Fantasy, mystery, thrillers, horror, historical. . .I write it all, and review it too!

Sep 24, 2012

Muslim depictions of Muhammad

By now everyone has heard of the controversy over the film Innocence of Muslims, which has caused outrage in the Muslim world for its negative portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. There has also been a backlash over cartoons of Muhammad in various satirical magazines.

One thing that's forgotten in this debate is that some parts of the Muslim world have a long-standing tradition of depicting Muhammad. The belief that it is wrong to portray living things, especially Muhammad, is not universal in the Muslim world and never has been.

Above is a modern religious card from Iran, where the Shia majority has a centuries-old tradition of human portraiture. The next image shows a similar card from Turkey, produced by the Alevi sect. Both are in the University of Bergen collection, which has an interesting article on Muslim depictions of Muhammad.

While those who have created images of humans and especially Muhammad have always been in the minority in the Muslim world, they have been around since the early days of the religion. This is something to remember in the ongoing debate.

This image shows a young Muhammad meeting the monk Bahira. It's from the Jami' al-Tavarikh ("The Universal History" or "Compendium of Chronicles") written by Rashid Al-Din and illustrated in Tabriz, Iran, c.1315.
This image shows Muhammad at the Ka'ba in Mecca, and was made in Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire in 1595. Note that Muhammad's face is veiled in this one. In some images, he's not shown as a human figure at all, but rather with various symbols such as a pillar of fire. This is in the collection of Bilkent University in Turkey, which has a whole page of such images.
I am not showing these images to offend Muslims, merely to point out that Islam is not a monolithic, unchanging faith, and that the protestors are ignoring their own history. Of course, they're also offended by the negative portrayal of Muhammad. I've watched Innocence of Muslims and it's a mindless baiting of an entire religion. Muslims have every right to be offended by it and peacefully protest. Part of living in a free society is that you get offended sometimes.

Sep 18, 2012

Irish castle for sale: a bit of a fixer-upper but a bargain at €75,000

If you're like me, you've always dreamed of living in your own castle. Well, if you happen to have €75,000 ($97,850) you can! It's called Ballyfinboy Castle and it's an easy commute from Limerick, Ireland.

The castle was built around 1480. The first record of the castle was when it was captured in 1599. The owner, Phillip Kennedy, and men were all put to the sword and the castle was broken up enough that it could never be used again.

That's where YOU come in. Sure, it needs some work, but wouldn't it make a nice home? You even get two-and-a-half acres of land and a nice Sheela-na-gig, locally known as "the Dancer", positioned high up one of the walls. Hit the link to find out more about these interesting carvings. The castle is for sale from Premier Properties Ireland. You can see more photos on their website and also here.

Sep 14, 2012

Final days of my fantasy ebook sale!

I released my latest fantasy ebook, At the Gates, almost a month ago. It's Book Two in the Timeless Empire series and continues the story of a ragged band of commoners swept up in a war between magic and alchemy. While the regular price is $4.99, for a limited time I've been selling it for $2.99. I also put the first book in the series, Hard Winter, down to 99 cents from $4.99.

These prices will go back up on Monday, September 17, so grab them cheap while you can!!!

Here's a blub for Hard Winter:

His past has been erased, his future is uncertain, but he knows one thing—in the coming revolution he must choose which friend to support and which to betray.

The Dragonkin have ruled the human race for centuries, but now the eastern territories have broken away and a blight has left thousands of humans destitute. Assassinations and riots plague the cities.

While the empire’s future is in peril, one man struggles to reclaim his past. Recorro lost his wife to the Gatherers, shadowy beings that prowl the streets on moonless nights. Those who witness their passing are forever changed. Recorro can remember nothing about his wife beyond the fact that she existed.

Aimless and struggling with despair, Recorro joins the army gathering to crush the rebels. What he discovers there may answer all his questions, and topple the empire he swore to uphold.

And here's a blurb for At the Gates:

In the thirtieth year of my life, I find I am a soldier in two armies about to go to war with each other, and already at war with a third.
We march across an endless plain, we soldiers of the Baron, loyal human subjects of the Dragonkin and their Timeless Empire. Loyal, I say, but only in name. For within that great army intent on crushing the rebellious cities of Haadsted and Ryksierde marches another army, a secret army, the army to which I owe my true allegiance.

So why not pick up both today for only $3.98, giving you 125,000 words of original fantasy for the same price as one of those overly sugared Starbucks "coffees"? It's the healthy choice!

Sep 12, 2012

Medieval penny found at Richard III dig

Suspense author Jeremy Bates wanted to see the medieval silver penny that was found at the excavation in Leicester looking for the body of Richard III. Ask, and ye shall receive! This comes courtesy the University of Leicester. Not sure what the date is for this, I'm not much of a numismatist. This is the reverse side and looks like the pennies minted during the reign of Edward IV, who ruled during the troublesome War of the Roses, sitting on the throne twice from 1461-70 and again from 1471-83. The date certainly fits with Richard's burial in 1485. I could be wrong, though.

Sep 11, 2012

Archaeologists hunt for Richard III's tomb

Archaeologists in England are hunting for the lost tomb of King Richard III, in a parking lot in Leicester!

The king was killed at the nearby Battle of Bosworth in 1485, the turning point in the War of the Roses that eventually saw the Tudors take control.

Richard was buried in the Franciscan friary of Greyfriars. The friary was later demolished and built over and all traces of it lost. Now, using old maps, local archaeologists deduced the friary lay under the parking lot of a local council building. They got to work and found the friary's cloister after only one week. This is a covered courtyard where the friars could practice walking meditation in all types of weather. They've also found the edge of the church where Richard was buried.

The team has uncovered paving stones, window tracery, shards from the church's stained glass windows, and a medieval silver penny.

Work will continue into an unscheduled third week in the hopes of finding the burial place itself. A descendent of Richard is on hand to supply a DNA match.

Stayed tuned for more on this developing story! And sorry for posting my Medieval Mondays on a Tuesday, yet again. Mondays are bad for me, although I do like the alliteration.

Sep 4, 2012

"Honey, there's a medieval well in our living room!"

Here in England we're used to living on top of history, but one couple discovered they were living atop more history than they ever suspected.

Colin and Vanessa Steer of Plymouth never much thought about the slight indentation in their living room floor. Once while doing some work on the house Colin realized that it appeared to be a shaft leading down. He covered it up but after 24 years of living in the house Colin decided to get to the bottom of the mystery. It turned out the bottom of it was a medieval or Renaissance well that goes down 33 feet!

It dates back to at least the 16th century, perhaps earlier, and Colin found what appears to be the remains of a sword among the debris filling the well. He's installed lighting and a trap door and can now safely show it off to friends and family.

Their house was built in Victorian times, right atop an earlier site. This is common in England where many towns and villages are centuries old, but it's rare to find such a well-preserved feature right next to the TV.

The Daily Mail has published some interesting photos.