WARNING: This page contains major plot spoilers.
If you haven’t read Warrior yet, you should not view this page. It is intended as an extra to supplement the book and contains material that may spoil the plot.
The following are elements that I used for my research when writing the book. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Battle of Narva
The Battle of Narva, Estonia, took place in November 1700, when Charles XII, the young Swedish King, fought to defend his Baltic territories against the army of the new Russian Tsar, Peter the Great. Although the Swedish troops were outnumbered, they were better equipped and trained than the Russians. Tactics and the weather helped them win the battle that day. Peter the Great did eventually take Narva in 1704.
When I started writing Warrior, I knew I wanted Dimitri to find Alexa on a battlefield. I also wanted Alexa to be around 300 years old (younger than Lucas Soul but older than Anna Godard). While doing research into actual wars and battles that took place in Europe in the early 18th century, I came across the Battle of Narva.
I was immediately attracted to the setting as depicted in the paintings of that particular fight and was also inspired by the actual events that occurred that day. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Charles XII was aided by a small group of immortals headed by Dimitri Reznak?’
I could see it all in my mind’s eye. The desolate, wintry landscape, with a blizzard blowing across the fortified city on the bank of the Narva River. The bodies of the fallen soldiers cooling on the freezing ground. The living fighting desperately around them. And in the middle of it all, a little girl stands on an elevation. She is wearing a white dress and she has a knife in her hand. Blood drips from the edge of the blade. A man lies dead at her feet.
I got chills when that image flashed through my mind. I just knew this was Alexa, through and through.
Eastern Desert Mountains, Egypt
For those of you who have read Hunted, you will recall the scene in the last chapters of the book, where the Bastian compound in Virginia is taken by the Crovirs. When Victor Dvorsky contacts Dimitri Reznak to tell him of the attack, the Crovir noble comments that he is currently in Egypt, indulging in one of his ‘pet projects.’ That ‘pet project’ is Dimitri Reznak’s lifelong ambition to uncover the secrets behind the origins of the two immortal races.
I realised that it would become the basis for Warrior when I was writing the epilogue of Hunted and deliberately introduced Reznak’s statement that he had his ‘best agent’ looking into who had looted one of the two caves he had discovered in the Eastern Desert mountains in Egypt. That agent was Alexa King.
The immortals have been around since the 38th century BC. As such, they preceded the Egyptian dynasties that would follow. In the scene where Dimitri discovers the first cave, I have him suggest to his chief scientist that the missing tombs of Crovir and Bastian were the precursors upon which the Egyptian sarcophagus and all other such stone coffins were modelled.
I also have the walls of scrolls in the second cave be derived from the proto-writings that preceded the Sumerian language, which would match the epoch when Crovir and Bastian walked the earth. The actual design of the caves and the walls of scrolls in Warrior was inspired by the tomb of Tuthmosis III, an Egyptian king of the 18th dynasty.
When I was doing weapons research for Hunted, I came across a picture of a stainless steel Sig Sauer P229 and fell in love with it. Although I couldn’t ‘give’ that gun to Lucas, I knew it would be perfect for Alexa. A compact version of the Sig Sauer P226, the P229 is perfect for a protagonist who needs to carry a concealed weapon and has been widely adopted by a number of police and armed forces around the world. In fact, I liked the damn thing so much I gave Alexa two.
Now these babies are very close to my heart!
Although the idea for Alexa’s sai daggers started from my fascination and love of action manga and animes, it was my research into the powerful warriors who have reputedly used such blades in the past that convinced that she was destined to carry these weapons.
Considered to be a martial arts weapon, with various variations used in East and South Asia, the sai has its origin in the trident or trishula, the three-pronged spear used by such Hindu deities as Shiva and Durga (also Poseidon and Neptune in Greco-Roman mythology). It is also a well recognised Hindu-Buddhist symbol, which tied in nicely with Yonten and the Buddhist Order who live to preserve the secret existence of the immortal races.
Alexa has a trishula birthmark on her neck. When I decided to give Yonten the trishula tattoo on his palm, I had already planned out the final battle scene; the image of Alexa holding the monk’s hand and closing his fingers over the bloodied symbol was engraved in my mind.
It was Steve, my reference guy for all things weaponry and combat, who gave me the idea for the wing-suit. The scene where we first meet Alexa as an adult came to me very quickly when I was writing the first chapters. I knew that that encounter between protagonist and reader had to be electric and captivating. What better way to showcase her incredible fighting skills and her hard nature than by have her jump off the side of a cliff and land on a plane in mid-flight?
Steve quickly made me realise that a simple chute wouldn’t work. We watched a video of base jumping and I saw the wing-suit. We actually drew out a diagram of how the scene would work, with angles and velocities and everything. We felt the best approach was to have her jump just as the plane passes her. I made Alexa’s wing-suit a bespoke, white, Prodigy 2.
Maserati Gran Turismo S Black
Like Lucas Soul (and the author), Alexa also has a thing for sexy, fast cars. I had originally intended to give her the Fisker Karma, until I realised that that particular beautiful beast didn’t go into production until 2011. Warrior starts in November 2010. So, I elected to give her a custom-built, black, Maserati Gran Turismo MC Sportline, which has been in production since 2009. It’s a manual, of course.
It’s one helluva good looking car, don’t ya think?
Gulfstream G280 Interior
Obviously, Dimitri had to have a jet. I downloaded several brochures from Gulfstream and studied the specs and interior decor thoroughly before deciding that the G280 would be perfect for his needs. Plus, check out that cabin. Va-va-voom or what? Obviously, this sexy beast in the sky had to have the capacity to jetset them all over the world.
Built between 1859 and 1869, the Suez Canal is a man-made waterway connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, thereby allowing sea route transport between Europe and Asia without the need to go around Africa. Looking back through history, it does appear that attempts had been made to connect the Nile and the Read Sea since the 1800s BC.
Researching the Suez Canal was a hard one. What with figuring out how to access the waterway, what permits were required, and how the transit worked with the north and southbound shipping lanes, never mind what the scenery on either bank would look like, it took me almost a day and a half to structure that scene. I think I may have had a stiff drink by the end of it.
Port Said is the northern terminus of the Suez Canal and was formed in 1859 during the construction of the waterway. It lies on the African side of the canal, with its twin city Port Fuad located on the Asian side. Featured in the picture is one of the free ferries that connects the two cities. The Port Said fight scene was one of the favorites of my beta-readers.
Port of Mersin
The Port of Mersin is a major port on the southern coast of Turkey and is one of the country’s largest harbor. The Mersin Free Zone, seen to the north of the picture, was the first of many Free Zones established in Turkey to attract foreign investors and businesses.
Istanbul began life as the ancient Greek city of Byzantium in the 7th century BC. It was subsequently known as Constantinople for nearly 1600 years, before finally becoming Istanbul in the 20th century AD. Known as the City on the Seven Hills and modelled on the seven hills of Rome, Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world and famously straddles two continents across the Bosphorus Strait, namely Europe and Asia. Ah, Istanbul.
It took me almost two weeks to write those scenes.
St Peter’s Square
When I realised I was going to have to take the plot to Rome, I started having palpitations. These were both good and bad palpitations. Good because the Rome fight and chase scene is one of my favorites in the entire book. Bad because I have never been to Rome and knew I would have to do a shit load of research to make those chapters as realistic as possible. I had a lot of fun with this one, despite the stress.
The Path to Decay by Sirenia, the song that accompanies this scene, really brought it all to life in my head.
Now, I have to admit to have taken plenty of liberties with the Freemasons Hall scenes. As I state on the copyright page of the book, ‘References to real people (living or dead), events, establishments, organizations, or locations are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used factitiously.’
This means I obviously made up the vault under the Grand Temple, the armed Freemasons guards, and the security system that the Crovirs have to hack into. The Freemasons kinda ended up in the book accidentally, after I researched Rosicrucianism and invented the Rose Croix sect. When I realised that the 18th Degree of Freemasonry was called the Knight of the Rose Croix, there was no way the Freemasons were NOT going to be featuring in this book.
The part about making Frank Schmidt both an immortal and a Freemason was a little twist that I added to make the case for getting the Freemasons involved in the final battle.
The Sumava National Park was a perfect spot in which to hide a large estate and a secret underground lab with acres of wild forests surrounding it! I thought it would be an absolutely beautiful place for Reznak to live and for Alexa to grow up. It was while I was researching the wildlife in the Sumava National Park that I came across the wolves and the lynxes. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if Alexa had them as her play and hunting partners?’ Yes, I’m kinda crazy that way.
But then, so is Alexa.
The picture of this gorgeous estate for sale in the Czech Republic is what inspired Reznak’s chateau. And yes, Sumava did not acquire that particular name until the 15th century. Before then, it was seemingly known as the Bohemian Forest, home of the Boii people, a group of ancient Celtic tribes.
Kama River, Perm
Originally, the point of origin for the Cartesian coordinates that Alexa and Jackson came across in Istanbul was going to be Omsk, Russia. I had it all planned out, had studied maps and pictures from Google Earth, checked out where the train station was and where the railway tracks would travel north of Omsk.
I realised that there were NO MOUNTAINS close enough to Omsk and the railway lines to feature a HUGE secret underground city. Gah! You can imagine the litany of swearwords that left my lips at this stage.
After calming myself down with a cup of tea (ok, I lied. It was a shot of Martini), I brought up a map of the Urals. I then worked my way backward until I found a city that had the appropriate rail network and airports to satisfy my plot needs. Thank God for Perm, that’s all I’m gonna say. And it has a huge hospital as well.
PS: that river is completely frozen in winter.
The final battle scenes took a lot of research, as expected. I used Google Earth to view the valleys and mountains in the Urals and chose an appropriate location far from human eyes to base the underground cities of the Rose Croix sect.
The Rose Croix Sect secret base was inspired by the maps and pictures of Derinyuku, a vast underground city in Cappadocia, a historical region in ancient Central Anatolia, Turkey. One of the largest excavated underground cities in Turkey (there are several), it is thought to have been built between the 5th and 10th century BC.
And last but not least, this is the gorgeous fantasy picture that inspired the character of Mila. You’ll get to meet her in a prequel later on in the series.