Right now, we are entering a period of awakening. We are starting to realise that since the dawn of the industrial revolution as a race, we have caused almost irrevocable harm to our world. Our need for progress and technology has altered our atmosphere and continues to destroy life in all its forms.
The Reapers reflect that destructiveness, that need to consume. The demon Melloch wants nothing more than to conquer and to be revered for his accomplishments and sadly the human race is not all that different.
While Gabriel represents those of us who feel lost in the world we live in, unable to make a difference or impact the things we know are wrong, Aurora is that voice we hear in our heads. The one that tells us not to give up, to keep trying and most importantly that one person can make a difference when they have the right support and the right intentions. Gabriel is the hero of this book, but only because he has Aurora. In turn, Aurora finds the strength to keep guiding him with the support of her sisters and her belief in what she loves most.
While it goes without saying this is a work of fiction, there are also many elements of the story that incorporate current issues and elements of history that are not part of the creative process. The following aspects of The Descendants are not based on fiction:
FACT #1 - Scythian warriors were real
Aurora’s mother Aarani was a Scythian warrior who in the book, lived with her tribe on the Romanian Plain. In real life, the Scythians were also known as Amazons. Scythian tribes inhabited the western and central Eurasian steppes from around the 9th century BC until about the first century BC. The Eurasian Steppe takes in a vast stretch of land from Moldova to Romania. One of the most famous vampires of all time is of course Dracula, often referred to as Romanian prince Vlad Tepes. Meaning, had vampires been real they may have originated in close proximity to the Scythian tribes that lived nearby.
FACT #2 - Lord Byron really did write the first ever poem about a vampire and it was called The Giaour.
In 1813, Lord Byron penned a very popular poem entitled The Giaour based on his experiences during The Grand Tour, a trip that took him through Europe but particularly Greece and the Mediterranean. A renowned romantic poet, Lord Byron wrote The Giaour about a love triangle between the sultan Lord Hassan, an allegedly cheating member of his harem named Leila and a giaour (or infidel) called Christian. In the poem, after the sultan kills Leila by drowning her in a sack off the Greek Islands, the giaour kills the sultan and sends his severed head to his mother. She then issues a vampire’s curse and this is thought to be the first reference to vampire lore in English Literature. The poem goes on to make reference to the cursed giaour having to feed on his own family.
’But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce Must feed thy livid living corpse….
The Giaour was the only narrative poem he ever wrote and this poem contributed greatly to the creation of what is said to be the first ever English vampire novel aptly titled The Vampyre published in 1819 and written by Lord Byron’s physician John Polidori.
FACT #3 - According to historical accounts of physicians and military officers, Arnold Paole was the first human likely to have been attacked by what people once believed to be vampires.
Arnold Paole was a Serbian soldier who in the early 1700s claimed to have been attacked by a vampire while stationed in Greece. Upon returning to his home of Meduegna near Belgrade, Paole married and bought up parcels of land. He was a farmer and often told his wife he feared an impeding early death. He was right. While attending to the farm he fell and was killed. Not long after being buried in the town cemetery people reported seeing Paole, sometimes even inside their homes. Within days of the reports they were found inexplicably dead. According to James Lyon, an Associate Researcher at the University of Graz, upon hearing these reports Lieutenant Colonel Schnezzer an Austrian military commander in the central Serbian town of Jagodina, sent an Imperial Infectious Disease Specialist (Contagions-Medicus) named Glaser to investigate.
At the massive Kalemegdan fortress in Belgrade, the Oberkommandantur dispatched a special military detachment comprised of officers and troops from Baron Fürstenbusch’s Honorable Regiment of Foot, the Honorable Marulli Regiment, and the Honorable Alexandrian Regiment. They were accompanied by a regimental surgeon Johann Flückinger, the field surgeon from Fürstenbusch’s regiment, J.H. Siegel, medical officer of the Moralli Regiment, and Johann Friedrich Baumgarten – also a medical officer from Furstenbusch’s regiment. In command was Lieutenant Colonel Buttener of the Honorable Alexandrian Regiment, accompanied by his adjutant J.H. von Lindenfels. Beginning on 7 January 1732, they interviewed villagers in places where vampire activity was reported. They recorded the activities of 14 suspected vampires, then exhumed and conducted autopsies on 13 of them. The body of the 14th had already been staked and burned before they got there. After visiting the affected region on 12 December 1731, interviewing villagers, and examining corpses, Glaser failed to find any sign of infectious disease. Glaser noted that some of the alleged vampires, when exhumed, showed no sign of decomposition while bodies that had been buried later had decomposed. He recommended to Schnezzer that the villagers be permitted to destroy the bodies of the suspected vampires so as to calm tensions. Schnezzer forwarded this report to the Austrian Oberkommandantur (commander) in Belgrade. Upon their return to Belgrade, field Surgeon Flückinger wrote an official report to the Belgrade Oberkommandantur on 26 January 1732, which was signed by the other officers and surgeons who had accompanied the mission. In it, Flückinger described in detail the case of the vampire Arnold Paole, as well as the results of each of the 13 autopsies. In the case of Paole, Flückinger wrote:
“And they found that he was quite complete and undecayed, and that fresh blood had flowed from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears; that the shirt, the covering, and the coffin were completely bloody; that the old nails on his hands and feet, along with the skin, had fallen off, and that new ones had grown; and since they saw from this that he was a true vampire, they drove a stake through his heart, according to their custom, whereby he gave an audible groan and bled copiously.”
In conducting the autopsies, Flückinger could not help but note that 10 of the 13 were “quite complete and undecayed,” even though having been dead for months. He described them as being “in a condition of vampirism.” The fate of the 10 “vampires” was fiery. Flückinger tells us that “after the examination had taken place, the heads of the vampires were cut off by the local gypsies and burned along with the bodies, and then the ashes were thrown into the river Morava. “In addition to Flückinger, the other two medical officers signed the report, along with Lieutenant Colonel Buttener of the Honorable Alexandrian Regiment, and J.H. von Lindenfels, an officer in the same regiment. The report was then sent to Vienna, where it caused such a stir that Emperor Charles immediately sent it to all the capitals of Europe. In addition, Flückinger published the entire report at the Leipzig book fair in 1732 under the title of Visum Et Repertum, (Seen and Discovered). This booklet received wide circulation throughout Europe. Glaser’s father, the Viennese physician Johann Friedrich Glaser, sent his son’s letters describing the case to the Nuremburg journal Commercium Litterarium. Both were reprinted around Europe, and it was at this time that the word “vampire” entered into widespread us in Western languages.
FACT #4 - Carbon dioxide is at the highest level our earth has ever experienced.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached its highest level in at least 800,000 years, according to scientists. In April, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere exceeded an average of 410 parts per million (ppm) across the entire month, according to readings from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Carbon dioxide is the single most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities including the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, the making of cement and deforestation. It remains in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years, trapping heat from solar radiation and driving climate change.