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 bits from real modern magic with an imaginary history of magic in the UK, a dash of Heathenry and Celtic observance and a pinch of Christian history in another magic whodunit set in the ravishing countryside of the border between Wales and England.

What more could you want?

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 3
Michael’s information about All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is accurate. It’s celebrated by the Western Christian churches on 1st and 2nd November, respectively. 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.

Beltane and Samhain are pre-Christian Celtic festivals, attested in some Celtic countries. However, it’s more likely the festival being supplanted by the Roman Catholic church was Winternights than Samhain. (see Ronald Hutton Stations of the Sun).

Winternights is a pre-Christian festival celebrated within the old Heathen religion. It’s one of the festivals mentioned in the Ynglinga saga, and involved sacrifices to the elves and the Dísir. Some countries adopted a date, while others used the onset of winter weather as a signal to celebrate it. In the UK, that change tends to coincide with Samhain (31 October).

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

Chapter 7
Pépé is French for ‘granddad’.

Chatham House in London houses the headquarters of the UK Royal Institute of International Affairs. The Chatham House Rule originated in June 1927 to enable frank debate. Broadly, it enables participants in a meeting to use information from the discussion, but not to reveal who said what.

Chapter 10
The SAS regiment is based close to Hereford. SAS soldiers are as much affected by PTSD as any other service personnel.

I went back online to look up servitors. That got complicated, as there seemed to be all sorts, from a special sort of symbol called a sigil at one end to egregores at the other. I didn’t like the sound of egregores at all: a communal magical construct designed to carry out tasks, which then developed a life of its own. It sounded a bit like Asimov’s robot tales to me. Or worse.

Egregores, servitors and sigils are concepts in Western Magic.

Isaac Asimov is a science fiction author known for creating stories based on his ‘three laws of robotics’.

Memes exist.

Chapter 11
Jahannam is the Islamic version of Christian hell. It’s also called the Fire in the Quran.

Chapter 12
The association of death or ill luck being presaged by candles burning blue is real. It’s mentioned by Shakespeare in Richard III. 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 the new World.

Chapter 13
Lokka Táttur from the Faroe Islands is a famous story about Loki and a troll.

Chapter 14
If something ‘has legs’ (or not), then it can run. The idiom began in the print world, with newspaper stories. I simply extended it.

Chapter 15
Vandna’s information is true. However, there is academic dispute as to whether the old Celtic festival of Samhain had any link with the dead in pre-Christian times.

Although Heathen mythology (the Poetic Edda Lokasenna) has Loki fathering a child on Tyr’s wife, it was not a dual siring. The child was male and not a werewolf.

Chapter 16
‘A gift for a gift’ is a modern Heathen tenet.

Contiguous authority between police areas exists.

Chapter 20
The tale of Vortigern’s castle appears in the 9th century document Historia Brittonum. It was Geoffrey of Monmouth who really developed the story, including the part of Merlin, in his 12th century bestseller the Historia Regum Britanniae.

Chapter 21
The UK Data Protection Act in force at the time did not protect the dead.

Chapter 24
The moon’s cycle of where it appears in the sky each night repeats every nineteen years. This is known as the Metonic cycle.

Multimap was the main online map service at the time the book is set.

Lindsey was an Anglo Saxon kingdom. The name was retained as part of the English shire of Lincolnshire until the 20th century.

Chapter 27
The death penalty was effectively abolished in the UK on 9th November 1965.

Chapter 28
The Lokasenna (Loki’s insult contest with his fellow gods) is in the Poetic Edda.

Chapter 31
The information about the history of penalties in England for being gay is true.

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

Chapter 32
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 and several films. The characters are based on the work of cartoonist Charles Addams.

The Gundestrup Cauldron is mainly famous for the image of a horned god. Michael’s costume replicates the image. I added colour.

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, the Vintners' Company and the Dyers' Company, both livery companies of the City of London.

Chapter 34
Although most white swans seem to mate for life, studies have shown that female black swans are regularly unfaithful.

Chapter 35
In Heathen mythology, Ragnarok is signalled by the watchman god Heimdall blowing his horn. The story is in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 51.

The reference to Odhin and ‘the seeress’ alludes to the first book in the modern canon of the Poetic Edda, the Voluspa or The Prophecy of the Seeress. It is one of the most important texts in modern Heathenry.

Chapter 37
In the ancient texts of Heathen mythology, both of Loki’s parents were ettins (Old Norse: jotnar). ‘Ettin’ is a word constructed from Old English Eoten or Ent, referring to the jotnar. The word is often translated ‘giant’ though ettins weren’t larger than usual. Ettins were a race separate from the gods in Heathen mythology, and they both fought against and intermarried with the gods.

Chapter 42
In English folklore, magpies were regarded as harbingers of death from at least the early 16th century until modern times.

Chapter 43
In Heathen mythology, Thor is married to the goddess Sif. They live in Thor’s hall, Bilskirnir (‘lightning-crack’). His hammer, Mjollnir, was known for having a short handle and returning to his hand. He was renowned as an ettin fighter. Stories in the Eddas indicate Loki and Thor were friends.

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

There is a tale about Thor and Loki in which Thor accomplishes several tasks, including nearly drinking the sea dry. It’s in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 43-47.

Chapter 45
2004 was well before social media. Hence Michael’s explanation of how difficult it might be to disseminate news of the outcome of a duel.

Chapter 47
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 can help prevent the effects.

Chapter 49
Smoking in workplaces and enclosed public spaces wasn’t banned in England until 1 July 2007. However, the public sector banned it in their workplaces long before.

Chapter 50
The thirty-year rule exists.