Fantasy Fantasy Fridays Story Lines world building

I love fantasy books

Today being Valentine’s day, it seemed appropriate that I should talk about my long-time love for fantasy novels. No, its not the same kind of love as I feel for my family or dear friends, but fantasy worlds have been a part of my life for decades now and I love it. Some of the fantasy books that are the dearest to me aren’t necessarily the ones that I would call the best written or the ones with the grandest world building. I think it more has to do with where I was at in my life when I first read each of these books. Now, when I go back and re-read them (which I do every few years), I think I get a little taste of those memories mixed in and it makes each book that much more satisfying. So here are some of the novels that I have most dearly loved over the years (in no particular order):

1. Lord of the Rings trilogy–  You can’t get any richer than Tolkien’s Middle Earth, with its imagined languages and grand sweeps of history. It is a land that can swallow me whole. I’m not as enamored with the Hobbit or the Simarilion, but LOTR is a true fantasy classic. What do I love the most about LOTR? Well, I would say the various enchanted lands (Shire, Minas Tirith, Rivendell, Lorien, Fangorn ), the humble hobbits and their camaraderie, and the terribleness of the evil. It is a black-and-white world where I certainly know who to cheer for. I’ll admit that I will sometimes skim through some sections (you have to be in a certain mood to appreciate Tom Bombadil), but it is such a great adventure overall.

2. Riddle-Master trilogy– This one is a little harder for me to explain. For some reason, I have found Patricia McKillip’s word to be haunting with its powerful, chaotic sea people and the struggling Prince Morgon who is trying to understand what is happening and looking for a way to resist these frightening attackers.

3. Wizard of Earthsea trilogy– This trio of thin books by Ursula LeGuin are magical. Somehow, she succeeds in entrancing me while keeping the writing sparse. She makes Ged very real, with some deep flaws but also some wonderful traits. I love the many islands with their unique cultures, the wonder of the wizard school, and the awfulness of Ged’s shadow.

4. Dragonsong trilogy– Another trio of thin books, this one from Anne McCaffrey, has caught my imagination even more than her more-sweeping Dragon Riders of Pern novels. Maybe it is because I get to become so close to vulnerable Menolly, but for some reason I find that I have re-read these three (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums) far more than her other books.

5. Saga of Recluse– This huge series of books by L.E. Modesitt Jr. is one of the few large series that I will re-read. Because each book is its own story, I can jump around and pick up the one that I’m in the mood for at the time. Most other series, like Jordan’s Wheel of Time,  just become tiresome in their size. The story never seems to end. There are many such long series that I haven’t even finished because the tales became bogged down in their side-stories. However, Modesitt wisely made each of these books independent of the others, so you can jump around without losing the story-line.  The Recluse world isn’t the richest or most- sweeping, but it builds with each new book and develops into quite a fantasy tale.

Are these five the best fantasies ever written? I’m not arguing that at all. I think there are some tales that are far grander. However, I do find myself going back to these five more often. It might just be because of where I was at in life when I originally read them, but they each have a special place in my heart and I’m thankful to the authors who wrote them. These authors have brought me with them into some fantastic tales.

I hope that my own novels will someday entrance readers in a similar way.

What are your favorite fantasy novels? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Fantasy Fantasy Fridays Future of Writing

Is there something wrong with Epic Fantasy?

Recently, the website SFSignal posed this question to numerous writers, including Robin Hobb, Martha Wells, and Melanie Rawn. I thought it was an odd question- at least certainly a loaded question. The headline for Andrea Johnson’s article was even more confronting: MIND MELD: What’s “Wrong” with Epic Fantasy?

Some, like Marc Alpin and Teresa Frohock, saw no real issues except an overload of choice and maybe some wrong expectations. Others, like Martha Wells and Melanie Rawn, mentioned the tendency for epic fantasies to get weighed down from having so many viewpoint characters. Robin Hobb felt that readers sometimes couldn’t find what they really wanted in the glut of books offered. Each person’s reply is worth reading, so follow the link and read it yourself.

The various respondents gave decent answers, but I had some qualms with who was asked.

Let me explain. I though it was a decent article, but I’d rather hear more from the readers than from fellow writers and other insiders when it comes to any issues with a genre or sub-genre. As a writer, I want to avoid themes that are getting tired or predictable. However, the “experts” can get jaded from overexposure to insider things, like professional film critics do, and start nitpicking at stuff that most would never notice. As long as my readers are happy with my books, then I’m satisfied.

Are there things in the genre that I dislike? Yup. I’ll not go into all of them because much of it is a matter of personal taste, but I have written about  some of the ways Fantasy Series can fall short (Why Read the Whole Fantasy Series?). I will refrain from ranting on my other pet peeves though. Instead, I will try to write more novels that entertain. I want the readers to enjoy a good read and maybe have something to ponder afterwards. If I can consistently accomplish that, then I have found success.


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Fantasy Fantasy Fridays Novel

Road of Leaves- an excerpt

Today I thought I would share a short section from my latest fantasy novel, Road of Leaves.  This snippet comes from the middle of the book, providing a humorous side story. Our main character, Thomas the magician’s apprentice, has just survived a harrowing journey through the first leg of the Road of Leaves. Thom and Francis, a monk from his traveling party, are trying to relax for the night on the Travelers’ Field, when another of their party shows up.

Road of Leaves cover

* * *

Thom looked to where the monk pointed and saw Geoffrey trudging onto the traveler’s field, appearing dejected. The youth looked around the meadow, spotted them, and headed their way.

“He’s coming to us,” said Thom with a slight frown. He had no desire to put up with that silly rooster.

“We’re the easiest to spot, being away from the crowd. You should have hid among all the others if you didn’t want to be noticed,” said Francis cheerfully. “Just be glad it’s not Iago coming over to sneer and insult.”

The noble’s son walked near but then stopped, apparently unsure if he would be welcomed.

“Lord Geoffrey, this is our camp,” said Francis. “If you come as companion and fellow camper, then welcome. You may come and join us. If you are looking for servants to order around, then find some other group because we are freemen.”

“I am simply looking for a place to sleep,” replied Geoffrey, raising both hands in protest. “Have I ever tried ordering either of you? I do not expect to be waited on. I just don’t want to be alone.”

The monk strode over and put a welcoming arm over the youth’s shoulder. “Then join us, my son. Set your saddlebags down and find some soft grass to cushion your blanket. You will have a more comfortable bed than most in that overcrowded inn, though maybe not as fine a dinner.”

Geoffrey dropped his bags and all three settled in to eat a cold meal, sharing what they had. Afterward, an awkward silence settled on them until Francis made a suggestion. “Why don’t the two of you go visit the pixie gathering? Tonight promises to be a boisterous one with such a large crowd of travelers. I will stay and watch our camp.”

Thom wasn’t certain he wanted to go carousing with a noble.

However, before he could demur, Geoffrey spoke up. “That is a wonderful idea. Always before, I have traveled by the Road of Waters to Camelot but this time I wanted to see a Pixie Eve. The other boys speak of it so highly. Let us go, Thomas.”

“Have fun,” said Francis. “I will enjoy some quiet for my prayers. But be wary of the Pix Ale, for its potent enough to make a bear drunk, let alone young fellows like the two of you.”

Geoffrey headed off, now excited, motioning for Thom to join him. The apprentice felt he had no choice but to go along.

“Oh, and one more thing, Thomas,” said Francis as the two left. “Pixies are drawn to music and to magic, so if you don’t want them pressing in on you, avoid crafting any enchantments.”

“No matter how hard anyone begs, they’ll get no magic out of me tonight,” said Thom. His ability to hear magical elements still had not returned, but he didn’t want to say so in front of the nobleman.

Francis gave him a frowning nod, apparently understanding what he meant.

* * *

The walk helped to clear Thom’s head, the dizziness fading. However, he was still deaf to magic. He tried his best to ignore that loss, concentrating on the darkened village they were passing through.

Sometime during their walk over to the Pixvale green, Geoffrey started treating Thom like a fellow squire. He shared his excitement of intermingling with pixies and experiencing their native customs. “I heard from David that a pixie girl’s kiss is as soft as a puppy’s fur but will set your lips to burning.”

“Don’t try stealing any kisses,” urged Thom, imagining the young noble angering the whole assembly. “We are in their land now and not your father’s.”

Geoffrey giggled nervously. “I would not be so bold a thief even at my father’s court. Do not worry, Thomas. I will not molest any pixie’s lips, though I will certainly not refuse any kiss offered.” Again he giggled with excitement.

Thom heard more outrageous stories about the powers and proclivities of pixies, all sworn true by various squires of the court and not one of them believable. As Geoffrey bantered, Thom listened without much comment. By the time they reached the commons, Thom was convinced that the Goat Woman was not disguised as the young noble, for he doubted anyone could keep up such an act.

On the community green, the pixies had already started their evening competitions. Thom heard music, singing, and laughter. Tall torches stood everywhere, giving the area an abundance of light. He saw pixie men sitting in a circle for some sort of drinking game. Apparently humans were welcome, for three men sat among them, towering over the smaller folk. A pair of pixies marched around the outside of the circle carrying a large pitcher and, whenever the singing stopped, they grabbed the nearest sitter and pulled his head back, pouring a dark, foamy beverage into his mouth.

“Look! A Draught Circle. Jacob claims to have won at that last year, winning a keg and a pixie’s kiss.”

Thom sensed that the squires of the royal court spent as much time dreaming about cuddling a girl as they did dreaming about becoming a knight. He had no such luxury. He was still just an apprentice and of no interest to any woman looking for romance. Following a few more years of total poverty, he had another decade as a journeyman. The only women trying to kiss him wanted something, be it money or a potion to curse their enemy. When they learned he had neither to give, they quickly lost interest.

As they stepped onto the grasses, Thom noticed a line of canopies where the visiting nobles congregated. “Do you want to go over there, my lord?”

“Me? Not likely,” said Geoffrey, frowning. “I would be spending the whole night running errands and fetching drinks. I might be a squire at Camelot, but here I would be just another lad to order around. Besides, some of them are the louts I was traveling with when my horse faltered. They denied me aid when I needed it, so I have no desire to be in their company. I am a gentleman, but they might provoke me to call them out for their boorishness.”

Thom doubted that a mere squire could demand a fight from his betters, but he was no expert on noble customs. Frankly, he gave Geoffrey’s words little hearing, for he was distracted by one of those walking among the canopies. She moved gracefully through the crowd, carrying a full flask of wine but spilling not a drop. She took it to a middle-aged woman reclining on a campaign chair under the middlemost tent. The maid poured into a waiting cup, expertly anticipating her mistress’ tendency to jerk the target as she watched the festivities. When done, the maid stepped back out of the way to await her next order.

Thom remembered her face, her smile, her vibrant personality.


(Buy your own copy of Road of Leaves and enjoy the whole tale)

Road of Leaves cover





Thanks for reading.

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Fantasy Fantasy Fridays Story Lines world building

Why Read the Whole Fantasy Series?

One of the wonderful things about Fantasy noels is that many of them are part of an extended series of books. I love being able to dive into a new world and staying there for an extended period of time. It is one of the things I look forward to creating as I write more books for each of my two fantasy series (the Cirian War Saga and the the Ways of Camelot novels). With multiple books, there is the opportunity to discover so much more about a new world and to watch as characters grow and change. Done well,  a lengthy Fantasy series will gain my loyalty.

However, there are quite a few series that I have failed to finish. Some of them I really tried to enjoy but just couldn’t. I have the third book of a trilogy sitting on my nightstand right now that I have been trying to finish for months but it just cannot hold my attention. I greatly enjoyed the first book and I really wanted to like the whole series, but I found that it just became stale. The story couldn’t sustain itself over that many books.

Personally, I can think of five reasons:

1. Delays in Publishing. The longer the delay the greater the odds of readers moving on to something else. Whether the delay comes from a publisher wanting to space out their release dates or from an author being slow to produce, the result is the same.  Who wants to read a book when the next one could be years away from release?

2. Repetitive Stories.  I have abandoned numerous series because they start feeling like a summer rerun. I will leave when a story drags on, seeming to loop back to repeat similar quests or battles or wars. Life can be a repetitive drudgery; the books that I read shouldn’t be.

3. Stunted Characters. When the main characters never change or mature, then a series will start feeling like a soap opera: lots of words and fake drama but no real advancement in their life story. After ten years of sword fighting, your guy should be a changed man (older, more experienced, hardened, disgusted, crazed…  something, anything)  Trauma should alter a character’s actions, emotions, and life-goals.

4. Stuck in Glue. There are some great Fantasy series out there that have become bogged down in details. The forward motion of the main story arc almost stops. I get disappointed whenever an author writes a whole novel that is only a side-trip. Maybe the houses are nicer looking on a cul-de-sac, but you certainly aren’t going to get very far driving down that dead-end street. Get the main story moving! Leave off all those side stories that don’t really get us anywhere.

5. Betrayal. This is more of a complex issue. Whenever I feel that an author has set me up, then I will be hesitant to ever trust him or her again. I have had authors create worlds and then mock those creations (and me for naively believing in them). I have had authors lure me into caring for characters and then wantonly kill them off. I have started series where the first book creates a certain mood and then the author (maybe out of boredom) decides to do something completely different with the sequel. Radical change is fine for stand-alone novels but not within a series. Labeling that book as part of a series means that you (author) are promising to uphold the ambiance, the mood, the characters, the brand of the previous book(s).  A television series doesn’t shift from romantic comedy to police procedural to nature show each week. The TV show doesn’t alter its main characters halfway through the season. That TV show holds to a similar feel from episode to episode. Your Fantasy series needs to do likewise.

I love reading a good Fantasy series. I often reread the better ones. Sadly, though, there have been many trilogies and sagas that I have never finished just because the author failed to hold my interest over the long run. I don’t desert stories lightly, but I also cannot stand it when a Fantasy series fails to be entertaining or to be loyal to the world the author crafted in book one.

When it comes to my own Fantasy series, I will strive to be respectful of my readers and do my best to avoid the five shortcomings I mentioned above. Will I succeed? I hope so.


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Fantasy Fantasy Fridays world building

Mixing Reality with Fiction

I love fantasy. I love reading fantasy and writing fantasy, for it is such a wondrous genre. My imagination can roam and romp through imaginary lands, sometimes for weeks after I’ve read a great book.

And yet I still want a fantasy tale to have some connection to reality. The protagonist doesn’t need to be from “here” like the leper Thomas Covenant in Stephen R. Donaldson’s stories, but I still need some reality to help me cross the span of imagination to that fantasy land.

Here are three areas where I like to see our reality mix into a fantasy realm:

Anthropomorphism– This term is often used when describing the tendency to give the human attributes to Deity, but I think it can also be applied to fantastic creatures. Is the writer humanizing something alien so that we, as readers, can relate. If your main characters are mice, they had better be rodents with human characteristics like our emotions, our speech patterns, our societal structures. If your characters are elves, dwarfs, or dragons and you want me to relate to them, then show them to be human-like in some way.

I know some villains are distant and their alien ways are vital to the story, but then you can’t bring the reader in close. Tolkien understood this. We never get “into the head” of Smaug or  Sauron because they are too different, but we do get close to Boromir and sense his fatal flaw of envy when he tries to take the Ring for himself and his country.

Flora and Fauna– An alien landscape should have some link to our world in how its plants and animals look and act. Frankly, it is that connection that helps to make the truly fantastic stand out, be it the magical forests in Tolien’s the Lord of Rings or the Ranyhyn steeds in the Thomas Covenant books.

It is because their land is similar to ours, that the hobbits are awed by Ents just as we are. If every tree in Middle Earth walked or grabbed people, it wouldn’t be as startling without overwhelming the story. Because the living trees are unusual in Middle Earth, it is a wonder that doesn’t take over the whole tale.

In Donaldson’s series, the Ranyhyn horses are wondrous because of how they are similar to ours and yet so far beyond any earthly equines.  Their stamina is far beyond any normal horse but we can accept their power because it first awes the protagonists and then is accepted by them too.

Geography– This is an area where I think many writers stumble. I have seen too many lands where the terrain drastically changes without any good explanation or any connection to our world.  In reality, things like oceans and mountain ranges will alter weather patterns and temperatures. I think a writer should be aware of the basics of physical geography or face the danger of creating an unbelievable land.

Tolkien made Mordor different, but he was wise enough to separate it from the rest of Middle Earth by mountain ranges and to show that it was the exception to the land’s reality.  Outside of Mordor, the land follows the same rules as ours. You don’t encounter deserts abutting rain forests or balmy mountains towering over snowy lowlands.

Reality highlights fantasy. I feel that it is the reality, well-applied, that helps to make the imaginary creatures and locations stand out that much more. It is the mundane in a fantasy world that adds awe to the wondrous places.

Interest in how I’ve mixed reality with fiction? Learn more about my first two  published novels: Road of Leaves and Fallen King

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Fantasy Fantasy Fridays Story Lines

Fantasy Villains- How Close Should You Get?

How close do you want to get to the villains in a fantasy novel? Frankly, the closer you get to a really bad character, the more it influences the mood of the book.  In my epic fantasy, Fallen King, the story follows six characters and three of them could be called bad guys.  I had a concern that if I spent too much time within the thoughts of these villains, the book would start to feel like a dark fantasy or even like a horror novel. However, I also felt seeing events from their perspective added a richness to the novel.

Let me introduce these three “villains”:

1. Lord Drass Halen-Dabe. This young man is resentful of his cold father (General Fors Halen-Dabe) and ambiguous toward his older brother, Mordel. He joins his brother’s scheme to overthrow their uncle, the king. However, Drass tires of doing all the work while his brother gets the glory. When his brother’s allies tempt him to leave Mordel and join them, Drass must decide if the offering power is worth what it will cost him.

2. Brother Brodagar. He is a dragon priest of the Crimson Order but, more importantly, he is an Embraced One- a demon possessed man. Brodagar is sent to learn the secret of Warhaven. Getting the answer will bring him great power. Failing at the task will probably mean banishment of his Other and death for him.

3. Captain Galdon. He considers the army his only family and is fiercely loyal to it. He is so loyal that he chooses to remain even after Lord Silossiak declares himself emperor. He struggles to survive as one of the only Tlocanian officers who is not demon possessed. He despises what his beloved land has become, but he cannot imagine betraying his fellow soldiers.

There are worse characters in Fallen King, some so influenced by demons that they are now insane, but these three are the ones we get to know intimately. We learn of their fears and desires, their crimes and kind acts.

Keeping Villains at arm’s length. In the other fantasy novel that I have released this year, Road of Leaves, takes a different approach to the enemy. The point-of-view stays with the main character, Thomas the magician’s apprentice, never leaving his side. We never see into the minds of any of the people attacking the Road. That has some distinct advantages and challenges.

We only experience Thom’s confusion and fear, and it is the uncertainty of who the enemy is and what the enemy is doing that adds to the book. At least I think so.

So, what do you prefer? Do you want your villains close at hand or at a distance?

Fantasy Fantasy Fridays

Fantasy Maps

In  fantasy, the author takes the audience into a strange and often dangerous land. We want to see that land, to smell it, to feel its wind and temperature shifts. There are so many strange and unbelievable things in this wild country, that we often need a sense of “place” so that we can better follow the story. Maps help tether us to this new land. Maps help us to understand a very foreign place- a land where magic lurks.

Personally, I love having a map whenever I enter a  new fantasy land because it helps me visualize where the characters are and the places they are traveling through.  Here are a few of my personal preferences in fantasy maps (and a few pet peeves):

1. Clarity- I detest blurry or tiny maps crammed onto a page. Even if I could locate that magnifying glass that’s around the house somewhere, I still won’t be able to find anything on that smug the publisher threw into the front of the book. I know its usually better in the hardcover edition, but really? Does it have to be that bad for the paperback?
2. Applicability- Does the map have anything to do with the story? Are the important locations even shown? No, I don’t mean the major cities or highest mountains. If half the book is spent in a particular town, then you need to put it on the map. Please.
3. Beauty- I love it when a map is a piece of art as well as informative.
4. Sense of Wonder- Can you taste the magic in the map? Does the map add to the fantasy? I have always felt that the Middle Earth maps do that; I can sense how wild and dangerous the lands are, just by studying the maps. The mountains soar high, while the forests brood.
5. Mysterious– Are there other places hinted at on the map? Lands beyond its boundaries or areas that are murky on purpose? I like a map that implies an even-greater world beyond its borders.
6. Believable– I want a map that either follows the laws of nature or has a good reason for breaking them. Do you have a desert next to a rainforest? Well then,  I expect the author to have a good story to explain why the rain never makes it to the sand. Do you have radical changes in topography? Then the story should reflect how that influences the weather and temperature and commerce. Do the distances between places match up to what the story implies?  There are a few authors out there who should enroll in a basic course on Physical Geography (or at least the artist who drew the map needs that class).
7. Details– I want some intriguing details in a map. I love Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea map, with all of its tiny islands and their quirky names. The novels and the map work together, creating a richer experience for the reader. I wanted to go sailing around those islands myself, after reading  the books and seeing the map.

Na Ciria map
Copyright 2011 by Eric Lorenzen. All Rights Reserved.

What about my worlds?  I have two fantasy series, one with maps and one without. The Cirian War Saga novels actually have two maps each. One it the map of Na Ciria and the other is a more local area (the Border Realm for the series’ first book: FALLEN KING).

My map-making skills are modest, but I hope that the Na Ciria maps help readers to better visualize this wild and beautiful country, with its rushing rivers and majestic mountains.

For my other series, the Ways of Camelot novels, I chose not to include any maps since the Arthurian legends are so full of contradictory locations and place names. I had no desire to wade into the middle of any of that. Instead, my stories center around a nondescript magician named Thomas and his journeys through the magical routes that lead into and out of Camelot. The first book in that series, ROAD OF LEAVES, stays mainly on that enchanted way and the Road cannot be mapped since it shifts every night.

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Fantasy Fantasy Fridays Magic

The Cost of Magic

In most fantasy tales, magic plays an integral part.  Magic can be wondrous or frightening. Characters use magic to defend the right and to ravage the countryside. Often, magic becomes one of the characters in the story. In Road of Leaves, the shifting Road seems to develop its own personality and has an integral role at the tale’s climax. In Lord of the Rings, the rings, especially the One, have something of a will of their own.

Many of us love fantasy stories, because a good tale will transport us into a new, wondrous, and dangerous land. Stories about magic feed our imagination and remind of us of our childhood dreams. But, it should be costly for someone to acquire any magical powers.

What must you SACRIFICE to gain magic?

It would be boring if magic was easy to learn and unlimited in its power.  I agree with Author David Farland on this: magic must cost the person something.  In his Runelords books, magic is acquired by “borrowing” the powers from dozens or hundreds of other people. The lords sometimes took the powers of others with force, but they dared not kill them- the person needed to survive or the lord would lose that newly-gained enhancement.

In my CIRIAN WAR SAGA novels, the characters have to submit to supernatural forces to gain power. The heroes are empowered by their prayer devotion to El, while the villains find magical powers through demon possession and human sacrifice. Neither way to power is cheap or easy.

In my WAYS OF CAMELOT (WoC) novels, the characters must study for decades to learn how to recognize and use magical elements. They sacrifice their youth, many of them never getting the chance to marry or have a family.

In the WoC novels, elements are rendered from magical plants, insects, and animals. It takes skill and time to be a magician, but more importantly it requires crushing magical things into powders. Something or someone dies to release the power needed to craft an enchantment. Then the darker truth comes out: some magicians are killing magical people to get their properties too.

What LIMITS magic?

If magic has no limits, then a magician becomes a god-like. How can anyone oppose him? I found some super hero tales boring for just that reason. The “hero” wasn’t anyone I could relate to because he had no flaws or restrictions on his power.

In a good fantasy, the magic has parameters. Either there are some things that magic cannot do or the magician is limited. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo struggles with his sword, trying to master its magic. He also contends with the ring, which often is working against him. If either had provided him unlimited powers without conditions, then the story would have failed.

In the WAYS OF CAMELOT novels, I purposely don’t use the terms “spell” or “casting” because the magic is something that is crafted, using a combination of magical elements, mundane elements, and usually some spit that attunes the enchantment to the magician. It takes time, although some enchantments can be prepared in advance. In this world, you can’t just shout out a phrase or think a thought. There is work involved in creating magic. Real, physical labor.

In the Cirian War Saga novels, the powers of El are gained through a life of devotion. It requires the discipline of prayer, hence the Attuls are known as Prayer Warriors. Should they falter in their faith, then El’s power will weaken in their life.

For the villains, they need a steady supply of victims to sacrifice to create their blood magic. They also need the cooperation of the demon within.

What are the ETHICS of magic?

Another aspect of magic is the ethics involved.  Is magic good, bad, or amoral? In most fantasy stories, magic is used by both sides.  So what makes magic either good or evil? Magic’s goodness or evilness can be determined by the practitioner, by how it is used, or by its inherent nature.

For my WoC novels, the issue of ethics became more pressing because the stories are set in King Arthur’s times and include Christian characters. For a Christian, there are Biblical injunctions against the practice of witchcraft and sorcery, which is why I differentiate between those “dark arts” and the natural magic in the Ways of Camelot novels. I also have the magicians craft enchantments, much like a smith or carpenter or weaver. It is work that one learns to master like any other profession; you just happen to be working with magical elements.

So what is the COST of magic?

Magic, because it overrules natural law, is a dangerous thing. So magic should also be hard to learn and difficult to practice. The answer differs by the story, but there should be a significant cost of some type.  Magic is powerful, so it should never be an easy or simple thing to do.


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