GRIOTS: A Sword and Soul Anthology edited by Milton J. Davis & Charles R. Saunders – Review

Pharaoh Reads GriotsI’ve finally completed MV Media’s GRIOTS: A Sword and Soul Anthology edited by Milton J. Davis & Charles R. Saunders. The anthology is a resounding achievement of highlighting African-American writers and illustrators! These Creators have crafted exciting fantasy stories featuring African and Black Characters that aren’t easily found in most sword and sorcery epics today, and most definitely not in the past 20 plus years.

I have followed the publishing career and trajectory of Milton J. Davis, from his early days on Hero Talk Forum/ and he has done nothing but increase his publishing output and momentum. For GRIOTS, he has banded together with a living legend and Father of what is called Sword And Soul, Charles R. Saunders.

For those that aren’t familiar, in the beginning there was sword and sorcery, a genre which would be the basis of Conan, Krull and many others but in those hallowed pages of fantasy fiction, there was barely any African or Black characters as lead heroes in any epic adventures. Seeing the lack of, Mr. Saunders’ character Imaro was created to fill a void and so Sword And Soul was born.

Together with Milton, as Saunders has described, “A previously unknown sibling.”, they have made literary history. Why? I quote Saunders again, “I read the sword and sorcery I could get my hands on. And my visits to the authors’ imaginary worlds were enjoyable – for the most part. That lesser part, however, grated like a stone in my shoe. That stone was racism.”



GRIOTS, as other newly published works by many African and African Descendents is a call to action. A shield and sword to combat that literary racism that has and exists today, by telling the stories we want told. Placing ourselves and images we create at the center of the adventure, as the answer to the question – who’s going to save the day? Heroic acts, imaginative worlds and destiny filled quests await the reader and why not? It’s been time for Black Heroes; we’ve always been here.

Some of my favorite selections are;

  • Mrembo Aliyenaswa (Captured Beauty) by Milton Davis has his flagship hero Changa rescuing a kidnapped woman from her captors.
  • Awakening by Valjeanne Jeffers creates a young woman named Nandi who has the ambition and skills to become a great warrior led by Ogun, the God of War.
  • Skin Magic by P. Dejli Clark is about Makami a hunted thief that is cursed with magical powers via moving tattoos!
  • Imaro: “The Three Faced One” by Charles R. Saunders is about Imaro defending a tribe against encroachment by their neighbors, possessed by an evil being.
  • “Sekadi’s Koan” by Geoffrey Thorne

AwakeningHowever, the remaining stories are just unique and interesting to read. I must list those as well. They are:However, the remaining stories are just unique and interesting to read. I must list those as well. They are:

RESPECT must be paid to the amazing artists that have created companion artwork for each of the stories. I loved the images!

I’ve enjoyed reading GRIOTS and I recommend this collection as a must have! Different writing styles
and unique characters really highlight the diverse stories. I couldn’t help but imagine that all of the stories were apart of one universe or world. Of course, in a larger sense they are but it would have been cool if some grand scheme by the editors included some world map that included each of the unique locations in GRIOTS. Mmm..maybe that’s a seed I’ve planted

Get this book! You will not be disappointed! You will be inspired to continue to find and follow the authors and their works! Click this link and order it! It will enhance your sci-fi / fantasy book collection!

NOIZ: The Arts, Culture & Entertainment Blast

The 13th Annual World Music Festivalis 8 days full of great music & culture from more than 30 countries. The performances are spread throughout Chicago in 20 plus venues.  See www.worldmusicfestivalchicago.orgfor advanced ticket info and program details.

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The “Ritual’s” Showcase Featuring Yahdna, Armen Rah & Awthntik at the Le Fluer de Lis (the old Negro League Café) on 301 E 43rd St. (Prairie) Chicago, Illinois.  Spoken word, music food & fun. Tickets are $10, doors open at 8pm-12am TICKETS $10
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Chicago born & Grammy Award Winning Hip-Hop artist & actor, Common has dropped his memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense. A soulful and insightful book, Common effortlessly weaves thought-provoking and entertaining commentary about his early years, his Mother, manhood, Fatherhood and his ideas/philosophies. Engaging, the book represents the coming of a Blackman in America and how big dreams can actually become reality, through a strong foundation of love, hard work, dedication and humility. It’s a triumphant for American literature and a treasure for readers who make the perfect choice to purchase the book here or catch Common Tues, September 20 at DePaul University Bookstore for a book signing. 312-362-8792 for info.
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The UniverSoul Circus is back in Chicago, IL September 21 – October 16 in Washington Park. This is a very exciting and intimate event packed with tigers, trick dogs, powerful aerialists, elephants, contortionists, dance music and more. It is a sight to behold with guaranteed fun for the entire family. There are two shows a day and tickets are very affordable. Go to www.universalsoulcircus.comfor info.
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Check out the play, SPUNK which consists of three tales by Zora Neale Hurston at the Court Theatre at the University of Chicago, 5535 S. Ellis. Call 773-753-4472 for more info. FREE parking!
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Released in 2011, STREET TEAM is created by a collective of artists & writers; Joseph Currie, Stanley Weaver Jr., Shawn Alleyne, James Mason, Charlie Goubile & Koran Curtis. This All-Star collaboration highlights the talents of independent creators in a major way! It’s not just a comic book project; it’s a movement surrounding Street Team.  There’s posters, the comic book of course and a video game. What? That’s right, a video game for the pc that helps go beyond the comic; professionally done and packaged, but back to the comic book. 
Street Team #0 weighs in at 28 pages of full color with a price tag of $5.  It features a roster of different and exciting looking vigilante characters; Stalker, Tiger, Aaron, Blackbird & Dodger who decide to work together as a team as one menace, Oguun a deadly psychopath forms his own villainous coalition of bad guys.  
Will the different personalities and individual styles mesh well as Street Team
Will the combined threat of each of the heroes’ chief villains bring down each of their cities?
The answers won’t be found here in this premiere offering but sets up great drama and action aspects to be explored and fleshed out for future issues. What IS inside Street Team #0? Let’s begin with the cover that looks more like a poster for a soon to be released movie.  It is a collage of the various heroes in motion with an ominous pair of eyes hovering above them, complete with creator/production credits ala movie style at the bottom.  Complete with the tag “We Own The Streets”, Street Team’s call to action, you are ready to jump right inside.   
The format for the story panels are done in landscape with great artwork and sharp dialogue and captions; no filler words or images here, everything serves the purpose of defining the world and pacing of the story. Without giving every detail away, know that the few opening pages are full of real-life possibilities of terror and it grips your attention from the jump (the beginning) with heart pounding excitement and ends with great character introductions that leave you wanting and salivating for Issue #1, #2 until the end of the adventure.
While other publishing attempts re-vamp their creative properties, the (I’ll call them the Street Team Collective) have assembled and formed as a creative force to be recognized and respected; Independent to win it.  Grab this if you’re looking for fresh, quality comic book to add to your collection. Purchase it here.  You should own Street Team #0: We Own The Streets******
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Bandits by LM Preston is an adventure / sci-fi novel about the main character, Daniel & his family caught in a dangerous journey of escaping his Father’s killer; they’re looking for a powerful treasure that Daniel’s Father had in his possession.  However, Daniel, using all of the training by his Father, is determined to save the universe from the treacherous villains while avoiding other dangerous situations.
The book is filled with great world building elements describing very unique planets, characters and creatures. Some of the interaction between characters maybe, a little too much for younger readers, but ultimately, Bandits was a good read. Pick it up here  and experience it for yourself.  ****
Author site:
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Released in 2010, The HORSEMEN: Book of Olorun Issue One by Jiba Molei Anderson published by Griot Enterprises is about the continuation of the new saga & mythology that Jiba started in early 2000.
Back-story:  The Gods invited Man into friendship and community. Mortal descendents empowered by worshipping Orishas eventually began to rule Man, they are called Deitis. The Orisha (Gods) sought to protect mortals and took the shape of man and defeated the Deitis. However, 8 of the Deitis remained to cause havoc but the power of the Orishas were born in 7 to fight the Deitis. One of the 7 was Shango.
This book picks up 5 years after, the hero Shango destroys Nigeria, the source of the new mythology releasing the seed of divinity that sparks an evolution of power among mortals causing a war between humanity and the gods called Deitis.
In The HORSEMEN: Book of Olorun Issue One, this history is told through the mind & words of the daughter of Asase, the Goddess of Life and it is a great one-shot allowing the reader to learn about the universe that Jiba has written. Full of the color images of unique characters and unique African storylines, this is a must for the reader and comic book collector needing refreshing literature. Buy it here.   *****

Rating System: 
*Hot Garbage   **Stale Bread   ***3 Day-Old Soup   ****Decent Satisfaction  *****Good Meal  ******Great Taste   *******Supreme Flavor