East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


In the good old time of the Caesars

I’ve just caught a bunch of thirty-something guys (and a few gals) waxing nostalgic about the good old days of the Roman Empire, when Rome was, you know, “caput mundi” – the head of the world.

And now don’t get me wrong – I love history, and I’ve set a few stories in late Roman times, and all that, but it still makes me shiver when I see younger people clearly get all excited about the idea of walking across other people’s lives wearing nailed sandals.

You listen to these people, missing the Roman laws and the law and order a nice dose of Roman Legions would bring, and you wonder how they get their shoes tied, and what goes on in their lives.

Maybe it comes from the fact that when I was born, it was less than a quarter of a century since a poor distorted photocopy of the Empire had failed horribly, but not before involving my people in a war – on the side of the Nazis, of all things – and being a willing and enthusiastic accessory in the killing of thousands of our fellows citizens because they were considered less than human.
Maybe it’s this, yes.

And I find it curious that these staunch supporters of an Empire that’s been gone for eighteen centuries (excepting poor copies thereof), are also strongly against the European Community and the Eurozone, and will shout about dictatorship when asked to wear a surgical mask to protect their fellow citizens.
People that are in favor of the rule of law, as long as they are exempted.

But ah, the good old days of gladiatorial games and crucifying dissidents!

And so I thought I’ll go back to reading a few Bran Mak Morn stories, just because with such supporters of the Empire rutting about, I feel like going to the other side. And then I might finally go and re-read Talbot Mundy’s Tros of Samothrace. Maybe posting regularly about it here on the blog.
Let’s stick it to the (Roman) Man!

But I don’t like the vibes I am getting from the people out there – well, some of them, at least. There is darkness gathering out there, and it’s going to be a long cold winter.
Stay safe.


Talk like a Roman

A great vlog post by the esteemed Lindybeige about language in Ancient Rome – a post that has a very close connection with my Aculeo & Amunet stories1 – and also has a certain connection whit the Great Swape Debate.

  1. yes, I still remember the guy that said a Roman centurion would never use the expression “cuckold“ 


Finding a different name

A&A new logo 230Names names names…

There’s much going on right now with my Aculeo & Amunet stories.
Both Bride of the Swamp God and Lair of the White Ape have gathered some good reviews, and there’s more stories coming, and much else.
What started as a good idea – to me, at least – and two characters I like very much, is about to get bigger, and hopefully better.

So now I’m dreaming up a name for my series.
Granted, I’ll always refer to my stories as the “Aculeo & Amunet Stories” – they are after all character-driven stories, and those are the characters driving them.
They are good characters, and I like them a lot, and I like the alliteration.
A&A – nice and smooth.
And yet…

Continue reading


Historical Fantasy – Fleshing Out the Background

Sometimes being too clever is not so clever in the long run.
When I first sketched my characters of Aculeo and Amunet, I was not actually writing a story.
I was explaining how to play fast and loose when putting together a very basic sword & sorcery plot.

So, when sketching Aculeo, it felt like a good idea to make him a veteran of the Siege of Palmyra, AD 272.
Sounded cool.

revolt_barbariansFast forward 12 months, and Aculeo & Amunet had their own story – which is set in a swamp somewhere north of Menphis and south-east of Alexandria, Aegypt, AD 276.
Total background research required – one afternoon, plus one evening watching two old peplum movies.
Nice and smooth.

Another six months, and my heroes have their first ebook, a number of nice reviews, and their own series, with two other stories being written.

And here’s the problem – because it’s all right playing fast and loose when you are writing a one-shot short story.
But when you start handling a series, and your characters start exploring their world, you need to put down something more than six paragraphs of notes. Especially if you are using a psaeudo-historical setting.
The historical part is the one which requires some care – you can still improvise in the psaeudo- sections*.

And here’s the big surprise – choosing the Third Century AD in the Mediterranean area was either very smart or very stupid on my part. Continue reading


The West through Eastern Eyes, AD 300

A quick, unscheduled post to point out the online translation of the Weilue – “The Peoples of the West”, an overview of the Roman Empire by Chinese scholar, compiled in the third century.
This text was transalted by John E. Hill, and is available through the servers of the university of Washington.
This is the West through Eastern eyes, in the third century.

“The ruler of this country [Rome] is not permanent. When disasters result from unusual phenomena, they unceremoniously replace him, installing a virtuous man as king, and release the old king, who does not dare show resentment.”

… well, sorta.
Considering the title and the topics covered in Karavansara, this link will appear obvious.
This is also part of the documentation for the sword & sorcery stories I’m writing – as I’m planning to move my heroes Eastwards.
Great find, thanks to a link on the Io9 website.