Scott Oden presents ... His Novels

Scott Oden presents his NovelsScott Oden presents ...
His Novels

The Lion of Kairo (2010)
The Assassin paid no heed to his quarry’s death throes. His attention remained fixed on the long blade in his fist, on its pommel of yellowed ivory carved in the shape of a djinni’s snarling visage.  “I am al-Hashishiyya,” he said to the glittering-eyed devil.  “I am Death incarnate.”

So am I, the devil replied . . .

On the banks of the ageless Nile, from a palace of gold and lapis lazuli, the young Caliph Rashid al-Hasan rules as a figurehead over a crumbling empire. Cairo is awash in deception. In the shadow of the Gray Mosque, generals and emirs jockey for position under the scheming eyes of the powerful grand vizier.

 

The Lion of KairoIn the crowded souks and narrow alleys, warring factions employ murder and terror to silence their opponents. Egypt bleeds.  And the scent draws her enemies in like sharks: the swaggering Kurd, Shirkuh, who serves the pious Sultan of Damascus and Amalric, the Christian king of Jerusalem whose greed is insatiable and whose knights are hungry for battle. 

And yet, all is not lost.  There is an old man who lives on a remote mountainside in a distant land.  He holds the power of life and death over the warring factions of the Muslim world – and decides to come to the Caliph’s aid. He sends his greatest weapon into Egypt.  He sends a single man.  An Assassin.  The one they call the Emir of the Knife....

In this lighting-paced epic, bestselling author Scott Oden masterfully blends history and adventure in the style of Robert E. Howard. Bringing medieval Cario, the true jewel of the Arabian Nights, to exhilarating life, full of intrigue and thunderous battle, Oden resurrects one of the Ancient World’s most beautiful and beguiling countries.

  • THE LION OF CAIRO
  • Historical Fantasy
  • Published 7 December 2010,
  • Hardcover, 384 Pages
  • Thomas Dunne Books

To an excerpt of the novel

The Book at Amazon.com

Scotts comment on the book ...
The Lion of Cairo is an homage tale, a paean to the work of Robert E. Howard, and out of all my books it is the one I’m most satisfied with.  Its inspiration came from a variety of sources such as the REH tale “Gates of Empire” and a chapter in Harold Lamb’s The Crusades: The Flame of Islam describing the political and martial morass surrounding the Christian King of Jerusalem’s numerous bids to conquer the crumbling Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt.  For six years, in campaign after campaign, he tried to wrest control of Egypt from the Moslems.  Each time, the Egyptian drove him off.  This had the makings of a good story: intrigue, pitched battles, and larger-than-life personalities.  Still, though, it needed something.  That’s when I came across a slender—yet informative—treatise by Bernard Lewis called The Assassins.  Early in their history, the Assassins of Alamut were close allies of the Fatimid Caliphs.  Yet, as so often is the case, personalities clashed; promises were broken, and the Assassins became instead relentless enemies of Egypt . . . but, what if . . .

What if a century later the Assassins expressed a desire to mend fences?  What if this embassy came during a Christian campaign to conquer Egypt?  And what if the Assassins sent their most ferocious killer to aid the Caliph?  Assad was born from that line of questioning.

The lore and mythology of the Assassins fascinated me to no end.  While on the surface they acted like the medieval incarnation of al-Qaeda, certain of their myths had a decidedly Christian element.  By the latter part of the 12th century, the notion that the sect’s founder, Hasan-i Sabbah, would rise Christ-like and lead them to victory had become prevalent.  In preparation for this event, which most believed would occur in their lifetime, the leader of the Assassins at the time absolved his followers of the need to adhere to the laws of the Qur’an.  This act made real a maxim often attributed to Hasan-i Sabbah: “Nothing is forbidden; all is permitted.”

But, the most difficult part of writing The Lion of Cairo was balancing the history with the fantasy.  The book has sorcery: ancient Egyptian magic and foul necromancy of the sort you’d be apt to find in the pages of the Book of a Thousand and One Nights; it has an enchanted knife and an underlying mythology that seems, at first glance, to be at odds with its place in the ‘real’ world.  It IS 12th century Cairo, but at the same time it’s the Cairo of the Arabian Nights, where djinn roam abroad, magic rings work, and princes are made from the sons of tailors.  Balance has been the key, I think.  Balance and looking at the sorcerous elements from the point-of-view of the Arabs—who to this day have an unshakeable belief in magic and the supernatural.

Memnon Memnon (2006)
Memnon of Rhodes (375-333 BCE) walked in the footsteps of giants. As a soldier, sailor, statesman, and general, he was, in the words of Diodorus of Sicily, “outstanding in courage and strategic grasp.” A contemporary of Demosthenes and Aristotle, Memnon rose from humble origins to command the whole of western Asia in a time of strife and slaughter. To his own people, he was a traitor, to his rivals, a mercenary.

But, to the King of Kings, his majesty Darius III of Persia, Memnon was the one man capable of defending Asia Minor from the rising power of the barbaric Macedonians. In a war pitting Greek against Greek, Memnon proved his quality beyond measure. His enemies fought for glory and gold; Memnon fought for something more, for loyalty, for honor, and for duty.

He fought for the love of Barsine, a woman of remarkable beauty and grace. Most of all, he fought for the promise of peace. Through the deathbed recollections of a mysterious woman, the life of Memnon unfolds with brilliant clarity. It is a record of his triumphs and tragedies, his loves and losses, and of the determination that drove him to stand against the most renowned figure of the ancient world—the ambitious young conqueror called Alexander the Great.

  • MEMNON
  • Historical Fiction
  • Published 1 August 2006,
  • Hardcover, 503 Pages
  • Medallion Press, Inc.

The Book at Amazon

 Scotts comment on the book ...
Whereas in Men of Bronze and The Lion of Cairo I paid homage to Robert E. Howard, with Memnon my inspiration came from a different author: Mary Renault.  Her lyrical novels of ancient Greece served as textbooks to me, on how best to make the past come alive for the modern reader.  This I paired with my accustomed love for blood and thunder to create, I hope, a unique look at the Hellenistic world of Alexander the Great.

I am often asked, why Memnon?  Why not write about Alexander the Great?  Blame for that can also be laid at Mary Renault’s doorstep; after her excellent trilogy on Alexander (Fire From Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games) – and the many books from other authors since – I despaired of writing anything about Alexander himself . . . until I struck upon the idea to write it from the point-of-view of his enemies.  And Memnon of Rhodes was, according to the ancient sources, the only man Alexander feared.

Despite his peculiar position in history as Alexander’s foil, surprisingly little is known about Memnon: he came from Rhodes, but nothing is ever mentioned of his father.  We know he married into the Persian royal family (via Barsine, the daughter of Artabazus of Dascylium, who in turn was the grandson of the Persian king, Artaxerxes II), but he is only ever spoken of as “a mercenary”.  This last, especially, was a misconception I wanted to set right.  To do that, however, I had to make a great deal up about him.  I pray I did not do the good man a disservice . . .

;Men of Bronze Men of Bronze (2005)
It is 526 B.C. and the empire of the Pharaohs is dying, crushed by the weight of its own antiquity. Decay riddles its cities, infects its aristocracy, and weakens its armies. While across the expanse of Sinai, like jackals drawn to carrion, the forces of the King of Persia watch and wait. Leading the fight to preserve the soul of Egypt is Hasdrabal Barca, Pharaoh’s deadliest killer.

Possessed of a rage few men can fathom and fewer can withstand, Barca struggles each day to preserve the last sliver of his humanity. But, when one of Egypt’s most celebrated generals, a Greek mercenary called Phanes, defects to the Persians, it triggers a savage war that will tax Barca’s skills, and his humanity, to the limit. From the political wasteland of Palestine, to the searing deserts east of the Nile, to the streets of ancient Memphis, Barca and Phanes play a desperate game of cat-and-mouse — a game culminating in the bloodiest battle of Egypt’s history. Caught in the midst of this violence is Jauharah, a slave in the House of Life.

She is Arabian, dark-haired and proud — a healer with gifts her blood, her station, and her gender overshadow. Though her hands tend to Barca’s countless wounds, it is her spirit that heals and changes him. Once a fearsome demigod of war, Hasdrabal Barca becomes human again. A man now motivated as much by love as anger. Nevertheless honor and duty have bound Barca to the fate of Egypt. A final conflict remains, a reckoning set to unfold in the dusty hills east of Pelusium. There, over the dead of two nations, Hasdrabal Barca will face the same choice as the heroes of old: Death and eternal fame or obscurity and long life.

  • MEN OF BRONZE
  • Historical Fiction
  • Published 1 June 2005
  • Hardcover, 473 Pages
  • Received a Starred Review in Publishers Weekly;
  • nominated for the 2005 Quill Award
  • Medallion Press, Inc.

The Book at Amazon.com

 

Scotts comment on the book ...
Before I wrote Men of Bronze, I had been trying for years (eleven, actually) to make something of myself as a writer; I’d published an amateur roleplaying game as a teen and later sold a couple of short stories to small magazines that didn’t pay a thing beyond contributor copies. But what I wanted to write was a Conan novel for Tor—never mind the fact that I had nothing substantial in the way of publishing credits to convince them to trust me with their licensed property. I wanted to do it, and that’s what I did. Or rather, that’s what I started.

Started. Stopped. Restarted. Threw away. Rewrote. Deleted. Plotted again. Rewrote. Stopped. Wrung hands over. Started again. Repeat all this for eleven years. My friends probably still remember the exact number of drafts I went through on just the first three chapters of Conan: Shadow of Vengeance. To my recollection it was somewhere in the double digits.

In ’97 or early ’98, I received a stern bit of advice from a friend who was also a published author, James Byron Huggins. He’d read my three Conan chapters, liked them, but wondered what I planned to do should Tor reject them. I couldn’t turn around and sell it elsewhere, so he suggested I start over with my own characters. From that conversation Hasdrabal Barca was born. My indomitable Phoenician, whose name I pilfered from Harold Lamb’s biography of Hannibal and whose personality I lifted from Robert E. Howard’s Conan and Homer’s Achilles. In those early years, however, he was a character without a setting. For a time he was a hired killer caught up in the politics of pre-Islamic South Arabia (Al-Saffah: a Fable of Ancient Arabia), then an agent of Babylon’s last king, Nabonidus, fighting Lovecraftian horrors (Of Dead Gods and Kings: a Novel of the Ancient World). Finally, in ’99, after watching Victor Mature in the film version of Mika Waltari’s The Egyptian, Hasdrabal Barca immigrated to the Land of the Pharaohs. He’d found his setting; now, all he needed was a story . . .

Eschewing the trend of setting Egyptian fiction in the New Kingdom (the era of Akhenaton, Tut, Seti, and the Great Rameses), I plopped Barca down in the Late Period, specifically the 26th Dynasty. I discovered the heart of my story—and my villain—in the pages of Herodotus, who told a tale about a fellow countryman, a mercenary soldier of Halicarnassus, whose perfidy helped the Persians conquer Egypt (Book III, sections 1-15). He told the Greek side; I would tell the Egyptian side. Herodotus also gave me my title: Men of Bronze, which was what the Egyptians called their heavily-armored Greek and Carian mercenaries. I was set, and on December 24, 2000, I wrote the opening paragraphs to what would become Men of Bronze . . .

 

Scott Oden Scott Oden on Scott Oden
Hailing from the hills of rural North Alabama, Scott Oden's fascination with far-off places began when his oldest brother introduced him to the staggering and savage vistas of Robert E. Howard and Harold Lamb.

Though Oden started writing his own tales at the age of fourteen, it would be many years before anything would come of it.  In the meantime, he had a brief and tempestuous fling with academia before retiring to the private sector, where he worked the usual roster of odd jobs—from delivering pizza to stacking paper in the bindery of a printing company to clerking at a video store.  Nowadays, Oden writes full-time from his family home near Somerville.

The Lion of Cairo is his third novel.

Kommentare  

#1 Mikail_the_Bard 2011-06-09 23:39
Zitat:
But, the most difficult part of writing The Lion of Cairo was balancing the history with the fantasy. The book has sorcery: ancient Egyptian magic and foul necromancy of the sort you?d be apt to find in the pages of the Book of a Thousand and One Nights; it has an enchanted knife and an underlying mythology that seems, at first glance, to be at odds with its place in the ?real? world. It IS 12th century Cairo, but at the same time it?s the Cairo of the Arabian Nights, where djinn roam abroad, magic rings work, and princes are made from the sons of tailors. Balance has been the key, I think. Balance and looking at the sorcerous elements from the point-of-view of the Arabs?who to this day have an unshakeable belief in magic and the supernatural.
The Lion of Cairo sounds great. Last in the German TV the show a documention about these assassins, was very intresting. I look in Amazon if there a german version but I can't find. So I must wait to read this book, 'coz my english isn't good enough (just tourist english :) )
Zitieren
#2 Harantor 2011-06-09 23:52
@Mikail: Try the excerpt of the novel. Maybe you can read, even with your tourist English.

@Mikail: Versuchs mit der Leseprobe. ielleich reicht Dein Touristen- und Schulenglisch ja doch aus.
Zitieren
#3 ScottOden 2011-06-09 23:59
I am hoping to get a German-language edition of The Lion of Cairo in the works (and my others, if there's interest). I know there's a Dutch-language version, a Serbian version, and an upcoming French-language edition.

Thanks for the comments!
Zitieren
#4 Mikail_the_Bard 2011-06-10 00:25
zitiere Harantor:
@Mikail: Try the excerpt of the novel. Maybe you can read, even with your tourist English.

@Mikail: Versuchs mit der Leseprobe. ielleich reicht Dein Touristen- und Schulenglisch ja doch aus.


I already read, all in all I can understand. But if there is a some like "I burn the boot behind me" what mean in german "Ich lasse die Vergangenheit hinter mir / Ich breche die Brücken hinter mir ab!, I can't get it. This is the reason I wait for the german version.

Ich habe es schon gelesen. Allem in allem vestehe ich es ja schon, aber wenn was spezielles kommt, wie zum Beispiel irgendwelche Sinnessprüche wie "I burn the boot behind me" what mean in german "Ich lasse die Vergangenheit hinter mir / Ich breche die Brücken hinter mir ab!, dann verstehe ich es nicht. Daher warte ich auf die deutsche Version.

zitiere ScottOden:
Thanks for the comments!

It was me a pleasure!
Zitieren

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