Writers pick up influences from all kinds of random places.  The homage to the Anglo-Saxon heroic saga, ‘Beowulf’, in my story ‘The Pagan Sorceress’ is obvious and conscious.  I am also a huge fan of the ‘Lord of the Rings’, both the book and films.  The Lord of the Rings was the first book that really taught me the magic of books and had the same kind of impact on me as the Harry Potter books had on my daughter and other young readers a generation on.

In fact back in the 1970s when I was 14, as an English project, I wrote a story in the style of the Lord of the Rings.  Yes, I know, how sad is that?!  I wrote fan-fiction before the term even existed!  I still have it.  The cover has a gold ring on it made out of a ‘Caramac’ foil wrapper, if anybody remembers that chocolate bar!  I thought I’d lost it but my mum unearthed it recently in a box of memorabilia and school stuff of mine.  If I become famous, who knows, I might be able to sell it to some American University for squillions of pounds as a rare literary manuscript!  The funny thing is that was the last time I seriously sat down and did any creative writing until a few years ago when, inspired by events and a particular person, I took it up again some 40 years later.  Hmm, maybe I just never really grew up?!

Of course it was Tolkien who rediscovered ‘Beowulf’ for a 20th century audience.  He was Professor of Anglo-Saxon literature at Oxford University and his lecture, ‘Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics’ in 1936 offered a seminal re-interpretation of the tale.  The ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ are immersed with the influence of Nordic and Anglo-Saxon culture – the rings, the dragons, the wizards, the elves, the dwarves and the whole idea of the hero in its different forms.

Now, I also love Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ films.  Whatever  liberties he might have taken with the book, most of which I think were necessary to convert book into film and in some cases added to the original story, his real achievement was in truly capturing the spirit of the book and, through that, also absorbing some of Tolkien’s original Anglo-Saxon influences.

There’s a couple of small scenes in the film that I love and inspired a scene in my story, though they are so short and insignificant you’d hardly notice them.  I’m a huge fan of the Riders of the Rohan.  They are the embodiment of the Anglo-Saxon heroic ideal, but with added horses……how good is that!  And just look at the loving care and detail that Peter Jackson’s designers put into creating this heroic horse culture.

The first scene is the muster of the riders of Rohan.  Not the famous scene, King Theoden’s call to arms at dawn to smash into the hoard of orcs besieging Gondor, though that is truly awesome.  No, this is the scene when Eomer calls the riders to ride onto Gondor; the short but perfect ‘Oaths you have taken…” speech.  Credit to Peter Jackson, his script writers really captured the spirit of Anglo-Saxon and Nordic culture.

The second scene is obscure because it is one of the axed scenes that appears in the dvd extras.  It’s the scene of the burial of King Theoden’s son when Eowyn sings a sad lament in a weird other worldly language (perhaps based on Anglo-Saxon?) as the body is hauled into its burial chamber.  I was influenced by this and wanted to capture some of the spirit of it when I describe Cyneburh and Alhfrith’s burial in my story.

So, the story extract below is the scene influenced by Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s films.

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Story blurb

If you’re looking for an erotic read this Halloween then check out Slave Nano’s new release ‘The Pagan Sorceress’.  The action takes place on Samhain as archaeology student Sam sets out to re-enact a Pagan burial ceremony.

If the author of the Anglo-Saxon heroic tale Beowulf did erotica what might it have sounded like?  That’s the challenge author Slave Nano has set himself in his newly released novella ‘The Pagan Sorceress’, partly set in the Anglo-Saxon era.

Sam is about to carry out a strange experiment.  She is an archaeology student specialising in reconstructive archaeology and her idea is to recreate an Anglo-Saxon pagan burial ceremony.  It’s Samhain eve and the night of a full moon so it’s the perfect time to carry out such a ritual.  She enlists the help of her friend, Dan, and together they go off to the site of a burial mound where wonderful swords and sceptres were excavated many years ago.

A travelling story teller is at the court of a Saxon king.  He recites the tale of two soul-entwined lovers from an earlier, more chaotic, period when king’s warred amongst each other.  He tells the tragic tale of Cyneburh, Pagan sorceress and daughter of the mighty Pagan king Penda and Alhfrith, son of Athelwald the king of Deira, her hero-warrior lover and betrothed.  The two kings have formed a mighty political and religious alliance but, more than that, the young woman and man have forged a passionate union of their own.  But this new alliance has enemies and before their wedding night is over there will be a tragic outcome.  As King Penda stands at the edge of their burial chamber he invokes a curse of vengeance against the murderous act perpetrated against him.  But, how many years will it take before he is finally avenged?

As Sam stands on top of the burial mound dressed as an Anglo-Saxon pagan priestess with Dan at her side, is she aware of what ancient powers she will invoke as their lives become entwined with those of Cyneburh and Alhfrith from many centuries ago?  Will the pagan king’s oath of vengeance be fulfilled?  Will the souls of the two lovers be finally released?

Story extract

Bitter of soul and angry of heart the mourners stood around the open burial mound.  Ladies of the hall in sombre gown struck up a haunting lament.  Eerie were the sounds that echoed over wold and dale as bitter song called out to the guardians of the after-life.  The bodies of beloved daughter and revered son lay entangled in death embrace.  Flowers were strewn over their bodies and the symbols of their mortal life needed for passage into the after-life were emptied into their burial chamber.  Sceptre and sword, dagger and shield, golden jewellery and rings, warrior’s armlets and sorceress’s shoulder clasps all offered up to their owners in death.  Never was there such a wail of sorrow. 

Two bereft kings stood on the edge of the ditch to watch the passing of their children joined in love during life and now united again in bitter death.  They watched with grievous tears as earth was shovelled onto their bodies now interred and as radiant in death as they had been in life.

So it was that Penda stood before open burial chamber and invoked this curse for he knew that until their deaths were avenged there would be no peace for their souls in the after-life.  He called this invocation. ‘Rings I will give and powerful gifts I will bestow on those who avenge the untimely deaths of my beloved daughter and son-in-law.  The perpetrators of this deed will not go un-avenged.  No wergild will compensate for our loss but savage death and revenge.  Bitter mourning there must be but do not linger, for there is work to do’. 

And then King Penda raised his sword and called his retainers to arms.  “Noble thanes. Oaths you have taken.  Pledges of loyalty you have made.  Now royal retainers I call you to arms.  This blood feud must be avenged.  And when the body of the King of Northumbria is torn asunder and his monasteries plundered only then can we be at rest.”

Author Bio

Slave Nano is a writer of erotic paranormal and fantasy stories with bdsm and fetish themes.  He has had short stories and novellas published by Xcite Books and House of Erotica.  His first erotic novel, ‘Adventures in Fetishland’, was published by Xcite in March 2012.