any limb regrow.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live:  Now when I can I ‘live’ with my Stepsons in Lemuria, a seaside island citadel where time does not pass as it does elsewhere.  From there, with Cime’s mystic powers, I can stage any mission, fight in any place or time.  At this moment we are campaigning somewhere in ancient Thrace, Pelasgian times, at the whim of the storm-god Enlil, who shepherds us through all things.  War will be in the mix of it, with the god guiding us.  My Stepsons are skirmisher light cavalry; we fight with edged bronze weapons, primarily, against what hegemonies challenge us or displease the gods.  But a man is a warrior because of mind, not weaponry.  We fight with weapons at hand, against whatever confronts us, and mostly where the ancient gods still war.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? Many.

If so do you follow one of them? I believe in admitting that all things are one.

Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour:  Our world, as you call it, all that lies within humanity’s ken, is full of gods.  We are servants of history and its storm-gods, sworn to the gods of war.  Enlil is the foremost of these for my fighters and myself.  The worlds we know are polytheistic, and many wars we fight are actually theomachies – wars between gods or among gods and sorcerous humans, who warp the fates of simpler men.  Once I warred in a nearly godless future, to bring them the means to repopulate their heavens; this we did for people dying from their paucity of belief, prey to the lusts and greed and fears of others no wiser than themselves. As for myself, I am a simple warrior-philosopher; my relations with gods remain pragmatic:  when gods reside in my flesh and in my head, then they control the battle tempo, not I. Is this religion, when gods and fates and worse walk the earth?  Or is it reality?

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?  I mentioned that I go wherever the gods send me.  I have been in Akkad, in Sumer; I have been in Chaeronea, in Nisibis, in Mygdonia, in Thrace.  I have been in what you call 20th century New York City, and to a future of dying oceans and a place there called Sandia.  I have been to the ends of the earth, to Bandara, to Lemuria, to the City at the Edge of Time, and to Meridian, the archipelago of dream and nightmare.  To Meridian, I suspect the Sacred Band will soon return.

Name and describe a food from your world.  A posset:  spiced wine and cheese or milk and barley, sometimes with nuts and sometimes not; served often with lamb or fish or ox-tail.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?  We have a surfeit of magic, sorcerers from every time and plane meddling with Fates and gods.  We have wars between wizards and gods.  We have sorcery to rival godhead.  Thus, because people believe more in evil than in good, it does.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.)  Our world, I once said, is an everliving fire, with portions of it kindling and portions going out. In age of bronze, we hear Plato’s musings about timocracy and democracy and tyranny, as well as the elusive republic. I have lived in earlier theocracies, oligarchies, and simple hereditary monarchies, often passed down through female lines.  Meritocracy I have seen but little of; Kakistocracy is, to my mind, a condition synonymous with governance by decree of any kind and especially with simple democracy:  people will choose those most like themselves, long before they’ll choose a person one bit better:  the foolish hate the smart and try to destroy them. This truth itself dependably produces bad government.

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?  Prejudice lives in flesh; the black dog hates the white; the roan horse hates the chestnut; in herds, mares of one color stick together.  How different, for humans?  People hate anyone different, and call them prey.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. The greatest myth is that wisdom is called by the name of Gods.  The legendary Gilgamesh sat beside the dead Enkidu seven days, until a maggot fell from Enkidu’s nose.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without?  Most of all, I need my war horses and the heroes who bestride them or drive them.  The items I need are loyalty, clarity, and justice.  The technology in my world depends on when you ask me:  sometimes we have bronze spears and war axes; sometimes we have iron flights and crossbows; sometimes we have fireballs, and armor forged by men and gods.  I have been where metal flies and chariots need no horses; in those places, man has become the slave of all he owns, afraid of having so much to lose – and thus has nothing.

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.  We have a populous cosmos.  We have demons and devils and fiends; we have were-wolves and were-snakes and men and women who can change into any creature at whim.  We have undeads and necromants; we have dragons and rocs and creatures part-man who lie deep in the seas; we have Froth Daughters and Fates and Erinys and sphinxes and naiads, and creatures who lived before the gods were born and spawned them.  We have pantheons of gods, most of whom are jealous and bellicose, and deadly when they walk the earth.  We have gods within and gods without. We Stepsons ourselves are the weapons of the gods, some say.

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention? That an intelligible light drives all things through all things, under a sun that is new every day.

Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.)  First, Enlil, greatest of the storm gods of heaven.  Next, Harmonia, whom we call Harmony, who is Justice, and sometimes walks among my Sacred Band.  Next comes Maat who tends the Balance. For eons, Aškelon of Meridian, demiurge, ruled over the seventh sphere, realm of dream and shadows, but no longer – but that is another story.  And we have the Logos, by many different names, who some call the will of Fates and some call Thunderbolt.

Please check out further posts in the next few days for Tempus and his Sacred Band.

http://sacredbander.com/

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/beyond-sanctuary-heroic-fiction-review/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/character-interview-number-three-nikodemos-fantasymythic/

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICAPn0E7NC0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTaDPNWAtHk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8FqgC4eK6A

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Band_of_Stepsons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempus_(novel)

http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-quotes-about-sacred-band-ethos/reference

Here are book links in chronological order, beginning with Beyond Sanctuary, the Author’s Cut, first book in the Sacred Band of Stepsons Beyond Trilogy.  

Beyond Sanctuary

Beyond the Veil

Beyond Wizardwall

Tempus

The Sacred Band

The Fish, The Fighters and the Song Girl

Here are Kindle Single links (shorter Sacred Band of Stepsons fiction):

A Man and His God

Wizard Weather

Mage Blood

Wake of the Riddler

Here are the Audio book links:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-FantasAudiobookd-His-God-Audiobook/B00BEJ7LI0

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Mage-Blood-Audiobook/B00CXVRDWM

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Wake-of-the-Riddler-Audiobook/B00AU7IQZE

Beyond Wizardwall – Review – Fantasy/Mythic/Heroic fantasy

Book Review – Beyond Wizardwall – Janet Morris.

5 Stars

The final instalment of the ‘Beyond’ series does not disappoint. Again it is an emotive read, Nikodemos suffers more than any other character and those scenes are heart breaking, yet not one scene or line is wasted, not one scene or line is out of place and reader has to continue reading to find out what happens. Does he survive? Does his maat return?  Are plots within plots the breaking of the Stepsons?  This is not a book for the faint of heart, but battle is not kind, nor gentle, nor pleasant. There is not simply the battle of man against man, but of magic and politics, gods and demigods and thus carnage reigns.

This book ties up situations brought to us in earlier books, explains some issues alluded to and sets the scene for other excursions with the Sacred Band. Relationships are forged, and broken, and trust stretches to breaking point with repercussions to come. An intellectual and complex fantasy, which takes the reader to the edge of tears and the heights of joy, an unashamed ride of epic proportions.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/beyond-sanctuary-heroic-fiction-review/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/beyond-the-veil-review-mythicfantasy/

Beyond the Veil – Review – Mythic/Fantasy

Beyond the Veil – Janet Morris

5 stars

Strife follows the Riddler and that is especially true here. With dissention among his Stepsons, traitors in the camp, silence from his god and civil war brewing this is a rollercoaster ride of emotion, mayhem and, of course, exceptional fantasy.

Some new characters are introduced, namely Kama, a feisty female warrior who is not all she seems. Better still there is a lot of character development here, particularly for Niko and Randall; at times heartbreaking and at times enlightening the story draws the reader in from the beginning. This is the middle book of the trilogy so it does help to have read the previous one, however the characters are so rich and the world so well-crafted it is not essential.

Character Interview Number Three – Nikodemos – Fantasy/Mythic

Welcome to Nikodemos, of the Sacred Band.

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s): I am Stealth called Nikodemos; Niko to my friends.

Age: How do you mean?  I have spent five years in the City at the Edge of Time, where time doesn’t pass, and lived now and again on Lemuria, where the Band is based, and where mortals do not age.  When I joined Tempus’ Sacred Band with my first partner, I claimed twenty-five years, not quite true, but I’d already been a right-side partner for nine years.  I have served sixteen years with the Stepsons.  So, thirty-seven, perhaps, as mortals count time.

Please tell us a little about yourself. First I should tell you that I answer your questions only at my commander’s order.  I’m overall second in command and hipparch, or cavalry commander, of the Unified Sacred Band of Stepsons.  I manage our prodromoi, our skirmisher light cavalry, as well as heavy cavalry.  I am a committed Sacred Bander, right-side partner of our commander, Tempus, called the Riddler, the Black, the Sleepless One, Favorite of the Storm God.  I am also a secular Bandaran adept, initiate of the mystery of Maat.  I’ve claimed Enlil when I have needed a tutelary god.  These days, the goddess Harmony calls me her own.  I’m not a man for words.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Tall, but shorter than Tempus.  Hazel-eyed.  Dark-haired.  Fit.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? The Sacred Band Ethos guides me.  I am still learning what the Riddler has to teach.  I strive for balance in all things.  Stepsons should want neither too much to live nor too much to die.  To serve with the Band requires unflinching determination; unwavering devotion – to one another, to honor, to creed.  I’m Bandaran at my core: venerating the elder gods, but worshiping only the god within.  The Band says, ‘Life to you, and everlasting glory.’  I don’t ask destiny even that much.  Only to be useful while I live.

Would you kill for those you love? I have.  I do.  It’s what I am:  a fighter.  I told you:  My mystery is maat, one of seeking balance and equilibrium, truth and justice. On occasion, I am justice incarnate, when justice must be dispensed with a sword.

Would you die for those you love? I am a Stepson.  So, of course.  If you are really asking about my being immortalized by Harmony, I will tell you only that what is between me and the goddess is ours alone, not yours to know.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? We are all weak, even those of us, like my commander or myself, who’ve been immortalized by some god or goddess or touched by sorcery.  I’m a Bandaran fighter.  I have a calling:  I take my strength, my mystery, my spirit and my skill out into the World and challenge its evil until it wears me down. Then I return home to Bandara or lately to Lemuria, restore my internal equilibrium, and do the same again.

If I must confess a flaw to you – and only the gods know why – it would be that I ask too much, not just from others, but from myself.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Ah, the women.  Everyone asks about how a Sacred Bander can love so many women.  It’s a soul that calls me, not the size of breast or buttocks.  But yes, I love women as well as men and horses, and the sun that’s new every day, and weather on the wind.  Without love, how can a man live fully the life that the gods bequeath?

My relationship with my commander is most important:  love without limits, wisdom beyond price; leadership is what he teaches, and commitment beyond measure.  I know I’m imperfect, still young in his sight, still balancing my rage.  More now than ever, since the goddess Harmony touched me, I need his guidance.

And there’s Harmony.  That this goddess favors me, gave me that great horse, is beyond my ken, but she’s goddess of the Balance, after all.

Above all else come my brothers of the Sacred Band.

And Randal, although he’s a mage and a shape-shifter, was once a partner to me and still like a brother:  not every man is alike in mind, and differences define us all.

Do you like animals? I love the Band’s Tros horses, and the horses we bred up in Free Nisibis, and the black horse the goddess gave me.  Love is vulnerability, you must understand:  love comes at the risk of grief.  I’m careful how much vulnerability I court.

Do you have a family? More than one:  The Unified Sacred Band of Stepsons; Bashir and the free men of Nisibis; the adepts of Bandara.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? Too much suffering, too much death.  Terror in war.  Slavery and sorcery.  And then a left-side leader who loved me and made a man of a foolish boy.

Do you have any phobias? Witches.  Warlocks.  Arrogance.  Stupidity.  Stupidity kills more than all else.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I was courted by the entelechy of dreams who gave me a charmed panoply forged in hell itself.  I was stalked by a witch.  The Greek goddess Harmonia is my current lover.  Pick any one.

Tell Us About your world

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. These days I live with the Band.  Lately we’ve been in Thrace.  When we’re not campaigning, we billet in Lemuria.    There the Riddler’s sister rules with unchallengeable power from behind its sheer seaside walls.  From there we fight where the commander and his woman send us, anywhere in space and time – past, future, other realms.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? So many.  What’s between men and gods powers all.  We fight in theomachy, too often:  Tempus is Favorite of the Storm God, so we fight a lot of wars.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? Where?  Sometimes, a world away.  Wherever Cime, the Evening Star of Lemuria, decrees.  To places decoupled from time and space, like Bandara or Meridian or the City, or Thrace.  We’ve been places others only dream of.  We fought in a future so far away that the seas were dead.  We fought in a place so primitive ancient beasts walked the earth.  Sometimes we slip through gates between dimensions…  I’m a simple fighter.  Ask Tempus and Cime these questions, not me.  We go where he leads, we fight where he puts us.

Name and describe a food from your world. Nisibisi blood wine, made with bullock blood.  Possets of watered wine with cheese and nuts and barley.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? You jest.  We fought a war for more than a decade against sorcery, thought we’d won it, but now fight the mages yet again, in other realms.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) An intellectual said we are timocrats.  What that means, I don’t know.  We fight for honor and our commander, not place or race national goals.  Dominant in our world are fools and kings and reavers and their sorcerous allies, who scheme under any name that will give them total power.  They try to seize control of everything and everyone.

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?Races vie for power.  People hate anyone different, then deem them soulless, then try to wipe them out.  Tempus says that, absent reason, men will fight over eye-color, hue of skin or heavenly affiliation.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. We have no myths, except perhaps the one that says no nation can lose if Tempus and the Band fight on their side.  We have truths and realities, sometimes long forgot, and often twisted, that fools think are myths, going back to the time of Gilgamesh.

What is the technology level for your world? Tempus and his sister have the Lemurian windows, to take you anyplace in space and time.  We use repeating crossbows; some forged iron, some poor steel, some bronze, but well forged bronze still bests iron.  We have naphtha and poisons, great ships and more.  But what difference:  it’s the man, not the weapon, that wins the day.

Does your world have any supernatural beings? Supernatural?  Like the entelechy of dreams?  Or do you mean the gods?  Jihan, the Froth Daughter?  Witches?  Sorcerers.  Some mainlanders say that we Bandarans do the same as sorcerers, just under another name.  Mystical creatures?  Of course.  Naiads.  Erinys.  We have devils, demons, fiends, snakes that change shape, giant vipers and rocs and eagles.  Don’t you?  We have zombies, vampires, necromants; even a ghost horse, Straton’s mount. And our warrior-mage Randal, one of our bravest fighters, can become a dog or an eagle when he must…

Author notes: Novels(s) in which Nikodemos appears.

Beyond Sanctuary (1985), (2013), Janet Morris http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Sanctuary-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FPDG

Beyond the Veil (1985), (2013), Janet Morris http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Veil-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FIG0

Beyond Wizardwall (1986), (2013) Janet Morris http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Wizardwall-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FH6G

Tempus (1987), (2011) Janet Morris http://www.amazon.com/Tempus-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-Tales-ebook/dp/B00BI175EY
City at the Edge of Time (1988), Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Tempus Unbound (1989), Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Storm Seed (1990), Janet Morris and Chris Morris

The Sacred Band (2010), Janet Morris and Chris Morris http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Band-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00AMLKJAI

The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl (2010), Janet Morris and Chris Morris, http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2

Nikodemos  also appears in Morris & Morris Sacred Band of Stepsons stories set in the Thieves’ World shared universe, including:

“Wizard Weather,” Storm Season, Ace 1982

“High Moon,” Face of Chaos, Ace 1983

“Hell to Pay,” The Dead of Winter, Ace 1985

“Power Play,” copyright (C) Janet Morris, Soul of the City, 1986

“Pillar of Fire,” copyright (C) Janet Morris, Soul of the City, 1986

Author name:Janet Morris

Chris Morris

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