Beyond Sanctuary: Review on Black Gate Adventures in Fantasy Literature of the Revised and Expanded Author’s Cut

see original article by Joe Bonadonna on Black Gate Adventures in Fantasy Literature:  https://www.blackgate.com/2014/02/17/return-to-thieves-world-in-beyond-sanctuary-the-revised-and-expanded-authors-cut-by-janet-morris/

Return to Thieves World in Beyond Sanctuary: The Revised and Expanded Author’s Cut by Janet Morris

Monday, February 17th, 2014 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Microsoft Word - 09 12 24 Sacred Band Cover white horse white foLet me start off here with a quote from my Black Gate review of Janet and Chris Morris’s novel, The Sacred Band:

The Sacred Band is much more than great Heroic Fantasy: it is classic literature, filled with sub-plots, a fine cast of well-drawn characters, insight and wisdom and recurring themes of honor, faith, brotherhood and love. This novel spoke to me on a personal level because it’s a story of pure human drama and powerful emotions. While the characters are larger than life, they are also richly-drawn and written with great depth of insight and humanity. What also rings true with the Sacred Band is their military tradition, their ethos. These characters are soldiers, warriors. They are not only mythic heroes, they are also everyday heroes; real people, everyday people who face extraordinary odds and foes… The Sacred Band has the sharp edge of reality, the harshness, the bitterness and the danger of the real world. Love, loyalty, honor — these are the ideals by which these characters live and die. This novel is epic in scope. It is mythic by heritage. It is positively Homeric.

Janet Morris’s Beyond Sanctuary is the first volume in a trilogy that includes Beyond the Veiland Beyond Wizardwall, and the events in this trilogy take place before The Sacred Band, the magnificent novel by Janet and her husband Chris, which I previously reviewed here for Black Gate.

Beyond Sanctuary is a complex novel and truly literary heroic fantasy. It is textured and layered, subtle at times, and yet always powerful. Like the best of all literary fiction, it has emotional depth and human drama, subtext and a philosophy that is expressed through the thoughts, words, and deeds of its characters, and not through narrative lecture and dissertation that slows the pace of narrative thrust.

This is a novel driven by eloquent, intelligent characters with real emotions and real problems, with plots and subplots born of the classical tradition… characters that speak to us, that have something to say. And the action never falters or loses momentum. Each chapter picks up more and more steam right up until the explosive finale of the attack on Wizardwall and the resulting aftermath that ends like the final note in a great opera or symphony on the last page.

Beyond Sanctuary Thieves WorldWar is brewing and the Rankan Empire hopes to flout Mygdonian expansion into their own lands and flout the mages of Wizardwall as well. And thus, Tempus the Black, also called the Riddler, decides that it’s time to join the fight, leave the sinkhole that is Sanctuary, and go up against the sorcerers and witches of Wizardwall. So he and Nicodemus, who is also called Niko, along with Janni, Critias, Straton, and the other Sacred Band of Stepsons, set out in pursuit of two powerful and ruthless foes: Datan the archmage and the Nisibisi witch Roxane.

This is the novel where Tempus first becomes involved with Jihan, daughter of a Froth God, who is in human form for the first time. This is where a young boy named Shamshi, who comes to play a major role later in The Sacred Band, has his mage-blood first awakened by Roxane’s caresses.

This is where young Niko, who is heartsick over having lost two battle-partners, loses his maat, his sense of balance and inner peace. And this is where Roxane first spins her web to attract Niko, to play her games with him… and wants to use Tempus to destroy Datan.

Ah, but Datan has his own plans to use Tempus — to destroy Roxane! No honor among thieves? There is even less honor among mages and witches.

If you are familiar with the classic Thieves World shared-world series, you will encounter many old friends and foes herein: Lastel (aka One-Thumb), Molin Torchholder, Hanse (aka Shadowspawn), Walegrin, Grillo, and so many others. Oh, and you’ll also revisit the Maze and that most infamous den of iniquity, the Vulgar Unicorn.

The gods, too, play a huge role in this novel: Askelon of Meridian, regent of the seventh sphere and entelechy of dreams and shadows; Enlil, Storm God of the Armies, who has snubbed Tempus; Stormbringer, the father of Jihan; and Vashanka, the former patron of Tempus, who has been left behind but not forgotten, and whose shadow, like those of all the gods, hangs over the lives of all the characters, for good or for ill, sometimes helping, sometimes interfering.

The main plot and the various subplots are complex and to go into more detail would only cause me to give away too many surprises and twists and turns. But I can safely say that you won’t be disappointed in the array of fantastic characters, the intrigue and Machiavellian maneuverings of priests and politicians, and the exciting siege of Wizardwall.

Beyond the Veil Janet Morris-smallDemon dogs, were-snakes, soldiers, demons, and the heroes of the Sacred Band — those warriors “of a higher octave of being” — all clash in mighty battle. Cime the Mage Killer, sister of Tempus, lends a hand. Randal, the allergy-prone enchanter and shape-shifter, so young and so eager to prove his worth, comes into his own and earns the respect of Tempus and the Sacred Band. Niko, too, who is still very young and uncertain, hopes not to disgrace himself in front of his elders and fellow members of the Sacred Band.

For me, the theme, the heart of Beyond Sanctuary, is untried youth, of untested boys growing into men, of recruits becoming soldiers, warriors and heroes. It’s a great treat for me to revisit this series, to see the threads and foreshadowing that begin in this first book of the Trilogy and evolve and grow through the next two volumes, and how they all play out, for better or worse, in The Sacred Band.

We see the hand of Fate at work here and the influence of the gods. And what I especially like is how Morris involves the gods, how they influence mortals, take on human form, become human and fallible, but never over-shadow the mortal characters or the story itself. Though not always seen, not always taking an active part, the gods are ever there, their presence always felt; this is all superbly choreographed in the classic tradition of Greek mythology.

Beyond Sanctuary is a wonderful novel, and this edition is a brand-new, revised and expanded Author’s Cut. This is a lucid, lyrical, and powerful story of love and war, loss and betrayal, life and death. Death is the price we pay for war. Grief is the price we pay for love.

Indeed. I’ve already started reading the second book in the Trilogy, Beyond the Veil. I urge you to start here, with Beyond Sanctuary, and don’t stop reading. Ever.

Beyond Sanctuary: Author’s Cut Edition by Janet Morris, Book One in The Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy, was published by Perseid Press on November 12, 2013. It is 398 pages, priced at $24.99 in trade paperback and $4.99 for the digital edition.

Read my other reviews of Janet Morris and Chris Morris’ novels here:

The Sacred Band
Beyond Sanctuary
Beyond the Veil
Beyond Wizardwall

Character Interview: Nikodemos of the Sacred Band

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Character Interview Number Three – Nikodemos – Fantasy/Mythic

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Welcome to Nikodemos, of the Sacred Band.

Tell Us About Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above all else come my brothers of the Sacred Band.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell Us About your World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wizard Weather,” Storm Season, Ace 1982

“High Moon,” Face of Chaos, Ace 1983

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

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

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

Author name:Janet Morris

Chris Morris

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

theperseidpress.com

sacredbander.com

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

https://www.facebook.com/PerseidPublishing

https://www.facebook.com/TheSacredBand

https://www.facebook.com/SacredBandBeyondTriolgy

https://www.facebook.com/tempusandniko

https://www.facebook.com/fishfightersonggirl

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

Interview with Tempus the Black

see orginal post at: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/character-interview-tempus-fantasy/?platform=hootsuite

Character Interview – Tempus – Fantasy

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Tell Us About Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any phobias?  No.

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

Tell Us About Your World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://sacredbander.com/

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the Audio book links:

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

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

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

The Ghost Horse Interview from the Sacred Band of Stepsons series

see original link at: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/character-interview-ghost-horse-fantasy/?platform=hootsuite

 

Welcome to Ghost Horse, from the Sacred Band Books.

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s):  Ghost-horse; the bay.  If you can hear me, you’ll know it.  I have no name in the way you mean.

Age:  thirteen years, interrupted by death and resurrection.

Please tell us a little about yourself:  A war-horse am I.  Strong and brave.  Straton’s horse am I, once found, then lost, then found again.  Of all the Sacred Band of Stepsons, Ace called Straton alone now rides me.  When he’s astride my broad back, nothing is impossible.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less:  Sixteen hands, blood bay war horse, broad backed and strong.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?  A moral code?  Bear my rider whence he must go, forever.  Run far and fast.  Bring my rider’s battle to his enemies.  Charge boldly; never falter; never hesitate; refuse no challenge.  Feel the love, hear the words of my human partner…

Would you kill for those you love?  I do.

Would you die for those you love?  I have done so.  And been brought back to life for my human partner’s sake thereafter.  Now nothing harms me, no metal cuts me; in any battle, my blood never spills. Nowadays I do not die for love; I live for love – the love of my human partner, Straton.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses.  Carrots and sugar-beets, those my weaknesses, which I dearly love.  Running over green grass, into battle, finding the safest path to victory for my rider, protecting him and all his Sacred Band:  these are my strengths:  As the only ghost-horse of the Stepsons, my place is always in the forefront:  with Straton I forge new ground; I bear him everywhere, unflinching.  Such service we have seen, such places far and wide, as few horses ever see.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Ace called Straton, the right rider for this broad back; the right partner for my battles.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions?  Do I like other horses?  As with men, some horses are brave, some cowardly; some generous, some churls.  I was bitten in the throat by a man who attacked me as if he were a dog, once.  So dogs are not my friends.  Sometimes a cat will bide with me, in this stall or that.  I like cats:  they give loyalty when deserved; they are rightly cautious.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them.  I have been a cavalry horse since I was two, and chosen from a band of captured bachelors.  Straton has brought me up; he is all I trust, all I love; he is my family.  Sometimes he finds me a mare or two, but battle is my greatest passion:  in war, Straton and I find our greatest joy.  Sometimes we run for the sheer bliss, over vast plains and through forest, with no enemy in sight.  Straton’s lover, Ischade, resurrected me after the dog attacked me, after the battle in which I was mortally wounded. She loves Straton; I love Straton, so Ischade is, in some ways, under my protection.  Up behind Straton she sometimes rides me, and then no place is too far, no goal to loft, for us three

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? I remember the day Straton chose me, the look in his eye, the apple in his hand.  He sent me to other men, to teach me the ways of war, and got me back again.  We have thundered into so many battles, even the Battle of Chaeronea together.  With Straton astride me, I never doubt, I never fear.  Wherever he wills to go, I can carry him, be it to hell itself and back again.  This I believe because Straton knows it:  whatever my rider thinks, I know to be true.  Wherever he wants to go, I will take him.  Whatever he needs, I try to be.  So Straton gives me the wants, the needs, the courage of a man, and I show him the wants, the needs, the courage of a horse, and together we are indomitable. A horse wants to fight or flee, as does a man; deciding which is my rider’s task.  Making his wishes real, that is mine.

Do you have any phobias?  Dogs and the men who become them.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I have a spot on my withers where men can see into hell itself, and a spot on my hip where they can see into nothing at all.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live:  The world in which I live is wherever my rider, Ace called Straton, wishes to go.  I have fought on Wizardwall, against the black mages of Nisibis.  I have fought on the battlefield of Chaeronea; I have fought in mystical Meridian.  Since I was foaled in Syr, I have been adventuring:  first among the other horses, until the mares cast us bachelors out; then in the high steppe country, and at last as a war-horse of first Straton and then the greater Sacred Band.  We fight in the forefront; we travel by cloud conveyance from war to war.  We have numinous allies to take us any place in space and time.  Except for my rider and the witch who loves him, all I care for is contained in Tempus’ Sacred Band.  And someday, Straton has promised me, we three will ride forever, away from witchery and angry men, in the green fields of the gods.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? A horse believes what he can see and feel, and is bred to tell what he can trust.  We have our gods, you know:  Epona, Poseidon, Hekate, and the war gods before them:  a war-horse gives his life into his rider’s hands, and that rider gives all to the gods.  My world is full of enemies, who’d eat a horse as soon as kill a man, and those enemies have rival gods.  So we war-horses fight on the side of right, as our riders see it.  And that will never change, has been the same since the first gods were foaled.

If so do you follow one of them? I follow the gods of Ace, called Straton.  As long as he lives, that will never change.

Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour:  I am a war-horse, so I go to war.  With Ace called Straton astride, I do the needful, all his gods command, since his gods are also mine.  I am a peace-keeper, so I ply angry streets.  I am an explorer, so I lope where no horse has ever gone before.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?  I go where Ace called Straton needs to go.  I fight for him, with him, beside him.  I keep him safe whether we are in this world or another.  Anyplace a horse can go, I take him – even a world away.  I have spun in whirlwinds unto foreign lands, even Thrace and Scythia and on from there.  Not future or past or anywhere is barred from the Sacred Band of Stepsons, so in ranks we sortie.  Even Tempus, the Riddler, has commended me in public for my bravery, when I have fought in dimensions some horses never tread, and more farther realms lie just ahead….

Name and describe a food from your world.  Salt hay, tender and tan, bluest grass bitten right from the earth, roots and dirt and all; fat oats, steamed until their hulls break open; corn and molasses and flaxseed mashed.  My favorites though, are carrots with their green and lacy tops, and chunks of tender sugar-beet.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?  Magic is the necromant who resurrected me, gave me a chance to come back to this world for the rider whom I love.  Some think magic is aught than natural; I say magic is the wind in your mane, yielding turf underfoot, and a rider on a mission.

What form of politics is dominant in your world?  Politics are for mares and men, not for stallions.  I will walk upon my hind legs to strike any enemy of my rider or my mares and foals.  I will trample jackals and lions and feral dogs.  I believe in giving one warning squeal, and a bellow of promise; then I strike, unashamed, to defend what is mine:  that is the extent of politics for me.  The rest is clacking of jaws and whistles on the air.

Does your world have different races of people?  We have humans of every color and belief and shape and size, just as we have horses as diverse.  In a herd of horses, as in a crowd of people, those who are alike band together against those of different nature.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. In ancient times, Zeus gave two horses to Tros, king of Troy, to console the king after the god had taken Ganymede for his young lover.  From those great horses, the best, the strongest, the fastest horses are sprung.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? We have chariot with metal-bound wheels and axles fitted with scythes.  Some of us wear armor, felt or scales of metal.  Some of us have iron shoes upon our hooves.   What item would you not be able to live without?  My rider.

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.  This world is full of gods, mages, shape-shifters; and demi-gods, and elementals – even a demiurge or two and creatures who spawn weather gods and fashion fates.

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention? Horsemanship, so that we and our riders can be better partners.

Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.)  Hekate, goddess of race horses.   The Hippoi Athanatoi, the immortal horses of the gods themselves, offspring of the weather gods themselves; and all the Hittite god of horses, Tarhun, in and of himself a storm god.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

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

The Fish the Fighters and the Storm God  http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY

Author name: Janet Morris and Chris Morris

 

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

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

https://www.facebook.com/TheSacredBand

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

https://www.facebook.com/JanetEMorris

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings

https://www.facebook.com/fishfightersonggirl

https://www.facebook.com/SacredBandBeyondTriolgy

https://www.facebook.com/PerseidPublishing

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

http://sacredbander.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Morris/e/B001HPJJB8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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

http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

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

A taste of Beyond Sanctuary in Mage Blood, now a Kindle Single and Audible.com audiobook.

Tempus – takes the fight to the Wizards…who will survive?

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MAGE BLOOD [Kindle Edition]

Janet Morris

Tempus and his Sacred Band of Stepsons prepare to take the Wizard War to the Mages of Wizardwall in this gripping story set “Beyond Sanctuary.” With Jihan the Froth daughter at his side, Tempus and the core of the Stepsons ride into the embattled town of Tyse, where they find friends and foes among the witches, wizards, and warfighters. From the first full length novel inspired by the Thieves’ World (R) series, “Mage Blood” takes you into unknown realms fraught with unimaginable peril.

Hear the Stepsonsspeak in the Audiobook edition of Mageblood, from the Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy.

Hear the Stepsonsspeak in the Audiobook edition of Mageblood, from the Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy.

Chris Morris, narrator and co-author of The Sacred Band audiobook, speaks out:

Audio Book Narrator Interview one – Chris Morris

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http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409504021&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Sacred+Band+audiobook

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Sacred-Band-Audiobook/B00MU2VCEO/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srImg?qid=1409504150&sr=1-1

The Sacred Band mythic novel, unabridged by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris

The Sacred Band mythic novel, unabridged by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris

As part of the interviews discussing all parts of reading, writing and enjoying great books today something new. Audio books.  Audio books have been around for ages – I have copies on cassette tape (yes remember those?) and one on CD but now most are MP3 and far easier to listen to than having to change the tape every 30 minutes!

As the first of these interviews I am very pleased to welcome Chris Morris, author, musician and audio book narrator.

Welcome to Christopher Crosby Morris

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am all about sound. Most of us can hear farther than we can see and have deep sound vocabularies we seldom consciously bring to bear in appreciating more of all that goes on in our lives. My mission is to wake people to the enhanced quality of life available through fully developed hearing.

How did you become involved with audio book narration and production? We read aloud as part of our writing process, often repeatedly, until our prose is properly voiced. Telling stories, whether in prose or song, is a listening sport. To be able to produce our written works in audio versions completes our audience’s spectrum of storytelling accessibility and for many provides a more profound experience than reading. Plus, I know the sorts of nuance each character brings and can impart something of what they’re like at the nonverbal level.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? At some time or other I’ve read our entire catalogue aloud, rehearsing you might say. My favourite is I, the Sun, which is next up in our production queue.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I prefer heroic fiction. I do not/will not read dystopian material because it stifles growth of character, which is our destiny.

What are you working on at present/just finished? At the moment I’m reading Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder. I’m narrating it as I read it for the first time, so it had better be heroic or I won’t read the next one.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  I read a chapter at a time on my Kindle Fire HD. I review the day’s material and highlight the names of the speakers to avoid mixing them up on the fly. I record in Adobe Audition and, when I misspeak, pause a moment, press the ‘M’ key to leave a marker, then immediately read the passage again and continue; I find it easier to go back later and edit at the marker points than to stop the bus, excise the offending bit, and then punch in to begin again; it’s about flow and rapport and technical interruptions can quickly degrade one’s performance.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  A point comes when I disappear and the story takes over, although I’m emotionally immersive and a section fraught with feeling can throw me off centre enough to leak into the voice and one has to stop and regroup at such a point; I’m steeling myself to deal with some of the death scenes in I, the Sun. So what’s enjoyable is being the voice of moments that transcend considerations of normalcy and possess the scope to portray extraordinary circumstances to the audience.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yes.

Do you listen to audio books? I listen to anything narrated by Derek Jacobi or Jeremy Irons; I also admire Alex Hyde-White’s narrations.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes. But see below..

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Audio storytelling, rather than being something new, is returning to us something very old in our DNA, the wonderment of gathering to hear a voice fill the darkness and elicit our participation in a tale as we imagine what we hear. All the world’s cultures need this very much now. The spoken word is primal in its power to involve us and, properly uttered, humbly magnificent, the grandparent of our better selves.

Can you remember the first audio book you owned? Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) narrating the Adventures of Pinocchio.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? Before committing to produce our own audio books we signed up on the ACX site and began sampling the narrator talent there, which is considerable. We engaged Alex Hyde-White and David Kudler, both of whom gave us singular performances of shorter works and were supportive when I mentioned I’d like to give narration a go.

What I bring to narration is musicality. Good singers proceed from a natural speaking voice to the edges of register, tone, and volume their rendition of a piece requires; narration is similar but with the added consideration that one’s ‘piece’ is a lot longer than the average song and that ‘guest voices’ have to be incorporated into the narrator’s own. Listening to others sing my book pushed me right over the cliff.

By the time I finished my first run through of The Sacred Band, I had learned to produce an anchor voice – a centre sound – to carry all the exposition and yet have enough scope to inflect humour or suspense and other tensions when called for. We all have this ability and developing it is my lifelong fascination.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) So far so good. What I like most about ACX is the amount of homework they’ve done to address the needs of all the parties to a production. Since the audio book form is newly resurgent there isn’t the lore or fading dominance of crumbling “big houses” of audio book publishing – they’ve simply never existed – and ACX has a band of brothers feel to it at the moment that I like. Hope it lasts.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not really. You do learn very quickly what your articulation preferences are. Glottal stops are unacceptable. Regional dialectics wear thin rapidly. Vocal caricaturization, if I may coin a term, or cutesy voices drive me straight into the arms of my nearest dog.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I always wanted to be lanky.

Where can we hear your audiobook? You can hear a free sample of my new audiobook, The Sacred Band, written by Janet morris and Chris Morris and narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris, on Audible.com at: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Sacred-Band-Audiobook/B00MU2VCEO/

or on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/

What will you be narrating next? After I finish Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder, I am scheduled to narrate I, the Sun by Janet Morris, Outpassage by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, and then Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris.

You are also an accomplished author and prose editor. Where can find books you’ve edited, and some of your books and stories? I have many published stories. Some of my most recent short fictions appear in the following anthologies, some of which I edited. [These links are for Amazon Kindle, but most titles are also available in trade paper on Amazon, and in electronic editions on Nook as well as Kindle.)

Lawyers in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Lawyers-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B0057Q0OIK/

Rogues in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Rogues-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B008JZCFMO/

Dreamers in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Dreamers-Hell-Heroes-Nancy-Asire-ebook/dp/B00DEB1IJE/

Poets in Hell   http://www.amazon.com/Poets-Hell-Heroes-Book-17-ebook/dp/B00KWKNTTW/

My novels co-written with Janet Morris are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in Kindle, Nook, and trade paper editions.  They include but are not limited to:

Where can we learn more about you?

My music is very important to me. Because you asked how to learn more about me, I recommend you sample my most recent album, available as MP3 Music and on CD at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Knows-Christopher-Morris-Band/dp/B004GNEF3A/

You can hear more of my music on: https://soundcloud.com/christopher-morris

You may read about my history and see my bibliography at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2

Social Media links for Chris Morris (Christopher Crosby Morris):

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings

http://www.sacredbander.com

http://www.theperseidpress.com/#

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

For other interviews with Chris and Janet and their characters please look here:

Sacred Band

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

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/character-interview-tempus-fantasy/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/character-interview-ghost-horse-fantasy/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/author-interview-and-special-guest-janet-morris/

Hell Week

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/a-week-in-hell-day-5-marlowe/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/author-interview-and-special-guest-janet-morris/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/a-week-in-hell-day-1-devil/

New Sacred Band Tales: The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl on Black Gate

From Black Gate. To read on Black Gate:  http://www.blackgate.com/2014/05/25/love-in-war-and-realms-beyond-imagining-a-review-of-the-fish-the-fighters-and-the-song-girl-by-janet-morris-and-chris-morris/

 

Love in War and Realms Beyond Imagining: A Review of The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl by Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl-small

“Your commander reaches for yonder stars and gods do eye him. And there are more Fates in the wide worlds of men than those whom he has aided.” – from The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl.

The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl
Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Revised Author’s Cut, published by Perseid Press (386 pages, May 24, 2012, $24.95)
Cover art: Peter Paul Rubens, “The Consequences of War” (detail), 1637-1638

The team of Janet Morris and Chris Morris once again grace us with another excellent collection of Homeric Heroic Fantasy, featuring Tempus, Niko and their Sacred Band of Stepsons. This compilation is comprised of both new stories and earlier tales, herein revised from the original Thieves’ World® series, stories such as “What Women Do Best,” “Power Play,” and “Sanctuary is for Lovers.” Brand-new tales, written especially for this book, include “Shelter from the Storm,” “Lemnian Deed,” “Ravener, Where Art Thou?” and the title story.

All the magic, action, adventure, humor and human drama I’ve come to expect from Janet and Chris Morris are here in spades, and there are enough revelations and plot twists along the way to keep you on your toes.

This collection takes place after the Morris’ masterpiece, The Sacred Band, and gives us more of the history of the Sacred Band as Tempus takes his Stepsons and Thebans north, a world away, into unexplored regions and a mythic country. Though they are courageous, these fighters, they are no strangers to fear. Though they are warriors, hard and tough, they are not immune to love and compassion, to decency and common humanity.

And though the gods at times play their part, there is never a chance that Deus ex machina will overwhelm these wonderful characters and seize control of the stories. In fact, at times it seems that the gods are really no match for the human and mortal characters. As in Greek mythology, which is the heart and soul of all the tales of the Sacred Band, the gods are as weak, as fallible, as jealous, and as imperfect as mortals – and sometimes even more so.

The Sacred Band-smallThe Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl is a highly intelligent and extremely complex collection of tales that reads very much like a novel, and is built on a large and strong cast of characters who live and breathe, sweat and bleed. We meet new characters and revisit old, familiar ones.

And while we travel through unknown territory with Tempus, Niko and the Sacred Band, most of these stories are centered in good old Sanctuary®, where war is brewing between the empire of Ranke and the Beysibs of Harka Bey over control of that infamous town of rogues and thieves, whores and priests, mages and mercenaries.

Tempus and the Stepsons, the 3rd Commandos under Sync, and the Rankan Empire all want to rid Sanctuary of the Beysibs, install an interim ruler, and make Sanctuary an independent state. So that’s the background on what’s going on and the hub around which these stories revolve. Now, let me tell you a little about the players involved.

Once again we encounter Molin Torchholder, Vashanka the Storm God’s priest; he’s always trying to curb the actions of the Sacred Band, and this time out strikes a bargain with Tempus for his own secret agenda.

We learn more about the Stepson Straton and his love affair with Ischade the necromant; they set out to rescue Strat’s partner Sync, who’s been totally enthralled and held captive by Roxane, the Nisibisi witch who played such a large role in The Sacred Band and the Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy; her demon-familiar, Snapper Jo, now tends bar at the Vulgar Unicorn® and dreams of being human.

Herein we get tangled up with Zip, the Death Squad guerilla leader who introduced Sync to Roxane; he also gets romantically involved with Kama, daughter of Tempus, and becomes a player in the war for Sanctuary’s independence. Randal, the shape-shifting, jug-eared mage is here, too, and he’s still allergic to animal forms, especially when he changes into one.

Microsoft Word - 09 12 24 Sacred Band Cover white horse white foWe also meet Cassander the Healer, a gifted horse doctor who buys a live fish, a kite-ray that he needs to heal a young girl named Seriti. (Interesting thing about this fish: it’s used to create a sort of “organic battery,” which is then used for healing and purposes of interrogation. Cassander is like a heroic fantasy version of television’s MacGyver.)

Niko, right-side companion to Tempus, has been immortalized and is now the avatar of Harmonia, the Theban goddess of Balance and Justice. He has his hands full taking care of two children: Arton, who at times can see the future, and Gyskouras (Kouras), who is the god Vashanka’s son, through Tempus who actually fathered him. Jihan, Froth Daughter of the god Stormbringer, shows her maternal side when she and Niko defend the boys against deadly snakes sent by the witch Roxane to slay the lads.

As for Tempus the Sleepless One… as always, he has a full plate. When the two gods – Father Enlil (Lord Storm) and Vashanka the Pillager – vie for space and attention inside the head of an exhausted Tempus, Abarsis the Slaughter Priest, founder and now patron shade of the Sacred Band, comes to his aid and grants him one full night of rest. And Tempus will need that rest, for even more trials and tribulations await him.

Kama, his daughter, is on a covert mission and becomes apprenticed to Hakiem the storyteller, who claims to be neutral in this war, but seems to have all the right connections. New to the Stepsons is Gayle, a foul-mouthed mercenary who can build a string of profanity around a single word; he’s been assigned to protect Kama, even from those who are trying to help her. But then Kama is framed – implicated in, and about to be indicted for, sedition and attempted murder.

Meanwhile, Molin Torchholder wants to save and marry her, and Jihan claims to be in love with young Randal, the Hazard Class and shape-shifting mage. So Tempus decides it’s best to stop the marriage between Randal and Jihan; with Randal’s permission he then sets out to woo Jihan away from the young mage for many reasons of his own, not to mention for the sake of romance. But first Tempus must send out teams of Stepsons to find the traitor who framed Kama for murder and sedition.

There is so much more to this anthology and to these stories, so many levels and layers, and the fun is in the reading and discovering how all the many threads tie together to create a tapestry of great storytelling. As in all Janet and Chris Morris’s stories of Tempus and his Sacred Band, their writing is crisp and spot on. Their use of present-tense to grab the reader with a sense of immediacy and urgency is always well-played and never jarring. There is a balance and simplicity, a beauty and poignancy in their prose that is not overdone, not overplayed; they write with a deep insight into the human soul, with compassion and humanity. Here’s a favorite passage of mine that takes place when the ghost of Abarsis the Slaughter Priest appears to take Niko’s former partner to heaven:

She knew ghosts when she saw them; this one was a spirit of supernal power, a fabled strength, a glossy being of such beauty that tears came to Ischade’s eyes when it sat down beside Niko, ruffling his hair with a fawn-colored hand.

 

“I am Abarsis,” it smiled in introduction, and she saw the wizard blood there, ancient lineage, and love so strong it made her head hurt; she’d given up such options as this ghost thrived on, long ago.

“We need Janni’s soul in heaven; it’s earned its peace…”

Beyond the Veil Janet Morris-smallI like that passage a lot. For me it’s writing that aims for the heart, as well as the brain. The philosophy, the credo of the Sacred Band will make you pause to think, but the way the characters are written, whether heroic, villainous or something in between, will make you feel.

One thing I’d like to mention is the women characters. In a review of one of the Sacred Band books, the reviewer brought up the point that the female characters are either witches or goddesses. Now, part of that statement rings true to history, true to a time when women controlled most religions, when women ruled as queens. But women play much more diverse roles in the Sacred Band mythos than witches, goddesses, priestesses, and even whores.First, there is Kama, a Sacred Band warrior as deadly, as proficient in the art of killing as any man. There are the two Lemnians, Breisis and Ditki, who once fought against the Band but have now joined with them.

And then there’s Madame Bomba, a shrewd businesswoman who has her hands in everything, her eyes on everything, and her heart in the right place. These women are all empowered – they are forces to be reckoned with, such as: a witch that even the gods fear; a necromant who feels love and compassion; a goddess who wants to be human; veteran warriors who have not sacrificed femininity and gentility, tenderness and caring.

To talk more in depth about the plots of each story would be to give too much away. I think, I hopethat what I have given you here is tease enough and has piqued your interest enough to have you seek out this volume and lose yourself in the wondrously magical and yet all too gritty and real world of the Sacred Band. And for those of you who haven’t read my Black Gate and Amazon reviews of The Sacred BandBeyond SanctuaryBeyond the Veil, and Beyond Wizardwall, please check them out. I think you’ll like the realms of wonder created by Janet and Chris Morris.

http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403489117&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fish+the+fighters+and+the+song+girl

http://www.amazon.com/Tempus-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-Tales-ebook/dp/B00BI175EY/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403489152&sr=1-2&keywords=Tempus+by+Janet+Morris

http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00AMLKJAI/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1G3G9V5GG6XR7RCPPG50

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Sanctuary-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FPDG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1403489228&sr=1-1&keywords=beyond+sanctuary+by+janet+morris

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Veil-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FIG0/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1MHWYTAZ81A5WRHZSY7K

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Wizardwall-Sacred-Band-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B00GU0FH6G/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1KR03JS0W4QV928YG748

All Sacred Band of Stepsons series books available at Amazon in trade and Kindle from Perseid Press. theperseidpress.com

Books shown above also available at Barnes & Noble in trade and Nook editions, and better bookstores everywhere.

Look at Amazon’s Sacred Band books catalog and find additional Sacred Band of Stepsons short fiction available only for Kindle and companion audiobooks from Audible.com. Look for our Author’s Cut editions of the Beyond Trilogy: Beyond Sanctuary, Beyond the Veil, Beyond Wizardwall, expanded by nearly fifty thousand words.

Life to you, and everlasting glory…

 

Poets in Hell on Black Gate: The Good, the Damned, and the Ugly truth about Poets in Hell…

How I Lost My Soul and Learned to Love Hell

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Poets in Hell-smallAs many readers of Black Gate no doubt know by now, I have previously reviewed the shared-universe anthologies Lawyers in HellRogues in Hell and Dreamers in Hell, all edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Well, this time out, with Janet’s help, I am going to do something a little different for Poets in Hell, the 17th volume in the highly-acclaimed, award-winning, and very successful Heroes in Hell (HIH)series, what I like to call The Eternal Infernal Saga. Let me first give you a little back story, a little history as to how I, unplanned and undreamed, found myself wandering through the circles and levels of Hell.

A couple years ago I was asked by my friend and fellow author, Bruce Durham, if I would write a review for the then-newest volume in the Heroes in Hell series, Rogues in Hell. I said sure, I’d be happy to, even though I was in the middle of writing my second novel.

I remembered the original Baen Books Heroes and Hell series, having enjoyed a number of those, and I was familiar with Janet Morris from her work in Thieves World™ and many of her own novels. But it had been years since I read those; and I’d been so long away from the fantasy genre that I had no idea that Heroes in Hell had continued on past the 4 or 5 volumes I had read in the 1980s and early 90s.

So I read Rogues in Hell, loved every word of it, wrote my review, and then bought the previous and first volume in the new, 21st century series now published by Perseid Press, Lawyers in Hell. Now, while lost somewhere deep in the nether regions, I get contacted one fine day by none other than Janet Morris herself, who read my review, was very pleased with it, and liked the way I wrote it.

Mad Shadows The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser-smallShe then read my story of Dorgo the Dowser, “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum” that I had posted on Black Gate, liked it, read more of the Dowser’s stories in my Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, and invited me to write a story for the then-forthcomingDreamers in Hell.

To say that I was excited, flattered and a little intimidated would be understating it all. I was totallyoverwhelmed! Naturally, I said I would love to give it a try. But I waited. I bided my time. What I wanted to do first was read and write a review of Dreamers in Hell, and then go back to re-read the first few Baen Books editions and read some of the stories in the other volumes, the ones I had not read.

Another year goes by and I still haven’t written a word. But I was in constant touch with Janet and her Hellions, as her band of Hell writers call themselves, and thoughts and ideas began to flow.

First, writing for Heroes in Hell is hard work: one needs to do a lot of research, because most of the characters in this Miltonian shared-universe are historical figures, figures of myth and legend, Biblical figures, and even some famous fictional characters – provided some link to an actual person can be found, such as the Dracula and Vlad Tepes connection.

So I hunkered down and did my homework, reading some history and biographies, researching things like demons, devils, angels, fallen angels, and the Hells of different cultures and religions. Not only was I developing a story, I was getting a wonderful education.

Now, the second thing about writing for Hell is that it made me “up my game.” The series is not only character-driven, it is allegorical, dramatic, poignant, high comedy and grim tragedy; it runs the gamut of genres and emotions. I was playing in the same park with some damned fine writers of imaginative literature, and something in the infernal nature of Hell demands and commands a writer to do the best he can, to go above and beyond what he/she has done before.

Rogues in HellHell is addictive. It’s an obsession. Hell has its rules, but what the rules do is force you to be more creative, to think outside the box: the rules are not restrictive, they are liberating. Once you pick your characters and start your research, you find things, you learn things you can use to make those characters live and breathe and jump off the page. Yeah, writing for Hell is hard work, but it’s also one helluva good time. I love every moment I spend in Hell – and I spend a lot of time there.

So what Janet and I thought we’d do this time out is give you an overview of Poets in Hell, a synopsis of each story, in the words of the authors themselves. Enjoy!

Author and jazz musician Chris Morris gets the ball rolling with his story, Words, in which “the first Bible writer drafts a deal with the Devil that saves some skins from deeper damnation.” Next, Janet and Chris team up for Seven Against Hell, wherein “Odysseus calls on Diomedes and friends to save his skin as Sappho and Homer sing their glory. Meanwhile, Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe find out that the play isn’t always the thing, proving for all eternity that Hell is more than just a frame of mind. The Blind Bard and the Bard of Avon discover that heroism is more than skin deep.”

In Reunion, by Nancy Asire, “Attila the Hun faces a thousand cuts of sibling rivalry at its most hellish.” Then Bruce Durham gives us Hell-hounds, wherein “Marconi, Bell and Antonio Meucci become prey to a pack of four legged, deadly denizens of hell as they run cable TV to the Pandemonium Theatre. Will they survive? And could the arrival of Snorri Sturluson and one yarn-spinning, sword-swinging Robert E. Howard turn the tide?”

Along comes Jack William Finley with The Kid with No Name, who “learns that fame can be hard to come by in perdition and Dorothy Parker is reminded that pride is still a sin, even in Hell.” All Hell to Pay is Deborah Koren’s story where “Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp get their unjust deserts.”

Lawyers in Hell-smallLarry Atchley Jr’s Poetic Injustice has “Samuel Taylor Coleridge searching for the missing lines to his poem, Kubla Khan, and performing at a poetry slam with William Blake and Ragnar Loddbrok, where they must answer for their sins. Meanwhile, Guy Fawkes looks for answers about who was really behind the failed assault on heaven and if there can be salvation for any of the damned in hell.” Next up is When You Gaze into an Abyss, Matthew Kirshenblatt’s tale of “Lilith, the first wife of Adam, who pines to escape the confines of Hell while Friedrich Nietzsche stares into the abyss… and decides that he has had enough.”

In Tom Barczak’s Pride and Penance, “The Jabberwocky gets a taste for hell’s damnedest architects.” The author who calls himself pdmac hits a Grand Slam when “Anne Sexton and Li Po, China’s greatest poet, share judging duties with Camus and Sartre and learn the true meaning of a poetry slam.”

Then here comes Yelle Hughes’ Red Tail’s Corner, wherein “Dionysus, the god of wine and madness, along with the riddle-loving Sphinx of Greece, finds out that Satan loves poetry, but Erra and the Seven Sibitti do not.” Richard Groller follows through with Faust III, in which “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe completes his poetic Magnum Opus in Hell, with the opening day of the play drawing the attention and ire of His Satanic Majesty himself.”

And then Bill Snider records the fun with his Tapestry of Sorrows and Sighs: “Caliban joins the poetry show, and Sycorax has to know, where did her baby go? All the while Fionn and Merlin play their games in the shadows.”

My collaboration with Shebat Legion, Undertaker’s Holiday, reveals that “Even Hell’s Undertaker needs a holiday from the Mortuary, as David Koresh, Reverend Jim Jones, Ovid, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the ‘Fellowship of the Thing’ soon find out.”

Next, Beth W. Patterson presents Haiku d’Etat: “Stuck with one another for eternity, Robert Burns and Stephen Foster cultivate their prickly friendship in the treacherous Bayou d’Enfer until a hellicane demolishes their home. The eye of the storm transports the duo to a different dimension: the Shinto underworld of Yomi. There they meet the acid-tongued Matsuo Basho, whose speech may yield clues for an escape.”

Dreamers in Hell-smallBill Barnhill follows with A Mother’s Heart, telling us how “Plato and Lilith try to save Hell’s Atlantis from a second dunking with the help of a giant squirrel.” In my solo effort, We the Furious, “His Satanic Majesty sends Mary Shelley and Mob hitman Johnny Fortune to unionize the Uncubi, who are the unpublished poets and authors in Hell. But first they must save Galatea, Victor Frankenstein, and his infamous Monster from a vampire-like Lemuel Gulliver, who is using the Uncubi to help him overthrow Satan.”

Damned Poets Society is Michael H. Hanson’s offering: “Baudelaire, Poe, Frost, and other dead masters of verse join together for Hell’s greatest public recitation. The poets slam the afterlife but are slammed in return by the greatest poetry critic of them all, Satan himself.”

Now we’re near the finish line with Michael A. Armstrong’s All We Need of Hell: “Together again after the Bridge mission, Hart Crane, Emily Dickinson, and Ezra Pound go into the deepest, darkest, coldest manifestation of hell, the Inuit underworld. Guided by Atanazauq, a powerful shaman, they test the power of poetry against the ancient gods.”

And finally, Janet Morris closes this edition with Dress Rehearsal, wherein “Helen of Troy gets Marlowe and Shakespeare in hot water for taking poetic license.”

And there you have it, Poets in Hell. A little something for everyone: heroic fantasy and sword & sorcery, thrillers, horror, romance, touches of science fiction and steampunk – they’re all here.

So come visit us in Hell and enjoy the company.

BYO pitchfork.


Afterword by Janet Morris:

Poete maxime infernalis: ‘Poets most hellish’

thieves_world2Putting together volumes for the Heroes in Hell (HIH) shared-universe series is always hellish: writers fall ill, die, come into the series or leave it; new writers bring chaos among their bags of tricks, reinterpret every rule, demand exceptions to guidelines, and generally run amok. My co-editor Chris Morris and I like that: running roughshod over complacency keeps Hell popping.

We ourselves became seduced into reopening the series by a writer no longer among us, who suggested that if we did a secret page on FaceBook, the creation process would be easier to manage. Easier? Not at all. More intimate, for certain.

In the 20th century, I (Janet) and my co-editor Chris, became part of the first sword & sorcery shared universe, Thieves’ World: its mission was to make sword & sorcery and fantasy darker in a place Bob Asprin, series creator, called “the armpit of fantasy.” Little did any of us know that the TW series would make fantasy history – and help turn the genre very much darker.

Taking Bob at his word, a great time was had by all in TW. Or at least by me and Chris. The stories of Tempus and his Sacred Band grew into the Sacred Band of Stepsons series, and gave me three Science Fiction Book Club selections (Beyond SanctuaryBeyond the Veil, and Beyond Wizardwall, all previously reviewed here on Black Gate in their Perseid Author’s Cut editions). So Chris and I decided to do our own shared universe: since art imitates life, we thought we’d write it in Hell.

Remember those murky days of the late 20th century: no internet; no fax machines; no competing phone companies; computers that used floppy disks; author royalties of 10%?

Communications were expensive and slow. Nevertheless, we created the Heroes in Hell shared universe under a multi-volume contract with Jim Baen, and raise hell we did, in twelve volumes for Baen Books.

Doing HIH collaborations in real time would be much better, right? Lead to tighter plots, more alliances within the writing team and more friendly competition, resulting in better cohesion and at last in better stories? Of course it would.

So we agreed, and this idea of intimate expansion of our franchise due to interaction evolved into the Heroes in Hell Working Group, where writers ask questions, provide answers, share data, request characters and submit synopses, get permission to write those synopses into stories, post snippets of stories and rough drafts and— here it comes; wait for it — make deals with one another to share characters and hand off plot points.

Chris and I would give them long, medium, and short series- and volume- oriented story arcs, and off we would go. No sweat. No harm. And I could limit the fouls.

Heroes in Hell-smallAnd it worked out that way, and continues to do so, except when Satan takes a hand, or any of the other gods and judges in Hell decide to meddle.

The most-snake bit volume in 21st century HIH has been Poets in Hell (PIH). Sounds innocuous, doesn’t it? It wasn’t. It isn’t. HIH as a matter of pride tries to introduce new writers, mix experienced professionals with emerging talents and first-time authors. The writers, as we discussed future volume titles in the working group, wanted desperately to do Poets in Hell.

I knew it was coming. I had already posited in Lawyers in Hell that the powers Above were sending auditors to the underworlds because Hell wasn’t sufficiently hellish. Enter Erra the Babylonian plague god and his Sibitti, personified weapons and cruel enforcers of Heaven’s will: this multi-volume arc remains in play to this day.

I had time to introduce Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe and Lord Byron in Rogues in Hell. I expanded their roles in Dreamers in Hell, writing from Satan’s perspective to make sure His Infernal Majesty (HIM) seeded the story arcs and foreshadowed the tensions needed for Poets.

Then in Poets in Hell we turn them loose; Byron even brings his faithful dog, Boatswain. For my part, I recruited new writers, to keep things fresh.

Then, of course, all hell breaks loose. Some new writers decide to team up with more seasoned writers and with other newbies, but are inexperienced at fictional hand-offs, requiring Chris and me to take a hand and give crash courses. Writers submit stories with quotations and paraphrases, without annotating which are which. Every line of poetry must be checked and double checked, to make sure they’re attributed in situ if need be.

The copy-edit alone was worthy of a dissertation. My experienced Hellions, who asked for this volume, reached for the skies in their story purports and executions. The new writers performed Herculean feats to stay in the game. This would be the best volume from HIH ever, I thought, if Chris and I could get it under control.

Every so often life hands you a snake-bit project, but PIH was plagued with gremlins worse than snake-bite, unless the snake was from the World Tree. My editorial assistant broke her wrist, had a near-fatal heart attack, was comatose, and then out of commission for weeks; one of my long-time writers was diagnosed as terminal and began chemotherapy; another had an impromptu pacemaker installed after an emergency helicopter ride. Several experienced Hellions couldn’t submit within the time frame. I drafted Joe Bonadonna to help me with the copy-edits once we finally received all the stories.

The Gates of Hell-smallSo, we’re tracking, headed toward our deadline.

But someone sends in a final draft with a virus, and when we combine the stories all the final drafts become infected. Never mind. We’ll have each story resubmitted. We’ll find a new formatter, a new copy-editor, a new up-loader…. We’ll get our intrepid assistant a new computer. Multiple struggles with the snake-bit (intransigent) epub and mobi manuscripts reveal hidden codes that must be sleuthed out and eradicated. The cover designer goes incommunicado between her rough draft and final revisions, leaving me with a cover half-finished. We don’t get a final cover until the day the Kindle is scheduled to be uploaded.

Nevertheless, there’s good news: although the works are extremely sophisticated, the volume reads like a mix of sword and sorcery and darkest fantasy; we were able to employ cover art I’d wanted to use since the first volume; one of writers wrote the scene on the cover into his story.

For the first time, Chris and I wait until nearly deadline, when all other stories are submitted, before we write ours. Usually we give the writers “frame” stories: the first and last stories in the book. Quite reasonably, given the nature of poets, we didn’t do that this time: We’d make them perform without a net because we wanted a wilder result.

We got it.

That’s the story of the creation of PIH, and we’re sticking to it. The volume begins with a gift from Satan to all the poets in hell. You’d think by now they’d know better. And from there on, our poete maxime infernalis have free rein. At the end, by the skin of their teeth, our heroes…

Well, I’d better not tell you that. I’ll just say that Satan had his way with all of us, this time around. Next time, we’re doing Doctors in Hell. That surely will be easier.

Right?

Buy Poets in Hell, published by Perseid Presss, in trade paper, Kindle, or Nook formats:

http://www.amazon.com/Poets-Hell-Heroes-Book-17-ebook/dp/B00KWKNTTW/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1403482498

http://www.amazon.com/Poets-Hell-Heroes-Volume-17/dp/0991465431/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1403482498&sr=1-1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poets-in-hell-janet-morris/1119740472?ean=9780991465439

 

 

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In the 21st century, the new Heroes in Hell volumes preceding Poets are:  Lawyers in Hell, Rogues in Hell, Dreamers in Hell.  Get them all in trade, or for Nook or Kindle.

 

Read this article on Black Gate:  http://www.blackgate.com/2014/06/22/how-i-lost-my-soul-and-learned-to-love-hell/#more-78057

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook for A Man and His God, coming soon! Listen to these free samples.

The audiobook for A Man and His God, a Sacred  Band Tale, by Janet Morris will be available soon. The voice for the audiobook version was supplied by David Kudler. On his blog here at Stillpoint Digital Press, you can hear a couple of samples of his work on the story, free for the listening. We here at The Sacred Band think he did a wonderful job. Take a listen and let us know what you think. When the audiobook version is published, we will post a notification here in the blog. We hope you will spread the word amongst friends and family.

Until next time, Sacred Banders, Life to you, and everlasting glory.

A Man and His God Cover

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