Guest Blog: The Man From Cymene
Sometimes I like to daydream of what it would be like to be in a bookstore and overhear the following conversation:
“Do you have Toni V. Sweeney’s latest novel?”
(That’d be an ego-swelling event. I’d have to fight not to rush over and hug the customer.)
And the clerk’s answer:
(Definitely an ego-deflator! I’d want to deck him/her, and shout, “Me! You ignoramus!” and throw my business card at him/her.)
But the conversation goes on:
“Toni V. Sweeney. You know, she wrote that great series The Adventures of Sinbad and under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone, she wrote Three Moon Station.”
A blank look from the clerk.
The customer looks shocked. “You mean you never heard of her? Or her books? My God, she’s written 54 novels! And you don’t have any of them? What kind of store is this? Perhaps I should go somewhere else!”
That brings a reaction from the clerk. “Don’t worry, ma’am. We can order any book you want, and…” Rattling of computer keys. “Yes, I do see we have those you mentioned in our online store…”
The customer is momentarily mollified, but with a sniff. “Good. She’s got a new series coming out, The Arcanian Chronicles, a two-parter, and I’d like to order the first novel in Part 1. It’s called The Man from Cymene. Get me that one and I’ll be back to order the rest as they’re released.”
More keys rattle. Instructions as to when the book should arrive to be picked up, etc.
The customer leaves with a parting shot. “You know, you might consider putting some of her books in the stores. It might improve your sales.”
The clerk looks thoughtful. After a moment, she hurried over to where the manager is standing. “Ma’am, a customer just made a request…”
The following week, there’s a display of Yours Truly’s latest directly across from the entrance…and a notice…Book Signing by the Author Today…
It should happen, right?
So…let’s talk about that upcoming series,shall we?.. the ambitious authoring of eighteen novels in a series divided into two parts, labeled, surprisingly enough, Part One and Part Two.
Part One is a bit Game of Throne-ish, though I doubt it comes anywhere near George RR’s elaborate tomes, while I must admit I was given a little encouragement by that author who was once the guest of honor at a party in my home in Kearney, NE.
“Toni,” he wrote on the title of Fevre Dream. “Keep your steam up.” (Doubt if he remembers that, however, it was so long ago in the mists of Time.)
That’s what I’m striving to do, George.
In my stories, there are gods and goddesses overseeing and planning the fates of men at their whim…occasionally guiding them toward some future destiny of divine contriving, helping them obtain their goals while as easily snatching those same goals from their grasps.
The gods only exist in Part One, however. By the time the reader reaches Part Two, which is more of a space opera, belief in the gods has waned and they are generally not even called upon except in curses and when one suffers some devastating bereavement. Nevertheless, the predictions they made in Part One are still in effect and do come to pass, exactly as prophesied.
Just now, however, I’d like to consider the first novel in the series, The Man from Cymene, Book 1 of the Narrative of Riven the Heretic, from Part 1 of the Arcanian Chronicles. (Is that a mouthful, or what?)
This novel shows completely my love of the sword and sorcery genre. Or, epic fantasy, if you prefer. No matter what else it’s called, that was the original name of this type of fiction—the movies referred to it more graphically as sex and sand—and that’s how I always refer to it. (Yes, I’m old-fashioned and an old dog who doesn’t like new tricks, even though she’s had to learn a few.)
My hero is Trygare kan Ingan, a youngster from Cymene, an island off the coast of Francovia, a place called the Shadowed Isles because a mist always keeps it hidden from the mainland. The people there are considered barbarians by the rest of the world, kin this case, the planet Arcanis. His name is taken from a Swedish hymn, Trygare Kan Ingan Vara, written in the 1850’s, and translated as “Children of the Heavenly Father,” which I considered appropriate.
Like a good many of this type story, there’s a quest involved. This particular one will be carried through the entire series… the prophesy made to Trygare on his sixteenth birthday by Fæder Albin, priest of Ildred Allfather, leader of the Arcanian gods. Trygare, it appears, is to be the father of kings, a fact making the boy snicker rudely.
“Beggin’ your pardon, Fæder, but have you looked at this village lately? Nae many princesses ’round here.”
Trygare will have to leave his parents, his home, indeed that entire section of the country to find the woman who’ll become the mother of those ‘kings.’ Not a happy thought, since he’s the only child of his parents, but he does it…the following day, in fact. Armed with his father’s sword, Dætglaive, the Deathbringer, and mounted on a short-legged hill pony destined to be the butt of many jokes, our young hero sets out on an adventure involving kings and sharp-tongued damsels, dragons, and betrayal, lust, and danger. Like anything else worth having, he’s going to have to suffer for it, and believe he’s failed, when in reality, he’s merely fulfilling his part of the family destiny the gods, in their perversity, allot him.
Several of the novels have been formerly published and are being re-released with re-editing and more in-depth material added. Part One of The Arcanian Chronicles, entitled The Narrative of Riven the Heretic, is made up of seven novels, two of which have never before been published. This is the sword and sorcery/fantasy section. Part Two, The kan Ingan Archives, contains eights novels, with one not published until now, and is the space opera portion.
The dream of being seen on B&N bookshelves may be just a dream, but my books are alive and kickin’ and doing well…in online bookstores, at least. I’ve had a few former readers claim these novels contain some of their favorite characters. I hope, with their re-editing and re-release, others will agree.
Trygare kan Ingan was a boy of sixteen, when the Drune priest told his parents the gods decreed he would be the father of kings.
Within a day, he’s sent into the world on a short-legged hill pony, his father’s sword by his side…to seek his destiny and fulfill it.
Nothing goes as Trygare expects, however…the woman he wants doesn’t want him, the man destined to be his best friend laughs at him, everyone ridicules his youth. Slaying a dragon, feeling the Bloodsong coursing through his veins, and nearly getting killed in a war changes their minds, however…
After that, everything goes well, but then…
As if their plans for the young Cymenean aren’t enough, the gods interfere in his life. Tragedy happens, scandal and death, and Trygare’s forced to leave Cymene for a foreign land where his true fate lies…
…where he’ll become the ancestor of the dynasty foretold to rule his planet for three thousand years…
The hall was larger than any building he’d ever been in besides the Temple, which was a single room with an altar and small cells leading off it where the priests slept. To have such a great space inside a building, which was also of a greater size than he’d ever seen, was startling.
Rows upon rows of trestle tables were lined vertically across the width of the room. At each table sat at least ten men, all dressed more or less as Conan was. They appeared to be of all ages, though none looked younger than the man walking before him. Under the tables, lying at their masters’ feet, great black hounds slept, one or two gnawing on bones.
As soon as they saw him, all grew quiet. Most stopped eating, though a few continued to chew or lift their tankards. Only the crunch of the dogs’ jaws broke the silence.
Trygare decided to ignore them. He kept his eyes on the way Conan’s broad shoulders pulled tight the fabric of his tunic as he walked. Raising his head slightly, he lengthened his stride, throwing a bit of a swagger into it and swinging his arms in imitation of the young warrior’s posture.
At the back of the room, a slight dais ran its width. It held a single table where several men sat. Conan headed for it, skirting the tables and walking between them.
“Here he is, Sire.” Conan stopped directly in front of the dais, bowing.
He stepped to one side, leaving Trygare facing Cormac kan Ingan. The boy looked at the man chosen to rule all of Cymene, a little startled by what he saw.
Gods, he’s an old man! Should I bow? What do I say? Shall I just keep silent?
He made a clumsy bow, dipping his head quickly as he saw Conan about to say something to him. At the movement, the other man nodded.
“He’s a well-appointed lad, anyway,” Cormac said. The chev regarded Trygare in the amused way one might look at a stray puppy. “So, boy, who are you and why do you claim kin to me?” Shaking his head, he sighed heavily. “ I hope you’re not pretending to be another byblow. I vow if I’d lain with all the women whose sons come through here, I’d never have found time to fight.”
That brought a laugh from one of the men at the table.
“It’s nae I who claims kinship, sir.” Trygare hoped he was showing the proper respect but now that he’d breached the ceaster’s walls, he decided he wasn’t going to let the Chev or any of his men turn him away. “But me da…an’ he says you’re fourth or fifth cousins or so.”
“That’s a relief, anyway, or someone with a more original approach.” As he spoke, Cormac broke off a bit of bread from a loaf. He dipped it in the gravy on his plate.
The men on either side continued to eat, though they were watching Trygare with the same attention as the chev.
“However…if your father says he’s my kin, then you are, too.” He stuck the bread into his mouth, chewing. Around it, he asked, “From that accent, I’d say you’re from the Northeast and I’ve no relatives there as far as I know. What’s his name?”
“Bêrit, sir.” Trygare paused, then added, “Kan Ingan, o’ course.”
“Bêrit?” Cormac’s reaction surprised everyone.
“You know him, Cormac?” Conan asked.
Cormac ignored him. “He lives then?”