Friday, December 30, 2011


As 2011 comes to an end, it's been a crazy year in retrospect. On January 3rd, MATHION made its world debut on the Barnes & Noble Nook, followed shortly thereafter with releases on Amazon's Kindle and Hundreds of people across three continents have read the first installment of the Mavonduri Trilogy, and despite the few that every novel has, received some notable acclaim. Australian fantasy novelist Shane Porteous wrote an alternative werewolf fantasy epic, HOW GODS BLEED, and I was astounded to read the introduction and find that MATHION had been his main inspiration. Averaging 4 out of 5 stars across all the major ebook sites? Better than I ever thought possible. But it brings a lot of pressure to the next year, and the next chapter in Mathion's journey from warrior to mythic hero.

Next year begins with a bang, as I'm encouraging everyone who reads this to retweet #Mathion on Twitter January 3rd, 2012 to celebrate Mathion's first year, and hopefully make it a trending topic on Twitter so it reaches more people. Shortly after, MAKING MATHION PART 2 will premiere on YouTube at TheMavoduriTrilogy. Check out MAKING MATHION PART 1 as well as Mathion's teaser trailer which, as far as I know, has the distinction of being the ONLY book trailer to be entirely made, edited and published all from an iPhone. So I've already got one bragging right...right?

But the big thing is Book Two of the MAVONDURI TRILOGY, THE LAST ASCENSION. I am currently in the thick of it, and finding it a larger, stranger, darker, and more challenging novel that MATHION ever was. Many of you have read excerpts, and I find myself having many questions to answer: Who is Akórahi? What is the real power behind the Uprisers? And I know it sounds cheesy but I'm continually asking myself, "Who will survive?"

Thank you everybody for making this 2011 very special, and a great first year for Mathion!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wolfstones and the Concept of "Power" in THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY

One of the central themes of THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY is power. Whether it is political, personal, or supernatural, the concept of power plays an important role in Hâr-Mathion Mavonduri's evolution from warrior-prince to savior-king. With the writing of THE LAST ASCENSION: BOOK TWO OF THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY now in full swing, I have been forced to address this central theme in a way that I would have never thought I would have to: how does one handle the simultaneous gift and burden of power while at the same time maintaining oneself? Mathion struggles with the burden of knowledge that one day, when his father is gone, the people will look to him to lead and exert his political and authoritative power as King. And indeed it is a heavy burden: Mathion himself says to Kedaer that if he had a choice he would not even ascend the High Throne and would deliver the Wolf-crown back to the descendants of Erios. But he doesn't. For him, Mathion, it is one's sense of responsibility that determines the control of power over oneself, and the fear of that power is what will cause it to become unchecked and furthermore abused. This comes to a head within the pages of THE LAST ASCENSION, in which a political faction emerges that threatens to upend the balance of power. And while Mathion still maintains his loyalty to his father as his King, he knows that something must be done in order to remind the people that power that is contested is power that will destroy.

On the other hand, Azgharáth has ingratiated himself with both authoritative and demonic power. As told in HRÉOKAI, Azgharáth was consumed by hatred and misguided desire for vengeance. This, combined with the influence of the malevolent deity Ak'horos, drove Azgharáth into a frenzied bloodlust and in turn power. And though he was blessed with great power, he abused it and in doing so destroyed what he once had. Azgharáth, in his quest for vengeance, has completely alienated himself from any positive emotional connection, and while he is feared by his people they bear no love for him. There are only a few who are loyal, but within the packs of the Kânín loyalty only goes so far.

Within the mythology of THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY, as shown in MATHION, there are the Wolfstones: ancient crystals from the creation of the World that hold immense power. In fact, it is stated that these Stones hold within them the actual, tangible power of life itself. This idea was initially hard to grasp even for me, because even though the mythology of the Lands of Émae was of my design, through mysterious sub-creative processes there emerged abstract concepts that I did not foresee. But because they were so integrated with the world, I had no choice but to discover their true significance. Many people have encountered difficulty when Mathion's Wolfstone plays a role in the plot, but it is often easy to forget that life has a will of its own, and it will act in such a way that serves a greater purpose that we cannot see. It is hard, even for me, to define the Wolfstones' ultimate roles in this trilogy, but their fullest potential has yet to be revealed to me.

The Wolfstones and THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY's themes of power are deeply interconnected, as the Wolfstones are the physical embodiment of power on earth. They (the Wolfstones) are simultaneously sacred religious objects and instruments of power, that can be used to heal or hurt, to clarify or coerce, and they can allow those who possess them to do great, and terrible, things. This brings to light a powerful philosophical question that mankind has asked itself since the dawn of self-awareness: Do we control life, or does life control us?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Special Treat for #SampleSunday

Ok so I've been away for a while and a lot has been going on; I've gotten a healthy dose of both positive AND negative reviews for MATHION. Nonetheless as an early Halloween "treat", I present to you a sneak peek excerpt from THE LAST ASCENSION, book two in the MAVONDURI TRILOGY.


The Empty Scabbard had a low-lying ceiling supported by thick wooden beams, and these beams continued down the walls, and braced into these vertical beams were brass oil lamps that illuminated the pub with a pleasant flickering yellow light. Yet it was very wide and very long, and so had room for well over fifty soldiers to sit and drink and eat comfortably. There was a rich medley of scents, from the fermented ale to aged mead and meaty stew and potatoes to imported Kôvudénean pastries and Kiharian cream-cakes. There was a large floor-to-ceiling fireplace at one end of the pub, with a small makeshift stage for the minstrels to play their instruments and stomp their feet as they sang old songs that had been passed down for generations upon generations.

On Mathion’s left side was a structure that many had come to acknowledge as the greatest feat of carpentry ever accomplished in Hádakaš: what many had affectionately come to nickname the Long Oak Bastard. This was, as its name implied, a two hundred-foot long bar of solid oak that was as long as the entire length of the Empty Scabbard. Behind it was a shelf stacked to tipping with bottles of the finest fermented drinks this side of the Greatwater. Looking through the sea of ruddy faces, Mathion spotted Narios, Kéle’il and Oharion at the far end of the Long Oak Bastard, a mug to each man. He walked up, and Kéle’il, obviously drunk, spun around in his stool.

“What is it now? I’m tired,” complained Kéle’il. “Can’t this wait until morning?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I'm currently reading the second installment of Glenn Thater's HARBINGER OF DOOM series, and will be posting a review soon after I finish. So far it is a very exciting read, and this book is shaping up to be Lord Theta's show, for which I'm very excited! Stay tuned!


In The Fallen Angle, Glenn G. Thater transports you to a time of legendary heroes, armored knights, spectacular duels, courtly intrigue, otherworldly evils, and ancient, forbidden magics. Though it can be read as a stand alone tale, The Fallen Angle is the second story in Thater's Harbinger of Doom series and picks up shortly after the events chronicled in The Gateway.

Claradon, the young Lord of House Eotrus, stands accused of murder and treason by his family's political rivals while on the trail of the chaos lord that slew those dearest to him. Claradon has recruited the mysterious knight of mystical power called Angle Theta to aid him is his quest. But Claradon has bought far more than he's bargained for, when his comrade Ob discovers the terrifying secret of Angle Theta. A secret so horrifying as to shatter a man's mind and call into question the very nature of good and evil.

The Harbinger of Doom saga centers around one Lord Angle Theta, an enigmatic warrior of unknown origins and mystical power. No mortal man is his match in battle. No sorcery can contain or confound him. No scholar or sage can outwit him. But for all his skills, he is but one of us; a man, a human, who shares our faults, our dreams, and our ambitions. He boldly strides across the land, fearless, peerless, and cloaked in mystery; all his will bent on righting such wrongs as he deems fit.
Until the day the Gateway opened and turned the world on its head. On that fateful day, Korrgonn came and washed away our dreams. And his outre’ realms of chaos set their unholy mark upon our world and claimed it for their own.
Only Theta and his companions see the enemies aligning against us. Only they foresee our end coming -- the end of civilization, the end of the world of man. Only they can hope to turn the tide of madness and preserve all that we hold dear.
But no man, not even our greatest hero, can stand against the Lords of Chaos and the dark armies of Nifleheim at their command. Fiends that infiltrate unseen within our ranks, that tear down our temples and our traditions; that devour us from within, unseen, unknown, unheralded, and unopposed until the hour grows far too late.
Through the murk and mist that hangs before our eyes, one man only sees true. One man pierces the veil of magic that blinds us all and marks the world as it truly is, revealing secrets, secrets of Angle Theta, so horrifying as to shatter a man’s mind and call into question the very nature of good and evil.
Join us now on our journey back to the days of high adventure.

The Harbinger of Doom Saga
Book 1: The Gateway
Book 2: The Fallen Angle
Book 3: Knight Eternal
Books 1 & 2 combined: Harbinger of Doom
Book 4+ (forthcoming)
About the Author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR For more than twenty-five years, Glenn G. Thater has written works of fiction and historical fiction focusing on the genres of heroic fantasy and sword and sorcery. His published works of fiction include the first three volumes of the Harbinger of Doom saga -- The Gateway, The Fallen Angle, and Knight Eternal, and the short story The Hero and the Fiend, which appears in the anthology Shameless Shorts. Mr. Thater holds a bachelor's degree in Physics with concentrations in Astronomy and Religious Studies, and a master's degree in Civil Engineering, specializing in Structural Engineering. He has undertaken advanced graduate study in Classical Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, and Astrophysics, and is a practicing, licensed, professional engineer specializing in multi-disciplinary alteration and remediation of buildings, and the forensic investigation of building failures and other disasters. Mr. Thater has investigated failures and collapses of numerous structures around the United States and internationally. Since 1998, he has served on the American Society of Civil Engineers' Technical Council on Forensic Engineering, and is the Chairman of that Council's Committee on Practices to Reduce Failures. Mr. Thater is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional and has testified as an expert witness in the field of structural engineering before the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Mr. Thater is an author of numerous scientific papers, magazine articles, engineering textbook chapters, and countless engineering reports. He has lectured across the United States and internationally on such topics as the World Trade Center collapses, bridge collapses, and on the construction and analysis of the dome of the United States Capital in Washington D.C. Many of Mr. Thater's stories and story excerpts are posted on his official website, where fans may leave comments and questions.

You can find THE FALLEN ANGLE and the rest of the HARBINGER OF DOOM SAGA on by clicking here!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


In the interim between MATHION and THE LAST ASCENSION (mainly due to computer issues which I unfortunately have no control over), I am very proud to present the latest OFFICIAL installment in the Mavonduri Legendarium. Going back over ten thousand years before the emergence of the Wolven, I decided to shed some light on the antagonist of the entire trilogy, the High Lord of the Werewolves himself, Azgharáth the Betrayer.

The joy of writing this little novella was exploring what made Azgharáth who he is. Where in MATHION Azgharáth's history was only touched upon, here I was able to really dig deep into his psyche and his simultaneous fall and rise. I won't give away all the spoilers here, but I am very pleased to say that you can witness the rise of the Betrayer for FREE at
Smashwords by clicking here.

And if you notice the image I used for the cover of the book (which is partially due to its lack of expense), you may notice a familiar face. Let it be known here and now that this IS the face of the High Lord himself. No substitutes accepted!! Happy reading all, let me know how you like it!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

#SampleSunday World Premiere! From the Appendices of MATHION

This SampleSunday, I'm giving you all a real treat: a never-before-seen excerpt from the Appendices of Mathion: Book One of the Mavonduri Trilogy! The text I'll be presenting to you today is part of Appendix II, which covers the geography of the Lands of Émae, where the Mavonduri Trilogy is set. It, along with the rest of the Appendices (which will appear in each book of the Trilogy, along with notes from Prof. Cillian R. Khandjian, who discovered the Mavonduri documents--more on that later!) was written by a Wolven sage named Paliro, who survived the Cataclysm that sunk these vast landmasses over 10,000 years ago. Read carefully, and you may find some major clues to The Last Ascension: Book Two of the Mavonduri Trilogy. Enjoy!

Mathion’s homeland of Ánovén is but the southern continent of a vast landmass, comprised of two large continents connected by a narrow land-bridge. Collectively, these are known as the Lands of Émae. This Appendix will primarily concern itself with the geography of the lands themselves, but will also touch upon the different geopolitical regions and spheres of influence of the Cénáre, the Kânín, and the Akáre.

Geography of the Three Kingdoms


Geographically speaking, the lands of Kânavad and Ánovén were vastly different from each other. Kânavad was comprised of a diverse landscape of mountains, desert, and a large forest in the north of the land. The environment that covered the most area was known as the Karváde or Deadlands, a vast desert that had taken in the harsh rays of the sun every day for many thousands of years. However, the Karváde is not a vast sea of brown sand. Rather, it is a vast grey plain of dry, cracked rock, littered with black stone and only faint thimbles of weed and brush. The heat of that land, or at least the southern portion of it, is so intense that the heat actually reverberates off of the rocks in shimmering waves.
To the north of the Karváde is a great, dark forest. No name is found for this forest in either the Kæna’ar or Old Cénárol languages, but in the Akáric tongue of Kôvudén it is called Ordos Âhānuv (Forest of the Werewolves). Cold, biting winds sweep through that forest, and the trees trap this cold air in; how they do not freeze into ice it is not said in the histories. Further north of this forest, near the base of the Great Mountains, rumor has told of vast fields of blue flowers that are ever in bloom.
Perhaps the most notable geographical feature of the Kânavadian continent is the Várhade or Great Mountains. These towers of sheer grey stone rose well over fifteen thousand feet above the sea, crowned with white snow from ever-present clouds that hovered above their summits. The Várhade stretched in a continuous range from just south of the city of Bazôkaš on the northernmost peninsula of Kânavad, down into East Ánovén, just east of the port-city of Ohakaš (these are known as the "Southern Highpeaks" among my people), making it undoubtedly the longest mountain range in the Lands of Émae.
West of the city of Padakis was the only inland sea in the Lands of Émae. It was a freshwater body of water, and some accounts from the Men of Kôvudén claim that the Padakisian werewolves, the only breed capable of swimming, use this sea as a training area.

The “Dominion of Kôvu” is (geographically speaking) a part of the Kânavadian continent, but is autonomous and under the protection of the South-realm. The most westerly region of “Elôvad” (the proper name of the entire Northern Continent) was unusually more fertile and lush than the rest of the northern lands: vast fields of green cover the landscape, dotted by ridges of dark stone here and there. There is only one notable mountain in Kôvudén—Had Kôvu, where Padilar Kôvu was crowned the first King of Kôvudén and where the Realm of Men was established. From that mountain, a river of crystal-clear water flowed north into the Sea of Kânavad.
Kôvudén’s capital city of Kalendu is bordered on the east by the Forest of Kalendu, which the hidden Watchers occupy, protecting their king from enemies that might wish to kill him. The city itself is built at the summit of tall seaside cliffs, against which the waves of the Kânavadian Sea continuously crash against.
One of the recognized borders of Kôvudén is the beginning of the Gulf Mountains or Ecirháde. These begin as large, round knolls of dark stone, and slowly became tall mountains, though not as tall as the Várhade or the Southern Highpeaks.

Degos Enath
Degos Enath, the Dark Valley, is the name of that narrow land-bridge that separates Kânavad and Ánovén. The land-bridge was bordered on either side by mountains: the Várhade on the east and the Gulf Mountains on the west. The ranges sloped down and eventually leveled out at the bottom, forming a valley where a tangled forest grew out of the fertile soil. This forest, commonly called the Degoštel by the Cénáre loremasters, was a thick forest, warm and muggy, and hard for one to breathe in. The branches of the trees were as gnarled as old hands, yet they were thick and brown, as if they were still in the vigor of youth.
A legendary feature of this area of land was not natural, but man-made: the Guardian Towers. One built on the slopes of the Great Mountains, the other on an outcrop of the Gulf Mountains, these towers maintained a staunch vigil over the Karváde to the north. Their construction was commissioned by Hâr-Erios in the early years of the South-realm, and they endured to the time of Mathion.

I know more of my own land than the others so described above, so it is here where I will say the most.
The geography of the South-realm is vastly different from that of the Northern Empire. Ánovén is a land of green meadows and rolling hills, of lush forests and high mountains. Its territory comprises the area from that unseen border drawn by the Guardian Towers in Degos Enath, and extends down to the uttermost of the Southern Isles. From Mekelir to Néktas, Avakaš to Ohakaš; all of it is Ánovén.
The land along the Great Gulf bears a mountain chain of great renown: the Red Mountains or Keženháde. They are so named for their crimson stone, of which legend tells that Ka’én, the Creator, shed his own blood in a sign of blessing upon the three Wolven houses of Etheôn, Géledor, and Padilos. These mountains are our most prominent, and the Mountain-city of Hádakaš was built along that range.
The river Váracar or Greatwater is a long, winding ribbon of sapphire blue water that flows from its sources in the Mountain-walls of Degos Enath to the delta in the deep south, ultimately emptying into the Southern Bay, making the Váracar the longest river in all the Lands of Émae.
The length of the Great River divided Ánovén into two distinct regions: East Ánovén and West Ánovén (this natural boundary also contributed to the distinct dialects of the South-realm). To the west were the cities of Mekelir, Avakaš (the chief city of the whole of the South-realm), Štélue (home to the Regent of Ánovén), and Hádakaš. On the east were Kihar (the chief city of East Ánovén), Ohakaš, and Néktas, along with various other smaller towns and cities united under their banner. The city of Fordótas is unique among the great cities of the South-realm: while situated on the western bank of the Greatwater, is largely held by both its people and the rest of Ánovén, to be part of the Eastern regions, and so falls under the authority of the High Steward of Kihar. The West and the East were connected by two bridges: the Bridge of Váracar in the north, at the confluence of Greater and Lesser Váracar, and the Bridge of Štélue, just shy of twenty-eight leagues to the south of Fordótas.
In the eastern region of Ánovén was the Várhade Ánôho, the southern reach of the Great Mountains, commonly known as the Southern Highpeaks. It was here that the grey stone aladar was discovered and used as the primary stone with which the Cénáre used to construct their fortresses and walled cities. Aladar was sturdy and held up to strong winds that periodically came from the sea during the summer months.
The whole of the Ánovénean continent was shaped like that of a waxing crescent moon. The waters within the great Ohar Ánovéno were very warm, particularly during that period of the year from the Hléodai Iktir’vânol through the end of the month of Oharel. These caused great storms wielding strong winds and dark clouds to form and travel along a path that curved north and east along the coasts of both Ánovén and Kôvudén, often impacting the capital city of Kalendu and the Port-city of Taqár, and (though less frequently) the city of Mekelir on the western coast of Ánovén. These storms were also rumored to form great funnels of cloud that churned the water and destroyed many traveling ships that came across them, as well as lightning and hail. The hailstones could be (as Narios of Hádakaš and Kir-Dovosir of Štélue reported) as large as the catapult-stones that defend the city of Avakaš, and able to slice through several feet of strong oak.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

SampleSunday EXCLUSIVE: Never-Before-Seen excerpt from the MATHION Appendices

A Brief History of Ánovén, up to the Birth of Mathion

This book chronicles the early years of Hâr-Mathion Mavonduri, last king of the ancient realm of Ánovén, the southern continent of the Lands of Émae, in the days when myth was history, and legend was lore. This has not been so for over ten thousand years, since Émae was swallowed by the earth as payment for the treachery of Azgharáth, Lord of the Kânín, or Werewolves.

Before Hâr-Mathion there were thirty-nine kings of Ánovén, and Mathion was the fortieth. There was only one High King: Etheôn the Renowned, father of the Seven Royal Lines. His eldest son, Eredôn, was meant to receive the Wolf-crown after his father’s eventual death, but he, having a large degree of foresight, and grieving for the loss of his father in the Kemmar Degoso Enatho, handed the crown to Erios, his younger brother, and Eredôn decreed that his line would receive the kingship last. Erios appointed his brother Dúrevon to be the Regent of Ánovén. That office was abandoned when Hâr-Málašir, a descendant of Kir-Dúrevon, became the first king of the Line of Dúrevon in the year AE 1098. It was not until the reign of Hâr-Quarios, in 4303 of the Second Era (Amaviya Enkâro in Old Cénárol), that the line of Kan’hadjion was given the office, and a Second Line of Regents was begun.

The Council of Elders, or Methir Edaeron in Old Cénárol, was established by Hâr-Valaxor II in AE 4615 with the outbreak of war on the eastern borders of Kôvudén. As king, Valaxor was obligated to ride to war if he was in good health. This he was, but there was no law indicating whether or not the Regent of Štélue would be given lordship of Ánovén, since his son was then too young to rule. Thus, Valaxor called to assembly the eldest living members of each of the clans of Etheôn, and decreed that when the king rode to war, the elders and the Regent would hold dominion over Ánovén, until such time that either the king or one of his successors returned to Ánovén. However, the Council’s power grew when Hâr-Etharon, first King of the line of Athion, ascended to the High Throne in AK 3094.

Etharon had inherited the pride and ambition of his ancestor Athion, and he desired to be remembered forever in song and history. He led mighty campaigns against the Kânín of the North, most notably against the costal city of Padakis on the Bay of Tisîr. Many Cénáre were lost on those campaigns, but this did nothing to quell Etharon’s aims. Finally, in Etharon’s three hundred and eighty-first year on the High Throne, two hundred Sentárin were lost on a failed sack of Ak’horokaš, and the Council finally acted. They decreed unanimously that the King’s power would be restricted so that it could not be abused; one of these being that the King would need the approval of the Council in order to attack enemy territory. This was marked as the first time the power of a King of Ánovén had ever been checked.

Many lives of kings passed before the Elders intervened again. During the reign of Hâr-Mežolo, a dispute arose between him and the Elders of Kôvudén. The Kânín had once again attacked Kôvudén, this time the costal city of Taqár. Mežolo sent a great force of well-trained Sentárin to the region to aid Peledos the Kôvudénean king, and they fought the most against the Kânín. But the Kânín kept attacking, and eventually the small battle became a war that lasted for half a century and scarred Kôvudén for many centuries after. Peledos was slain before the gates of Kalendu, and Mežolo claimed by right the overlordship of Kôvudén, declaring it to be “a protectorate of the South-realm”. This did not sit well with the elders of Kalendu, and the Methir Edaeron agreed, judging that Mežolo had, like Etharon, abused his power as King. Eventually, the rule of Kôvudén was committed to Peledos’s great-nephew Kathiru, and it is from him that the Kings of Kôvudén in Mathion’s time are descended.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Five hundred and eighty-three years after the Battle of Ak’horokaš…
Hâr-Tharion, Ser-Mathion, and Ser-Mathios were riding along the Red Mountains, returning home after holding council with Belevâk, the Mountain-lord of Hádakaš. Belevâk was now very old. Having been nine hundred and six years old during the time of the Great Alliance, he was now eleven years shy of his fifteenth century, and there was far more grey to be seen in his hair than when Mathion first met him. Mathion had changed as well. No longer counted among the “young people” of Ánovén, Mathion had only the year prior reached the age of one thousand, during the course of which he had garnered many victories against the Kânín.  

His son Mathios was now four hundred and twenty-eight years old, and a perfect replica of Mathion himself at that age, save for Mathios’s red hair. For much of the last ten years, Mathios had spent his time in Kôvudén, joining the Watchers guarding King Lehadi X. As a result, he had adopted many Kôvudénean customs, and now rode with his sword sheathed behind his back.

Tharion, by the grace of Ka’én, was now one thousand, five hundred and twenty-four years old, the oldest King of recent memory. Not only was his sheer age a rarity, but Tharion succumbed to neither senility nor dementia, two maladies which often plagued many of the Elders in their waning years, as had been the case with Mahavir of the clan of Úrevos. Tharion was neither crippled nor bent with age, but tall and proud as ever, save that his hair had now become as white as Elekan’s fur. Some said that it was not simply by the grace of Ka’én that Tharion had lived for so long, but that Mathion’s Wolfstone had blessed his entire family.

“Do you think Belevâk will send more Red Guards northward as you requested?” Mathion asked his father.

“Of course,” Tharion replied. “I have not asked anything of Belevâk for over two hundred years.”

“I know, because I have,” said Mathion. “The Kânín are pressing further and further into Ánovénean territory, Father. We are being worn too thin. And without the last Wolfstone, Hádakaš is still blind.”

“I have sent Kir-Belevâk report of everything that has been said through the Stones,” Tharion retorted. “The last stone will be acquired in time.”

“We don’t have a lot of time left, Father.”

“What about all those stories I’ve heard of you two?” Mathios asked.

“You are here to learn, not speak, Mathios,” Mathion said sternly.

“Oh hush,” Tharion interjected. “Council is over and done, let the boy speak as he may.”

“You’ve certainly changed since I was young.” Tharion smiled.

“Grandchildren have that effect on you, my son.”

Ic óm atar? said Elekan.
(What is that?) Mathion turned his head this way and that, but saw nothing, though he smelled a sweet fragrance from the flower fields south of their path.

“I don’t see anything, Elekan,” he said.

Ondóv naerogé.
(See with your mind.)

Mathion closed his eyes, and the Wolfstone shone as bright as the noonday sun above their heads. Mathion had long since become used to the sensation of soaring out of his body, over the trees and high above the mountaintops, seeing the world as if from a bird’s-eye view. After a few moments, he opened his eyes and scratched Elekan’s head.

“Maybe age has finally caught up with you, my old friend,” he said. Elekan merely snorted.

“Please, Father,” Mathios said. “Elekan’s going to outlive all of us!”

Mathion laughed, “He very well may, my son.”

“Mathion,” said Tharion, “there are matters that we need to discuss when return to—”

(Look out!)

Out of nowhere, a ravenous werewolf leapt upon Tharion. The King fell from his horse, and with a howl the Kânai ripped it in half, spilling blood and entrails on the verdant grass. The werewolf leapt onto Tharion and snarled viciously as it raised one of its great paws and held Tharion’s head down. Mathios leapt off his horse, unsheathing his sword with such speed that it may have well been summoned, but it was too late. The werewolf opened its jaws wide and sunk its fangs deep into the king’s flesh. Tharion cried out in such pain that Mathion felt it as his own.

Bé-tathálij ktildo! Mathion had no sooner thought the command when his great sword Aelak’ra flashed into his hand. Elekan bared his teeth and let loose a terrible howl that flung the werewolf aside. Mathios pounced forward between the beast, his father, and his grandfather. He widened his stance and held his sword at the ready. The werewolf rose onto its four powerful legs and crouched, primed to pounce on the king and this little warrior standing between them.

“Mathios, get back!” Mathion roared.

“I can fight!”

“I said now, ictola!” But it was too late. With a roar the werewolf bolted at Mathios, gnashing its jaws violently. Mathios crouched and leapt in a great arc over the beast, slicing its back. Wounded, the werewolf fell to the ground. Mathion stepped forward and Aelak’ra shone with a brilliant golden light. With one motion Mathion stabbed the werewolf’s neck, and the Kânai was consumed and destroyed in flames. Mathion said nothing as he recalled Aelak’ra, and immediately ran to his father’s side.

Tharion’s throat and shoulder had suffered traumatic damage. Dark red blood flowed from several large, deep gashes caused by the Kânai’s fangs and Tharion was wide-eyed, struggling to breathe.

“Wolfsbane,” Mathion said, and Mathios rushed through a bag hanging from Mathion’s horse. Mathios pulled out a small bundle of pungent blue leaves and stems and handed it to his father. Mathion chewed the lot and packed it into the deepest cuts on Tharion’s neck. Taking a strip of cloth and wrapping it tightly around Tharion’s wounds, Mathion removed his Wolfstone and placed it around his father’s neck.

“Stay with me,” he said as Tharion’s eyes fluttered. Mathion turned and glared at his son. His eyes flashed angrily, but Mathios held his ground.

“I said I could fight, and I did.”

“Now is not the time,” Mathion shot back.


Every comic book fan knows or has heard of the 1990 Captain America film starring Matt Salinger as Steve Rogers, with an Italian Fascist Red Skull. And that brings a sour taste to their mouths. Thankfully, Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger, starring former Johnny Storm Chris Evans, is not that movie. The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe along with Iron Mans 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk and most recently Thor, this was probably the most important film for Marvel to make, not just to build momentum for next year's second-best superhero epic, Marvel's The Avengers (sorry Marvel fans, but The Dark Knight Rises will rule all next year!) but as a viable stand-alone franchise. And for once, I have to give it to them: Marvel delivered.

The First Avenger is a joyous World War II action film with awesome pulp-scifi elements and only subtle ties to the other films in the MCU. Without going into spoilerific specifics, we begin in the modern-day Arctic before flashing back to 1942, when the story really kicks in. The period sets and costumes are fantastic, and though the film is NOT propagandically patriotic, the patriotism in this film is beautifully handled by blending it with nostalgia.

The most significant of thoseaforementioned MCU links is Johann Schmidt's search for the Tesseract (aka the Cosmic Cube for comic fans), an artifact that supposedly adorned Odin's throne room, and a source of nearly unlimited power. We're then introduced to Steve Rogers, a skinny asthmatic kid from Brooklyn desperately trying to enlist in the 107th. One thing I have to say is that the CGI used to make the super-ripped Evans into a short, skinny twerp is superbly well done. Steve's buddy James "Bucky" Barnes (his middle name is Buchanan, hence "Bucky") has already successfully enlisted, and is a real hit with the dames, contrasting with Rogers' introvertedness.

The story moves along at a brisk pace prior to all the popcorn-action elements, introducing us to the future Iron Man's old man Howard Stark (by the way, Dominic Cooper looks eerily like a younger Robert Downey Jr.), Hayley Atwell's Agent Peggy Carter, and who could forget the wonderfully aloof ex-German scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine, played by Stanley Tucci? Tucci is an actor I hugely admire for his talent, and this was one impeccable piece of casting. But that's nothing to say of the relationship that forms between Erskine and Rogers over the course of his training under Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones).

Once we see Rogers in full Cap glory post-enhancement, the ball really gets rolling. There's too much to say here, because there is a lot that happens, but the story moves along very satisfyingly and really invests viewers in Rogers as a person, not just a guy in a suit. Not an easy task, this is a comic-book adaptation after all. It's very easy to get lost in the action and the effects when you have a film of this scale, but Johnston proves that he can take those same elements and infuse them into a character-driven story. And when you take the audience on that kind of a ride, you can bet that they'll pay attention the whole way through to the bitter end.

It's a breath of fresh air that Captain America and the Red Skull aren't just arch-nemeses, they're antitheses of each other, very much like Batman and The Joker. However, unlike The Joker, Johann Schmidt has very clear goals, and very clear motives for those goals. One of the things that Dr. Erskine tells Rogers is that his serum doesn't just affect the subject's physical state, i.e. bring them to the peak of human perfection, but brings out and amplifies the subjects best or worst characteristics. Essentially, "Good becomes great, bad becomes worse." And that is exactly what we have, a psychological dynamic between hero and villain who have no personal history, but are drawn together by fate and choice.

Now, as for the romance that blossoms between Peggy and Steve, all I can say is that it is a love story both with and without an end, and is heartbreakingly good to see play out.

But the real treat here is the final setup to The Avengers, which is what this is really all about, bringing the four (five if you count Hawkeye's cameo in Thor, and I do) of Marvel's biggest heroes together along with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. By the way, it's a real treat to see Evans and Jackson as Cap and Fury share a scene together.

I have to say that, even as a DC fan, Marvel took the cake this year with Thor and Captain America. Great action, on-the-ball casting, and smart directing gives these films some weight, and I'm positive I'll be seeing Captain America again before it hits Blu-Ray. Oh, and that shield is freaking sweet!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: GATEWAY by Glenn G. Thater

Glenn Thater's HARBINGER OF DOOM series kicks off with GATEWAY, the tale of Brother Claradon Eotrus as he endeavors to find out what happened to his father, Lord Aradon, after he mysteriously vanishes along with his men while investigating an unearthly fog.

Drawing from Medieval, Nordic and Greek mythology, the world of Thater's Midgard feels as if set in a forgotten era of the Dark Ages, full of elves, dwarves, gnomes, wizards and heroes of a rich yet shaded past. The Foreword to the book proper contains a very convincing excursus on the author's "research" of the legendary figure Lord Angle Theta. Joining Claradon on his quest is the hero Gabriel Garn, the House Wizard of Dor Eotrus Par Tanch, and a delightfully persnickety gnome named Ob, as well as the mysterious Theta and his manservant Dolan.

The plot moves along at a satisfying pace, with the more expository parts of the tale executed very well that gives the reader a time, place and in-world precedent for the events transpiring in the story. What starts out as a mere rescue mission quickly becomes one of vengeance and darkness, and without spoiling any future readers, the tale becomes delightfully gory as it reaches its climax. I found myself wanting to know more about Lord Theta and his origins, and I was sad that one of the more important characters got the shaft before being fully fleshed out but what makes this story great is the great distinction between all the characters, and the bond that grows between them at the end.

Some of the dialogue gets a little arduous, and has a distinct older English folktale flavor to it, and some of the descriptions are a little vague and out there, but in spite all that GATEWAY is a solid work of fantasy that was a real treat to read. I'm sure it only gets better from here, as I've already begun reading volume 2, FALLEN ANGLE.

GATEWAY is available on Amazon Kindle, and comes highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Lord's Prayer in Old Cénárol: Translation & Analysis

One of the major elements in THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY is the ancient language of the Wolven, which I refer to as "Old Cénárol". In the books, it is described as a language of "formality, war and prayer," used by priests, leaders and loremasters on occasions of importance and study. For those who have read MATHION: BOOK ONE OF THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY, they will know that the character of Elekan, the White Wolf companion of the protagonist, uses this speech in his communications with Mathion. Because he, and all White Wolves, are held sacred by Mathion's people, the use of Old Cénárol in the manifestation of his thoughts serves to impress the importance of his nature to the reader. So that one may better understand this unique language, I have translated the Lord's Prayer into it and provided a detailed analysis of the vocabulary and parts of speech. I hope this will prove both informative and enjoyable to all fans of fantasy literature and conlanging alike.

(Hakto Dâron)

1. Ariv hakto dâron ik Váravénahya
Our father who art in Heaven

2. Cadimat u thare uver
Hallowed be thy name

3. Em daetekt u véné uver
Thy kingdom come

4. Em axtel un télan uveron
Thy will be done

5. T'em ramar Cendimuha té araya Vénahya uver
On Earth as it is in Heaven

6. Beo tharav dâkten lévo i ceor
Give us this day our daily bread

7. Al em gast'la dor un nécyanil té gastade kyor ik tel'thayadh néca dâkten
And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us

8. Beo em et-tath'va žehletæ
Lead us not into temptation

9. Ne firóv dor Ak'horosava
But deliver us from the Evil One


1. Ariv- v. "you are" (similar definition to Spanish "estas", i.e. in terms of location); hakto- n. Father; dâron- pronoun "our"; genitive case (nominative "we, us"); ik Váravénahya- "who (is) in Heaven" Váravénahya "Heaven": lit. "High-realm", locative case

2. Cadimat v. "it is blessed", passive voice u thare- n. "name", accusative case (nominative thari); uver pronoun "your" (nom. uve "you")

3. Em daetekt v. subjunctive future "may it come" (infinitive daetim "to come, arrive"); u véné acc. "realm" (nom. véna)); uver

4. Em axtel v. subjunctive pl. "may they be done"; un télan uveron your deeds (singular téla "deed")

5. T'em ramar verb phrase "as they might be"; Cendimuha n. "on Earth" locative case; "as"; araya v. "are", present tense plural; Vénahya n. "realm", locative case "in (your) Realm"; uver pronoun "you", genitive case

6. Beo "please"; tharav v. "(you) give"; dâkten pronoun "us", dative case i.e. "to us" lévo n. "bread", accusative case (nom. lévae); i ceor "this day"

7. Al "and"; em gast'la v. subjunctive "may you forgive" (inf. gastim); dor "us" accusative case plural; un nécyanil n. "wrongs" dative plural; té gastade kyor "as we forgive those (i.e. "them","; ik "who"; tel'thayadh v. Present Perfect "have done" (inf. telim "do") néca n. "wrong"; dâkten "to us" dative

8. Beo "please"; em et-tath'va v. subjunctive "do not lead (us)" (inf. tathej "lead, summon, make come"); žehletæ n. "(towards) temptation" (nom. žehletue)

9. Ne "however"; firóv v. "(you) lead (lit. "take away", inf. firur); dor "we, us"; Ak'horosava n. "away from Ak'horos" ablative case (motion away)

Sunday, July 17, 2011



....“I can vouch for Lord Ktovoli and his men, Lord-Regent,” Mathios said to Dovosir, “they would be a valuable asset on the walls.”
“Good, good,” said Dovosir, “but now we must turn to those of you who will have the greatest responsibility of all: guarding the city from within.”
“We can surely handle that,” said a man who sat next to Kótahro, “Bóþaro, my Lord-Regent, Second Out-warden of the North-bounds of Kihar. While Lord Kótahro’s men are well-trained to handle the field, my men are the best hope you’ll have of defending the city. I should know: this year alone we have withstood a dozen attempted werewolf raids on Kihar from the Southern Highpeaks.”
“You fool yourself, Easterner,” said one Tavâñgos of Hádakaš, “no one has the stomachs of the Hádakašians. We will defend the city.”
“I think not,” said Ktovoli, “the Blue Contingent has defended the city of Mekelir for millennia. We will take on this task at the Regent’s pleasure.” The difference of moods began to overtake the unity of the table, and the Elders jumped into the fray, trying in vain to calm the men as their words got louder and louder until it rose to a clamor. Hóctar and Tavâñgos rose up in argument against Kótahro and Bóþaro, and Parótyas and Naekos exchanged words hotly with Ktovoli and Šihaktu. Only Ektiro of Štélue, commander of Dovosir's Regent-guard, sat in silence, sipping from his cup.
“Silence! All of you!” Mathios shouted.  At that moment all noise ceased, and even Dovosir stared at the young prince in astonishment. Mathios’s eyes were fierce and bright, yet they were not smoldered with anger, but the burning fire of a commander who commanded with respect. He leaned forward and rested his hands on the table, addressing the commanders both simultaneously and individually.
“We can not bicker amongst ourselves,” he said, “this time of crisis has too much hanging in the balance for that. You are all commanders, gentlemen, men who are respected by those in your charge and those whose charge you are in. And that means that you have my respect as well. You have all accomplished great feats in your time, adopted courage where your men might have abandoned all hope, and it is by those merits that you sit at this table tonight.
“I will not have the shadow that tore the Council asunder do the same to us. We are presented with a test of our will as a people and as a kingdom, and I for one will not have us fail that test by lowering our standards to those tyecun. I will be damned if I do, and you will be damned for allowing me to do so.
“Right now, as Kir-Dovosir has said, nothing is certain of what the Uprisers’ next move is. They could attack tonight; they might sit and fester for a thousand years before mustering up the courage to strike. Nevertheless, while they maintain their unity, we must maintain ours. Commanders, you have each brought men of specific skills, and we will use them where they will be the strongest. But as for those who will defend Avakaš itself from within, those men must truly represent how united we are. Kihar shall walk alongside Hádakaš, Mekelir shall stand next to Néktas, and we will be stronger for it, stronger than any Upriser that dares defy our King.”
“You’re learning to speak like a king yourself, for one so young, Ser-Mathios,” Hóctar nodded. “Your father would be very proud. What say you, Bóþaro?” Kótahro’s second in command said nothing, but nodded his agreement. Ktovoli and Šihaktu stood, and they inclined their heads to Mathios.
“Mekelir shall stand, fight, and if need be, die next to the men of Néktas,” Ktovoli said. “And we are honored to do so for our King and for you, young prince. Forgive our folly.”
Mathios smiled, and returned the show of respect to the other commanders. “We may be Cénáre, but we are still human, Ktovoli. Just don’t let the Kôvudéneans in on that secret.” This was met by an uproarious laughter from everyone in the room. Mathios relaxed his stance and drained his mug of ale.
“Now, if you will all excuse me, I must now attend to my mother. Kótahro, let’s walk and talk for a while, shall we?”
Mathios and Kótahro walked for a while in silence. Out of the corner of his eye, Mathios saw Kótahro arch his neck, straining to see the ceiling high above their heads. Mathios followed Kótahro’s gaze, just in time to see one of the Fúzilo corridors rotate as someone disembarked. Kótahro whistled softly in amazement, and the melody echoed off the walls of the obelisk.
“Is this your first time west of the Greatwater?” Mathios asked.
“It is,” Kótahro replied. “Although I’m sure it won’t be my last. I’m still young compared to your father.”
“But you’re still my elder,” Mathios countered. Kótahro glanced at the prince, confused. “I’ve been taught to show my elders the proper respect,” Mathios continued, “and yet my own stupid knack for propriety caused me to lose sight of that bit of common sense.”
“Is this an apology from a superior?” said Kótahro incredulously.
“As a matter of fact, yes,” Mathios replied with a smile. “Your father fought and died for mine, even though they barely knew each other. Songs of Kedaer the Martyr are still sung in Avakaš, Kótahro. Your father is greatly respected for what he did that day.” Kótahro nodded, but Mathios sensed a deeper sadness in the Kiharian’s somber expression.
“At times, I’m angry at your father, truth be told,” he said. Mathios did not speak or react, but waited for Kótahro to continue.
‘Patience is the key to authority,’ Mathion had taught his son once, many years ago when Mathios was still considered a boy. ‘Authority is given by the respect you have earned, not by the fear you have wreaked upon those in your care. We are servants, Mathios. It is our duty to understand our people, and hear them out to the last word.’
Kótahro sighed deeply, “Angry at the fact that my father had to die, and that I would never know him, so yours could live. But when I came of age and entered into the Wardenship of Kihar, Lord Azadir told me exactly what happened that day, and why my father died. He spoke of your father as he spoke of the South-realm: we are all called to defend it one way or another. And if we must die, then so be it. There is no greater sacrifice.”
Mathios smiled, and placed a firm grasp on Kótahro’s shoulder, shaking him as he would a brother if he had one.
“Ser-Mathios.” Dovosir had followed them out of the hall. The council had long since adjourned, and the other commanders were filing out of the Citadel to return to their men. Mathios caught a curious expression in Dovosir’s eyes, and he knew that Kótahro had seen the same.
“Bóþaro, rejoin the others. Tell them I will be with them shortly. I need to speak with the Lord-Regent in private.”
“Yes, Out-warden,” Bóþaro replied, upon which he swiftly exited the Tower.
“You have an idea, Dovosir,” Mathios said with a smile, “a dangerous one.”
“Indeed,” the Regent replied. “Apparently your father’s influence has not waned in six centuries. "Nevertheless, we need to talk. Kótahro, who is your best infiltrator?”


Ten years ago, if you had asked me about the Harry Potter film series, I would have honestly said that, given the HUGE popularity of the books by J.K. Rowling, it was an easy money-grabber. Fast forward to July 16, 2011 at 1:36 a.m., and I can honestly say that it became SO much more than that. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is a seminal film. This sort of thing only comes along once in a generation, and I am proud to say that I got to see this through.

In the age of Twilight, Deathly Hallows Part 2 reminds us of what is truly important: honor, duty, friendship, sacrifice, and love (no, I mean it--REAL LOVE, Twi-hards!). I left the movie theater on Friday night with the same feeling I had on December 25, 2003 when I went to see Return of the King with my cousin: a feeling of pure, unadulterated wonder (not to mention the feeling of "too many endings" by the time the words 19 Years Later faded in, a welcome bit of moviegoing deja vu). It would honestly not surprise me in the slightest if the Academy did for Potter what it did for Return of the King and honor it for what it is. It's not just a good summer fantasy film, it's a fantastic fantasy film, an exploration of the true conflict between good and evil, ripped straight from the pages of its origin, and told in such a way that only the shallowest person could not be impacted by it. It is certainly the best film I've seen all year, and it was one hell of a film to end the Summer Movie Season. Not even The First Avenger: Captain America (yes, THAT should be its title) will be able to slow this monster down.

First of all, credit and thanks are due to Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint for putting their childhoods on hold to see this series through to the bitter end. The reason their onscreen performances--not just individually but together--are so powerful is because they don't just play three best friends in the movies, they are best friends in real life. They have the kind of friendship that should have never worked: cast in these iconic roles at the ages of 10 and 11, people easily expected them to become consumed by the Hollywood machine and begin bickering and fighting amongst themselves to the joy of every tabloid newspaper and magazine on the planet. But no, these three actors bonded and grew up together and formed something much more unique, much more powerful than any sort of chemistry veteran actors could hope to achieve in any single film in their entire careers. I would like to pause this review for a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to this truly inspiring trio of people. Thank you so much for allowing us to watch you grow up in these films, both as actors and as people. Good luck to all three of you no matter what you choose to pursue in the future.

Nevertheless, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are not the be-all end-all of this film. Or indeed this filmic saga. The supporting cast of (to name a few) Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman (who deserves a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award) Ralph Fiennes, David Thewlis, the brothers Phelps (who are now firmly embedded in my mind as Fred and George Weasley every time I read the books), Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, and Robbie Coltrane, served to mentor the young actors just as their characters did for the students of Hogwarts (with the exception of Fiennes, obviously). To retain such a stellar cast for ten years and eight films is more than just "sheer, dumb luck" as Professor McGonagall would say, it is just as monumental an achievement as the films themselves. From that opening shot of Alan Rickman as headmaster of Hogwarts to Julie Walters uttering the line many fans had been waiting to hear with bated breath, "Not my daughter, you bitch!", every single performance in this film was a sheer joy to witness.

Special consideration here needs to be given to Mr. Rickman, who does so much with such little screentime, and even fewer lines than he's had in any previous Potter film. His entire performance is conveyed through his eyes, and though they are black and cold, from somewhere deep within comes a sadness and anguish that brought tears to my eyes. Alan Rickman truly gives one of the greatest supporting performances of recent memory. Yes, even up there with Heath Ledger's Academy Award-winning turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

Finally, the filmmakers. These people promised to deliver a grand, epic finale and they did. And not just for fans of the films, but fans of the books will find nearly every one of their favorite moments from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ripped right from the page in this film. From the opening scene with Harry and crew making that deal with Griphook to the Epilogue at the end of the film, the filmmakers didn't try to reinvent the Wizarding wheel and took Rowling's words and gave them brilliant cinematic form. While for some David Yates may not have been the first choice for a film of this magnitude, or indeed even any of the Potter films in this franchise, he has proven himself to be a masterful director, and my hat goes off to him.

What makes this film so great is that Part 2 fits so perfectly well with Part 1, while being as unlike Part 1 as you can get in terms of tone and pace. If you were to splice these films together (which I'm sure Warner Bros. has already thought of doing for the eventual Ultimate Collector's Edition Harry Potter Blu-Ray set--which you can bet your ass I'll be getting!!), Part 1 becomes the slow, grinding upward slope of the rollercoaster that is Part 2. And what a rollercoaster it is. Once the trio (and Griphook) leave Shell Cottage, it's all action and none of it stops for one second to let you breathe, which is perfect storytelling and a great way for the audience to really tap into what the characters are being put through. How the filmmakers managed to put so much into this film and keep it all coherent is something I'll be toiling over for a long time (something tells me Yates took a few pages from Christopher Nolan's book of directing--but I digress) but the film moves along with spectacular pacing that allows you to keep track of what's going on, who's doing what, and how it all comes together.

I have very little to complain about with this film, and the things I do have to complain about are mostly nitpicky things that had very little impact on the film as a whole. Certain cuts, specific takes, a few plot points that were left out (why didn't Harry repair his wand first?!?!), but on the whole, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is a film to remember for, and share with, generations to come. Thank you J.K. Rowling. Thank you Harry. And long live the Boy Who Lived.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Special Excerpt from THE LAST ASCENSION

Azgharáth either loved or hated these moments. It had been over five fortnights since he had seen the sky, sitting and fasting in silence as he sought counsel from Ak’horos. Now he stood with his sons at the gates of Ak’horokaš, awaiting the arrival of General Yohukta. He had been charged with wiping out some of the less significant of the Watchers of Kôvudén, replacing them with men loyal to the High Lord. But Kalendu now held a Wolfstone, and it was unknown how this endeavor had played out until now.

Ecálos stood at Azgharáth’s right, while Ekannar maintained his place at his father’s left. A hundred years ago, Ekannar had tried to win his father’s favor by sending three hundred of his own men to their fiery deaths against the Wolven of Mekelir, attempting vengeance for his humiliating defeat at the hands of Oharion his captive. As a reward, his father had given him three scars that ran down the middle of his face and over his nose. His once-perfect visage, which Ekannar had prided above the rest of his possessions including his wives and mistresses, was now utterly ruined; and he was hard to look upon. Their defeat by the Wolven, on their own soil no less, over five hundred eighty years prior had driven Azgharáth nearly to madness. And though Ekannar still dared to defy his father, Ecálos knew better. He’d had over ten thousand years to learn from.

Azgharáth looked, and heard the trampling of a thousand Kânín and halfbreeds making their way towards their home. And before long with his powerful vision the High Lord saw them. Eight hundred werewolves accompanied by two hundred kânakáre in steel armor rushed en mass towards the Black City. At their head, untransformed, was General Yohukta, murderer of Ehóxar and by that right chieftain of the Northpacks. A pillar of a man with one eye and a shaved head, save for one black line that extended down his neck and braided at the end, he wore no armor and was covered head to toe in grime and blood, with an intricate patchwork of tattoos adorning his chest and arms and face. Azgharáth could only assume the majority of the blood was not Yohukta’s own.

The gates opened with a glance of the High Lord’s bloodred-golden eyes, and Azgharáth stepped out onto the barren terrain of the Freezing Plains to meet his general. Yohukta and his men halted simultaneously as if it were prearranged, and knelt before their lord and master.

“Rise,” Azgharáth growled. Yohukta avoided the High Lord’s eyes as he rose, and Azgharáth took notice of this.

“Why do you dishonor me, Yohukta?” Azgharáth inquired. Yohukta did not respond, and at this sign of disrespect Azgharáth growled deeply and rabidly. Quicker than any man’s eye could catch, Azgharáth grabbed Yohukta by the throat, squeezing the very life from the chieftain.

“Apologies, High Lord!” he gasped. “They were aware! Lehadi sent five thousand after us, we had no choice! I don’t know how he knew—”

“You lie,” Azgharáth growled. “Lehadi possesses the Wolfstone of Orú. You were careless! Be grateful that I don’t kill you where you stand.”

“I am, exalted one of Ak’horos,” Yohukta cowered. “But I am not without information, which I know the High Lord values.” Azgharáth rescinded his vise-like grip on the general’s throat.

“Speak,” he growled. Yohukta panted like a wounded dog as he spoke.

“We captured one of the Watchers and tortured him,” he said, “and he spoke of conflict within the Kingdom of Eredôn to the south. Two of the clans have turned their backs on their king, all but declaring open war on Avakaš.”

“And all the while, Tharion lies in the eyes of death,” Azgharáth smiled. “This is good news indeed, Yohukta, thank you for giving it to me. But nevertheless…”

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MOVIE REVIEWS Pirates, Mutants, and Ringslingers: Welcome to the Summer Blockbuster Season, Poozers!

So I know I've been more or less slacking on the movie reviews lately. Amazing how much time a sequel novel can take up isn't it? (By the way, The Last Ascension: Book Two of the Mavonduri Trilogy is going great, never mind the fact that it's kicking my ass six ways from Sunday). But, despite the juggling act I've been consistently performing between my dayjob and epic fantasy trilogy about a war between werewolves and a pre-Atlantean race of werewolf hunters, I have been able to get out of the house and have a little "me" time at the movies. And all on a pretty tight budget.

On that note, I would encourage everyone to try and donate blood at your local movie theater if such services are provided. Why? Three reasons: it's a good cause, the snacks are usually pretty good and keep your blood sugar up (though I wish my blood bus would stock back up on those Burger King French toast sticks) and more often than not you get a free movie ticket out of it. Ah, the joy of perks.

Anyway, enough babbling about, it's time for my craziest blog post yet. After the Thor review, I realized that I needed to change up the game a little bit, and so decided to hold off on doing individual reviews until Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Captain America hit screens. Now, without sounding like I'm trying to "stick it to the man" (looking at you, Ebert), I thought it would be a great exercise for me personally to do a three-in-one compare/contrast trifecta review of three of the most diverse blockbusters coming out within a less-than-one-month period this summer. Namely, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, X-Men: First Class, and Green Lantern. Plus, it makes for a pretty nifty blog title, if I do say so myself. So, what better way to do it than to get to it?

  • PIRATES: The cool thing about OST is that it completely broke off from where the original trilogy ended. This is a Jack Sparrow movie and it's just about as neurotic and eccentric as the Captain himself. Yet, for a director who's usually known for his work in musicals, Rob Marshall shows that he can handle a sweeping, epic story just as well as Gore Verbinski. While he may be a bit green to this particular genre, Marshall did a good job maintaining each of the major storylines.
    Hearking back to the first film, On Stranger Tides is a quest story in which all participants in the quest have a specific goal for the prize. Whether the reasons are personally, religiously or politically motivated, it is the idea of "the Quest" that makes this epic pirate fantasy a good epic pirate fantasy. While watching the film, I found myself engaged with the story. I tried to figure out where it would lead, what turns it would take and where it would end up. There were times that I'd go right and the story would go left, and there were other times where I could pinpoint certain plot points and though I knew it would go there I was still satisfied with how it unfolded.
  • GREEN LANTERN: I think it needs to be said that I did read an early draft of the Green Lantern script that was leaked online, and I enjoyed it immensely. That being said, I was unfortunately underwhelmed with the final story as presented in the film. Yes, there were elements of that initial script in the final cut and yes, it is the first in the franchise but then again so was Batman Begins. I'm not trying to say that I didn't like it, because I did. But all the same, I wish that the script I had read had ended up onscreen. While watching the film I could tell that there were a lot of plot points that had been cut out for whatever reasons. Maybe it was to focus more on Hal's story, maybe it was for budget reasons, I don't know, I didn't make the film. But with a universe as rich as Green Lantern's, Warner Bros. could have done a lot better story-wise for this film.
  • X-MEN: FIRST CLASS: Now, this was a story! I remember the day I went to go see this film that Billy Corgan (I think) had said that X-Men: First Class was "a Saturday morning cartoon mixed with a Nazi revenge thriller set against the Cuban missile crisis", and that's exactly what it was, and it rocked. The pacing was perfectly done, because there is a lot to tell in this film, and it kept my attention for the entire duration of the film. Probably the story's strongest pillar was the friendship between Xavier and Magneto, and how that played out over the course of the film and how it changed each of the men at the conclusion. Throughout the film you see them discuss the idea of mutation and how mutants can coexist alongside humans, if they even can, and you can tell that each man has been shaped by their life experiences, one for better and one for worse. Never mind all the continuity issues, this is a fresh start for the X-Men series. And I want to see where it goes.

  • PIRATES: First off, let's just get this one little point out of the way: You can't go wrong with Jack Sparrow. Give Johnny Depp a little and he'll get a mile out of it. That being said, everyone else was fantastic. It was great to see Kevin MacNally back as Joshamee Gibbs, and even better to see him first as being innocent of being accused as Jack Sparrow (genius writing!!). Geoffrey Rush brought a freshness back to Barbossa after the writers reimagined him as a Royal privateer, peg leg and all, and that his relationship with Jack was reinvigorated by that fact. Penelope Cruz created the perfect female foil for Jack, with Angelica matching Jack wit for wit and line for line. Unfortunately, Ian McShane's Edward Teach/Blackbeard left more to be desired. After hearing all the characters hyping him up for his ruthlessness and depravity, I found him to be quite a decent fellow all things considered. But then again, following Bill Nighy as Davy Jones is a pretty big hat to fill.
  • GREEN LANTERN: Despite all my gripes with Green Lantern's story, I thought the characters were phenomenal. Ryan Reynolds proved that he can balance cockiness and a sharp tongue with emotional gravitas and empathy, and I was very pleasantly surprised with Blake Lively (who happens to be exactly as old as I am, to the day no less) as Carrol Ferris. Peter Sarsgaard always makes for a great villain, and he pulled off the creepiness of Hector Hammond sinisterly well. Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan lended their perfectly selected voices as Tomar-Re and Kilowog, respectively, although Kilowog's design could have been more piggish. My favorite performance, however, was one we didn't get to see enough of: Mark Strong as Thaal Sinestro. You could really see the sincerity of his performance in his eyes, and you knew that when he spoke of the power of fear he spoke reverently of it. Parallax was not a very convincing villain, and not as credible nor immediate a threat as Hammond, but it did widen the scope of the film.
  • X-MEN: FIRST CLASS: First of all, it was great to see Kevin Bacon acting again. Second of all, it was great to see Kevin Bacon be a villain. Third of all, Kevin Bacon speaks sehr gut Deutsche. Sebastian Shaw (played by Bacon) is a villain who can harness kinetic energy and repurpose it, a perfect dark metaphor for the early years of the Cold War. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have James McAvoy as Charles Xavier. This was one of the performances I was very interested in seeing, and was thoroughly satisfied with. Xavier in the '60s was, essentially, a womanizer. Using mutation as a pickup line to get chicks? Brilliant! It shows that there can be a freshness to old characters while still staying thematically true to what drives them. But the real star of this film is Michael Fassbender's Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto. This is a man who has suffered more than any of the other mutants we meet in the course of the film. He travels the world looking for the man who killed his mother, and all the while struggling with what he is, thinking that he's the only one of his kind. And while this is essentially true, he struggles with everyone else's idealistic way of handling things. Fassbender uses his talent to present a wide-angle view of Magneto's narrow-mindedness, and provides more gravitas than any villain I've yet seen. But this film is chock-full of strong supporting characters in addition to the names that will be on the posters. January Jones really makes the phrase "ice queen" come to life (yes, I know she turns into crystal and not ice!) and Lucas Till gave one of the surprise performances of the film as Alex Summers/Havok. And enough can't be said for Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.
  • PIRATES: Probably the best "fourth film" in a given franchise that I've seen in all my years of movie going. Solid story, good character actors to give character performances, a fresh take on some old faces (I'm looking at you, Geoffrey) and a very interesting ending scene and after-credits scene to whet your fanboy brains about Pirates of the Caribbean 5. Not to mention the fact that it's now in the Top 10 All-Time Grossing Movies list. Gotta count for something, right?
  • GREEN LANTERN: Unfortunately adequate. Grant Major did a hell of a design job and Reynolds and Strong gave very solid performances, but it seems to me like Warner Bros. could have risked more than they did and had the next Batman Begins on their hands. But, as a comic book fan, I did like it overall, and would go see it again.
  • X-MEN: FIRST CLASS: Yes, yes, and YES. Finally, Fox got something right and breathed new life into the franchise by stripping it down and rebuilding it bit by bit. My only concern now is that the inevitable sequel be just as good if not better than this first. But that was a movie I thoroughly enjoyed, and will definitely go see again before Captain America hits theaters.
Well, that's it for me for now (I do have a book to write, after all). Stay tuned to the MAVONDURI TRILOGY OFFICIAL BLOG for more Book 2 News and Movie Reviews. Next month is going to be one hell of a joyride as we say goodbye to Harry Potter with Deathly Hallows Part 2 and hello to the First Avenger with Captain America. Be sure to be following me on Twitter @Mavonduri, and why not add me on Facebook?

By the way, I just finished watching The Social Network with my brother, and....Inception was better. Night folks!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


These documents I have recovered are fragmentary at best; not surprising since they are many thousands of years old. The most complete work is that of Hâr-Mathion Mavonduri’s youth, which has no doubt been compiled and seen by many in the decades following my death. However, as I delved further into the Last King’s history, the documents became scarcer and the picture less complete. Even so, by the time of Hâr-Mathion’s reign as King of the Wolven, the only certifiable source materials that can be counted as one hundred percent credible are Mathion’s own journals and accounts given by his son Ser-Mathios.
The translation of “Wolfsbane” that I have employed is not simply practical or a matter of convenience. Upon examination of the description of the plant in question as identified in the documents as Íneña or “the Leaf (i.e. ‘flower’) of Íne,” it can be safely assumed that they are one and the same. The Wolfsbane or monkshood plant (aconitum lycotonum is probably the most likely candidate for its exact identification) can have leaves of a blue or purplish hue and hangs low like the hood of a monk (hence the moniker “monkshood”) and secretes a poison harmful to humans. The Wolven’s immune system is apparently able to metabolize this poison and negate the effects of the werewolf’s toxic bite. In addition, the Wolfsbane poison is actually harmful to the Kânín themselves—understandable now why they would burn fields of these plants as a preemptive battle strategy.
This is another quality of the heretofore “mythical” beast that I cannot find in any research conducted on lycanthropic attributes in the victims. This “toxic saliva” is only found in a wholly unrelated species of giant lizard (or dragon according to some reports) from an island in the far Pacific. I can confidently say that this is not a form of the rabies virus common in most species of wild canines or rodents. Nevertheless, as I further comb these fantastic documents I am learning about a world from before our own, as alike and different to it as one can imagine.
Many details from this point forward are scant or untranslatable, although I have done my best to translate given the very limited amount of documentation in my possession. Where there is not sufficient translatable material, I will attempt to fill in the gaps with my own assumptions, incorrect as they might be.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The God of Thunder Strikes Like Lightning (SPOILERIFIC REVIEW)

So the summer movie season has officially begun, and I have to say it's off to a thunderous (pun intended) good start. Kenneth Branagh's THOR is a true scifi/fantasy epic, blending seamlessly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe while standing on its own at the same time. Now, no film is perfect and THOR is no exception. But it's certainly a movie worth checking out.

THOR plays into the "ancient astronaut" theory very well and believably, portraying the mythic Asgardians as extremely advanced extraterrestrials (but not "alien" in the traditional sense). The titular protagonist, portrayed surprisingly well by relative (but not for long) unknown Chris Hemsworth, is a valiant, courageous yet arrogant warrior, albeit with good intentions. I have to admit, the casting of Hemsworth was my biggest concern about the film, and I am very pleased that those fears were allayed. Hemsworth proved himself capable of handling the God of Thunder's arc on the same level as Robert Downey Jr. did with IRON MAN, and that's saying something. Hemsworth hits all the right notes in this film, from where his arrogance consumes him in the beginning to that pivotal moment when he steps in front of the Destroyer, realizing that true strength stems from humility and self sacrifice. And every moment in between. While this isn't your Shakespearean "thee" and "thou" Thor (try saying that three times fast), the oddity in his speech and his actions compared to his earthly companions is exactly what should be expected, and uproariously funny to watch at times. Not to mention what is probably Branagh's most genius move as director on the project, to have the God of Thunder taken down by a Taser. Irony doesn't get more epic than that!

Of course, a leading man is only as good as the cast around him, and this is one hell of a cast. Not enough can be said for Tom Hiddelston as Loki, who's first minutes of screentime are all played through his eyes. While Loki is indeed the god of mischief, Hiddelston adds gravitas and sympathy to the role, and I can't remember ever really feeling for a villain before. Having been kept from the truth about his origins, one can see why he would go to the lengths that he does, all for the approval of his adoptive father.

Speaking of Anthony Hopkins, he gives Odin Allfather the theatrical credit this film needed for audiences to get their heads into it. While Odin is king of Asgard, his stoic persona can be, and is, shattered by his sons' actions. When it falls to Odin to pass judgment on Thor for his defiance, unlike the trailer which showed him stripping Thor of his powers with authority, in the actual cut Hopkins is shown in apparent physical as well as emotional pain. This gives the character of Odin more substance than I think most people thought he was going to have.

The trio of Natalie Portman--excuse me, Academy Award-winning Natalie Portman, Kat Jennings and Stellan Sarsgaard make up Thor's earthly companions Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis, and Erik Selvig. Researching Einstein-Rosen Bridges (aka wormholes), they encounter Thor in the desert and are soon entangled in the events unfolding as Thor seeks to reclaim his hammer Mjolnir and with it his powers. Dennings is, appropriately enough, mostly comic relief, and Sarsgaard's Selvig is the access character for everyone else in the film to the Norse myths and legends about the Asgardians.

Branagh shows tremendous poise in the Asgardian half of the film, it's only in the earth portions of the film that one can see a few chinks in his directorial armor. Branagh has a natural knack for classically epic filmmaking, as he proved in MARY SHELLY'S FRANKENSTEIN (one of my favorite films). However, he makes up for those flaws with some surprisingly well-placed comedic timing that will definitely appeal to the general audience.

It was great to see Clark Gregg back as Agent Coulson, as a way to tie THOR with the rest of the MCU. And not to mention (SPOILER!!) a cameo from Jeremy Renner as "Barton" (hint hint).

I think the thing that made this movie a real treat was the design. Branagh's sense of scale in this film is beyond anything I've seen in a comic book movie to date, and was really breathtaking to see. I don't know how he did it, but I loved the melding of the seemingly ancient and highly advanced (with a few Futhark runes thrown in for good measure here and there). Asgard, Jotunheim, and earth, how they're all interconnected through the Bifrost (rainbow bridge) but a wholly fascinating way that makes me want to explore it more.

All in all, THOR has successfully kicked off the summer movie season, and is definitely worthy of repeat viewings if anything for all the details that you would've missed on the first go-round. On a scale of "meh" to "epic", THOR is most definitely epic.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fanboys' Delight: The Summer Movie Season Part 1- Here Come the Heroes

Every year, Hollywood studios save their biggest guns and most lucrative franchises for the months of May, June, and July (sometimes August). This is the time when fantastical stories (GREEN LANTERN, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2), mythic figures (THOR, CONAN THE BARBARIAN) and iconic characters (TRANSFORMERS 3, CAPTAIN AMERICA, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4) take center stage. But not every movie is guaranteed to be a surefire win of epic proportions. And thus, the double-bladed irony of what is known as "fanboyism".

For the sake of my fingers, I'm going to split this into two posts. In this one, I'll be covering the 3 major superhero tentpoles of summer 2011. Read on (possible spoilers ahead!) and enjoy...

As a fantasy author, I'm constantly researching the histories, languages, cultures, architectural styles, and most importantly the mythologies of ancient civilizations for inspiration in THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY's own mythology (case in point, I have a sketch of the werewolf fortress of Ak'horokaš, and it drew heavy inspiration from Mayan and Aztec architectural design--more on that later). At the same time, I'm also an ardent comic book geek. I've always sided more with DC than Marvel (that's for another day!!) but when it comes to Norse mythology I just can't say no. There's something inherently appealing in there that makes it easy to understand why Marvel turned one of the Norse's greatest heroes into one of it's most beloved comics. And with Kenneth Branagh bringing the God of Thunder to life for his silver screen debut, I have very high hopes for this movie. Branagh, coming from a theatrical background, knows exactly the right amount of prose to use, and how much of that "high style" tone to incorporate as well, something he's very skilled at. Also, this is Branagh's biggest movie since he directed "Mary Shelly's Franeknstein" with Robert De Niro, a film I thoroughly enjoyed.
THOR is a big risk for Marvel, which is currently really pushing it's "Marvel Cinematic Universe" (and the AVENGERS film that will be a direct result of it next summer), mainly because the general audience hasn't seen their version of the character before, aside from vague memories of the original "Amazing Spider-Man" cartoon. But the premise of a god who has to learn how to be a hero by being human, and overcoming his own arrogance, is compelling enough so that when the action kicks in we'll already be enjoying the ride. Tom Hiddleston has been getting rave reviews for his performance as Thor's scheming brother Loki (appropriately, the Norse god of mischief), so I'm very excited to see how he plays his role.
And with Anthony Hopkins as Odin...well, need I say more?

Keeping the Marvel theme going, let's talk CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, shall we? I'm not going to lie, I was never into the guy in the comics. No, I'm not saying I didn't like him, I just didn't get him. But after seeing the latest trailer, I'm actually pretty intrigued to see this. Chris Evans, while not the first choice I would've made in casting the Cap, seems eager to get away from Johnny Storm, and he's got a great supporting cast around him to help him do just that.
Hugo Weaving always plays a damn good villain, and with Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci there's a pretty good chance that this movie can be just as enjoyable as THOR. Joe Johnston, the director responsible for THE MUMMY and more recently G.I. JOE and THE WOLFMAN, is sort of a hit-or-miss director and doesn't have me as excited for Captain America as I am for Thor. But there's no doubt that this movie will be a huge hit after the killing of Osama bin Laden, not only here but around the world as well. Amazing how things work out sometimes, isn't it?

As I've said, I'm more of a DC fanboy than a Marvel fanboy, which is why I'm most excited for Warner Bros' GREEN LANTERN. Call it my Most Anticipated Superhero Movie of 2011. The Green Lantern comics have a rich history and complex mythology to stand on, and despite the fact that he's a so-called "second tier" hero compared to DC's big three, that puts absolutely no pressure whatsoever on Hal Jordan to stand next to them, because his story as it has developed over the last forty someodd years is one of the most unique in comics. Whereas Superman and (until recently) Batman are the sole heralds of their insignias, Hal Jordan is a Green Lantern, one of only 3,600 sentient beings given the responsibility of wielding a tool of near-limitless power, a ring that, according to Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush), "turns thought into reality" through the user's willpower. But there's a catch: in order to access the ring's capabilities, the wearer must possess the ability to overcome fear, in the comics and film personified by a demonic being of pure yellow energy known as Parallax.
Now, while my preferred choice for Jordan was Bradley Cooper, I think Warners and director Martin Campbell (of James Bond fame) made a very shrewd casting call by giving the part to Ryan Reynolds. While mostly known for his comedic timing, Reynolds has proven his dramatic mettle in such films as the AMITYVILLE HORROR remake and the more recent BURIED. Reynolds has that right blend to make Jordan fearless, and cocky because of it, which of course gets him in as much trouble as it does help his willpower as a Lantern. Surrounding him, like Chris Evans with CAPTAIN AMERICA, is a finely well rounded cast (Mark Strong as Sinestro!!!).
Peter Sarsgaard, always a favorite actor of mine, gets his turn as a villain as Hector Hammond, and he looks grotesquely amazing from what I've seen thus far. Add the voice talents of the above-mentioned Geoffrey Rush as Tomar-Re and Michael Clarke Duncan (who better?) as Kilowog, Jordan's fellow Corpsmen, and you can bet that GREEN LANTERN is going to be the surprise hit of summer '11.