Sword & Soul. You may be wondering what this is. I was, too. So I decided to do a little research on it. Sword & Soul is like sword and sorcery, but with, well, soul. According to Milton Davis, an author in the field, it is defined as “heroic fiction and epic fantasy based on African traditions, cultures, and history.”
That’s pretty damn fabulous! It truly warms my heart to see Black people as the main characters in the speculative fiction genres of fantasy and science fiction. And apparently, it isn’t something new! The first book in this genre was written in 1981!
Since I consider it my duty as a Black author to spread the word about other Black authors, I would be remiss if I didn’t name a few of the books in this genre. I’ll begin with the first book in this genre, Imaro, written in 1981.
Imaro is a rousing adventure… a tale of a young man’s continuing struggle to gain acceptance amongst his people, and to break the cycle of alienation and violence that plagues his life.
Imaro is heroic fantasy like it’s never been done before. Based on Africa, and African traditions and legends, Charles Saunders has created Nyumbani (which means “home” in Swahili), an amalgam of the real, the semi-real, and the unreal. Imaro is the name of the larger-than-life warrior, an outcast, who travels across Nyumbani, searching for a home.
Her dreams are terrifying. In the year of our One 3075 Tundra has been at peace for 400 years. There is no racism, poverty or war. Karla is a young, Indigo woman working as a successful healer. Yet she is tormented by lucid and erotic dreams. Dreams in which she is Immortal. Two men emerge from these phantasms: the first a Copper Shape shifter and the other a demon more dead than alive. But when this creature appears in her apartment Karla realizes that they share a lust that may one day consume her. His will unlock a mystery. Joseph always dreamt of becoming an artist, a warrior…and a shape shifter. Now he’s dreaming of a sorceress who commands that he leave his homeland. Together they will journey to the end of time. To a nightmarish world of revolution and magic. But will they save Tundra or perish in it’s destruction?
Sadatina, an Adamu girl on the brink of becoming a woman has lived a peaceful life with her family in Adamusola, the land beyond the Old Men Mountains. But tragic events change her life forever, revealing a hidden past that leads her into the midst of a war between her people and those that would see them destroyed, the Mosele. Armed with a spiritual weapon and her feline ‘sisters, ‘ Sadatina becomes a Shosa, a warrior trained to fight the terrible nyokas, demon-like creatures that aid the Mosele in their war against her people. Woman of the Woods by Milton Davis is an action filled, emotionally charged adventure that expands the scope of the world of Uhuru and introduces another unforgettable character to the fabled continent’s heroic legends.
Although it is not entirely to her liking, grief-stricken Satha, a dark-skinned woman from a poor Theseni clan weds young Loic, the wealthy Doreni son of the king’s First Captain. Loic, graced with ability to see into the hearts and minds of others, begins to help Satha overcome her sorrows. Despite coming from different tribes, they begin to forge a life together. But when Satha’s own compassion is used against her and a treacherous enemy contrives to dishonor her in Loic’s absence, Loic’s love turns to anger and disgust. Embittered, Loic must still avenge his honor and Satha’s and he sets out on a journey that brings despair as well as spiritual discovery. Battling him are the Arkhai, the spirits of the land who know his quest will lead him toward the God whom they have usurped. After his departure, Satha is kidnapped, sold into slavery and learns, first hand, how cruel the pioneering Angleni tribe can be. Both face great hardship, danger and anguish apart, but with the Creator’s aid there remains hope they will be reunited and heal the love the world has torn asunder.
Magic. Myth. Warfare. Wonder. Beauty. Bravery. Glamour. Gore. Sorcery. Sensuality. These and many more elements of fantasy await you in the pages of Griots, which brings you the latest stories of the new genre called Sword and Soul.The tales told in Griots are the annals of the Africa that was, as well as Africas that never were, may have been, or should have been. They are the legends of a continent and people emerging from shadows thrust upon them in the past. They are the sagas sung by the modern heirs of the African story-tellers known by many names – including griots.Here, you will meet mighty warriors, seductive sorceresses, ambitious monarchs, and cunning courtesans. Here, you will journey through the vast variety of settings Africa offers, and inspires. Here, you will savor what the writings of the modern-day griots have to offer: journeys through limitless vistas of the imagination, with a touch of color and a taste of soul.
And this is just FIVE of them. If you’d like a more extensive list, you can begin with this Sword & Soul List on Goodreads.
I longed to read about characters who looked like me when I was growing up, but sadly the books were lacking. Now, I can read books where Black people are the main characters in every genre…and we are making our own!
Until next time…