Monday, April 24, 2017

Mythical Monday #75 - A Mantichor in Valdur

Art work by: @Burntlaughter on Twitter

It seems there are many books influenced by or based on Myths and Mythological Beings.

There are many different Mythology's and Mythological Beings recorded. Some are very popular and well known, others not so much. There are many similar beings, yet different depending on the culture it’s based in.  The definition of Myth covers about anything in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy realm to me.

I’ve invited authors to share briefly the Mythological being or Myth that influenced their character(s) or story, or what their character(s) are based on influencing their books.  Hosting here, one author and being or myth per week.

Mind the mantichora

There’s a small menagerie of mythological creatures in both my Valdur books: The Guns of Ivrea and the just-published Witch of Torinia. Although these are epic fantasy, I have tried to create what could be called “retro” epics, and retro in two senses. First, they have a feel of Sixties or Seventies fantasy in the way they are structured and in their characterizations. Second, they try to evoke a fantasy Renaissance world, a world that would have been understood by readers living in the 15th and 16th centuries. As such, I wanted to use several creatures that were known to people in the medieval and late-medieval eras through manuscripts such as bestiaries. Indeed, a few play critical roles in moving my plots along but one creature stands out above the others.

The mantichora was a fabled beast of ancient Persia, similar to the sphynx. A true chimera, it had the body of a lion and the head of a man albeit one equipped with a mouth from ear to ear and triple rows of sharp teeth. In a mythological sense, it was simply a terrifying maneater possessing no special powers nor capable of reason or speech. For providing a monster to terrify the protagonists it certainly fit the bill however I needed to give it purpose so it could play a more useful and integral part in the story. The key to enabling this was that the mantichora was part human. My mantichora has not just the power of speech, it also possesses great wisdom and knowledge despite being a rather amoral, distant, and fickle creature partial to eating people and anything else it can catch. I also gave it an exceedingly long lifespan measured in centuries. I gave it a sense of smell second to none as well as a sixth sense in that it can read the character and past misdeeds of those it encounters.

Indeed, my mantichora isn’t shy about revealing the true likeness of people. In one scene, set in the vastness of a deep forest, it strips bare the cover of one of the main characters, a turning point in the novel. In other scenes, in the best sense of the archetypal fairy tale, it strikes a bargain to spare the life of its victims, with far-reaching consequences. As writers, we can take mythological creatures and make them more than just literary furniture. By endowing them with intelligence, emotions, and motives, we can truly make them part of the story.

The Guns of Ivrea (2016) and The Witch of Torinia (2017) are published by Solaris Books and available through Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Amazon and other retailers.

Book synopsis for Guns of Ivrea:
Acquel Galenus, former thief and now monk of no particular skill, indifferent scribe and even worse chorister, uncovers a terrible secret under the Great Temple at Livorna that could shiver the one faith to its core. A secret that could get him killed. A secret that could enable an older, more sinister form of worship to be reborn...

Pirate princeling Nicolo Danamis, mercenary to the King and captain of the largest fleet in the island kingdom of Valdur, has made one deal too many, and enemies are now closing in to destroy him.
And Citala, fair-haired and grey-skinned, the daughter of the chieftain of the Merfolk who inhabit the waters of Valdur, finds herself implacably drawn to the affairs of men. She puts events in motion that will end her people's years of isolation but that could imperil their very existence...

All their fates will intertwine as they journey through duchies and free cities riven by political intrigue, religious fervour, and ancient hatreds. Alliances are being forged anew and after decades of wary peace, war is on the wind once again...

Synopsis for The Witch of Torinia:
Lady Lucinda della Rovera, the renegade canoness of St Dionei, secret sorceress of the “old gods”, has cleverly split the One Faith into bitter factions and with the help of a pliant Duke of Torinia, launches a war to overthrow the king of Valdur and bring back the old ways. Brother Acquel Galenus, now Magister of the High Temple of Livorna, knows he must stop her, but doubts his own faith and ability. With powerful demons seeking to reenter the world through Lucinda, he must find allies, but how?

Julianus Strykar, now a coronel of the mercenary company of the Black Rose, finds himself thrust into the maelstrom of civil war but false pride leads him into a battle he may not be able to win -- or survive.

Captain Nicolo Danamis may have regained his fleet and command but the return of his long-lost father and lord, Valerian, has complicated his love affair with mer princess Citala. When his former lover -- the queen of Valdur -- demands his help, he and a suspicious Citala find themselves at the centre of palace intrigue as they try to avert an “alliance” with the predatory Silk Empire that will turn Valdur into a puppet kingdom. And then he learns that the crown prince may be his bastard son.
Friendships, loves, and the future of Valdur all hang by a thread….

Author Bio:
Clifford Beal, an international journalist for 20 years, is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and was the editor-in-chief of Jane’s Defence Weekly in London before turning his attention to writing history, historical fiction and epic fantasy. Over the years he has been flung about in military aircraft, fought in full medieval armour, trained in 17th century rapier combat, fired flintlock pistols, messed about in boats, and ridden both horses and motorcycles. When not writing and imbibing endless mugs of tea he is reading and imbibing endless mugs of tea. He lives in Surrey, England, with a fiery redhead of a wife and a Boston Terrier named Buzz. You can follow his blog at and on Twitter @clifford_beal

Purchase the Books:

Book Depository:
The Guns of Ivrea
The Witch of Torinia

Barnes & Nobles:
The Guns of Ivrea
The Witch of Torinia


Blodeuedd said...

I do not know a lot of them

Greg said...

This is a creature you don't see much of in fantasy these days, seems like. I like the take on it presented here!