Somehow, Island Of Exiles is only one month away. That’s only FOUR WEEKS!
When I started this whole countdown thing, I talked about why I’m so excited to be releasing a fantasy novel.
At six weeks I posted about Tessen, the unexpected linchpin of my editorial process.
Last week was different. I talked about sex, kinks, and differing power dynamics.
Today, I’m going to talk about magic.
It’s hard for me to imagine a fantasy without some element of the magical or impossible, but it’s rarely the same between books. Sometimes there are spells & talismans, sometimes blood & reciprocity, sometimes innate ability & prophecy. I’ve read novels set in dozens of worlds, and many of the authors had fascinating approaches to magic. The books I loved each taught me something different, and I incorporated many smaller elements into my own universe.
Children on Shiara are taught about desosa, the energy created & used by everything in the universe. This is what makes magic possible. The teachings of Sagen sy Itagami create makes who are specialists, very skilled in one particular skill or power.
Rai, one of the secondary characters, is a kasaiji, a fire mage. She uses the desosa to create a spark, or manipulates existing flames.
Etaro is a rikinhisu, someone with telekinetic abilities. Etaro is also an ebet, an established, accepted third sex (ey/em/eir pronouns).
The book’s narrator, Khya, is a fykina, a mage with the power to create energy shields to protect herself & others from metal & magic.
Each of these mage types uses the same energy source to do or create something specific, special, and powerful. Part of the difference between the skills is innate, a psychological quirk of personality changing how an individual sees the world. The rest of the differences in abilities is down to a person’s sensitivity to the desosa as well as their willpower. It’s hard to detect the subtly shifting energy fields of the desosa. It’s harder to channel and shape it.
Some people can only shape it to enhance their own body and/or senses. Tessen, for example, is a basaku. Basaku mages are those whose senses–all six of them (five physical, one for the desosa)–are incredibly over-enhanced.
Most other mages, however, keep the desosa outside of themselves, manipulating it in the world around them. There aren’t any spells or rituals on this island. Magic is treated like any other weapon Khya and the others train with. It’s a tool that someone is either capable of learning how to wield or it isn’t. Each mage type has specific lessons to master, and they’re not allowed to graduate the training program until they’ve done so.
Like training for a marathon, endurance and stamina have to be slowly built up over time. Same with skill and precision. However, no matter what type of magic the Itagamin mages are capable of or how strong they are, there are limits. Magic, like everything else, has rules. Breaking them is…not exactly advisable. Pushing yourself too far (for example, a rikinhisu trying to lift a massive boulder on day one of training) can be deadly. Almost no one can use desosa that’s been electrified by a lightning storm. The energy runs too hot; it burns people to crisp human shells. Mostly, though, magic is like any other physical activity. It’s exhausting.
Magic in all it’s strengths and forms is integral to Itagamin society, deeply so. It shapes their entire class structure. The dividing lines between the three citizen classes of Itagami aren’t drawn by blood, money, or politics–they’re drawn by magic. This means that once you’re placed in a group, moving beyond it is rare. Almost impossible. You can only advance within your class.
Creating a society so clearly defined was both easy and difficult. In Itagami, I managed to erase a lot of the prejudices modern society has–sexuality, skin, and religious beliefs don’t matter here. Doing this doesn’t mean the culture is a utopia, though. They have their own deeply ingrained biases. Almost all involve magic. What my characters eventually learn is that, in Itagami, magic, like energy, is far more malleable than they thought.
In four weeks, when Island Of Exiles releases, you’ll get to see all of this for yourself. I for one am THRILLED.
Pre-order soon! Island of Exiles is almost here.
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