Sunday, August 7, 2016

Children of the Music - Published!


Here are the buy links:
Paperback on Amazon (US) (they haven't linked them yet)

     I'm optimistic about the appeal of this book because I think it's the most accessible tale I've written so far.  Some of my books are a bit specialized and -- let's face it -- a bit difficult.  You should have a strong interest in languages and communication to really appreciate The Termite Queen, and you have to have the tenacity to plow through to the end of v.2 to get the most out of it.  Not everybody has done that and so they have missed out on a lot.  The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head series is best read after finishing The Termite Queen, but those who have read the whole thing love it! "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder" is a shocker; lots of people think it's excellent (see the reviews on Amazon), but it turns off some people, and it's entirely different from my other books, which are much tamer.  Fathers and Demons is a piece of weighty speculative fiction containing a long discursion into the Jewish religion as well as an absorbing psychological study of a troubled Rabbi and a disturbed spacefarer.

     So what makes Children of the Music different?  The length is moderate (Smashwords lists it at 122,000 words, but some of that is Character Tables and an Afternote by the author (me!)  It's laid in a world of medieval cultural level, and the genre can only be called fantasy, although magic is restricted to prophetic utterances and the strange effect the Golden-Eyed Siritoch have on the Epanishai, the invaders of their land.  Back in the 1970s when I wrote this book, I called the genre the "realistic treatment of an imaginary world," which is what I considered LotR to be.  I had no knowledge of the term "constructed world" at that time; today I would probably say "realistic treatment of a conworld."  
     Realistic treatment means that the characters are recognizably real -- you can relate to them as human beings no matter whether they are good guys or villains, Siritoch or Epanishai.  The characters are admirable but also flawed.  And there is a lot of irony -- both people honor the God of Life but in such radically different ways that, as I say on the back cover, "When two such peoples are driven together, which one has the most to lose?"

     But there is another reason you should enjoy this book: Its tone is lyrical -- smooth, poetic, flowing ...   You should simply begin reading and let the sound of the words and the movement of circumstances flow through your consciousness and captivate you.  It affected me that way when I first read it after hardly thinking about it for 30 years (the odd thing is, I barely remember writing this book -- spooky!)  And the characters evoke so much empathy -- my favorites are (in Part One) Himrith the Headman's wife,  the pivotal characters of Leys and his great-grandson Nebet, and of course Daborno, the Chieftain of the invaders. In Part Two, you have to love Ondrach the shepherd who rebels against the circumstances of Siritoch existence; his wife Lisarith, who grows in stature as the book progresses; Saremna the willful child of the Epanishai; Cumiso the Chieftain of Galana; his brother Sembal ... 

     I'm going to end this with an extract to illustrate what I meant about the lyrical flow of the text.   I hope you enjoy this sample and choose to immerse yourselves in the entire book.

From Chapter 15 (The Makers of Music) Ondrach and his family have gone to the village of Preymis to earn some money entertaining the Mayor and his cohorts on his wedding anniversary:

But then there came a lull, while the laughter died back, the guests wiped eyes streaming with merriment, the horns were drained and refilled.  In the midst of the relative quiet, Doranath struck his harp, and the tone was altered – as gay as a moment before – as quick and teasing – but different: sunlight on dew-silvered spider-silk – hummingbird flight – a whisper of dawn-wind among harebells.  Real silence drew down upon the hall as the Siritoch began to play Siritoch music. 
At first it was only the harps, but soon pipe and flute joined in, and the lute, and the tinkling finger bells.  And then the tone changed again – sunlit gaiety darkened into mystery as Doranath and Farnol began to sing. 
The words were ancient, older than Siritoch memories, coming from the clouds that were whirling up the years – from the Clouded Time that was past yet ever drawing perilously nearer.  The Siritoch were forgetting their tongue.  They often spoke Epanishai even among themselves.  When they did not, they spoke a dialect in which the concrete realities were their own but the movements and relationships were borrowed from a less patient race.  The cherry tree might be “thirnam,” but the word that made it bloom had passed away. 
The songs, passed from parent to child at the crib, kept the ancient tongue pure, but even these held only traditional meaning.  No Siritoch could have translated phrase by phrase from the song into Epanishai, or even into the dialect.  This song was the river; another was the stars.  The words and the melody were fused; they meant themselves, no more and no less: they were the Music. 
And the Epanishai felt this, but they did not understand.  In fear they called the Siritoch witch-people and their music incantations.  At the same time they treasured the spell.  They felt in it the dark groping of the roots of their own dawn-tree and the lifting of its branches toward the sun, and they yearned to be swept toward a depth of joy, endurance, and serenity that most of them could never plumb. 
So Doranath and Farnol sang words whose lost meanings were perfectly understood, while the Epanishai stood silent, their drinking horns forgotten in their hands, stirred by the glimpse of trembling stars, the dark waters of the luminous sea, the soaring of the eagle around dread, forbidden crags.  And when the song passed into silence, they could not quite remember what they had felt, but they wiped tears from their eyes. 
The youngest adults of the troupe had donned dancing cloaks and the Epanishai pressed back to give them room.  There was a pause.  The youth and the girl stood facing each other, an arm’s length of emptiness separating their extended hands.  Then the music commenced – flute and lute and the wordless descant of a woman’s voice, and the throbbing of a tabor to mark the rhythm. 
In a moment boy and girl began to move – circling slowly, always facing, never touching – swaying to and fro, bending and stretching – two willow wands caught in the winds of the music.  The movement grew swifter, the tempo more demanding.  The eyes of the dancers bound them together, their glances never parting even when their bodies turned.  Still those bodies within the floating cloaks did not meet, and the watchers began to desire their contact – to wait with breathless pain to see arms and torsos entwine as intensely as the eye beams. 
But some in the crowd gazed more at the minstrels than at the dancers – at the solemn little boy who beat the low-toned drum – at the woman whose fingers moved over the twelve-stringed lute as tenderly as if it were her child – at the man whose fluting brooded, one with the woman’s chanting, like the shadow of an oak tree on a starlit night.  The woman’s eyes were the color of swirling gray river mist touched by the sun; the man’s were moss green and leaf color, the forest floor dappled with sunlight.  The watchers did not look long into those eyes, which like the pulsing of the instruments spoke of things more ancient, more golden, and more living than the Epanishai could bear to contemplate. 
The tempo had grown – not frantic, such a word might never conjure up the mood – but stretched to a tension that could only break.  And then it did break – the boy and girl had come together, she bent backward in his arms while he bowed above her body.  For a moment all was suspended.  The Music was silent.  If the dancers should never move, the world would hang timeless for eternity.  
But the dancers did move, springing apart and darting from the hall through yielding revelers.  And the Epanishai sighed, vaguely disappointed, half relieved.  What they had experienced was too strong for them.  They were glad to be done with it – they wanted it again – it made them angry to be at once so shaken and so unsatisfied. 
And so someone called for Epanishai songs – ”Enough of this dirge-playing!” – and someone called for a dance tune – “To stamp the foot to! That’s the way to hoof it!” – and soon the rousing rhythms had cast out the stars and sealed up the depths of the ocean and bound the eagle’s wings.  The Epanishai danced – reels and jigs and circles that drove faster and faster until one nearly fell dead from laughter and breathlessness. 
The ale flowed and the mead was brought out.  The crowd grew unruly and inattentive; they could hardly hear the music and made little attempt to keep its rhythm.  Some, drunken, called the Siritoch “pasty-face” and “wool-sucker” and more obscene epithets, while others, scarcely more sober, tried to repress them.  “You want a curse on you? You want a two-headed calf like last year?”  “You want to see your daughter violated?”  “Faugh, those tales are rot!  These lily-loined runts haven’t the stomach to bed a stout Epanishai woman!”
“It’s time to take the money,” said Horbet quietly, “and leave before our welcome goes before us.” 

I could quote a whole array of passages to illustrate 
why I think you'll relish this book, but I have to stop. 
 Please do pick up a copy!
 Ebooks are only $2.99!  
And come to my event if you're on Facebook!
There will be prizes of free books!