Short Story: The Exile of Amphitryon

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This newest short story I’ve written, The Exile of Amphitryon, is taken from my interest and exploration of Greek myth and the first in a series I intend to do detailing the life and exploits of Heracles and trying to, where possible, to stick to the original stories (which in themselves are second-hand knowledge and folklore making this technically impossible). I won’t be running off on my own interpretation and will be trying to keep the stories educational, in mythological terms at least.

Of course I did a lot of researching to build up the finer details of the subject building on the knowledge I already have and consequently this first piece about Heracles doesn’t feature him at all, but is in fact about Amphitryon, Heracles’s father who surprisingly has some exploits of his own to share in the lead up to Heracles’s birth (Though he’s not the father shhhh… don’t tell anyone).

You can find the story in the menu left of here or simply click this link.

As I’ve already mentioned the myths are all folklore, passed on by oral tradition and scrabbled and scrapped together by historians and archaeologists from various different sources. Which means every story has different interpretations despite ultimately having the same results. As the writer of this story I’ve decided which versions to go with, usually based on what I consider the most interesting but for fun I’ve included below the other interpretations I haven’t included.

  • Instead of Anaxo, Electryon is also stated as being married to Lysidice or Eurydice, both daughters of Pelops. Regardless of who the wife is she gives birth to Alcmene and has little  more role in the myth, consequently this only affects whether Amphitryon eventually marries his niece or his cousin.

Short Story: The Trojan Legacy

This latest short story, on this page, is an amalgamation of three different mythological stories that also have historical elements to them. The end result is a bit of a mash up but I enjoyed the writing of it as it helped me to draw parallels between them.

The main inspirational draw comes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel, a romantised version of the Three Kingdoms Period in Chinese history. This should come as no surprise to anyone who read my earlier post. Strong elements of the Battle of Chi Bi, a significant fight where two forces allied against a third, are included to create a battle that parallels it heavily. I chose to do this for a reason I will explain in a moment. First though, one of the more fascinating elements of the military history, or storytelling method of the book, is the way in which commanders and emperors had advisors for domestic issues and advisors for military issues. There were those who are taken to war and who must come up with advice for tactics and diplomacy, supporting their higher ups rather concocting an implementing schemes on their own. I wanted to take this element for a war council, and the concept of an emperor and transplant it into a far more European culture.

Which brings me to the second myth, King Arthur. This element is small in the story and that is because I have designs on writing a much more extended piece to accommodate my ideas. In the mean time however Arthurian legend has similar elements of strong heroes combating enemies in war like scenarios, and there are always suggestions of historical elements with this fictional King of Camelot. I here merged the two characters of Zhuge Liang, a famous tactician, and Merlin, the wizard, who both set about assisting their Lords in ruling a kingdom.

The third element is The Fall of Troy from Greek myth, the existence of Troy itself being a question unravelled by archaeologists. The chief parallel here is between the Trojan horse ploy, in which the Greeks fooled the Trojans in accepting a wooden horse into their city that was in fact filled with Greek soldiers. And a defection told in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which Huang Gai falsely defects to Cao Cao in order to light his ships on fire. In both cases the the army is fooled by what appears to be a gift and ultimately becomes their downfall.

Enjoy the story, and share your opinions. Read it here: The Trojan Legacy

Rewritten: The Tower

I’m sure I don’t need to tell the writers out there of the importance of rewriting. Whether fiction or non-fiction a rewrite can turn something mediocre into something great. I know a lot of people finish a piece of work and read through it only to think: ‘This is crap.’ Fortunately for me I usually finish and whilst I don’t think I’ve crafted the next Shakespearian masterpiece I  think: ‘This is okay.’ That doesn’t mean I don’t rewrite it. Everything I write will always get at least one rewrite once finished, which will include the usual spell check and punctuation corrections but also the rearranging of sentences to make them more pleasing or better to understand. Often entire paragraphs will appear and disappear during a rewrite and in particular if a plot point late in a story is changed I need to go back over the rest in order to maintain the continuity.

Sometimes though a complete rewrite is needed. The same idea, the same writer but a second go. The difference can be astonishing. My story The Tower, which was the first short story I wrote solely for this blog needed rewriting. I felt I had made a mistake by making it about the character, The Master Builder (The laziness of me not even naming him speaks for how unimportant he was.) I used him as a means to describe the world around him, the world of this tower on which all these people live. But I realised that the character that embodied the themes of the tarot card on which is was based was not The Master Builder, nor one of the actually named characters Nebuchadnezzar and Nimrod, not even of a human. The central character is the tower itself, a building and home that the inhabitants treat more like an idol and a god. So I rewrote the story to tell it from the tower’s point of view. Whether the story itself is better I can’t say, but I feel it now fits better with the theme of its tarot card and the theme of the short story collection Le Cirque Des Moirai in general.

If you’d like to read the rewrite it’s on this page here: The Tower

Weekly Story: Death

This week’s story is something of a sequel to an earlier one, The Tower, and also connected to The Magician. It follows what happens to Nebuchadnezzar after the disaster. The three stories work nicely together, I think, to tell the beginnings of different languages, magic and werewolves in this fantasy universe. You can find it on it’s own page here, and in the menu.

I enjoyed coming up with this story, I had already developed the idea when researching for The Tower, which had led me to the Tower of Babel story. There was a fair bit of mention of King Nebuchadnezzar II. I chose to make him a religious leader instead of a King, focusing on the stories of him building many of Babylon’s temples. He appears a fair bit in the Book of Daniel, where he has a dream that needs interpreting, this is where the gold, silver, brass and iron statue comes from.

For this story I took the chance to focus on another element of his story, the madness of King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s said that he went mad and acted like a beast, until he acknowledged the rule of Heaven. This seemed like the perfect start to a werewolf tale. You might also notice that I slipped in references to Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic nightmares of a felled tree.

Werewolves were persecuted throughout history in the same way as witches were and their are several theories for the widespread belief in them ranging from people with excessive body hair to diseases that cause animalistic lunacy. Rabies is one such possibility and I tried to slip in a few of the symptoms to represent Nebuchadnezzar’s madness including feeling hot, hydrophobia and a violent nature.

Weekly Story: Temperance

Another week and another fantasy short story for my readers. Temperance can be found on its own page here.

If you’ve been paying attention you might have noticed that I’ve been naming each of my short stories I post every week after tarot cards. There’s two reasons for this and frankly one of them is that I’m too lazy to come up with story titles, an aspect of writing I find surprisingly difficult. The other reason is that I have been drawing my inspiration from the cards trying to craft my stories either around the image on the card or on the themes and meanings of the cards.

This week was the Temperance card and I took from it a suggestion of the marriage of two things, whether of people of a combining of objects. That initially led me to involve alchemy, something which to my mind (In a fantasy universe) is a means of combining science and magic and would typically involve doing scientific things through magical means, like combining chemicals. The theme of marriage reminded me of a classical greek myth about a statue whose sculptor wishes for her to come to life and marries her. I decided to combine this with the alchemy idea and have the protagonist attempting to create a person right from the get go. Earlier ideas in my head involved the alchemist trying to create a child as he and his wife could not, or the experiment failing, or Galatea giving up her life of mere seconds old to revive the dying alchemist.

Anyway I hope you enjoy it.

Weekly Story: The Hanged Man

This week’s story is now up, drawing on a small piece of Hindu mythology. The first paragraph is just below and you can read all of it here, which is also in the menu over to your left.

The dream world he awoke in shone like a rainbow. The edges of his vision tinted with a ruby red and the rest of the world before him was a swirling eddy of the prismatic spectrum. Bharat felt as though he was positioned inside a clear cut gem and witnessing the inner workings of the sunlight refracting on its surface. The light was brilliant yet soft and did not sting his eyes but welcomed them like a warming fire, dancing and entrancing.