The Elephant and Macaw Banner

I had the good fortune of beginning to correspond with Christopher Kastensmidt when we met each other as Cat’s Curious authors. Christopher then went on to encourage me to attend Viable Paradise, which was a game changer for me. When Chris announced that his story The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard Van Oost and Oludara was going to appear in the April, 2010 issue of Realms of Fantasy, and he mentioned the kind of story that it was, I knew it was exactly my kind of thing, and I eagerly watched my mailbox for the magazine.

The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard Van Oost and Oludara is the first of what I hope are many published stories set Chris’ backdrop of The Elephant and Macaw Banner world. My understanding is that Chris has around 200 or so books to liberally research this world. This has resulted in a solid foundation of knowledge about 16th-century colonial Brazil, where he bases his characters.

The beginning intrigues the reader: Gerard Van Oost sets out to seek adventure and exploration in the new world. He meets with little success securing a place in the ranks of other adventurers. One fateful day he encounters an unusual slave, Oludara, who comes from the lineage of a monster slayer. The first story is about how the two adventurers form their partnership.

Of course, this 16th-century Brazil, and the Africa from which Oludara hails, are full of a variety of threats. In Chris’ first story we hear how two dragons were slain, and are treated to a trickster’s magic. Kastensmidt skillfully weaves history, fantasy, adventure, and strong characterization into a compelling introduction. Now, I’m ready for the rest of the stories, and I would like to humbly submit to publishers that they give them to me.

As rich as the world of fantasy is, the time is right for Kastensmidt’s endeavor. As the current waves of Steampunk and mystic Regency fiction prove, there is an appreciative audience who loves fantasy set in alternative history. Kastensmidt captures adventure in the spirit of New World explorers with vigor. The backdrop is compelling, the characters are exciting, and the writing is solid.

Not much else to add, really, except to say go Chris. As in go to your desk and get writing.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

2 thoughts on “The Elephant and Macaw Banner”

  1. Catherine,

    Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed the story, after such a long build-up. 🙂

    I guarantee that more are on their way, as soon as I find the right home for them.


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