We have a guest post from Peter Orullian. It’s a collection of some of the music that he thought would represent his latest novel – TRIAL OF INTENTIONS. It’s the second book of the Vault of Heaven series and it’s a dark epic fantasy with a musical magic system – meaning that some of the magic in the books is based upon music. Which is perfect for this guest post, since besides being a writer Peter is also a musician. For more information on Peter Orullian click on this text to read our recent interview with him.
Here Peter shares his thoughts on the songs he’s chosen, along with imbedded YouTube videos. *Please note readers may have to visit the Layers of Thought website to access the videos or link to YouTube to access the music. Enjoy!
Metal (& More): Playlist for TRIAL OF INTENTIONS
So, I got chatting with Shellie about what I should write for this guest post. And she made a fantastic suggestion: a playlist. And while it’s true I listen to pretty much everything, I’m going mostly metal with this.
Now, I should be clear. I don’t listen to music when I write. Music isn’t a background thing for me. It requires my full attention. And that’s whether it’s vocal music or strictly instrumental. So, by “playlist,” what I really mean is songs that seem to have some natural tie or relevance to TRIAL OF INTENTIONS.
With that said, let’s get going. And note, I’m going to paste in some of the salient lyrics and talk as much as I can about how they create resonance with my book. In some instances, I’ll have to pull back a little to avoid spoilers and stuff in book three—which isn’t even out yet.
First is “Still Water,” by Fates Warning. Check out these lyrics:
Feeling the weight of unseen chains
This routine is growing thin
It's a narrow path that we walk
And the walls are closing in, caving in
Is there room still for us to grow?
Within the bounds we've come to know
Beneath the dust of our days
Hides the key to our emotions
And it's been a while since we've been moved
Without going through the motions, no emotions
Is there time still for us to show?
Feelings, we forgot long ago
Living life in still water
Blinded by what we've become
You get tired of screaming
When you're not reaching anyone
Now, this is most likely commentary on a dead or dying relationship. But, in my series there’s a collection of races sealed inside the Bourne who were sent there rather unjustly by the gods. Simply put: The gods didn’t think these races (called Inveterae) had any real potential, so they bound these races there with other truly vile races. The Inveterae became slaves, for all intents and purposes—“chained.” And at the end of the day, the point of creation--in the world I’ve created—is growth. These races aren’t able to achieve that in the Bourne. So, you can see the relevance of the lyrics. Check out the tune:
Next is Metallica’s “Unforgiven.” I’m one who likes the Black album. And when this particular track is turned way the hell up on good speakers, it’s damned forceful. Consider these lyrics:
New blood joins this earth,
And quickly he's subdued.
Through constant pained disgrace
The young boy learns their rules.
With time the child draws in.
This whipping boy done wrong.
Deprived of all his thoughts
The young man struggles on and on he's known
A vow unto his own,
That never from this day
His will they'll take away.
What I've felt,
What I've known
Never shined through in what I've shown.
Won't see what might have been.
In the world I’ve created there’s a place known as The Scar. It’s a place left barren by war. And through a series of circumstances, young foundlings and babes are sent there to live with an exile. These are children abandoned by their parents. And their adoptive father, this exile, teaches them hard lessons, and to fight. It’s a tough regimen, and includes learning to distrust people. And many of the children don’t make it. They commit suicide. The emotional weight of their lives—compounded with the dire life in the Scar—simply becomes too much.
Let’s reach back now, though, to Black Sabbath and “Children of the Grave.” Here’s a section of the lyrics:
Revolution in their minds - the children start to march
Against the world in which they have to live
And all the hate that's in their hearts
They're tired of being pushed around
And told just what to do
This is most pertinent to the Inveterate I mentioned above. In TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, I have a POV character who is Inveterae. And his primary objective in life it to try and liberate his people from the Bourne.
Now let’s talk about Blind Guardian’s “Twilight of the Gods.” As I mentioned above, the gods that put my world in place have abandoned it. And in the absence of these gods, those races sealed behind the Veil are trying to find a way out—and they have an inkling that it might have something to do with the Vault of Heaven (the sky). And by the way, they’ve grown more bitter with the passing of the ages. In fact, most of the peoples of the Eastlands believe these cast off races are evil by nature.
So, with that in mind, check out these lyrics:
How've they dared to be
Such misguided creatures
How've they dared to be
Of such evil nature
Spiral up to doors all sealed
No turning back
Red door to Discordia
Steal the stars
Deceive the day
A sign of evil
They're gone with a final warning
Witness the twilight of the gods
Will they ever return
A storm will take us
And then wipe us out
There's no retreat
What playlist would be complete with Maiden, right? This time, I’ll include “Wasted Years.” This song and some of its lyrics have several allusions to my series. One that jumps out at me is this:
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years
Face up, make your stand
The correlation is kind of obvious isn’t it? My character Tahn begins with a loss of memory for his first twelve years of life. And once it’s restored to him, he learns that he spent most of that time in a barren waste. And ultimately, he’s got to go to a place called Tillinghast to make a kind of accounting. With that, enjoy some Maiden.
And how about Avenged Sevenfold and their track “This Means War?” Epic fantasy is riddled with conflict. Battles and war are often central to the narrative. My series has a major conflict looming. And one of those who appears to be trying to answer this threat of war is far from a decorated, experienced war hero. Consider these lyrics, then:
No home to call my own
No finding someone new
No one to break the fall
No one to see me through
No name to carry on
No promise for today
No one to hear the call
No tattered flag to raise
Next comes Five Finger Death Punch and their track “The Wrong Side of Heaven.” Take a look at these lyrics:
Arms wide open, I stand alone.
I'm no hero, and I'm not made of stone.
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell.
I'm on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
The wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side, the righteous side of hell.
This describes more than one of my protagonists. Come to that, it also describes some of my antagonists, too. For my purpose today, though, let’s stick with my protagonists. Early in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, one of my main characters makes an awful choice. It appears to be the right choice, but it can also easily be seen as wrong, or at the very least . . . reprehensible. These situations that challenge conventional definitions of what is moral and right are rich terrain for writers. Plus, the track rocks.
Now let’s turn to Within Temptation. Specifically, let’s look at their track “And We Run.” I’m one of those who digs the collaboration here with Xzibit. But regardless, read this:
It burns into your heart
The darkness that you fear
You were never free
And you never realized
Take your breath
'Till nothing's left
Scars of life
Upon your chest
And I know
Wherever it goes
And we run
With a lonely heart
And we run, for this killing love
And we run, 'till the heavens above
This—as some of the other song choices in this playlist—could apply to more than one character or scenario in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS. But maybe the most salient is the character Kett. He’s an Inveterae—one of those unjustly imprisoned in the Bourne. For millennia, his people have lived there. Slaved there. And that bit about “Scars of life upon your chest” . . . that could literally refer to the branding that is done in the Bourne. Without giving too much away, I can tell you Kett wants out. And he wants to liberate his people. Along the way . . . well, let’s just say that the reference to “killing love” is very relevant. As is the whole reference to “heavens above.” I mean, my series is entitled The Vault of Heaven, right?
And, oh man, Stone Sour’s “Tired.” This song hits some chords with my series, and TRIALS OF INTENTIONS, in particular. Have a look at these lyrics:
I just want to watch the whole world burn
Lost a million times and I won't learn
Show me someone innocent, I'll show you there's no proof
I may be gone but I'm no fool
I'm not close
I'm not safe
I don't know
Am I better off in chains?
The feeling in these lyrics of being lost, defeated, of wanting to simply see everything go up in flames because things seem hopeless . . . all that very much applies to the Children of the Scar (the orphans raised in a waste that I mentioned above), as well as those living inside the Bourne.
But let’s tackle it straight on with Devin Townsend’s “Suicide.” Check out these lyrics:
So I hide my internal suicide
All my pride just to keep it inside...
KEEP IT INSIDE BOY!!!
I deal with the topic of Suicide in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, since young kids living in the Scar often make this choice. Their lives seem so hopeless. And not to put too fine a point on it, I recently had a friend make this choice. It affected me. It affected the book. I didn’t know my friend was suffering. He never said anything to me. So, this one hits home.
By the way, I also could have included “Life” by Townsend. But I’ll save it for now. If you do go listen to it, though, you’ll see what I mean.
Next let’s take a look at DGM and their track “Reason.” Great band doing some great things. To get into the relevance, first read these lyrics:
I can't be there 'cause I run out of energy
If you could only see
Trying my best to convince you that
I don't mind
There's nowhere to run
Reason is calling
No more pretending
This time it's coming the end
Coming the end
There are several saliencies in this bit of text. First, one of the magical classes in my world are called Sheason. Quite literally when they use Resonance (the magical principle in my world), they are left depleted of their life’s energy. But at a higher level, Vendanj (the Sheason in my story) is trying to convince individuals and nations that the threat from the Bourne is real. It’s not a myth. And the invasion they face is world-altering. A final end.
Okay, let’s move back to the Children of the Scar with Disturbed and their album The Lost Children. On that record, they have a track entitled “Hell.” Now, check out these lyrics:
Read me tonight, when the warnings said leave a shudder upon you
Running from all that you feared in your life
Soul of the night, when the sun mislead paint a horror upon you
Marking the moment, displaying in my ghost of a life!
And I can't get round the way you left me out in the open
To leave me to die!
So how can I, forget the way you lead me through the path into Heaven
To leave me behind!
Now I can't stay behind
Save me, from wreaking my vengeance
Upon you, too chilling more than I can tell
Burning, now I bring you Hell
Where do I start. First, you may recall that the castoffs sent to the Scar are often just babes, who are left in a dead tree. And all these Children of the Scar are ghosts of a kind. On one hand, you now know that many of them choose a way to Heaven, suicide. But for Tahn, he’s on a path to learn more about who he is. And it could make him bitter, if he’s not careful. In fact, this also applies to another of my characters in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS—her name is Wendra, and she has the power of a music magic. These two characters are within their rights to wreak their vengeance for how they were mistreated as youths. There are accounts to settle.
No playlist of mine is complete without Nightwish. And here I’ll use “I Want My Tears Back.” Again, first take a look at these lyrics:
Where is the wonder, where's the awe?
Where's dear Alice knocking on the door?
Where's the trapdoor that takes me there?
Where the real is shattered by a Mad March Hare
Where is the wonder, where's the awe?
Where are the sleepless nights I used to live for?
Before the years take me
I wish to see the lost in me
I want my tears back!
I want my tears back now!
A ballet on a grove
Still growing young all alone
A rag doll, a best friend
These words really hit at what is sad about the Scar and the children sent there. But it equally applies to the children being sold into the Bourne for purposes I’ve not yet revealed yet in the books. The relevance is for children who grow up through compromised childhoods. Through the suffering and tears they miss the best part of what it means to be a child and move on to adulthood. On another level, though, I’ll apply it to characters in my world who may not have had a particularly challenging childhood, and can mourn a simpler time gone by—lost, if you will—when the world wasn’t so hard. And I include “ballet on a grove . . . a rag doll, a best friend,” because of the city of science in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS—it’s called Aubade Grove. And Tahn meets an old friend there from his childhood. Their adventure in the book is among my favorites.
Okay, like Nightwish, Queensryche will appear on any my playlists of mine. Here, I’m including “Neue Regal” (New Rule). This is a haunting tune. A sample of the lyrics:
I will light the way for us to find
Order of a new kind
Join us on the stay the road is mine
Poets line in a rhyme of silence
Gathered from the winter air
Warms the children's eyes they see
The time is near for the signs
Here, there are two immediate relevancies. One is to the Quiet from the Bourne—those who wish to invade the Eastlands, ending their long imprisonment and issuing in a new era in the history of my fantasy world. But maybe the stronger tie with this lyric is the League of Civility, a society given to militant social reform. They aren’t the “bad” guys. In fact, on the face of it, their agenda seems quite reasonable. But their methods to achieve it are not, which includes indoctrinating children to their credo. It’s rather insidious. So, now, listen to Geoff rip.
And one more from Queensryche, “The Mission,” from Operation Mindcrime.
I search the past back to a time
When I was younger
A target for the new society
Picked to displace the leaders
Of this new underground reality
Waiting for days longer
'til sister comes to wash my sins away
She is the lady that can ease my sorrow
My love for her
Will help me find my way
Uh, did Tate know I would one day write this book? Heh. Consider Tahn trying to reclaim his forgotten youth. Consider that he’s asked to take on a task—not as the chosen one, because others have been asked (and failed)—that puts him in the breech. He’s going to be at odds not just with the Bourne, but with the League of Civility. Not a desirable position. And amidst it all, he’s got two women in his life—a sister, and a stranger he comes to love—to help him. The whole “comes to wash my sins away” would be a huge spoiler if I explained its relevance. But trust me. It’s on point.
I also have to include “Eyes of a Stranger.” (Can you tell I like Queensryche?) The germane lyrics:
All alone now
Except for the memories
Of what we had and what we knew
Everytime I try to leave it behind me
I see something that reminds me of you
Every night the dreams return to haunt me
Your rosary wrapped around your throat
I lie awake and sweat, afraid to fall asleep
I see your face looking back at me
And I raise my head and stare
Into the eyes of a stranger
I've always known that the mirror never lies
People always turn away
From the eyes of a stranger
Afraid to know what
Lies behind the stare
Okay, so in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, right in the prologue, Tahn recalls a tragic moment from his childhood. His memory has been restored to him, and the memories are rushing back. The result of all this is that he realizes he’s not who he thought he was. Not entirely. Yes, what he recalls is at least part of him. But the larger part is foreign, strange. It’s not all bad. But some of it is painful. And the sum total of his remembered past, and some of his recent choices, make him . . . complicated. For some, he’ll be a pariah. For others, a source of hope.
Bear with me for another QR selection. This time: “Silent Lucidity.” The lyrics:
There's a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run through in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didn't realize and you were scared
It's a place where you will learn
To face your fears, retrace the years
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly you hear and see
This magic new dimension
I- will be watching over you
I- am gonna help you see it through
I- will protect you in the night
I- am smiling next to you, in Silent Lucidity
I wanted to have at least one tune that wasn’t all heavy. This song is good and relevant to Wendra, my character who has lost a child, and tries to help another small boy. Wendra, you may remember, is my character with the powerful music magic ability. She feels a powerful responsibility to those people, kids included, who are being trafficked into the Bourne. She wants to help them. And early in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, there’s a gentle moment when she sings—not with her unique ability—but just as a mother might. It puts me in mind of this song.
Okay, to close out we’ll look at some Dream Theater. Here’s “The Enemy Inside.” Consider these lyrics:
Over and over again
I relive the moment
I'm bearing the burden within
Open wounds hidden under my skin
Pain as real as a cut that bleeds
The face I see every time I try to sleep
Is staring at me crying
I'm running from the enemy inside
Looking for the life I left behind
These suffocating memories are etched upon my mind
And I can't escape from the enemy inside
I'm a burden
I'm a travesty
I'm a prisoner of regret
Between the flashbacks and the violent dreams
I am hanging on the edge
Disaster lurks around the bend
Paradise came to an end
And no magic pill
Can bring it back again
This one really hits on Tahn’s formerly hidden past. As it’s returned to him, it’s challenging for him in many ways. But also, he’s not simply a puppet or slave—either to his past or to those who have designs for his present. He makes his own decisions, and the heartbreaking choices are hard ones. They create new moments of pain to go with memories of friends from his past who he’s lost in many equally painful ways. All of this is hard to escape, because it’s part of him. Still, there’s also a part of his past that was good, and he wants to reclaim that for his life now. Not to mention that it may help in the conflict and threat of invasion that is looming. This is all complicated by Tahn’s murky origins. So much of everything feels tenuous. In the face of it, he pushes forward.
Last, but not least, how about Dream Theater’s “Outcry.” This is a huge, sweeping tune. The lyrics:
The rebel in us all
Something is tired of being pushed around
But freedom has a price
The cost is buried in the ground
We suffered far too long
We gather now
We will not be ignored
Our anthem will guide us
Rise up be counted
Stand strong and unite
Wait for the outcry
Resistance is calling tonight
This is a war song. A battle cry. And finally, there are characters and nations in my world who tire of being preyed upon. They stand. Some will fall. Just as others have fallen in the past. But they know they have to try. And part of how they intend to do it is with what I call the Mor Nation Refrains—a set of powerful (magical) war songs. But they have to go to a xenophobic people to ask for their use. Nevertheless, nations are gathering to try and form an alliance to put down this threat once and for all.
So, there you have it. You should know that I had to significantly pare this back, just because it was getting hellaciously long. I mean, I cut 56 bands from my initial list. But because I’m having fun doing these articles on music and fantasy (see my metal one on Tor.com, for example), I’ll be doing more and I’ll pick up those 56 bands and more in future articles.
Hope you dig.
Your Rock Lord,
Peter Orullian has worked at Xbox for over a decade, which is good, because he’s a gamer. He’s toured internationally with various bands and been a featured vocalist at major rock and metal festivals, which is good, because he’s a musician. He’s also learned to hold his tongue, because he’s a contrarian. Peter has published several short stories, which he thinks are good. THE UNREMEMBERED and TRIAL OF INTENTIONS are his first novels, which he hopes you will think are good. He lives in Seattle, where it rains all the damn time. He has nothing to say about that.
Visit Peter at www.orullian.com, or follow him at @peterorullian.
About TRIAL OF INTENTIONS:
The heart of grief lies somewhere between one man’s expectation and another’s intent.
Enemies come. But one enemy believes the gods were wrong about his exiled people. And he’s impatient.
Nations arm. But one man finds a realm paying for its gearworks with an awful currency. And he’s angry.
Politicians lie. But one leader lies because he would end the days of slums and porridge. And he’s ambitious.
Songs restore. But one woman will train to make her rough song a weapon.
And she’s in pain.
Magi influence. But one sage follows not his order’s creed; he follows his heart. And his heart is bitter.
And one young man remembers. He remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. Friends who did self-slaughter. But he also remembers years in a society of science. A gentler place. So he leaves the rest, daring to think he can lead not in battle, but by finding a way to prevent self-slaughter, prevent war.
The heart of grief . . . is a trial of intentions.
Tor Books | May 2015 | Hardcover | 672 pages