‘My interest in Sword and Soul came from my love of indigenous African martial arts and my first encounter with Bilbo Baggins.
I have been a student of the martial arts of Africa since I was four years old. I have also been reading since I was two years old – first with comic books, then I moved on to fiction. By the time I was six, I had read Watership Down. Hungry for more fantasy, I picked up my sister’s copy of The Hobbit and read it over a weekend. I wanted more fantasy!
My sisters checked out the Lord of the Rings trilogy from the library and I fell in love with Epic Fantasy…but I yearned to see myself in fiction. Also, during this time, I became acutely aware that the world of Epic Fantasy was very…white.
I searched for non-white worlds of Epic Fantasy to no avail. However, my search did lead me to a subgenre of Fantasy I enjoyed even more than Epic Fantasy: Sword and Sorcery. My favorite tales were those of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and Elric of Melnibone. Later, I got into the Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan comic books from Marvel Comics. Still, I wanted to read about African heroes, using African weapons and African spirituality in African settings.
I got my wish in 1980, when I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons and due to the racism of the white players, I was quickly thrust into the position of Dungeon Master for an all-Black group of players. As I mastered the game, I began writing my own adventure modules and eventually created a campaign set in Africa.
I enjoyed writing African adventures so much, I began writing Sword and Sorcery stories set in Africa.
In June, 1987, issue #122 of my Dragon Magazine subscription came in the mail. I checked the contents and I was surprised – and elated – to find two entries: Out of Africa, by Charles R. Saunders and Gaming the Dark Continent, by Roger E. Moore.
Out of Africa – a collection of beasts and monsters from African folklore and legend – really impressed me. The article was masterfully written and well-researched. “This is a white man who got it right,” I said after reading the article. At the time, I had no idea that Charles was Black and I really had no idea one day I would call him a friend and inspiration.
Balogun has contributed two outstanding novels to the Sword and Soul archives. His first Sword and Soul novel, Once Upon A Time in Afrika which is pictured above, weighs heavily on his Afrikan martial arts experience and his background as a Yoruba priest. Once Upon a Time in Afrika Tells the story of a beautiful princess and her eager suitors. Desperate to marry off his beautiful but “tomboyish” duaghter, Esuseeke, the Emperor of Oyo, consults the Oracle. The Oracle tells the Emperor Esuseeke must marry the greatest warrior in all Onile (Afrika). To determine who is the greatest warrior, the Emperor hosts a grand martial arts tournament inviting warrior from all over the continent. Unknown to the warriors and spectators of the tournament a powerful evil is headed their way
Balogun’s second Sword and Soul novel is Beneath The Shining Jewel, a story based in world of Ki Khanga. In this novel Balogun not only deliver his usual outstanding action scenes and storytelling, but he also unleashes his talent to tell a good horror tale. Beneath the Shining Jewel takes place in Ki Khanga’s jewel city, Sati-Baa. Mba, a retired constable, is called back to active duty to deal with a situation that still haunts him twenty years later. Mba and a host of characters battle a scourge that once ravaged the city and may be poised to return. Beneath the Shining Jewel is both familiar and unique, combining African folklore with a good dose of horror and action adventure. Sword and Soul – African-inspired Heroic and Epic Fantasy – has been taken in a new and thrilling direction with Beneath the Shining Jewel, a tale that will have you riveted from beginning to end.
In addition to these two excellent novels, Balogun has contributed Sword and Soul short stories to the Griots Anthologies and is co-editor and writer in the Ki Khanga Anthology. You can purchase Once Upon a Time in Afrika and Beneath the Shining Jewel by clicking the following links:
And don’t forget to check out our Ki Khanga Sword and Soul Role Playing Game Kickstarter and level a pledge:
Next up, someone I’m very familiar with. Stay tuned!