Joe Bonadonna speaks out on “Doctors in Hell,” the perfect prescription for damnation’s ills

First published in Black Gate Magazine: http://www.blackgate.com/2015/09/13/the-perfect-prescription-for-perdition-doctors-in-hell-edited-by-janet-morris-and-chris-morris/

Doctors in Hell is available in print and digital editions at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Doctors-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00Z753EX8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442194400&sr=1-1&keywords=Doctors+in+Hell

And at Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/doctors-in-hell-janet-morris/1122204292

The Perfect Prescription for Perdition: Doctors in Hell, edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Sunday, September 13th, 2015 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Doctors in Hell-smallDoctors in Hell
Heroes in Hell, Volume 18
Edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Perseid Press (336 pages, $19.98 in trade paperback, $7.92 digital, June 23, 2015)
Cover: Pandemonium, John Martin (1789-1854), circa 1841, oil on canvas, from private collection. Cover design by Sonja Aghabekian

Be careful to preserve your health. It is a trick of the devil, which he employs to deceive good souls, to incite them to do more than they are able, in order that they may no longer be able to do anything.
— St. Vincent De Paul

By now, many of you no doubt know of my association with Janet Morris and Perseid Press. Maybe you’ve read the reviews of her novels that I wrote for Black Gate, including my reviews of Lawyers in Hell, Rogues in Hell, and Dreamers in Hell. In 2014 Janet and I collaborated onan article for Black Gate, in which we discussed Poets in Hell, how I came to be involved with Hell, and how she put that volume together.

Now, for 2015, Perseid Press offers you Doctors in Hell, the 18th volume in the popular and long-running Heroes in Hell saga, created by Janet Morris back in 1986 .This year I’m going to do something similar to what Janet and I did last year: presenting a brief synopsis of each story/chapter, with the diabolical assistance of my twelve fellow Hellions — the damnedest writers in perdition, to paraphrase the text on the book’s front cover. That makes 13 of us… a nice number, don’t you think?

First, however, I want to share with you my take on the infernal Afterlife of Hell, as it’s portrayed in the Heroes in Hell shared-universe.

Perseid Press logoThe series is often called “Bangsian fantasy,” a genre of fantasy which concerns the use of famous literary or historical individuals and their interactions in the afterlife. It’s named for John Kendrick Bangs (1862 –1922), an American satirist who often wrote such tales. Heroes in Hellitself is an epic series of shared-world novels where the famous and infamous throughout history all wind up together in Hell, where they virtually pick up right where they left off when still alive — but now with a diabolical twist: Hell may give you what you want and what you need, but these things are never quite what you asked for. Hell is not what you’d expect, so always expect the unexpected. Things are broken in Hell, things malfunction, and there’s always a grand touch of irony to everything that happens. Hell gives and Hell takes away, and in Hell the Damned get just what they deserve. There is comedy and tragedy in this eternal and infernal arena of Lost Souls, where human drama is played out across a wide spectrum of such literary genres that include heroic fantasy, horror, action-adventure, political thrillers, westerns, science fiction, and even romance. Each individual story in each book reads like a chapter in a novel, and each story/chapter bears the unique touch and personality of its author.

The premise of the series is based on the tradition that 613 is the number of mitzvoth or commandments in the Torah, which began in the 3rd century CE when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b. Our series of novels begins with the 613 original commandments, binding on every living soul, and ignorance is no excuse: break just one little commandment and you go to Hell. So almost everybody who was anybody broke some commandment or other while on earth, and now here they are, sometimes in a part of Hell where they belong, sometimes in an area of Hell where they don’t. The Damned come from across the length and breadth of time and history to interact, to scheme and plot, and even go adventuring — all the while suffering the torments of a well-deserved damnation. The worst and best from all of time make the same mistakes in Hell that got them there in the first place: character is destiny, in life Topside and in the Afterlife of the underverse, as well. You could read these books in order, in any order, or without having read any of the previous volumes in the series. In Hell, Time is meaningless, so it doesn’t matter which book you begin with: start anywhere, for the cohesion in each volume makes it stand alone. You can read Hell forward or backward or upside down: Hell is still Hell. It still unsettles minds and makes hearts skip beats. The Damned get the Hell they deserve. Expect what will be, nothing less, and nothing more. This is not your mommy’s world of fantasy: this is Hell, and tonight we dine on gore, tonight we feast on souls.

Lawyers in Hell-smallNow, as to what’s going on in Doctors in Hell

For all the horrors and torments that Satan has unleashed upon the Damned, the Almighty has decided that he’s been too lenient on them, and so to Hell were sent Ezra, the Babylonian plague god, and his henchmen, the Seven Sibitti, to spread plague and terror, to wreak havoc and further punishment throughout the underverse. Erra then stirs the pit by adding his own little brand of mayhem, maleficence, and malefic maladies to the mix. The result is that pestilential misery runs amok in Hell, lost souls wail in even more torment, doctors raise their fees, and snake-oil salesmen make a killing selling all sorts of bootlegged versions of vaccines and so-called remedies for the plagues sweeping across and through all levels and circles of Hell. But the damned must suffer, and the Devil is furious about Erra and his enforcers being sent from Heaven to prove that Hell is insufficiently hellish. And since death in Hell for all lost souls is only fleeting, followed by a horrifying turn in the Mortuary where they are worked on by the Undertaker prior to being reassigned, torment and suffering are eternal.

There is no escaping Hell. And don’t bother telling Hell’s doctors where it hurts, they won’t care. They have their own problems.

Ah, but Satan has a plan. Satan always has a plan. It’s a purge that may be even more terrible than anything cooked up by Erra. Satan, you see, has always held to the belief that Mankind is worthy of neither salvation nor damnation, and deserves only oblivion: total obliteration into nothingness. His Satanic Majesty has been trying to prove his point to Heaven and the Big Man Upstairs for ages upon ages, and this argument is what landed him in Hell in the first place. The Devil has always insisted that modern souls in Hell — called the New Dead, roughly anyone born Anno Domini — are so vicious, self-centered, hubristic and morally bankrupt that they would punish themselves and each other, if given a chance, more horribly and thoroughly than Hell’s bureaucracy could ever contrive to do. This leads to a bet between Satan and the angel Altos, who wants to prove the New Dead worthy of salvation — or at least deserving of leniency, to show themselves no worse than their predecessors or successors.

This brings us to the first story, The Wager, by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, wherein Altos, Hell’s only volunteer angel, has been sent from Above to effect Satan’s rehabilitation, a daunting task. Altos and Satan wager on the outcome of a battle between 20th and 21st century militarists who, Satan says, “will combat one another in battles fought exclusively by volunteers: armies manned by voyeurs of violence who find vicarious thrills reading of heroes who never were, fighting villains who never could be. If we hold this war and nobody comes, or the doctors of the damned heal the wounded and save the plague-ridden, then, Altos, you will win, and I shall soften my heart unto the New Dead and forestall the purge you know I am readying.”

Poets in Hell-smallChris Morris follows this up with The Cure, where Satan orders John Milton: “Tell Marlowe you have learned the difference between oblivion, impossible in my domain, and obliteration, which a soul can claim, be he brave enough: obliteration — complete and sweet: Not only ‘not to be,’ but to be expunged as if he’d never been at all. This will make an end to his playwriting and poetry, and an end to his affair with Shakespeare.” So Milton, horrified at what he hears next, must infect Christopher Marlowe with the knowledge of this cure.

Next up is Andrew Paul Weston’s tale, Grim: Satan demands a purging laxative to clear the bowels of the underworld of the dross that has accumulated over the centuries, and turns to the doctors for assistance. However, it appears our infernal physicians are hell-bent on fomenting rebellion. Forced to act, His Satanic Majesty turns to his Chief of Surgical Strikes and cure-all remedy — Daemon Grim — to wield the scalpel of injustice… and wield it he does.

In The Right Man for the Job, Deborah Koren’s story, we learn that the only thing worse than having Wyatt Earp gunning for you is having Wyatt Earp and plague victims after you. Bat Masterson joins forces with Dr. Henry Porter, the only surviving surgeon from the Little Big Horn, in order to stay alive.

The main premise of Nancy Asire’s Memory is the plague that’s struck hell and Napoleon’s memories of dealing with plague during his Egyptian campaign. The ramifications of these memories color his actions when dealing with the threat to those he cares about and shows the response of his friends in the face of potential disaster.

R.E. Hinkle’s story is What Price Oblivion? In this, he writes of 19th Century confidence man Charles “Doc” Baggs, who abhorred violence in life, but finds himself in death forced to be the thing he loathes the most, so much so that even oblivion is preferable to the monstrosity he has become. But when he encounters another doomed soul in worse torment than his own, who deserves that oblivion more than Baggs himself craves it, he finds himself tempted to take action. Can there be good deeds, even in Hell?

Rogues in Hell-smallRichard Groller’s In the Shadowlands picks up where his previous story, (“Island Out of Time”) left off. Houdini’s brief escape from Hell results in him returning to Hell with an unwitting passenger: a living lawyer, not yet a member of the damnable dead. His self-assigned mission is now to return the lawyer to the land of the living before it is too late.

In Matthew Kirshenblatt’s Let Us Kill the Spirit of Gravity, a fallen angel awaits and a Beast awakens as Lilith, the first wife of Adam, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche come to an unlikely accord.

Pavlovian Slip, by Bill Snider, is up next. In Hell, one would expect that psychologists would be in their place; the variety, the divergences of human experience, the interactions, the very grist of individual will and the exercise thereof. But, for Ivan Pavlov and Sigmund Freud, there can be no joy of discovery, there can only be the persistence of existence, in Hellish accord. When Ivan and his demonic horde of Grumbles join with Sigmund… what kinds of insanity are likely to happen?

My own story, Hell on a Technicality, continues the misadventures of Doctor Victor Frankenstein who, with the assistance of Quasimodo, concocts a plague vaccine that has some unforeseen and diabolical side effects. Meanwhile, Galatea and Frankenstein’s Monster visit a panel of so-called experts to find out if they have or don’t have souls — and if they don’t, can they get out of Hell on a technicality?

In Michael H. Hanson’s Convalescence, Nurse Calamity Jane, with the help of her Sinchester Rifle, protects Satan’s final outpost, The St. Rictus Nursing Home, from the all-encompassing plagues sweeping across Hell.

Dreamers in Hell-smallPaul Freeman’s Hell Noon deals with the plagues sweeping through hell, corrupting souls already suffering the harshest torments, and a group of gamblers holed up in a saloon on the outskirts of the Dead Plains. Doc Holliday leads the motley crew of damned souls as they seek to sit out the spreading contagion. But hell holds no place to hide from Satan’s punishments, least of all for a gambling man seeking to con the lord of all evil.

In The Judas Book, by Jack William Finley, Lobotomist Dr. Walter Freeman thinks he’s got a loophole to free himself from Hell. Judas Iscariot thinks he’s got Hell’s new bestseller, and Frank Nitti thinks they are both a pain in his ass worthy of Hell.

Now we come to the end of it all with Writer’s Block, by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. This time out, Shakespeare insists on taking Christopher Marlowe to the most infamous witch doctors in hell, where Marlowe begs their aid to find his lost Muse: “Can you help us? Spin a spell? Weave a charm? Vex a potion? Hex an enemy? Do any magics such as your sign outside boasts you can?”

“I can. I’ll give ye a push toward destiny,” cackles one bristly hag.

And the witch doctors do just that.

Oh, wait! We’re not quite finished yet. As a special treat, there’s A Moment of Clarity, a wonderful excerpt from Andrew Paul Weston’s forthcoming novel, Hell Bound.

So there we are, Doctors in Hell, where the doctor is always wrong, sinners never win, misery runs amok, and Hell’s damned get their just deserts . . . eternally. I hope you join our Company of 13 Hellions on a journey through all the pits, circles and levels of Hell, where not only doctors, but explorers, warriors, playwrights, lawyers, rogues, dreamers, and poets become an unlikely band of heroes — and anti-heroes — in Hell.

Janet Morris, mother of Heroes in Hell, the damned saga, interviewed by Jennifer Loiske…

Originally posted at:  https://jenniferloiske.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/mother-of-heroes-in-hell-is-on-my-blog-today-meet-janet-morris/

‘Mother’ of Heroes in Hell is on my blog today! Meet Janet Morris!

Janet bio pic cropped 12 05 13 Janet B&W Portrait 2Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris Morris or others. She has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series Thieves World, in which she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She created, orchestrated, and edited the Bangsian fantasy series Heroes in Hell, writing stories for the series as well as co-writing the related novel, The Little Helliad, with Chris Morris. Most of her fiction work has been in the fantasy and science fiction genres, although she has also written historical and other novels. Morris has written, contributed to, or edited several book-length works of non-fiction, as well as papers and articles on nonlethal weapons, developmental military technology and other defense and national security topics.

Want to know more about Janet? Here you go:

Heroes in Hell series Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroes_in_Hell
Janet’s wikipedia bio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Morris
website: theperseidpress.com

Heroika 1 Perfect promo 6&9Janet, you’ve had your fingers in many literature jars, as one might say, and it seems you’re exactly where you were meant to be. Do you believe in destiny?

I believe in destiny and also in predestination. So do the heroes and villains in my fiction, such as our newest book, “Doctors in Hell.” Too many things have happened to me in my life that came to me unbidden, on the one hand, and seemed unavoidable, on the other. In the Silistra Quartet I wrote about the metaphysics of an “amenable universe” where what you expect conditions and shapes what actually occurs. A scientist named John Wheeler had a similar approach to modern physics, and he called that view of the universe the “anthropic principle.” To explain this most simply is to say that you get what you expect. Mind shapes reality. So expect the best, not the worst. When I have feared the worst, it has come to me; when I have envisioned great things, they have become reality.

In the Heroes in Hell series we explore the way the damned recreate the behaviors that brought them to hell in the first place. Heraclitus of Ephesus said, “Character is destiny.” I consider this a universal truth. In our Heroes in Hell series, and especially in Doctors in Hell, the protagonists (including mortal damned and fallen angels, heroes and lords of all the underworlds that humanity’s minds have created) shape their predicaments and their solutions as is natural for the character of each. For example, in the story “The Cure,” Satan sends John Milton to destroy the relationship between William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe. How? You’ll need to read “The Cure” and the following story, “Writer’s Block,” to find out.

Do you do a lot of researching before starting to write or do you go with the flow and check the details (if doing so) later?

I do both: I find my characters, their destiny, so to speak. I decide how the book will end and how it must begin. Then I research detail as required, most deeply for books such as Doctors in Hell and the Heroes in Hell series, or the new Heroika series that begins with Dragon Eaters: if I’m using historical characters or historical events, or even historical models to create parallel fictional events, I read about the times, the personalities, and if there is any literature about events or people, I read that. I most love to find words spoken by a person with whom I’m trying to connect in order to create or recreate that character– or primary stories written by them or about them from their own time. Examples? In Doctors in Hell I’m using Will Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, Diomedes, John Milton; even Lord Byron’s dog, Boatswain, has a part to play. With those and my purely historical works, such as I, the Sun I try to quote the characters’ own words: nothing rings as truly as truth.

Once the story is ongoing I research more as I go, since the story opens up for me and I have more questions that need answers. After I’m done, I check everything – but once I’ve written the last word of a piece, it’s as if a door slams shut, and I know less about them than I did when I was writing. The metaphysical connection of the writer to a time and place is something that keeps me writing: I write a door and walk through it, hopefully taking the reader with me into another time and place and into other minds.

doctors-in-hellThat is beautifully said! And I like the image it brings into my mind…something very ‘Alice in Wonderland’ kind of thing…you’ll never know what happens on the other side of the door… Have you ever had a writer’s block and if yes, how did you make it go away?

Ha! I wrote a story called Writer’s Block for Doctors in Hell. You’ll need to read the story to learn the prescription given by one of my characters to another to banish writer’s block.

I will! And hopefully my readers will, too! Thanks for being here today, Janet, and thanks for sharing some of your writing secrets with us!

Cheers,

Jen x

We’re honored by the review on Black Gate of Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters

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

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters edited by Janet Morris

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_15175053GW6bP5j3For the past several months I kept seeing notices for the coming release of Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters. Edited by Janet Morris, one of the true heavies in heroic fantasy, and someone I have known online for several years now, I knew this was a book I was going to be reading. That its table of contents included several writers I’m a big fan of as well as many whose names I’m starting to hear good things about made it look better and better. That it’s about killing dragons sealed the deal. So when John O’Neill asked if I wanted to review it and I could have an e-book of it, I said “YES!”

I’m happy to report that with all that buildup, it’s a terrific bunch of stories. Anthologies are great because you can pick them up and dive in anywhere and take a short, rewarding excursion into whatever genre it is. I generally don’t read anthologies from cover to cover in a short period of time. Reading for this review it turned out I wanted a break from dragon-killing when I tried to finish the book in only a few big sessions. There are a few stories that aren’t to my taste, but there are no clunkers and some real treasures in this book.

The stories, and there are seventeen of them, are presented chronologically — well, the ones set in the real world anyway. Those set in more fantastical settings are fit in among the medieval ones. In the earliest tales dragons stand toe-to-toe with the gods. Slowly, they lose that stature and become mere monsters. Deadly, true, but no longer forces of raw, elemental chaos. Eventually they’re regarded only as mythical. In the future, scientific explanations have to be found for their existence.

Janet and Chris Morris’ “The First Dragon Eater” opens the book. Narrated by Kella, a priest of Tarhunt, it tells of the battles between the Storm God, Tarhunt, and the dragon, Illuyankas. Taken from Hattan myth, it’s probably one of the earliest tales of dragon-killing. The story’s style — formal sounding, as if something recited in a temple — lends gravitas to the introduction of the monstrous worms that figure in so many world myths and fantasy stories.

“Legacy of the Great Dragon” by S.E. Lindberg moves forward into ancient Egypt, as Thoth, physician of the gods, helps Horus to find power to avenge the death of his father, Osiris, at the hands of Set. This is a wild piece, with a cosmically huge dragon and gods fighting inside of it.

The Morrises return one more time with “Bring Your Rage.” Set in Greece’s Heroic Age, hunting a dragon is a chance for a group of warriors to prove their mettle.

Thoas, the lame and grizzled Achaean, pushed the thrown stone aside with his toe. “War is brewing, stranger, thus have I called this hunt. Here we stalk dragons to find the strongest, the bravest among you northerners, to fight at Troy. What’s to lose? Your life. What’s to win? Your legend — your aristeia, to be claimed in my contingent on the battle lines at Ilion. I am Thoas, son of Andraemon, lord of Aetolia. I seek only the best of you barbarians to ship with me.”

oie_15183358Sb9GUYCsThe brutal hunt is recounted by by Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, who has come looking for death in battle after she accidentally killed her sister. Her telling is stirring and memorable.

In “Aquila of Oyos” by Walter Rhein, a dragon is undone by trickery and arrogance.

Cas Peace’s “The Wyght Wyrm” brings a Christian warrior, Jorj, to the Isle of Wyght. There he faces off against a dragon called up out of the past by Druids hoping to restore their old dominion over the British Isles.

After years of hunting and killing other dragons, an aged warrior has finally found the one that killed his family in “The Old Man on a Mountain” by Jack William Finley. It’s tight and tough, and you can feel every ache and pain as the dragon slayer climbs to his prey’s lair.

“Of Blood and Scales” by A.L. Butcher is a complex tale of politics, magic, and griffin-riding dragon-hunters. I found it a little too long, but the terrific aerial battles against the dragon more than made up for that.

Deadly jaws snapped shut just short of the griffin Julius was flying, tugging a feather from its wing as Julius steered it away, trying to deflect the beast’s attention from his friend. Once more Hawk dived past the dragon’s nose, seeing Rufus steering Bloodsnap around and upward. He hoped his griffin was faster than that dragon, its last attack had barely missed him. Perhaps, he thought, the sight of Rufus would be his last vision, save the inside of a dragon.

oie_151815xQ1JjnZmDragons appear as malevolent servants of pagan rule in ”Night Stalkers” by Travis Ludvigson. Sent to break the spirit of the pagan Saxons, Charlemagne’s champions, Roland and Ogier, find themselves up against monsters summoned out of the darkest pits. This is one of my favorites in Heroika. Faced with the prospect of several dragons, the warriors are forced to develop a plan of attack and then build a team and train it. It’s a great mini-epic with bloody dragon rampages under the eaves of dark German forests.

On a forest battlefield littered with Saxon and Frankish dead, Roland and Ogier meet their first dragon:

Tendrils of acrid smoke rose from the deep hole in the earth, carrying a putrid odor that caused several warriors to retch.

Following the stench was the sound of something large scraping against rock, growing steadily louder as it neared the surface. As the sound from the hole increased, Roland called the men together to form a shield wall and ready their weapons.

As they watched, an enormous scaled talon reached up from the hole and grasped the edge, rending the stone apart. This was immediately followed by a nightmare from the darkest depths of the underworld: a dragon.

No longer a personification of cosmic immensities, nor simply a beast to fight, in “Forged” by Tom Barczak, the dragon is an insidious manipulator hiding his true form in the guise of a man. He’s a positively satanic figure, and it’s not steel and strength that are required to fight him, but love and sacrifice.

In J.P. Wilder’s “The Rhyme of the Dragon Queen,” a band of dragon-hunters marches off to slay an ancient dragon harrying the town of Devasta. It felt over long, but the final confrontation with the monster is exciting, with the added bonus of a pair of mind-blowing reveals.

“The Dragon’s Horde” by Joe Bonadonna is a great, pulpy, creep-inducing story of genocidal war between mankind and dragonkind. While humans killed all the dragons five centuries ago, they were unable to destroy their dragonmen servitors. Now, the enemies live on either side of a mountain pass, in a constant state of battle. From their fortress, and possessing superior arms and discipline, humans have managed to keep the dragonmen mostly to their side of the pass. When the dragonmen successfully attack they take the heads of those they kill and steal off with any children they can grab. For centuries this has been the way of things.

When a priestess shows up at the fortress and claims a new dragon queen is about to be born all that changes. Guided by her goddess, she must assemble an expedition and enter the dragonman-infested wasteland beyond the pass and find the unhatched queen.

Bonadonna is a deft hand at writing fast-paced, bloody action, and there’s lots of that in “The Dragon’s Horde.” But he’s also good with atmosphere and mystery. Of the the last, there are several in the story. The darkest involves the eating of the dead dragonmen by the human warriors after each and every battle. Like I said, creepy stuff.

In “Wawindaji Joka (The Dragon Hunters)” by Milton Davis, the hidden connection between dragons and those who hunt them is revealed. Davis is skilled at creating introspective warriors like this story’s protagonist, Jimbia. More than the dragonhunt itself, which is done well, the core of the story is how Jimbia is transformed by it.

“Against the Sky Tomb of the Earth Kings” by M. Harold Page gives you just what the title says: a giant flying mausoleum filled with corpses. Then it gives you an airship, a crew of mercenaries, and of course, a dragon. Page brings the biggest, most brutal battles toHeroika, as an entire city is laid waste. This is great, wild storytelling.

“Red Rain” by William Hiles is the first story in the collection to step out of pure fantasy and into the modern world. Union soldiers in the western Virginia mountains find themselves up against one thing they never expected — a dragon. Hiles does a good job depicting how the soldiers must first accept the frightening reality of what they’re facing, and then how to kill it.

“La Bétaille” by Beth W. Patterson is my favorite story in Heroika. Her prose is often beautiful, wonderfully evoking the wild Louisiana swamps and their denizens.

Pichou, a young girl in Cajun country, is the only person who realizes something is secretly working evil on the people of her neighborhood. She soon discovers that her opponent is a vast, dark power that hides deep in the swamp bending things to its will.

The reptiles were heading toward an enormous boat the like of which she had never seen before — a boat as big as her cousin’s trailer.

Then a glowing white light appeared in its upper window. A divided partition rolled slowly left and right, scanning the water.

This was no boat. It was the head of the biggest alligator Pichou had ever seen. But it couldn’t be…Perhaps it was a dinosaur? Like a coelacanth, thought to be extinct for eons.

Impossibly, “Fire on the Bayou” sounded in her head as the reptile’s giant mouth opened, disgorging searing flame into the night.

tyrannosaurus rex with feathers

Pichou is a great character, bold and determined, and I’m hoping to read more of her adventures in the future.

Bruce Durham’s “Arctic Rage” is a post-apocalyptic dragonhunt story. In the near future Earth is overrun by dragons, nuclear winter blankets the world, and the remnants of humanity have been pushed into the farthest North. This one’s got a mecha in it, so that’s great.

Heroika’s closing story, “Sic Semper Draconis” by Mark Finn doesn’t have any dragons at all, but it does have a completely up-to-date feathered T. rex. A massive time portal has opened in the southern hemisphere and flooded the Earth with dinosaurs. Long and tough experience with them has allowed humanity to more or less handle them. More or less.

Too many anthologies pick a tone and then it doesn’t vary from story to story.Heroika avoids that. Connected by the themes of heroism and dragon-fighting, it allows room for varying styles of mythic tales and heroic fantasy as well as all-out pulp craziness.

I’m excited to see so many stories, so many of them quite good, together in on place. I’m a fan of anthologies and there aren’t enough of them for my tastes. We’ve all read that fantasy readers only want long novels and that not enough people buy anthologies. Janet Morris has done a great job and is to be commended for taking a chance and getting this out before the public.

Perhaps the best thing about Heroika is that number 1 in the full title. Right now Morris is hard at work preparing the next volume, to be subtitled Shieldless. If you’re like me, that sounds pretty awesome.

2 Comments »

  1. Fletcher, thanks so much for your comprehensive review of Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters. As you mentioned, we’re hard at work on Heroika 2: Shieldless, which Perseid Plans to publish in 2016.I’ll also take this opportunity to thank all our writers and our production team for working so hard to make this concept a reality. — Janet Morris, ed.

    Comment by sacredbander – June 16, 2015 1:57 pm

  2. Awesome coverage of an awe-inspiring collection of – as you said – ‘heroism and dragon-fighting’ tales! Crests off and swords raised to the editors, authors, and designers of the first in hopefully a long line of heroic anthologies.

    Comment by Jason M ‘RBE’ Waltz – June 17, 2015 12:54 pm

Four writers from Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters tell all…

Reblogged from Terry Erwin’s Up Around the Corner…  http://uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com/2015/06/interview-of-authors-from-heroika.html#comment-form

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Heroika 1 Perfect promo 6&9FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2015

Interview of Authors from Heroika: Dragon Eaters

`
This interview is an unusual treat, in that I am interviewing four authors from the recently released anthology,Heroika: Dragon Eaters

The Authors:

  1. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genre. She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’.

Mark Finn is a fantasy and science fiction, essayist, and playwright. He is recognized as an authority on the Texas author Robert E. Howard and has written extensively on that subject.In 2007 he was nominated for World Fantasy Special Award: Professional.

Seth (S.E.) Lindberg lives near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist by day. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs him to write graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors.

He co-moderates a Goodreads- Sword & Sorcery Group and invites you to participate.

Cas Peace is a fantasy and non-fiction writer from the UK. She’s also a singer/songwriter, horse-riding instructor, cactus grower, and dog lover.

What is one of the most interesting novels you’ve enjoyed in the past year and why?

Butcher: IX by Andrew Weston – it’s a time travelling heroic historical sci-fi. What attracted me to this book was the fact some of the main characters are from the missing IX Legion from Rome. It’s a fun book, with monsters (which aren’t what you think they are), adventure, courage, alternate history, space ships and much more.

Finn: City of Thieves, by David Benioff. A wonderful, picaresque story about two unlikely traveling companions forced into service during the Siege of Leningrad. Wonderful writing and really well-executed on all levels.

Lindberg: Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology: This anthology marks the catalyzing moment of the sub-genre “Sword & Soul” Charles R. Saunders is credited with starting the sub-genre with his Imaro tales (~1980). In 2011, Milton J. Davis (fellow chemist and Heroika author) expanded the front with this collection, including contributions from the Soul-champion himself, Saunders. Named after African storytellers who relied on the oral traditions, “Griots” is inspiring, unique, and history making.

Peace: I think that would have to be “The IX” by Andrew Weston. Part of the reason stems from the fact that I copy-edited this book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and part comes from Andrew’s deft handling of his characters’ differing historical origins and the way this affects their contributions to the problems they face in the novel. I found the whole thing fascinating.

What is one technique or method that you’ve used to improve your writing?

Butcher: Reading. The more a writer reads, especially in a wide field of styles, the more one can find one’s own style and learn the rules.

Finn: I always read back out loud what I have written the day before. Not only does it serve to remind me where I left off, but it helps me do an immediate copy check for awkward phrasing, overused words, etc.

Lindberg: Going mental! Balancing a fun career with the duties of a father too, there is scarce dedicated time for writing.  I’ve fallen into structured day dreaming, rehearsing scenes via each characters’ perspective. Being kept away from the writing-desk forces multiple iterations, but the frustration is rewarding when scenes are enhanced. This role playing can be done anywhere, anytime; a smartphone or notepad is needed to capture key dialogue and interactions to flesh out later.

Peace: I’m not sure if “used” is the right word, since that implies a deliberate act. Due to my editing and proofreading services I naturally get to read and work on a huge variety of different styles of writing. While picking my way through the vagaries of grammar, language, and syntax I often learn things I can apply to my own writing. It’s amazing how blind you can become to your own bad habits – copy-editing someone else’s really does help!

If it was possible, which author (living or deceased) would you like to share lunch with? What would you hope to discuss?

Butcher: That’s a tricky one… Dead – the list is long – Tolkien and discuss the influence of myth and fantasy, Alexandre Dumas to discuss revenge, Shakespeare – well he’s Shakespeare – did he write those plays or not? HG Wells – the direction of the future, Terry Pratchett on the fate of orangutans, Homer – and whether the nature of heroism has changed, Colin Wilson on the rise of the serial killer, and Jules Verne on subject of the fantastic. Now that’s a hell of a dinner party.

Living – I’m not sure….

Finn: This one is not fair, because in my capacity as an expert on Robert E. Howard, that question is a soft pitch. Obviously, me and Bob would talk about writing, creating musical phrases in prose, and as much as possible, I’d like to get him talking about his travels in Texas. That would be an entertaining lunch.
Lindberg: Darrell Schweitzer: I personally discovered his masterful Mask Of The Sorcerer (published 1995) and We Are All Legends (published 1981) weeks after I literally walked beside him in 2010 (Columbus OH, World Fantasy Convention). To think I could have talked to him in person! I missed my chance then, but I’ll be attending again in 2016. I hope he attends and I can buy him a coffee at least.

Peace: I think it would have to be Anne McCaffrey. Her Pern novels were what got me into fantasy when I was a teen, and I still admire her work. I’d love to learn what inspired her and what her publishing journey was like. I always hoped to visit her home in Ireland, but haven’t made it yet.

Tell us a little about your story found in the Heroika: The Dragon Eaters, a heroic fiction anthology.

Butcher: Of Blood and Scales” is a tale of courage, sacrifice and desperation. Oh and a great dragon…

It’s a tale of heroics to save a dying child and a land on the brink of war. It’s a tale of last resorts.

Finn:Sic Semper Draconis” posits a time in the mid-to-late 1980s when giant time gates open up and spew forth all of the atmosphere, as well as the flora and fauna, of the late Cretaceous Period, and viola! Dinosaurs in Texas. The state would waste no time organizing an armed resistance—much like game wardens—to thin out the dangerous ones. It’s (I hope) an entertaining take on the hunter, becoming the hunted, and back to the hunter again type of story.

Lindberg: “Legacy of the Great Dragon” shows the Father of Alchemy entombing his singular source of magic, the Great Dragon. According to Greek and Egyptian myth, the god Thoth (a.k.a. Hermes) was able to see into the world of the dead and pass his learnings 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.

Peace: When Janet first asked me to contribute to HEROIKA, I struggled for an idea. Then I realised St. George’s Day was coming up in the UK, and I decided to rewrite the story of St. George. I went back to his Middle Eastern roots and made him a knight of the Crusades, one who is doubting his faith. Then I tied the resolution of the story to an island right off the coast of my home county, Hampshire, adding a dash of druid for extra mysticism.

Links to where Heroika is available:

Heroika at Amazon US / Amazon UK

Where you can find these authors on the internet:

A.L. Butcher:

Blog: Library of Erana

At Goodreads
On Amazon

Twitter:@libraryoferana

Mark Finn:

Mark Finn on Wikipedia
On Amazon
Blog: Finn’s Wake

S.E. Lindberg:

Author Review Blog
On Amazon
At Goodreads
S.E. Lindberg on Twitter

S.E. Lindberg on Youtube

Cas Peace:

Author Website

On Amazon

A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Chris Morris

Chris Morris’ wonderful comments on Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, orignally published at Library of Erana:  https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/a-week-with-the-dragon-eaters-chris-morris/

Today I welcome author, singer and songwriter Chris Morris and his character.

Character questions:

*I am Tarhunt the Storm God of the Hittites and the Hurri lands.

Why are you embarking on this quest? The dragon Illuyankas brought me battle and vanquished me, eating my heart and my eyes.  From that day on, I planned revenge, and now I will take it, using my own children, now grown, to triumph heroika revised 1over this dragon who eats the children of our country.thunderclapheroika perfect w c and j names

Where are you from? I live in the heavens, but my main temples are in Nerik and Hattusas

*Tell us about dragons in your world. This dragon Illuyankas demands human children for sacrifice.  He is a dragon of the sea, and sometimes he mates with human women.

Do you have a family? I begot upon the daughter of a poor man and a goddess  a  son named Sarruma, through whom I plot to avenge myself upon the dragon Illuyankas. And also I begat a daughter, to help me lay low this dragon and stop him and his family from eating Hattian children.

What is the best way to kill a dragon? To kill such a dragon, even a god must go carefully.  I will smite him with my lightnings, and overcome him with my thunder. I will strike the sea, and it will arise to my purpose.  I will summon the storms, and they will come to aid me. When he is weak I will pierce his eyes with my trident. I will make the sea boil with my wrath, and the dragon will die of my rage.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero?

To be a god, one must be a hero.  One must heed the peoples of the lands and bring good things upon them.  I bring the thunder, the lightnings, the rain to nourish beasts and crops. I fight beside my people when they war, striking down their enemies and even their gods.  I summon the rain and the wind and all weather.  In the Hatti lands, where we have 1,000 gods, I rule them all. For the sake of my peoples, I call the other gods to aid me and together we fight great battles.

Author questions: I am Christopher Crosby Morris, writer, narrator, and musician. I have been a defense policy analyst and futurist.

How do you define a hero? A hero is one who serves a cause greater than the self.

Why did you choose this era to write in? This anthology needed to start with a dragon from earliest days of myth. I chose the Hittite and Hurrian Illuyankas myth because it may well be the earliest battle of god and dragon ever told.

Give us a couple of lines about your characters.The narrator of my story is Kella, the actual narrator of one of tablets that record a variant of the Illuyankas myth. In my story Kella, high priest of Nerik, in the north of Hatti, tells a first-hand account of the second battle between the dragon and the storm god.  The hero of this tale is the storm god himself, Tarhunt, who begets two children specifically to help him defeat the dragon who previously had eaten his heart and his eyes. There is another variant of this story, in which Tarhunt’s daughter and her human lover get the dragon drunk and tie him up so that the gods can come down and slay him, but that is not the variant we tell. In our story, although the storm god’s daughter has a role, he himself fights this rich and predatory dragon…  and if I tell you more, I’ll give away the story’s ending.

Heroika: The Dragon Eaters is a dark heroic fantasy – how do you define that genre? Dark heroic fantasy was once called simply heroic fiction or mythology – which is always dark, always allegorical, and usually carries a moral whose value is shown in the story. For me, heroic fiction is any tale in which a character strives to put aside his personal well-being in search of a solution to problems greater than his own.

How much research did you need for your story? My wife, Janet Morris, and I have spent many years reading and researching Ancient Near Eastern myth and legend, some of mankind’s earliest stories. But researching in detail the myth of Illuyankas required not only a deep familiarity with the various versions of the story, but enough command of the early texts to be able to create and dramatize a single version out of several.

Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel? I have written for a number of shared universes, including Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell universe, Bob Asprin and Lynn Abbey’s Thieves’ world universe, C.J. Cherryh’s Merovingen Universe, and more.  I actually enjoy the challenges of working in a shared cosmos. I’ve also written stand-alone short stories, another different form. A novel allows you time to work with more layers of story than does a short story, in which space is very limited.  In a short story, you must know everything about the “past” of the characters but not tell all, only the climax. So compression of the most radical sort is needed for a short piece of fiction which must have a beginning, middle, and end in a confined space.

What other novels/short stories have you written? With Janet Morris, I have written a number of novels:  The Sacred Band is my favorite, with its grand canvas and heroic ethos. I have also co-written The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl, Outpassage, The 40-Minute War, Threshold, Trust Territory, The Stalk, The Little Helliad, M.E.D.U.S.A, and other novels, including several by pseudonyms.

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself. Recently, I came to the craft of narration, and found that it allows me to mix my musical, technical, and prose skills in a new and most satisfying way.  I have  finished narrating The Sacred Band for Perseid Press, available on Audible.com, and am now in the final stages of producing I, the Sun for Perseid Press, which will be released on Audible.com for Perseid Press in June 2015.

Tidbit: My favorite recipe for dragon meat is simply to brush it with olive oil and vinegar and cook it over an open fire for about two hours, or until the skin is black and the scales fall off.

Author website/blog:  sacredbander.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.c.morris.7?fref=ts

Amazon page:  http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_2

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Library of Erana

Today I welcome author, singer and songwriter Chris Morris and his character.

Character questions:

*I am Tarhunt the Storm God of the Hittites and the Hurri lands.

Why are you embarking on this quest? The dragon Illuyankas brought me battle and vanquished me, eating my heart and my eyes.  From that day on, I planned revenge, and now I will take it, using my own children, now grown,  to triumph over this dragon who eats the children of our country.

Where are you from? I live in the heavens, but my main temples is are in Nerik and Hattusas

*Tell us about dragons in your world. This dragon Illuyankas demands human children for sacrifice.  He is a dragon of the sea, and sometimes he mates with human women.

Do you have a family? I begot upon the daughter of a poor man and a goddess  a  son named Sarruma, through…

View original post 932 more words

Is History the Agreed-Upon Lie: Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, Janet Morris, ed.

First published at: http://ishistorytheagreeduponlie.blogspot.com/2015/05/dragons-throughout-history-by-janet.html

Saturday, May 23, 2015

DRAGONS Throughout History by Janet Morris

Our “History as the Agreed-Upon Lie” began for the human species when we first painted animals on cave walls and left our hand-prints there; then in Mesopotamia  where we cut decorations into monumental stones as early as the 12th century BCE.  Were there ever dragons —  real ones?  Many cultures refer to them in myth and legend: some had legs; some but not all breathed fire; some lived in the ocean, others on  land; some flew.
So perhaps dragons hide deep in our racial memory, going back to the days when we were the size of German Shepherds and lethal beasts ruled sea and ground and sky. Did we ever eat them?  Today, the most fierce and proud of Western civilization’s professional warriors may refer to themselves as “snake-eaters”  — not because of their dietary preferences, but because of their strength, determination, and competitiveness.For more than thirty years I, with my husband Chris Morris and other like-minded folk, have been exploring the heroic ethos as did Homer in his day and Shakespeare in his:  not simply the “monomyth” of Joseph W. Campbell, but also heroism and anti-heroism as it has shaped our myth and cultures, and still does today.  In novels we like to read and love to write, history and myth and legend mix and reinforce and explain and articulate one another as only the written word can do.  Writers have depended on myth, legend, and history in disparate portions to create humanity’s greatest literature — the better the writer, the bigger the serving that writer gives us of history turned dramatic and allegorical.We live today in a time where anti-heroes are ascendant, which makes exploring the heroic ethos even more interesting.  Was Achilles an anti-hero?  Or a hero?  Homer blamed him, at the start of the Iliad, for the many souls his petulance sent down to Hades; later, when the Amazon Queen Penthesilea insists on facing Achilles in single combat at Troy, he warns her in a demeaning fashion, then kills her with one blow to her breastplate.  Then, taking off her helmet, he falls in love with her and  kisses her dead mouth on the battlefield in an undisguised act of necrophilia.  Humans are complex, have always been.  Homer, better than most, showed us the manifold nature of the heroic heart.

When we had a chance to develop a series for Perseid Press called
“Heroika,” anthologies, books designed to treat the heroic ethos
throughout human history, we jumped at the chance.  We called the first
of these anthologies, “Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters,” not expecting our
writers to take the “dragon eating” part seriously. But some of them
did.  Some even offered me olden family recipes… These story span
man’s recorded myths and legends of dragon hunting, from the third
millennium BCE and Hittite/Hurrian Myth of Illuyankas to tales of
magical realism set today and tomorrow. The men and women in these tales
include hero-cult figures such as Heros Equitans,  Rhesos of Thrace, who
preceded the myth of St. George and the Dragon yet embodied it, as well
as people who might live in your town, might have lived in your time, in
your grandfather’s time…. Heroika may yet present nonfiction articles
in subsequent volumes. This, the first
volume, relies solely on fictional tales… or does it?

So we ask you — no, better, we dare you to put aside your preconceptions and see what seventeen agile minds made of our call to duty as they each wrote a story about “Dragon Eaters” in human history, some about the men and women themselves, some about the myth, some about our racial memories.

Perseid Press specializes in writers who write dangerously for readers who read dangerously. In Dragon Eaters, people test themselves and their beliefs against forces of nature and hope to prevail with … the art of dragon killing:

Here’s a description of Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, publication date May 25, 2015

“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, J. P. Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, A.E. Butcher, William Hiles, M Harold Page, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Beth W. Patterson, Bruce Durham, Mark Finn.

Come explore your own ancient history with us, in Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters.  Live a little — read dangerously.

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, edited by Janet Morris for Perseid Press, gets its first major media review from Ricky L. Brown on Amazon Stories Magazine (amazingstories.com)

See the original review by ricky L. Brown on Amazing stories:  http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2015/05/review-heroika-1-dragon-eaters/

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Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters is an anthology of well-crafted work with a wide range of entertaining perspectives. Spanning across cultures, centuries, and even the dimensions of time and space, each contribution has its own distinct charm. In essence, this book is a colorful bouquet of bold stories about one of the darkest primal forces in mythological lore.

Published by Perseid Press and edited by Janet Morris, this collection is due to be released on May 25, 2015. There are seventeen tales in all. Though breaking each one down with literary criticism would take multiple reviews to cover thoroughly, it is advised to just pick up a copy and dive right in because odds are pretty good you’ll find plenty to enjoy.

The collection begins with The First Dragon Eater by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, which reads like a classic saga of the Gods form Greek mythology. Having lost his heart and eyes to the dragon Illuyankas long ago, the Storm God Tarhunt capitalizes on the vulnerability and hubris of his own children to get his organs back, and in turn he sets out for revenge on the winged beast who almost killed him.

In the Legacy of the Great Dragon by S.E. Lindberg, readers will discover another use for the dragons in getting one’s sight back, but here we cross the fine line between man and god, and see how the twisted significance of the word “legacy” can define both.

Writers Janet Morris and Chris Morris join forces again for the third story Bring Your Rage. But this tome is less about the gods as in their previous entry and more about how raw barbarism can be played out in a poetic quest to slay a dragon and define the true meaning of a hero.

Aquila of Oyos by Walter Rhein is an emotional twist of honor and subservience between two dragons facing each other in a man’s world. Just as complex but from a different perspective, The Wyght Wyrm by Cas Peace is an intricate story of dragon magic and the cruelty of man when it is harnessed for war.

Though the ending of the next story was surprising yet thought provoking, The Old Man on a Mountain by Jack William Finley is a fulfilling adventure of one man’s quest for revenge and a dragon’s acceptance of fate.

Of Blood and Scales by A.L Butcher is a story of lies and deceit behind a girl’s long journey to the throne while Night Stalkers by Travis Ludvigson is a tale of a man’s loyal dedication to serve his Lord, the ruler Charlemagne.

Forged by Tom Barczak is a fairytale adventure with good versus evil, eventually allowing readers to discover the hidden magic of dragons that lies in the soul of a young girl and how “love” works its magic in unexpected ways. And The Rhyme of the Dragon Queen by JP Wilder is another enchanted story following a rhythmic song with prophetic implications and the colorful cast of characters who try to avoid its dark predictions.

Joe Bonadonna’s ability to draw on all five senses of the observant reader gives the story The Dragon’s Horde a dimension often left to the device of the characters. What this does is let the story of battling mythological creatures unfold with just enough realism to allow the tightly developed characters to act naturally on the stage of such an epic adventure.

Wawindaji Joka (The Dragon Hunters) by Milton Davis is a unique story where the dragon hunters might be as precarious as the dragons they hunt. Just as innovative, M. Harold Page brings a rare Steampunk version of dragon lore in Against the Sky Tomb of the Earth Kings where the battle is taken high into the clouds.

Red Rain by William Hiles gives readers a fast paced Civil War perspective in the battling dragons. If the War-Between-the-States can pit brother against brother, what will happen when the mythical creatures are thrown into the mix?

In La Bétaille by Beth W. Patterson, the dragon fight is taken to Cajun country in the south. Yet in Bruce Durham’s tense story Arctic Rage, readers find themselves in a frosty post-nuclear apocalypse Inuit setting where the hunter and the hunted play dual roles.

The collection is finally wrapped up with a suspenseful time traveling twist of fate. In what first looks to be the near future and some hard charging marines, we are surprisingly taking way back in time where the modern fight emerges as a bit prehistoric in Sic Semper Draconis by Mark Finn.

As you can see, there is quite a lot packed into Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters. Some elements of these stories stem from traditional folklore while others bring a fresh new light to the genre. Most of the heroes are as complex as the beasts they face, and in some cases, they are one in the same. Be it a novice just looking to learn more about dragons or a veteran hoping to discover some bold new truths, this collection will appeal to any fan of the legendary magical creatures.