Today’s the day! To prepare you for your journey into Tristan Strong’s magical realm of Alke, a land of giant hammers and talking rabbits, here’s a little crash course on what you need to know.
Anyone familiar with American history should have heard of John Henry, a hero renowned for his super strength, enormous imposing steel hammer, and dedication to his job constructing the country’s railroad system in the 19th century. It’s said that his hammer was so powerful it could destroy mountains. But that would be ridiculous. There’s no way. Maybe we should ask him?
Uh, you go first.
Brer Rabbit and Fox
In African American folktales, Brer Rabbit is a cunning trickster, often representing a slave outsmarting and escaping his captors, embodied by Brer Fox and Brer Bear. In Alke, however, the relationships are a bit more complicated. Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox have become allies with each other and with John Henry in their old age. And now that Brer Rabbit has some muscle on his side, he can finally take it easy. After all, what’s the point of outwitting someone when you can just get your buddy to smash ’em with his hammer?
The Thicket is home to such folklore legends such as Brer Rabbit and Gum Baby. In Alke, it’s where the gods of MidPass hold council. A massive natural structure comprised of trees, brambles, and vines, the Thicket is also a place of refuge for those poor souls who have been displaced by iron monsters. It’s not the worst place in Alke to hang out, but just ask Tristan, it’s kind of hard to find a seat there without a thorn poking you in the pants.
Anansi the spider is the progenitor of all the stories Alke is built upon. He uses his mystical web to weave together the folktales and legends about gods such as John Henry, Brer Rabbit, the Flying Ladies, and Nyame, to name just a few. Also, you didn’t hear it from us, but rumor has it Anansi’s Story Box somehow wound up in our world. Needless to say, it’s a massively important artifact.
So, if you ever come across a glowing journal with a spider web symbol on the cover, just walk away slowly . . . before the angry talking doll comes to kick your butt.