Posts Categorized: Brightmoon world

New Brightmoon covers! And a box set too…

March 6, 2017 Brightmoon world, News 2

Big changes are afoot in the Brightmoon world – my lovely covers by Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics will soon be replaced. Why change? Because Glendon gave me exactly what I asked him for – a series of striking fantasy romance covers. And it’s taken me a long time to realise that I don’t write fantasy romance! Most of my books do have some kind of romance in them, but that doesn’t make them romance books.

So, I’ve decided to start again with a clean slate and a new designer, Deranged Doctor Designs, and this time I’ve told them to make the covers epic fantasy through and through. I’m thrilled to show you what they’ve come up with. I’ll be introducing these one by one from 15th March, so if you’re a fan of the old covers and you want to complete your collection, now’s the time to do it. Here are the first three of the new designs (more to come soon):

Kallanash360FireMages360Bennamore360

And a new box set!

Most of my books are standalones, but three of them are connected, so I’ve gathered them into one convenient package for the enjoyment of those who prefer their epic fantasy in trilogies. The Fire Mages Collection contains:

  • The Fire Mages
  • The Fire Mages’ Daughter
  • The Second God

You can buy the whole set for $9.99 (or equivalent), or as always it’s available for free with your subscription to Kindle Unlimited or Prime. Click the image to link to your local Amazon to buy or borrow.

BoxSet360

And I have a favour to ask…

There are lots of reviews for the individual books but almost none for the box set. If you’ve read some or all of the books, I’d love it if you could write an honest review for the box set on Amazon so that other readers will know whether it’s their cup of tea or not. Thank you so much!

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Brightmoon end of year quiz – answers!

January 8, 2017 Brightmoon world 0

I hope you had fun with the quiz. Here are all the answers. Any comments, objections, mistakes, etc – please feel free to post a comment or to email me.

1) The Plains of Kallanash

Question 1: What was Dethin’s job when Mia first met him?

  1. A) Blacksmith
  2. B) Commander of First Section
  3. C) Eastern Warlord
  4. D) Skirmisher

Answer: C) Dethin was the Eastern Warlord, with power of command over several individual sections. Bulraney was the deeply unpleasant character who was Commander of First Section when Mia first arrived there. Hurst and his companions were Skirmishers.

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End of year Brightmoon quiz

December 31, 2016 Brightmoon world 0

It’s that time of year again, when the newspapers are full of quizzes and best-of articles and giant crosswords to while away the empty hours until we can all go back to work again. Or something. Anyway, here’s my contribution to the mountain of such trivia – a quiz set in the Brightmoon world. How much do you remember of the books? Three questions for each book, plus a bonus question. Answers in the New Year.

kallanash1001) The Plains of Kallanash
Question 1: What was Dethin’s job when Mia first met him?
A) Blacksmith
B) Commander of First Section
C) Eastern Warlord
D) Skirmisher
Question 2: When Mia and Hurst climbed to the top of the tower in the lake at the Ring, what did they find there? (Bonus points if you can name everything they found along the way)
A) The Silent Guards
B) The Nine Gods
C) Mages
D) All of the above
Question 3: When Mia met the morodaim in the tunnel, they bowed very respectfully to her. Why?
A) She was the only female.
B) They’d met her before.
C) They recognised her mental ability to read emotions.
D) They are magical creatures; who knows why they do anything?

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Authors Answer 3: How difficult do you find it to write characters who have vastly different beliefs than you?

December 10, 2015 AuthorsAnswer, Brightmoon world, Writing musings 0

I find this a slightly odd question. Any author of fiction is going to be writing characters who are very different from themselves in scores of ways. I’ve written characters who are male, good with a sword, live in multi-couple marriages, rule a nation, can ride a horse, summon eagles or speak many languages, none of which can be said of me. And then there’s magic: my characters can spout fire from their fingertips, bend metal with mental power, manipulate emotions in other people and read memories. Their beliefs are the least of it.

As far as religious belief goes, my world has a slightly uneasy relationship with it, since one group of people likes to use religion as a tool: to keep the population under control, or to disseminate a useful idea. And they create religions wholesale, simply making up gods and mythology and rituals, as it suits them. There are characters who believe all this completely, and others who don’t believe any of it, and the majority who think there’s probably something in it, and go along with the public ceremonies to avoid censure. Which is not that different from our own world.

As for other beliefs, it’s fun to write characters who are completely confident that there are no dragons, for instance, or that magic is just a parlour trick, and have them brought face to face with a different reality. So no, I don’t find it difficult at all to write characters who have different beliefs from me, and in many ways this is one of the beauties of writing fiction: to explore ideas and customs that are entirely alien to us in the modern world. I would almost go further, and say that it’s one of the purposes of writing fiction. There’s surely little point in writing only about the familiar.

Footnote: Authors Answer is the brainchild of blogger Jay Dee Archer, of I Read Encyclopedias For Fun. You can read the answers to this question by his eclectic bunch of authors here. More recently, Erica Dakin, of the Theft And Sorcery blog, has been answering the questions independently. You can read her answer to this question here.

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Magic in the Brightmoon world

January 30, 2015 Brightmoon world, The Fire Mages, The Plains of Kallanash 3

With ‘The Fire Mages’ now out, I thought it might be interesting to look at the way magic is used in the book, and compare it with magic in ‘The Plains of Kallanash’. WARNING: slight spoiler for ‘The Fire Mages’ at the end.

‘The Fire Mages’ is set in the realm of Bennamore. Magic is invoked by the use of spellpages: a trained scribe writes out the words of a spell using magically imbued paper, pen and ink. A special script is used, with many flourishes and symbolic additions to each letter, which can subtly modify the spell, for instance to change the strength, to add constraints or expand it. The spellpage is then burnt in a crucible, with an invocation to the gods: “By the sun, bring light and fire and colour; by the moon, enable the darkness.” The Bennamorians believe that the gods are the final arbiters of whether a spell will work as intended or not.

The scribes who write the spells have no special magical talent themselves. Anyone can be trained to write spellpages, if they have a steady hand and can write accurately. Training takes place at a scribery, and there are five years of study, leading to five levels of scribe:

  • common scribe (reading and writing for the common people, not allowed to scribe spellpages)
  • transaction scribe (working for shopkeepers, inn managers and the like recording their transactions, simple spellpages)
  • contract scribe (working for businesses recording larger deals, more complicated spellpages)
  • personal scribe (working for and advising nobles)
  • law scribe (advising on the law of the whole country)

 

In theory, anyone can become a scribe to any level. There is no barrier to entry, apart from a simple test of reading and writing ability. However, the tuition has to be paid for, and each year costs twice as much as the year before. This means that the fifth year costs sixteen times as much as the first year.

There is one stage beyond that of law scribe – mage! What’s the difference between a scribe, performing magic by writing spellpages, and a mage? A mage performs exactly the same spells, but without needing to scribe them on magically enhanced paper. He or she (yes, it could be either) uses a vessel filled with magical power to enable their magic, so they just need to speak the words of the spell. The most adept can simply think the words.

They can also use the vessel in other ways, for instance, to touch a sick or injured person, and see where healing is needed, instead of guessing from symptoms. They can imbue paper, ink and quills with magic for scribes to use. They can create shortcuts for spells, for instance, a single word which enables a whole spell, but these have to be prepared in advance. There used to be more powerful mages who could create new spells, but there have been none for a long time, and the power of spellpages generally is waning; many spells which used to be effective are now less reliable.

In Bennamore, this is the only kind of magic that is recognised, and any other form of magic is illegal.

In ‘The Plains of Kallanash’, set in a different part of the same world, there are no spellpages. In fact, over most of the plains, there is no magic at all. The Catastrophe which reshaped the world so devastated that area, that magic of any sort is suppressed. Only at the Ring, surrounding the Tower of Reception, is there any magical ability, but very few people are aware of it. Most don’t even believe in magic.

But there is magic, and it’s innate – everyone has a kind of magic, a ‘connection’ to something which gives them a special affinity with that something. For most people this works at such a low level that they’re not even aware of it. They might just think they happen to be rather good at growing apples or raising pigs or working wood. Some people are aware of their connection, but it isn’t strong enough for them to do anything with it. But a few people have a very strong connection, powerful enough for them to use it. If you have read ‘The Plains of Kallanash’, you will know who has a strong connection, and how they use it!

But anyone who’s read ‘The Fire Mages’ as well may be saying, “Wait a minute, this is the same world, but it has two different kinds of magic in it. How does that work?”

That’s a good question. The answer, as so often in the Brightmoon world, lies in the Catastrophe. When the powerful pre-Catastrophe mages started playing about with forces they couldn’t ultimately control, and realised that the only way to save the world was to destroy magic, naturally they immediately started looking for ways to allow magic to continue anyway. ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ shows the results of one attempt to do that. ‘The Fire Mages’ shows another.

The system of spellpages was created by mages before the Catastrophe. They ‘seeded’ the whole region where Bennamore now stands with a kind of magical power which could be easily transferred to objects – the vessels used by modern mages, and the paper, ink and quills used to create the spellpages. They invented the spells themselves, and the form of writing used to invoke them. And they made the whole system self-perpetuating, so that it doesn’t need anyone with native magical ability. Bennamorian scribes need have no innate talent for magic (although mages generally have some latent capability).

But what about Kyra? Here’s someone who clearly does have a strong innate magical ability, so how does that work?

Another good question, and here comes the slight spoiler. Even in Bennamore, everyone has a connection. That kind of magic is just a part of the human condition in the Brightmoon world, everyone has it, to a greater or lesser degree. But the only forms of magic allowed in Bennamore are the spellpages and the vessel-empowered mages. Any other kind is illegal, and the penalties severe, so those with connections keep very quiet about them.

But not all connections are to mushrooms or root vegetables or sparrows. Kyra’s connection is to magic itself. And that makes her very, very special. It’s a situation that can only arise when a child is born close to magic – in Bennamore, or near one of the many magical places pre-dating the Catastrophe – and even then, it happens very rarely. But when it does, it gives the recipient enormous power, which can be used for great good or great evil. And therein lies the story behind ‘The Fire Mages’.

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On villains

October 4, 2013 Brightmoon world, The Fire Mages, The Incursors, The Plains of Kallanash 0

Most stories have a villain of some sort to generate conflict (also known as an antagonist). Beginning writers are advised to give their hero or heroine (protagonist) a goal, and to have an antagonist who works against the protagonist, preventing him or her from reaching their goal. The tension rises as the protagonist struggles to achieve the goal and is knocked back more and more decisively; eventually a point of despair is reached, then a solution is envisaged and there is a final confrontation, during which the antagonist is defeated.

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On Religions

September 29, 2013 Brightmoon world, The Fire Mages, The Incursors, The Plains of Kallanash 0

Most fantasy worlds include some sort of religious belief. It’s such an ingrained part of real-world culture that it can be very hard to conceive of a world without some kind of spiritual element. Some authors use the opportunity to explore aspects of belief that are difficult to address in contemporary fiction, since real religions carry so much historical baggage. Some throw in as many different forms of worship as they can, for depth or to create conflict between groups. Occasionally a fantasy world has no religion at all (like Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series).

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On Marriage and Other Arrangements

August 25, 2013 Brightmoon world, Current writings 0

Most fantasy works, however outlandish or alien the setting, accept the standard customs for legalising the relationships between sexual partners and taking care of children. Marriage is (mostly) for life, is between one man and one woman, sex outside that pairing is frowned upon, children born outside that pairing are a matter for social disapprobation, prostitution is immoral and usually illegal. These attitudes, although drifting into a more liberal version in many countries, are still so prevalent in all modern cultures as to be virtually ubiquitous.

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