Saturday, 25 March 2017

Mages, Covers and The Woes of Princes

Hi Guys,
Tornado Mage by WarNick on DeviantArt
Been a while since I last posted, but I've been busy writing so I guess I have an excuse?! In fact I've written a bit over 160K in the last month, which is something of a record even for me.
The new book, which is about 80% complete, is called "A Bitter Brew" and is another epic fantasy. But this one's a little bit different to my others. The hero is a mage, but like all those with magic in his world, he isn't called that. He's called "afflicted", and magic is considered a disease. The afflicted have become a lower class in his world, like the untouchables, and are relatively powerless. They're also easily spotted, since as part of their gaining magic, they become marked with one of seven magic metals. In Hendrick's case the metal is Mithril, and the markings run up his entire left arm.
In his world - Styrion - the afflicted aren't just shunned. They are discriminated against in law. They may not hold any office or station. They can't enter the capitol city or any Council Chamber in any other. If by chance they have a useful spell, they cannot charge for its use, and if someone in authority asks, they have to provide the magical service immediately and for free. In short they are the lowest of the low, without any hope of improving their lot in life.
The reason those with magic are so powerless is that the way they gain their magic is different to that in other books. They aren't born with a talent, and they don't learn it. Instead they pick up a fragment of magic metal, usually not knowing what it even is, and it promptly dissolves into their skin marking them for life. And then instead of acquiring (or absorbing) a whole type of magic, they only acquire a single spell. One spell per fragment. And to add to their woes, there's no telling what spell any fragment contains. It could be a useful one. It could even be a warspell. But the most likely outcome is that it will be something completely useless - the ability to grow body hair for example!
This means that most of the magical are left in their world with one or two spells which are of no earthly use to them, and marked as afflicted for all the world to see. Probably the worst of all possible situations for a spellcaster! And yet there is an even worse possibility for some. That they pick up their spells by having the fragment of magic metal touch a part of their body normally covered by clothes, so the markings are hidden. These poor souls are called witches and warlocks, and are considered to be hiding their affliction. Naturally the normal distrust people have for the afflicted is multiplied for witches and warlocks, and in fact they're often simply considered evil.
For Hendrick the situation is more complicated still. As well as being afflicted and trying to run a brewery in a small town, he is also a prince - seventeenth in line to the throne - and yet the law actually forbids him from ever assuming the throne or even setting foot in the royal city. So he's a prince in name only, and an outcast! (I so love putting my characters in difficult situations!)
Of course I couldn't leave it there - it was just too easy! So naturally I had to give him a sociopathic mother who discarded him in favour of his older, unafflicted brother, and who spends her days plotting against the other wives in the royal household. A father - the King - who sent a squad of mercenaries to kill him on the pretext of escorting him to his latest royal wedding. A brand new step-mother who isn't so much monstrous as actually a monster. And a war. Actually, several wars!
So that's where the book begins.
Anyway the book is nearly finished, and will probably head off for beta reading in the next few weeks. Meanwhile I'm at the stage of looking for book covers - which is where the image at the top comes from. I was hoping to use it, if I could get it a little modified by the artist, but thus far he has failed to respond to my message. Still it is I think a powerful image and so hopefully he'll get back to me at some point.
Meanwhile I'll leave you guys with a rather brilliant word I came across while doing my research for the book. It's a ye olde timey English word which I found and loved - Mumblecrust. And for those of you who, like me had never heard of it before, a Mumblecrust is in fact a toothless old beggar who because of his lack of teeth can't speak clearly - bit like a few politicians I can think of!
Cheers, Greg.