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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

GUEST BLOG: Ivanova, Accala & The Hero's Journey by Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan (Wolf's Empire: Gladiator Blog Tour)

Fantasy Book Critic is extremely excited to welcome our guest hosts for today. Today, we welcome Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan as they make their way through the blog-o-sphere to promote their new book Wolf's Empire: Gladiator. Wolf's Empire is the first in a series of science-fiction sagas.

Overview of Wolf's Empire: Gladiator:
When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to train as a common gladiator. Mastering the one weapon available to her—a razor-sharp discus that always returns when thrown--she enters the deadly imperial games, the only arena where she can face her enemies.

But Fortune's wheel grants Accala no favors—the emperor decrees that the games will be used to settle the civil war, the indigenous lifeforms of the arena-world are staging a violent revolt, and Accala finds herself drugged, cast into slavery and forced to fight on the side of the men she set out to kill.

Set in a future Rome that never fell, but instead expanded to become a galaxy-spanning empire, Accala's struggle to survive and exact her revenge will take her on a dark journey that will cost her more than she ever imagined.

Today, Claudia and Morgan stop by to talk about the hero's journey as it relates to the sci-fi world.

A huge thank you goes out to Claudia and Morgan for stopping by and sharing with us. 

Wolf's Empire: Ivanova, Accala & The Hero's Journey 
Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan

Morgan and I both have an interest in spirituality and mythology that informs our writing. Years ago the famous mythographer Joseph Campbell wrote a book called The Hero With A Thousand Faces. In that book he mapped out an idea of a standard cycle, the journey a mythological hero passes through in order to come to an understanding of life, the world and his place in it. It’s in the Arthurian stories, Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid and more modern myths like Star Wars and certainly in the television series I was part of—Babylon 5.

Many commentators have said that George Lucas’ use of Campbell’s theory when plotting the first Star Wars movie was an essential ingredient in the film’s ongoing success. Later, Hollywood studios caught wind of this and used it for countless movies (The Matrix, The Lion King, The Silence Of The Lambs, The Princess Bride, Indiana Jones).

The hero has to overcome certain challenges-separation from the tribe/the everyday world, entry into the unknown where they receive an initiation that involves death and rebirth, and then a struggle to defeat the nemesis during which their inner transformation is tested after which they return to the everyday world a transformed being, having brought something from the unknown world/otherworld back to their everyday life. The journey also transforms the hero, opens them up but change and growth is never easy. The hero’s journey is an essential human story.

For Ivanova, she journeys beyond Babylon 5 to face threats to her friends, the Alliance, and the galaxy.

She travels with Marcus to seek help from the First Ones, faces evil on the failed rescue mission to Z’ha’dum and afterwards leads the White Star into battle to face the Shadows and Vorlons. She becomes the Voice of the Resistance and faces her ultimate test in the battle against advanced Earth ships that have been blended with Shadow technology (“I am Death incarnate”).

Ivanova triumphs even though she suffers mortal wounds. This is her death and resurrection moment. She’s expected to die, only to find that her bravery and nobility of spirit has inspired love in Marcus Cole, who gives his life-force to bring Ivanova back from the brink of death.

Ivanova’s resurrection after enduring great trials grants her classical hero status, though like all heroes, returning from the underworld leaves her changed. Born with minor telepathic abilities, she’s always kept a wall around her to protect her thoughts and feelings. Every time she lets the wall down she’s wounded. Her mother commits suicide after a terrible ordeal with the Psi-Corps, her first love interest turns out to be a corrupt bastard, her brother is killed, her lover Talia turns traitor. So she concentrates on the structured life of a soldier- invests in honor and duty and, even with the emotional brick wall in place, she finds that she can still be hurt by love, this time someone else’s unrequited feelings for her.

She must withdraw, away from the world she knows to one that is alien to her - a desk job, even though it comes with a promotion to the rank of general. In time, reconciling her duty and her heart she reaches the final stage of her journey—leader of the Rangers on Minbari Prime where the alien warrior code that incorporates warcraft and spiritual practice brings her, in my opinion, to an inner peace and resolution, what the Buddhists call “right action”, where the conflict of love and duty is transformed into a single spiritual direction.

With Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, our heroine Accala is wise for her age, but still in her late teens. She makes mistakes, sometimes near fatal errors. Accala’s story is very much one of growth through mistakes. Her lesson is that if you make mistakes, even catastrophic ones, you can either collapse and fold or keep moving forwards, and that in forwards momentum, spiritual progress and self-awareness are gradually and painfully revealed.

Accala’s journey is one in which she seeks to be accepted by her own people, to understand alien beings as a Roman who is used to treating them like slaves, to try and learn the difference between duty and revenge when her own sanity is on the line.

It was important to make use of the classical hero’s journey in our story but we wanted to temper that with real world consequences so that, to the reader, success at any stage on the journey was not a given and that even if Accala does pass a marker on the hero’s journey, that the cost of forwards movement is high, maybe even too high relative to the perceived reward. Accala’s victory is no sure thing.

Accala’s journey, like Ivanova’s, is one that unites the classical hero with the modern heroine. A warrior woman on a journey to save the galaxy but only if she can work out how to save herself.

CLAUDIA CHRISTIAN is an actress, writer, singer, songwriter, director, producer, and voice-over artist. She has starred in studio pictures such as Clean and Sober with Morgan Freeman and Michael Keaton and in TV shows such as sci-fi megahit Babylon 5 and the new Showtime series Look. She lives in Los Angeles. @ClaudiaLives and ClaudiaChristianFanPage on Facebook

MORGAN GRANT BUCHANAN is an Australian writer of sci-fi and historical fantasy. He writes comics, film, and short stories.


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