A THRONE OF BONES six-issue special

We have selected an illustrator for the six-issue A THRONE OF BONES comic special. It will be released in electronic and omnibus editions – no single print issues – and will cover the battle between Legio XVII of House Valerius and the Vakhuyu and Chalonu goblin tribes. The Legend Chuck Dixon is adapting the script from the novel and Arklight Studios will be coloring it.

This is not a scene from the comic, as those familiar with the novel will immediately recognize, it is just one of the samples that the illustrator provided us to demonstrate that he was capable of drawing the various fantasy elements required by the story.

And for those who are not unreasonably concerned this will have a negative effect on the release of our other comics, don’t worry, other than helping select the illustrator(s), I don’t have to do anything on this one.

Shut up and write

A Selenoth fan would really like me to finish the extended edition of A Sea of Skulls:

Please Vox, for the love of all that is Good and Beautiful and True, PLEASE try and find the time to complete TSoS extended edition. I have read (ahgmm.. “listened”) to AToB 3 times and read ASoS once. This is quality stuff that serves as a gateway to many truths people would otherwise never be exposed to. If I could be so bold as to give you feedback from my time in Selenoth, it would look like this:

I first listen to A Magic Broken, then AToB, then the Last Witch King Collection, then read Summa Elvetica, then most recently read ASoS. I’ll spare you any fan boy text walls but I have to explain what I love as well as what don’t understand so far. I listen a A Wardog’s Coin weekly on my daily commutes. It is a wonderfully balanced tale that never gets old and would be the first thing I recommend to a new reader.

You said on a Darkstream once that you didn’t expect the strong response to Lodi. He is hands down my favorite character. Maybe this was overly influenced by my reading A Magic Broken first, but I LOVED his story line in AToB and was left wanting much more in ASoS. Lodi is without a doubt the first character you would pick if you needed a buddy in a good ole-fashioned brawl. Ironically, a Big Bear, if you will.

I really don’t understand the importance of Severa and her character arc. At first I assumed it was because she was a strong female personality so most likely I just didn’t relate to her. But after the second and third pass at AToB, I can say with confidence that Fjotra is one of my top three favorite characters so Severa remains an enigma to me because I’m not sure what I want from, or even for her going forward. My shot in the dark prediction is that Severa actually personifies you in a way, born into more privelege than most but the powers, that be take her father, and life forces her to unforeseen places. Still, assuming that to be the case I don’t understand her place in the story.

Again, thanks for all you do and please forgive me for carrying on so long. God bless and keep crushing! I pray that you will not grow weary of the path laid before you. God equips those He calls. Conflict may be the air we breathe but no one is having more fun than us!

Believe me, I would very much like to finish ASOS and move on to the next book in the series. But my time is finite, and so every time I need to hunt down someone’s failed credit card or respond to someone else’s deplatforming, or deal with someone who has failed to utilize a coupon during the allotted time is a distraction from even starting to write anything. That doesn’t mean those things don’t need to be done, but it’s not possible to do them while getting into the right frame of mind. I wish I could simply switch gears at will, but apparently I don’t work like that.

I appreciate that people enjoy my work as much as they do, indeed, the overall response to the Arts of Dark and Light has significantly exceeded not only my expectations, but even my hopes. I do find it a little strange, however, when the some of the very people who really want me to finish various works don’t seem to grasp the obvious consequences of asking me to deal with various other things that often have nothing to do with me.

Anyhow, I am determined to finish it during the first half of this year. The extended delay is on me, not anyone or anything else, and I’m neither excusing nor rationalizing my tardiness. But I am not apologizing for it either, because I’m absolutely not going to allow the quality to decline just so I can call it complete and get it off my plate. To the contrary, I am determined to make the remaining sections better than the previous parts.

But Selenoth fans should be pleased to know a) Chuck Dixon is working on the six-issue comic of the Legion-Goblin battle and b) there is serious film/TV interest in ATOB.

UPDATE: After thinking about it and talking with Spacebunny, I’m going to put myself on an alternate-day schedule for the Darkstreams until ASOS is done. That should do the trick.


It would be hard to describe how pleased I am to be able to announce a project that has been more than five years in the making. And so I am delighted to be able to declare that the first book in my Arts of Dark and Light epic fantasy series, A THRONE OF BONES, is now available in audiobook+ from Castalia House.

Manfully narrated by the indefatigable Jeremy Daw, A THRONE OF BONES is more than 30 hours of high-quality DRM-free MP4 format and retails for $29.99. The audiobook+ also includes the 934-page ebook in EPUB and Kindle formats.

We waited literally years to find the right narrator for Selenoth, which was considerably more important than is the case with most audiobooks due to the sheer volume of content involved. In my opinion, Jeremy’s elegant English accent is ideal for both high fantasy and epic fantasy, and I prefer his voice to those belonging to both of the narrators who have voiced George Martin’s bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series.

And yes, Jeremy will be narrating A SEA OF SKULLS once he is finished narrating SUMMA ELVETICA and the stories that did not make it into THE LAST WITCHKING & OTHER STORIES. This is the third Selenoth audiobook, and means that there is now 40 hours and 20 minutes of Selenoth-related audio content.

Chuck Dixon’s Avalon trilogy at Arkhaven

The first three issues of Chuck Dixon’s Avalon are now available in high-quality, DRM-free CBZ format on the Arkhaven store. A Kindle-format edition is also included with each digital edition sale, in case you happen to prefer that format. Each issue retails for $2.99.

Meanwhile, Ben is understandably getting impatient:

When the hell is the next book coming out? You’re turning into rrrr Martin.

It’s an understandable comparison, though I don’t believe it is a fair one. I would remind Ben and others who are impatiently waiting for more epic fantasy that I have an obligation to those who are so generously supporting my other projects. And those projects, in order of the level of their support, are as follows:

  1. Arkhaven (specifically AH and AH:Q, but also including Swan Knight Saga) 
  2. Infogalactic
  3. Darkstream/Voxiversity

Now, I very much enjoy working on The Arts of Dark and Light. It is a literal labor of love. It is the best thing I have yet written. But how can I justify taking so much time away from actual commitments that it hinders my ability to deliver on them, especially when I’m late on several of them as it is?

Furthermore, there is an important principle of reinforcing success and abandoning failure that must always be kept in mind. Non-fiction works such as SJWAL and Jordanetics each sell 6x more copies than novels like A Throne of Bones or Quantum Mortis, and they take CONSIDERABLY less time to write. I have a family to support, and as the Darkstream viewers know, considerable vet bills to pay. Selenoth is very far from a failure, but neither is it a commercial success on the scale of Arkhaven or even the Darkstream. So, I simply can’t justify spending very much time on indulging myself by working on the epic fantasy saga.

Readers also demanded more Quantum Mortis and I managed to find a way to deliver a lot more without taking up too much of my time. We will be announcing at least one new, and very large, Quantum Mortis project this year about which QM fans will be extremely excited, particularly those who have enjoyed the Wardogs Inc. trilogy. It’s going to be awesome. But that’s not an option for TAODAL. I can’t simply do an outline and bring in a co-author or two to crank out three or more volumes.

Here is the primary problem with the “Vox RR Day” meme: whereas George Martin is rather spectacularly failing to deliver on what pays his bills, I’m actually delivering on what pays mine. That’s why Corporate Cancer will come out before the extended version of A Sea of Skulls, and that’s why the next two big announcements we make will not be related to Selenoth in any way. And, of course, it doesn’t help me finish ASOS sooner when I’m having to spend so much time on things like Indiegogo and Amazon, to say nothing of building an alternative print/ebook/audio distribution channel, even though I’m very, very glad that we have done so and that so many of you have enthusiastically opted for it.

All that being said, I very much appreciate the continued passion for, and the interest in, TAODAL. Remember, I love it too. I continue to work on A Sea of Skulls and I am very pleased with the way it is progressing, though not the rate at which it progresses, and there will be a happy, though not entirely unanticipated, surprise for Selenoth fans this week.

TECH NOTE: for those having trouble with MP4 audiobook format, please read this guide to using it on the various platforms.

EVS follows up

Ethan gave me the chance to speak my piece, so I’ll leave him with the last word for now. However, I will respond to one of his commenters.

James Robins
I don’t get vox man. I mean comparing yourself to Gaiman? Nobody is haruki murakami, hes a great writer. But vox? Come on lol.

It’s pretty simple. I am a better novelist than Neil Gaiman by almost every reasonable measure. Anyone who has read a sufficient variety of both our novels will recognize that pretty easily. Gaiman writes a variant of the same book with the same sort of characters almost every time. Even his Sandman is a Gary Stu of sorts. I have much wider literary range and can write everything from haunting shorts that could almost pass for modern Maupassant to murder mysteries to epic military fantasy. I don’t write myself into my books and I can even successfully pull off the “you genuinely think he’s dead but actually he isn’t” trick without cheating or magic or medical science or anything but pure literary sleight of hand.

George Martin can’t do that despite repeated attempts. Gaiman can’t do it either. And as for Murakami, I have been writing a literary novel inspired by his style for years, although since I am not Japanese, it is more likely to feature a wedding than a suicide. I have no idea when it will be finished, if ever, but I think I might be able to pull it off. And if I can’t get even reasonably close, then I won’t publish it.

I admire Tanith Lee. I admire JRR Tolkien. I admire John C. Wright. I admire China Mieville. I admire Alan Moore. I admire Umberto Eco. The only thing I admire about Gaiman’s writing is his ability to give everything the flavor of a fairy tale. That’s not nothing, it’s actually pretty cool, but it’s very far from the most significant thing. Sure, he sells a lot more books, but then, Dan Brown and Katie Price sell even more and I don’t have any respect for either of their literary abilities.

Anyhow, there is no need to pay any attention to my opinion. Read the reviews of the Arts of Dark and Light instead. Better yet, read the books and decide for yourself.

  • This book contains strong traces of DNA from Umberto Eco and Neal Stephenson but it stands on its own as a fantastically monstrous creature.
  • A Throne of Bones, for me at least, shines like a beacon in this literary twilight.
  • One of the best Fantasy novels I’ve read in the past ten years.
  • Better then GOT. I read a lot of fiction. Vox’s writing skill is superb.
  • I’d put it on par with Tolkien in terms of epic fantasy.
  • I am a big time Tolkien and George Martin fan. Vox’s Selenoth has wiggled its way between Middle Earth and Westeros.
  • Comparisons with Martin are much more useful, and there I agree, Day comes out ahead.
  • Vox Day has catapulted himself into the storied and rarefied rank of writers that sits just below The Master himself. That’s right, I went there. I just said that Vox Day has written a book that is nearly as good as J. R. R. Tolkien’s work.
  • Easily the best epic fantasy series out today.
  • It is the best fantasy book of the past 50 years.

Since we’re on the subject, a bit of Selenoth-related news. Because Kindle Unlimited is becoming increasingly important, we’re going to release a new version of the series specifically formatted for KU. It will be EXACTLY the same text, but divided into more readily digestible 50k to 60k chunks and released under the series name LEGIONS OF BLOOD & BONE.

And yes, I’m still working on A SEA OF SKULLS. And yes, it will be out this year. It will be worth the wait. I think I can safely promise you that. I’m not interested in just getting it out, I am attempting to further raise my writing game.

EXCERPT: A Throne of Bones

Here is an excerpt from the 924-page epic fantasy A THRONE OF BONES. Which, by the way, is a free download today and the rest of the weekend. Also available in hardcover and paperback.

The ebb and flow of battle always seemed to follow a similar pattern, Corvus thought as he watched the ragged ranks of the goblin army march into what he intended to be the field of slaughter. A less experienced commander might be impressed by the huge quantity of armed troops as they moved, apparently inexorably, across the very meadow over which he’d ridden the day before. There were an awful lot of them, between four and five to every man of his, but the numbers were almost unimportant once a critical mass was achieved.

It was surprising how little actual killing occurred while the outcome of the battle was still in doubt, when the two front lines crashed into each other and sword met with sword. No, most of the bloodshed would take place after one side broke, its will shattered by the iron resolve of the enemy, and what had moments before been an army dissolved into a fleeing crowd of frightened individuals.

That was the moment for which every general worth his salt planned, anticipated, and feared. It was the moment in which every decision, every purchase, every piece of equipment, every hour of weapons drill and unit maneuver, was thrown into the cauldron of Fate and the bitch-goddess stirred up her bloody witches brew, seasoned it according to her whim, and served it to you. You had no choice but to swallow it.

He was determined that his would not be the side that broke.

At the moment when he caught sight of the sleek sinuous forms of the wolves slinking through the tall grass below, it was too late to regret splitting his two cavalry wings. It was too late to wonder if he should have stationed more of the artillery on the heights to his right instead of behind him in the center. It was too late to consider if he should have positioned the second and fifth cohorts on either side of the first cohort instead of the fourth and sixth.

That was the worst part of being a general. Everyone else in the legion, from the tribunes to the lowliest legionary, believed you were in command. Only you knew you weren’t. In truth, you were little more than a helpless observer, watching as the events you’d earlier put in motion played themselves out without much in the way of guidance from you or respect for your intentions. It wasn’t what he did in the heat of battle, but what he had done to prepare for it, that mattered.

And yet, he was entirely confident that it would be the goblin commander who would be drinking Fortune’s bitter draught tonight. Legio XVII might be green, but they damn sure had stouter hearts than goblins, who, despite the beating drums that urged them forward, continued to slow their march as they came closer to the Amorran lines.

The goblin advance slowed, then slowed some more, and finally came to a complete halt about fifty paces from the ground where the first cohort stood, steadfast, flanked on either side by the fourth and sixth cohorts. The drums stopped.

Corvus heard the primus pilus shout, a loud cry that was echoed by five hundred voices chanting in response. The centuries in the neighboring cohorts began to pick it up as well. A thousand voices chanted a single word, then slammed the butt of their spears twice on the ground, then repeated it again. Then two thousand voices, then three thousand.

“Legion!” Thump-thump. “Legion!”

Men stomped their feet, clapped their hands, slammed their gauntleted fists into their steel breastplates. The very hill upon which Corvus stood seemed to shake with the echoes, but not as much as the goblins. Their front ranks were visibly quivering with fear.

“Legion!” Thump-thump. “Legion!”

It sounded as if his men were summoning some ancient demon of war—no, an army of demons—from the bowels of the earth.

“Legion!” Thump-thump. “Legion!”

Corvus nodded slowly, pleased. No one, least of all the enemy ranks lined up against them, would imagine these were men who had never seen battle before. Saturnius’s centurions had done their work well.

He glanced to the left. As expected, the goblin commander had divided his wolves between the two flanks, and their right wing looked no more eager to rush forward into the teeth of the infantry fortifying the thin line of horse than their foot was to come to grips with the cohorts in the center. On the right, he saw a desultory exchange of missiles was taking place, but it was nothing to cause him any concern for the safety of two young tribunes he had stationed atop the hill there.

But if the goblin masses were intimidated, their commander was not. His response was spectacular, if not particularly effective. A strange humming filled the air, gradually swelling until the Amorran chanting began to break up as the legionaries wondered what it was. Then, with the sound of a thunderclap, purple fire arched from the goblin rear over their lines and exploded in the midst of the first cohort. He saw men fly into the air, heard other men scream, burned by the shaman’s fire. The goblin drums began to thunder again.

“Ballistari!” Saturnius turned around and screamed at the optio who commanded the artillery. “Cassabus, find me that devil-spawned bugger and flatten him now!”

Corvus squinted and attempt to see where the shaman might be, but he shrugged and gave it up after a moment. The sharpest eyes in the legion were assigned to the artillery squads, and if they couldn’t spot the goblin, his aging eyes certainly wouldn’t be up to the task either.

Saturnius’s face turned redder with each of the two subsequent magical blasts, both of which ripped small holes in the Amorran ranks. But despite their alarming effects on the morale of the troops forced to stand there helplessly enduring the magical barrage, Corvus knew the shaman wasn’t doing them any significant harm.

“They have him, legate!” Cassabus called down to an irate Saturnius. “First cohort, loose!”

There was a loud thrumming sound and the shriek of much-abused wood as the supports absorbed the force of heavy slings slamming down, one after the other.

Ten huge rocks sailed over the heads of the Amorran infantry—and the greater part of the goblin infantry as well. All crashed down into a remarkably small area and left little more than smears of green ruin behind them as they bounced and tumbled to an eventual halt well behind the enemy’s rear.

“Well done, Cassabus,” Corvus shouted to the optio. “Commend your men!”

He doubted the man could hear him over the creaking of the onagers as the ballistarii rewound their huge coils, but Cassabus saw Corvus was shouting at him, and the optio raised his fist triumphantly.

“That’ll do for the bastard,” Saturnius said with satisfaction, his complexion gradually returning to something more resembling its customary color. “And it should give any of his little bastard friends second thoughts about throwing that devil’s fire about willy-nilly.”

“Who needs Michaelines when you’ve got mules?” Corvus laughed at the sour expression on the legate’s face. No matter how well things were going, Saturnius was always foul-tempered throughout the course of a battle.

“At least we’ve got a few lads who can hit the broad side of a barn,” Saturnius said. “But I don’t know what those bloody scorpios thought they were trying to hit.”

Corvus looked behind them, momentarily confused. Sure enough, four of the scorpio squads were reloading their giant crossbows. He hadn’t even realized they had loosed their bolts.

A horn sounded, and a great purple cloud appeared out of nowhere before exploding harmlessly well over the heads of the first cohort.

It was a signal, not an attack. The goblin lines began to move forward again. There was a piercing scream, followed by another, and soon all the wretched breeds were running, shrieking like the souls of the damned as they rushed madly toward the black shields of the waiting legion. Finally, the battle would be truly joined.

Corvus glanced at Marcus Saturnius, who was scowling furiously. How many times had they witnessed this together, Corvus thought. It was always the same. It didn’t matter if you were fighting men or goblins, elves or orcs. All the sights and sounds and strategies and tactics were eventually reduced to this: two lines coming together into one.

Without any signal from either of them, as if the onrushing goblins had crossed some invisible line, a roar went up from the centurions, and a murderous flock of flying serpents leaped into the air from the first two Amorran ranks as the centuries hurled their spears.

The goblins fought with courage, but man-for-man they were much weaker than the legionaries. Their weapons were seldom able to pierce the Amorran armor, and their own armor couldn’t withstand the forged steel of the legionary blades and spearheads. And whereas a wounded goblin was prone to be crushed under the feet of his comrades as they pressed forward, a wounded legionary was quickly extracted by the men behind him and assisted, or carried if need be, to the medici positioned to the left of the reserve cohorts.

Corvus saw Saturnius looking pensive as the pressing goblins fell back momentarily following an extraordinary, but ultimately futile, effort that had seen several men in the front ranks fall, including a centurion from the sixth cohort, at the cost of more than one hundred goblins. Saturnius whispered thoughtfully to himself, then abruptly turned and said something to his draconarius, who blew four rapid notes in a signal that was acknowledged in ragged succession by the centuries fighting below.

After the last horn sounded, the ballistarii launched their missiles en masse just over the helmets of their own troops and into the enemy’s front lines. The three embattled cohorts used the resulting disarray among the goblins to rotate their first three lines of troops back and exchange them with the three lines that had been waiting, more or less patiently, for their own turn at the bloody mill.

“Nicely done,” Corvus complimented his subordinate. “They might have been on the parade ground.”

“They’d damn well better have gotten it right,” Saturnius growled. “I didn’t spend four months standing over them making them practice every day, rain or shine, for my own health. And those two centuries from the bloody sixth still tried to go right instead of left! I’ll have their centurions’ guts to lace my sandals tomorrow.”

Corvus smiled. Things were going well indeed if Saturnius was cursing his troops instead of the enemy. And unless he missed his guess, the century that bumbled its withdrawal had lost its centurion only moments before. Considering that this was their first battle and they had just lost their officer, the century from the sixth were doing well to have merely muffed a rotation. That was the ultimate tribute any unit could pay its commander, to maintain its discipline even in his absence.

Another hour or two, perhaps three more rotations, and the goblins would wear themselves out. Due to their observable lack of discipline and reluctance to come to grips, Corvus suspected the goblin cavalry would be the first to withdraw. They would use their superior speed to run away rather than screen the infantry’s retreat as they should. Then the rear ranks of the infantry would begin to melt away, until the front ones, realizing they were being abandoned, would take fright, throw down their arms, and try to flee.

And then the slaughter would begin.

If you’re worried about story

One of the concerns that keeps being raised about Alt★Hero by people who are observably unfamiliar with the fact that I am a novelist is that the comic is going to be nothing more than anti-SJW preaching and attempts to trigger SJWs. But this is nothing more than confusing the advertisement with the product.

But consider the following review for one of my more recent novels, A Sea of Skulls:

Better then GOT

I read a lot of fiction. Vox’s writing skill is superb. He takes no shortcuts with weaving his tale. Explores many different approaches in his books. In throne of bones he spans the life of one character in one chapter. In another he tries his hand a describing a battle from many many different soldiers views as they fight and die. In sea of skulls he pulls back a bit on experimentation and instead explores each major race in his universe from their perspective. Each perspective is unique and masterfully done.

Now, you may well be dubious about the possibility that my Arts of Dark and Light series is genuinely better than A Song of Ice and Fire, especially if you haven’t read A Dance with Dragons. After all, HBO hasn’t even made a television series about it yet. But if you look at the reviews of both books over time, you’ll see how the initial comparisons to Martin begin to fade away and are replaced by comparisons – admittedly, unfavorable – to Tolkien.

This is not indicative of a writer who is unable to tell a story, create memorable characters, or is prone to sacrificing either in the interest of delivering dogmatic, heavy-handed lectures. I don’t believe in either cheap heroism or cheap villainry, as both are the product of mediocre writers with insufficient imagination. While I would consider Captain Europa to be a villain and the Global Justice Initiative to be evil, he most certainly does not.

Nor do I believe that my favored side must always win. After all, the ultimate heroism is self-sacrificial, and I am not even remotely hesistant to kill off even my favorite characters if the story’s logic demands it. (The fact that this also helps solve the fatal perspective-character-inflation problem is merely a fortunate side-effect.) Nor do I ever indulge in the storytelling fraud that is so often present in Martin, Marvel, and DC stories; there are few literary devices for which I have more contempt than “bringing back” an obviously dead character. It’s not only lame and fake drama, it is unnecessary for the sufficiently skilled writer.

Here’s the thing: EVERYTHING triggers SJWs. It’s not as if we have to go even remotely out of our way to set them off. We can focus 100 percent on telling excellent stories and we probably won’t even need to go back and add anything in order to have them REEEEEEing at frequencies higher than have ever been recorded at the Metropolitian opera. Not that I won’t insert the occasional shiv and twist, out of nothing more than the pure joy of it, but we simply don’t have to. In these forsaken days of the Forgettable Squirrel She-Thing, just having pretty women with attractive bodies is more than enough.

So, if you are genuinely concerned about the storytelling aspects of the new series, you can either read my novels or you can simply wait to see what sort of stories we deliver in Alt★Hero. As for me, all I can say is that I am enjoying the challenge of raising my storytelling game in order to keep pace with the legendary Chuck Dixon.

And that, I suspect, is the real concern of the comics SJWs. They’re not at all concerned about our prospective failure. They’re concerned about our prospective success.

Mailvox: If this is failure

I suspect success might go to my head.

I actually put off reading the Throne of Bones series because I figured your fiction couldn’t possibly be any good. Why? Well, nobody can do everything well! You’re a clear political writer and superb thinker, you even had a band at one point. You’re an immensely creative organizer, you started your own publishing house… “What are the odds for this guy also being a good epic fantasy writer?” I asked myself. Also, the title, Throne of Bones kind of put me off. I thought you were referencing G.R.R. Martin. Well, I finally read it, and was delighted. Sea and Summa followed in due course. Your writing has the key characteristics that I value in excellent fantasy: resonance and novelty. There is a sense of familiar mythic themes, but rendered in a new and surprising way. Elves and orcs and dwarves and Romans! Oh my!

I noticed a mention that you will come out with a revised book (Sea?) soon. I’m wondering, why revise? Why not write another one? (Please?) Will the revision be an expansion where I can just start reading the new stuff, or will I need to read the whole thing again to find the additions? (Not that this would be a dreadful fate!)

Now that F&SF has become a loathsome wasteland of Social Justice and Abused Pronouns, we need more writing like this.

Actually, it’s not a revision, but an extended edition. By Amazon’s reckoning, A Sea of Skulls will go from 430 pages to 924 pages. I don’t quite see how that is even possible, since by my count, it will go from 165,000 words to 297,500. None of the existing story will be excised or even modified; I have no reason to change anything, and besides, I don’t have the time.

And don’t forget, The Last Witchking & Other Stories is now available in audiobook. I waited years to put any of this out in audio because I was waiting for the right narrator, and Jeremy Daw is just that.

An excerpt from “The Last Witchking”.

In the eyes of the villagers of Pretigny, Speer Gnasor was a boy not terribly unlike any other. He was taller than the other boys his age, but someone has to be the tallest in every village, and no one ever appeared to think it odd that at nearly thirteen years of age, the top of his father’s head barely cleared his shoulder. Speer was quick-witted but not remarkably so, although he was both envied and mocked by the other boys for his ability to read.

He participated in their games, albeit in a desultory manner. He was not unpopular, and if he had exerted himself even a little, he might well have made himself a leader of one of the little packs that divided the children of the town on lines roughly conforming with their fathers’ occupations.

Per Gnasor, his father, raised bees and made candles, and his mother raised the small flock of geese and chickens that provided him with his daily egg, and on feast days, the fowl for their little family. His two passions were fishing and books, and it was said that he had read every one of the twenty-eight books in the village at least twice.

The Gnasors themselves were said to possess seven books. By Pretigny standards, this amounted to a family library of almost mythic proportions. He dutifully attended the small church of the Immaculate twice each week, and if he ate the wafer and drank the wine given to him by the priest with little thought for what it represented, in this he was no different than any other boy in the village.

He was not an unhappy lad, and he was entirely content with his life as he found it. He did not, like some of his youthful acquaintances, chafe at the smallness of their familiar surroundings or dream of one day seeking his fortune in what, from the perspective of Pretigny, was considered to be the great city of Niederholen. Even the rumors of the riches of distant Stalchwil on the banks of the Ghlêne more than a ten-day journey away held little fascination for him. He learned to tend his father’s bees, to twist wicks and shape wax, and slowly, but surely, he even began to take notice of the butcher’s daughter. She was a tall, slender girl with a wide mouth and pale blue eyes who was nearly of a height and an age with him.

Left to his own devices, allowed to pursue his homely dreams, it was likely that Speer Gnasor would have married the butcher’s daughter, learned the butcher’s trade, and eventually become a fine, upstanding pillar of the local church and community.

But on his thirteenth birthday, everything he knew about himself and the world around him was forever transformed by a letter from his father.

After a dinner that featured rare treats such as Valoyan sausages and the sweet cheese called Niederholt, Per Gnasor sent him into the forest armed with nothing more than his warmest coat and a small shovel and told him to unearth his birthday present one hundred paces north of his favorite tree.
Both excited and confused, he lost little time in finding the peculiar oak with a thick lower branch that twisted over its leftmost neighbor, and paced off the distance. He had to dig a hole that was deeper than his knees before he struck something hard. With a little more work he saw it was a small wooden chest. His heart beating faster, he extricated it from the ground and opened it.

The first thing he saw was a letter written in an unfamiliar hand. Despite the shadows cast by the looming trees, there was just enough light breaking through the leaves to permit him to read it.

To my son and my heir,

You are not what you think you are. You are more, so much more. Kings and princes would tremble and scour the earth in search of you were they to hear even a rumor of your existence. It was to save you from their wrath that your mother sacrificed herself. It was to protect you from their vengeance that you were hidden away even from yourself. The man and woman you believe to be your parents are my true and loyal servants, and they have raised you at my command, even as they release you now to your destiny as they have been instructed.

You will be told many lies about your true kind, we whom the vulgar and the frightened wrongly named witchkings. But this is nothing more than fear. It is the shameless perversion of history by the vicious little minds of its victors.

As you will learn, we Wahrkönigen were simply dedicated to the truth and only the truth, regardless of its consequences and heedless of its costs. And what was this fearful truth, this dark god that struck such terror into the hearts of Men and Elves, Orcs, and Dwarves? Only this: There is no Good and there is no Evil. There is only what Is. Nothing more. Have the courage to grasp this fearful truth, and you shall be a worthy successor to the long line of kings before you.

I have prepared the means that you will require to learn both the Lesser and the Greater Arts. Master them well. An arduous task lies before you, but I know you will succeed, for you are my son and you will surpass me. And in the place that has been prepared for you, you will also find the answers to your inevitable questions, including your true lineage.

You are a phoenix raised by sparrows, my son. Now it is time for you to fly. When you have grown into your strength and become worthy of your heritage, you will set the world on fire.

These are the three charges that I lay upon you, my son. Instruct the Elves. Break them of their ancient pride and shatter the remnants of their kingdoms. Humble the Northmen. They must pay a tithe of blood for their treachery. Harry them throughout their islands and drive them into the sea. Preserve the Blood. You must not be the last of your line. Father many children, on many women, but instruct only the most worthy in the Wahrkunst. The Blood will tell.

You are young and you are alone in a harsh and unforgiving world, but never doubt that you were loved as few sons have ever been loved. For your mother and your father so loved you that they died for you, not once, but twice. We allowed ourselves to perish and we erased ourselves from the minds of mortals, so that you might live.

Your enemies, and they are many, will not find you until you are ready to be found. Be brave, my son, be strong, and never permit yourself fear. For you are a true Wahrkönig, and in your veins flows the pure blood of the greatest and most powerful sorcerers the world has ever known. Embrace your greatness, my son, embrace the Blood, embrace the challenges I have set before you, and one day, you will teach the world that you are harsher and more unforgiving than it could ever dare to be.

Avenge me, my son. Avenge your loving mother. Avenge your noble race,

Mauragh, son of Thauragh
King of Thauron, Nordandir, and the Wolf Isles

The three types of superheroes

Alex Macris explains his critical theory of superheroes:

  1. Ordinary person accidentally becomes extraordinary through chance.
  2. Determined person becomes extraordinary through dedication and will.
  3. A person born with extraordinary gifts lives up to their birthright.

These are, respectively, proletariat, bourgeois, and aristocratic views of human achievement.

The proletariat sees success as a product of chance. “He got lucky.” “He won the lottery.” “He don’t deserve what he got.”

The bourgeois sees success as a product of hard work. “I earned what I’ve got.” “I tried harder.” “It’s a meritocracy.”

The aristocracy sees success as a product of nature. “Some people are born superior.” “Blood runs true.” “I was born to lead.” Examples of aristocratic heroes are Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern.

Examples of bourgeois heroes are Batman, Green Arrow, Nightwing, Ozymandias, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow.

Examples of proletariat heroes are Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four.

Marvel’s mutants are interesting. A mutant who sees his mutation as a mighty gift, like Magneto, is aristocratic but typically a villain. A mutant who sees his mutation is a random event tends to be portrayed as a proletarian hero. Most of the X-Men fall into this group.

Overall, Marvel’s heroes tend to be more proletarian, while DC’s heroes tend to be more aristocratic, with bourgeois heroes in both. Under progressive influence, these roles still apply. DC heroes act with noblesse oblige as aristocratic patrons of the oppressed. Meanwhile Marvel heroes tend to suffer from oppression themselves, as in much of the X-Men tales.

Bourgeois heroes tend to be least susceptible to progressive re-purposing as their bootstrap heroism is inherently a conservative message. Hence the progressive critique of Batman for being a successful businessman who uses his skills to beat up criminals, e.g. oppressed people. A progressive Superman can use his powers to defend illegal immigrants, but a progressive Batman is just George Soros.

This analysis helps explain why the Batman movies had conservative undertones, and the X-Men movies had liberal ones.

As it happens, Alt⭐️Hero superheroes will initially be a combination of aristocratic and proletarian due to the unique collective origin story. But there will be more conventional bourgeois heroes as well as time goes on. As with most of my novels and short stories, there is the story, the metastory that encompasses it, and the metasquared story that underlies the whole thing that is not immediately apparent to the reader.

For example, very, very few readers of the Arts of Dark and Light epic fantasy series are aware yet of the metasquared story aspect of the series, if indeed any of them are.