The Storm Runner and meeting J.C. Cervantes

Icarus here! As most of you know, my person and I are huge readers! Reading is one of the greatest joys we have, and we love to hear about new books, especially when they’re about mythology. One of our favorite authors is Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, and when he did an imprint (which is basically where he finds other great authors that deal with mythology and folklore and bring them out into the public), we were both thrilled.

Albuquerque’s a pretty isolated place, so we don’t get as many big-name authors as we’d like, so when my person saw that J.C. Cervantes, author of the new book The Storm Runner, was coming to Bookworks, we both were jumping for joy.

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Fast-forward to two days ago, the 18th of September. We showed up a little early at Bookworks, which is on Rio Grande Boulevard (for those of your who haven’t been there. You really should. It’s an awesome local bookstore!). After finding a place to park, we purchased our copy of The Storm Runner and eagerly awaited Mrs. Cervantes arrival. It didn’t take long. She had agreed to do a Q & A (question and answer) session first, then go into the actual book signing. We learned some really interesting stuff about her, where she lives, and the Maya (fun fact: it’s not “Mayan”, like most of us are taught. “Mayan” refers to the many different languages of the Maya people. Maya is both singular and plural. It’s Maya mythology, Maya people, Maya culture. How cool is that?)

So here are some interesting things we learned about Mrs. Cervantes:

-Writing came later in her life. Unlike most writers, who say that they’ve always wanted to be a writer, Mrs. Cervantes didn’t. She was a ferocious reader, but she didn’t write her first story until her daughter asked her to. It was a story about her daughter’s bear. I thought that was sweet, since, you know, this is a blog about my person’s horses.

-She did extensive research for her new book, The Storm Runner. In addition to reading as many “actual” Maya stories as she could find (we say “actual” because, thanks to the Spanish conquest, most Maya stories have been reinterpreted and are not the original), she also watched a lot of documentaries and spoke with experts to make sure her book was authentic (which is a big word for accurate or true).

-She was inspired by the dormant volcanoes near where she lives, in Las Cruces. It started with what would happen if there was something in the volcanoes, and what would happen to a boy living on the Mesa, and it went from there.

-The main character of her book, Zane, is Hispanic and disabled. One of his legs is shorter than the other. (I really loved this, since one of my ankles is permanently twisted. I thought it was a great thing for other kids to relate to).

-The Maya pantheon is the only mythology pantheon that includes a goddess of chocolate (since the Maya gave the world chocolate). Her name is Ixcacao or Ixkakaw (this is how Mrs. Cervantes has it; we found Ixcacao when we named my friend that. Turns out our version is a more modern interpretation of the name). It’s pronounced EE-SH-CA-COW.

Of course, some of the younger audience wanted to know if she’d met Rick Riordan, which she had. In fact, when she was called by Disney to be part of the Rick Riordan Presents Imprint, her daughter asked if she could meet Rick Riordan before congratulating her mom. Mrs. Cervantes says Rick Riordan is really nice.

When the Q & A was done, my person took Ixcacao and I up to meet Mrs. Cervantes. She was wonderful and really open to meeting us (we get some interesting looks, being only 3 inches tall). She even signed my person’s book for her!

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We’ve started reading The Storm Runner, and so far we’re hooked! I’m really looking forward to reading this novel and its sequels!

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Pony Intro: Valkyrie

I decided that it was high time to introduce my “herd”. Most of my friends are ponies, as you all know, but I do have a few who aren’t. We’re all family, though. I thought, if I was going to introduce anybody first, it would be Valkyrie.

Valkyrie is my oldest friend. When we were moving around, she and I were packed up together (which is why, in the oldest pictures, you can’t see either of us). Valkyrie is an Andalusian, which is a breed that comes from Spain. Andalusians have a long history of being adored for their endurance, grace, beauty, and stamina. They were often used by the military, dating back to the Conquistadors. They have powerful legs, which means they can do jumps and tricks many other breeds can’t; this power gives them an advantage in sports like dressage. (Quick side tangent: did you all know that dressage came from military training techniques for horses? Many of the moves today, especially the Aires, had practical functions.)

Andalusians are also known for being bold, which Valkyrie definitely demonstrates. She has no problem going anywhere, and loves to explore.

Her name is mythical. Valkyries come from Norse mythology, which are the stories of the Vikings (or Nordic peoples). The Vikings lived throughout Scandinavia and traveled throughout the known world (even reaching as far as North America). Their mythical figures were often strong, enduring figures. We get giants, elves, and dwarves from them, as well as Thor (who is way crazier in myth, let me assure you. Marvel ain’t got nothing on how crazy Thor really was), Odin, and Loki.

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The Valkyries were considered the “daughters of Odin,” though it varies as to whether or not they were actually his daughters or just female spirits who worked for him. The valkyries rode over battlefields on winged horses, delivering heroes’ spirits who had died valiantly to Odin at Valhalla, the Hall of Heroes. These heroes trained for Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse, when they would return again and fight Loki and his armies.

Valkyries were tough. They wore armor and had weapons, and though they don’t have a story of their own, they were figures that you definitely didn’t want to mess with. There are a lot of interesting portrayals of them; Rick Riordan in his Magnus Chase series has created a great group of them. Valkyries were kind of like the secret service of Odin, only instead of protecting him at all costs, they went off and gathered warriors for him.

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Another interesting fact (and a bit of a tangent…): our word “berserk” comes from the Vikings. Berserkers were Viking warriors who were so intense on the battlefield that they looked insane. If they died in battle, then those crazy warriors were picked up by the valkyries. I’m just saying: anyone who can deal with a crazy, dead Berserker is not someone to take lightly.

Anyway…

Our Valkyrie is not quite so crazy, though she definitely has a mind for adventure. Keep an eye out for her pictures: she tends to be leading us through something that looks dangerous, or taking it on for herself.

 

Book photo credit:

Lindow, John. Norse Mythology. Santa Barbara, California. ABC-Clio. 2001.

Philip, Neil. The Illustrated Book of Myths. New York, New York. DK Publishing, Inc. 1995

Diomedes’ Pony

Recently I’ve been traveling to a lot of different restaurants with my person. I know: I don’t eat. But my person does (as does most living beings). She hates to cook, but she’s a bit of a foodie (it kinda cracks me up, really). I like going, because, apart from getting out and having a culinary adventure, I like seeing the different dishes. Some are regional, like the French bistros and Mediterranean cafes, while others hit a bit closer to home, like getting a really good Green Chile Cheeseburger.

Now, if you’re following us on Instagram (@icarusandfriendsponies) or Twitter (@Icarus_Friends), you might have noticed a pair of hashtags that show up whenever we go out to eat. The first is always #grazing , which is just our sign for eating and/or drinking. The second is #diomedespony . This one is a little stranger, and that’s what I wanted to explain today. Before I go into what a #diomedespony is, I have to say that it only appears on meals that have meat in them. Horses, by nature, don’t eat meat: we’re herbivores, and while we do now have critters in our herd that are carnivores (Kili, Sita, and Rama), we (the ponies) don’t eat meat.

However, in Greek mythology, there are horses that do eat meat: Diomedes’ horses. Who was Diomedes, and why did he have meat-eating horses?

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Well, first we need to meet our hero, Hercules (which is actually the Roman spelling of the name; Herakles or Heracles is Greek. But most people know him as Hercules, so we’ll leave it as that). Hercules got in trouble and had to do ten tasks to a king of Thebes named Eurystheus (Eurystheus kinda cheated, and there ended up being 12 tasks, not ten, but that’s a lot of details that we’re not going to go into tonight). Some say that these Labors of Hercules were actually tasks that would make him a god; whatever the reason, Hercules had to do some really nasty chores for this King Eurystheus. Some examples are killing the Nemean lion, who was so large that he dwarfed horses, and cleaning out King Augeus’ stables, where he housed hundreds of horses and had never cleaned them (just an FYI: if you ever want to have a horse, please, clean up after him. Out at pasture is one thing, but if you have a stable, that can become really messy really fast. Just saying).

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Anywho, the tasks were supposed to be challenging and life-threatening, and each task got harder. The eighth task was for Hercules to go to King Diomedes and bring back his meat-eating mares.

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Diomedes wasn’t particularly friendly to people, and had a nasty habit of feeding strangers to his horses. Hercules defeated Diomedes and brought the mares back to King Eurystheus, who was so scared of them that he let them go (and thus ended the goat problem of Greece…just kidding).

 

That’s where our hashtag comes from. We are not meat-eaters, per se, but whenever we’re in a picture of something delicious with meat in it, we like throwing that out there. And you thought this would be about food, right? I lured you all in here with that yummy image, and starting out with the restaurants! I’m definitely learning how to hook you!

And since the photos are of me with books, here’s a small bibliography of the books (in order of photo appearance):

-Coleman, J.A. The Dictionary of Mythology. Arcturus Holdings Limited. 2015

-Riordan, Rick. Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes. New York: Disney-Hyperion. 2015.

-The Illustrarted Book of Myths. Retold by Neil Philip. New York: DK Publishing Inc. 1995