"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

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Middle Magic

Well, today I was scheduled to meet with Hadley Rille editor Eric T. Reynolds and artist Melissa J. Lytton to talk about cover designs for EOLYN, but Mother Nature had a different plan, having whipped up a fine blizzard over the states of Kansas and Missouri.  So I'm keeping warm and cozy at home, watching the snow fall, and fall, and then fall some more. 

We're getting close to putting out the advanced reading copies (called 'ARCs') for EOLYN.  These are basically preview books that go to reviewers and other authors prior to the release date. I will also receive a copy, to comb through it once more in case there's anything left that I would like to change or fix before we go to press in May. Just thinking about it brings to mind a couple things I need to ask Eric about, but before I sign off to do that, let's talk a little more about magic.

Last week I wrote about Simple Magic, one of the three classes of Advanced Magic recognized by the Old Orders of Moisehén.  Students who become adept at Simple Magic eventually advance to Middle Magic.  The distinction between the two can be fuzzy sometimes, and was often a subject of intense debate among the different schools of the Old Orders.  Yet it is generally agreed that the focus of Middle Magic is communication, in a very broad sense of the word.  In Chapter 4, Akmael tells Eolyn:

"Middle Magic is the language of the world, of the animals and the stones and the plants. It’s about integrating the elements. Middle Magic is everything you have to know before you can practice High Magic."

Magas and Mages believe that understanding the natural world is a fundamental prerequisite to being able to manipulate it.  So students of Middle Magic focus on learning how to speak with and listen to the animals, plants and even the stones. 

Now, as I've mentioned in previous posts, plants and animals in EOLYN do not 'speak English' in the sense that you might find in a children's book.  So you will never see Eolyn carry on a conversation with a wolf in the same manner she does with Ghemena or Akmael.  But Eolyn does learn how to interpret the signals of wolves in their own right, to understand what is being 'said' by them, and to interact with them directly.

It bears mentioning that writing is considered a form of Middle Magic in the tradition of Moisehén, primarily because of its ability to preserve human thought and knowledge through time.  For this reason, all students of Middle Magic learn to read and write. 

Other skills learned by students of Middle Magic depend to some extent on the preferences of the tutors with whom they work.  As it turns out, Tzeremond and Ghemena have very similar approaches to instructing their wards, so both Akmael and Eolyn learn, for example, how to 'visualize'; that is, how to create the illusion of a particular object. As a matter of fact, one of their first acts of friendship, described in Chapter 4, is to craft a gift for each other by using this power.  

In addition, while shape shifting is a power associated with High Magic, both Tzeremond and Ghemena turn their wards into animals (or even plants) to supplement their education in Middle Magic.  (And yes, this particular practice is my small tribute to Merlin and Wart, as portrayed in T.H. White's classic The Once and Future King.) 

Okay, that covers my brief introduction to Middle Magic.  Up for next week:  High Magic.  Hope to see you then!