David Drake

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer

Posts tagged Classics

Master of the Cauldron

Master of the Cauldron

Cover art: Donato

Those of you who’ve read previous books in the Isles series will note some repetition in these notes, but I go to a good deal of effort to make each book accessible to people who’ve never read anything of mine before.  Bear with me.

The religion of the Isles is based on that of Sumeria.  The magic, however, is derived from that of the Mediterranean Basin during classical times (and probably originally Egyptian). The words of power are the voces mysticae of real spells, intended to get the attention of demiurges whom the wizard is asking for aid.  I don’t believe in magic myself; but a lot of other people, folks who’re just as smart as I am, did and do.  I’m not comfortable speaking the words of power aloud. continue reading…

Goddess of the Ice Realm

Goddess of the Ice Realm

Cover art: Donato

As is the case with most of my books, a good deal of the background to Goddess of the Ice Realm is real. The general religion of the Isles is Sumerian, though in some cases I’ve interpolated cult practice from the late Roman Republic where we simply don’t know the Sumerian details.

The magic, which is separate from religion in virtually every culture and in at least my fiction, is that of the Mediterranean basin during the Classical period.  The words of power, technically voces mysticae, are the language of demiurges who act as intercessors between humans and the gods. continue reading…

Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey dj

1984 hardcover dust jacket; Cover art: Michael Whelan

BIRDS OF PREY was the first novel I tried to write. It was a very long time before I succeeded, but I think in this case the wait was worth it.

While I was still in law school I got and read the two-volume Teubner (Latin text only) edition of the so-called Scriptores Historiae Augustae, the Augustan Histories. This is a collection of lives of the later emperors (Hadrian through Numerian), purportedly by many contemporary authors but probably by one man of much later (5th century?) date with political axes to grind. While the SHA is in many respects a fictional text, it does incorporate material from books that haven’t survived–and is, for my purposes as a writer, very evocative. continue reading…

Mistress of the Catacombs

Mistress of the Catacombs

Cover art: Donato

The common religion of the Isles is based on Sumerian cult and ritual.  That is, the Lady equates with Inanna; her consort the Shepherd equates with Dumuzi; and the Sister fills the place of Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld.

Religion in the Isles (and generally, except perhaps in fantasy fiction) is separate from magic.  The magic in Mistress of the Catacombs is based on the practice of the Mediterranean Basin in Classical times.  The wellspring was mostly Egyptian, but there were admixtures from many other cultures (particularly the Jewish).  What I’ve referred to as “words of power” are formally voces mysticae, words in the language of the demiurges who act as intercessors between humanity and the Gods. continue reading…

Servant of the Dragon

Servant of the Dragon

Cover art: Donato

The (common) religion of the Isles is based on Sumerian cult and ritual, but the magic itself comes from the Mediterranean and is mostly Egyptian in its original source.  The voces mysticae which I’ve referred to as “words of power” in the text represent the language of demiurges; that is, they are intended to have meaning to beings which can then translate human desires to the ultimate powers of the cosmos.  I have copied them from real spell manuscripts of the classical period.

I don’t personally believe that the voces mysticae have power over events, but millions of intelligent, civilized people did believe that.  I don’t pronounce the voces mysticae aloud when I’m writing. continue reading…