Mad Shadows, Book Three: The Heroes of Echo Gate (Pulp Hero Press, February 26, 2021). Cover artist unknown
Joe Bonadonna’s ‘Dorgo the Dowser’ emerges with new content in Mad Shadows Book Three: The Heroes of Echo Gate. It is available now in paperback ($17.95 for the 332-page paperback; $2.99 Kindle). Under the recent charge of Pulp Hero Press, the first two books have been reprinted in glorious style (Book One: Mad Shadows by Joe Bonadonna and Book Two: Dorgo the Dowser and the Order of the Serpent). The release of Book Three: The Heroes of Echo Gate marks the tenth year anniversary of the first book’s publication. The official book blurb clarifies what to expect in the latest installment:
Dorgo’s Greatest Challenge
During an arduous and dangerous trek through the Scarlet Desert in search of the fabled Well of Tears, Dorgo the Dowser and his companions accidentally uncover an ancient artifact buried for eons beneath the blood-colored sand. After a harrowing, action-packed journey through the desert they find the Well of Tears, the repository of God’s tears, and there encounter the ghosts of the Sisters of the Blue Light, the Guardians of the Well. The nuns tell them about the relic of antiquity they found: it is a thing of cosmic evil — a thing not of their world, a thing which must be destroyed. But the answer to destroying that artifact is a riddle Dorgo and his companions must discover for themselves.
When the Spirit trapped inside the artifact is set free by one of their companions, Dorgo and the others learn that the evil now threatens not only their world, but all the Otherworlds of the multi-dimensional Echoverse. The key to destroying this evil is somehow tied in with the demons seeking to control Echo Gate — the master portal that leads not only to every world in the Echoverse, but through Space and Time, as well. As a great battle erupts on the island of Thavarar, where Echo Gate is located, Dorgo and his companions must unravel the mystery of the thing they found in the desert, and discover the means by which it can be destroyed.
Who is Dorgo? What is Gothic Noir?
New readers may be asking some general questions: Who is Dorgo? What is dowsing? And what the heck genre is this? Joe Bonadonna captured the essence of his style and Dorgo character in a 2011 Black Gate post: Dorgo the Dowser and Me. You know an author is genuinely inspired when they are passionate about developing a character for over a decade. Let’s answer some of the general questions with excerpts from that post:
“Dorgo the Dowser is “a sort of private eye set in the 14th century of my alternate world. It is pulp-fiction, old-school sword and sorcery with a film noir twist. “
“…One reason of the reasons Dorgo is known as the Dowser is because he’s a sort of private investigator, searching for clues and answers like someone searching for water with a dowsing rod. The other reason for his epithet is that he actually uses a special kind of dowsing rod in his line of work. There are all kinds of dowsing tools, and each has its own special use or ‘power.’ I even think that dowsing rods may be the inspiration for what we call ‘magic wands.'”
But Dorgo’s dowsing rod is not used as a magic wand, (re: Harry Potter), nor can it be used as an offensive weapon. What the Dowser’s Y-shaped yew branch allows him to do is investigate crimes where the use of magic has been involved. With it, he can detect the ectoplasmic residue of any supernatural presence or demonic entity and sense the vestiges of sorcerous power used in the commission of a crime.
….While the tales of Dorgo the Dowser are definitely grounded in sword and sorcery, I like to call them gothic noir. They’re filled with dark, macabre humor — gallows humor. All my influences are in these stories: Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Willis O’Brien, and Ray Harryhausen. There’s even a touch of H.P. Lovecraft in my creation of the Nine Realms of Otherworlds that compose the Echoverse of alternate dimensions, one of which is the realm of demons and supernatural entities.
Bonadonna’s Theatrical Voice:
Like many contributors and readers of Black Gate, Joe Bonadonna enjoys watching movies and infusing his work with theatrical dialogue. He has been authoring posts here forever, last year delving deep into Hercules Movies (Hercules: Hero and Victim, Part 1 and Part 2) and explicitly revealing how his muse works in IMHO: Giving Voices to Your Characters. To get a feel for his voice, you can also check out an Excerpt from Mad Shadows II. Or, check out these reviews of his first two books:
The Coming of Dorgo the Dowser by William Patrick Maynard (2012)
Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent by Joe Bonadonna by Fletcher Vredenburgh (2017)
Mad Shadows, the series chronicling Dorgo the Dowser
Joe Bonadonna is the author of the heroic fantasies Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers’ Choice Award for Fantasy); Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and the Order of the Serpent; the space opera Three Against The Stars; the Sword-and-Planet space adventure, The MechMen of Canis-9; and the Sword & Sorcery adventure, Waters of Darkness, in collaboration with David C. Smith. With co-writer Erika M Szabo, he wrote Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin (winner of the 2017 Golden Books Judge’s Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy), and The Power of the Sapphire Wand. He also has stories appearing in: Azieran—Artifacts and Relics,GRIOTS 2: Sisters of the Spear,Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Poets in Hell, Doctors in Hell,Pirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell, and the upcoming Mystics in Hell; Sinbad: The New Voyages, Volume 4; and most recently, in collaboration with author Shebat Legion, he wrote Samuel Meant Well and the Little Black Cloud of the Apocalypse. In addition to his fiction, he has written a number of articles and book reviews for Black Gate online magazine.