Soundtrack

It’s a fairly common practice for authors to come up with “soundtracks” or playlists for their novels, lists of songs that fit the story. I’ve decided to hop right on this bandwagon, and I’ve dug into my favourite soundtracks from movies, TV, and video games to create complete soundtracks for both Rage of the Old Gods and Children of the Gods.

While I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, it’s impossible to do so entirely. There will be more as you scroll farther down, and the final entries for Children of the Gods are just full on spoiler territory. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rage of the Old Gods:

1: The Fall of Eastenhold

If you’re putting together an epic soundtrack and you don’t include Bear McCreary’s iconic Prelude to War from Battlestar Galactica, you are doing it very, very wrong.

Honestly, this song could have easily fit just about any part of this book, or anything else I’ve written. Rather than agonize over which part of the book to tie it to, I decided to simply throw it out at the beginning.

I think it’s a good fit for the fall of Eastenhold, though. It’s epic, and it’s intense, and it fits that terrible conflict very well, but it also hints of greater struggles to come. The fall of Eastenhold is just a shadow of the true cataclysm that will befall Barria — just a prelude to the true war.

2: The Other Worlds

Sy’om and Tyzu are surreal, alien places. Even the fundamental laws of reality don’t function normally on these long forgotten worlds. For the theme of these places, I chose the music of Tanaris from World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion.

The haunting vocals and eerie ambiance capture a spirit of mystery and adventure. This song fits especially well with the lonely glacier fields of Sy’om. I’ll admit it doesn’t capture Tyzu quite as well, but the soundtrack would have been too cluttered if I’d given it its own song, I feel. And this does capture the exoticism and alien feel of Tyzu very well, if it not its frenetic intensity.

3: Wrath of the Old Gods

When I came up with the Old Gods, I designed them to be as bombastic and over the top as possible. They’re like a force of nature — terrible, vast, uncaring, and unconquerable. Few pieces of music could capture the raw terror of facing the Old Gods in combat, but Druids of the Flame, from World of Warcraft’s Firelands content, manages it.

Listen to this song while reading the Battle of Heart, and understand why “wrath of the Old Gods” is a curse spoken in only the most dire situations.

4: Night in Marlhem

When you’re writing an epic story with lots of intense violence and emotion, I believe it’s also important to include moments of peace every now and then. It allows characters and readers alike to sit back, catch their breath, and remember what’s at stake.

The night in Marlhem depicted in chapter six is one such moment. Terrible things have happened by that point, and the Old Gods are closing in, but at that moment, all is relatively calm.

To capture the fragile peace of that cold Tor night, I’ve picked a song from the MMORPG The Secret World. It’s most commonly heard in London, but it appears in other parts of the game, as well. It’s a gentle, slightly sad song that captures the shaky calm of that night where Leha stood upon the battlements and looked up at the stars.

5: The Tor Defender:

For Yarnig’s theme, I have again dipped into the fantastic soundtrack for Battlestar Galactica, choosing Adama Falls. It’s a song as dignified as it is tragic, perfectly encapsulating the man that is Yarnig Tor Lannis.

Yarnig will always put on a brave face for his people. He will never show anything but the strength expected of a Tor royal. But in his heart, he knows he has nothing to offer his people. He’s a figurehead and nothing more, no matter how much he longs to be the hero Tor Som needs. His is a tale full of sorrow, and Adama Falls reflects this well

6: The Northern Clans:

Using a Rohirrim theme for the Northern Clans is so obvious it almost feels like a cheat. But damn it, it fits.

The King of the Golden Hall embodies a sense of pride and fierce independence such as defines the Northern Clans, a people who rejected all the comfort of the south to prove themselves in the wild north. It also has a certain haunting and lonely quality to it, reflecting the desolate homeland of the Clanspeople.

I’m going to be honest: I still have a few regrets about the books, and not developing the Clanspeople more is one of them. They’re such a fascinating culture — in my mind, anyway.

7: Beyond the Gormorra Range:

The first spring after the return of the Old Gods is a dark time for humanity. They have been beaten time and again, and while the fight goes on, the unspoken belief is that the war cannot be won. Though they have found a modicum of respite beyond the mountains of the Gormorra Range, many feel the end is nigh.

For this piece of the story, I went to the soundtrack to the sadly forgotten real time strategy masterpiece Myth II: Soulblighter. The mission intro music for Through the Ermine has a sad and haunting quality to it, but it’s also very peaceful. It reflects that, though times are grim, the battles are distant.

There’s a subtle hint of hopefulness to this song, too. The seasons are changing, and maybe things aren’t as bleak as they seem.

8: The Battle of Tallatzan Ziggurat:

All right, enough sad and haunting tunes. It’s time to inject some life into this soundtrack.

There comes a time when you have to stop running. When you have to turn around and smack the bully chasing you as hard as you possibly can, and hope that maybe you can make him think twice about messing with you.

The Battle of Tallatzan Ziggurat is one such time. After months of crushing defeats, Leha has decided to take a chance and strike back at the heart of the Gods’ power with everything she has.

Once again, Bear McCreary provides the perfect accompaniment. This time, it’s the theme from the new sci-fi series Defiance. It’s a song as epic and emotional as Bear McCreary can make it, perfectly matching one of the most intense and pivotal battles in the World Spectrum series. Little hints of dubstep and techno music fit the surreal, sci-fi inspired landscape of an Old God city.

9: The Anniversary:

I’ve said before that I love to put little moments of calm in my stories,opportunities for characters and readers alike to catch their breath and prepare for the trials to come.

The last such pause in Rage of the Old Gods comes in the form of the celebration of the Battle of Heart’s anniversary. It’s an opportunity for the characters to look back at their victories, and what they’ve lost. To salute the fallen, and to take comfort in the fact there are still friends to share this moment with.

For this scene, I’ve chosen the wonderfully bittersweet mission intro music for The Siege of Madrigal from Myth: The Fallen Lords.

10: The Burning Dusk:

It’s all come down to this. One last battle, one last gamble, to decide the fate of humans and Gods alike. Each side has mustered all it has for the final confrontation. The forests burn, the earth shudders under the footsteps of the Old Gods, and Leha’s forces prepare to make their stand.

For this epic showdown, I’ve chosen The Fleets Arrive from the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack, a rousing and militaristic piece perfectly suited for a battle that will echo down through history.

11: Leha and the King:

As all great battles eventually do, it comes down to a contest between two champions: Leha, Hero of Heart, versus the lord of the Old Gods. Unstoppable strength versus cunning, courage, and determination.

I waffled a bit on what song to use for this scene, but I eventually settled on the unbelievably epic Thrall: Earthwarder from World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion. It’s intense and thrilling, and there’s a subtle undercurrent of hope. This is the final hurdle to be cleared, the last struggle necessary to achieve peace.

12: The True Battle:

I may not be the biggest fan of how Mass Effect 3 handled the Krogan plot, but the song played during its crucial scenes, A Future for the Krogan, is just lovely. As soon as I heard it, I knew I wanted it to be a part of my novel soundtrack.

Ultimately, I decided to tie it to the aftermath of the final battle. It’s a haunting tune that pays homage to all that’s been lost, but ultimately, it’s a song of hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Listen to this as Leha gives her last address to her people, and remember the true battle. Remember that it is the responsibility of every man, woman, and child to not repeat the mistakes of the past, to overcome our darker aspects and build a brighter future.

Children of the Gods:

1: The Arcanids:

The Arcanids are a race as cruel as they are bizarre. Ruthless and calculating, they have designed themselves with the ideals of selfishness, greed, and ruthless domination in mind.

For their theme, I’ve picked the intro music from the mission “River of Blood” from Myth: The Fallen Lords. It’s a strange, exotic, and ominous song that sets the tone for the downward spiral that is Children of the Gods.

2: Beautiful Things Lost Forever:

Prince Tyrom is a tragic figure. Even before Pira fell the first time, he bore the heavy burden of living up to an ancient legacy he couldn’t hope to equal. His country had barely begun to recover before it was imperiled a second time, and he was forced to swallow his pride — the only thing he had left — and accept aid from the rest of humanity.

Early on, we see Tyrom vent his pain, singing on the ocean cliffs in the night. To accompany this scene, I’ve chosen Gaeta’s Lament — also known as the Stump Serenade — from Battlestar Galactica. This could easily have been the song Tyrom sung on that night.

As an aside, if these books ever get put to film, I think Alessandro Juliani would make a fantastic choice to play Prince Tyrom. Hmm… Anyone out there good enough with Photoshop to put together a movie poster with Ellen Page and Alessandro Juliani as Leha and Tyrom?

3: The Automaton Reborn:

The most terrible thing about the Arcanids is not the physical threat they represent, but that the only way to survive their onslaught is to sink to their level, to betray your own ideals and embrace violence.

Nothing symbolizes this better than the decision to rebuild Automatons. This is a moment of utter horror for the people of Barria, and for Leha especially. To fight monsters, they had to create their own monsters.

I find that An Ancient Enemy from the soundtrack to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a good match for this event. It’s a song of pure dread, pure menace.

4: At the Foot of Keonum:

A pivotal battle in the war with the Arcanids comes at the foot of Mount Keonum in Pira. But this is not the Battle of Tallatzan. This is no noble uprising of humans against their oppressors.

This is a massacre. Thousands of lives are wasted at the foot of that mountain. That it is necessary in no way diminishes the tragedy of it.

It was difficult to find a song that fit both the epic excitement and grim brutality of this event, but I eventually settled on the Battle of the Hornburg from The Two Towers soundtrack.

5: The Predator:

“The greatest tragedy of war is that it debases all it touches.”

As the war progresses, Leha finds herself slipping into the darkest aspects of her personality. She becomes a predator consumed by the need to slaughter all who stand in her way. To accompany her fall into this dark persona, I’ve chosen the intro music for Myth II’s “Landing at Whitefalls” mission. Grim and menacing, it captures Leha’s methodical brutality.

6: Redemption:

In humanity’s darkest hour, there comes one single source of hope. A man who could offer a chance of redemption not only for the monsters created by the Arcanids, but for the rest of humankind, as well.

I chose the Elwynn Forest soundtrack from World of Warcraft: Cataclysm as Zuruk’s theme. It’s a tranquil song that gives one the feeling there’s always hope for a better tomorrow, even in the darkest times.

7: Humanity Falls Silent:

But just as there seems to hope after all, disaster strikes. With one terrible miscalculation, the human cause is crushed, and the Arcanids stand triumphant.

Though it’s used for what is theoretically a happy scene, I’ve always found An End Once and for All from the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack to be an incredibly tragic-sounding piece, so it’s my choice for the moment when all of humanity falls silent.

8: The Promise:

All is lost. It’s all over. Humanity has fallen.

Only a handful remain free, Leha among them. She wishes to end her life, and the pain with it. But she cannot shirk her duty. And so she and her few remaining companions make one promise, one pledge to press on for the human cause no matter how hopeless it seems.

My choice of song for this moment is the intro music for “Gate of Storms” from Myth II. It’s a bleak and morose song, but there’s the subtle hint of hope at the end. The battle is lost, but the war goes on.

9: Dawn Over Tallatzan:

Humanity has suffered terribly. The Arcanids rule much of the world. Garribis stands on the precipice of achieving ultimate power.

But against all odds, Tallatzan City has been retaken. Friends, family, and lovers have been reunited. Past wounds are still raw, and more horror awaits, but for this one moment, all is calm, and Leha’s forces have claimed victory.

I chose to pair this moment of fragile hope with Wander My Friends from the soundtrack of Battlestar Galactica. It’s a bittersweet piece that holds hope for the future, but also remembers the losses of the past.

10: Twilight:

But hope is short-lived. It’s impossible to ignore all that’s been lost. Humanity teeters on the brink of defeat, and even if they were to somehow achieve victory, the world is broken. Nothing will ever be as it was before the wars, and it’s hard to imagine the human race ever recovering.

Humanity has reached its twilight hour.

My choice for this darkest of periods is The Land Will Weep from World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. It’s easily one of the most tragic pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

11: Funeral Dirge:

“Though no one gave the order to, the Pirans worked together to reach the body of their fallen leader. Tyrom’s body was covered in grotesque, blackened scars, but they carried it like a sacred relic, singing a mournful dirge and exacting savage vengeance upon any enemies who came close. There were tears in their eyes, but their backs were unbowed.

“They were noble and majestic in their grief.”

12: The Engine of Life:

Ancient beyond compare, the Engine of Life is rumored to be the machine that gave birth to the human race. Now, it offers humankind a second chance, a rebirth.

The Engine represents a chance of redemption — not just for the Arcanids’ slaves, but for all of humanity. The war ends not in violence, but with an act of great mercy. The darkest aspects of the human race have been overcome.

To close out the book, I’ve once again dipped into the World of Warcraft soundtrack, selecting the Nordrassil theme from Cataclysm. Both tranquil and awe-inspiring, it’s a good match for the Engine of Life and its profound effect on humanity’s future.

Human Again:

1: The Regent-Lady:

Leha is not the woman she once was. She has suffered too much, and lost too many people. The girl from Eastenhold has been replaced by the regent-lady, a noble but tragic figure who lives only for the people she leads.

My choice of theme for this new Leha is the Rukkenvahl Chapterhouse music from Dungeon Siege III.* It’s a song full of mourning and loss, but it also carries a sense of pride, duty, and enduring strength.

*(Which is a criminally underrated game you should totally play, by the way.)

2: Chaos:

Beyond Tyzu, there is a world whose alien nature defies belief. It is a surreal, violent, and terrifying place, but it is also a place of great beauty and wonder. This world would come to be known as Kataclay, the Jansian word for chaos.

My theme for Kataclay comes from Stargate: Universe.* There was never an official soundtrack released for this series, but fans put together their own by extracting songs themselves. This particular song was given the name of Countdown to the Destiny.

It’s got an alien, futuristic feel, but also carries a great sense of adventure, excitement, and awe, so it makes a good fit for the world known as chaos.

*(Which is a criminally underrated show you should totally watch, by the way.)

3: Alistos:

There was only one member of the Regental Guard that Leha chose to bring with her on her journey beyond the known spectrum, a young man named Alistos.

Alistos has a dark past, but like the true Piran he is, he has endured and come out the stronger for it. He now has a good and happy life, and he owes all of that to the sacrifices made by Leha. And he will do anything to protect her.

My choice for Alistos’s theme is the main menu music from Dungeon Siege III. Similar to the Rukkenvhal Chapterhouse theme, it carries an interesting mix of sorrow, pride, and duty — the perfect mix to describe a Piran soldier.

4: Bones:

Can you imagine would it be like to return to the scene of your greatest victory and find everything in ruins? To uncover the bones of your friends, to find your own broken weapons and armor ground into the dirt? It would be horrifying if you could even process it, but your mind rebels at the sheer impossibility of it.

My pick for this most surreal moment is another from the fan-made SG:U soundtrack, Destiny Arrives.

5: Worlds Collide:

The greatest enemies of humanity, the Old Gods and the Arcanids, have been defeated. This is the story we know. But in a universe of infinite possibilities, these two evils still prosper across many worlds. Now, they clash — with Leha caught in the middle.

For this part of the story, I’ve once again dipped into the soundtrack for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, which should be everyone’s source for badass, epic music. Specifically, the song is Xaxas, the theme from the opening cinematic.

6: Living Ghost:

Leha has faced down Garribis and the Automaton Lord. She has traveled to the far ends of the spectrum and back and evaded certain death countless times. Through it all, her courage has never failed her.

But there is one thing she cannot face: The proof of her greatest mistake and the sum of all her regrets staring her in the face, a living ghost who embodies all that her mistakes have cost her.

This scene is probably the cruelest thing I’ve ever done to one of my characters, so I chose a very morose accompaniment for it: “Story of Life” from the unofficial Stargate: Universe soundtrack.

7: The Reborn:

The human race has suffered terribly across two wars, but there is now a source of hope. The freed slaves known as the Reborn offer a new beginning for humankind. Not only through their physical assistance with rebuilding, but as a source of inspiration. The Reborn are a people free of hate, innocent souls who uplift all around them.

To Alistos, the Reborn are especially important. He lost everything in the wars, but he now has a new reason to live in Nahsreen, the Reborn woman who has claimed his heart. Nahsreen has given him a new perspective on the world, and helped him to feel human again.

My theme for the Reborn in general and Nahsreen in particular comes from the Grizzly Hills soundtrack from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. It’s got a very clean, uplifting sound, with just a slight bittersweet edge.

8: The World Tree:

Wondrous. Haunting. Awe-inspiring. Alien.

All these words and more describe the World Tree, but none of them do it justice. It is something wholly beyond human comprehension, the last and greatest work of the creator race.

My soundtrack for the World Tree comes from the hidden faerie dragon event in World of Warcraft. Its has a surreal and haunting feel that fits the alien environment of the World Tree.

9: Return to the Plain:

Leha has one last chance to erase all of the failures of her alternate selves. One last chance for justice — or is it merely vengeance? She no longer sees a distinction between the two. All she wants is an end to her pain, which will only come when she stands atop a mountain of her enemies’ corpses.

But this final quest for revenge will cause her to risk everything, and this time, her luck may have run out.

For this scene, I’ve picked another song from the fan-made Stargate: Universe soundtrack, entitled Run For Your Lives.

10: A Good Brother:

Leha isn’t the only who feels she has failed those closest to her. Drogin believes he has failed her as a brother. He regrets that he hasn’t been able to do more to protect her.

But what he lacks in martial prowess he makes up for with the strength of his love and loyalty, and with his technomancy and the power of the World Tree, he can convert that conviction into the strength to make things right for his sister.

My choice of theme for this moment is Reuniting the Fleet from Battlestar Galactica, a comforting and uplifting song to match the goodness in Drogin’s heart.

11: The World Tree Burns:

The last legacy of a history spanning eons is coming to an end. The final memorial to the creator race crumbles under the assault of their children.

The World Tree is burning.

The song I’ve chosen to accompany this tragic scene is Resurrection Hub from Battlestar Galactica. It has a mournful sense of finality to it that fits well with the last dying gasp of the creator race.

12: A Way Home:

I don’t really feel right spoiling the very end of my trilogy, so I’m just going to post the song and hope that those who have read the end of Human Again will see why this fits.

The song comes from Gauntlet, the final episode of Stargate: Universe. It’s a beautifully bittersweet piece of music, and I think it quite fits the feelings I was trying to evoke with the end of Human Again.

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