At a glance, this is Lore Of Arcana. The ice fields in The Dragon Circle; the monstrous wave in The Drowned Throne; the blue flame of kin in The Kinfire Tree; and the infinity symbol for The Infinity Mantle.
This is a powerful prologue and revealing all of it here gives too much away, but know this event in the long grass is the beginning of horror for the world Valaris.
There is more to this Prologue, but it is a lengthier than normal one 🙂
Yes, the team returns to Valaris … to fight a war already fought …
After ARCANA comes Lore of Reaume, and it starts with Saska facing death in The Kallanon Scales. Everything changes in this part of the saga; known friends die, unknown friends step forth, and the action moves to another world.
Yes, she will die if she stays, and thus new choices are made …
The Dragon Circle is the fourth book in Lore of Arcana, and this is a game-changer. So much alters, so many promises are kept, so many frayed ends are snipped away … and so much is unsaid and lays the groundwork for the first book in Lore of Reaume.
This is also the endgme for Torrullin and Margus, but it will be hard fought.
… yes, hard fought, indeed.
I had a reviewer declaim the fact that a band of trees is able to separate a people. Surely folk will have hiked through from north to south, and south to north? Someone will have been adventurous enough to do so. No forest, impenetrable or otherwise, will keep the spirit of facing the odds at bay.
He or she is correct. Humankind will go where it is dangerous and forbidden. This mind-set is about challenge, and it is also pure rebelliousness.
Know this world Valaris from the inside out and you will understand why a band of trees separates them for three thousand years.
Firstly, we are talking a truly massive forest; not only does it stretch from the eastern seaboard all the way to the western, but it is wide and requires some serious fortitude to traverse.
Secondly, Valarians have been manipulated into fearing even their own shadows at times. The magic of a sunset is magic, and therefore forbidden. Imagine, then, a forest of magical trees. This was forced upon them, and therefore, when faced with a mighty band of trees that serves to keep them safe from the poisons beyond, the spirit of adventure is unfortunately snuffed.
Thirdly, the time factor becomes a barrier all its own. Truth has become legend, and conversely legend has become truth twisted out of proportion. Fact is, the clans in the north believe the land they inhabit is all there is to Valaris, while the south regards the northern peninsulas as destroyed. Add to that complacency, and the Great Forest is ever given a wide berth.
Let it be said, however, that a few have crossed, never to return to spread the word of continuing deception. Speaking up and denying accepted beliefs is considered sedition, and, much as it is with magic in whatever form it is perceived, leads to the hangman’s noose. Also, fear creates monsters; a fair few of the intrepid convinced themselves ghosts and ghouls tracked them and succumbed to fear itself.
So, yeah, it does seem a bit far-fetched that trees divide north and south, but this is Valaris and nothing is quite as black and white as that … or grey and every shade of green and blue in this case.
Terrible wastelands result after the battles between the Guardians and Infinity/Drasso, which serves to separate Valarians. Three thousand years later (the present) that mind-set is in place despite the recovery of the land. North of the Great Forest folk adhere to an ancient clan system and believe the south annihilated and poisoned. They call the Forest the Barrier. Southerners, having abandoned the clan system, believe the same of the north. They know the Forest as the Great Dividing Forest. Infinity’s ‘game’ summons individuals from north and south.
From the north comes MORDAN of the Kinna clan, an old man who has memorised the entire Ancient Oracles – 10 hefty volumes containing much lore and magic, and which becomes pertinent to the story as it unfolds – and SAMSON of the Mye, a young man proficient with a sling, and CRISTI of the San, the shyest young girl you ever will meet. Kisha of the Tan (the largest clan) is already in the Great Forest, seeking distraction from grief after her father dies unexpectedly, when she feels summoned to a gathering within the forest she hikes as the tale opens; the four great northern clans are represented in these four.
Kylan, a southerner and the Herbmaster of Farinwood, camps in the Great Forest. He is assailed by Infinity, and Kisha, hearing his desperation in the night-time Forest, goes to his aid, and this is how the separation of north and south is bridged, via two young people prepared to talk and listen and hear.
It becomes clear to all players (northern, southern and Guardians) that there is much hidden under the surface of Valaris’ recorded history.
Of the Eagles and Falcons – normal-sized birds, not the massive Tolkien type – Guardians of the Dome, PHET is the significant character. While the others flit in and out with swift and pertinent effect, this little blue-plumaged Falcon becomes the perfect foil for Rayne, questioning and prompting him relentlessly.
Phet is a charismatic; he definitely garners attention wherever he goes. He is also open-minded and cares, really cares, about others.
In the fullness of the Arcana part of the LORE series, we discover there is something truly special about these birds … but to say more here will give far too much away!
Margus, the Darak Or, is human, born beyond this realm. When his world’s sun loses its life-giving properties, everything is plunged into gloom and horror. Nothing grows and survivors turn on each other to eat, degenerating eventually into mindless creatures. He survives by reaching for immortality, but loses his sanity.
With all hope lost and no means of ever restoring what was once a wholesome way of life, boredom and a desire to avenge himself on those who know the light, has him collecting souls from the miserable creatures populating his world. Finally he has an army, and he has every intention of using each ‘soldier’.
Despite the darkness in his soul, Margus desires a world with a benign sun and will do anything to secure it. Valaris is the prize.
As a character, Margus is the worst of the worst. He has no conscience and nothing in all realms will sway him, and yet, as we discover his past and the horror that befell him, an odd sort of compassion for this son of darkness will be yours.
Is empathy enough, though, to overlook the slaughter of so many?