Tales of Atlantis: The Dawning of a New Age is a novel (series) located predominantly on the Atlantis imagined by Plato but set in modern times and above water. If you like beasts, battles and backstabbing as well as political intrigue, mixed with a large dose of Greek mythology then you won’t be left disappointed. The first novel in the series is now available to pre-order. Here you will find updates from the author.
The Bard’s Prophecy
When the cup bearer’s time is nigh,
And the Eagle falls from the sky,
Await a stranger from distant shores,
As a line lost returns once more,
With the only chance to end the curse,
But follow His words, not the weight of a purse,
For He will not forget or forgive,
Those who ignore the reason they live.
Atlantis: Map Building
Location, Location, Location
Location is a key part of any story. Just think about Harry Potter; by the time you’ve finished the first book you feel like you’ve had a guided tour around Hogwarts and slept in the Gryffindor common room (or your House of choice). If Hogwarts was set in a modern building in the centre of a bustling city the whole story would take on a completely different feel (and perhaps wouldn’t be the phenomenon it is).
Tales of Atlantis: The Dawning of a New Age is set on (spoiler alert) Atlantis. When it comes to thinking about where Atlantis should be located in the story (bearing in mind that the book is set in modern times on Earth) it creates a number of problems. Atlantis has to feel authentic and that means staying true to Plato’s original description. But when Plato’s Atlantis is patently fictional, where on Earth do you stick it?
The concept of Atlantis was first introduced in Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias. They are only a few pages long, yet they provide such a detailed and vivid description of Atlantis that for thousands of years people have strongly believed that it exists (including the Nazis, but we won’t get into that here) and – despite the fact it is a clearly a concept created by Plato to contrast against his ideal State (Athens) – many have theorised about its whereabouts, in some cases spending a lifetime in pursuit of it. Not surprisingly, the number of locations suggested for the famous lost city/island/continent is vast and varied; you could stick a pin anywhere on a globe and someone somewhere will have produced a report outlining “overwhelming” evidence as to why that particular location must be Atlantis (and someone somewhere has pointed out why that theory cannot be true).
It is important to treat Atlantis theories with caution. Many are borne from wild conspiracy theories or pseudoarchaeology which ignore the overwhelming facts and instead cherry pick information to suit a particular hypothesis. They are sometimes interesting to read, but they should not be treated with any seriousness. There is only one mention of Atlantis in antiquity, and that is in Plato’s dialogues. There are no plays, no pottery or artifacts, no poems, and no other sources that mention or even hint at Atlantis and that tells its own story.
Let’s have a look, though, at a few of the places which have been put forward as theories for the location of the island:
Many have hypothesised that Atlantis sits at the bottom of the ocean waiting to be discovered, although the precise location is rarely agreed upon. For example, Charles Berlitz argued that Atlantis is located in the vicinity of the infamous Bermuda Triangle in his 1974 book “The Bermuda Triangle”, although his theories are somewhat lacking in evidence and have been largely debunked. Robert Sarmast, an American architect, argued in his book that Atlantis sits at the bottom of the Mediterranean near Cyprus. He cites images of man-made structures which he found using sonar data of the sea bottom as evidence for this. According to Sarmast, the Mediterranean was dry (or mostly dry) and was then flooded by the Atlantic Ocean as a result of the opening of the Strait of Gibralter due to tectonic uplift. I should point out that his theory is at odds with mainstream oceanographers, geologists and paleontologists – so take it all with a pinch of salt is what I’m saying. I could go on with other similar theories…but I know you have better things to be doing, and they all belong in the fantasy section.
Setting Atlantis under the sea doesn’t work for my narrative as this would make it either destroyed (like in David Gibbins’ “Atlantis” and Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”) or a fantasy world, like that ruled by Namor, the Sub-Mariner in the Marvel universe, or Aquaman if you prefer DC, and my Atlantis is neither of those. A civilization still thrives on my Atlantis, although it has been cut off from the rest of the world for thousands of years, and the inhabitants are human like you and I; therefore the island has to be above the water…hmmm.
One theory which has been put forward in a number of books (including Rose and Rand Flem-Ath’s “When the Sky Fell”, Colin Wilson’s “The Atlantis Blueprint” and Graham Hancock’s “Fingerprints of the Gods”) is that Antarctica was Atlantis when it was ice free. Crete and other parts of the Aegean have also been cited as a possible location for Atlantis by a number of theorists. This is based on the fact that a once powerful Minoan civilisation existed in that area which possessed advanced knowledge and skills and then suddenly disappeared. They argue that the eruption of Thera (which was purportedly four times as powerful as Krakatoa) and the tsunamis that followed destroyed this ancient civilisation, although there are a number of flaws with this argument, including the timing of the events and the fact that the Minoan civilisation continued for several generations after the catastrophe.
The above is just a brief snapshot of some of the theories put forward (cherry picking elements of Plato’s description and some historical facts to make their point). Therefore, and not surprisingly, setting the location for Atlantis has been a tricky challenge. People will be arguing about it ‘til kingdom come given that the Atlantis described by Plato never existed and so cannot be proven or, indeed, disproven. But there are places that even Google cannot gain access to. Places like Hogwarts and Narnia, Wonderland and the Emerald City, Neverland and Gotham. So, what is my location for Atlantis? I’m not going to tell you – you’ll have to read the book. My main focus has been bringing the world described by Plato to life and making it accessible and believable.
“All right, Jones. How are you going to find that statue in all this junk?”
And so it begins: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. One of the best games ever created (save for Monkey Island).
I played it time and time again as a child, completing it every way possible, never tiring of the gameplay or the dialogue, discovering every Easter egg hidden. If you showed a child the game today they would probably laugh at its clunky, pixelated graphics, but for me they only add to the appeal.
If I didn’t have a wife and kids…or a job…or housework, I would probably be playing it right now. Laughing at the same jokes. Getting stuck in the same places.
For those not fortunate enough to have played the game, Indiana Jones is on a quest to find Atlantis before Nazis discover its secrets and take over the world. You help him through a number of tricky situations, picking up clues as you go, occasionally fighting the bad guys by hitting the arrow keys fast and hard, and eventually you find it: a magical world hidden underwater. Remnants of a lost civilisation.
I was five when the game came out and I was instantly hooked on the myth. Monkey Island (another game from Lucasarts which I quickly became entranced by) was also based on discovering a lost island. But it was the lost island of Atlantis that my mind kept returning to. Something about it was almost tangible.
A number of years later I read Timaeus and Critias and discovered the source of the story. Critias ends abruptly and is almost a teaser to a much bigger story. One with huge characters. One with heroes and enemies. One which should sit alongside other Greek myths. But it doesn’t. Plato hints at a third dialogue, but it’s either been lost or never written.
There are many books on Atlantis. So many you could fill a library with them. Many tend to be located in the non-fiction aisle, arguing over where it is located (pretty much everywhere on earth has been cited) and claiming to hold all the answers. Others are fictional books with the protagonist discovering Atlantis somewhere deep in the ocean (like David Gibbins’ “Atlantis”). Others are pure fantasy, crossing over galaxies and into other worlds and dimensions. None, however, seem to do justice to Plato’s Atlantis or focus on what his illusive third dialogue would have said.
So my inspiration is trying to find (fictional) answers for the wide-eyed five year old me who’s still mesmerized by that magical lost world discovered playing a computer game and who still hasn’t found a story that does justice to the legend.
It’s a question I must hear at least 200 times a day from my daughter. She’s not happy with my response until I’ve dug up the root of the answer and waved it in her face.
Whilst it might be tiresome, it’s also a question which any writer has to constantly ask of themselves: “But why?”
I spent a lot of time asking that question before I started my novel. Years, in fact. I had a lot of answers floating around in my head. All of them there. None of them connected. Then I started writing, so at least I could start to join the dots together. For the first 40,000 words or so it worked okay (the opening chapters are focused on two main characters whose backgrounds and motivations are entrenched in my mind). Then, as a raft of new characters entered the fray, I found myself wading through treacle. Why are they anti-establishment again? Why would they risk their life for that? Why would they know each other?
Luckily, a helpful talk at my local writers group on character development set me back on the right path. Over the last month I’ve halted progress on my novel and gone back to asking “but why?”.
I have focused my attention on writing a character synopsis for each important character so that all my disparate ideas are finally together for appropriate scrutiny. It’s been an essential task and one I should really have completed a long time. And I’m not finished yet!
In the novel the political background is reaching boiling point and I need to know who will support who and why, and this means also having an idea of the family history and previous feuds and tensions (which have no bearing on this novel, but may well be relevant in the future).
So once my daughter has finished asking me, “but, why?”, I open up my notebook and start asking myself the same question. “It just is!” is not an answer my daughter will accept, and so I’m fairly certain it’s not an answer my readers (yes – plural – I’m optimistic) will either!