RISE: Scarlet and the Trickster cover copyright © 2017 Mariah CalleyFour years ago, Scarlet Fielder died. Hours later, she is resurrected, along with twelve other children. They come back to life Leviathan, immortal, shape-shifting monsters, created for the sole purpose of killing other Immortals.

The creature responsible is Tiamat, an Immortal sorceress, who nine thousand years ago tried to wipe out the rest of her kind, failed, and was left imprisoned, only to continue breeding an army of monsters in the heart of a volcano. When other Immortals rescue the thirteen children from Tiamat, Scarlet enters a world which belongs to the creatures of myth—a society of inequality, violence, and mistrust, where ancient feuds refuse to die. Then, an eight-thousand-year-old trickster named Loki takes a sudden and inexplicable interest in Scarlet. And worst of all, at long last, Tiamat breaks free from her prison to unleash an army of brainwashed Leviathan.

RISE: Scarlet and the Trickster cover copyright © 2017 Mariah Calley
RISE cover copyright © 2017 Mariah Calley

When newly freed Tiamat calls all the Leviathan to her, Scarlet alone escapes her creator’s mind control. But why? Loki, clearly knows more than he’ll say, but how much? And how far might Scarlet and Loki go to save the rest of the Leviathan, and Earth, before they are lost to Tiamat forever?

How this book came to be

While getting my Master’s Degree in theolog, I came across this undervalued concept of Chaos. In Christian theology and Greek philosophy Chaos is the nothingness that exists beyond creation, the personification of non-existence, and the one true evil. In ancient writings it is also referred to as “the abyss,” and “the deep.” It is often identified with the ocean, which people in the ancient world assumed was bottomless, and often a doorway into the underworld. The bible also speaks of it as “death” the “last enemy.” Today, we might also call it “the void,” “nothingness,” and “oblivion.”

Like I said, this concept of Chaos is undervalued in the church today. It might even sound horrendously “pagan” to some Christians reading it now. But having read an extensive amount of early Christian writing (not to mention the entire bible – twice), I assure you, it is a thoroughly Christian idea. The basic premise boils down to this: God is the source of all life. We live because God lives. Everything outside of God is non-existence, or non-life, and this is the eternal war – Between existence and non-existence. Between God and Chaos.

Where Christianity differs from most others is that we believe the eternal war is not actually eternal. Eventually, existence will in fact win. Chaos will be utterly destroyed.

The Story and Stories Like It

Many creation stories throughout the world present us of an image of order coming out of Chaos, life out of non-life. For instance, Genesis 1 speaks of the earth (existence) being “empty and void [chaos],” and “darkness on the face of the deep [chaos],” and God’s spirit “hoovering over the waters [chaos].” Greek and Egyptian myths speak of the gods being born out of chaos. Then Greek mythology tells of a war between the gods of order and civilization (the Olympians) and the older, chaotic, primordial gods (Titans).

In Babylonian mythology, the chaotic, primordial gods are Apsu and Tiamat, fresh and salt water respectively. Apsu is killed by his children early on in the myth, leaving his mate Tiamat – the ocean (Abyss)- to be great villain of the creation story. In her war of revenge against the younger gods, Tiamat harnesses all the primordial and chaotic forces of nature. Her destruction is simultaneously the creation of reality as we know it, and of order, in both heaven and on earth.

The Scarlet and the Trickster series ties into the Christian and mythological theme of a Divine war with Chaos. Scarlet is a modern girl thrown into a world ruled by some of the most interesting mythological characters across several different mythological systems – including Loki, Thor, Hades, and, yes, Tiamat – the personification of Chaos itself.

The Heroine

Scarlet is born human, but changed by Tiamat into a dragon. My inspiration for her character came from an interesting episode in the Babylonian creation epic. Here, Tiamat creates an army of monsters to help in her war against the gods – “Giant snakes, sharp of tooth and unsparing of fang . . . with venom instead of blood.” These monsters are certainly some type of dragon. Since Tiamat personifies the salt water sea, they are probably sea dragons, quite possibly related in origin to the biblical sea dragon, the Leviathan (Job 3, 41; Ps 74, 104; Is 27).

My Tiamat is not the primordial mother of all reality, like the original Tiamat of mythology. She is a woman, not quite human, and supernaturally powerful, but still a person. Like all people, she faces choices, and sometimes chooses badly – once very, very badly.

In the myth, she represents the chaos that must be defeated in order for all things good to come into being. In my story, she is a woman who allows grief and anger to override everything good inside her, until all that remains is revenge, destruction, and death. As such, she is still, in my story, the personification of Chaos and evil.

Scarlet’s choice is to follow Tiamat into oblivion, or to follow the harder path, the one where she must must fight, and claw, and crawl her way toward life, toward eternity, and toward God. Will she make it? Or will she give in to her nature?

RISE is the first book in the Scarlet and the Trickster series. Check out Book 2, REMEMBER, next.


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