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How my Book Titles Relate to my Story

Brook's Scroll, Dec 2020

Day 10 of the Coffee Pot Blog Tour

Written by: Thomas Berry

I like to think of the title of my books as a window to the pages within, a small but significant glimpse of what's to come. Fire and Ash is the third and final installment in my Ancient Greek series Gifts of the Gods. It details the long and bitter conflict of the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens in the 5th century BC, as told through the eyes of five ordinary men and women of the era. The last book of the trilogy brings the war to a dramatic conclusion but not before we lay witness to some extraordinary naval battles, political maneuvering, betrayals, love, and heartbreak.

I chose the title Gifts of the Gods for my trilogy because I wanted to show the unique connection between the spiritual world of the Ancient Greeks and their everyday lives. The Greeks would offer a sacrifice to the various gods in return for a blessing or a good harvest. If a loved one was sick, it was not unusual for wealthy men to make the long arduous journey to visit the Oracle at Delphi and make a serious donation to their treasury. For the poor, they gave as well, even when they couldn't afford it. Now it's time for the gods to give back to the mortal race! As the Peloponnesian War began to unfold, Athens and Sparta needed several things themselves and only the gods could provide these gifts.

The first book in my trilogy was Iron and Bronze, which set the stage for this war between neighbors and showcased the initial decade which followed. Soldiers on both sides needed iron to make weapons and bronze to protect them. Forges rang loudly as new glistening swords, spears, and pikes were added to the armory. The chestplate, helm, and greaves of the men wielding these weapons were plated in bronze, a relatively lightweight yet strong metal made from tin and copper. It covered their round shield as well and could deflect most of the iron thrown against it. Many believed their gods to be fickle characters who could use their powers to either support or destroy the humans waging war around them. With these gifts, mankind could prolong their war immeasurably...and the gods watched in glee at the carnage they wrought.

Silver and Gold became the sequel and turned attention to the far-off colonies in Sicily. The peace that had been declared at the end of the first decade was a fragile one at best and both sides were itching to renew hostilities. But soon there was something else to excite the minds and hearts of the Athenians...the promise of silver and gold across the sea, just ripe for the taking. Wealthy and powerful men dreamt of conquest and glory abroad and unleashed a massive armada against the island. The favor of the gods was so intrinsic to their culture that a sudden desecration of the religious statues almost brought the entire enterprise crashing down around them. But the gifts of the gods still lay across the Aegean and Athens was determined to take it! The only thing standing in their way was a handful of Spartan officers hell-bent on stopping them. What started out with a promise of silver and gold turned into a bitter struggle for survival.

When my last book was in development, I decided on the title Fire and Ash. This story would conclude a war that had lasted almost 30 years and determine one true victor to rule over the Aegean for decades to come. The novel shifts the action to the shores of mighty Persia where betrayal and deception run together hand in hand. Fire and Ash represents what all that remains after decades of warfare and the harsh reality the gods bring to the defeated city.

The cover of this book shows a Spartan warrior brandishing a long sword and a flaming torch. The sword represents power but without light it is useless. The fire itself serves two purposes. It carries illumination and clarity into the new world. Once the war is over, only one victor will remain. They will decide who lives and who dies. They will determine the rich trades routes throughout the entire Aegean Sea and rule over a vast landscape for the next several decades. It is a prize worth almost 30 year of warfare. The defeated, however, will feel the fiery brand of the vanquished. It will know only death, starvation, and humiliation. The war may be over, but their ordeal is just beginning. Which way the torch falls may determine who can deliver the fatal swing of the sword first.

I find titles of books fascinating and I hope this post shows you some of the thought that can go on behind the scenes! If you are a writer yourself, or just someone who loves to curl up with a good book, I hope you'll appreciate these sentiments. The next time you browse Amazon or your local bookstore for your next exciting novel, stop and think about what the titles represent to you. I'm sure you'll find a good one!

Fire and Ash