Way Back Then

Another Time, Another Place…

Those words come from an art piece featuring The Rolling Stones by Rodney Matthews whose stunning work can be viewed from his new website here

For me the words also convey a deeper mood, a memory of a time, quite recent –– yet so very long ago. I’m talking about the 1970’s. No cellphones, no wi-fi, and no emails or blogs like this one. Truly… Another Time, Another Place.’

As a teenager back then, and an avid JRR Tolkien reader, I discovered something new (for me anyway) when I delved deeper, and darker into the wonderfully evolving world that was (and is) Fantasy Fiction, and Fantasy Art.

On the night sleeper from Inverness to London, a tiny cabin, snow falling on Kingussie outside, silent flakes drifting down, just the sounds of rhythmic locomotion, and me on the bunk with a book in hand. A very special book with the power to tear my eyes from that magical snowscape.

A book by Michael Moorcock –– The Bull And The Spear, part of a much larger work featuring The Eternal Champion. Unlike anything I had read before or since. The Rodney Matthews image above is taken from the sequel –– The Oak And The Ram. I had that poster in my room above the hardware store, back then.

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Above Pic: Corum Prince of the Scarlet Robe

For me Michael Moorcock’s books and Rodney Matthews art encapsulate the energy around in the 1970’s. A new era, the Swinging Sixties having swung off and crashed into Vietnam. The seventies were different, the music from that time –– well, that’s another post I’ll do someday. Rush,Yes, Mike Oldfield, Camel, Floyd... et al.

Fantasy had a renaissance in the 1970’s. Authors like Stephen R Donaldson gave readers darker, more intense works like his Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever. For me, fantasy evolved and became most of my world –– even a spell in the Queen’s Guards couldn’t shake the dreamer. As a 21 Century fantasy writer I look back on those days with gratitude. My stories would never be what they are if I hadn’t read Moorcock’s Knight Of The Swords, or Poul Anderson’s harrowing and brilliant –– The Broken Sword.

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Above Pic: Elric of Melnibone

Not that I want to go back there! Perish the thought. Crap beer, awful wine, and decent coffee hard to get. Rail strikes, dodgy pay phones, and bad Telly. No, I’d rather binge-watch Game Of Thrones on my widescreen with a decent cab, thanks all the same.

But there was a magic then, something I feel we’ve lost along the way. Reflection –– time to think. life is so crazy busy now, and everything speeding faster day by day, hard to keep up. The stunning images featured in this post are from his Moorcock Collection and shared with kind permission from Rodney Matthews himself.

Staying on subject, I want to dedicate this post to another wonderful artist –– Roger Garland, a man I was privileged to know back in Cornwall who passed last year. You can view Roger and Linda Garland’s art in their website  right here.

‘And Now For Something Completely Different…’

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The Weekly Fantasy Series

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Episode 14

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Lost In The Woods: Part 2. In Deeper

nextThe woman came from a different place and time. She had been kind to him, and he had loved her. But then she had gone, vanished like morning mist in springtime. So cruel of her to do that.

And now she had returned looking just as he’d last seen her. Willowy and tall, cat lithe and that wild curling copper hair, the suggestive lips and the hauntingly beautiful face. Corin hadn’t seen her in over ten years and yet it seemed like yesterday. Her name he never knew.

She smiled reading his thoughts: “You will one day, Corin an Fol.” Her words hinted at things he couldn’t comprehend, and her voice breathed sultry promise. “Yours is no average destiny, mercenary.” She stood then and beckoned him forward. “Follow me, and I’ll lead you through this wood. It’s dangerous for those who walk unaided.”

“Is the wood evil?” Corin found his voice as his eyes locked on those swaying hips and copper hair flowing down to the base of her spine. She had worn green back then too. The woman walked with uncanny grace her feet barely brushing the ground. “Why did you leave me?” Corin demanded of her back. No reply.

They reached a glade, opening on the sleepy lap of deep dark water. A lake. It seemed familiar though Corin had never been here before. He saw trees lining distant banks, their sweeping limbs brushed by breeze. “Answer me!” Corin’s voice was swallowed by the heaviness of that atmosphere.

2013-11-27 20.20.47She turned her gold/green gaze upon him, and Corin felt that sudden surge of love and loss. He had been just fourteen and this woman had saved him from the ruin of that day. That terrible distant morning back in Finnehalle – his home, when Corin’s family had perished in the raid. “You were vulnerable, needed sustenance and guidance.” The woman folded tanned arms and watched him.

“But you left;” the accusation burned from Corin’s eyes. “You abandoned me when I had nobody. Better for me if I’d never met you!” He didn’t mean it and she smiled at the bitterness of his words.

“So speaks the boy but not the man. And yet I see a man before me. Tall and vigorous, hardened by conflict and wise with sword-cunning” Her eyes narrowed and Corin detected a hint of sadness.

“Would that I could tell you more…” Her eyes locked on his, and she nodded before returning her gaze to the water. “Night approaches.” Corin hadn’t noticed, having eyes only for her. “Take the path. Heed no nightly noises and mark not what you encounter. This is the Forest of Dreams. I will see you in time.” Corin turned and noticed a shadow of track brushed with leaves fading off into the gloom a few yards left of the lake.

“I’ll not leave here without answers,” Corin turned back and gazed at the spot where the woman had stood scarce seconds ago. There was no sign of her now. He felt a sudden chill as an icy tingle crept down his spine. “Who are you? Why do you still haunt my dreams?”

“We’ll meet again soon.” Her voice came from the trees above, and Corin, glancing up, witnessed a whirl of leaves cascading down onto the clear water of the lake. Time to go! He had business in the world of men.

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That evening Corin walked through a twilight of branch and stars and shadows hinting movement in the gloom. Corin heard howls and grunts, half saw things slither across the path ahead. He heard laughter too, and once, the melancholy chords of a solitary harp. He focussed, walked on, stopping when a giant figure crashed through the trees just twenty feet away. Tall and terrible in a shaggy black coat. The giant turned, and Corin was transfixed by the gleam of a single silver eye. Then the figure moved on and Corin continued his march quicker than before.

At last Corin reached a high ridge where the forest’s fringe parted allowing his escape. Ahead, bleak moors glittered ice; the wintry sun had risen revealing canvas tents and grumbling from the Tiger Soldiers’ camp, as men readied for their day. The nearest wiped sleep from his eyes and gazed toward the wood, just as Corin an Fol ranged out of the trees.

It’s all about timing. But in this instance, bad timing. Time for some sword work! The pikemen took a few minutes to get into mode, and the crossbowmen a bit longer. “I want him alive!” the captain snarled, as his men chased the mercenary far across the frosted fields…sword-deco

 

Enjoy these weekly misadventures? You can get much more from Corin an Fol by joining the weekly newsletter the V.I.P Lounge. Join today and you’ll receive a FREE copy of Gray Wolf, the first Corin adventure. Join here! 

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Coming Very Soon! The Next Title In The Series

To view the ongoing Legends of Ansu series on Amazon. com click here!

That’s all for this week folks!

See ya next time!

JWW.

 

 

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