Sword-and-soul is the name I’ve given to the type of fiction I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years. The best definition I can think of for the term is; African-inspired heroic fantasy.” Its roots are in sword-and-sorcery, but its scope is likely to expand as time passes.
To the best of my knowledge, I was the first fantasy writer to utilize in a positive way settings and themes drawn from the abundance of information available on the real Africa, rather than the “Dark Continent” that lives on in the minds of those who are satisfied with stereotypes.
These days, however, I am no longer the only writer of sword-and-soul.
Two years ago, Brother Uraeus, the man behind Sword & Soul Media, publisher of my latest books Dossouye and Imaro: The Trail of Bohu, introduced me over the Internet to a writer from the Atlanta area named Milton J. Davis. As it turns out, Milton’s African dreams were similar to mine. Before he had ever heard of me or Imaro, he envisioned his own alternate-Africa — the continent of “Uhuru,” which is conceptually different from Imaro’s setting, Nyumbani.
Uhuru forms a vivid backdrop for Meji, Milton’s sweeping story of the lives of a pair of portentous twins. Appropriately enough, the Meji saga is told in two volumes.
Soon after getting in contact with Milton, I read the entire Meji epic in manuscript. I was so impressed that I volunteered to write the introduction to the first volume (award-winning author Linda Addison wrote the intro to Meji II). In the interest of full disclosure, what I have to say about the books should be viewed in that context.
So, what do I really think of Meji I and II? In a word, I think the books are excellent. Milton’s writing combines the best qualities of heroic and epic fantasy. Generally, heroic fantasy focuses on the exploits of one character, such as Conan or Odysseus. Epic fantasy unfolds on a broader scale, with momentous events and large casts of characters, as in Lord of the Rings and The Iliad.
The center of the Meji novels is identical-twin brothers named Ndoro and Obaseki. They are separated at birth because in their culture, twins are beleived to be cursed. Either of the brothers’ subsequent stories could have served as the basis of a novel. Milton blesses us with a blending of both, embedded in an epic plot as sweeping as that of any of the multi-volumed fantasy series — you know, the ones with elves and princesses and unicorns on their covers — that crowd the shelves of bookstores.
Yet for all the bold background strokes Milton paints, he also has a keen eye for detail. The various kingdoms and tribes that populate Uhuru ring true, as do the continent’s individual inhabitants: urbanites, herdsmen, forest-dwellers, warriors, sorceresses. Uhuru also harbors supernatural menaces that even Imaro would have to think twice about tackling.
Attempts by forces human and demonic to keep Obaseki and Ndoro apart lead to major upheavals throughout Uhuru. Yet if the brothers do meet, the result could lead to catastrophic consequences. This dynamic produces the tensions that drive the narrative of the first volume forward to the second.
In Meji II, the suspense increases exponentially as the brothers careen across the continent toward their ultimate destiny. Talk about sibling rivalry … Meji II is a sibling apocalypse! When Ndoro and Obaseke finally meet … hey, I’m not going to give it away. You’ll have to buy the books and see for yourself.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got to get a little personal. As a child, I grew up without the presence of siblings. Now that I’m on the cusp of senior-citizenship, it’s great to know I’ve got a sword-and-soul brother in Milton.
Meji I and II can be purchased through Milton’s website: www.mvmediaatl.com. To see an interview I did of Milton on my website, go to www.charlessaunderswriter.com, click on Blog, and then “The Griot Speaks.”