"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
Introduction to Serpent’s Quest
Now I know the full power of evil. It makes ugliness seem beautiful and goodness seem ugly and weak. — August Strindberg, The Dance of Death
While reading Serpent’s Quest my thoughts drifted to the all too real historical happenings involving Nazi hunters and former Nazi officers who committed terrible atrocities. Janrae Frank has woven a tale of fantasy that mirrors the evils of the real world. What better place to draw from when creating characters and the world they live in, than your own histories?
Malthus Estrobian, who is really The Butchering Serpent, is a genocidal mastermind who once boasted hidden laboratories where hundreds of lycans met their deaths in his warped and atrocious experiments. How could my mind not wander to Josef Mengele, the infamous Angel of Death, who butchered and experimented on hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jews and Roma during World War II in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Malthus with his evil heart and twisted deceptions is the sa’necari version of Mengele.
Diligent Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal once stated, “When history looks back, I want people to know the Nazis weren’t able to kill millions of people and get away with it.” The mysterious young guardsman, Kynyr Maguire, perhaps represents Wiesenthal, here. As lycan after lycan falls prey to Malthus’s destruction, it is up to Kynyr to root out the source of the evil and discover the true identity of The Butchering Serpent. Malthus uses his dark arts to conceal his true sa’necari heritage and to persuade the unsuspecting to do his bidding. From the innocent and naïve Beth, a loving mother figure who falls in love with the smooth-talking Malthus; to the wise old Tempest, a priest whose heart is, by fae-magic, linked with the life force of a tree – many are swayed by the promises of power, privilege, or love that the newcomer offers them. Kynyr guards a concealed heritage. After Malthus and his imps attack the lawgiver Nikko, it is up to Kynyr to put the puzzle pieces together before more lives are lost.
Against all odds, Kynyr uses his training and talents to seek out the Butchering Serpent before more lives are lost in Red Wolf; lives that come closer and closer to his own as Clan Redhand comes under direct assault by Malthus. Just like Simon Wiesenthal, Kynyr Maguire seeks not fame or fortune, but justice and peace. The souls of the slain will not go ignored. Just like Wiesenthal hunted down the masterminds of the Nazi regime, Kynyr uses what he can and must to strip away the disguises and deceptions necessary to discover the true identity of Malthus Estrobian.
The doers of evil use the powers of deception to gain whatever it is they desire. History is full of such monsters. Serpent’s Quest is a fantasy both grim and fantastical that borders on a reflection of our own societies. When ugly is made to seem beautiful, and goodness made to seem weak and ugly, then it is a certainty that a master manipulator bent on ruling by deception and control is behind such twists of reality. It is never an easy feat to stand up to tyranny. But the tyrants of the world, any world, ours, or this one created by Frank, must be confronted and stopped. Blood too often is spilled in such a confrontation. But better blood be sacrificed, than life, as it is known snuffed out and replaced with a living hell. Serpent’s Quest is about those sacrifices, those lives, and the hell they hope to avoid.