From The Nemisin Star
We are all shaped by stories. Not only do each of us live our own stories, but daily we are in contact with family and friends who share their lives and therefore their stories with us. Social media has stories to tell. We watch series, movies, listen to audio books, read … stories, so many stories. Some are real, some are fiction, some are stranger than fiction, and yet every story does shape who we are.
From a writer’s point of view, stories, yours, mine, everything read or heard, influences the tales that take shape on the page. Just as they affect daily life, thus it is for the book being gradually typed into cohesion – how not? We are, after all, the sum of all our experiences.
It’s true that writers read, and have read from an early age and usually voraciously; we, therefore, carry within us hosts of tales, and they do influence us. So, which stories helped shape my writing journey?
As you know, Fantasy is my first love when it comes to telling stories. I must then acknowledge the tales I read when younger and continue to read now, starting with Lord of the Rings, including the Hobbit, Silmarillion and more. Oh, I’m a huge fan! For instance, J.R.R. Tolkien’s sense of a quest? Tick. Fantastical creatures? Tick. Good vs evil? Tick. His mention of the first age, the second, and the age of man and so forth? Tick. Time plays a pivotal role in my work.
Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Funnily enough, I only read Wheel of Time after having written my first four books, and can therefore with honesty say that Robert Jordan didn’t influence my writing from the outset, but his imagination certainly did open vistas for me later. Of course, when Brandon Sanderson was elected to complete his series, I wondered whether it would work. It did, if you want to know. Mr Sanderson did an excellent job finishing off Wheel of Time.
I had just started reading Game of Thrones when the series hit the small screen with such impact. By then, other than the final two books, I had already done most of the work needed for my series. George R.R. Martin did not shape my writing, but he did reveal that it was fine to be dark in our stories. For the light to shine, our stories need to be dark, too.
If there is one series I feel needs mention, it’s J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. While I can’t say that Harry and his sidekicks influenced my writing, it’s true that when the first movie hit the big screen my kids were Harry’s age at the time, and year after year we went together to watch, across countries and even when my kids were too old to need mom at the cinema – it was a journey we wished to complete together! That sense of expectation and that wonderful acknowledgment of great imagination, well, that has helped me.
There are two more series I feel shaped my main body of work, and I read these before, between and after having completed my own series. The first is Steven Erikson’s Malazan Books of the Fallen, and I have to admit that this is my all-time favourite read. The Malazan series is deep, complicated, beyond all imagination, filled with so much emotion, so many twists … I am utterly blown away. In no manner have I emulated Mr Erikson (impossible), but he taught me that the layered, the complicated, the lessons in fiction, all of that is eminently readable, to not shy from it.
The second is Frank Herbert’s Dune series. I watched the original movie when younger (there’s another coming in December), loved it, watched the series later made for television, loved it, and only then did I start reading the actual series, years later. Oh my. Yes, I’m a Tolkien fan, and the Malazan books are my favourites, but Dune is incredible. Also layered and complicated and making statements referring to society (fiction goes where reality fears to read, after all!) and it feels both ancient and new simultaneously. That sense of time, the truly old and the brand, shiny new, has influenced my thought processes when writing.
Of course, as reader, I can go on and on about the books, movies and series that have influenced me … but this narrative will then be a thesis! As writer, I sometimes hope that my fiction is completely original, and then acknowledge the stories that have shaped so many of us, and thus they did the same for me. We are, after all, the sum of our experiences, and stories will ever intertwine.
Here’s to stories old and new! Enjoy every journey!
Yup, we all make mistakes. This particular image put me in mind of pre- and post-corona (not that we’re at ‘post’ stage yet) and made me laugh. This is who we are! The trick is to learn from them 🙂
On a writing note, mistakes before and after are par for the course. In fact, there are one or two typos (hope it’s only one or two!) that never seems to be weeded out despite repeated proofreads. I have decided to let them lie and when some day a reader points it out, I’ll have a good giggle, because it means that reader read my work with due attention!
Time has moved on since writing the LORE Series, and thus it’s intriguing now to go back and rediscover the journey, and dedications form part of that. As discussed for the Arcana four, here, too, is a tale.
Again, as the journey commences in The Kallanon Scales, it is family that deserves praise:
In The Nemisin Star, acknowledgement goes to the tools of magic, and those tools include you, reader, for it is you who feels the magic.
For The Sleeper Sword, again family triumphs! While it is a truth that family doesn’t often read our stories, their faces and personalities serve as inspiration.
The Dreamer Stones is the largest volume in the LORE Series, and in some way, for me, was the most intense writing experience. Guess that’s why it’s dedicated to all …
Each LORE book is divided into parts, and tells the tale of a grand design.
For instance, The Infinity Mantle has:
Part I – Darkness
Given that the tagline for this book is ‘There is a darkness coming’, it is self-explanatory.
Part II – Arcana
Yes, who and/or what is Arcana? This reveals the hidden truth, and it is the first section in the LORE journey that is essentially pre-history.
Part IV – Rayne
Rayne of the Mantle is the main character, and now readers find out more about him.
The we move on to The Kinfire Tree:
Part I – Pathways
The players have to find the ways through the chaos uncovered in The Infinity Mantle.
Part II – Second Chances
Those characters who were doubtful or traitorous now discover different futures, and the solutions, too, offer second chances.
Part III – Lifegiver
It gets hairy, and someone will have to step up to become a saviour.
Moving to The Drowned Throne:
Part I – Predators and Prey
It’s a game of cat and mouse, with both sides sometimes predatory, sometimes prey.
Part II – A World Without Light
This is the second section that goes into pre-history. Here we find out who Margus, the Darak Or, was and why he became a twisted soul.
Part III – The Darak Or
Margus sets his endgame in motion.
Then, the final book in Lore of Arcana – The Dragon Circle:
Part I – Dragon’s Breath
The symbology of the dragon comes into play.
Part II – Forge Flames
In search of an amulet to ward souls from the Darak Or, a mission to flame-wright at his forge commences.
Part III – Dragon’s Fire
In the terrible cold of winter, the fires of manipulation flare up and burn.
Part IV – Final Fury
This is the Endgame.
Part V – Dragon’s Embers
What comes after? The story is not done, and thus are those furies banked … for now.
Lore of Reaume. as with Arcana, has more to it than the obvious. Yes, The Kallanon Scales is about dragons (‘scales’ gives it away!) and The Nemisin Star is indeed about a particular star, while The Sleeper Sword reminds of other legends where a sword awaits a particular hand, and The Dreamer Stones will enter dream territory.
But there is more:
- the dragon legend is about prophecy and time
- the star shining so bright on one night only is about connection
- to succeed, one needs a helping hand, even a hero
- enter the labyrinth of the mind … and heart
The four underlying themes of the four Lore of Arcana books are showcased in this one image. Yes, The Infinity Mantle is about the witch Infinity and Rayne of the Mantle, and The Kinfire Tree is about bloodlines, while The Drowned Throne is about the golden seat of the Valleur suffering deluge and The Dragon Circle, indeed, follows a dragon legend or two, but there is more.
- The Great Forest: a band of trees serving to divide north from south, becoming in the process something to be avoided, something evil. Yes, it offers succour, and protects the Well of Crystal Sound.
- The ruins of sacred sites: unexplained ruins populate Valaris, until they are uncloaked to reveal something extraordinary.
- Fire: great flames and ash is unleashed on Valaris for the first time since before the people arrived, and the result is catastrophic.
- Ice: after epic fire, of course, come winter, but this cold season will not be kind.
(Removed from The Sleeper Sword)
Many nations put forth the belief that death is the final solution, a descent into eternal nothingness. Dust to dust. The End.
Others believe a soul simply ceasing to exist when the body surrenders is a great and unforgivable sacrilege. They base their mortal morality, their faith, on trust of life after death, believing in the bliss of Aaru or the eternal damnation of Hades, and preach that the final destination hinges on the individual. Good and evil, both with just rewards.
The truth of the matter is that some do simply cease to exist. A soul never awakened has never commenced a new journey and therefore floats out empty, in much the way most animals are born and die unaware of anything beyond instinct.
However, there is more, and those who fall into eternal nothingness are rare indeed. In fact, one life ended usually heralds another, and while there are the realms of bliss and netherness, from which none return, they are but two in a crucible of countless more.
These realms transcend all cultures, religions, creeds and races and make no distinction between worlds and galaxies. It is thought they are the links that serve to bind universes.
Now, while the vast universal majority know beyond doubt there are great numbers of worlds in the eternal spaces and while a fair number of those acknowledge the existence of other universes- the latter largely a factor based on intelligence and logic, as opposed to irrefutable evidence- only a scattering know of the reality of the realms beyond mortality.
A comatose individual may inadvertently tumble into an inexplicable place – the soul searching for a way out of physical prison – and not know what had in truth occurred. These tales are generally disbelieved. The fortunate few who are revisited by departed loved ones become aware of alternate realities for a brief time, but later convince themselves it was fervent wishing for a final glimpse of a loved one’s face. Hallucination, they say, and it is laughed off and set aside. The living move on. There are those who are resuscitated to tell of strange sights, but such tales are so varied and disparate that no clear truth has emerged to convince others. Of course, the truth is that each different sight signifies a different realm, but no parallels have emerged to prove the worth of tales.
Accident, chance, you say. Yes, and life moves on. Yet, the thread of truth exists and a scattering do realise there is reality beyond mortality.
Then there are those who’s faith, or desire for longevity, cause them to discover the process of a soul’s rebirth. This is known as reincarnation. They know of other realms, but generally the time between death and re-entry via a newborn is too short in span to permit protracted visitations and reconnaissance of a different realm. They know, but do not really understand. Naturally, there are exceptions, but the process of rebirth remains obscure and thus the details remain accessible only to those involved.
Let it be said there are those who find their way into and out of realms other than Aaru and Hell and they are not comatose, resuscitated or re-birthed. Some relate their fantastical experiences, others remain forever silent, and for each there is a sense of disbelief and confusion. This mars any attempt at sincere acceptance. Perhaps, in final analysis, it is a blessing in disguise, for any preacher of any persuasion would swiftly tell of the likely evils lurking in the psyche of a nation that believes it has a second chance to atone for sin, or a third, a fourth. Perhaps there’s a universal conspiracy to ridicule proof of other realms for that very reason.
Finally, there are the powerful ones. Those who draw their powers of magic from sources both in the physical reality and others. Those who possess the extraordinary ability to send mind and soul in temporary symbiosis out of body to discover new sources of inspiration and to garner new talents. These are sorcerers, necromancers and, yes, occasionally a drugged individual who finds that place where all holds fall away. The latter is generally scorned, unless the drugged state is deliberately induced for religious or prophetic ceremonies; the former choose not to reveal much. Power is personal … or cannot be shared.
The realms are open to all. Bright, stupid, good, evil, fanatics, atheists, moderates, ghouls and God-fearers, the clowns of every society, as well as those of serious mind. There is no distinction, no test that must be passed. However, conversely, there is a distinction of another kind. There are realms that admit featureless souls into an etheric type of reality, while there are those that admit the soul into a space where it is again physical, the body reformed. These are realms that allow return to a previous mortal reality, including reincarnates, and then there are those spaces that cannot be exited. It hinges on choice, although most often choice is unknowing and in the unconscious.
In this way those who trust in heavenly bliss after death will indeed achieve it, if deserving, while those who never truly thought about it would tumble into a place where much is familiar. An indecisive soul may find a realm where every moment of eternity presented a choice of some kind … and so on. A mean person would forever spin bombarded by taunts and mishaps. An evil soul believing in the concept Hell would descend into that netherworld. Choice determines all – as in life, so in death.
The Enchanter broke all those rules.
A reincarnate by choice, achieving rebirth without assistance, his visits to the invisible realms were too brief to learn anything, to even see anything, and yet he knew they were there. An Immortal true after his seventh birth, he could no longer die, and yet chose to do so in one reality to reach another. He deliberately chose his realm, knowing little about it. It did not choose him and the destination was not dependent on mortal bent; he chose with a clear mind … and enraged heart. He learned of its existence from a High Priestess of Rebirth on Cèlaver and she warned him that others had returned only due to her interference in the process of death. He would not have that interference – he could well discover he was lost or, worse yet, bound to the realm without a way to leave its confines.
It was exactly what he wanted. He deliberately hurled into a realm virtually sealed, while desiring despite that to return to his previous reality. More astounding, he dragged another in with him, something no one achieved before. He retained his body, leaving no mortal remains on his homeworld – therefore the awful destruction of Torrke – and accomplished the same feat for his companion. He retained his considerable power, the most profound manipulation of all and, finally, he opted for a time-warp reality, something extremely contrary to someone wishing to return home when the task was done.
Ignorant of the invisible realms, knowing only he dared not follow into the one the Darak Or sought to delve into, he chose a place difficult to escape from. If he could not easily leave, then Margus could not either, and that was the ultimate factor. As others found their way to other realms, so the Enchanter found his way into his new reality.
The time had come to finish it with the Darak Or.
One has to wonder what had chosen what.
Had sentient life entering Tennet chosen their worlds or had the worlds chosen them? Why was it the Murs Siric chose Urac with its ironic meaning ‘birdsong’ and then, too, paradise Karakan? Did the settling of Karakan point to something else? Was it possible aeons in exile enabled the Murs to discover and appreciate the gentler side to the universe? Or was it simply long ago human habitation of Karakan that proved a world’s viability?
And the recent arrivals, the Kallanon court of Queen Abdiah, had they chosen the strangeness of Mitrayl deliberately … because it was expedient? Or had the volatile planet called with a contrary, beckoning voice? The Kallanon were on the edge of lava fields where conditions were harsh and threatening. Why there and not the spectacular cool of the mountains with its countless caves? Was it the tempestuousness of that eerie light?
The Mysor. Arachnids feasting for survival on the bleaker. They were soulless and subjugated, but were not created by sorcery. Enhanced, enlarged, bred, yes, but once they were spiders, harmless with the beginnings of intelligence. A large portion of Urac, Plural and Mitrayl was planted with bleaker bulbs to ensure their continuance, strictly controlled by the Murs to ensure loyalty; the Mysor loathed Mitrayl and never went to harvest, thus the Siric left the fields to run riot. The Mysor preferred dry worlds or was it that dry worlds called to them? Whatever it was, their presence on Karakan was due only to the requirements of their gaolers. They confined their kind to Urac, with a small presence on Plural.
And the Valleur, after the original and harmless Mysor, the oldest inhabitants in Tennet. Had they chosen Atrudis or vice versa? Why not Karakan, when that world was abandoned when the Nine came armed with prophecy and Taliesman?
What drew them to Atrudis? Its diversity? Karakan had that also. Or the kinship to worlds left behind? Atrudis was like to Valaris, as Valaris was like to past Valleur worlds, and it, too, had known human occupation. Perhaps it was the sense of recognition and the comfort it brought, or perhaps it was the inherent magic of a natural world, like that of Valaris, that attracted them, a sense of security.
Grinwallin still retained that untouched magic … not Valleur built, not Siric, certainly not human, but there.
Grinwallin was a mystery, one that would call to the One as all mysteries did.
You have read the Arcana books and you know Valaris is a world unspoiled by industry and technology, and yet, by the end of the series Valaris has been discovered, it’s on star maps. As Reaume commences, technology becomes an issue …
There was danger now, more so with every visitor, of technology gaining a stranglehold, but at present it was strictly controlled.
Electricity, now commonplace, relied on solar power, as did hot water. Farming was the mainstay of the economy and used horse and hand as in the past. Travel was the long-winded mode and goods were manufactured in old established ways.
Items such as radios and televisions were putting in an appearance, in itself not a bad thing, but already there were calls for a satellite to facilitate those needs, and that would require industry and the like. Once a satellite was successfully launched, it was a short leap to spacecraft of Valarian design. Nobody desired to sully the countryside with telephone poles and unsightly wires, but that service too was demanded – not the poles, but a system whereby telephonic communication would become a reality, viz. a satellite. Satellites could be procured from elsewhere, designed to suit local needs, but Valaris was a world rich in natural beauty, not money.
Food produced fed the populace and goods were manufactured according to requirement. That would change swiftly if money became the goal. Natural beauty would slowly vanish as it made way to produce more and more and more, and Valarians would become greedy, selfish and uncaring of the environment.
If that state of mind was avoided, still the demand would remain, and that led to what would other worlds think of Valaris if technology was brought in? Would they not anger over the insistence of an unspoilt planet … at their expense? It was potential political dynamite, as it was potential disaster to Valaris’ rich natural inheritance.
These were the very real concerns of the leaders who conversed with Torrullin at the Keep, and there were no simple answers.