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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Stamp of Approval?

In a generous gesture to honor a humble writer residing on its soil, Ireland’s national postal service, An Post, has released a new commemorative stamp in honor of Last of the Tuath Dé.

Okay, actually not. I only wish.

It’s just an interesting coincidence that, at the beginning of September, An Post issued stamps featuring the mythical namesake of one of my latest novel’s characters. As the official blurb explains, the stamp is “based on Balor, a legendary figure in the Formorian supernatural race in Irish mythology.” It continues:
    According to the Irish folklore tales, Balor caused great pain and anguish to the Tuatha Dé Dannan, the other supernatural race in Irish folklore.
   The legend centres on Balor having an eye that, when unleashed, could cause instant death or poisoning. Balor’s Poisoned Eye is the main focus of one stamp. The second stamp relates to the legend that claimed Balor had only to look on the landscape to cause damage, such as in the Poisoned Glen in County Donegal.
   In both cases, contemporary colours are used to create the impression of poison almost leaping off the stamp.
A domestic postage stamp depicts Balor’s Evil Eye, while an international one illustrates the Poisoned Glen. They are part of PostEurop’s collection of stamps across Europe celebrating this year’s theme of Stories & Myths. The collection includes a whole array of mythical and legendary figures from various European countries.

Other examples include Saint Hubertus from Belgium, the mermaid Melusina of Luxembourg, the Bogeyman of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Emperor Charlemagne of France and Switzerland’s William Tell. Who knew that post offices could be such a great source for potential character names for future fantasy novels?

To be clear, the authentic mythological Balor does not actually appear in Last of the Tuath Dé. That Balor is my own creation, inspired by the Irish myths. The narrative conceit is that the Tuath Dé and the Fomóire in my book were the true inspirations for the Irish stories—even though in the real world it’s the reverse that’s true.

Quite a coincidence that An Post would be highlighting Balor within just a couple of weeks after the release of Last of the Tuath Dé, eh? But wait, it gets better.

It so happens that Greece’s entry in the Stories & Myths stamp collection is none other than Orpheus. As my readers will well know, Orpheus is the Demon Hunter name—or as Hadrian the Necromant would dashingly put the term (see Chapter 12), nom de chasseur de démon—of none other than the title character of The Curse of Septimus Bridge. Sadly, the two Greek stamps depict Orpheus’s demise as he’s about to be ripped to shreds by the Thracian Maenads for having forsaken his former deity patron Dionysus in favor of the sun god Apollo. A further reminder, if any were needed, that it’s always a bad idea to tick off a Greek god.

That’s a fate even worse than being trapped for eternity in the Netherworld.

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