Victory Takes Center Stage–a Guest Post by J.L. Gribble

About a year ago, I met a young author named J.L. Gribble who reminded me so much of myself I began calling her my Internet doppelganger. After an exchange of books and author interviews, we became friends, and I was thrilled to be asked to host J.L. here on my blog.

The Steel Empires series features a vampire named Victory who doesn’t sparkle and can be violent and voracious when the need arises, but who also loves her adopted human family deeply and will do anything to protect them. Victory is a consummate warrior, an astute politician, and a patient and loving mom. She’s my favorite character in the series, so I’m really excited about the release of Steel Blood. In this third novel in the Steel Empire series, Victory faces a whole new load of problems involving political intrigue, imminent danger, and wayward young people. What’s a fanged mother to do?

I also love the world J.L. created for this series, an urban fantasy/alternate history in which Rome and Britain are the world’s two superpowers and in which humans, vampires, werecreatures of all sorts, and elves live openly (though not necessarily harmoniously) in the independent city-state of Limani. The Steel Empires series opens upon the stirrings of a new conflict within this world, but I was intensely curious about the fascinating alternate history we glimpse throughout the narrative. Therefore I asked J.L. to write something about her inspirations and the backstory behind the founding of Limani.


History of Limani

by J.L. Gribble

When I asked my friend and author A.M. Justice whether I could stop by her home on the internet as part of the blog tour for my latest novel, I told her that I was open to write about pretty much anything. She quickly returned with a request for a very specific topic: How the home city in my alternate history world came to be.

Trust me, I wish I could respond with something as amazing as “spaceships,” as in A.M.’s excellent fantasy novel A Wizard’s Forge. Alas, my fantasy series is rooted much more in the, well, fantastical. In a world that has evolved where the common person has always known and coexisted with the supernatural, historical evolution has taken some wacky turns while still staying very much familiar to what we know in our own world.

The independent city-state of Limani, home to the main characters of my series, started life as Greek colony. The alliance of Greek city-states in Europa joined in the rush to settle the “New Continent,” managing to establish a foothold along the coastline near a major bay along the middle of the eastern coastline. They snagged space between the British colonies to the north and the newly claimed Roman territories to the south.

But while the British settlements were funded by second and third children of the werewolf nobility, and the massive Roman plantations were supported by corporations led by wealthy Roman vampire lines, the Greek colonists embodied the nature of their origins. These disparate colonists, from multiple Greek cities, maintained the ideals of equality and democracy that linked their alliance back in Europa. The major factor in their favor was that a larger proportion than expected of the original group of colonists consisted of mages from every elemental faction. These were mages schooled in the Greek magical academies held in esteem throughout Europa, looking for adventure and new beginnings.

And it was what saved Limani, in the end.

Bolstered by resources pouring in from their new territories in the New Continent, the Roman Empire set its sights on expansion at home once again. In a few short years, the last Greek city-states that had existed for thousands of years finally fell. Some fought for their independence to the bitter end and ended up in ruins, while others saw the writing on the wall and signed treaties with Roma that would ensure certain freedoms for their people.

Suddenly cut off from all support from home, as the city-states suddenly had bigger issues to worry about, Limani almost failed as a colony. But the mages, already spread throughout the colony and trying to establish lives for themselves, helped to keep the farms growing food and the small manufactories creating goods needed for the survival of their city. Those who were more combat-inclined helped the colony defend itself from incursions from the north and south. But every time the British and Roman settlements in the New Continent thought they smelled blood in the water, Limani proved itself more than willing to depend its staunch independence.

Later, the British and Romans established Limani as a neutral zone between their lands. Once it heard the news, Limani kind of shrugged and kept going about its day. It had better things to do than play politics with great powers across the ocean. By now, it already had trade deals with the nearby Romans and British and was as self-sufficient as possible.

It might have been easy for the mages to say, “Hey, we kept this city running. We should be in charge.” But Limani never forgot its roots, keeping to the ideals of democracy and fair representation. Over the years, a family of werewolves showed up and sought sanctuary from their noble families who’d disapproved of a marriage made for love. Other werecreatures drifted in, found a society where they weren’t automatically second-class citizens under the wolves, and made themselves at home.

Two vampires moved in one day. One of them started a bar. The other announced plans to found a university. Limani tolerated its eccentric immortals, until they chased off another pair of vampires who killed in the city with abandon. Then Limani heaved a sigh of relief when one of the vampires finally acknowledged that she was the Master of the City. They gave her a seat on the city council with a partial vote, like the werewolf alpha and representatives of the other werecreatures.

Elves had lived in the city since shortly after its founding, but more moved in once it had a functioning university, mage school, and Mercenary Guildhall—three of the modern hallmarks of civilization. Though short a Qin weredragon, Limani was now a microcosm of the greater world. Even surrounded by empires, the city existed as a quiet power in its own right.

The city is certainly not without its share of drama. At one point, the werepanthers fought for equal representation with the werewolves on the city council. Later, a new Roman emperor thought he could march in and take over the city (see Steel Empires Book 1: Steel Victory). The city more than proved him wrong. But overall, it’s been a quiet town on a river, with opportunities for education and occupation. Limani would be happy to welcome you home.


Steel-Blood-Jacket.inddThough the vampire Master of the City leaves Limani for a short time in Steel Empires Book 3: Steel Blood, she’ll never forget her adopted home! About the book:

As her children begin lives of their own, Victory struggles with the loneliness of an empty nest. Just when the city of Limani could not seem smaller, an old friend requests that she come out of retirement for one final mercenary contract—to bodyguard his granddaughter, a princess of the Qin Empire.

For the first time in a century, the Qin and British Empires are reopening diplomatic relations. Alongside the British delegation, Victory and her daywalker Mikelos arrive in the Qin colony city of Jiang Yi Yue. As the Qin weredragons and British werewolves take careful steps toward a lasting peace between their people, a connection between the Qin princess and a British nobleman throw everyone’s plans in disarray.

Meanwhile, a third faction stalks the city under the cover of darkness.

This is not a typical romance. It’s a good thing Victory is not a typical vampire.

Buy links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pPShZH
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/steel-blood-jl-gribble/1126268372
From the publisher: http://rawdogscreaming.com/books/steel-blood/

 

About the author:

Gribble photo colorBy day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

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B2BCyCon Fantasy Blog Hop—Stop #22: The Insider’s Guide to A Wizard’s Forge: Politics and Powers

Welcome to the B2BCyCon Fantasy Blog Hop! Thanks for stopping by my blog and checking out my work.

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A Wizard’s Forge is the first in a series called The Woern Saga, and it’s an onion, with a lot of layers of a plot that developed over a lot of years. The tone is dark; the story thought-provoking. Knownearth, the world of A Wizard’s Forge, has complex power structures, both magical and political.

Powers

“What’s your magic system?” is one of the first questions you hear when you’re a fantasy author. Because my fantasy is rooted in science fiction, my first response when someone asks me this question is, “there is no magic system, because there’s no magic.” At least, the people of Knownearth don’t consider their supernatural powers magical. Yet, they do have supernatural powers! In the novel, they’re called mindspeech and wizardry, but we would know them as telepathy and telekinesis.

Mindspeech

When Vic, the protagonist of A Wizard’s Forge, is sold as a slave in the city of Traine, she doesn’t speak the local language, but she can nevertheless understand Lornk, her new master:

“How come I understand you?” she asked flatly. “I hear strange words come out of your mouth, but I know what they mean.”

“I speak to your mind as well as your ears, darling.”

The first people Vic meets who have mindspeech use it as a sort of universal translator to facilitate communication with people from other lands. When Vic escapes slavery and flees to the nation of Latha, she finds a whole society who use mindspeech as their primary means of talking to each other.

“Mindspeech is a nice power,” Vic said. “The people who had it in Traine, they spoke with their thoughts and their voices. But you use only your thoughts?”

Bethniel shrugged. “We do use our voices when we get excited. You heard the children yammering earlier. And we always speak aloud on formal occasions like funerals and on Landing Eve, to honor Elesendar.”

All Lathans use mindspeech for everyday communication, and Vic herself eventually learns to use it as well. However, some Lathans, known as Listeners, have a particular talent for mindspeech. The most powerful Listeners can do more than Hear a person’s secret thoughts, they can implant illusions in their minds.

Vic’s eyes darted to Wineyll. “How many people can you deceive at the same time?”

The girl disappeared. Carl cursed and leapt to his feet as Drak stumbled backward off the edge of the cliff, arms pinwheeling. Vic caught him in a net of air and set him down on the rock. Breathing heavily, he nodded his thanks.

“Do you see her?” Bethniel asked. When Vic shook her head, the princess said, “That’s at least four.”

Wineyll reappeared, and Vic gave her a hard look. “How many illusions can you do at the same time? How long can you maintain them, and in how many people?”

“I’m not sure, Marshall, but this is why you brought me, isn’t it?”

The source of Knownearthers’ telepathic powers is unknown, although everyone on the planet has the ability to learn mindspeech, just as all people on Earth can learn any spoken or sign language. However, some Knownearther scholars have speculated that mindspeech and wizardry share a common origin.

Wizardry

Wizardry is the term Knownearthers use to describe the telekinetic powers possessed by people who survive drinking a concoction variously called the Elixir or the Waters of the Dead.

“Why would they kidnap us?” Vic asked.

The princess shook her head, mouth grim. “I’m guessing the Waters of the Dead.”

“What are those?”

Bethniel cast her a scathing look. “Some history buff. They called it the Elixir in the time of wizards? You’ve never heard of it?”

“Beth, I studied real history, not the fancies of poets and hucksters. Frankly, I only accepted that your mother’s powers might be real last winter, and I’ve been too busy fighting a war to study up on how she might have gained them.”

Bethniel’s glare softened. “Well, the Waters are how. The Kragnashians make anyone who comes to Direiellene drink it.”

“So they make you a wizard?” Vic’s mind leapt at the advantages Elekia’s power, weak as it was, could give.

“It’s not a boon.” Bethniel’s shoulders hunched around her ears. “The Waters are the price of entry into Direiellene, and the price my mother paid for my father’s throne. The merchants who trade with the Kragnashians, they never leave the beach because the Waters kill most people, and it’s a horrible death. Of those who don’t die, most go insane.”

“Your mother didn’t.”

Bethniel shrugged. “I guess she was one of the lucky few.”

The Waters of the Dead contain a neurologic parasite called the Woern, which give those few who survive initial infection the ability to manipulate matter and energy with their minds. Vic can create fire and electricity and move objects as small as atoms and as large as boulders. However, Vic also suffers from severe migraines. She learns the nature of her power in A Wizard’s Sacrifice (due out in 2018):

“How do you feel?” Elekia asked. “Any sickness or headache?”

Vic’s fingers grazed a temple and the hollow space where pain usually throbbed. Her belly growled softly with appetite. “I actually feel normal this morning.”

The queen’s eyes shot to Bethniel, then returned to Vic. “I prayed you would survive taking the Waters of the Dead, but I learned long ago not to depend on prayers alone. That is why I sent my daughter to the desert with you.” Beth’s jaw dropped while Vic’s eyebrows knitted over the stirrings of a fresh headache. Elekia continued, “The Waters contain a parasite called the Woern, which kills most who consume it. Most of those whom it does not kill become wizards, like you and I.”

“But you’re not sick.”

“No. My father traces his family line back to Saelbeneth, leader of the very Council for whom your namesake fought in the war against Meylnara. She was reported to be immune to the ill effects of the Woern, and so am I. Last night I gave you an infusion of my Woern, which Saelbeneth would do for her allies on the Council, and which was said to heal them of their ills. So it worked between me and you.” Elekia nodded at Bethniel. “The Woern can be passed from one wizard to another through sweat, blood, tears, saliva—any fluid of the body. They are also passed from mother to infant in the womb. This is why I sent Bethniel with you—to help you survive.”

“I have no power,” Beth cried aloud.

“No, your Woern remained dormant, which has been a blessing. But you can pass them to Vic.”

Knownearth’s history includes a period when wizardry was quite common, but that era ended when the Wizards Council engaged in a pogrom to kill everyone, regardless of age or degree of power, who possessed the Woern without the Council’s permission. A thousand years later when Vic drinks the Waters, she and Queen Elekia are the only ones in Knownearth with wizardry.

Politics

Knownearth includes seven major nations, each with a different system of government and one composed of a nonhuman species.

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Latha

Latha is a republic with an elected monarch who serves for life, assuming no crimes or misdemeanors force him or her off the throne. The Lathan Senate chooses each succeeding Ruler—usually the designated Heir—but the Senate often chooses another candidate. Latha’s current Ruler, King Sashal, gained the throne through a backroom deal orchestrated by his wife, Elekia, when she was seventeen years old. For almost twenty years, Sashal and Elekia have waged war—or, as they would say, defended the nation—against Lornk Korng, the Lord of Relm.

Relm

Relm is an inherited dictatorship ruled by a single individual styled the Lord or Lady of Relm or, informally, the Relmlord/lady. A Council composed of trade guild leaders, wealthy merchants, and the Relmlord/lady’s spouse—known as the First Councilor—provide advice and oversee government functions. The current Relmlord, Lornk Korng, is well regarded despite the long war with Latha and the fact that Lornk himself was born in Betheljin and only inherited the Relman Seat when his cousin and predecessor died without issue. Moreover, Lornk has never married, and his only heir is his bastard son Earnk. Relmans would normally be outraged by these indiscretions, but Lornk is a consummate politician, and his charisma, ruthlessness, and governing abilities have made him popular with the Relman people.

Insider Fact: Lornk and Elekia courted when they were young; at the same time, Lornk and Sashal were as close as brothers. Then, the brilliant and beautiful Elekia shocked the world by jilting the equally brilliant and handsome future Relmlord in favor of his humble wingman, Sashal. In revenge, Lornk seduced Elekia’s sister but refused to marry her, even when she bore his son Earnk. This scandalous breach of Lathan and Relman customs drove a permanent wedge between the friends and led to the decades-long war between Latha and Relm.

Betheljin

Betheljin is an oligarchy ruled by a single despot called the Commissar. The capital, Traine, is similar to Ancient Rome, with a huge wealth gap between the iron-mine-owning Citizens and everyone else. Coups, rebellions, and backstabbing chicanery are commonplace among the Citizenry. Whereas the traditions and political machinery of Latha and Relm generally ensure peaceful transfers of power from one ruler to the next, the Commissar often must secure his or her rule through violence. When they’re not betraying or killing each other, the Citizens revel in opulence and debauchery, and they keep slaves to perform menial labor as well as to satisfy their basest whims.

Insider Fact: Lornk Korng is a Citizen as well as Relmlord, and he divides his time between his family’s ancestral palazzo in Traine and the Seat of Relm. How does he manage to travel roughly 3000 miles between the two locations with only horses and sailboats? There’s a transporter called the Device in both his homes. Humans have used these portals for centuries, though no one knows who built them or how they work. The Master Device is in the Kragnashian capital, so it is likely the Device is a Kragnashian invention.

Kragnash

A vast, barren desert, Kragnash is the home of Knownearth’s indigenous people, a species of eighteen-foot-tall intelligent insects who possess not only the Master Device but also control access to the Woern. Nearly all Kragnashians live in their capital city, Direiellene, an oasis the Kragnashians created after the Wizards Council destroyed the rain forest that once covered their land. Despite this environmental disaster, the Kragnashians appear to bear no malice toward humans and enthusiastically trade with them. They do, however, force any humans who stray too deep into their territory to drink the Waters of the Dead, which leads to madness and death in nearly everyone.

Insider Fact: The Kragnashians have been waiting for centuries for “the One,” the embodiment of the wizard who freed them from enslavement by another wizard they call the Oppressor. Vic happens to bear the same name as the Kragnashians’ savior: Victoria of Ourtown.

Caleisbahnin

The Caleisbahn Archipelago is home to a seafaring nation of traders, pirates, and slavers. The government is structured along naval command lines, with a head of state known as the First. Caleisbahnin and Betheljin are usually closely aligned, with the pirates acting as a mercenary navy for the Commissar. During the time of wizards, the Caleisbahnin considered service to them a sacred duty, but since wizards disappeared from Knownearth, Caleisbahn society has been mostly closed to outsiders.

Eldanion

Eldanion lies between Latha and Betheljin and is renowned for its wines and horses. A titled nobility famous for their frivolous and extravagant lifestyle leave the governing to the prime minister and parliament.

Semeneminieu

Proud of their nation’s tongue-twisting name, Semena citizens elect their leaders in Knownearth’s only direct democracy. The nation is home to the steeds, a migratory species of giant insects that Semena herders raise for meat and hides.

I hope these insights inspire you to take a closer look at A Wizard’s Forge. It’s available from Amazon and other major retailers.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! To continue along the blog hop, please head back to the B2BCyCon Blog Hop Hub.

B2BCyCon Fantasy “Behind The Scenes” Tour—Stop #8

Guest Post

I’m thrilled to host fantasy writer Suzanna Linton as part of the Brain to Books Cyber Convention activities this week. She’s dropped by here to talk about laying the groundwork for readers to suspend their disbelief (a favorite topic of mine).

Realistic Fantasy

by Suzanna Linton

It doesn’t seem right for reality to go along with fantasy. It’s fantasy for crying out loud. It’s totally fine for things to happen that are unrealistic.

This is true. Up to a point.

Suspend Your Disbelief

In order to get readers to swallow a giant who crushes towns for fun, a writer needs to make the reader suspend disbelief. This means they accept something they normally would not. However, if the giant is the cherry on top of a cake of the unbelievable, then the reader finds it difficult to stay with the story.

For example, in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy a few of the characters run for miles at great speed, for days, without needing rest. This pushes the boundary of credulity, making it hard for readers to accept it, because an average person would not be able to do that. Especially not a person carrying weaponry and wearing armor. The only reason why a reader would swallow it is that these are otherworldly characters and not the average person.

And it’s freaking Tolkien.

If another fantasy writer did that, involving regular humans who don’t make it a habit of running marathons, then credulity would be stretched. Readers would lose trust in the reliability of the author and disbelief could no longer be suspended.

What Should Be Real?

I sent my novel Willows of Fate to beta readers prior to publication, as one does. One of the readers had a hard time with a scene where my main character, Desdemona, is about to bathe. By this point, Desdemona has left our world for a more fantastical world that’s still stuck in the Middle Ages. Prior to her bath, someone gives her an oval bar of soap to use. My beta reader couldn’t swallow it. She could accept they would have soap in a medieval-esque world but not oval bars.

Now, soap-like mixtures have been in use since Sumerian times but hard, cake-like bars didn’t come into being until the 12th century, which fits the novel. I knew I was right about that, though maybe not about the shape. It sounds more possible that the soap makers cut their product into crude rectangles. For the sake of credulity, I changed the scene slightly.

When I wrote my latest novel, Clara’s Return, I made it a point to research how far a horse can reasonably travel in a day. I used that to plan the pacing of the novel. By being realistic about travel, not only was I able to establish credulity with my readers but I was also able to use it to my advantage.

What writers need to get right, as much as possible, are the little details. Most fantasy is based off a real time period. In terms of social structure and everyday life, what can be carried over into the novel? What things would make the fantasy world more believable?

Some things are pet peeves, like carrying swords into battle while they’re strapped to the back. Swords, particularly great swords, may have been transported that way but warriors didn’t make it a habit of wearing them like that all the time, mostly because they would have been impossible to draw. And women’s armor was no different from men’s armor. (Looking at you, Dragon Age.)

Not every reader will know the difference. Not all readers know about the minutia of a particular historical period. However, that doesn’t lessen the importance of research and getting it right, at least in part.

When a writer gets the little details right, it creates a believable world that makes it easier for the reader to accept the bigger things, like giants and magic. Fantasy grounded in reality is not only still fantasy but also makes for a better read.


Suzanna J. Linton grew up in the swamps of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she was fed a steady diet of books, tall tales, and catfish. She started writing poetry from an early age before transitioning to fiction. While in high school, she was introduced to the Dragonriders of Pern Series by Anne McCaffrey, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Animorphs. From those Suzanna gained a deep desire to write about tough women heroes.

In 2002, she attended the summer program at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts of Humanities and graduated from Francis Marion University in 2007. She has three books published and her latest novel is Clara’s Return. Suzanna continues to live in South Carolina with her husband, their two dogs, and a cat.

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Knownearth vs Earth: Another Look at the World of A Wizard’s Forge

wizard's forgePeople seem to have a lot of questions about the world where A Wizard’s Forge takes place, so I’ve been hitting this topic a lot lately. A few weeks ago, I traced Vic’s path through her world, and last week I wrote a post on AutumnWriting about Knownearth’s native inhabitants (humans are the aliens on that planet). Lots of additional details about  Vic’s world can always be found on the Explore and FAQ pages of my website. But you may still wonder, what are some of the similarities and differences between the earth we know and Knownearth, Vic’s home.

Most of these details are mentioned, or at least hinted at, in A Wizard’s Forge, but in case readers missed them, here we go:

1. How are Earth and Knownearth alike?

Knownearth and our earth are pretty similar in atmosphere, climate, and ecology. I designed the planet this way because human survival in a marginal environment was not a story I was interested in telling. I wanted to write a revenge narrative involving a young woman, her tormentor, and a long-standing feud between her nemesis and her adoptive family, and I wanted to keep the focus there, without the distraction of a daily battle for food, water, or breathable air. Some readers have asked, why not make the ocean yellow or give the planet a couple of moons or something to make it seem “different” from earth?  To live well, humans need lots of liquid potable water, an oxygen-rich atmosphere that doesn’t have a lot of toxic gases, and arable soil. Knownearth has these things in abundance, and life there has evolved along an evolutionary path similar to life on earth. Hence, the skies are blue (and so is the ocean, since large bodies of water reflect the color of the sky); most organisms get their energy through the Krebs Cycle,  and plants use chlorophyll for respiration, and so tend to be green or blue or red, just like here on earth.

2. How does Knownearth differ from Earth?

There is no moon. The only notable night sky object is Elesendar, which looks like a very bright star but is the empty hulk of the spacecraft that brought human settlers to the planet three thousand years before the events depicted in A Wizard’s Forge. As noted in the book, Elesendar passes overhead two to three times per night.

The planet rotates in the opposite direction from earth. The book contains numerous references to Knownearth’s sun rising in the west or setting in the east.

The diurnal cycle is roughly 40 earth hours, which readers can deduce from Vic’s thoughts about how long she has for her night missions. The original settlers kept the earth hour as their main unit of time measurement, and redesigned their clocks to accommodate a  40-hour day. By the time A Wizard’s Forge takes place, the human circadian cycle has adapted to this long day, but readers may notice reference to “morning tea” and other meals beside breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The people of Knownearth can easily stay awake for 35 hours straight and sleep for 15, but they still like to eat every four or five hours.

Metal is relatively rare. Iron and copper are particularly uncommon, and a bronze belt-cum-dagger has totemic significance in the book’s plot.

There are no indigenous mammals, but there are reptilian and insectoid creatures on land, and fishlike creatures in the sea, so it’s as if Knownearth never left its equivalent of the Permian period. Humans call the aquatic animals fish and the indigenous flying reptiles birds, but humans brought all the feathered fowl as well as cats, cows, and horses with them. There were dogs too, but the entire canine population had died off long before A Wizard’s Forge takes place.

3. Is A Wizard’s Forge science fiction or is it fantasy?

I’d say it’s both (you might even call it science fantasy), but readers will need to decide this question for themselves. Hardcore scifi readers may miss the tech–faster than light (FTL) space travel is alluded to, but in the 3000 years that have passed since Vic’s ancestors were marooned on Knownearth, postindustrial technology has all but disappeared, at least among the humans. Thus, people live in a vaguely medieval society without electricity or, in Knownearth’s poorer regions, indoor plumbing.

Fantasy readers, on the other hand, may miss a magic system that is the highlight of the book. Nevertheless, the cerrenils, Latha’s sacred trees, appear to have magical characteristics, and the power Vic gains at the end of the book is similar to a Jedi’s or an Aes Sedai’s in some respects. She’ll learn all about the source of her power, and how it connects to Knownearth’s sentient plants, in the next book, A Wizard’s Sacrifice. But that book won’t be all fantasy either–scifi lovers will get more intel on Vic’s ancestors as well as a glimpse of the technological revolution Knownearth will undergo before the third book in the series (A Wizard’s Legacy) begins.

More on Knownearth

themFans of A Wizard’s Forge and the world of Knownearth should check out my blog on the inspiration for the creatures appearing or mentioned in the book at Autumn B. Birt’s blog, AutumnWriting. There’s as much science fiction as fantasy in Vic’s world.

And for more information about Knownearth, don’t forget to check out my previous walk-through, or go explore it on my website.

Guest Post: Autumn M. Birt

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Myrrah

Autumn M. Birt is an author, educator, world traveler, conservationist, and dog lover. We met on Twitter, proving that one can make connections and form lasting friendships through that behemoth of a social network. Autumn graciously agreed to review my first novel, and later brought me into the fantasy authors collective Guild of Dreams. I’ve always admired her dedication to her craft, her discipline, and her imagination! Her fantasy series Rise of the Fifth Order follows Ria, a teen girl whose unique magic abilities threaten the Church of Four Orders–Water, Fire, Earth, and Air–and thus condemn Ria to death. She and her friends must flee across the breadth of their homeland Myrrah, and somehow secure Ria’s salvation.

 

Autumn and I have both constructed original fantasy worlds with unique creatures and races not found in standard epic fantasy, and we decided to trade blogs to talk about our creations. My post on the scifi creatures of the fantasy world of Knownearth will appear soon on her blog, Autumn Writing. In the meantime, here Autumn shares some of her thoughts behind her unique fantasy peoples!

Growing the Legacy of Fantasy

Autumn M. Birt

I grew up in the era of Dragonlance and the Elfstones of Shannara. Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey were two of the first author names I searched bookstores to find. I knew more about the lives and history of elves, dwarves, trolls, and ogres than I did tribes in Africa or the Mayan Civilization.

So when I wrote my first fantasy novel was full of these paragons of high fantasy? No.

In my epic fantasy novel Born of Water, when the four unlikely friends seek help and refuge with a group who live in a mysterious forest, I immediately thought of elves. And then I immediately thought of elfin politics and attitudes. I love them, but they are a little vainglorious, aren’t they? Individualistic and aloof, those are two other words I’d use to describe most elfin characters; even when they are helpful, they are rarely warm.

For my story, I wanted helpful, warm, and mysterious.

It was all that history of what had already been written that turned me away. So I created my first fantasy race, the Kith. They live in a vast forest of massive trees, but they aren’t elves or elf substitutes. What would the point be in that? They are something totally new. My little addition to the realm of fantasy creatures. Well one of them.

Once you start, it is rather fun to craft new races that fit your story, rather than crafting your story to fit existing fantasy races. I’d love to share a few of mine with you!

The Kith

In the northern forest of the world of Myrrah a vast forest of towering trees grows. It isn’t just any forest…

As Ria’s eyes adjusted, she could make out the aerial houses that looked like massive thickets of mistletoe lit from within. Between them, branches arched as living pathways, swooping slowly downward. Houses made from limbs and vines grew at all levels, even a few along the ground visible by their lights in the evening shadows between the tree trunks.

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A Kith woman

Living among the great trees, and soul-bound to them, are the Kith. When a Kith child is born, a seedling also sprouts. The two are inextricable. If the tree dies, so does the child, or vice versa. And he or she will live as long as her tree, for however long that may be. And these are very large, very slow growing trees. The bond marks them in other ways as well…

 

 

Lavinia waited, knowing someone was nearby. Slowly, she scanned the small woodland opening. Then he became clear to her.

A man who looked about her age stood in front of a wide tree trunk twenty feet from her. His skin was patterned and striped like bark. His hair, a russet brown, blended into the forest around them along with the browns and greens of his clothes. She blinked, finding his green eyes staring back into hers. Lavinia let her sword point waiver. She had finally found the Kith.

Those who meet the Kith mistake the natural, and individual, patterning on their skin as tattoos. But it is more than that. In a world of many races and people, the Kith stand apart. Because they are also Earth Elementals and more.

In a world where elemental magic occurs in about 20% of the population, the Kith are one of the few groups where every child is gifted. And unlike most Earth Elementals who can shape rock to create cities from bedrock, they can also control living plants because of their connection to the forest.

But that bond creates as many problems as benefits. You see, if a Kith leaves the forest, the longing to return to it, to his tree, is intense:

“Being Kith is not all wonder. I feel a call back to my tree in Lus na Sithchaine so deep it wakes me from sleep,” Laireag admitted. “There are times I need to see it more than I need to breathe.”

The Kith are not elves. They are not even close to being elfin, preferring simple clothing and shunning metal as too much metal can poison a tree. But that is just one race that peoples my world.

The Ishian

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An Ishian boy

The Ishian live in a vast grassland, but the surface of their home is water and not earth. The waters of the Marsh of Isha rise and fall with the strong tides of the Bay of Tiak to the west, but within the heart of the wetland there are only the reeds and the stilted houses of the Ishians.

 

The square platforms hold wide decks with overhanging roofs to protect them from storms, as well as to create more roof space for the gardens grown above the houses. Walkways of woven reed rope and bamboo trace pathways between the lofty platforms but usually the Ishian wander through their watery home on reed boats. Or they swim. They can swim very well thanks to fine webbing between fingers and toes.

The Nifail

The Nifail are a tribe of people who live on the vast steppes and whose native language consists of condensed whistles and clicks used to carry over the windswept miles of the grasslands. The scattered clans meet once annually in a great celebration where fights are held to determine tribe leadership for the year. Both men and women fight for the right to lead.

But all of those are cultural traits. What makes the Nifail different is their hair. There are very fine feathers in it. Why stems from a long story that involves a not-so-mythical large bird that nests in the grasslands. It is a creature they hunt … usually.

The Torek

The Torek are one of two races considered myths in Myrrah. The other are the Aquinians, who are said to inhabit the islands, or the sea, in the far east of the Ocean of Illaiya. The Torek live in the Alin Mountains in deep caves they call hoves. Well they think the word hoves, because they are telepathic. Did I mention they are giant birds of prey? Actually, I’m pretty sure they are the legendary birds the Nifail hunt … and the reason the Nifail have a few feathers mixed with their hair because the Torek have some strange and amazing abilities!

The Aquinians

The only known reference to the Aquinians is from when the Temple of Incendia was destroyed by sea and earth. The island fell beneath the waves and all would have died but for the Aquinians, who came as dolphins and rescued many of the Fire Elementals from the water and trembling rock. Or so goes the story told by the survivors. Unless you believe sailor’s tales of naked women seen on island beaches, there one minute and gone into the waves the next. But who can believe sailors?

 

Those are a few of the people and races who inhabit my fantasy world of Myrrah, a world full of elemental magic and adventure. You can enter Myrrah for free! Born of Water is free on all platforms or you can pick it up here.

Born of Water

bofw-niri-5-2-15_250In the buried archives of the Temple of Dust may lie the secret to defeating the Curse, a creature which seeks to destroy 16-year old Ria for the forbidden gifts she possesses. But it is from among the ranks of those who control the Curse where Ria will find her best chance of success.

Only the Priestess Niri can save Ria from the forces that hunt her, if Niri doesn’t betray the girl first. Along with Ria comes Ty and his sister, Lavinia, both bound to defend Ria from the Church of Four Orders. However, Ty has been living a life less than honest and keeping it from his sister. To survive a journey that takes them across the breadth of their world, the four must learn to trust each other before pursuit from the Church and Ty’s troubled past find them.

Born of Water is the first book in the Rise of the Fifth Order Saga full of elemental magic and epic fantasy adventure. Welcome to the mythical world of Myrrah, ruled by the Church of Four Orders–Fire, Earth, Water, and Air.