In fantasy, the hero makes the weapon but the weapons are really cool

Weapons are an essential part of any medieval fantasy story, especially magical weapons. Names like Excalibur, Stormbringer, and Sting are just as popular as the characters who wield them.

When I started writing Forever Avalon and The Dark Tides, I knew I had to create a memorable weapon for the Gil-Gamesh to wield. That’s when I came up with Twilight and Dusk, the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon.

As the story goes, when Merlin cast the spell that brought all magic from the real world to the island of Avalon, he focused the power of the spell through Excalibur to help channel the energy; but the spell was too strong, even for the legendary sword, and the blade shattered.

fantasy-blacksmithThe broken pieces were given to the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls of Avalon to forge into a new weapon for Sir Percival, the first Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. With the help of the Elves of Alfheimer and the dragons of Emmyr, they forged two enchanted blades from the shards of ExcaliburTwilight and Dusk.

Twilight is the light giver, the sharpest blade ever made that can cut through the darkest night. Dusk is the night fury, a soul reaper that is fueled by the dead to contain the evils of Avalon. Together, the are the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon, the weapons of the Gil-Gamesh.

These weapons have joined a long line of magical weapons created in the pages of books from the Sword of Gryffindor in the Harry Potter series to Anaklusmos from Percy Jackson and the Olympians. In addition, there are countless weapons from movies and video games that have invaded pop culture; but there are equally powerful weapons in myth and legend too, some of which you probably never even heard of.

  • rodrigo-diaz-de-vivar-c-1043-1099-known-as-el-cid-conquest-of-valencia-june-15-1094-spainTizona is the sword of El Cid from the heroic poem Cantar de Mio Cid. It is said that the sword frightens unworthy opponents of the legendary hero.
  • In Japan, Tonbogiri is said to be one of three legendary spears created by the famed swordsmith Masazane. It is said to be so sharp that a dragonfly landing on the edge would be cut in half.
  • From the Emerald Isle, Caladbolg is the two-handed sword of Fergus mac Róich in Irish legend; said to make a circle like the arc of a rainbow when swung and has the power to cleave the tops from the hills.
  • 0743589b0397a04b754ccb1d699550d3In Welsh legend, Dyrnwyn is the sword of Rhydderch Hael. When drawn, it blazed with fire; if drawn by a worthy man, the fire would help him in his cause, but its fire would burn the man who drew it for an unworthy purpose.
  • Ruyi Jingu Bang is the magical staff wielded by the Monkey King Sun Wukong in Chinese classic Journey to the West.

I could go on and on with names like Mjölnir, Zulfiqar, Clarent and Gungnir. These are just a few of the names of weapons that will go on in immortality if myth and legend; but remember, it’s not the weapon that makes the hero, it’s the hero that makes the weapon.

Forever Avalon is now available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

The Elves of Alfheimer – An excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

Light ElfI think anyone who’s played Dungeons and Dragons or seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies can appreciate the undeniable attraction to Elves. They are rooted in myth and legend and have been used in countless tales of fantasy. I tried to stay true to the legend by calling the home of the Elves of Avalon Alfheimer after one of the nine realms of Norse mythology, home to the Light Elves.

Here is an excerpt from The Dark Tides that tells of the first meeting between the Gil-Gamesh and the Elves of Alfheimer.

***

As the sun began to set over Avalon, the two men finally reached the end their destination. The weary travelers rode to the top of a hill overlooking an enormous valley between the two mountains. A waterfall—stretching nearly a mile high—cascaded down between the mountains, feeding into a river that ran down through the heart of the valley. Rising up the mountain walls
was the fabled city of Alfheimer, home of the Elves of Avalon.

The ornate and intricate structures showed the beauty and passion of the Elves in every column, building and statue that adorned this amazing city. The complex structures were woven into the natural beauty of the mountain, displaying the symbiotic relationship between the Elves and nature. In the waning twilight of the setting sun, the city glowed, but not from fi re or candle light, from the magic of the Elves themselves.

Every street and every building was aglow with a diff used brilliance that left the Gil-Gamesh breathless. “Never in my life could I have imagined such a place.”

“Not many humans get a chance to visit the ancient city,” Thomas explained. “And for one such as yourself, it is a double blessing.”

“What do you mean?” Bryan queried.

“Well, no Outlander has ever step foot in Alfheimer,” Thomas continued. “Even Sir Charles has never been here Gil-Gamesh.”

Bryan couldn’t believe his ears, making him both anxious and impatient. “Well then, there’s no time to lose!” he said, spurring his horse on. But Thomas quickly grabbed the reins and stopped him.

“Whoa, easy there lad,” he interrupted, “you mustn’t be so impatient.”

“What? Why? What are we waiting for?”

“You don’t just ride into Alfheimer . You must be escorted by an Elf,” Thomas explained. “The city is protected by ancient magic from the dawn of time. They say the Elves wield a power greater than Merlin himself. So, we wait!”

The two men sat on their horses and waited as the sun dipped down low until it disappeared behind the mountain. Through the darkness, lanterns twinkled and glowed, moving closer toward them. A procession of Elves dressed in fl owing white robes with silver fringe, adorned with jewelry of mythril and precious gems, walked toward them. Each carried an ornate lantern hanging at the end of a shepherd’s crook. Each lantern was illuminated by a flickering flame, dancing like a lightning bug in a jar.The lead Elf places his hand across his heart and bowed.

Salüs dai Tulafáir Bryan MoonDrake and Sir Thomas Forest. I bring you strength,
honor and enlightenment from the Elves of Alfheimer. Enter and be at
peace.”

Bryan was humbled by the welcome that had been bestowed upon him. Th e two men followed the procession down into the valley, over a mile long into the entrance of Alfheimer. Th e statues of Bryr and Begguila, servants to the god of the Elves, stood over a hundred feet
tall above the city gates, as if they protected the city and its inhabitants from all harm.

Bryan recognized a familiar face waiting for him at the gates. Eonis, dressed in elegant robes of green and gold, stood at the center flanked by two other Elves. They were also dressed in flowing silken robes ordained with gold and silver, each one held a staff adorned with a large crystal that glowed in magical light. Each wore a crown of mythril encrusted with gems of amethyst, moonstone and sapphires. Bryan couldn’t take his eyes off them, as if he was mesmerized by their radiance.

The two riders dismounted as pages stepped out to take the reins of their horses. Bryan was so overwhelmed he didn’t know what to do. Thomas nudged him forward with a tap on his shoulder.

Eonis reached out to greet his friend. “It does my heart good to see you again Gil-Gamesh,” he announced.

“Thank you Eonis … This is quite a welcome,” Bryan exclaimed. “It’s a little much for this old sailor.”

“Well I’m afraid I have to indulge your senses some more,” Eonis said as he took Bryan by the arm and lead him. “Bryan MoonDrake, Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, I have the honor of introducing Baldrid, Lord High King of the Elves and his wife, the Lady Lyllodoria of the Valley.”

Bryan stepped forward and knelt before them, bowing his head in respect. Thomas, lingering behind, followed suit and knelt as well. Lyllodoria stepped forward, as if floating on air and touched Bryan under the chin, lifting his face so she may see his.

“May the blessings of a thousand wishes be upon you Bryan MoonDrake,” she told him. Her voice, so calm and soothing, touched Bryan deep into his soul. His shaky nerves began to settle down. Lyllodoria placed her hand on Bryan’s chest to feel his heart beating. She closed her eyes to listen and feel the rhythm of his heartbeat. “You have a strong heart Bryan MoonDrake. It is filled with love, hope and courage, but I sense a deep sadness within you.

“You miss your family, don’t you?”

A tear welled up in his eye. “More than anything …” Bryan stuttered.

“Yet to become the Gil-Gamesh, you must leave them behind. Why would you do that?”

“My family will always be a part of me,” he explained. “They are my heart, my soul, my reason to live. I am doing this for the chance that one day, when Avalon is at peace with itself, I may see them again. I am doing this for them!”

Lyllodoria smiled and moved away as Lord Baldrid stepped forward.

“Your intentions are true, Bryan MoonDrake. Th e spirits of the Gil-Gamesh flows through you. We welcome you to Alfheimer, Bryan MoonDrake and give you pass as the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon,” Baldrid affirmed as he clasped Bryan on his shoulders.

“Thank you Lord Baldrid,” Bryan said with a bow of his head. “Salüs dai Atrémar.” Bryan enunciated a traditional Elvish greeting. “It is an honor to enter the sacred valley of Alfheimer.”

Fantasy – What a Wonderful World!

Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer and cartoonist.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was a writer and cartoonist known for his children’s books.

According to the immortal Dr. Seuss, “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” There’s an element of truth in what he said that we can relate too.

When I was growing up, I was always called a dreamer, living my life in a fantasy world. I would watch cartoons and read comic books, even into adulthood. It never really bothered me, and today, it turns out it’s actually cool to be a geek.

That being said, I think fantasy is the best of all the genres because of its ability to cross over from one genre to the next. When you look at James Cameron’s Pandora in “Avatar” or George Lucas’ many worlds in the  “Star Wars” series, it sits on par with the wilds of Westeros in “Game of Thrones” or Middle Earth from Tolkien. These are worlds created from the minds of these amazing writers.

That’s what I love about fantasy … It can be anything you want it to be but it is usually grounded in some form of mythology. That’s why I chose Avalon and characters from Arthurian legend for “Forever Avalon” and “The Dark Tides” novels. It gave me a great base on which to build my fantasy world.

Though the names and places are familiar, the world in which the sit is all my own. From the depths of the Gilded Halls of the Dwarves of Avalon to the splendor of The Elven Kingdom of Alfheimer and the darkness at the heart of Blackbriar Forest, this is my world … My Avalon!

I will admit, it helped being a “Dungeon Master” in my youth but that just brought it all together under one dungeon, so to speak. To put it quite literally, my imagination was blended together like a fruit smoothie, pouring out onto the pages of my novels.

This past week, I was speaking to a group of high school students at my alma mater, Phillipsburg High School in Phillipsburg, N.J. They asked me about my favorite authors that inspired me. I said the usual, J.R.R. Tolkien and Michael Moorcock, but I left out some of the most influential.

Ridley Scott's "Legend" from 1985 starring Tom Cruise.

Ridley Scott’s “Legend” from 1985 starring Tom Cruise.

C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs took us to far flung worlds out of time and space. Their words still resound today in books, movies and television. That’s what it means to be a great storyteller!

One of my favorite fantasy movies is Ridley Scott’s “Legend” with Tom Cruise; not really considered a blockbuster but a visually stunning film. Seeing Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness is an image seared into my mind whenever I think of something that represents evil. The Elves, Fairies, Goblins and creatures were perfect in its simplicity and that’s the beauty of it.

That’s what I put into the design of my interpretation of Avalon … Simple yet memorable. I think of it as simply stated in this quote by author and cartoonist Lynda Barry … “We don’t create a fantasy world to escape reality. We create it to to be able to stay.” Truer words were never spoken …