In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A Few Fables

 I admit, some of my recent posts haven't had much to do with writing. That's OK, because if I burbled on about my work time after time I'd bore myself, let alone you merry lot. But the launch of Black Lord of Eagles is close now, April 7th, so I really ought to chat a bit about that.

 The story is inspired by the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire in 1532. This is the last time that two cultures met with no previous knowledge of each other, having developed along completely different lines, The Inca thought at one point that the Spanish must be eating all the gold they stole, because they couldn't think why else they'd want it so much. It was an encounter with the Other - a completely alien culture.

 It ended in tragedy, with the Inca all but wiped out and their culture destroyed. But it was close. In 1536 the new king attacked the Spanish at Cuzco, and wiped out four relief armies before he was defeated. In the end it took until 1572 for the Spanish to kill the last king. If it hadn't been for the ravages of smallpox, the Inca might well have won.

 Imagine that tomorrow, we discover an invisible people that has been living alongside us humans all along, and now they want to conquer us. Their technology is better than ours and they're right here among us before we know they exist. Everything we thought was true about the world was nonsense. We would be shocked, stupefied, hardly able to think. That's what happens to the Ashir in Black Lord of Eagles, when they discover an alien culture on the border of their land. The invaders shouldn't exist. But they do, and the Ashir have to find a way to deal with that blow before they can begin to defend themselves.

 I love the Ashir. Their warriors are tattooed with society markings, wear their hair in crests and adore jewellery. People eat bread rolls filled with peppers or squirrel meat. They tell fables of monkeys who longed to be eagles, and of a lost people who carved the great stone heads which litter the land. They're hopeless romantics. Now me, I'm a cynic to my bones, but there's a part of me... a little whisper in my heart... that doesn't want to be. A part that wants some of the fairy tales to be just a little bit true.

 The Inca lost. Maybe the Ashir will too, when it all comes down to the last of the struggle. (What, did you think I'd spoil the ending?) But if they leave a few fables, and a sense of wonder, then we'll owe them something. I think that's largely what Fantasy is for, and it's what I aimed for with Black Lord.

 I really hope you like it.