Dirty Dozen Author Interview T. M. Lakomy – Fantasy

I’m pleased to welcome back author Tamara Lakomy, who visited us in February and March with her new book.

Author name: T.M Lakomy (Tamara Lakomy)

 What first prompted you to publish your work? The characters have been germinating in my mind for years, I was always enamoured with ancient religions, specifically how they mirrored each other.  The insatiable desire of humanity for a messiah has influenced civilisation to a much larger extent than we believe. The desire to believe we are god’s children and precious souls is the core of our religious identity, and I wanted to challenge the blind dogma.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Not getting carried away with delving deep into the characters back stories and anecdotes, it is difficult not to fall so far in love with your characters that you could abandon the plot just to discover them further.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? I think it is very important for authors to support each other, because authors understand how hard the process is, and how much love and labour we have bled into the process.

Sort these into order of importance:

Great characters

Good plot

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I have immersed myself since I was young in the old folklore and my academic archaeology studies merely furthered my curiosity.

At the wilder ends of my studies, the process of decomposition of a body, as in my second book I tackle necromancy magic.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? In my culture storytelling has been the backbone of our society.  It has been the passed down wisdom and storytelling that has kept the spirit of my people alive through conflict, colonialism and revolutions.  Stories bear the collective memory and moral code of a people.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Galadriel.  I would have done more to mitigate against Sauron in the early stages.  To be the voice of reason in Feanor’s life.

What is your writing space like? Cats lounging around happily, plenty of white wine, fluffy cushions and a view onto our garden. A desk littered with books and all sorts of random stuff.

Tell us about your latest piece? Sol Invictus – The power struggle between the Cult of the Sun King, seeking Apotheosis; man becoming God, aided by his faithful followers the Silver Brigade, to find his soul a vessel and the Shrine; the indigenous tribal magicians whose hoarded relics hold djinns powerful enough to thin the veil between life and death, holding the key to the forbidden necromantic Arts.

The impediment to the Sun King’s plan is the enigmatic Narya, a crime lord who forsook her guild education and the Shrine’s protection, shrouding her identity in mystery, and Maxilan the deadliest lieutenant called also the “White Devil”. Maxilan discovers his draw to Narya to be the fulfilment of his destiny; also his demise, resulting in him facing the reality of his purpose, the eugenics program that created him.

What’s your next writing adventure? Voice of the gods.  As a writer I have pushed myself to my limits.  I think it will be the most controversial work I have written.

Is there a message in your books? To encourage people to delve into their subconscious.  I am questioning the roots of people’s beliefs and the identities that are predicated on those dogmas.  Institutions and morality codes are built around creeds that have evolved from far more ancient sources.

How important is writing to you? It keeps my sanity in a world that does not make sense to me.

Bio

I am T. M Lakomy (Tamara Lakomy).  I was born in London, but grew up as a tribal girl in a North African repressive regime. I spent my childhood between the slums of Mellasine and the affluent neighbourhoods in Tunis.

I studied archaeology and became enamoured with the shamanistic practices of indigenous people.

I am an author and poet who seeks to challenge our notions of reality, and see life with a different perspective.

I work in East Africa with indigenous tribes studying the origins of mankind and the salient golden thread in the tapestry of humanity’s beliefs.

 

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RedFernManor/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15558568.T_M_Lakomy

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Shadow_Crucible

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Crucible-Blind-God/dp/1590794141

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-shadow-crucible-t-m-lakomy/1124245404?ean=9781590794142

 

 

Book Spotlight – Rogue- Tonya Coffey- Fantasy #Bookspotlight

Title:        ROGUE

Author:    TONYA COFFEY

Genre:   FANTASY

Main character description.   A WARRIOR, SISTER AND A VALKYRIE

Synopsis:

CLYTIE, A VALKYRIE, FINDS HERSELF QUESTIONING ODIN’S ORDERS WHEN PSYCHE COMES FOR A SHAPE-SHIFTING PANTHER, STORM. HE RESCUES CLYTIE FROM A GIANT AND SOMETHING INSIDE OF HER CHANGES. A SPARK IGNITES, TRIGGERING AN EMOTION VALKYRIES ARE FORBIDDEN TO EXPERIENCE. FOLLOWING HER NEW FEELINGS, SHE TURNS HER BACK ON ALL SHE KNOWS TO BE WITH STORM. HOWEVER, SHE KNOWS IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE ODIN PUTS A PRICE ON THEIR HEADS.
ODIN FURIOUS WITH HIS VALKYRIE FOR DISOBEYING HIM, AND PROVING THE WELL RIGHT, ACCEPTS THE WAR IS COMING AND CLYTIE WILL BE THE GODDESS WHO DETHRONES HIM, UNLESS HER SISTER STOPS HER FIRST.

Brief Excerpt 250 words:

THE VALKYRIE STOOD SILENTLY IN THE SHADOWS. HER VIOLET EYES PEERED THROUGH THE NIGHT, VIGILANTLY WATCHING FOR THE MOVEMENT OF HER PREY. THE CRUNCH OF WEATHERED BRANCHES, UNDER THE FOOT OF A HEAVY CREATURE, CAUGHT HER GLARE. THE SHADOWS WEAVED IN AND OUT OF THE DARKNESS, OPENING FOR A FIGURE TO PULL FROM THE CLUTCHES. THERE YOU ARE.

THE VALKYRIE’S SLIM FINGERS GRIPPED THE LEATHER HILT, READY FOR THE BEING TO STRAY IN HER PATH. THE STEPS GREW INTO THUMPS CAUSING THE EARTH BENEATH HER BOOTS TO SHIVER. THE BEAST SLICED THROUGH THE MOONLIGHT WITH HIS MASSIVE FORM. A BALD HEAD WITH A GROTESQUE SCAR WHICH WRAPPED HIS SKULL FROM MOUTH TO EYE AND A SIX-FOOT AXE WAS CASUALLY TOSSED OVER HIS BROAD SHOULDER.

THE SIGHT OF THE AXE MADE HER WINCE. I DO NOT LIKE THOSE. IT WAS AS LONG AS SHE WAS TALL. SHE NARROWED HER EYES AT THE BEAST, REFUSING TO LET IT WIN. SHE WILLED HER HEART TO STEADY, AS HE MOVED DIRECTLY INTO HER PATH. SHE DREW HER BLADE FROM THE LEATHER SHEATH ATTACHED TO HER BACK AND ATTACKED.

rogue

 

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

IT’S AN EPIC FANTASY ABOUT A GIRL WHO WANTS TO DO HER DUTY AS A VALKYRIE BUT FINDS HERSELF CONFLICTED WHEN A SHAPE-SHIFTING PANTHER CATCHES HER EYE.

Links etc.  Rogue on Amazon

https://www.goodreads.com/TonyaCoffey

coffeytonya.wixsite.com/tonya-coffey

 

#Bookspotlight #fantasy

Monsters and Myth – Dragons

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 

http://www.amazon.com/HEROIKA-DRAGON-S-E-Lindberg-ebook/dp/B00VFVCQRS/

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.

Sources: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofWales/The-Red-Dragon-of-Wales/

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:

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/fantasy-its-everywhere-part-2-st-george-and-the-dragon/

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.

http://www.royalsocietyofstgeorge.com/history_of_st_george.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dragons_in_mythology_and_folklore

http://www.sacred-texts.com/lcr/fsca/fsca16.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_George_and_the_Dragon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Legend

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dragons_in_literature

 

 

 

Monsters and Myth – part 1 – Cyclopes

Fantastical creatures have featured in mythology and storytelling since people first sat around the fire and told of great beasts and wicked monsters. They are at the core of our cultures, from great dragons, to hydra, to sea monsters, mermaids, fairies and pretty much everything you can think of and some you wish you hadn’t.  Many  were humanoid, some carrying more arms, legs or eyes and some less. Some weren’t – lizards,  half birds, half lions, creatures which look they they are made up of left over bits of other animals. The unnatural zoology was vast.

Of course many still feature in modern fantasy – dragons, fairies/feyfolk, unicorns, shapechangers and more.  Paranormal fiction is extremely popular – with the vampires/werecreatures etc as the heroes. But what of the lesser known creatures? The nightmare of our ancestors?

The ancient Greek heroes fought and slayed everything from Medusa, the snake-haired woman whose gaze was petrifying, to one eyed Cyclopes – the offspring of mighty Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, (Homeric tradition) or second generation gods – the spawn of Gaea and Uranus (Hesiod). They were giants, builders and liked to snack on mortals (and demi-gods) who strayed into their path. Some were famed for working for the lame god Hephaestus, and some such as Polyphemus were shepherds. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus).  Today I am going to focus on these creatures.

The Greek deities were a paranoid lot (with good reason for the most part) and the Cyclopes were imprisoned by Uranus who was afraid of their power. To be released again by the Titans and Chronos in order to defeat Uranus they were later imprisoned again as their power increased, only to be released by Zeus so they could help him overthrow the Titans. (Yes intrigue and double crossing was the staple diet of the Greek immortals.)

One eye had been traded in order that they may see into the future – but as such bargains often turn out – the small print was overlooked and all they could foresee was the day of their death.

Odysseus blinded and tricked Polyphemus, who had it must be admitted eaten several of the trickster’s friends – who in turn were trying to steal some of the giant’s provisions and had found their way into the cyclop’s den.

Getting the cyclops tipsy Odysseus thrust a burning, sharpened stake into the monster’s eye – then cried out his name was ‘No one’ or ‘Nobody’ (depending on the translation) so when the cyclops staggered outside crying ‘Nobody’ blinded him the other giants thought him mad.

Of course Odysseus being Odysseus couldn’t resist letting Polyphemus know who it really was once he was safely back at sea. Telling him it was ‘Odysseus, son of Laertes of Ithica who has blinded you’. This was not among Odysseus smarter plans as this particular cyclops was the son of Poseidon who was rather annoyed and send the great hero’s boat in a rather roundabout way home…

The story reappears in later myths – Virgil tells the story from the perspective of a seaman of Odysseus’ crew left behind (Aeneid) and Aeneas and his crew see the blinded giant and his companions and beat a hasty retreat.

Later mythological writers, including Ovid, speak of the love affair between Polyphemus and the sea-nymph Galataea – with a greater or lesser tragic ending (she loved another).  And Wilhem Grimm collected tales and retelling of one-eyed giants from Serbia, German, Finnish, Romanian and Russian mythology.

In the Renaissance composers brought the tales to opera. Giovanni Bononcini, Jean-Baptiste LullyJoseph Haydn  and George Frideric Handel composed works around the story of Polyphemus, Galataea and Acis, her lover (whom Polyphemus kills). Artists and sculptors too have used the cyclops and his tale as a basis for their work. Interestingly too the Scottish Rite Freemasons have Polyphemus as a symbol for civilisation that harms itself using ill-directed blind force.

Origins – Othenio Abel in 1914 argues the origins maybe from prehistorical dwarf elephant skulls – with a big central hole for the trunk, which of course would be gone by the time the fossil was found.

Cyclopia – is an uncommon but real condition is a ‘rare form of holoprosencephaly and is a congenital disorder (birth defect) characterized by the failure of the embryonic prosencephalon to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

Often the nose is missing or is non-functioning and appears ABOVE the single eye-socket. The foetuses usually abort or are still-born, however some living cyclopic animals have been recorded, although they rarely survive for long. Causes can include toxins such as cornlily or false hellebore Veratrum californicum – which resembles Hellebore, which is given as a natural remedy for vomiting, cramps and poor circulation. White Hellebore, which was cited by Hippocrates, also contains teratogens  which can cause the deformity. Genetics too can cause the condition – the Sonic the Hedgehog gene regulator (yes really) can suppress a particular protein needed in eye development in early embryos and cause the mutation.

So misunderstood fossils or deformities could have created a myth, which in turn became the story of one-eyed giants.

Sources:

http://www.theoi.com/Gigante/GigantePolyphemos.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Cyclopes/cyclopes.html

http://www.greek-gods.info/greek-heroes/odysseus/myths/odysseus-polyphemus/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus)

Mutants: On the form, varieties and errors of the human body. (c) Armand Marie Leroi 2003

The Odyssey of Homer (various translations)

 

 

Greek and Roman Mythology – Course – Review

Greek and Roman Mythology – Coursera

Greek and Roman mythology is fascinating, in many ways it is at the core of many Western traditional stories.  Even today we are enchanted by such tales of heroes, monsters, errant gods, and the goings on of those far removed and yet ever close. Hercules, Odysseus, the Trojan horse, Oedipus, and much more. The terms have fallen into modern usages – An odyssey denoting an epic journey, a Herculean task, a Trojan horse for a gift which is not all it seems.  Such tales spawned others – and in many ways influence modern heroic fiction.

I’ve studied Classics in the past – although it was more for the historical perspective and so this course really appealed.  I’ve also studied with Coursera – an online organisation which offers courses from a variety of sources, including the University of Pennsylvania who provide this particular course.

Myths intrigue me, I read a lot of mythic fiction, and write it too in my Tales of Erana series.

https://www.coursera.org/course/mythology

This is what the Coursera site says about the course ‘Myths are traditional stories that have endured over a long time. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they a set of blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? This course will investigate these questions through a variety of topics, including the creation of the universe, the relationship between gods and mortals, human nature, religion, the family, sex, love, madness, and death.’ (Coursera Website)

Does the course deliver? Yes it does. The tutor Peter Stuck is engaging, obviously knows his subject and is enthusiastic. The course is presented through a combination of videos, reading materials, quizzes, two essays and some discussion forums. The course recommends 10 hours a week of study – in truth it’s probably slightly more as some of the reading is quite long.

The subjects covered range from how the myths were perceived, the notion of pietas (duty, honour, loyalty) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietas to religion, to food, to concept of the hero, what it meant to be a man in that society, the notion of how to treat one’s guests (or not) and familial ties. The reading includes The Odyssey – possibly THE epic adventure of antiquity and one of my first introductions to ancient Greek literature during my Diploma in Classics – so this was a very welcome re-read; The Aeneid – the tale of Aeneas and the struggle of the survivors of Troy and their quest for a new homeland – which lead (apparently) to the founding of Rome. Julius Caesar and Augustus traced their ancestry back to Aeneas and through him back to his immortal mother Venus; to the Oresteia (the tragic tale of Agamemnon after he returns from Troy); Oedipus the King (the tragic play so famous in which fate and prophecy play such a terrible role). Plus several more.

The video lectures made me think about some of the books in a new way, by focusing on aspects I may not have initially seen, and seeing the greater whole of the stories. Homer was incredibly influential and the later works often copy (or attempt to) his style and incredible narrative versatility. The books cover a period far removed from ideals and ideas of today, yet still something resonates – the challenge, the struggle and the emotions of the characters, the fight to be something more, and in some cases to survive. Of course much is different – Hesiod’s Theogony is not favourable to women, there are of course slaves in these societies, the gods are many and walk with humans, often begetting offspring in one form or another, and playing with the lives of mortals, ritual is important and there is violence – a lot of it. Actually that’s not so different from today and for much the same reasons – greed, honour, territory, religion etc.

These are not books for the faint hearted, or for those who are shocked by violence, sex, double crossing, murder, betrayal and such like. Themes in fact which tend to pervade our media – watch any soap opera and these themes are there in abundance. The influence of these authors and their work is monumental and this course helps to show why. Why this works need to be preserved and celebrated and why these cultures are so important to our own. These books are real heroic fiction, they are at the core of heroes and monsters, and of fantasy as we know it.

So, you ask, is it expensive? No it’s free. You can pay a small fee and get a certificate of completion (assuming you’ve done all the quizzes to an acceptable standard and one of the assignments) but it can be completed simply for the pleasure of it.

Is there anything I didn’t like? I did find the workload quite heavy – with work, writing, and family life commitments can be difficult to find the time and energy to put it but others may find that easier. I also didn’t use the forums much, although that was personal choice.

The course does not require any prior experience in the subject (but it helps) and assumes a level of literacy and intelligence in order to discuss and appreciate the themes and topics.

Would I recommend this? Yes, without a doubt to anyone interested in mythology, Greek and Roman literature or religion, fans of heroic fiction, and historians of the period.

#Mythology #Coursera #HeroicFiction #Fantasy #GreekandRoman

Giveaway! Heroika: Dragon Eaters – win a free copy

We are delighted to announce a chance to win a copy of Perseid Press new release Heroika: Dragon Eaters.  The competition runs until 21st JUly 2015.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dragon Eaters by Janet E. Morris

Dragon Eaters

by Janet E. Morris

Giveaway ends July 21, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The art of dragon killing: Dragons have been eating humans for centuries. Now heroes throughout history stalk their legendary foe. Learn how to hunt, kill, and eat the wild dragon. Never before has revenge tasted so good. A literary feast for the bloody-minded. In Janet Morris’ anthology on the art of dragon killing, seventeen writers bring you so close to dragons you can smell their fetid breath. Tales for the bold among you. HEROIKA 1 — DRAGON EATERS, an anthology of heroic fiction edited by Janet Morris, features original stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, S.E. Lindberg, Jack William Finley, Travis Ludvigson, Tom Barczak, JP Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, A.L. Butcher, William Hiles, M Harold Page, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Beth W. Patterson, Bruce Durham, Mark Finn.

Review – Theogony – Hesiod

Theogony – Hesiod.

3.5 stars.

3.5 stars.
(4 for value – ancient text and useful insight)
(3 for readability)
(3.5 for interest)
(3 for technicalities – formatting)

I’m not totally sure how to rate this – as an ancient work (8th Century BCE) it’s importance is supreme. It’s a great insight into the pantheon of the Ancient Greeks and their religion but it must be said it is NOT an easy read. This is partly as it is so old – these deities are alien to most of us, with unfamiliar names, roles and lives, if that is the right word, which are also rather fantastic. Mostly it reads as a list – so and so begat so and so. There’s a lot of that – sex is everywhere, as is violence, intrigue, deception, family squabbles and much more. From the modern view all the incest, patricide, misogyny and so forth is hard to deal with – although pretty standard for ancient religious text. The stories of Prometheus, of Earth and Sky and Earth’s revenge, plus the birth of Athena are the most outstanding accounts. In many ways it reads like a modern soap opera.

I’d say it is a great book for background information to the gods and supernatural beings of the period, but as a straight through read, or an adventure such as the Odyssey it is not nearly as exciting. The misogyny of the text is obvious – although to some extent reflects the ideas of the time.

The formatting on this version was a bit suspect – with large gaps, words running into one another and repeated phrases, which MAY have been intentional but maybe not. After a while it became fairly hard to read because of this.  Some more notes to this particular version would be very useful.

Overall – I’d say a useful reference for study if one wants background into the deities of the Odyssey or Iliad, but not an especially interesting one – at least in this particular translation.

A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Janet Morris

As today is a special day – the release of the anthology itself I’d like to welcome back Janet Morris.

Over to you, Janet…

Character questions :

*Who are you? I am Penthesilea, queen of the Azzi lands, what you would call an Amazon.  I have two breasts, by the way, as do my sisters.

Why are you embarking on this quest? This dragon hunt is meant to rid Paeonia of this plague of dragons, and that feat, if successful, will keep them from overrunning Azzi-Hayasa, where I rule. But I am here not for dragon claws to wear around my neck, or for the glory of beating these self-proclaimed dragon eaters at their own game,  but because when hunting I killed my beloved sister, Hippolyta. Therefore,  my quest is for honorable death in battle, not scaly trophies.  I can find what I seek here, if the gods allow. If not, I’ll find it on the beach at Ilion, where I’ve been invited to join in the defense of Troy against the Danaans.

*Tell us about dragons in your lands. Dragons are fearsome legged serpents, pestilential, destroyers of flocks and crops.

What is the political system of your land?  I am now queen of the Azzi lands, ruled by women since Aegaea’s time.  I am daughter of Ares and Otrera, and with my sisters we rule and defend our people – mostly women; we keep only the best of men as breeding slaves; when we bear male children, we send them to their fathers or expose them on hilltops. Homer and his ilk call us Antianeirai (‘those who fight like men’). We tamed the first horses and invented the use of cavalry forces.

Do you have a family? My sisters born were Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe, all of us daughters of the god of war and Otrera.  We Azzi warrior women are dwindling in numbers. Soon we will be gone. Some say I am the bravest queen and warrior ever among us, even , but now I am the most bereft.

What is the best way to kill a dragon? The best way to kill a dragon is band together to stab him in the eyes or through the throat. Since I’ve come here I’ve slain a dozen, along with the other dragon eaters gathered for this competition.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero? A hero is one who so distinguishes herself in battle that she dies honorably, or lives while she destroys a mighty enemy for the pleasure of the gods and the safety of weaker mortals.

Author questions: Heroika: The Dragon Eaters is a dark heroic fantasy – as all heroic fantasy was by definition dark until recent times.  The heroic model fascinates me:  moderns call it species altruism, but heroic models and heroic ethos have been with us since the earliest days of humanity. In writing heroic fiction and heroic fantasy, I am delving into the commonality of humans at their best – and sometimes at their worst. Many great heroes of literature and history have been deeply flawed, yet their heroism made them role-models to generations.

How much research did you need for your story? I always research everything I write; even if I am writing alternate history or science fiction, or a book that is primarily allegorical, I am human.  I can only write about what humans know about. And what humans know best is the testing that defines them and makes them unique.  Our human condition, which always ends in death, is the song we all must sing. Learning about how others perceive life and death, eschatology, if you like, is a study I find endlessly fascinating. And, as a writer, I take the paths that other writers have taken – research historical models on which to build fantastical characters, or recount the stories of human history in my own way. The more I learn, the more I realize that history and fantasy are two sides of the same coin; for me, heroic fiction is the edge of that same coin.

Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel? I enjoy conceiving and writing for anthologies that have a defined nature and/or objective.  The limitations of short fiction then become its greatest strengths – the writer as hero answers the call to duty:  to tell a story that might well be true, or might once have been true, or might someday be true.

What other novels/short stories have you written?  I have written books and stories about heroes who are historical, mythological, legendary, and fantasies of my own creation. These include the Sacred Band of Stepsons series, the heroes in Hell series, the biographical novel of Suppiluliumas 1 of Hatti, I, the Sun, the Silistra Quartet, Outpassage, as well as stories for Thieves’ world, the iconic fantasy shared-universe into which I brought legendary and historical characters.

What are you reading? King Lear, by William Shakespeare; The Western Canon by Harold Bloom.

How important is the fantasy genre to our society? The fantasy genre goes back as far as the legend of Gilgamesh and comes with us on our journey of mental and spiritual evolution. Every great writer has written fantasy or prose with fantasy elements, which help us explore our humanity.

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself: I like music, literature and horses better than people.

Tidbit: Both the stories written by Janet Morris and Chris Morris for Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters are historically/mythically based.  The First Dragon Eater is a synthesis of the various versions of the Hittite and Hurrian Illuyankas myth rendered in story form – and arguably the earliest myth about dragons (with the possible exception of references in Gilgamesh, which were not actual separate myths). The second story, “Bring Your Rage” is based on Rhesos of Thrace and Penthesilea as they appear in Homer’s Iliad, and closely related to the authors’ novel in progress, Rhesos of Thrace.  Rhesos himself is closest related to the ancient hero cult, Heros equitans, and the various early carvings in what was once Thrace.

Author website/blog:

Twitter: @uvmchristine

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris?fref=ts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/8161482-heroika-dragon-eaters-heroic-fiction-fantasy-myth-new-release

Amazon page:  http://www.amazon.com/HEROIKA-DRAGON-EATERS-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00VFVCQRS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1432068794&sr=1-1&keywords=heroika+1+dragon+eaters

 

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A Week with the Dragon Eaters – William Hiles

Today I welcome William Hiles for Heroika Week.

Character questions:

*Who are you? Captain Jackson Turner.

Why are you embarking on this quest? Revenge. For the killing of my men. For the devastation wrought by the beast.

Where are you from? (Tell us about it.) From Morgantown, Western Virginia. Though my family were farmers and shop keepers, I managed an appointment to West Point, where I was eventually commissioned as an officer in the United States Army.

*Tell us about dragons in your world. One exists. I don’t know why. I don’t know how.  All I care about is killing it.

Do you have a family? I lost my family, a wife and child, to cholera many years ago.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero? No. What is a hero? That’s for others to decide. For me, it’s a matter of duty. To your men (or family). To yourself.

What is the technology level of your world? Mid-19th Century.

 

Author questions (choose from):

*Who are you? William Hiles

How do you define a hero? Someone who does what needs to be done, no matter the risk, for the benefit of others. Someone who performs a selfless action. Ordinary people who proceed with grace under extraordinary circumstances.

Why did you choose this world/era to write in? I’m a history nut. I love the challenges of bringing the past to life. I have a very special connection to military history, especially that of the United States.

Give us a couple of lines about your characters. Brave men who take a stand against an unimaginable horror, far beyond that of ordinary war. Former enemies, forced together for survival, who become brothers in a soul-searing crucible.

Heroika: The Dragon Eaters is a dark heroic fantasy – how do you define that genre? Dark heroic fantasy, to me, is a story of ordinary people, faced by extraordinary challenges, in a landscape that seemingly offers only obstacles or heartache. And yet despite this, these people rise to the challenges, overcome the obstacles, and ultimately succeed in bringing hope or peace or some fitting resolution to the story—even at the cost of their own lives.

How much research did you need for your story? Not much actually, having been a student of the era for many years.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Mostly pantser. How a story ends is usually what I need to know before I begin, everything else is a journey to that end.

What other novels/short stories have you written? Early in my career I had quite a few stories in small press magazines. However, most of my output in recent years has been articles relating to my work (video games). I’m now getting back to writing more fiction.

What book(s) are you currently reading? War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America’s First Frontier by John F. Ross

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself. I’ve kept a list of books I’ve read since I was 12 years old. I have over 1600 books on the list.

Tidbit:

This can be a Dragon-Eater recipe, interesting info about the world in which your story takes place, historical info, or somesuch.

Red Rain is set during and after a real American Civil War battle.  The first land battle of the Civil War, in fact, fought in the vicinity of Philippi, Virginia (now West Virginia) on June 3. 1861. Writer Ambrose Bierce did serve in this battle.

 

Author website/blog: http://williamhiles.blogspot.com/

Twitter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WJHiles

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10943148-william-hiles

Amazon page:

Bio:

William Hiles, is a former magazine editor, game designer, writer and artist, living in Round Rock, Texas, with his wife, son, and a menagerie of pets. He likes to ramble on about history, cooking, art, and writing. Although he has been accused of living in the past, he does not write with a mere quill. It has to be an Australian Black Swan quill.

 

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A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Travis Ludvigson

Today I welcome Travis Ludvigson and his character Ogier the Dane

Character questions:

*Who are you? Ogier the Dane

Why are you embarking on this quest? To support my commander and friend, Roland (and because the emperor Charlemagne has commanded it).

Where are you from? (Tell us about it) I hail from the land of the Danes, a place filled with mighty warriors, skilled craftsman and breathtaking fjords. I left my lands to seek out adventure and riches in foreign lands.

*Tell us about dragons in your world Dragons are a very serious threat. The dragon Nidhhog lives beneath the world tree, Ygdrassil, constantly gnawing at the roots, while Jorgumander, the world serpent, lurks in the depths of the sea, waiting for Ragnarok, when it will be free to do battle with the gods. Dragons are powerful creatures covered in armour-like scales and wielding wickedly sharp claws and teeth.

What is the best way to kill a dragon? If you kill the brain, you kill the beast. Of course, to do so, you must get past its claws, tail, teeth and flame and strike up close and personal. But what warrior doesn’t dream of facing such a challenge? It will be either a mighty victory or a glorious death.

Author questions:

*Who are you? Travis Ludvigson

How do you define a hero? Someone who puts their life on the line for another. Being heroic is about seeing someone in trouble and trying to help them, regardless of danger, recognition or reward.

Why did you choose this world/era to write in? The time of Charlemagne was full of warriors (Franks, Saxons, Danes, Norse, Saracens, etc), battles between religions, and a belief in dragons and the like was still prevalent amongst the populace.

Give us a couple of lines about your characters. Roland is one of the greatest fighters of his time. He is both a talented fighter as well as an inspiring leader who commands the respect of friends and foes alike.

Ogier the Dane is a massive warrior who serves Roland because he feels a kinship with him and admires his skills and leadership. But Ogier is a legend in his own rite. Statues of Ogier the Dane still grace the Danish landscape and it is said that when Denmark is in danger, Ogier will rise from his throne and draw his sword to protect the land.

Heroika: The Dragon Eaters is a dark heroic fantasy – how do you define that genre? This is heroic fantasy without the shiny, decorative armour and maidens in silk waiting in the highest tower for rescue. It is filled with sweat and blood stained leather, battle notched blades, terrible creatures and true, raw emotion.

What other novels/short stories have you written? Yare’ Darkness Bound and Iron Song are novels in the Nephilim Chronicles (I am currently working on the third book in the series). The first is urban/supernatural fantasy and the second is historical fantasy.

Unrelenting is a dark, urban fantasy novella.

What book(s) are you currently reading? I am currently reading The Bone Sword by Walter Rhein and The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu.

I also recently read Schade of Night by JP Wilder.

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself. I broke my nose in a full contact Muay Thai championship (although I still won the fight with a third round TKO).

Tidbit:

The indestructible sword, Durendal, wielding by Roland, is one of the most famous swords in history; second only to King Arthur’s Excalibur. The eternal sword is said to be embedded in the stone wall of the Chapelle de Notre-Dame in Rocamadour, France, where it can be seen today.

Author website/blog:

http://norseman73.wix.com/land-of-the-norseman

https://landofthenorse.wordpress.com

Twitter:

@TravisLudvigson

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/travisludvigsonauthor

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4272358.Travis_Ludvigson

Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Travis-Ludvigson/e/B00BNASEIG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1430185761&sr=8-1

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