I know. I stole that line from an old Monty Python Movie, but I think it is true for some of the books I write. I loved Python. They were wacky and irreverent and took on some of the more nutty aspects of our world. But you could also tell that they knew their history, and were great imaginative minds at work. I also believe that I know my history, and my science, and my mythology. I may not be an expert on any of these subjects, though I come close on military history. But I also know I have a greater knowledge base than most, and I try to use that in my work. I still make mistakes, probably a lot of them, and I steal and rework ideas without shame or regret. I don’t copy them verbatim. I take them, combine them, and come out with something completely my own, just like a musician does with notes and musical themes.
In the World of Refuge I tried to come up with something completely different. I wanted to write in a High Fantasy World in which our own history and culture existed and had a major influence on the world. This includes art, architecture, science, religion and of course military history. I did not want to write an urban fantasy, in which Elf detectives track the Vampire murderers of the Great Mage in a fantasy New York City (though come to think of it, that might be cool). I wanted a world of Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Dragons and Trolls, where there was interaction between them and Humans who remembered the history of Rome and the Battle of Stalingrad. So I came up with Refuge, the tale of humanity in the millions transported to another dimension where all of our fantasies, archetypes and mythologies were real, to a certain degree. The first story I wrote was set thousands of years after the entry event, and think that I might have lost some of the people I sent my manuscript too. Refuge: Doppelganger is also set in the far future, though I tried to write a tale that focused on some of the central characters, unlike that first book I wrote. Then I determined to write about the coming of humans to Refuge (at least modern Earth humans, as there were some there before), starting as most stories should start, at the beginning.
I thought of how these humans, without the use of magic, unskilled at muscle powered warfare, would fare on dropping into a world where most everyone could use magic, and the mighty magic users would be truly formidable. And I thought they would not do so well. But, as my favorite ESPN personality says, Not So Fast. Because I also thought about what would happen if those same humans brought some of their own toys with them. I thought that a Leopard 2 or Abrams tank would be pretty impressive. And would magically enhanced armor actually stop a 35mm cannon round, and if so, would it stop a 120mm high velocity tank round? Probably not. In the original book (The Quest, The Sword and The Cross) I had thought that magic would really depend on belief, much as Voodoo does in this world. A magic user would have to believe they could tap the energies needed to power their spell, then believe that the incantation would do what they wanted it to do. And people who believed in forces beyond magic (like a God of the Universe) would be immune to the powers of those who practiced magic. So, thought I, what would happen if several millions humans came through the dimensional barrier with weapons they believed would work, and belief in a God that would protect them from evil (in the case of some humans). Tanks, artillery and nuclear weapons would give them an advantage, but one that would only last so long. Eventually they would run out of fuel and ammo, and the beliefs of a several hundred million natives would eventually overpower the beliefs of the humans, and things would stop working.
So this is the gist of the story of the first two books of the Refuge series, humans transported to a world of magic who must use their advanced weapons to carve out a refuge for themselves. The next two books will deal with what the humans do when the tech stops working. I have noticed that in most fantasy worlds fighting is little more than a bunch of people meleeing around the field in individuals duels. I think this is due to the effects of magic on people gathered in formation. Conan by Howard was somewhat different, but then again magic is different in the Hyborian world, being mostly the summoning of Demons, who would probably not be too grateful to be released at a pike line while archers plugged them with hundreds of arrows. But humanity has a way of figuring out how to make things work, and disciplined armies of the muscle powered era almost always overwhelmed melee fighters. And hence the name of the next two books, The Legions. Refuge: The Arrival: Book 1 will be free on Amazon Kindle from 11/16/2012 to 11/20/2012. Book 2 is also available now, and books 3 & 4 should be available in the late Spring of 2013.
And now for an excerpt: This is about a young American woman who does know she is immortal discovering her abilities in a battle with creatures of mythology.
Jackie skidded to a halt on the grass as she came around a turn and saw what lay ahead. She had not imagined that the enemy would have anything like the three creatures she saw killing Germans with the huge maces in their hands. An APC lay tilted over on the side of the road, the turret on top dislodged from its mount. And the Lieutenant didn’t hesitate, fear totally removed from her adrenaline charged system. She ran forward at a sprint, yelling at the top of her lungs and firing her rifle at the nearest creature.
The Troll swiveled in mid step towards the soldier, bringing its shield up to bat the bullets from the American’s rifle away. She ran toward it, firing low now, watching as her bullets bounced off its skin and wondering for a moment what the hell she was doing. Then she was in range of its mace and the creature swept the weapon down to crush her.
Jackie dodged away from the blow and the monster brought the blunt weapon down onto the ground. It pulled the mace back and attempted a backhand swing at the woman. Jackie ducked under the blow. It brought the mace back again on a downswing, this time missing the leaping woman.
Another roar brought a shiver down the young woman’s spine, breaking through the warrior’s trance she had been a captive of, and she realized that another of the monsters was on her, coming in from behind. She caught a glimpse over her shoulder and dove forward, tucking into a roll that brought her between the legs of the first Troll, and the second missed with its swing, almost hitting its fellow, who gave an accusatory roar in return.
I need a better weapon, thought Jackie, feeling the inadequacy of the rifle in her hands. She couldn’t really use an auto cannon, it being too big and bulky to carry. And all the ones in the area were already manned. A grenade launcher might do some damage, but she didn’t have one of those either.
Jackie’s thoughts were interrupted as she became aware that the Troll she had dodged through the legs of was rearing up over her. She quickly dodged from its downward swing, then ducked the swing of the other Troll, then leapt backwards ten meters from the beasts, her eyes searching for a weapon.
How in the hell did I jump so far, she thought as the leap registered on her mind. Then time for thinking was gone as both Trolls came at her again, moving so they would come in on opposite sides. Jackie moved into a graceful dance that was perfectly timed, making both of the Trolls miss with multiple swings. The creatures stopped for a moment as the human back flipped away, staring stupidly at each other as their tiny minds tried to come up with a strategy to take the annoying warrior out of the fight.
Jackie noticed that she was not even breathing hard. Her reflexes were much faster than she had ever remembered them being. She was dancing around the creatures like Spiderman, one of her favorite comic characters. And while she wasn’t doing the creatures any damage, she was keeping them occupied, away from harming any of her fellow soldiers.
I wonder how strong I am, she thought, moving fluidly to keep the Trolls off balance. With a thought she was moving in, bringing her leg in as she leapt through the air. Her right leg rocketed out and struck her target Troll in the face. She was ready to ride through the kick and land on the monster as it went over. Reality was very different. Her foot hit the monster in the face, the shock transferred up her leg, and she bounced off with a sickening crunch of broken bone in her ankle, while the creature staggered back about a half meter.
Jackie landed on her back, feeling the agonizing pain in her ankle as the ground jarred her. She ignored the pain to the best of her ability, and rolled away as the second Troll brought his mace down on where she had been. Rolling up onto her feet, she felt nausea almost take her down again as the pain shot up her leg from the ankle. She backed up as fast as she could, hopping on her good foot, keeping a wary eye on the two Trolls that came after her with snarling faces.
A mace came at her from head high, and Jackie ducked under the weapon, then jumped with her good leg into the air over the second mace that was coming in at her waist. She was surprised that she still cleared the second mace, and came down well balanced on her one leg. The first Troll came at her with a back swing and she back peddled away, forgetting her injured ankle and surprised that it held up so well. Jumping over another swing and twisting in the air, she landed on both feet and felt no pain.
I know the damned thing was broken, she thought as she ran around the Trolls on both feet. But now there was no pain and the ankle was functioning perfectly. And the Trolls were again roaring in frustration as they chased after her.
Lieutenant Smith felt the physical shock of the arrow before she felt the pain. The arrow sliced through the back of her body armor, through her lower left thoracic region, nicking the heart, and out through the front of her armor. She looked down at the red dripping head of the arrow before the intense pain hit her brain. She could feel blood in her throat and coughed, which caused more pain. The roar of the Troll came to her as from a distance.
Something slammed into her hip and she was flying through the air. The agony in her side was warring for space in her awareness with the agony in her abdomen. Light and shadow flashed by before she hit the ground, adding more pain to the mix. She lay on her back, trying to pull air into her lungs through the pain of broken ribs, feeling the tread of massive feet approaching and knowing that any moment she would be smashed to jelly under a massive mace. That was her last thought as blackness unfolded over her brain and the world faded away.