"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Monday, February 14, 2011

High Magic

Here's the Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) for EOLYN!  Hadley Rille editor Eric T. Reynolds handed it to me on Friday.  I've been a little giddy every since.  This week, more copies will be going out to reviewers and fellow authors. 

We are just under three months to the release of EOLYN in May.  There's still some work to be done between now and then.  Artists Jesse Smolover and Ginger Prewitt will be finalizing the cover art and map of Moisehén, respectively.  Melissa J. Lytton will be doing our cover design.  And of course, I have to read this book -- my book! -- to see if there are any final details I'd like to change before we go to press.  The Events Page on this blog will start filling up over the coming weeks and months, so you may want to keep an eye on that.  In addition to a pre-launch party and a launch party, I'll be doing some book signings and attending a few fantasy conferences.  All the details will be posted here.  You can also 'friend' EOLYN on Facebook for regular updates.

On to this week's topic, High Magic.

This is the third post in my short series about Advanced Magic.  The first post, about three weeks ago, covered 'Simple Magic', and the second talked a little about 'Middle Magic'.  Just to recap, what I'm relating here is the worldview of the magas and mages of Moisehén with respect to of magic.  There are other cultures in Eolyn's world, such as the Galians and the Syrnte, who conceive of magic in somewhat different ways from what I describe here.  But we'll discuss all those other witches and wizards when the time comes...

According to the legends of Moisehén, High Magic is a form of knowledge and power that was gifted by the gods to Aithne and Caradoc, the first people to discover magic.  Aithne and Caradoc had together learned the techniques of Simple and Middle Magic by 'listening' to the world around them; to the plants, animals, rivers and stones.  Their achievements caused dissention among the gods, a great conflict arose between those who admired the practice of magic by humans and those who felt threatened by it. The gods who supported Aithne and Caradoc sent Dragon to grant them the staves with which they would eventually master High Magic.  (You can hear the complete story of Aithne and Caradoc in the May 2010 post entitled The Origin of Magic.)

Practitioners who have become adept at Simple and Middle Magic must petition the gods for their staff.  The initiate generally spends time alone in the forest, and at the end of his or her retreat Dragon appears in the form of an animal with instructions as to what elements are to be incorporated into the staff.  (Note that Dragon has only appeared in its true form, the winged serpent, a handful of times in the history of Moisehén: to Aithne and Caradoc, to the warrior chief Vortingen -- who was not a practitioner of magic -- and to the first Mage Warrior Caradoc.  Every other petitioner of magic has encountered Dragon in some other form, whether that be a wolf, an owl, an ant, a snake, or another creature of the forest.)  If Dragon does not appear, it means the gods have denied the initiate's petition to learn High Magic.

The three or four elements that go into each individual staff are unique.  For example, one maga's staff may be made of cherry wood, with a crystal of amethyst and the feather of a thrush.  Another may be made of oak with a crystal of smoky quartz and the wings of a dragonfly. Each staff is thus tailored to its user, and it is difficult --though not impossible -- for one practitioner to use the staff of another.

Staves in Moisehen are said to be 'forged' because the integration of the elements that make them is achieved in a sacred fire prepared by the tutor of the initiate. With a staff, the mage or maga can draw on very deep powers of the earth to accomplish many feats of magic and illusion, such as flight, shapeshifting, the invocation of sound wards and vision wards, and the deflection of flying objects such as arrows (which comes in pretty handy).  They can also invoke a variety of flames for ceremonial purposes, for self-defense, or in the case of Mage Warriors, for use on the battle field. 

Magic in Moisehén is an evolving craft, the High Mages and Magas try to push magic beyond the traditional limits of their predecessors.  Eolyn and Akmael, for example, have certain powers that develop during the course of the novel.  One of their ongoing challenges, as individuals and companions, is to recognize these abilities and make proper use of them. 

Related to this idea, it is also true that sometimes High Magic acts in unexpected ways.  So, while certain rules and limitations apply to the practice of magic, magic can also occasionally slip outside of its boundaries in a manner that surprises even practitioners.

Well, that's my post for this week.  Next week, if everything goes as planned (and in life as in magic, sometimes it doesn't), I'll talk a little about that special class of practitioners who succeeded in bringing magic to the battle field:  the Mage and Maga Warriors.

Hope to see you then!