With her brand new epic fantasy adventure THE LASCAR’S DAGGER out today, we asked Glenda to tell us a bit about the book and the story behind that title.
“What’s your book about?” It’s a question dreaded by every fantasy author.
After all, what if Tolkien had said, “A company of little guys with hairy feet who go on a long journey to throw a ring into some molten rock under a mountain…” Would you have bought the Lord of the Rings trilogy?
With my latest book – THE LASCAR’S DAGGER – I discovered a new problem.
“What’s your book about?”
“A lascar, and the spice trade and –”
“Alaska? Really?” (At which point I am on the receiving end of a peculiar look.) “I didn’t know they had a spice trade! And have you even been to Alaska?”
So I usually end up telling people about lascars instead.
The word ‘lascar’ rather carelessly bundles together men of many different nationalities. The only thing they had in common was that they were south Asians who worked for Europeans. They could come from any country from Yemen to Indonesia. They were mostly sailors, although sometimes the term was applied to the servants of British army officers. Generally, they were worked hard and were poorly paid.
Possibly the very first lascar was an Indian who sailed with Vasco da Gama in 1498. By 1660, they were so common on board British ships that the British Government enacted a law to limit their employment to no more than 25% of the crew. By the First World War, there were over fifty thousand lascars actually resident in Britain; lascars were in fact the first wave of Asian migrants.
But THE LASCAR’S DAGGER is not just about a man and his knife. It’s about a western civilization on the cusp of change as it comes into conflict with cultures on the other side of the globe. It’s about ambition and greed and the spice trade. It’s a fantasy, set in a world that never existed, but which evokes a time when Asia and Europe were on a collision course. In our world, Asia lost, and most countries ended up under colonial rule. In my world … there may be a different ending.
The cast of my trilogy is large and varied: clerics and royalty, merchants and servants, assassins and beggars, a lawyer, a prince, a privateer and a woman wanted for murder … and more importantly, there’s the lascar — and his blade.
The lascar’s dagger is, in fact, a character too, one that can manipulate events. After all, I write fantasy and there’s got to be magic, right? Better still, with magic, perhaps one can change the course of history.