By Steven Shrewsbury
So, that book was sword & sorcery, huh? That’s what I hear about my latest release OVERKILL and more than a few other things I’ve done. I must admit when crafting OVERKILL (the prequel to THRALL) I never sat down and went, “By golly, this is gonna be a S&S novel.” Nope. Sure didn’t. Perhaps I’m way behind on the times (a distinct possibility) but I never really view fantasy in varied rankings. I’d heard the term sword & sorcery many times growing up, and kind of thought that is what fantasy was, but soon a sniping correction arrived that NARNIA and LOTR are high fantasy or epic fantasy, not S&S.
Why not? Well, I was told, they happen on a different world than ours. Oh, so they have assassins, demons, steel, speak the King’s English, and all that, but it isn’t Earth? Gotcha. S&S tends to use actual Earth history or locations, or forgotten realms (Howard’s Hyborian age etc), or so I was informed. Okay. Look at the works of Robert E. Howard, Karl Edward Wagner, Fritz Lieber, Michael Moorcock. Okay.
So I had done it, set OVERKILL in a time before the great flood, but not a named epoch other than antediluvian. I was chided once for a lack of world building in THRALL. Heck, I pondered as I do when having a few beers & pizza, the world was built already. It was Earth, before the flood, lots of cool stuff going on, Nephilums, monsters, forgotten magicks and religions…good canvas to paint on.
Perhaps if I called it Terrana and made alt names for everything it would be more in the realm of high fantasy? Meh. Frankly, a big MEH. I wrote a story. I told a tale about Gorias La Gaul, 700 year old warrior out to retrieve the final heir of Transalpina from pirates. The political intrigue, murders by dragonfire and the manifestation of the demonic entity Pergamus, father of all dragons, was just the story. It was a tale about Gorias La Gaul, not a realm. I had no designs on fitting into a genre.
That said, I think OVERKILL is a horror story, just set thousands of years ago. If they pick up a sword, I was told, it’s a fantasy tale. Sigh. I hope that dude never reads Shaara’s KILLER ANGELS, but I digress. Anyway, I actually am aware of the terms for fantasy, how Fritz Lieber (at the extolling of Moorcock) said there should be a title for such stuff. Lieber, author of the great Grey Mouser series, said Sword & Sorcery. It fit. Supernatural, danger, adventure, earth time and a more imminent threat to the hero, not the planet. I get that and it works. I oft wonder if he used that term because at the time 1961, there was a run on badly made (but very popular) films dubbed Sword & Sandal due to the ancient wars, Biblical epics etc.
Anyways, I guess I wrote a sword & sorcery novel. That term has unfortunately come to be a derisive one with a few snobs, those who lashed it to the crumby (if watchable) films of the 80s and series of works it helped launch. Yes, maybe I stand here not to bury sword & sorcery but to praise it, prop it up and give it the paddles. The story is what counts, not how much back-story you can fill into a snoozer of a 1000 page doorstop most will find themselves skimming. One can make a great story and have interesting characters without jerking the reader off with tantalizing hints of THIS WILL BE OVER IN 8 MORE NOVELS! PROMISE!
Like Howard saw, like Conan believed, there is no tomorrow. I’m telling my tales. I have many more to tell. I’ll tell ‘em as best I can and if they slap S&S on it, so be it. The point is to entertain, to give an escape form this empire of cell phones, droning jobs and chattering mindless dolts. The hatch opens and the point is to escape into a place far away, more interesting and full of those we wish we could be. Yeah, that is a fantasy all right. An epic idea? Pee-shaw. Probably not. Neither is it high or low, but lemme pull out a sword and make some magic.
There might be bumps bruises, death, demons and somebody might just get laid along the way. Wanna ride with me? Saddle up. The adventure is not just beginning, it’s now. C’mon. There will be time enough for fighting over who is smartest and can bore the hell out ya longest once we’re dead. I plan to go down swinging. And I got my sword with me.
Deliverance will come…
A great flood once wiped clean the earth, destroying everything upon it. Before the deluge, in a time now forgotten, the world was a place of warriors and witches, conflicts between kingdoms, and, until their
In this world, men may live centuries, fallen angels have begotten terrifying spawn, and sometimes, the best hope can be found in a brothel.
In the land of Transalpina, a new religion spreads, and important men are dying mysteriously, slain by what can only be the fire of dragon breath. Summoned by the Queen Garnet, the legendary warrior Gorias La Gaul returns to the place where he once saved the queen’s young granddaughter from treachery and enslavement. The Princess Nykia is gone, and soon others may try to claim the throne. The queen has little choice but to turn to the only man who ever told her no.
With the aid of one of the queen’s elite guard, the battle maiden Alena, and the young palace servant Orsen, the old mercenary will face pirates and traitors, monsters and foul magic in the quest to find the missing heir and learn the truth behind the disconcerting murders.
Deliverance will come for Gorias La Gaul, but for now there are women to love, secrets to discover, and killing that needs doing.