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The Symbolism of the Serpents
In IMMORTAL HOPE, the seraphs are identified by an ancient arm torq, crafted in the shape of a double-headed serpent. I very rarely ever discuss anything that happens during the editing stages, but I want to share a summary of my editor’s remarks on her initial pass of the book. It went pretty much along the lines of “huh? Snakes are a symbol of evil.”
Well, the twist was rather intentional. But it wasn’t a situation where I randomly decided, “I’m just going to change it.” I had learned from a workshop about iconology in writing, that the snake was once a symbol of Christianity. And that stunned me at the time. Like my editor, I was well-schooled in the symbolism of the snake representing the devil. Knowing the history of the icon, however, gave me a lot of room to incorporate it into my plot.
The seraphs like Anne are descendants of the Nephilim. The very same Nephilim that, according to scripture, were eradicated by the Great Flood. So really, the use of the serpent fit. Nephilim were not creatures of angelic goodness and were, in fact, the product of angels who fell from grace. Not necessarily evil like what we think of in Satan, but certainly not halo-wearing creatures of divine beauty.
Using the accepted understanding of a serpent, if the torqs were created prior to the Flood, to mark the Nephilim who chose to give up their divine powers, then it made sense they would be crafted to symbolize what the Nephilim represent. The symbolism might change as time passed, but the original artifact is going to be constant. (Just like we’ll see the swastika in cultures that are older than Nazi Germany). It’s a bit of a juxtaposition.
A little twist, a little modifying of current belief, a little mixing of historical fact – and the serpents stuck. I’ll let you read the particulars in IMMORTAL HOPE, where Anne learns the specific theology behind the serpents. Note though – everything she’s told about the meaning of the serpent in that scene is all truth.
There’s another purpose too, that if I go into it will spoil the end of the book. But a little teaser – a snake is probably the only symbol that, when crafted into a piece of jewelry, could… do… the things it does.
And then we see the tarnished become pristine, representing the divinity of the Templar purpose.
I’ll hush, before I say too much. But I do have a question for you – how do you feel about authors taking a symbol, story, or fact and twisting it beyond the accepted understanding? Does it make you crazy, like I go nutty when folks deviate from the standard D&D alignments for Dragons? Or does it make for a more interesting read?
Seeing a thin white scar that spanned across the back of his hand, she traced the mark with her nail. “I want to know about you,” she added more quietly. “What caused this?”
Merrick looked down to where she touched him. Using his opposite index finger, he traced the same path her fingernail had taken. Briefly, their fingertips touched. “’Tis a mark from a lance.”
“A lance?” Anne struggled with the urge to twine her finger around his.
“Aye. ’Twas a battle that came to us unexpectedly. I was not given time to don my armor before the riders set upon us. The knight struck me there, and here.” He touched his ribs beneath his right arm.
Anne’s gaze lifted to the vulnerable spot and pictured the battle as it might have occurred: Merrick standing down an armored knight on horse back, the sharp metal spear that punctured his flesh, the way his face might have contorted as he bit back a painful cry. Impulsively, she gathered his hand in both of hers and lifted it, bringing it to her lips to place a gentle kiss over the scar. “I’m sorry.”
Merrick said nothing, and in his silence, she began to question maybe she’d taken one too many liberties. They’d hardly begun to get along—what if her unchecked impulse just crossed some invisible boundary? Slowly, cautiously, she lifted her eyes to his. What she found in his fathomless dark eyes, however, said nothing of anger or annoyance. They gleamed with startling intensity, light bright enough to make her catch her breath.
“Do not be sorry,” he murmured. His eyes canvassed her face, lingered on her mouth. “’Twas a scar borne from duty. An order I was sworn to obey.”
The husky quality of his voice sent shivers coursing up and down her spine. She tried to look away, ordered her eyes to settle anywhere but on the sudden softening of Merrick’s expression. But her body refused, leaving her unable to do anything but choke down a dry swallow. When her thoughts cleared enough to form coherent words, she sought to lighten the moment with a bit of humor. “Orders can do that to you, I guess. Like now, you’re stuck with me.”
“I cannot say I find these orders entirely displeasing.” Merrick lifted his free hand to push a length of her hair away from her shoulder.
The back of his hand grazed the side of her neck and goose bumps scattered down her arms. “No?”
CLAIRE ASHGROVE has been writing since her early teens and maintained the hobby for twenty years before deciding to leap into the professional world. Her first contemporary novel, Seduction’s Stakes, sold to The Wild Rose Press in 2008, where she continues to write steamy, sexy stories for the Champagne and Black Rose lines. Adding to these critically acclaimed contemporaries, Claire’s paranormal romance series, The Curse of the Templars, debuts with Tor in January 2012. For those who prefer the more erotic side of romance, she also writes for Berkley Heat under the pen name Tori St. Claire. Claire lives on a small farm in Missouri with her two toddler sons, fifteen horses, four cats, and five dogs. In her “free” time, she enjoys cooking, winning at rummy, studying ancient civilizations, and spending quiet moments with her family, including the critters. She credits her success to her family’s constant support and endless patience.
IMMORTAL HOPE (Templary Knight #1) – Centuries ago, Templar knights defied the archangels and unearthed the copper scroll, revealing the gates to hell. Cursed for their forbidden act, they forever roam the earth protecting mankind from evil. But darkness stalks them, and battles they fight bring them ever-closer to eternal damnation. One promise remains to give them salvation – the return of the seraphs.
Embittered by his purpose, Merrick du Loire must honor an ancient pact and bring peace to his cousin’s soul. When he stumbles upon history professor Anne MacPherson, he discovers she possesses a sacred artifact that marks her as a seraph. Duty demands he set aside his personal quest and locate the knight she’s fated to heal. As he struggles with conflicting oaths, Anne arouses buried hope and sparks forbidden desire that challenges everything he’s sworn to uphold. Anne has six weeks to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. When Merrick takes her to the Templar stronghold, he presents her with all she needs—and awakens a soul-deep ache, he alone can soothe. Yet loving Merrick comes with a price. If she admits she’s destined for him, her gift of foresight predicts his death.
Thanks to Tor Romance, I have a copy of IMMORTAL HOPE to give away to one lucky winner!
This giveaway is for US/Canada Only and ends 29th Feb 2012
To enter please follow instructions below
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