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Gull

A reader asked if I had a list or a plan for other ancient world Numinous World books, that I had made references to lots of places that were tantalizing. I do have a list! Here it is:

Gull 1198-1138 BCE This is the story told in Black Ships

Kadis 1034-982 BCE Kadis is an Egyptian of Nubian descent who is a professional animal trainer. She's the cheetah trainer who Lydias dimly remembers when he first encounters the hunting cheetahs. Her job takes her north to the cities of the coast when Pharaoh gifts a pair of cheetahs to a minor allied king named Saul. There she encounters a court in turmoil and a wind through the world named David.

Amenirdis 719-640 BCE She is best known as Amenirdis II, a Great Wife of Amon, the Divine Adoratrice -- essentially the highest ranking priestess in Egypt. This is Gull stepping back into a more familiar role, but one that tests her utterly when the Assyrians under Sennacherib attack Egypt. She is the one who set the border guard sphinxes that Lydias saw, the one Lydias is drawing on when he's stealing the hearse.

Artazostre 521-457 BCE This is the Persian life just before Lydias. In fact, she is Artashir's great-grandmother. This is the one who chooses to turn away from priesthood as a vocation and to wield temporal power instead. Which makes sense -- Amenirdis has done that. It's time to do something else. She fought at the Battle of Salamis commanding a warship.

Lydias of Miletus 349-277 BCE This is the story told in Stealing Fire.

Bindusara 257-213 BCE I've only begun to touch the story of his life in Ashokan India, but he is a Buddhist monk who travels as a dutas, and as such returns to Alexandria in the reign of Ptolemy III as a monk and teacher.

Charmian 69-30 BCE  This is the story told in Hand of Isis.

I've also done some writing on one earlier than Gull, a boy named Geb in the Amarna Period. I'm planning to put a section of that up on my Patreon on October 2, so if you'd like to see it please consider subscribing to my Patreon.  For $2 per month, the cost of a cheap movie rental, you can rent, er, me.

So what are the links between them?  One thing I see is the constant tension between priestly vocation and the sensual world which is so much the base of this character, not conflict between but integration.  She begins that integration as Gull, in deciding that dedication does not mean being apart from the world and caring for nobody.  It is possible to serve the gods while loving the world.

Kadis begins with Gull's desire to return to the Black Land, and she is an "average person", not a princess or a priestess.  She has a normal job, but her choices lead her into the middle of a war in the Peleset lands, in the mess of the Mediterranean Dark Age following Black Ships, when it's every tribe and every city for itself.  There she encounters Baalthasar, a eunuch who serves Ashteret -- Xandros who is giving a life of service in return for taking Ashterah from that service.  And there of course too is Mik-el, determined to put this harper boy on the throne.  What Kadis comes out of this life wanting is knowledge and power -- the ability to change events rather than simply be part of them.  She wants greater agency.

Amenirdis begins with it.  Like Old Pythia, she's the daughter of a king dedicated as a child to become the Great Wife of Amon, a celibate priestess married to a god.  However, while she is still young and the former Great Wives living, before her sacred marriage, Egypt is attacked by the Assyrians.  In fact, their allies in Judah are already being pressed to the bone, and it looks like this rising wave -- the first of the new great empires after the Dark Age -- may in fact conquer old Late Dynastic Egypt.  Or not.  She has the power.  She also has the person who will be Dion.  And of course Michael.

Artazostre starts on the other side of the border.  That's another pattern with Gull -- in one life she is interested in her opposite number, in the enemy, in the life on the other side of the line.  So in the next life she begins there.  Artazostre is one of the new people, a Persian, one of the people who came into the political void of the dark age, belonging to the new empires and to a culture that is Indo-European rather than old fertile crescent.  Her challenge is to try to bring some kind of balance, some kind of peace between these cultures, to make a bridge.  Unfortunately, that bridge leads through war.  She also explicitly rejects becoming a priestess in favor of marriage and children -- to be a ruler with secular power instead.

Lydias begins in Miletus, which in Artazostre's day is a conquered city that her husband and she rule.  But he is a slave.  Lydias takes a chance and grows into his own power, coming unexpectedly and unimaginably back to the Black Land.  There are more Lydias stories to come.  As Elza said of him, "I carried Ptolemy's banner on many fields before I was old."

Bindusara is once again the flip.  Lydias loved India, and so in his next life he's born there and comes of age as a warrior of the Mauryan Empire.  But Lydias never loved blood, never loved war, though he had no framework, no moral teaching that expressed what he felt to be right.  Bindusara  finds it in the rising new religion of Buddhism and becomes a monk.  But contemplation is not for him.  He's a scholar, an emissary.  This is a role that eventually leads him all the way around the wheel as a teacher sent to Alexandria.

I'm sure there are one or two stories between Bindusara and Charmian.  I don't entirely know what they are yet!

What do you guys think?

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
gilraen2
Sep. 29th, 2016 07:23 pm (UTC)
When people ask me for book recommendations, and they do, I tell them Jo Graham and tell them to start with Black Ships. Then I say that you write the best ancient historical fiction since Mary Renault. I enjoy all your books but it's the ancient ones that satisfy me the most deeply.
Mem
shadadukal
Sep. 29th, 2016 07:41 pm (UTC)
I want to read them all!
m_nivalis
Sep. 29th, 2016 08:00 pm (UTC)
Such fascinating lives! I want to read about all of them!
penina_45
Sep. 29th, 2016 10:46 pm (UTC)
Ditto what gilraen2 said. Jo is the best today. She picked up the torch from Mary Renault who gave us characters to love and set the high water mark for lovers of historical fiction.
ashabardon
Sep. 30th, 2016 05:18 pm (UTC)
I'm squeeing so loudly right now ....
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )