Egromancer was Sir Richard Burton’s way of saying necromancer. It was based on Middle English forms of the word. He uses it in his translation of Arabian Nights.
The egromancer shows up often in the stories. They don’t have specific powers. A horse can fly? That’s weird. Must be an egromancer. My wife of 20 years is leaving me? Egromancy is afoot. The king is sick? An egromancer is poisoning him!
Egromancy, from what I could tell in the book, was an excuse for the unknown, feared, and incomprehensible. The king just couldn’t believe his wife of 20 years was bored with him.
In today’s day and age, though, we are far beyond this.
Can’t explain the pyramids? Aliens. Strange sounds in a house? Ghosts. Bright lights in a swamp? Will-o-wisps. Husband goes missing and can’t remember where he was all weekend? Fairies. Okay, so it’s been a long time since anyone has used that one. I hear it won’t work anymore.
I used egromancy in much the same way. Faluh Josha, the intellectual adviser to the Sultan, uses alchemy. He creates potions that can do amazing things. Through his friendship with the Sultan, he’s able to convince him to take numerous actions others consider unreasonable. He’s also a grumpy old man.
Once he poisoned a man using a potion. The soldiers didn’t fully understand it. As time
went, they claimed he used egromancy to become a snake and strike the man. He can use potions to make the skin thicker. They say egromancy. It was fun to put the label on the
character, bringing with it all the prejudices that would be part of egromancy. It created conflict for Josha, and the question of does he have to concern himself with what others think of him?
Despite being related to necromancer, egromancers do not raise the dead. I mean, they can, but it’s not necessarily what they do. They aren’t even focused on death magic. The origins of necromancers is that they simply used magic, all sorts of magic, and Sir Burton borrows from that. Chances are, though, he borrows from it because that was simply the belief at the time. I borrow from it because it’s cool.
In Drowning the Sands of G’desh I play off this concept. It’s not that they raise the dead. It’s just they do weird things.
I will be talking more about the different influence in G’desh, and with The Saga of Hetja Melna coming up, I will talk about the influence which inspired that book too! Stay tuned!
Also! Audience participation. What is one of your favorite influences in your writing, or something you can’t read enough of?