Never Argue With a Woman Holding a Sword

Earlier this year, my collection Eltava: A Sword for All Ages was published by the lovely people at Gypsy Shadow Publishing. I didn’t have an active blog at the time, though, so I couldn’t announce it. But here it is, better late than never.

The collection actually had its roots many years ago, when I wrote the novel At An Uncertain Hour. At one point, the immortal main character, the Traveller, tells a story about one of his long-ago adventures, and I wanted to give him a companion for it. So Eltava made her appearance.

And that was supposed to be that — but Eltava insisted she wanted more stories written about her, and you don’t argue with a woman holding a sword. So I started to write them.

At first, like most writers of action fantasy, I wrote about her in her twenties, but after a while I began to think — why? A male action hero has a little leeway to age (if not much) but if the character’s female, once she hits about thirty she’s supposed to settle down and raise kids or knit socks, or something.

That isn’t Eltava.

So I wrote stories about her in her teens, thirties, forties, sixties, and eventually even in her eighties. OK, she isn’t dashing around having adventures at eighty-four, but she can still wield a sword to good effect when she needs to. And, of course, she does need to.

So who is Eltava? She’s a woman of mixed race — her father (whose parents also appear in At An Uncertain Hour) is of a race similar to East Asian, while her mother’s race is not unlike Native American, although Eltava takes mainly after her father.

One point to note is that these similarities are only a matter of appearance. The various peoples have had very different histories from their terrestrial equivalents and shouldn’t be confused with those.

Eltava grows up in a privileged merchant family, but her love is always for adventure, and eventually she leaves home to wander the world with her grandparents friend the Traveller on board his magical ship. Some of these stories feature the Traveller too, in three cases as a roughly equal main character, but Eltava spends plenty of time apart from her companion, too, facing adventures, romance, betrayals and sorcery. Not to mention having to face her ultimate foe — the fact that she ages and the Traveller doesn’t.

This doesn’t mean that Eltava just fights for the sake of it. Although she comes alive in combat, she has a strong sense of right and wrong. Whether she’s defending villagers against aggression, striking against tyrants or just protecting a child, the causes she fights are always just. It’s simply that she really, really enjoys fighting them.

Seven of the eleven stories in this collection have been published before in various outlets, with the four most recently written appearing here for the first time. I’d like to thank Charlotte Holley at Gypsy Shadow for getting this ready for publication and particularly for the stunning cover.

So why not get to know Eltava — in all her ages?

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