Hell Can Be … Fun!

Weston’s Hell Bound- Hell can be fun!  First published in the web by Seth Lindberg: http://www.selindberg.com/2016/07/westons-hell-bound-hell-can-be-fun.html

Hell BoundHell Bound by Andrew P. Weston
S.E. rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Grim Reaper will lead your through a wacky, dark Hell
In Andrew P. Weston’s Hell Bound, our protagonist and tour guide into Hell is Daemon Grim: he’s a snarky bounty hunter, Satan’s right-hand man for reining in the damned. Grim is so impressed with himself that it takes a while to realize that he may, like everyone in Hell, may actually be subject to being played.

Grim was introduced to the Heroes in Hell series in the previous installment,Doctors in Hell. In short story form there, he was tasked to retrieve Dr. Thomas Neill Cream who had escaped topside. Doctors in Hell is an anthology,an enjoyable introduction to Hell which serves as a great entry point to the series. Heroes in Hell is a long, sustained series, but Doctors and Hell Bound confirm that anyone can hop along and enjoy the ride from any stop (it is always a good time to go to Hell). Reading Doctors will help the reader appreciate the full novel Hell Bound, but doing so is not necessary.

For new readers, I summarize the Heroes in Hell milieu. It is a fantastical place built from myths and religions—so do not expect Tolkienesque elves or dwarves. The primary realm explored is called Juxtapose, which is a satirical mirror of our earth’s cityscapes (the Seine river featured as “Inseine”, Paris called Perish, the Eiffel Tower represented as the Awful Tower, Facebook is called Hatebook… which sadly seems too appropriate…). Since time has little meaning in Hell, beings from past and present meet and scheme (i.e., Tesla and Chopin). There are other realms beyond Juxtapose connected with ethereal gateways. All are populated by beings being tormented and try to outwit Satan or their comrades. Even Erra, the Akkadian plague god, has visited Hell to torment Satan. No one is safe! It is a splendid, wacky place that works well.

Having recently read Doctors, I was intrigued with the Heroes In Hell world. I wanted to experience it more but needed a tour guide. Daemon Grim did so in entertaining fashion. I wanted to “see” how the Undertaker refreshed the damned as they underwent subsequent deaths; I wanted to experience more odd-ball pairings of historical figures struggling to complete their life’s missions; I wanted my tour guide to have some depth, even if he was unaware of it. The story is a bizarre cat-versus-mouse hunt, with Grim chasing Cream through very dark realms, upturning mystery after mystery. A scavenger hunt-like game ensues with beautiful, cryptic poetry that leads Grim further and further into a web of deceit. Antagonists are aplenty.

Hell Bound delivered. Andrew P. Weston did a superb job balancing the needs of a full length novel with the freedoms/constraints of a shared world usually expressed in short story form. Highly recommended for fantasy readers who enjoy a bit of dark adventure.

Estri of Silistra Interviewed

Originally published by  Library of Erana at: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/character-interview-number-thirty-eight-estri-of-silistra/

Character Interview Number Thirty-Eight – Estri of Silistra

Name (s) Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi

Age: Three hundred forty Silistran years old

Please tell us a little about yourself.

First, I must say that your language is difficult, not one intuitive to me. Nevertheless I shall try to answer you in your own tongue. Excuse my syntax, and I will tell you what I can.

Once I ruled the greatest house of pleasure in the civilized stars. When I reached my majority of three hundred years, I undertook a quest to find my father at the behest of my dead mother. So I left my position as Well-Keepress in my beloved Astria, and nothing has been the same for me since. All I thought I knew, I now question. So many truths proved false, so many assumptions groundless, so much love lost and found. I have greater powers now than I once did, but wisdom can triumph over power, and color all life anew.

I have been many things: aristocrat, outcast, picara, slave, ruler. I have served powers greater than my own, and baser than my soul could stand. I have had everything, lost everything, and gained knowledge by seeking love along the way. Doubtless I am wiser now than when I began my journey out of Astria, having learned that true wisdom comes only to a loving heart. But where love lies, there hatred takes root, and envy, and fear, and dangers undreamt. And yet, love is the key to every mystery: to life and death and creation itself. For without love, what are we, but a brief glimmer seen against eternal night? Where are we in this combustible universe? What arms hold us safe? What we learn, exploring, brings us home to ourselves, to our own loves, our own hearts. Creation plays no favorites, seeking only change. Love can surmount all, I once believed as a naive girl, and believe it yet.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Copper-skinned, copper-haired, with a body to please the gods.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Silistra’s moral code I still hold as mine: my world was wrecked and sundered by unbridled lusts for power. We who remain must rebuild not only our population, but our faith that whatever man destroys, nature can put to rights . . . given time.

Would you kill for those you love? I have done so, and killed that I myself survive.

Would you die for those you love? Would that I had the chance. To die for something is an honor.  To die for nothing is a cruelty greater than any other.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? Ha. You must not know my people, to ask such a thing. Some say my strengths are in my blood, that I was bred to this battle between the spirit and the flesh, between man and woman, between life ineffable and life everlasting, a battle begun long before I was born. Some say my coming was devoutly to be wished, and others say I and those who love me are travesties, a flaw in the natural order. I myself say that life and love are their own justification, where passion rules.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? What entitles you to know my heart, my mind, my soul? Shall I feed you platitudes, disarming truisms and children’s tales? Of my beloveds, you need to know very little, perhaps only one thing: “We are all bound, the greatest no less than the meanest,” as my lover says. I prize the sky and earth and every creature upon it with a love fierce enough to defeat even the foolishness of man.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I have whatever walks or crawls or slithers or swims, slinks or flies free in our air. We are part of our world’s nature, sometimes its victims, but never its masters. I have friends among the honest killers of the wild, for all kill to eat and thrive and risk their own lives so their offspring will survive. Sometimes I ride on the backs of those who roam the plains or stalk their prey, or live cheek by jowl with them; sometimes not. But they are not mine any more or less than I am theirs.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them. You haven’t the time to hear my story here and now. I’ve written some of it; look there to see my mother, my father, my lost child, my relations, deadly every one. My bloodline is old: to live so long, to prowl the universe and shower in star’s breath, my family well learned the wisdom of survival, when to destroy and when to succor.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behavior? How do you think it influences you? Where I live, some can survive for hundreds of years or more. When my mother bade me seek my father, she sent me on a trek more dangerous than my young and foolish self understood. Before then, I thought that men and women were put on the ground to reproduce, to conserve, not to destroy. To claim my heritage, I learned hard lessons — about the nature of life, and the degree to which we are all controlled by the wisdom of our sex. And thus did I blindly go forth to claim my inheritance, thinking all I had to do was ask and the universe would serve my pleasure. I learned otherwise, in the doing; that the world turns by a greater will than mine; that reality is the child of biology, that all things come into being by strife; these truths I learned by battling against men, against women, and sometimes against the gods themselves.

I learned many lessons about what men will do to win, and what women will do, and why. I learned that men who punish men and women lust to rule all; that women who punish men and women lust after dominion, and how dangerous both can be.

From childhood’s days to these, I have striven to keep my wits well about me, and shape my own fate.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. In my three hundredth years, I was known as the most beautiful and exotic courtesan in the civilized stars. I commanded a great price.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. Silistra is a planet in the Bipedal Federate Group.  Our main exports are our life-extending serums. Our men, in their romance with machines and technology, warred until our planet and its ecology was all but destroyed and life on the surface became nearly impossible. One result of this war was that conception became very difficult, and those who could conceive a child had power. Then did our leaders develop the life-extending serum which gave us some hope of not becoming extinct.  For thousands of years, a few survivors languished in underground shelters, while women took power away from the men that had nearly destroyed us all.

When the time came that Silistrans could live above the ground, we instituted the Well system, where a fertile woman could come to find a man who could impregnate her, and the nature of our culture, under the guidance of our spiritual leaders, became life-conserving, rather than life-destroying.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behavior. On Silistra, some believe in gods, some are descended from gods, some meet with gods, face to face. Whether or not we believe in gods, the gods who made us take a hand in our fates. We are a culture that values those skills by which an individual mind can shape the future. Our dhareners, interpreters of the will of those gods who walk with mankind, guide our development by choosing our paths and making our laws.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I have been to places on Silistra that are thought mythical and mystical, where few outsiders have ever been; I have gone to the places where gods hold sway, and seen what few Silistrans have ever seen. I have traveled among the stars, and farther.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) On civilized Silistra, our government is controlled by our dhareners, our spiritual leaders, and by the Well-Keepresses, hereditary matriarchs, or by the cahndors, hereditary patriarchs. But our governments have no simple rule by the lowest common denominator as seen on other worlds, nor the rule by wealth, nor are we controlled by a theocracy as you will know the term. The composition of our high councils varies, depending on where one lives or travels. Like our government or not, it has kept us safe from the depredations of plutocracy and the tyranny of mercantilists and their machines. Some parts of Silistra are timocratic, some oligarchic, and some, such as the Wells, are controlled by a hereditary matriarchy or patriarchy.

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?We are few, and some are black, brown, copper-colored, red or white. On Silistra, what is in the heart, the mind, and the bloodline determines status, not the color of skin.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. Silistran myths are predominantly memories, from before the fall of man. My favorite is the legend of Se’keroth, and if you read my writings, you will see why.

We also have a divination system, called Ors Yris-tera, that guides some of us and helps us forecast the Weathers of Life.  But on Silistra, any legend that survives is a memory of truths from the past or a portent of the future. Or both.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without? Most of us live without technology, as you know it, by choice. The off-worlders who visit try to seduce us with their machines of ease and speed, but we have lived upon and below the surface of a world ravaged by technology for too long to be fooled. True strength lies in the one’s mind and heart. If we wish to do more than a person should, the old weapons and tools of our fallen past still exist in our ‘hides,’ where those who lust for such things can still find them.

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

High Couch of Silsitra:         https://www.amazon.com/High-Couch-Silistra-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B01B1M1JBY/

The Golden Sword…………. https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Sword-Silistra-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B01FCMA7LM/
The Silistra Quartet consists of four books in chronological order:  High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne. The first two books are now available in hardcover, trade paper, and e-book “Author’s Cut” editions from Perseid Press.  The final two books will be available from Perseid in 2017.

The Bantam and Baen editions of the Silistra Quartet are out of print.

Author name: Janet Morris

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

https://sacredbander.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Morris/e/B001HPJJB8/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
https://www.blackgate.com/2016/03/19/vintage-treasures-the-silistra-quartet-by-janet-morris/

silistrapromoHC6x9-1

The Golden Sword: Sui Generis

See the original Book Spotlight on Mage of Erana:  https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/book-spotlight-the-golden-sword/

“High Couch is a classic. It is also, so far as I know, sui generis. In a long life of writing and editing in which I have written nine books, edited more than two hundred and read thousands I do not know of another book like it, not even remotely. On one level it is an exciting sci-fi adventure. On another it is a sword and sorcery epic, and on yet a third it answers Freud’s famous question, “What do women want?” A brilliant woman has decided to give the game away, and guess what, feminists have attacked her for it
The writing style is heroic, but readable and fun. The characters are recognizable, the plot is satisfying, and the world it creates is like nothing you have seen before, but is still believable.

“It also contains what I consider the most erotic single sentence in all the thousands of books I have read, “Flesh toy, come here!” If that doesn’t set up a scene in your mind then you have no business reading fiction.

“I’m not going to give the plot away. I’m just going to recommend it. Highly.” — Jim (James Franklin) Morris, author of award-winning bestseller, War Story and Vine Voice reviewer.

Book Spotlight – The Golden Sword

Tags

, ,, ,, , ,

Book – The Golden Sword – Book II of the Silistra Quartet

Janet Morris – fantasy, science-fiction, epic

 

Beginning in May 02 2015, after more than 30 years of print, the four volumes of The Silistra Quartet are being published in all-new Author’s Cut editions by Perseid Press, revised by Janet Morris.  The second of these, The Golden Sword, released in May 2016.

The Silistra Quartet is a series of fictional memoirs by the High Couch of  Silsitra herself, Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi. The books chronicle the adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe, The Silistra Quartet is Mythic Fiction, combining elements of science fiction and fantasy with mythology, metaphysics, and magical realism from a distant realm.

The Golden Sword

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

Overview: The Battle of the Sexes is never over…

She had the power to create planets.
The sixty carved bones of the Yris-tera foretold her ancient fate.
Her heritage of power took her beyond time and space and stole from her the
one man she loved.

Enslaved on the planet Silistra tomorrow’s most beautiful courtesan unleashes the
powers of the gods.

Silistra2_goldsword_AC

Overview:  High Couch of Silistra:  Biology dictates reality

One woman’s mythic search for self-realization in a distant tomorrow…

Her sensuality was at the core of her world, her quest beyond the civilized stars.

Aristocrat. Outcast. Picara. Slave. Ruler.

Praise for the Silistra Quartet:

“Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure.” – Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine

“The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe” – Frederik Pohl

“To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time. The best single example of prostitution in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series. […] Each the books exhibits a consciousness its form as an historical autobiography; the author appends glossaries for each novel and includes prologues, epilogues, biographical sketches, and copious notes to guide the reader into a better grasp of the mult-levels of the work, […]  To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time.  — Anne K. Kaler, The Picara From Hera To Fantasy Heroine

FOR ADVENTUROUS READERS ONLY
“Long ago the human colonists of Silistra waged a war so vicious that centuries later the planet has not recovered. Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birth rate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children . . . and their social order is based on their fertility and sexual prowess.
On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control: the High Couch of Silistra.” — Jim Baen, publisher, Baen Books.

 

“The best single example of prostitution used in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series… Estri’s character is most like that of Ishtar who describes herself as “‘a prostitute compassionate am I’” because she “symbolizes the creative submission to the demands of instinct, to the chaos of nature …the free woman, as opposed to the domesticated woman”. Linking Estri with these lunar and water symbols is not difficult because of the moon’s eternal virginity (the strength of integrity) links with her changeability (the prostitute’s switching of lovers). […] Morris strengthens the moon imagery by having Estri as a well-keepress because wells, fountains, and the moon as the orb which controls water have long been associated with fertility, […] In a sense, she is like the moon because she is apparently eternal, never waxing or waning except in her pursuit of the quest; she is the prototypical wanderer like the moon and Ishtar. She is the eternal night symbol of the moon in opposition to the Day-Keepers […] At her majority (her three hundredth birthday), she is given a silver-cubed hologram letter from her mother, containing a videotape of her conception by the savage bronzed barbarian god from another world. […] If Estri’s mother then acts as a bawd, willing her lineage as Well-Keepress to her daughter, then Estri’s great-grandmother Astria as foundress of the Well becomes a further mother-bawd figure when she offers her prophetic advice in her letter: “Guard Astria for you may lose it, and more. Beware of one who is not as he seems. Stray not in the port city of Baniev …look well about you, for your father’s daughter’s brother seeks you”. Having no brother that she knows of does not stay Estri from undertaking the heroic quest of finding her father.” – Anne K. Kaler, The Picara: From Hera to Fantasy Heroine.

A transcendent review of The Sacred Band

We love this review by Jim (James Franklin) Morris so much we feel compelled to share. A review from a real warrior, war correspondent, award winning author, does not appear every day.  If you’re not familiar with Jim (James Franklin) Morris’ outstanding accomplishments, read this Amazon bio:

Jim Morris (James Franklin Morris) :  Jim Morris served three tours with Special Forces (The Green Berets) in Vietnam. The second and third were cut short by serious wounds. He retired of wounds as a major. He has maintained his interest in the mountain peoples of Vietnam with whom he fought, and has been, for many years, a refugee and civil rights activist on their behalf.

His Vietnam memoir War Story won the first Bernal Diaz Award for military non-fiction. Morris is author of the story from which the film Operation Dumbo Drop was made, and has produced numerous documentary television episodes about the Vietnam War. He is author of three books of non-fiction and four novels. He has appeared on MSNBC as a commentator on Special Operations.

 

Now, here is Jim’s review of The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris:  http://www.amazon.com/review/R3J14RSVNACDDL/

5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Case for Reincarnation, April 5, 2016
“This review is from: The Sacred Band (The Sacred Band of Stepsons) (Kindle Edition)

This book makes a terrific case for reincarnation. Not that reincarnation is a theme, it’s just that I find it hard to believe that it was researched in a library. I find it much easier to believe that the authors have an intimate familiarity with the world of The Sacred Band through repeated lives as both man and woman, warrior and sorcerer/sorceress. Some of what I love about it is that the warriors seem like the warriors I know, even though they are from thousands of years earlier. Supernatural happening abound, but they don’t seem made up; they seem perfectly natural, and the supernatural beings have the same kinds of personality quirks as the rest of us.

tempus thales six books

Perseid Press editions of the Sacred Band’s adventures in Sanctuary and Beyond…

“I can’t say enough good about the prose. It’s perfectly suited to the story in word choice and in rhythm. It wouldn’t be better suited if it were written in heroic couplets, but even so it’s a smooth and facile read.
“I do have one problem. Daily life kept dragging me into the mundane world and out of the one I had chosen to inhabit for as long as I could. I know there’s a prequel out there somewhere, probably Thieves World, and I’m going to find it.

“If you like adventure and magical realism I know of no place where better is to be found.”

To learn more about The Sacred Band, capstone in the Sacred Band of Stepsons series, you’ll find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere in hardcover, deluxe trade paper, digital format, and an audio book edition on Audible.com.  http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/
Water Rhein's interview with Janet Morris about her novels, stories, and everything

Professor Baker reviews High Couch of Silistra

Read Professor Baker’s original reviews of High Couch and other fine books at:  https://profesorbaker.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/bookreview-asmsg-high-couch-of-silistra-the-silistra-quartet-book-1/

#BookReview #ASMSG High Couch of Silistra (The Silistra Quartet Book 1)

One woman’s mythic quest for self-realization in a distant tomorrow…

Her sensuality was at the core of her world, her quest beyond the civilized stars.

Aristocrat. Outcast. Picara. Slave. Ruler.

“Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure.” – Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine

“The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe” – Frederik Pohl

“The best single example of prostitution used in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series… Estri’s character is most like that of Ishtar who describes herself as “‘a prostitute compassionate am I’” because she “symbolizes the creative submission to the demands of instinct, to the chaos of nature …the free woman, as opposed to the domesticated woman”. Linking Estri with these lunar and water symbols is not difficult because of the moon’s eternal virginity (the strength of integrity) links with her changeability (the prostitute’s switching of lovers). […] Morris strengthens the moon imagery by having Estri as a well-keepress because wells, fountains, and the moon as the orb which controls water have long been associated with fertility, […] In a sense, she is like the moon because she is apparently eternal, never waxing or waning except in her pursuit of the quest; she is the prototypical wanderer like the moon and Ishtar. She is the eternal night symbol of the moon in opposition to the Day-Keepers […] At her majority (her three hundredth birthday), she is given a silver-cubed hologram letter from her mother, containing a videotape of her conception by the savage bronzed barbarian god from another world. […] If Estri’s mother then acts as a bawd, willing her lineage as Well-Keepress to her daughter, then Estri’s great-grandmother Astria as foundress of the Well becomes a further mother-bawd figure when she offers her prophetic advice in her letter: “Guard Astria for you may lose it, and more. Beware of one who is not as he seems. Stray not in the port city of Baniev …look well about you, for your father’s daughter’s brother seeks you”. Having no brother that she knows of does not stay Estri from undertaking the heroic quest of finding her father.” – Anne K. Kaler, The Picara: From Hera to Fantasy Heroine

“Long ago the human colonists of Silsitra waged a war so vicious that centuries later, the planet has not recovered.  Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birthrate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children… and their social order is based on fertility and sexual prowess. On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria, and holder of the ultimate seat of control:  The High Couch of Silistra.” — Jim Baen, publisher, Baen Books
High Couch of Silistra, by Janet Morris, is a superb book. It is Book One in the Silistra Quartet. The other books in the series are: The Golden Sword (Book 2), Wind From The Abyss (Book 3), and The Carnelian Throne (Book 4).
      
First, let us begin at the beginning, and therefore place Book One in its historical context before looking at the current edition:

Returning Creation is the alternate title for High Couch of Silistra, the first book in the Silistra quartet, by Janet Morris. Published in 1977 byBantam Books, High Couch of Silistra was the debut title of her writing career. It was one of the first science fiction/fantasy books to include bi-sexual/pan-sexual characters and erotic themes. The series went on to have more than four million copies in print and was also published in French, Italian and German.

Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine, is quoted on the Baen Books reissues of the series as saying, “Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure,” andFrederik Pohl is quoted there as saying “The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe.”

High Couch of Silistra front cover.jpg

1977 Edition

Blurb: “The original human colonists of Silistra nearly destroyed their planet in a war so vicious the populace had to go into underground shelters for centuries and, even many centuries later, the planet has not recovered. Infertility is one of the worst problems facing the planet’s populace—thanks to the fallout of that deadly war. The women of Silistra are treasured and have established Wells where the male population can attempt to create a child, if they are fertile.

In The High Couch of Silistra, Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control begins an epic adventure to discover her origins and save the dwindling population.”

High Couch of Silistra, 2015 Edition

The first thing we notice is the difference in image selection on the covers of the 1977 edition and the 2015 edition. I see the 1977 cover as an accurate reflection of female images from 1977 pop culture. This was when, for example, Jimmy Carter was inaugurated President, Elvis Pressly died, the original Star Wars, movie came out, the Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner) won an Emmy award,and a poster of Farrah Fawcett in a revealing red one-piece bathing suit sold 5 million copies. Zeitgeist pure…

The 2015 cover, on the other hand, is more indicative of humanity’s shared cultural heritage. It is allusive to the Roman and Greek culture of antiquity, which is appropriate for the globalized world we live in today. The unifying characteristic in both cultures, therefore, is its ability to appeal to a wide and diverse audience of readers despite its apparent boundaries confining it to strictly adult reading material. Attracting over 4 million readers since its publication in 1977, it has transcended its borders and become a timeless classic. In other words, this is a must read.

What makes a classic? Theme, style, and impact are three answers I would give. The possibility of the extinction of the human race has always been a theme that concerns each generation of humanity. That would be the ultimate irony of our civilized world if future circumstancs were to result in the extinction of the human species. Therefore, a book which helps us to imagine just such a scenario is always going to draw the attention of a wide readership. It was true in 1977, and I am convinced it is still true in 2016.

Style: Janet Morris in all her books writes in a direct, engaging, and entertaining style. She draws the reader into the book, captures your attention, and then leaves you with no other option but to keep turning the pages. This book is no exception. From page one to page last, any book by master storyteller Janet Morrison is a delight.

Impact is just as important as theme and style. If a book is not able to make you have an emotional reaction to it, or identify with the characters, their trials and tribulations, their ups and downs as they search to overcome the cause of conflict in their lives, then you simply lay the book aside. And you forget it. A book must impact its readers if it wishes to be memorable, if it seeks a place on the bookshelf as a classic. Janet Morris’ High Couch of Silistra Series has long ago earned its place in this pantheon of timeless classics for adults.

To conclude, let me say that if you like adult reading material that is pleasurable on a number of emotional, intellectual and sensual levels, and superbly crafted, and with a timeless story, that will keep you turning the pages, then I highly recommend this book. 5 stars.

The Silistra Quartet: a comprehensive view

This article by John O’Neill originally appeared in Black Gate Magazine:

Vintage Treasures: The Silistra Quartet by Janet Morris

Saturday, March 19th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

High Couch of Silistra-small The Golden Sword Janet Morris 1981-small

In the last few weeks I’ve touched on a few tales of modern writers who didn’t make it — or at least, fantasy series that never got off the ground, and died after one or two hardcover releases without even a paperback edition. To switch things up a bit, today I thought I’d look at one of the most successful fantasy debuts of all time, a series that became a huge international hit with its first release, launching the career of one of the most prolific fantasy writers of the late 20th Century: Janet Morris’ The Silistra Quartet.

The Silistra Quartet began with Janet’s first novel, High Couch of Silistra, which appeared in paperback from Bantam Books in 1977 with a classic cover by Boris (above left). Although it was packaged as fantasy, High Couch was really science fiction, the far-future tale of the colony planet of Silistra, still recovering from an ancient war that left the planet scarred and much of the population infertile. With a dangerously low birth-rate, it’s not long before the human colonists of Silistra develop a new social order, with a hierarchy based on fertility and sexual prowess.

[Click the images for bigger versions.]

High Couch of Silistra received a lot of positive press attention, and Janet released the sequel, The Golden Sword (above right, cover by Bob Larkin), the following year. It outsold the first one, and her career was well underway.

All told, there were four volumes in what came to be known as The Silistra Quartet, all published as paperback originals by Bantam Books.

High Couch of Silistra (1977) — also published as Returning Creation (Baen, 1984)
The Golden Sword (1977)
Wind from the Abyss (1978)
The Carnelian Throne (1979)

Bob Larkin returned to do the cover for the fourth volume (below right). The cover artist for Wind from the Abyss (below left) was uncredited.

Wind from the Abyss-small The Carnelian Throne-small

Here’s the colorful description from the back of High Couch of Silistra:

Long ago, the human colonists of Silistra waged a war so vicious that, centuries later, the planet has not recovered. Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birth rate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children, and their social order is based on fertility and sexual prowess. On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control: The High Couch of Silistra.

When Bantam re-released the entire series in 1981, they hired artist Lou Feck — known for his standout work on the Star Trekpaperbacks, and his defining work on Robert E. Howard’s Kull paperbacks, among others — to produce four brand new covers. Here they are.

High Couch of Silistra-1981-small The Golden Sword 1981-small
Wind from the Abyss 1981-small The Carnelian Throne 1981-small

One thing I liked about the Feck editions was that they advertised the other volumes on the back, which made it easy to track down the entire series.

Wind from the Abyss-1981-back-small

I got to know Janet years later, and she was kind enough to answer my questions about the genesis of the series for this article. Here’s what she said.

High Couch was the first book I ever wrote and my first published work; the manuscript was my first draft, and the only change Fred Pohl request was one passage near the end and the addition of a glossary; that paperback original achieved a New York Times Sunday Magazine review.

On the basis of High Couch, Bantam bought the next three in the series when each was presented to them. The second book, The Golden Sword, outsold High Couch in its first edition. By the time the fourth in the quartet, The Carnelian Throne, was released, according to Bantam’s ads, they had over 4 million copies of the first three in Bantam print.

I hadn’t liked the Boris cover, so Bantam then did a second edition with covers by Lou Feck. My agent, Perry Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd, achieved many foreign language sales, including French, German, Italian, and several more. Based on Silistra‘s sales, my next trilogy, the Dream Dancer or Kerrion Space saga, went to auction in the U.S. and UK simultaneously and, now able to quit my day job, I was able to make my living as a novelist for over 20 years, until I withdrew from fiction writing in favor of nonfiction writing in the defense and internal security arena. I returned to fiction writing in 2010.

Janet also sent me an assortment of foreign covers. I don’t have space for them all (sorry Janet!), but here’s a sampling.

High Couch of Silistra - Bastei Lubbe 1987-small le trone de chair - Fr Cover-small
The Carnelian Throne Edelstein Thron - Bastei Lubbe 1987-small l'ere des Fornicatrices - Fr Cover-small

In the US, Baen re-released the entire series in 1984-85, once again with brand new covers, this time by Victoria Poyser. High Couch of Silistra was re-titled Returning Creation for the Baen edition.

High Couch of Silistra-Returning Creation-small The Golden Sword Baen-small Wind from the Abyss Baen-small The Carnelian Throne Baen-small

Here’s a collage of some of the English and foreign editions in the series:

Collage of Silsitra covers Bonadonna-small

The books were out of print for over 30 years… until Janet began reprinting them in brand new Author’s Cut Editions through Perseid Press, beginning with High Couch of Silistra in September 2015. Here’s the announcement for The Golden Sword, which Janet tells me will be available in digital format in May.

The Silistra Quartet-small

Here’s a closer look at the cover for The Golden Sword.

The Golden Sword Author's Cut Edition-small

See more details on the entire series at the Perseid Press website.

We’ve published two piece of fiction by Janet Morris and Chris Morris as part of our Black Gate Online Fiction line:

Seven Against Hell
An excerpt from The Sacred Band

Our previous coverage of Janet Morris includes:

The Perfect Prescription for Perdition: Doctors in Hell, edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris by Joe Bonadonna
Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters edited by Janet Morris, by Fletcher Vredenburgh
I, The Sun by Janet Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
A Mining Colony, a Blind Date, and a Ghostly Alien Hand: Outpassage by Janet Morris & Chris Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Love in War and Realms Beyond Imagining: The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Tribulations Herculean and Tragic: Beyond Wizardwall by Janet Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Caught Between Rebels and the Empire’s Blackest Magic: Beyond the Veil: The Revised and Expanded Author’s Cut by Janet Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Return to Thieves World in Beyond Sanctuary: The Revised and Expanded Author’s Cut by Janet Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Heroic Fantasy with the Sharp Edge of Reality: The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, by Joe Bonadonna

Field Notes #2 from Heroika

Field Notes on Heroika:  Witness the Birth of Alchemical Warfare

HEROIKA1 New banner heroika_TChirezpromo

A guest post by S.E. Lindberg

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, the first in an emerging historical-fantasy series from Perseid Press, showcases seventeen perspectives on killing serpents from ancient to modern times. The forthcoming second installment, Heroika 2: Shieldless, likewise fuses mythological themes with adventure, this time by tracking unarmored heroes & skirmishers across time.

“Legacy of the Great Dragon,” my short story for Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, features the Father of Alchemy Thoth (a.k.a. Hermes) entombing his singular source of magic, the Great Dragon. According to Greek and Egyptian myth, Hermes was able to see into the world of the dead and pass his teachings to the living. One of the earliest known hermetic scripts is the Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus. Within that, a tale is told of Hermes being confronted with a vision of the otherworldly entity Pymander, who takes the shape of a “Great Dragon” to reveal divine secrets. “Legacy of the Great Dragon” fictionalizes this Hermetic Tradition, presenting the Great Dragon as the sun-eating Apep of Egyptian antiquity. Hermes’s teachings are passed to humanity via an Emerald Tablet.

Heroika 1 Perfect promo 6&9

The actual Emerald Tablet (if it was indeed “real”) is arguable the most popular work of Hermeticism since its reveals the secret of transmuting any material’s base elements into something divine or valuable (gold). Many refer to the Tablet as being the philosopher’s stone, or the knowledge embodying it. In fact, the tablet no longer physically exists, but translations of it do. Sir Isaac Newton’s translation of the tablet’s inscription remains very popular, and undeniably cryptic.

Following the Emerald Tablet from Ancient Egypt into the Hellenistic age, the “The Naked Daemon” entry in Heroika 2 pits the mystic Apollonius of Tyana (deceased ~100 CE) against zealots who destroy what remains of the Alexandria Library. In life his principles had been aligned with those of the pacifist gymnosophists (a.k.a. naked philosophers); hundreds of years past his death, Apollonius finds himself reborn as a daemon empowered with Hermes’s Emerald Tablet. He observes the Roman oppression over pagan scholars and is challenged with an urgent need to defend knowledge. Will he rationalize war by unleashing the power of alchemy to do harm? Will he become an angel or demon? How will alchemy transform The Naked Demon?

heroika revised 1

 

For more on fiction inspired by alchemy by S.E. Lindberg, check out an article on the Mappae Clavicula or the author’s blog at S.E. Lindberg.

Read more about Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, at any of theses links:

http://www.theperseidpress.com/?mbt_book=heroika-1-dragon-eaters

https://www.blackgate.com/2015/06/16/heroika-1-dragon-eaters-edited-by-janet-morris/

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters is available from Perseid Press for Kindle, Nook, in trade paper and in an audiobook narrated by Rob Goll:   http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Eaters-Heroika-Volume-1/dp/B0193RZ4XI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1458244671&sr=1-1&keywords=heroika+1+dragon+eaters+audioHeroika

 

 

%d bloggers like this: