Tag Archives: religion

Sorcerers, Magicians, and Warlocks – What’s the Difference?

We are a bit spoiled for choice, in the English language. When we need a word, and another language has one that’ll do the job, we’re quite happy to appropriate it – words like schadenfreude, or (my personal favourite) l’espirit de escalier (“the spirit of the staircase”, which is the French term for that moment that you come up with a cunning riposte, moments (or hours) after it’s too late.

But, crucially for the discussion I’m about to have with myself, and that you can see right here, right now, on the screen of the device of your choice, is about synonyms. And then we’ll get into the cool stuff people should put into their fantasy novels bit. That’s coming, I promise. And this little bit about synonyms leads directly into it.

It’s not much of a tangent.

Now, the synonym group that I want to talk about in particular are words that are related to practitioners of magic.  Continue reading

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A BURNING DESIRE: The Culture of Censorship

A page from Maurice Sendak’s THE NIGHT KITCHEN, one of the most frequently challenged books in the United States (because it shows a penis!)

So, my latest article, A BURNING DESIRE: The Culture of Censorship, is up on the Kill Your Darlings website.

It focuses on literary censorship, especially the recent banning of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes in ALDI Supermarkets, and on censorship in general, particularly in Australia and the United States.

Let me know what you think!

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The Boys are Back in Town (part 4 of 4)

Image by Kessiye – via Wikipedia





I can wait.









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Double Review: Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel

First things first: I was much amused that my copy of Wolf Hall had a sticker on the front reading “From the author of Bring Up the Bodies!” The first book in the series, recommended to readers of the second.

“Some of these things are true and some of them lies. But they are all good stories.”

Wolf Hall is the story of Thomas Cromwell, great-great-great uncle to the more-famous Oliver Cromwell. Thomas rose from obscurity and the peasantry to become, firstly, the Cardinal Wolsey’s problem solver, and, after the Cardinal’s downfall, King Henry VIII’s Chief Minister, Lord of the Privy Seals, Chancellor of the Exchequer and too many other titles to go into.

Wolf Hall documents the downfall of the Cardinal, and the rise of Cromwell. of Henry VIII, and I love the fact that these novels present him in a sympathetic (ish) light – for so long we’ve looked down on Henricus Tudor as being some kind of monster (as he turned out to be), rather than as a complicated, three-dimensional human.

It is a brilliant character study, exquisitely formed and researched, and it finally gives this man, of whom so little good is written, a place in the sun, which he gained, despite his birth to an abusive blacksmith. I cried, which is something I’ve not done too often while reading. Mantel shows her power as an author throughout this novel.

“The trouble with England, he thinks, is that it’s so poor in gesture. We shall have to develop a hand signal for ‘Back off, our prince is fucking this man’s daughter.’ He is surprised that the Italians have not done it. Though perhaps they have, and he just never caught on.”

I liked Wolf Hall so much that I raced out and wrapped my paws around its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies.

Now that Queen Katherine is deposed, and her marriage to Henry VIII annulled, Henry has married Anne Boleyn. Bring Up the Bodies tells of her downfall, at the hands of Thomas Cromwell, in a I created you, I can destroy you fashion, after Anne fails to give Henry a male heir. Again the writing is brilliant, deeply researched and superbly written, even though history has told us how things end for the scheming Queen.

“He needs guilty men. So he has found men who are guilty. Though perhaps not guilty as charged.”

Absolutely brilliant, are these novels, and I highly recommend them, they are fantastic.

They have certainly set the bar for historical fiction very, very high.


Last things last: I’m pissed that this series isn’t finished – now I have to wait for the third book in the series, The Mirror and the Light. This is why I haven’t read any of the Game of Thrones novels – I have no patience, when it comes to waiting for books.



“You can have a silence full of words. A lute retains, in its bowl, the notes it has played. The viol, in its strings, holds a concord. A shriveled petal can hold its scent, a prayer can rattle with curses; an empty house, when the owners have gone out, can still be loud with ghosts.”

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Book Review: BURIAL RITES, Hannah Kent

I’m not complaining, but when did historical Icelandic fiction (or should that be Icelandic historical fiction) become a thing? Why Iceland? Is it because it’s on the edge of the world, and is European, but only just?

“I can turn to that day as though it were a page in a book. It’s written so deeply upon my mind I can almost taste the ink.” 

Anyway, Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent. The novel is based on actual events, the Illugastadir murders and the execution of Agnes Magnusdottir for the crime. Agnes was the last person executed in Iceland, on January 12, 1830. The novel is an attempt to try and see the world through the eyes of Agnes, from her imprisonment until her execution. The prose is beautiful, and the story is moving, tragic, and, if Hannah Kent is to be believed, entirely unjust. Did Agnus murder Natan Ketilsson? We can never know, and Kent offers us an answer. 

“It was not hard to believe a beautiful woman capable of murder, Margret thought. As it says in the sagas, Opt er flago i fogru skinni. A witch often has fair skin.” 

A murderess, who insists she is innocent. A terrified family, who are forced to take her in. A trainee priest, who she asks to absolve her sins. Winter is coming, when Agnes will be executed. Can she be saved? Will her sins be forgiven?

I loved this book, thoroughly enjoyed it. I think my mum recommended it to me, which means it took me forever to get around to, even though she has great taste in books.

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The Kingdom is Mine

Joan of Arc’s Death at the Stake – Hermann Stilke, 1843

“The kingdom is mine.” From between cracked lips she whispered, as the pyre caught ablaze and the mob fell silent.

He heard her. He should have ignored her, for the mumblings of heretics should not concern kings.

He should have kept walking, dusted his hands free of the soot, turned his back on the orange fingertips of flame that already stroked her skirts.

Instead he turned, a sneer on his face.

“Say that again, peasant. And louder, so I may hear you.”

She did, and she was right. The mob bayed, the guards were overrun.

She died, a blazing icon, seared on their memories.

He died, his head on a pike.

Continue reading

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Hey, gang! It’s spring (in the northern hemisphere at least) and my latest

flash fiction piece Famine is up and available in the spring issue of

101 Fiction. Read it HERE!


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God’s Children

Mountain-top Castle, by waqasmallick

It was the end. The end of forever, the end of an old man’s dream.

The trumpet sounded. The walls came tumbling down.

Billowing, twisting smoke rose, pillars holding aloft the blue dome of the sky – it was a beautiful day, glorious. It shouldn’t have ended. Not like this.

They were singing their dirges, their dreadful battle-hymns already – God’s Children, they called themselves, carrying before them a bleeding Christ, an emancipated prisoner-of-war still alive, crucified. He shouldn’t have looked.

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Kallikantzaros – A Reposting, in Anticipation of Goblin Week

The World Tree - Oluf Olufsen Bagge

The saw bites, deeper into the flesh of the world tree, gouging at its flesh, gnawing through bark and through the cloying, healing sap. Back and forth, back and forth we drag the blades, hacking at the trunk.

Soon the world will fall, tumbling into our world of darkness.

Soon we will feast on man-flesh.

The saw bites, deeper into the world tree. The falling saw-dust rains down like snow, settling into and mottling against the dark fur of my comrades.

Soon the world will fall.

The unbaptised days are coming, though – the days of darkness above, the nights of the dreadful cold. The darkest days are coming. Soon we can rejoice, soon we will dance upon the surface.

Soon the world will fall.

A cheer goes out, the solstice is come.

A cheer goes out, and through hidden tunnels and doorways we pour, out into the winter.

Soon we will feast on man-flesh.

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The sudden kiss of flame illuminates her face in the darkness.

She inhales and tendrils caress her, blue-grey, life-death.


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Review: Ursula K Le Guin, “The Left Hand of Darkness”

“I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.” 

So begins Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The story is one of an ice-planet named Gethen (Winter), and the arrival there of an Envoy from a vast human empire (although that’s an odd way of describing the Ekumen League of Worlds), sent alone to invite the humans of Winter into their collective. After all, “One alien is a curiosity, two are an invasion.” 

The Envoy lands in the kingdom of Karhide, where all kings are mad. The inhabitants of Winter have evolved in a singular (or rather, a binary) way – no Gethenian is male or female. They are neuters, until they reach kemmer (which is analogous to animals being in heat), and they rapidly change gender (or gain gender, I suppose.) Which leads to great sentences like “The King was pregnant.” 

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Fairy walking bridge, Huangshan, China. Photo by Jesse Varner.

My father ate my mother, when he saw her belly swell.

My brothers and sisters,  we devoured him, we thirty-three, in being born we feasted.

Now we walk bridges built into his bones.

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Looking in All the Wrong Places

Mathis Gerung, 1500 – 1570

Her every smile darkened the world, her touch was murder.

They ranted and raved, but none thought the Anti-Christ would have a vagina.

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Choices, Choices

Copyright – Rich Voza

Shit. The meadow, again. 

The doorways loom.

Choices, choices.

The smell of smoke, of burning, of charring. The ebony handle, hot to the touch.

Not the Red Door. Not again.

A heavy weight tugs me toward the White Door, its gravity overwhelming. The White Door threatens, imposes.

Promises the empty brilliance of light.

The Blue Door loiters. The sound of the sea roars behind the rotting, barnacle-encrusted lumber.

Not again. My fists ache from pounding the hard dirt, just to smell the earth again.

Afflicting new wounds on my skin, I scratch and tear at myself, just to have control over my actions, even if only for a moment.

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Silenced Voices

“Where Next,” painting by Edward Frederick Brewtnall (1846 – 1902). Public domain.

Slowly he unfolded the map; the sea breathed noisily in the distance, sighing. The ancient paper felt soft, furry, beneath their calloused fingertips. An emerald sea stretched out before them, the wind carving eternal waves through the long grass as they traced impossible paths into the interior. The map whispered as they turned its ancient paper, joining with the muttering of the waves and the shrill warning of the wind, together they whispered the old promises of exploration – fame, glory, escape.

As if there could be an escape.

He turned to face her, and the pain written across her face fluttered before she looked away.

The sun set, dropping into the sea, extinguished.

A light blazed above them while the landscape faded to black, and still they pored over their map before, begrudgingly, they slept.

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I remember…

Copyright Claire Fuller

I wander the empty hall – cold stone walls throw back the echoes of my passage, whispered groans and the aches of wooden beams.

They’re knocking down the Abbey.

I remember the history of this place, as tonsured monks came across the sea in their coracles, waving the flag of Christ above the dark, dank heart of the island.

I remember the children, dressed in white and pledged to me, their beatific, drugged smiles, wearing with pride my hot-iron brand on their porcelain skin as they walked the gallows-walk to the clearing at the center of the grove.

I remember the fire-brands, the preachers’ promises as they felled the little forest that was my home and dragged heavy, chiseled stones into place. The bards would sing, long poems guarded against the ravages of history – all were forgotten.

Only I remember.

They’re knocking down the Abbey, and with it they are destroying my worshippers.

I cannot let this stand…

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The End Begins, Tonight

The shades of men stalked, malevolent, fearless, dragging monster-shadows behind them through the broken city.


A shadow’s dance, macabre, hollow echoes of men, chasing riotous beneath the cloud-cloaked sunlight.


They walked, ignored by navy-blue, black, grey sea of suits, Ignored by people too busy with the profane mundanity of the day-to-day to witness the holy war unfolding in the streets.


The shadow-men stalk the streets, while men of god lurk before broken altars, hidden away in crypts and their sepulchres, ignoring the clarion-call echoing, unheard, from the heavens.


The shadow-men stalk the streets, and the preachers’ messages go unheeded.


“The end is nigh! The end is nigh!”


The end begins, tonight.


Comments and criticism always welcome!


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The Markets of Polynx Road

Sunday Sketch 44 - Terry Whidbourne

Shkreeckt….shkreeckt…shkreect – the sound of rasping-grinding steel ground out above the cobblestones, whispering promises of violence beneath the bustle and hubbub of street vendors, shouting and hawking their wares. The smell of market day spread through the streets of the Old City. Cinnamon and garam masala, pineapple and slow-cooking goat curry, hot oil, fish, and vine-ripened tomatoes mingled with the rising quagmire-smell of the damp.


Exotic blacknesses loomed and swelled as shadowmancers peddled temporary nights, a drug much in demand amongst the nobility of Khoi-salan. Mechanical constructs hissed, wheezing about the square, on mysterious errands for invisible masters.

I was here, looking for a man.


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Once-saints, now madmen

The Temptation of St. Anthony by Martin Schöngauer c. 1480-90

They came, in the darkness, through the darkness – they were the darkness. Hexes and sigils, carved runes on my door-jamb. I knew they were coming for me, knew they were hunting.


They bound me with curses, stole away in the night with my grimoire – but around my wrist I wear a bracelet of iron. I write on the walls, one-handed messages about the coming of angels, the coming of gods, about monsters you’ve never heard of. Prophets are bound, and those once-saints now madmen.


They came through, and now more are coming.

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A Free Lunch

Gustave Doré – Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (1855)

I spread wide my wings – a delicate, purposeful pose, each tender unfolding fills the room with gusts of warm air, “Well, my child…He is renowned for moving in mysterious ways.” I smiled, beatific. No. I smiled, angelic. The thought pleased me and I chuckled into the room, the burnished edges of my wings brushing against the stained glass behind me. The Victory of St Michael, in burnished gold armour, spear poised to strike Him – their other Him, the opposite face of the coin – poised to strike him down.

It’s almost too easy.

There is something in their innocence, in their naivety, the religious…they come to me, as I wander, the white hem of my robe dragging in the streets, muttering to myself in their corrupt little tongue. “Gloria!” they whisper amongst themselves, “Gloria, angelus!”

My wings unfold, like intricate machines. like clockwork.

I step from the altar, draped in Easter vestments.

I step from the altar, my sword ablaze.

Delightful, deliberate propaganda, to allow a freak like me to walk amongst them. 

Gloria, angelus.

They don’t even run.

He moves in mysterious ways.

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