Oron Refreshed

I’ve finished reviewing the pages of Oron, which will soon be released by Wildside Press in a refreshed version.

I say refreshed because I have not heavily revised the story. I’ve corrected the typos in the Zebra edition of 1978, removed or amended the many “hysterical” dramatic elements that mistakenly seemed appropriate when I first wrote this epic as a beginning writer in the early 1970s (the spittle flying from frothing bearded faces, for instance), and added language and dialogue to make clear that the character Oron is now on familiar terms with a world steeped in sorcery and evil. He has, after all, confronted many such dangers in the “prequels” of the early 1980s and other stories I’ve written since then that feature him (“The Shadow of Dia-Sust” and a novelette now near completion, “The Iron Law.”).

However, I have not gone to extremes to alter the story; I’ve come to appreciate the romantic dimension of it: Oron learning that he has a destiny; the characters speaking to themselves solus like figures in a Shakespearean play; the depths of a primitive, brutal world juxtaposed with the heightened elements of the more civilized, refined atmosphere in Cenre, the capital city of Neria.

I’ve also now been able to address two very important things that have nagged at me since the book first appeared. First, I’ve finally settled on an opening line that begins with poetic alliteration but then descends into common vocabulary, my way of invoking the Muse before settling in, in media res, to the story proper with the horrors of the battlefield. (“They lay everywhere, the dead and dying men, littering the landscape, groaning in the blood-drenched mud, howling as vultures hopped toward them to tear at them, helpless as they were.”) Second: the subtitle Part III: The Na-Kha has finally been reinstated with chapter 17, thus dividing the book into three equal sections denoting the ascension of the formally tragic figure Oron to his destiny, while keeping the whole at 24 books (done deliberately as an echo of Homer and Virgil).

Perhaps a third thing: I’ve added dialogue in chapter 1 between the dying Padukos and Oron making the old man more distinctive as a character. His words are evocative, although Oron is reluctant to admit this. But it also gives Padukos a presence equal to that of the dying Lord Semranus in the second part. (Oron, of course, rounds out this fatal series by dying in the third part, not as an old man but as an anciently destined hero).

I’m now going to let the pages cool, as it were, before rereading the text and then sending the doc on to Wildside Press.

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