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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy writer’

I’ve been regaling you with tales of the sirrush, a dragon of Babylonian lore. Unlike many dragon tales, the sirrush dwells in a zone of intersection between history and legend. Documents exist from the era that can confirm or deny details about this dragon. One of these is a text from the Book of Daniel.

Daniel, of course, is a famous Biblical prophet. His mission was to throw down idols and expose what, to him, were false gods. Since Babylon was the world’s great power of the time, Daniel went after their pantheon.

In those days, priests of the god Baal housed a sirrush in one of their temples. They worshiped the dragon, believing this was their god personified on Earth. Upon seeing the sirrush, Daniel declared this was nothing but a beast. The priests of Baal were insulted. They challenged him to prove his words. Daniel baked barley cakes, but secretly poisoned them with pitch, hair and tar. When these were fed to the sirrush, it caused the creature to swell up and burst!

Naturally, the priests were even more furious. They demanded justice from their king. This led to Daniel’s stint in the den of lions, from which the prophet miraculously emerged unharmed. The king was suitably impressed that Daniel’s god had protected him. He had the priests of Baal thrown into the lion’s den instead, where they were instantly killed.


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Long ago, in the French province of Provence, there was a fearsome dragon called the Tarasque. The monster inhabited a stretch of the Rhone river where marshes surrounded a rocky island. It preyed upon travelers, both on land and water, and it tore down dams and levies so that flooding was rampant. Due to all this destruction, the whole area was uninhabitable.

The Tarasque had such a horrifying appearance that people had a hard time even describing it. They said it was as big as a bull, with a massive turtle’s shell, a lion’s head, and six bear-like legs. The tail was long and scaly, tipped with a scorpion’s sting. The local king brought an army, including catapults, but nothing could stop the dreaded dragon.

After many months of woe, news of the beastly plague reached a monastery where a holy woman lived. Saint Martha felt pity for the people who suffered such a blight. She went to the banks of the Rhone river. The Tarasque rushed to attack her, but Saint Martha did not run from it. Instead, she sang a hymn of the Lord so beautiful that it charmed the terrible creature. Soon the dreaded dragon laid its head in her lap.

Saint Martha returned to the city, the monster following at her heels like an obedient hound. The people of this land were heathens, and she wanted to show them the power of the Lord. Alas, their fear still gripped them. Knights rushed forth. Even when they slashed it with blades of steel, the Tarasque made no move to defend itself. It died there, unresisting.

Saint Martha grieved, and she preached a sermon that converted the heathens to Christianity. To show remorse for having slain a creature that had become tame and helpless, the king changed the name of his city of Tarascon. A castle, Chateau Tarascon, was built on the island in the Rhone River where the dragon once dwelt. Since the 15th Century, local festivals have been held to honor the famous resident.

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Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Of all Egypt’s reptilian gods, the biggest and baddest was definitely Apep, a. k. a. Apophis. This primordial serpent god was a force of chaos without redeeming feature. The other two I’ve mentioned, Wadjet and Sobek, may have been dangerous but they were still firmly established with the “light” pantheon headed by the sun god, Ra. Apep ruled the “dark” pantheon, forces of chaos and destruction that sought to overthrown Egyptian society and traditions. As such, he was Ra’s natural enemy.

A chaos serpent had existed in Egyptian mythology from the earliest times, although actual reference to Apep by name starts around the time of the pyramids. He was depicted as a gigantic golden snake, 16 yards long (14.6 meters). Unlike Egypt’s other gods, he never had a human form. Apep was believed to live in Duat, the underworld. His restless movements caused earthquakes. When he ventured into the upper world, he would surely be confronted by Ra’s allies. Their battles were thought to create violent storms.

Egyption lore told that Ra traveled through the heavens each day in a golden barge. However, each night, he had to pass through Duat before he could reach the eastern horizon. Once Ra ventured into Apep’s domain, he was prey for the mighty serpent. In various tales, Apep tried to stun Ra and his companions with his terrible gaze. Or he might try to swallow the entire barge! Fortunately, Ra knew of the danger. He had an entourage of deities along for the trek through Duat, including another chaos god, Set, who was said to defeat Apep and ensure Ra’s escape from the underworld.

Clearly, Apep was not a god to be worshipped, but one to be warded off by any means necessary. Surviving papyrus and carvings include spells or curses to defeat the evil god. Small drawings or models might be made so that they could be stepped on, crushed, spat on, chained,  or stabbed with spears and knives. Apep’s power was so dreaded that it was believed dangerous to keep these for any length of time.

The only public celebration known to be associated with Apep had a similar purpose. Each year, giant snake replicas would be constructed. Through spells, all the evil in the world was imbued into these images — and then they were set on fire. Symbolically, this was to purify Egypt of Apep’s wicked influence for another year.

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Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Read Full Post »

The ancient civilization of Egypt has long fascinated with its stunning monuments and the lure of treasure-filled tombs. One of the culture’s most striking features was the animal-headed deities of its traditional religion. Although their mythology did not include dragons as such, there were several reptilian deities among the pantheon.

Perhaps the most recognizable of these is Sobek, the river god. Sobek (also translated as Sebek, Sobk, Sochet and more) was depicted either as a crocodile or a man with a crocodile’s head. From the most ancient times, this deity embodied a cluster of traits centered on the river. He was the powerful flood, and the gift of fertility in its wake. Since a crocodile was one of the most lethal creatures known along the Nile, Sobek also represented Egypt’s military might and the pharaoh’s power.

Initially, Sobek’s cult was centered in the Shedet region (modern day Faiyum) near Lake Moeris, where crocodiles must have been common. A great deal of building around Shedet was devoted to Sobek. Another cult center was at Kom Obo, in southern Egypt.

The worshipers had no illusion about the god’s capacity for violence. Among his titles were “he of pointed teeth,” and “one who loves robbery.” When people prayed to Sobek, they were asking him to moderate the cruelty of the river and ward off disasters such as real-life crocodile attacks.

With the passing of ages, Sobek became incorporated into the central myth of Osiris, Isis and Horus. After Osiris’ brother Set murdered him and flung parts of his body around the delta, Sobek helped Isis find the pieces and restore Osiris. As an associate of the sky god, Horus, his ferocity was turned to protecting the innocent and warding off evil. This also underlined Sobek’s association with kingship. He remained prominent in the Egyptian pantheon until it was displaced by modern religions.

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Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Remember those two giant dragon sculptures installed at Caerphilly Castle in March? It seems they have been doing what comes naturally… Now a giant nest has appeared, with eggs! Just in time for Easter, visitors can take part in an egg hunt and also see why Dwynwen is being so affectionate with Dewi.

Okay, it’s a little cheesy. The nest looks more like something a bird would build, and it’s hard to see how two disembodied heads would incubate the eggs. But, since April the Giraffe has finally dropped her calf, this gives all us dragon fans a baby watch of our own.

Stay tuned!

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Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Read Full Post »

We might not think of dragons as medical miracle-workers, but scientists have announced a breakthrough in the search for new antibiotics. The source? Komodo dragons!

Biologists have long known that Komodo dragons have some really nasty bacteria in their mouths. If these big lizards can’t overpower their prey, they use a long-acting bacterial weapon as their fall-back. Any animal bitten by a Komodo dragon will develop a serious infection known as sepsis. It might take a few days, but the dragon follows its prey until the infection kills it. Then, it’s dinner time.

However deadly their mouth bacteria are, Komodo dragons themselves never seem to suffer from sepsis. Scientists decided to study them and figure out why. A team at George Mason Univerisity, led by Monique van Hoek, recently announced they had isolated a blood protein called DRGN-1. In laboratory tests, DRGN-1 was highly effective against some of the most notorious drug-resistant bacteria. Not even MRSA could stand against the dragon’s cure.

Although these are preliminary results, and much work remains to be done, van Hoek’s team hopes to develop a new antibiotic weapon for the ongoing battle against resistant diseases.

Our hero… the dragon?

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Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Read Full Post »

That’s right — I have a new project in the works. The Weight of Their Souls, the swords and sorcery novelette that I podcast back in 2013, will soon be available as a 99-cent e-book. Cover art will be by Diana Harlan Stein. She’s an old acquaintance from Pern fandom, and I’m excited to bring her in on this project.

While Diana’s hard at work, I’m doing behind-the-scenes setup through Bowker, Draft 2 Digital and Kindle. Once art is complete I should be able to drop it in, and viola! My next book should be out around May 1st.

Here’s the blurb:  The epic war is over, the great Enemy destroyed. A ragtag band of survivors tries to make their way home, only to discover there were survivors on the other side, too. And even a lesser evil from that vicious host can still be lethal. It’s swords against sorcery with more than just their lives on the line. The travelers, who barely know each other, must summon the courage to face one more battle.

Those of you who’ve helped out with swapping reviews and blog appearances in the past, I hope you’ll support me again. Reviews, signal-boosting, it all helps.

And, don’t forget my other books!

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Read Full Post »

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