adventures in dysthymia

Sunday, September 09, 2018


The demon Qu’orthseth — known in some parts as Akorzef or Cahorsus, and affectionately called Cory by its human companion (not exactly its master) — goes way back in my writing, back to a short story I sketched out and never finished, long before I wrote any of the novels. The name Qu’orthseth, admittedly, was a joke, a parody of such over-apostrophed names in fantasy fiction.

But Big Q itself (it is asexual, about eight foot tall, and wine-red) was first titled ‘the red beast’ in a tale I intended to write of Corad of Lorj, one of the sons of Saj and Marana, who are the protagonists of ‘The Eyes of the Wind’ and the upcoming ‘The Jewels of the Elements.’ Essentially, the idea was for the demon to be a caregiver for its senile human master, keeping the elderly wizardly alive via less than ethical means. Why? Because as long as the old man held onto life, the demon could remain in our world — much preferable to returning to its home!

I never followed through on developing that tale but Q did show up in a different story, ‘The Book, the Beast, and the Burglar.’ By the time I got that short piece to where I considered it complete, I recognized it really was the beginning of a novel (that happens to me rather frequently). The novel became ‘The Ways of Wizardry,’ and it detailed how Qu’orthseth and the wizard Im came to be bound to each other. Now Im and the demon have shown up, a thousand years later, in ‘The Jewels of the Elements.’

And both are near the ends of their lives, though still reasonably vigorous and capable, magically and physically. The original ‘red beast’ story would have taken place twenty years or so after the events in ‘Jewels;’ the question for me now is whether to follow on with that scenario (even though I might never get it written) or have Qu’orthseth come to a different end in the final pages of the novel-in-progress.

I’ve put in quite a bit to ‘humanize’ the demon, to show that a millennium among men and, especially, as a companion to Im, has rubbed off on an essentially amoral creature. So a ‘sacrifice’ at this point is very tempting. It also seems just a tad cheap but, after all, we all have to die sometime. Even demons. It does save it from being whisked back to its home, too, and I can admittedly think of other (and maybe better?) scenarios for Im’s final years.

So it is likely Qu’orthseth will meet its end in this novel. This will not prevent it from appearing in all those stories set in the thousand years between ‘The Ways of Wizardry’ and ‘The Jewels of the Elements.’ That, you may count on.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Nobles and Names

In ‘The Crocodile’s Son’ and ‘The Eyes of the Wind,’ I chose to use Irish/Gaelic titles for the old Sharshite nobility — titles that had been outlawed by their Muram rulers. Now the Sharshites are not Gaelic. Let’s get that out of the way right now. The actual titles would be different in their own tongue. But I did want to give a bit of a Celtic feel to them, thus the choice.

Is there some Celtic ancestry for the native folk of Sharsh? Possibly, but it would be far removed and much mixed with other cultures by the time of our tales. ‘Gauls’ almost certainly passed through the Ural Gate, the passage between worlds, at some point, as would Romanized people of that heritage a little later. Both would, however, be thousands of years removed from the time the novels are set.

Similarly, I employed more-or-less English titles for the Muram and post-Muram Sharshite aristocracy. Count, Baron, etc. were used in the Donzalo books but not in the aforementioned novels, which are set more than a millennium earlier. I do make mention of the actual Muram title for King, Celos. I also used Thegn here and there as an older title and one the Mura allowed for the ‘new’ Sharshite nobility that supported their rule. The title survived as Thane among the Cuddonians of ‘Donzalo’s Destiny.’ (The Cuddonians are, at least in part, descendants of Sharshite refugees who crossed the mountains.)

And there is Dux, from the Latin, which I used for Muram military governors. Not unexpectedly, this comes down as Duke in later Sharshite usage. The ruler of Muradon is an emperor, also of Roman origin; for that matter, I use the Roman equivalent of knight, equester, for mounted Muram lancers. There was certainly an intention to draw some parallels between the empires of the Romans and the Mura.

Not that they are at all the same! The Mura are more akin to Asiatic nomads than they are Italians. But using references from other cultures is a useful sort of shorthand in writing fantasies. It helps prevent the created cultures from seeming too odd, too alien — and then, everyone (well, almost everyone) in the ‘D-World’ is descended from folk from our own ‘E-World.’ Nonetheless, be assured that I have created new languages to some degree for these cultures (although bits of Basque, Etruscan, and other tongues pop up) and that the cultures themselves are pretty much created from the ground up, and are not directly based on historic models. Nor am I going to be stealing historic events, a la Game of Thrones, and presenting them as as new. I reckon I can make up better ones myself!