Tag Archives: Almost Adept

Magic = Responsibility

When we hear the word ‘magic’ in our mundane world, we always imagine something pleasing, like a magic show, or our massage therapist’s magic hands, or a fantasy book we have read recently. But in Fantasyland, magic has a different connotation. In fantasy stories, magic is a gift and a responsibility.

AlmostAdep180x270JIn my novel Almost Adept, the protagonist, young magician Eriale often encounters situations where her magic is the best choice to deal with a problem. And she can’t shirk that responsibility, no matter how much she might want to.

Once, en route to visit her relatives, she came upon a burning village. Of course, her first action was to extinguish the fire with her magic. After that, she searched for the source of the fire and found it too—a five-year-old boy, gifted with fire magic but untrained. She didn’t want to play a babysitter to a grubby, sulky urchin, didn’t want to leave the village in a hurry, without rest or food, but she did both. She considered it her responsibility to take care of the fledging mage, to whisk him out of peril’s way. If she didn’t, the angry villages might’ve killed the kid in retaliation, even though his fire that had almost burned the village was unintentional. Eriale was the only one who could help the boy, so she did. She grumbled, of course, but she never hesitated.

Later in the novel, Eriale experienced her first love affair just before she discovered a corrupt mage abusing his magic apprentices. Again, because of her magic, she was the only one who could help them. She knew that confronting the evil and powerful mage was very dangerous but she couldn’t see any other option. Nobody but her could help those kids. She had to try, even though her sweetheart had enemies of his own and he could die without her help. Faced with such a devastating choice—him or the apprentices—she made the only possible decision, even though it tore her heart apart: she left to deal with the monstrous sorcerer and abandoned her beloved. He might find others to help him…or not, but the apprentices had no advocate except her. Her magical abilities dictated her actions.

Unlike Eriale in her imaginary, quasi-medieval world, Darya, the protagonist of my short story collection Squirrel of Magic lives in modern Canada. Darya is a good witch, and like Eriale, she feels it her responsibility to help people in trouble. Some of those she helps are her friends. Others are strangers. It makes no difference. If her magic can help them, she must get involved, no matter her personal cost. Even if that cost includes the good opinion of her boyfriend or a risk of getting arrested.

Neither of my magical heroines can ignore her magic. It rules their lives, brings unique joys and unique sorrows. Like any power, their magic implies responsibilities: to the people around them as well as to themselves.

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Love always wins, but which one?

When people hear the L word, most often they associate it with an amorous setting, chocolate, and flowers, especially around Feb 14. But there’re many different kinds of love. Love for your children and your parents. Love for your land. Love for poetry or music or any other artistic endeavor, your own or someone else’s. Love for a pet. Love for a god.

Sometimes, those loves collide at cross-purposes, and you have to choose one at the cost of another. Those are the most stressful situations in real life and the most interesting in fiction.

My protagonist Eriale from my recent fantasy novel Almost Adept finds herself in such a situation. She meets a man – of course, she does, she is seventeen – and falls in love with him. He occupies her thoughts. She wants to give him anything, shield him from any danger, assist him in any endeavor. She wants to see him smile, hear his voice, share his days. Sadly, she can’t spend the rest of her life with him, no matter how much she wants to, and she knows it.

Eriale is a princess of Varelia. Well, kind of. Her much older half-sister Tamara (they share a father) is Varelian queen by marriage. Like many siblings, the sisters don’t often see eye to eye. Besides, Eriale is a magician, and like any magician, she is strong-willed and independent. She craves freedom to roam the world, to learn new magic, to encounter new mysteries. Rebelling against her sister’s rigid rules, Eriale runs away from home, towards mayhem and adventure, but she could never totally forget her responsibilities. Even if she bickers with Tamara, her sister, she would never endanger Tamara, the queen.

When travels bring Eriale to Grumesh, she falls in love with Kealan, a local courier, but unfortunately, he is not a suitable partner for our wandering princess. Once, he might’ve been, for he was born a high-ranking nobleman. But ten years ago, an aggressive Empire invaded Grumesh, and all the country’s native nobility were disbanded.

Now, Kealan is an outlaw, a leader of the resistance movement, with a price on his head. Even if he stopped fighting the occupants and became a law-abiding citizen, he would still represent a subdued nation. Any alliance between Kealan and the royal house of Varelia would be frowned upon by the Emperor and might cause a diplomatic incident or even armed hostilities between Varelia and the Empire. Eriale would never allow that to happen, would never jeopardize her country’s security for her own pleasure.

Nor would she repudiate her land and family for Kealan’s sake. But she couldn’t deny her love for him either, not to appease the political whimsy of the Emperor. Instead, she chooses a compromise. She would spend as much time with her beloved as she could. She would hear him laugh, savor his touch, relish his kisses. She would bestow the protection of her magic on him, but when the time comes, she would leave him behind. And although she knows her joy is transitory, the knowledge doesn’t diminish her happiness, maybe even makes it more acute.

AlmostAdep180x270J In a similar situation, another girl might’ve followed a different set of priorities and opted to remain with her sweetheart, come what may. Neither love is right or wrong. Eriale’s choice of patriotic love over romantic love is dictated by her personality, but also by the demands of the genre – a high fantasy quest. If my novel was a romance, Eriale’s choice might have been different.

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Olga Godim’s 777 Challenge

Here are 7 lines from page 7, starting at line 7 of my fantasy novel Almost Adept. Actually, there are 9 lines, because my writer’s inner self wouldn’t allow me to cut a paragraph in midstream, but that’s a small technical detail. Don’t mind it.

The novel is scheduled for release from Burst Champagne in January 2014.

The story follows the adventures of a young mage Eriale. In the beginning of the story, she turns an obnoxious young man Gordin, who attempted to rape her, into a muttonhead (head only). Now she is in trouble.

Books never betrayed her. They were friends. She understood them. Unlike some conniving, bleating sheep. Her breathing shortened at the memory. Blast Gordin anyway! He had caused her to lose control, and now she was in deep shit.
As always, magic rushed in, soothing her agitation, placating her jumbled thoughts. Like a living creature, it sought an outlet, as yet unshaped into a spell but full and vivid; a cloud of sparkling energy. Eriale was always more comfortable with magic than with people. She often landed in trouble because of her magic too. Now she shaped the magic into a flock of illusionary winged sheep and released them into the evening sky outside the window. The sheep flew away, their wings pumping furiously.
“Ha!” she said and yanked her attention back to her problem.

I tag Kathy Trueman for the next 777 post.

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