Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What You May Not Know about "The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head"

       I just posted a piece on the Ruminations blog called What You May Not Know about The Termite Queen.  It occurred to me that most of the posts I wrote about my first novel happened way back in 2011 and weren't viewed extensively, so there may be people out there who needd a refresher course in what that book is all about.
       The same holds true for my "Labors" series.  The discussions of these books on this blog also haven't been heavily viewed.  So I thought it was about time for a recap.
       At the end of The Termite Queen, the Champion Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head and the Remembrancer (i.e., Bard) Di'fa'kro'mi announce their intention of setting out on an adventure.  Until Kaitrin and the other Star-Beings came, the Shshi didn't know the ocean existed -- it was only a Remembrancer's tale .  The concept of an endless body of water fascinates them and so they prepare to set out on an epic journey. 
       And how better to depict an epic quest than by having the questers relive Greek myths as well as certain other ancient heroic tales?  And who better to experience these adventures but a Hercules stand-in?  And which of my termites is a perfect fit to play Hercules?  Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, of course!  The series title "The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head" mirrors the Twelve Labors of Hercules, and several of these are re-enacted, although not all of them are suitable for termites culture.  But the primary myths that are re-experienced are the larger ones that are not really associated with Hercules, such as the topic of the first volume -- the Trojan War.
       How can one of the world's great love stories be retold within a termite culture where sex has no relevance except within the Holy Chamber of a fortress where the Mother and the King dwell?  Well, if I told you that, it would be a spoiler!  Suffice it to say that I came up with an ingenious way to make it happen!  And it should come as no surprise that a tale of war would fit well into the termite culture -- one-third of the citizens of a fortress are Warriors, after all.  And the themes of heroism and cowardice and betrayal, of friend turning against friend -- those are universal.
       The opening chapters of The War of the Stolen Mother establish the premise for the entire series.  We not only have to tie it to the end of "The Termite Queen" --  we must also dispatch Ki'shto'ba on a quest to accomplish Twelve Wonders.  And we need to identify Ki'shto'ba with Hercules by giving it the appropriate backstory.  Hercules was sired by Zeus who paid a clandestine visit to Hercules' mother in the guise of her husband.  Hercules had a twin and when they were both in the nursery, he wrestled with two serpents who were trying to kill the twin.   We can't skip those interesting facts, now can we?
       We also have to learn about certain prophecies regarding Ki'shto'ba that are spoken by one of the greatest Seers (a stand-in for the great Greek Seer Teiresias), and we have to provide the hero with its twelve  Companions for the quest.  By the time Ki'shto'ba leaves its home fortress of To'wak, it has acquired four of them.  The fifth soon appears -- one of the most important characters in the story -- Za'dut the trickster.  Terrific character -- I love it!
       Only then can we embark on the War of the Stolen Mother itself.  And how I accomplish that will not form a subject of this post.  Let me just say that even as in the Iliad itself, there is plenty of action, mass battles, heroic single combat, trickery, prophecy, betrayal, funeral games, and ultimately catastrophe -- everything you would want in an epic fantasy!  Any reader who enjoys a uniquely imaginative depiction of this sort of story would love reading this book!

       Now I'll quickly recap the rest of series, for those who never read my earlier posts.  Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer, who is the narrator of these tales, originally wrote three volumes, but they turned out to be too long, so Kaitrin Oliva (and me, by proxy) converted them into six.  They divided well because they're episodic, and they have undergone a few changes of title:

Volume One: The War of the Stolen Mother  
Already published on Amazon and Smashwords.
Volume Two:  The Storm-Wing
Ki'shto'ba earns the new surname: Monster-Slayer.  It kills five monsters in this volume and meets a new Shshi people who will have a profound effect on our hero and all the Companions.  This volume is almost ready to publish; I've formatted the CreateSpace template, drawn the map, and am trying to complete the covers (having trouble with Gimp and those pesky text-boxes again).  Probably will be published sometime in January.
Volume Three: The Tale of the Valley of Thorns 
The Song of Roland and its disastrous aftermath.  Enough said.
Volume Four: Beneath the Mountain of Heavy Fear
Descent into the Underworld - oh, boy!
Volume Five and Six: The Quest for the Golden Fungus
This has to be split into two volumes -- just too long otherwise -- but I'm uncertain as to how to handle the individual volume titles.  This is how I would like to do them:
Volume Five: The Quest for the Golden Fungus: The Companions Reach the Sea (tentative subtitle -- may change)
Volume Six: The Quest for the Golden Fungus: The Revenge of the Dead Enemy
The problem here is the title length -- going to look horrible on Amazon and also on the title page.  If I drop the Quest part and use the subtitles as the main title, we lose the obvious reference to the Quest for Golden Fleece (I'm sure you guessed that was the reference!).  So I'll have to think about that some more.
And then I mean to write (someday) a seventh volume, because the end of v.6 leaves a lot of loose ends.  It will be entitled
Volume Seven: The Buried Ship at the End of the World.
Nothing to reveal on that one at the moment.

       Now all of this should make you quite eager to begin reading this series!  I promise you, if you like action and adventure, with great characters and some psychological angst thrown in as a bonus, you're going to love "The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head"!
       I guarantee it! (as the gentleman on the Men's Warehouse commercials always says!)



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