Finding inspiration in mythology – by Vijaya Schartz

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clarke

All science fiction authors struggle to make their stories believable, because most of us only believe what we can explain and understand. Anything else is considered fantasy. And while we witness unexplained feats of magic and fantasy each day, like UAP (Unexplained Aerial Phenomena), ghosts, premonitory dreams, out of body or transcendental experiences, fiction writers are held to more stringent rules. Unlike reality, our stories have to make sense in the physical world.

Readers often tell me I have a fertile imagination, but to imagine the future, you only have to study the so-called mythology of many Earth cultures.

Ancient civilizations worshipped gods who came come from the sky (heavens) in chariots of fire that rumbled like thunder. They were said to possess magical powers, like the power of flight, infinite knowledge, and incredible powers of destruction… powers we now understand as advanced technology.

They lived in magical cities in the sky, cities we would now call motherships, and they flew down in smaller crafts they called Vimanas. They also waged violent wars in the sky, with terrible repercussions for our planet.

Shiva (the destroyer of worlds) wielded weapons that could destroy entire planets and fiery arrows that never missed the target. 

The Shiva Lingam found in a multitude of temples, and long discarded as a fertility symbol, was recently recognized as an accurate representation of a nuclear cooling tower. Lingering radioactivity in ancient ruins and bones, along with vitrification of the stone (that only happens with the kind of heat produced by a nuclear explosion), and ancient manuscripts describing epic battles of the gods with such weapons in the same area, support the fact that a nuclear event must have happened around that time… several millennia ago.

In the subcontinent of India, these powerful beings, who visited Earth and lived among men in the faraway past, were not human. They had blue skin, several pairs of arms, sometimes a third eye, monkey heads, elephant head, or snake bodies, and claimed to have come from other planets. To the people of India, they were not mythical or gods, but flesh and blood beings from another place. The epic adventures depicted in the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Mahabharata are not considered mythology but true ancient history and taught in schools as such.

But this phenomenon of alien visitors perceived as gods is not particular to India.

In the Buddhist world, the stone stupa inside which the statue of buddha resides represents some kind of transport craft to take him to the “cities in the sky.” Spaceships?

In China, the first emperor descended from the sky on a flaming dragon and claimed to come from space. To this day, the dragon is the symbol of China.

In Japan, Amaterasu, the goddess of light, came down to Earth to start the ruling dynasty to this day.

In my science fiction stories, my characters travel the galaxy, discovering new planets and cultures, or they are planet bound, visited by more advanced aliens. 

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Vijaya Schartz, author

Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

http://www.vijayaschartz.com

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The English language is under stress – by Vijaya Schartz

The conversation, on some Facebook groups for authors this month, turned to common mistakes in English grammar. As a wordsmith, I cringe at typos, misspellings, and grammar blunders in professional books. And I’m talking about simple mistakes, not wrong tenses, dangling participles, or run-on sentences. In the media arena, the language of Shakespeare is taking a beating. But it’s a lot worse than you would expect.

Here is a reminder of a few common mistakes… are you guilty of those? Maybe you should stick this note to the side of your tablet or computer screen.

And these are only a few. There are many more. I particularly resent “it’s” instead of “its” and “than” instead of “then.” There is also “lie” and “lay,” “affect” and “effect,”

I can easily forgive readers and casual posters for not remembering their schooling. But if you make any of these common mistakes on your resume, for instance, you may well have forfeited the job.

And if you run an ad for your business with a mistake in it, the return will be so low, you’ll lose your investment in advertising.

Furthermore, I see these common mistakes repeated by newscasters, on advertising spots, on printed ads, and in articles by news writers and other professional people of the spoken and written word.

What about “verbing” or “verbification?”

There is also the new tendency of making verbs with nouns, called “verbing” by the Oxford University Press, or also verbification. This is part of normal language evolution. When there is no verb to express the action, you can use a noun as a verb. “To parent,” for example, has become part of the vocabulary, like “to vacation.”

It used to be that the printed word was respected and valued. Nowadays, anyone can write and print anything, without any knowledge of proper language, grammar, or spelling. Worse, they do not hire an editor. If it’s important enough to say or write for the public at large, it’s important enough to be edited.

Another way to improve your grammar is to read well written books. Here are my latest series.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Holy Swear Words for Fantasy and Science Fiction

This trend has been going on for a very long time. Many authors and screenwriters have used this tool to avoid vulgarity and spare the sensibilities of readers and viewers. We all remember Starbuck saying Frak. To me, it’s an opportunity for creativity. Adapting the words to the world you created is also a fun challenge.

Holy Motherboard from Angel Fierce. This expression is unique and fitting, in a futuristic world where no one would know what a motherboard is… except maybe a nerd who studied ancient technology, like Maksou, the skilled hacker and god’s gift to women.

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By the frozen hells of Laxxar – Many mentions of Laxxar in my sci-fi novels indicate it’s a mining colony in a frozen world, where they send lifers, criminals, and political prisoners, to die in forced labor. I will definitely explore this world in a future novel.

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Fark – This one is close enough and far enough to the contemporary word, so that readers can understand it without explanation.
Holy Mackerel from Akira’s choice (a contemporary expression which becomes weird and funny in a child’s mouth, on a space station where no one has ever seen a mackerel, or even knows what it is).

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Also in Akira’s Choice, since she is Samurai, I used a few Japanese expletives, which just sounds funny to the ear of an English speaker.
Fire-breathing volcano goddess! – Suggests a Polynesian inspired culture in the third book of the Azura Chronicles, ANGEL BRAVE

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But I’m still writing, and thinking up new worlds and new expressions for my characters to express their frustration.

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By the bountiful tits of Helsara – By the land of many waters – Coming in the new Blue Phantom series Book 1, ANGEL SHIP (October 2022 release)
In the meantime, happy reading!

Vijaya Schartz, authorStrong Heroines, Brave Heroes, catshttp://www.vijayaschartz.comamazon – B&N – Smashwords – Kobo – FB

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Not that kind of angel – by Vijaya Schartz

I dream of angels all the time… sometimes I am one. Do not cry blasphemy. I’m not that kind of angel. That’s probably why I have recurring angel themes in my novels. (Archangel twin books – Azura chronicles – Byzantium Space Station – Blue Phantom series scheduled for release in 2022).


Angels or aliens? It is safe to say that angels, being not of this earth, are by definition extraterrestrials, which makes them aliens, not from our world, but from somewhere else. Just clarifying vocabulary here.

“I’m not that kind of angel” is a famous quote from the movie Michael with John Travolta. In the movie, he portrays the Archangel Michael, fallen from grace. The same is true for the hero of my Archangel books, where Michael is a very reluctant archangel with many problems to overcome. Drinker… single father… girlfriend problems… he doesn’t know he’s an angel, and refuses to acknowledge the call when he is needed to fight evil.

Creating a fictional universe with angels was a challenge… but I love challenges. First, what do we know about angels? They do not have free will. They are legion. They are the instrument of the almighty. They are powerful. Some are described with wings, flying through the air. They have beautiful voices, and beautiful names. They can perform miracles…

According to ancient books, a very long time ago, a group of them questioned authority, revolted, and were banished… and have wreaked havoc ever since. The good angels are forever fighting the bad ones in a constant struggle of good vs. evil.
The angels in my book fit the same criteria. But the story of their origin is unique to my universe… the Azura universe.

Some of them carry flaming swords, like the Archangel Michael.
On a deeper level, the good angels represent what we wish to be, vs. what we really are (flawed). So it’s reassuring when angels are not perfect… like the ones in my books. It gives us hope that we’ll someday overcome our flaws to ascend toward the light.
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In the meantime, you can enjoy reading my novels. I enjoyed writing them for you. Happy reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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The evolution of Warrior Women in the entertainment business – by Vijaya Schartz

In the male-dominated society of our ancestors, few women emerged as rulers or generals, or even warriors, although some did find a place in history. Nowadays, women are welcome into the military, and a recent decree subjects them to the draft. We’ve definitely come a long way in terms of equality.
But the entertainment world still resists the change. Superheroes are overwhelmingly male. In the Hollywood movies of the 1930s, all women wore dresses. Then during WWII, we saw a few women working in factories wearing pants.

The movements of the sixties brought us Barbarella but the first sci-fi or warrior women on the screen were more of an excuse for men to leer over semi-naked female bodies in action… and their fighting prowess seemed improbable at best.

Every beautiful actress wanted to be a Bond Girl.

In the 80s and 90s, came Charlie’s Angels – Xena Warrior Princess, and although still exploiting the female form, they portrayed strong, independent women, sometime in position of power, and they could fight for themselves, for others, and for justice.

Also of note, the ALIEN series with a kick-butt heroine, acted by Sigourney Weaver, and GI Jane (1997) with Demi Moore.

With this century came the rebirth of Battlestar Galactica with a female Starbuck. It was criticized at first, but I thoroughly enjoyed the switch. One of my favorite sci-fi series.

Then came a blue heroine in Avatar. A hunter and a warrior. More than capable, powerful, and also wise.

The most recent Star Wars movies have a strong female fighter in Rey. Star Trek, unfortunately, wasn’t as kind to women. 

In Black Panther, the female warriors of Wakanda play an important role.

Also welcome to the big screen from comic books, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. They manage to remain sexy as they definitely kick butts.

Not to forget, Mulan from Walt Disney studios.

I hope many more warrior women appear on the big and small screens to inspire the generations to come.
In the meantime, check out the fierce heroines of Science Fiction in my novels.

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Happy Reading!
Vijaya Schartz, authorStrong Heroines, Brave Heroes, catshttp://www.vijayaschartz.comamazon – B&N – Smashwords – Kobo – FB

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WARRIOR WOMEN part 3 – 16th Century to today – by Vijaya Schartz

Amina, Warrior Queen of Zaria (1588-1589)
Amina was queen in a part of Nigeria now known as Zaria, where women could inherit the throne on an even keel with men. Many city states dominated trans-Saharan trade after the collapse of the Songhai Empire to the west. At the age of sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent. Although her mother’s reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina immersed herself in military skills from the women warriors of her tribe.

Three months after her ascent to the throne, Amina started her conquests to expand her domain and open safe trade routes. She remained a warrior queen for 34 years until her death.

India during the Raj (British occupation): Velu Nachiyar (1730–1796 AD)
Queen of Sivaganga from 1780 to 1790, Velu Nachiyar was the first female freedom fighter against the British. Also known as Veeramangai (brave woman), she was trained in martial arts, horse riding and archery. She was also fluent in French, English and Urdu. 

After her husband was killed by the British army, she took refuge with Haider Ali, the Sultan of Mysore, then she launched her attack. When her daughter was martyred in the fight against the British, the queen formed a women’s army and named it after her daughter. Her fearlessness and gallantry on the battlefield are still remembered today.

Nakano Takeko, last female Samurai of Japan
The last Samurai warrior woman, Nakano Takeko, was recorded in the 19th century. During the Battle of Aizu, she led a corps of female Samurai against the Emperor’s forces. She fought with a naginata, the traditional weapon of choice for Japanese women warriors.

Takeko was leading a charge against the imperial troops when she took a bullet to the chest. Knowing she would die, the 21-year-old warrior ordered her sister Yuko to cut off her head and hide it from the enemy. Yuko did as asked, and Nakano Takeko’s head was buried under a tree.

The struggle of 20th Century women to be accepted in the military.
I remember when I was a teenager, learning that the Israeli military accepted women in their ranks. Not wearing skirts and typing reports in an office, but in combat gear on the front lines. I was fascinated.

Since then, after much hesitancy concerning the battlefield, the US military is training women for combat. They are now fighter pilots, foot soldiers, Marines, and much more.

But this is a phenomenon happening around the world. We see battalions of fighting Amazons in Russia, women soldiers in Africa, in India, in the middle east. The women have risen and are taking control of their own lives, to defend their freedom, their rights, their land, or their family.

If you like strong heroines with a warrior slant, check out my books. In my novels, they are bounty hunters, law-enforcement officers, Avenging Angels, soldiers, starship captains, Amazons, and warrior queens. They are often in charge, and playing an important role in their society. Sometimes, they rescue the hero, and they are definitely his equal.
I especially recommend these to lift your warrior spirits. Book 1, Angel Mine is 99cts in kindle, Book 2, Angel Fierce, is an award-winner, and Book 3, Angel Brave, is coming in October.

There is a planet out in the universe, emitting a strange turquoise glow. A long time ago Azura refused to join the Trade Alliance. The Alliance sent their military fleet to destroy the Azurans, but their powerful supernatural abilities spread fear even among the fiercest Devil Dogs. Since then, records have been erased. Rumors and legends all but died. Azura is strictly forbidden, and the daring few who venture beyond the warning space beacons are never seen again…

Happy Reading

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Warrior Women of the Dark and Middle Ages – by Vijaya Schartz

Queen Boadicea or Boudicca of Roman Britain

Early on, Boudicca was publicly flogged by the Roman occupants for claiming her father’s crown and lands, and treated like a slave despite her rank. Then she was forced to watch the rape and torture of her two daughters, who were about 12 years old.

An ancient historian tells us that this Celtic queen of the Iceni “possessed greater intelligence than often belongs to women.” She is represented with waist-length, flaming red hair, wearing a gold torque and colorful clothing.
With a piercing gaze and a harsh voice, she rallied the Celtic tribes into an army of 100,000 and killed 80,000 Roman soldiers with superior armament. With her daughters, she led the charge on her light chariot, carrying flaming torches, like raging Furies.

Decimated at first, the Romans eventually received more reinforcements, the Celts lost and were exterminated. Boudicca, who survived the last battle, escaped, only to kill herself with poisonous hemlock. She refused to be paraded in Rome as a vanquished enemy.

Norse mythology – Valkyries and shieldmaidens

Norse legends speak of Valkyries, heavenly shieldmaidens, who flew over the battlefield and collected the souls of brave warriors slain in battle. So, for a long time, history assumed the stories of Viking Warrior Women to be legend as well.

A Viking grave from the tenth Century in Birka revealed weapons, gaming equipment, and two horses. Assumed to be that of a powerful Viking warrior, the skeleton suggested the person was female. Recently, a DNA analysis confirmed the powerful warrior was indeed a woman.

In truth, the Vikings counted many shieldmaidens in their ranks. Many were mentioned throughout history. Now, we know they were real.

One of the most famous Viking warrior women is Lagertha, wife of Ragnar, portrayed prominently in the History Channel series Vikings.

Japan’s Samurai women
Since the 12th century, many women of the Samurai class learned how to handle the sword and the naginata primarily to defend themselves and their homes. In the event that their castle was overrun by enemy warriors, the women were expected to fight to the end and die with honor, weapons in hand.

The Onna Bugeisha were female Samurai trained to protect entire villages and communities, not only the family property. If a Samurai had no son, he reserved the right to train his daughters as full-time onna bugeisha.

Rather than sitting at home waiting for the fight to come to them, some young women with exceptional fighting skills rode out to war with the men. They behaved like Samurai. They had the strength to fight with two swords. They could enlist in the army of a daimyo and fight side by side with male Samurai. They wore the attire and the hairstyles commonly worn by the men of the army.

An example of such an onna-bugeisha is Tomoe Gozen. Of course, like many warrior women of her time, official history labeled her more of a legend than a real person. But nowadays, we know better…

Joan of Arc – Medieval Warrior maiden – 1412-1431

As France was losing at home against the English during the 100-year war, this teenage peasant girl, a maiden, managed to convince the heir to the throne of France to give her control of his flailing armies. Among the chaos of war, she secured and attended his coronation.

As a keen strategist, Joan of Arc won many battles for the king of France. She didn’t hesitate to reprimand prestigious knights for swearing, behaving indecently, skipping Mass, or dismissing her battle plans. Personal attacks by the English, who called her rude names and joked that she should return home to her cows, upset her greatly.

Joan of Arc wore weapons and armor and brandished a standard as she led her men to battle. But it is said she never killed anyone. She was wounded at least twice, taking an arrow to the shoulder during her famed Orléans campaign and a crossbow bolt to the thigh during her failed attempt to liberate Paris.

Betrayed and delivered to the English, she was imprisoned. After she made a solemn promise never to wear men’s clothes again, they stole her woman’s clothes, forcing her to dress like a man. With the complicity of a French Bishop, they condemned her for that crime. They also condemned her for cutting her hair like a man, hearing voices, and being convinced she was following the will of God. She was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431. She was 19 years old.
In my writings, I like to portray warrior women. Here is my medieval maiden in the Celtic legends Curse of the Lost Isle series. Damsel of the Hawk is a standalone in the series. Find it on Amazon HERE Find it at BWL Publishing HERE

1204 AD – Meliora, the legendary damsel of Hawk Castle, grants gold and wishes on Mount Ararat, but must forever remain chaste. When Spartak, a Kipchak warrior gravely wounded in Constantinople, requests sanctuary, she breaks the rule to save his life. The fierce, warrior prince stirs in her forbidden passions. Captivated, Spartak will not bow to superstition. Despite tribal opposition, he wants her as his queen. Should Meliora renounce true love, or embrace it and trigger the sinister curse… and the wrath of the Goddess? Meanwhile, a thwarted knight and his greedy band of Crusaders have vowed to steal her Pagan gold and burn her at the stake…
Happy Reading

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Warrior Women of the Ancient World

Ahhotep : Military Leader and Egyptian Pharaoh

Ahhotep’s burial equipment included a dagger and an inscribed ceremonial axe blade made of copper, gold, electrum and wood. The decorations were characteristically Minoan. Also found were three golden flies, badges of bravery awarded to people who served in the army.
Fu Hao: China’s First Female General:

One of the earliest records of female warriors in China comes from oracle bones found in a tomb. The bones told the forgotten story of a ruthless military general of the Shang Dynasty in 1200 BC. The warrior was Fu Hao, queen consort of King Wu Ding, high priestess, and military leader. She defended the Shang dynasty in several battles. 

At the time of her death, she was the first female Chinese soldier to be buried with the highest military honors.

Artemisia I Of Caria: Commander of Ancient Halicarnassus

According to Herodotus, Artemisia of Halicarnassus was a Greek queen in the 5th century BC, long before Alexander the Great. Artemisia wielded power during a time when Greek women couldn’t vote in Athens, the home of original democracy. She is described as a femme fatale, pirate queen, and played a role in the events of the 300 Spartans described in the movies. During the Greco-Persian wars, she fought for the Persians at Salamis and contributed her warships to the Persian Navy.

Zenobia, warrior queen of the Roman colony of Palmyra, in present-day Syria, from 267 or 268 to 272.

She was described as a conqueror. In 269-270, Zenobia and her general, Zabdeas, conquered Egypt, ruled by the Romans. When the Roman prefect of Egypt objected to Zenobia’s takeover, Zenobia had him beheaded. Then she sent a declaration to the citizens of Alexandria, calling it “my ancestral city,” claiming her Egyptian ancestry. Zenobia personally led her army as a “warrior queen.” She conquered more territory, including Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, creating an empire independent of Rome. After winning and ruling these Roman provinces, she was subjugated by Emperor Aurelian. She died in captivity sometime after 274.
The Amazons:

The Amazons were not the stuff of legends.

Long believed to be purely imaginary, the Amazons were the warrior women described as the archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Recently, the remains of 300 warrior women were found in more than 1,000 excavations of Scythian kurgans (burial mounds), from Ukraine to Central Asia. This spectacular discovery gives credit to the myth of the amazon warriors.

They were reported in the Greek writings of Herodotus as women the Greeks encountered on their expeditions around the Black Sea. They rode horses, hunted, fought, used bows and arrows, just like men. They were fierce, nomadic, and refused to remain sedentary. They lived without men, whom they only frequented for procreation. They kept the baby girls but when the boys reached the age of five, they returned them to their fathers.

Other writings relate similar stories of Amazons by travelers from ancient Persia, Egypt, and as far as China.
Warrior women of Ancient Japan:

For thousands of years, certain upper-class Japanese women have learned martial skills and participated in battles right alongside the male warriors. They were skilled with sword, spear, and bow.

These include the legendary Empress Jingu, (169-269 A.D.) She ruled as a regent following her husband’s death in 200 AD. After seeking revenge on the people who murdered her husband, she invaded the Korean peninsula, the ancestral land of her mother, who was a descendant of a legendary Korean prince.

Empress Jingū became the first woman to be featured on a Japanese banknote however, since no actual images of this legendary figure are known to exist, the representation of Jingū was artistically contrived from the photograph of a 19th Century Japanese woman.
I write about all kinds of warrior women in my novels. But if you like ancient warrior women, you may want to check out these, available in eBook and paperback on my links below.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Who were the Paladin knights of Charlemagne – by Vijaya Schartz

When Charlemagne ascended to the Frankish throne in 968AD, he designated twelve Paladins to help him rule the Frankish Kingdom. They were highly trained noblemen, expert swordsmen and fierce warriors. They, took a solemn oath of fealty and swore to abide by Christian rules. Some say they were the first chivalric Christian Knights. Others argue they were Charlemagne’s henchmen, extortioners and executioners… which, in these violent and troubled times might be closer to the truth.

Ending the Dark Ages, Charlemagne united Europe in the name of Christianity, against invaders from the north (Vikings) and the Saracens in Spain. He beat medieval Europe into submission and imposed strict Christian rule. He established schools, promoted education, the copy of illuminated religious manuscripts, art, architecture, and he also maintained a formidable army.

On the battlefield, after a victory, Charlemagne gathered the surviving enemy soldiers, made them kneel, and gave them a choice. Convert to Christianity and join his army, or be beheaded on the spot. Of course, many converted, giving the new faith lip service only. Better be a live Christian than a dead Pagan, right?

Still, a number of vanquished soldiers chose death over conversion. Pagan roots ran much deeper than Christianity in many places.

The Celts, in particular, gave Charlemagne a difficult time. Especially the small kingdom of Brittany (French Bretagne) a bed of Celtic culture and legends, the birth place of Merlin, the place where legends of Vivian the Fae, Morgan the Fae, Pressine the Fae, Palatina the Fae, Meliora the Fae, and Melusine the Fae, still flourish, among other myths.
To deal with these pesky Celts, Charlemagne nominated his trusted nephew, the Paladin Roland, to administrate the Marshes of Brittany on the western frontier.

Roland is still famous in France and throughout Europe. This is his statue in Metz, France, not on a church or historical building, but at the train station.
The story of Roland:

Roland, and Olivier, his childhood friend, swore fealty together as Paladins of Charlemagne. Roland is poetically associated with his sword Durandal, his horse Veillantif, and his oliphant horn.
The Song of Roland written much later, lists the twelve paladins as Roland, Olivier, Gérin, and Gérier (killed by the Saracen, Grandonie), Bérengier, Otton, Samson, Engelier, Ivon, Ivoire, Anséis, and Archbishop Turpin …

There is also mention of Fierabras (meaning proud with strong arms), a converted Saracen knight who seems to have served as the basis for the legend of Percival, of King Arthur’s legends. Yes, medieval romantic tales often tend to ignore chronology as well as historical facts and dates… unless you consider reincarnation or immortality.

While returning from fighting the Saracens in Spain, Roland, closing the long column through the pass of Roncevaux in the Pyrenees, was ambushed by the Basques. He sounded his oliphant horn, calling for help. But his conniving uncle at the head of the march pretended not to hear the oliphant and refused to turn back to help. Grossly outnumbered, Roland and his company fought bravely. Roland, at the end, broke his faithful sword, Durandal, on a boulder, so it wouldn’t fall into heathen hands. Roland and his company were killed to the last, in Roncevaux in 778AD.

On Christmas day in 800AD, in Rome, Charlemagne was crowned Roman Emperor of Occident by Pope Leo III. The great emperor died in 814AD. 

But his Paladin knights still fascinate modern youth and keep gathering fame in children’s books and videogames.

If you enjoy reading the heroic myths and legends of the time, I recommend The Curse of the Lost Isle series, based on the Celtic legends of Brittany. The first two books are set in Scotland during the Viking invasions. Then the story of this family of immortal ladies spreads to Luxembourg, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the middle East during the Crusades.

Princess of Bretagne, Curse of the Lost Isle, book 1Currently $1.49 in kindle. Also available in paperbackFind it at your favorite online store HERE

“Well-written and researched, Vijaya Schartz’s “Princess of Bretagne’ is a joy to read. Although it is a fantasy, Ms. Schartz deftly weaves in historical aspects and customs of those times. One overriding theme is the clash between paganism and early Christianity during the Dark Ages…. a worthwhile and entertaining read.” 5 stars review.
Happy Reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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French influence in the English language – by Vijaya Schartz

According to Merriam Webster, there are over 7,000 French words today in the English language. The pronunciation and spelling might differ slightly, but they are plainly recognizable. 

So many familiar words in the English language are French, like: attache, avant-garde, aviation, bachelor, ballet, bon voyage, brunette, bureau, cabaret, chauffeur, chic, cliché, cul-de-sac, debris, deja-vu, delegate, detour, dossier, elite, expatriate, façade, fiancé, film noir, gallery, gazette, heritage, homage, hotel, identity, illusion, insult, irony, liaison, literature, machine, magnificent, massage, metabolism, neutral, novel, occasion, parasol, recipient, reservoir, ricochet, rich, ridicule, risqué, sabotage, sentiment, silhouette, solicitor, souvenir, technique, uniform, variety, etc. to name a few. 

Since the French and the British were enemies for centuries, why did so many French words make it into English? We all learned in school that the Normans, Vikings who had settled in Normandy, led by William the Conqueror, conquered England in 1066, by winning the battle of Hastings. 

After their victory, these French speaking Normans established a new nobility in England, and used French as the official language of the English court. And for two centuries, all legal and official English court documents were written in French. The Norman nobles took control of the lands by marrying into former English nobility. In time, the two languages and the two cultures melded. 

During the Crusades, Richard Lionheart battled in France, to reclaim French territories previously owned by the Normans. This conflict about territory between the English and the French led to the 100-year war (1337-1453) during which English soldiers lived and battled in France, some of them for most of their lives. 

For these reasons, many medieval English words were derived from the French, and French words and expressions survived a thousand years into the English language. Words like chivalry, majesty, archer, assault, court, dungeon, enemy, felony, honor, injury, judge, justice, liberty, noble, prison, parliament, quarter, royal, robe, sir, survive, tournament, treason, uncle, among many others, are French words brought by the Normans.

As for the modern French words in the English language, many come from cooking terms. Rather than making up an English word, it’s easier to use the original French word and Anglicize it. So, in a “restaurant” on the “Menu” you can have your potatoes “sauteed,” with a “soup” and a “roux,” eat an “omelet” a “salad” or “escargots” which are the most common variety of snails. But snails sound slimy, while “escargots” sound like a culinary delight. 
A “cuisine,” in French, refers to a kitchen. By extension it also means what you cook in it. “Four,” for a French person has nothing to do with numbers. It’s just a baking oven. 

When I first came to America, my husband asked me if I wanted my pie “a la mode.” When I asked him what it meant, he looked flabbergasted that I didn’t understand his French. You see, “a la mode” only means “in fashion,” which is nonspecific and doesn’t relate to pie, or, as I quickly discovered, vanilla ice cream. See, the French do not mix pie with ice cream and would consider this a “faux pas.” I quickly corrected my preconceptions in the matter. Since then, I always eat my pie “a la mode.” 

I also wasn’t familiar with French fries, as there is nothing French about them. Fries were invented in Belgium, where half of the population also speaks French. Maybe that’s what created the confusion. But the French simply call fries “frites” or “pommes frites” as potatoes are “pommes de terre,” which translates as apples of the earth. 

Somehow, because the medieval English nobles spoke French, the French word tends to sound more luxurious. A “mansion” a “manor” or a “chateau” sound like places where upper nobility “resides.” That’s probably why Cadillac calls some of their models “deluxe.” French makes it sound more expensive. 

Another French import is the modest “beret.” It was a traditional civilian cap for centuries, favored by the Basques, long before it was adopted by French Special forces in the 20th century. Shortly after, many other countries adopted the beret as military attire. 

Cadet” in French means “second son.” In the old days, to avoid dividing the lands, only the oldest son inherited the charge and the fortune of his father. So, the second son had to find a job, and for noble families, short of buying a bishopric, only a military position would do. It’s interesting to note that the American word has evolved to mean a student in a military or law enforcement academy… that they are no longer second sons, and some cadets are now women. Yay! 

Once in a while, the French word has come to mean something else in the English language, just enough to confuse a native French speaker. “Madame,” for example, is a mark of respect in France. But when you speak of a Madame in the US, it’s usually the woman in charge of a house of ill repute. Same word, very different meaning. 

When I first saw a jar of “Marmite” on the shelf at AJ’s I wondered what it could be. Given that a marmite is simply a cooking pot in French. It didn’t tell me what was in it. After tasting it, I could only assume that it was made of the burned residue in old cooking pots, to give some taste to bland English food. In truth, it’s a condiment made from yeast residue in beer vats. 

Coin” in French means corner. In English it’s loose change. This may come from the fact that coins used to be cut into halves and quarters to make change, which created corners. 

Queue” in French is an animal’s tail. Then it also refers to a waiting line (where impatient dogs would wag their tail). 

Library” is also a French word, but it means bookstore. For a French person, the familiar place that collects thousands of books you can borrow is called a bibliotheque. 

Talking about books, you can find mine everywhere online. Check out my Celtic Legend series, CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE on the links below my signature line.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

http://www.vijayaschartz.com

amazon – B&N – Smashwords – Kobo – FB 

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