I’ve been a giant monster fanboy for a very long time, just about all of my life. I can still can remember that day I was walking through a Toys R Us store as a three-year-old with my parents, and my eyes were eventually drawn to a VHS copy of King Kong vs. Godzilla. When I watched it with my family back home later that night, and we watched Godzilla’s introduction where he emerges triumphantly from an iceberg, it was love at first sight.
Something about that big, atomic fire breathing lizard just resonated with me as a youngster. Kong was pretty cool to me, too, as were so many of the other giant monsters I would go on to see in films and television, primarily those of the Japanese variety (Kaiju). They came in such a wide array of sizes, shapes, colors, abilities, and personalities, but all fearsome and awe inspiring in their own unique ways. I didn’t really follow superheroes or DC/Marvel comics until my high school years, so as a kid I didn’t have much interest in Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, or Wonder Woman―my heroes were Godzilla, Kong, Gamera, and Mothra.
That passion for Kaiju has stuck with me all the way into my late 20s (the big 30 comes next year for me). As I was developing The Legend of Light trilogy, my first major literary work, I could not resist finding a way to work my own giant monsters into the fictional world of Tordale, to engage in all kinds of mayhem at some point in the adventure. The great thing about the high fantasy genre is how boundless it is, so Kaiju can feel right at home in a story filled with magic, myths, and other fantastical creatures. I created a number of different beasts and other wild animals that appear throughout the three books in the trilogy, but the two I’m most proud of are the biggest of them all.
In Book Two, A Gleaming Path, readers meet Samuras, the Queen of the Ocean. Samuras is a titanic reptile the size of a battleship who roams the oceans surrounding Tordale, protecting the waters from all those who may disrupt the natural tranquility. Those who respect the ocean can consider Samuras as a nearly invincible ally, but those who threaten the peace find in her a terrifying foe who will destroy anything in her path. She upholds balance across the vast, watery realm, migrating between different islands that she finds suitable to stop and rest after her journeys. Her favorite spot is the coral island known as Onda Reef. Samuras is revered as a deity by the Onda―a race of intelligent, aquatic reptiles who live far out in the ocean. By honoring Samuras and the territory she defends, the Onda earn her trust and her protection from any potential enemies. The matriarchal leaders of the Onda know a unique language that they use to communicate with Samuras, which sounds like a series of bellowing cries that Samuras can understand.
Channeling the attachment I had a child to Godzilla, I wanted one of the giant monsters in The Legend of Light to have a heroic, noble quality to them. Even though Samuras is a wild animal who does not really recognize the concept of morality, she presents no danger to the living beings of Tordale who just want to enjoy peace. She readily fights alongside them against those beings and creatures who will only bring death and destruction. I envisioned her as a monster who is both regal and imposing, as beautiful as she can be frightening. She possesses that same duality when in battle. While Samuras is in the water, she swims with deft speed that belies her massive bulk, which she uses to batter her foes. Her claws, tail, and sheer size are effective weapons against any enemy. Should those not be enough, Samuras also possesses an innate energy source that looks like blue electricity. When she summons this, it courses all throughout her body and surrounds her in a burning aura that will fry whatever unfortunate opponent is nearby.
Samuras was primarily inspired by two creatures from the Monster Hunter series of
video games, which I am a huge fan of, not surprisingly. I always imagined her being a brawny, quadruped lizard, like a monitor or komodo dragon. I took inspiration from the Royal Ludroth for that thick build, and for the mane of sponge-like frills. Lagiacrus served as an inspiration for its vivid blue coloration, and its electrical current that flows throughout its body and is used for its most powerful attacks in the video games.
Opposing Samuras in The Legend of Light is Garadev, a monster who is just as massive as her. Unlike Samuras, though, Garadev has no concern for the peaceful order of the oceans or the continent of Tordale. He is a vicious, blood-thirsty giant who forms an alliance with the warlord Baldaron. Where Baldaron and his army of armored wraiths march across the continent of Tordale, Garadev prowls the oceans with malicious intent.
Garadev is described as such in the story ―
“Its reptilian head surfaced first, followed by the long neck that craned high into the air. Emerald scales covered its remarkable bulk, glistening in the sunlight. A frill of pale green membranes crowned its head and ran down the length of its dorsum. As enormous as it appeared in open air, only a portion of its entire mass emerged from the depths. The rest of it still lay beneath the waves; its four legs, the claws that were each as big as a barn house, the sinuous tail that it used like a propeller to guide itself through the water with incredible speed.”
Two fictional creatures influenced the design I had in mind for Garadev. There was the titular creature from the 1959 film The Giant Behemoth (the Paleosaurus), and the Green Dragons from the Dungeons & Dragons franchise (just sans wings). I always envisioned Garadev with a body like that of an Apatosaurus or Brachiosaurus. He is thinner and sleeker than Samuras, his limbs and appendages are also much longer, which he uses to his benefit in battle. His legs end in razor sharp claws, his tail is like a whip, and his long neck ends in a crocodilian head with powerful, ripping jaws. Garadev can even use that long neck to constrict an opponent. Most fearsome in his arsenal, however, is the beam of burning water that he can spew from the depths of his throat. It is like a laser, able to cut through solid rock and slice a battleship in half. What it does not pierce, it scalds with nightmarish heat.
Samuras and Garadev meet in battle in Book Two of The Legend of Light, A Gleaming Path―a battle that feels like it’s straight out of a Godzilla movie. Head over to Amazon to find the first two books in the trilogy, available in print and on all Kindle devices. The third and final book, Radiant Fate, releases in late summer/early fall of this year.