The Black Recorder

Book 4 in the Wyrdwolf series

Book 4 in the Wyrdwolf series
Izzy opens a letter just before her annual Samhain shindig - and instantly endangers her whole family.

Everything is getting personal - from the intrusion into their home by malign magic to Michael being challenged to a duel by one of the greatest magicians in the UK. Even their party becomes a threat as Declan is pursued by a reporter determined to dig up his secrets.

The hunt is on for who threatens revenge on Izzy... and why. As she tracks through the archives of past lawspeakers, Izzy discovers secrets hidden from her dam's past. And her own. Tied by something she did at her daughter's birth, Izzy realises too late the consequences for Michael if she dies.

Hunted by the Inquisition, Isolde and Michael face life - or death - in jail. But first they have to find a way to kill someone far stronger than they are.

The fourth book in the Wyrdwolf series interweaves modern magic with folklore and mythology to create a tense revenge thriller. Set in the borderlands of England and South Wales.

The Black Recorder - on sale in Kindle or print editions, via Amazon.

  • Author: Alexa Duir
  • Set in: England, 2004
  • series number: Book #4
  • Where to buy: Amazon US
  • Where to buy: Amazon UK
  •    For other countries, click on the UK link and substitute your country's domain for the .co.uk in the url
  • True BitsIf you want to know which of the folklore and history in the books is true

True Bits in the book


Chapter 2
Chouchou (informal French) = darling, baby, sweetheart. A term of endearment. The word is derived from chou = cabbage.

Chapter 3
Servitors are used in modern magic, though they have much less capacity than anything in this book.

Michael’s information about All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is accurate. A day to celebrate all martyrs was set up to coincide with the Roman Lemuria (a rite for the dead) by Pope Boniface IV in the early 7th century. It was moved to 1 November by Pope Gregory III in the 8th century.

Samhain is a pre-Christian Celtic festival, attested in some Celtic countries. It’s likely the pagan festival supplanted by All Saints was Winter Nights. See Ronald Hutton’s The Stations of the Sun.   

Winter Nights is a pre-Christian festival celebrated within the old Heathen religion. It’s one of the festivals mentioned in the Ynglinga saga, and involved rituals to the elves and the Dísir. It’s often tied to the onset of winter weather rather than a fixed date. In the UK, that often coincided with the end of October.  

In the ancient Celtic and Anglo Saxon calendars, a day began at sunset.

Chapter 5
 Deus ex machina (Latin) refers to a god wheeled onto the stage in a Classical play to resolve a difficulty in the plot.

Chapter 6
In Heathen mythology, the three Norns tend wyrd.

Chapter 7
Pépé (informal French) = granddad.

Myrddin and Ambrose are names of Merlin. Math fab Mathonwy is a Welsh god who appears in the Mabinogi. Michael Scot was a 13th-century occultist and alchemist from the Scottish Borders.

Chapter 8
Merlin is presented as Arthur’s mentor in T H White’s The Sword in the Stone (1938). This was White’s The Once and Future King own addition to the legends.

Chapter 9
The First Gulf War (1990-1991) was waged by coalition forces from 35 nations against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.

The Iraq War began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition that overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein.

The SAS regiment is based close to Hereford. SAS soldiers are as much affected by PTSD as any other service personnel. 

Egregores, servitors and sigils are concepts in Western Magic.

There are fairy tales in many cultures which feature having to guess the name of the fay to gain control over them. 

Chapter 10
Jahannam is the Islamic version of Christian hell.

Chapter 11
The association of death or ill luck being presaged by candles burning blue is in English folklore. It is mentioned Shakespeare’s in Richard III Act 5 Scene 3. The colour blue also has a long association with healing.

Dr John Dee was Queen Elizabeth I’s magician. He tied the legend of King Arthur with his idea of a British Empire to persuade Queen Elizabeth I to annexe parts of North America.

Chapter 12
Uppsala in Sweden was a significant religious centre.

Chapter 15
Vandna’s information about All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the Christian churches is true. However, the information about Samhain is not. Any link between the pre-Christian Celtic festival and the dead is disputed.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in countries as far apart as Mexico and Estonia.

Chapter 16
Contiguous authority between police areas in the UK exists.

Chapter 17
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Latin) coined by Juvenal in Satire 6.

Curry favour (British slang) = to seek to gain favour.

Chapter 20
Eejit (Irish slang) = idiot. A stupid person.

Lysistrata is a comedy performed by the Athenian dramatist Aristophanes in 411BCE. The plot revolves around women withholding sex in order to end a war.

Prophecy was associated with Merlin from the earliest (British) stories of him.

Chapter 22
The Data Protection Act in force in the UK at the time did not protect the dead.

Chapter 23
The Romans started the day at midnight.

Chapter 25
Weregold is my update of the Anglo Saxon word wergild (man-payment). It was the amount of compensation paid by a person for committing an offence.

The moon’s cycle of its position in the sky repeats every nineteen years.  This is known as the Metonic cycle.

Lindsey was an Anglo Saxon kingdom in the east of England.

Chapter 28
The death penalty was abolished in Great Britain on 9th November 1965.

 Ulfheðnar/ulfheðin (Old Norse: plural/singular) = wolf coats. In Heathen mythology, these were warriors who took wolf shape in battle. I have used the word for the pack police.

Chapter 29
The Lokasenna (Loki’s insult contest with his fellow gods) is in the Poetic Edda.

Chapter 30
One of Loki’s children was the horse Sleipnir, which was said to have eight legs. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 42.

The Philosophers' Stone was the most sought goal in alchemy. It was held to turn other metals into gold or confer immortality.

The name Ingi originated in parts of Scandinavia as a diminutive of any male name beginning with Ing.

The information about the history of penalties in England for being gay is true.

Chapter 32
Paul Robeson had a career as a singer and film star and was famous for the song Old Man River in Showboat. He was also famous for his cultural accomplishments and his political activism.

Chapter 33
Tam Lin is an old Scottish ballad that takes place at Hallowe’en. Elves play a large part.

Morticia and Gomez are characters from The Addams Family, a 1960s TV show. The characters are based on the work of cartoonist Charles Addams.

The Gundestrup Cauldron is mainly famous for the image of a horned god.

Spate (British) = a river flowing faster than it usually does.

The swan upping ceremony takes place every July on the River Thames. The ownership of swans in the Thames is shared equally among the Crown and two livery companies of the City of London.

Karnonos is Gallo-Celtic for horned god. Cernunnos is the Latinised name.

Chapter 34
The Sutton Hoo 7th century ship burial had examples of exquisite cloisonné work. In Heathen mythology, the children of Loki included the giant wolf Fenris and the Midgard Serpent, which circled the world and bit its tail. See the Prose Edda Glyfaginning 34.

Knowe (Scottish/Northern Irish) = small hill. Small hills were associated with the dead and the fay in British and Irish folklore.

Chapter 35
The Fenlands in the east of England are crisscrossed by drainage ditches.

Theoden, Gandalf, Legolas and Galadriel are all characters from J R R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Caveat emptor (Latin) = buyer beware. A legal principle in many countries that it is up to the buyer to check the goods.

Burgrune (Anglo Saxon) = a sorceress. The word is associated with the Norns.

Chapter 36
Although most white swans seem to mate for life, studies show that female black swans are regularly unfaithful.

Chapter 37
The ageing process is not entirely genetic.

In Heathen mythology, Ragnarok is signalled by the watchman god Heimdall blowing his horn. The story is in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 51.

Chapter 39
Dirty stop-out (British slang) = someone who has been out all night, usually for nefarious purposes.

In Heathen mythology, Loki’s father is an ettin (an Anglo Saxon word, jotnar in Old Norse). Ettins were a race separate from the gods in Heathen mythology. They both fought against and intermarried with the gods.

Hel is the name of Loki’s daughter and also of her kingdom. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 34. The dead could also go to the halls of gods.

Chapter 44
Donne-moi ton nom! (French) = (familiar/disrespectful form) give me your name!

In English folklore, magpies were regarded as harbingers of death from at least the early 16th century until modern times.

One for Sorrow is from a traditional English counting rhyme about magpies.

Chapter 46
In Heathen mythology, Thor is married to the goddess Sif. They live in Thor’s hall, Bilskirnir (=lightning-crack). His hammer Mjollnir returns to his hand when thrown. He was renowned as an ettin fighter. Stories in the Eddas indicate Loki and Thor are friends. In one, Thor accomplishes several tasks, including nearly drinking the sea dry: Prose Edda Gylfaginning 43-47. 

Firehome is my translation of Muspelheim or Muspell, one of the Nine Worlds in Heathen mythology.

Chapter 47
In Heathen mythology, a symbel was a feast. Modern Heathens often use it was a round of toasting in the way described.

Chapter 48
Willy waving (British slang) =  acting in an excessively macho fashion.

Chapter 49
Keep your gob/trap shut (British slang) = don’t say anything

Frigging/fecking (British slang) = a more socially acceptable form of the British swear word fuck.

Knock off (British slang) = to murder

Chapter 51
The tale about Merlin calling down rain at Barenton is probably Breton folklore, although the fountain at Barenton in Broceliande is mentioned in Medieval Arthurian French romances.

The effects of anaphylactic shock are true. EpiPens are pen-size devices that relieve the effects.

Chapter 53
Smoking in workplaces and enclosed public spaces wasn’t banned in England until 1st July 2007. However, the public sector banned it in their workplaces long before.

Chapter 55
The biological sex (including intersex) of a foetus is determined at conception.