The Promethean Benevolence

When the Titan Prometheus stole both nourishment from propitiatory animal sacrifice and fire from the Olympians, to bequeath both benevolently to mortals, he set a precedent in some regards. The iconoclastic and independently minded hero; delineating the extant potential for the third edge of the coin toss, where neither heads nor tails comes down, but the balancing aspect betwixt and between.

This is the shadowy possibility, and the most slender of chances, however remote or unlikely that remains in every decision, to simultaneously be a force for good and positive accretion for the innocent, a force for ill-will and detraction toward the overbearing excess of the corrupt or greedy, and the selfless embrace of whatever punitive consequences are engendered through the act of ensuring balance.

In Prometheus perhaps we can see the complicated nature of man more than any other of the Titans, Gods, or other mythic figures. Son to a dethroned scion, relegated to an ignoble or understated fate of idle tolerance or dismissive neglect as the Olympians take centre-stage in the Greek pantheon, Prometheus beholds the possibilities of the future and seeks to actively embrace them, to usher them forth and cultivate harmony and balance between the Gods and mortals. Thus, the proverbial wheel of destiny and evolution may continue to spin without deleterious disequilibrium; the sort that typically precludes the ongoing existence of sentient life as cataclysmic rupture (or rapture, perhaps) ensues.

This noble Promethean altruism, specifically the notion that a Titan, a demiurge, or a particularly sympathetic psychopomp would pursue the wilful restoration of balance, and promote humanity’s interest in advance of their own deified kin, is a charming fantasy, and one that resonates with the timeless nobility of heroic sacrifice. It is in the acts of such heroes that we can find an almost euhemeristic inspiration; that once great figures of antiquity were willing to risk their all for the betterment of lowly mortals; that a being of such immensity and power might choose suffering and ruin, damning themselves to an unpalatable fate for their transgression against the supreme authority or condition to restore balance.

How marvellous must these stalwarts long since relegated to myth and legend have been? Through their efforts they would ensure that lesser folk may yet endure, the mortal burdens lessened and their grime-studded humble faces, even if only temporarily, might yet cast a gaze upward, hearts and minds skybound, while the seeds of hope for tomorrow could take root in the most fertile soil of the human heart.

And beyond the dying twilight of the Gods of antiquity, we find now the world over many an enthusiastic recreationist or resurrectionist celebrating Blot, Samhain, or otherwise, supplicating the Gods for benevolence and favour in spans to come. I cannot help but wonder if the fallen, neglected deities of millennia past yet hear these prayers and paeans. If enough people believed in one of the Old Ones, might that be sufficient to restore them to their ethereal dominion in guardianship over man and the Earth, or is this merely an optimistic prognostication?

Perhaps it is truly a euhemeristic gift from benevolent souls long since forgotten; a prominent didactic legacy to educate and inspire in man the importance of harmony and balance, of the noble curatorship of this scarred, imperfect paradise we inhabit. To continue fanning the embers and cinders of hope, that one day, it may erupt into an all-consuming, all-cleansing conflagration of the most noble aspects and elements of humanity.

In any case, the Promethean heroes of the ancient world have set a profound example. May the world find others upon whom to bestow this mantle in millennia to come.


Inspiration Ethereal

I walked alone through the sand, sharing the intimacy of the early morning with none but myself. Clouds, distant and voluminous, betrayed the commencement of the sun’s lambent ascendancy. And as the creeping tide swept in about my legs, the crisp chill of the ocean’s infinity ensconcing, a suddenness overcame me. I continued, allowing myself to wander deeper inward, whilst my body paced forward methodically across the shore-break. Rockpools punctuated my journey; an occasional downward glance to check the stability of my footing and the surfaces upon which I was treading, heading in a direction I felt, rather than consciously selected.

At the precipice of the foremost rock formation, barely inches above the water level, I knelt, eyes closed and head bowed in solemn reverence, communing with the Gods, extolling their virtues, and offering in propitiation my earnest gratitude. Neither subservient nor undignified in my obeisance. The waves rolled in. The infinity of the ocean embraced me. A breath, an exhalation, and I opened my eyes. The sun rose, majestic and awesome, to imbue the world with light and warmth, to renew the energies of living motion once more.

And at that threshold of a spiritual singularity, I felt the stirring notion that I had seen this before. That I was not as I am, or was, but as I might yet become; and in that edifying moment, a recognition, imagining that I could almost see the first of the twin suns had risen to grace the dawn of Anaimon.

A fanciful notion propagated by introspection and a deep, humble appreciation of the sacred natural energies that govern our world. So fixated upon the modern, many overlook the fundamental essence that facilitates life. In that fleeting, all-encompassing sense of oneness, I found a familiar visage staring at me through the veil. The concordant suns a blossoming radiance behind. And I recalled what must become of that face, and the one who wears it.

One pares the veil, seeking those roots which no man can know. And in sacrifice, one sheds past, present, future; a becoming of an otherness unto oneself.

Until Melrakki claims.

Atmosphere and Imagination

The cognitive power of the human mind never fails to astonish and bewilder. We can subsume mere words upon a page into a vivid and firmly ensconcing ‘Otherworld’ that delights and enchants the wakeful consciousness utterly. We can peer through small symbols inscribed in ink upon recycled tree-pulp and see an entirely different world than the one we know and recognise as reality.

We can even transcend conscious awareness of the bounds of our constructed idea of the living world around us, finding the absurdity and comic, the tragic and the heroic, the epic expanse and the infinitely detailed in a wondrous synergy of ideas and emotive delineations. Such is the magnificent grandeur and forceful energy of literature.

Atmosphere is a precarious and vital element in building and sustaining an ‘Otherworld’ that will engage the imagination commensurately and retain this deep interest. All writers have their various techniques and stratagems for cultivating and crafting this atmosphere; both tone and content are remarkably valuable for shaping the way a reader might access and connect with a particular scene or chapter. But how does the author find this atmosphere and channel it? Does it come from within, or without; a product of introspection and pure creativity, or is it malleable, shaped and influenced by external stimuli?

For my part, the most rewarding scenes and creations are wholly drawn from my imagination, much of it from dreams and nightmares experienced in the long watches of the night, or from peripatetic meditation and contemplation in the early hours before dawn breaks. That said, when it comes to capturing these scenes and images from my mind, I often draw on music to complement the task of writing. The style of music that informs my writing mood can, at times, actually steer me into a completely different scene or delineation than that I’d originally envisioned; the external tone and atmosphere of my writing soundtrack can imbue further inspiration and tonal consistency.

Of course, the ‘Otherworld’ need not be indirectly shaped or influenced by music alone. Impressive and captivating visual stimuli, particularly the natural environment, I find compelling; some of my favourite scenes have sprouted as loosely defined ideas that a wander through the woods or a quiet pre-dawn stroll along bluffs that tower above the ocean helped to further refine and frame to a most satisfactory and enjoyable state.

There is a palpable energy, almost magical, to such quiet places and secret spaces of the soul that only solitude, at a remove from all the noise and overwrought distractions of the modern world, can propagate – and it is when I am surrounded by this atmosphere that I do my best work, and that my imagination races furiously to all manner of colourful and creative notions.

De Iucundus Opus

I broached, and indeed, traversed beyond the threshold of the first third of my current efforts composing the sequel to Anaimon: The Starfall. Having broken the 100k word mark on the sequel, the manuscript is taking shape nicely, with substantial elucidation and elaboration punctuated with some heart-palpitating moments that developed rather organically.

As such, there were a few scenes that were originally unplanned or in a differential sequence; such was the inspiration that they mandated my concerted focus which was commensurately applied. Few things in life are as compelling or delightful as crafting and cultivating a work with the written word; doubly so when the framework and narrative of the aforementioned work are drawn wholly and solely from the imagination of the author. So it is that the sophomore novel continues in develop with an end goal of, a little optimistically, year’s end – replete with this gleeful and animated author writing in furious bursts between life’s wonders and the small novelties of daily life.

I must also extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to another local author and indefatigable community commentator Mark Booker, who has provided a small feature of Anaimon: The Starfall in the September edition of his compact community newsletter. There is sadly a conspicuous absence of news and interests from my local town in much of contemporary mainstream media, so it makes for a humbling reflection indeed to find one both amiable and consistent in its focus (and certainly doesn’t hurt to get a positive nod in my direction).

Have a browse of the article, and for the locals, more of Mark’s excellent coverage of all things relating to the village here: Lambton Local.

Finally, I’ve uploaded some of the character art and corrected the purchase links for the Paperback and E-book editions of Anaimon: The Starfall. Should your artistic proclivities be so inclined, I’d love to see some more pieces. It’s one thing to visualise a particular character in your mind, and another to see that character so vividly fleshed out before your eyes.

Traits of the Hero

There is something fascinating and truly compelling about the concept, however archaic and idealised, of The Hero. The Hero exemplifies all of the noble characteristics; discipline, virtue, prudence, wisdom,  courage, physical and mental fortitude, emotional resilience, patience, temperance, and an utterly indefatigable and incorruptible spirit. These heroic traits represent an all-consuming dedication, a peerless commitment to a higher ideal or goal, and a sublimation and subjugation of the individual’s wants and needs in service of something more than themselves.

One can find so many worthy and admirable traits in the brief list above, but I’ve often contemplated why these tenets of The Hero are so universally applauded, and yet appear only reticently or inadvertently embraced in much of the recent fiction I’ve read or heard about. Are there any true heroes left in fantasy, I wonder?

Those antiquated, anachronistic bastions of pure goodness and selfless heroism had something; a fundamental something perhaps that in our incessant hyper-critical and morally ambiguous cynicism we’ve lost, or resiled as the stuff of childish longing and fanciful imaginations. Yet everywhere reality confirms that it still exists, even if not in the same individuals consistently throughout a lifetime.

The front line of military service can be seen as exemplars, where brotherhood, camaraderie and commitment to their honour group drives them – the brother on your left and right is what you’re fighting for. The firefighter who dives headlong into an inferno, the police officer who goes above and beyond to extract a child from the grip of a violent and abusive parent, the ambulance personnel who weather assaults verbal and physical to provide critical care even to the undeserving – why are such grand testaments to human courage, duty, and discipline seen as something worthy of derision, or to be undermined by self-serving, hypocritical and predatory protagonists of our fiction?

Grey morality in the real world facilitates and propagates much that is unpleasant and unfortunate. What is good for the individual’s hedonistic impulses is not necessarily good for the civilisation, or for any bondmate, kin, or comrade to said individual.

Grey ‘heroes’ sometimes do the right thing because it suits them or is ultimately to their own benefit; true heroes do the right thing because they want to make the world a better place. And if such optimism is naive, misplaced, or a frivolous effort, what does the grey heroes’ world look like by comparison? What does a world, a future, bereft of hope, really look like?

With that in mind, the sequel to Anaimon: The Starfall, progresses rapidly.

A Man’s Legacy

A man I will never meet, once wrote in a book that does not exist.

“Every Rooster gotta die someday. What’s important some ain’t so much how he died, as why he lived. And that’s where his measure counts, mind, Gods or no. It’s what a Man left behind; what parts of himself he cut away in the long spans, and what he managed to keep, through and true, while marking his time. Every Rooster gotta die someday, and only his sons will remember why”.

The contemplation of a man’s legacy, what he leaves behind, when all else is cast aside, gives me pause for considerable introspection. I ruminate thus upon the lives and actions of characters like Wandering Star, Braiding Spectre; even Little Fire for all the precocious verbosity of his youth, and I marvel at the dichotomy between erudition and enigma that each displays, almost as if by another hand than my own.

What can a warrior hold to when all his wars have ended? In times of peace, is the warrior merely biding time for another conflict, emitting a secret breath of relief while all others regret the suffering and cost? The paradox of death being the only life he knows.

What does a scholar hold to when the very institutions that gave him his insight and wisdom are corrupted, dilapidated, and expunged from his world? Are the lessons he learned as important when the edifice of their very transmission has ceased? The paradox of memory being the sole key to his future.

What can a soldier, a family man, hold to when the cornerstone of his entire reason for fighting is gone? Does he lament the time lost, or cherish memories of the time he once had? The paradox of fighting against the one thing he cannot prevent.

Levity, Grit, and the Grey Man

Unseemly, dishonourable, villainous, immoral, vile, hateful, destructive; all manner of epithets and appellations pursuant to the ruination of one’s moral character in the pursuit of some warped destiny. Whichever form the abrogation of the common tenets of civilised man might take, it yet holds some macabre appeal; a morbid fascination with the excesses of human action, an often violent contrast against a perceived set of normal behaviours – a violation, deliberate, of the social contract and parameters therein necessary to ensure survival of the species. Harmonious living isn’t exactly the desired end-state for most villains.

Then come the justifications. Conflict is costly, but a necessity for change and growth. One must die, that the group may yet endure. Selfish, opportunistic gain at the expense of those who support you will likely not be allowed to occur a second time, so seize with daring all that you may. There is a price, and blood will call when shed. Overt truisms in many circumstances, but I marvel and wonder at the darker predilections of humanity, and why they make for such fascinating reading.

Oddly enough though, some of the most amoral and self-serving characters in Fantasy literature come across less as blooded, fell-handed conquerors and more as petulant, egocentric children in my reading of late.  The ragged scoundrel and the dust-knuckled drifter, even the proverbial grey-man at least are permitted have a genuine laugh or two along the road to damnation, a shared sense of gallows’ mirth in the face of their timely appointment with the reaper, and perhaps even find themselves a shred of redemption.

The wholly iniquitous can prove engaging (though rarely endearing) as characters, but many fail to find much appeal with me, particularly those who are not bereft of an underlying catalyst or tempered, tragic promissory note that excuses  much of the character’s flaws and abjuration of decency or honour. An emptiness in a villain’s motives can be both poor writing and oversight, or a thoroughly stimulating enigma to unravel  – in some circumstances,  the villain is so alien and utterly devoid of an appreciable perspective the reader can understand or relate to – in a sense, wholly evil, or Total Evil Personified. These magnificent, towering chasms of suffering and decay tend to be so ethereal and unconquerable in scale as to truly make any hero’s journey to extinguish such a force of destruction and despair truly epic.

What of those lesser ‘villains’? The hero undone by his own best intentions, cracked, and bitter? A broken hero, a failed hero, still has charm and appeal for my part. I turn thus to the unscrupulous and ambitious upstart, who might have been a force for good but for some harrowing personal tragedy that skewed their worldview and lead them to serve themselves, ignorant, apathetic, or scornful of any heroic code or honour, in place sacrificing at the altar of self-aggrandisement.

I appreciate the nuance and deftness of characterisation required for the grey man, as a staid template of a villain can easily plummet into an ignominious appraisal as cartoonish, lazy, or uninspiring, robbing the tale of essential conflict. The multi-faceted, extremely ‘grey’ villain or anti-hero who has been broken too many times, however, seems conditionally more vulnerable to their resilience being bested and destroyed utterly, than being merely malleable under extreme duress. A more nuanced, more complicated and detailed portrayal to be certain, yet it feels a chore in excess – and one that is, ultimately, forgivable, or a guilty pleasure for many readers because deep down they acknowledge the tragedies and injustices inflicted upon said protagonist that propagated and engendered a far harsher, realistic, or cynical view of the world where one’s selfishness is the only guarantee for a climactic synergy of destiny and free-will.

So at what point does the broken hero instead become an insipid little goon far too clever for his/her own good? I’ve grown to find this element in some Fantasy, particularly Grimdark, remarkably tedious, especially when much-lauded  works are more a character study than anything else; narrative and world-building eschewed to favour introspection, brooding, and the indulgent, gloating propaganda of the protagonist. Utilising elements of this Grimdark ‘grey man’ morality mandates a requisite, self-designated verisimilitude for my part, and also confounds and frays the enjoyment I might otherwise have derived from reading works that feature such characters.

Thus, a strong character study-as-narrative piece should be riveting, but where does that leave me when I find the character wholly unsympathetic, possessed of an overweening pride, and singularly dismissive of the multiple , deeply damaging traumas encountered and endured but for the commendable way such hardships have given rise to an arse-kicker of epic proportions? It feels… unbalanced.

So I think, in the end, I’d rather have a sardonic chuckle or two, and begrudgingly be along on my way with scalliwags and cut-throats who, after it all ends, are just bad men trying to do good things.

The Call to Adventure

In the Anaimon saga, more than one character experiences the proverbial ‘call to adventure’. Indeed, The Starfall itself begins with a call to adventure driven as much by circumstance and necessity as by an awareness of the changing self. In life, we can often remain blind toward or dismissive of such opportunities when they materialise, conspicuous and vivid, only to be shunted aside or rejected as an inconvenience, an extraneous risk, or an otherwise odious and unwelcome intrusion into the comfort and stability routine otherwise accords.

How each of the characters in The Starfall respond to their respective ‘calls’ is something I’d not analysed previously, despite a near-infinite tally of reads and re-reads. Cognitive dissonance and confronting the uncertainty of the future plays a key role for each of the main characters, as does the unique perspective and personal history each brings to their respective decision. That all embrace the call in some manner is indicative of both the fundamental need to progress (and the demands of the narrative itself), to establish something beyond what they currently have and know, and a willingness to embrace adversity; a drive to attempt a most daunting and perhaps impossible task. What then propels them, truly, into responding to the opportunity, the call? And in reality, what propels us to undertake or reject the same call? I wonder whether many of us often realise such opportunities and calls to adventure in our own lives when the veil of day-to-day life is permitted to lapse even briefly, or the corners of the canvas peel back but a little, and what lay beneath is stark and bare, enticing and horrifying simultaneously.

Necessity, fear, obligation, desire… each of these plays a small part in the heart of every adventurer, but I believe the truly unifying particle is that of hope, and and the search for an edifying personal truth. In considering this, I reflected upon the strange skews and twists of fate in my own life, noting those forks and branches of the unwritten path beneath me and where and why I’ve either locked-step and stayed the course that seemed true, or wandered and roamed farther than intended. And when one returns to what they presumed to be their path, that comforting resonance is replaced with greater awareness of the self, and a certain lens of criticality; the analytical prism for reflection and introspection both.

Thus my musings return to my beloved characters, and I try to imagine my own decisions and justifications were I in their respective circumstances, facing such momentous decisions. The Memory-Echo utilised by The Orders and their adherents in the Anaimon saga is a key aspect of this introspection and rumination; for it provides a resolute clarity and capacity for far greater self-analysis than the real world currently permits. All memories fade and dim with the passing of time, but for our heroes, those proficient in the utilisation and engagement of their various cognitive memory schema and Memory-Echo cycling, are able to almost re-live all of their formative, profound, and traumatic experiences of their lives. How this shapes them as characters, and informs their decisions as they undertake their great journey to restore their world, remains a thoroughly compelling and stimulating idea as I continue to craft and shape the Saga of Anaimon.

The call to adventure, at least in light of this brief contemplation, remains both a blessing and a curse, subjective as with so many other things in life. A call unanswered can be disaster averted, or compounded regret. A call responded to and eagerly undertaken can equally lead to misfortune and self-reproach, or can take one so far from who they were and how they viewed their world, that the person they were no longer exists, and is utterly subsumed by the new person that grows within, shedding external layers until they finally emerge, resplendent, terrifying, and disconnected from all that they once held as their personal truth.

If you recognised the call to adventure, the opportunity and nothing beyond it other than to leap into the obscure or to draw back from the threshold, what would you do?

Epic Pooh – a thought

Michael Moorcock wrote a fairly critical appraisal of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in 1978, one both dismissive and elitist in the way it condemned what Moorcock perceived as childish and pedestrian-minded content. Having read LOTR several times over the years, and Moorcock’s churlish reproach of the work, I noted one inconsistency that rather struck me.

Moorcock early on in the piece notes that Evil is not explicitly, and expresses his ambiguous approach to the sentimentality and rustic yearnings others find LOTR to inspire and engender, his rationale:

“This county, like many others, has seemingly limitless landscapes of great beauty and variety, unspoiled by excessive tourism or the uglier forms of industry.Elsewhere big cities have certainly destroyed the surrounding countryside”.

To my mind, the bucolic romanticism Tolkien captures, particularly in the Hobbits, as well as the sense of devastation and reprehensible ruin of the natural environment that occurs in Isengard to fuel Saruman’s war, and again later in The Shire, certainly stand as prominent examples of what constitutes ‘Evil’ in LOTR.

Moorcock also notes the sluggish and insular perspective of such simple country-folks as the Hobbits, noting:

“I think it is simple neophobia which makes people hate the modern world and its changing 
society; it is xenophobia which makes them unable to imagine what rural beauty might lie
beyond the boundaries of their particular Shire”. I think this is too swift and caustic a dismissal; after all, I think it both admirable and healthy for anyone to love their home, to be attached, and to want to preserve what makes it special. At the same time I can recall the sense of grandeur and wonder, very much a positive awe, that ensconced our humble hobbits when they came across such magnificent sights of Middle-Earth as Lothlorien; the Pillars of the Argonath along the Anduin; the glimmering radiance of the White Tower; the rough, rolling hills and grasslands of the Riddermark… hardly xenophobic or insular, and more akin to the same sense of joy and novelty one finds among any traveller, adventurer, or tourist.

It is only in the darkest hours and the most war-ravaged and desolate of lands, chief amongst those of The Enemy, that the protagonists can truly appreciate what is good and wholesome back home, and also reflect on the diverse beauty of other sights encountered in their journey; those lands not yet touched by the rapacious, malevolent forces of Sauron. There can be a morbid and sombre beauty to a scorched earth landscape, such as Ered Gorgoroth or the Emyn Muil, yet the heroes of LOTR find it not and never comment as such, which leads me to believe that the bucolic sentimentality exhibited by the Hobbits is neither something to deride or remark of with derisive scorn and conceit; nor do they strike me as wilfully ignorant of all the marvels and heart-stopping landscapes they wander through. Their love for the natural environment and magnificent constructs wrought by the hand of man seem equal, only desolation and waste draw their ire or fuel their sense of despair, so Moorcock’s criticism at least in this regard seems churlish and unwarranted.


Literary criticism has a place, as does the analytical and critical appraisal and deconstruction of cherished stalwarts or genre juggernauts. For my part, such activity holds little appeal, and I would prefer the simple contentment of the Hobbit; musing wistfully on his little backyard garden, or putting his feet up with a good book in front of the hearth, than to indulge and ply in the acerbic trade of the condemnation of such an endearing and enduring creation as The Lord of the Rings. And who knows? Perhaps I’ll even have an adventure or two.