A Dark sorcerer is Awakened from eight hundred years of ensorcelled slumber, unleashing an ancient and terrible scourge upon the land as he uses his malevolent powers to enslave a continent and create an empire built on blood magic and death.
Across the Luminous Sea in Calderia, a crown prince grows to manhood, unaware that he carries within him a seed of divine power that must now be Awakened, if his people have any hope of surviving the evil sorcerer’s coming invasion of his homeland.
But to do so, the human prince must help forge an alliance with other warring nations, including his blood enemies, the Elves, and their warrior princess who wants him dead. Somehow, these sworn foes must join forces, gathering other companions as they undertake a perilous journey to find a hidden talisman, solve an age-old mystery, and save their world from oblivion.
Why I wrote Classic Fantasy - Part IV: The Romance of Medieval Times
This is the fourth in a series of tour posts about why I write classic fantasy. I’ve noted that fantasy is imprinted onto our DNA almost from birth through children’s fairy tales—those amazing stories of magical lands and mythical creatures that capture our imagination, taking us beyond the mundane world to places where the stuff of dreams (and sometimes nightmares) becomes reality. As an adult, I graduated from the Brothers Grimm to iconic fantasy authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and later to writers like Robert Jordan, David Eddings, R.A. Salvatore, George R.R. Martin and Jacqueline Carey. And, when I finally tired of haunting the bookstores for new books to read and decided to write my own, my natural choice was classic fantasy.
In previous tour posts (3/10, 3/13 and 3/14), I mentioned three key elements and themes of classic fantasy literature that I most enjoy, and that inspire me to write: 1) wizards, sorcerers and the wonders of magic; 2) mythical races and magical creatures; and 3) the great quest. Now I would add another favorite to the list: 4) the romance of medieval times.
Classic fantasy is often set in an alternative reality that more or less resembles the Middle Ages or medieval era—5th to 15th century A.D.—of English, Celtic and western European history and culture. (The land and people of Calderia in my book were partially inspired by medieval Scotland, as a tribute to my Scottish ancestors). The long and diverse heritage of this period provides a rich tapestry of folklore and myths to draw upon for worldbuilding, story themes, plot lines and character development. Writers can call upon a thousand years of history and legends, from the tales of Avalon, the Druids, the “fae folk,” Merlin and Morgaine, and the Knights of the Round Table to William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, Robin Hood and countless others (possibly including the Dread Pirate Roberts ).
Against this backdrop of medieval feudalistic society, classic fantasy chronicles the rise and fall of kings and queens, the lives of the privileged nobility and the common man or woman, and the roles played by soothsayers and advisors, healers and assassins, tradesmen and artisans, warlords and clergy. Woven into the fabric of these tales are descriptions of their religion, art, music, law and literature, codes of chivalry and honor, methods of medieval warfare and weapons of combat, rural peasant customs, and other images of daily life in the Middle Ages. To me, this period ranks as one of the most fascinating and dramatic historical eras, and offers fertile ground in which the seeds of great fantasy literature can flourish.
True, much about the medieval era has been romanticized, downplaying the harsh reality of life that was often brutal, oppressive and short, plagued by war, disease and pestilence without the benefits of modern law, technology, science and medicine. For many, it was hardly an idyllic existence. Still, for me, there is the wistful and admittedly romantic appeal of a period so rich in history and legend, a time imagined as less complicated and more low tech, when people lived at a slower pace, closer to nature and their gods; and when acts of great heroism and courage were immortalized by minstrels and poets in song and story. Throw in the three other elements—the wonders of magic, some mythical races and beings, and a great quest or two—and the stage is set for a captivating tale.
To view previous posts on this topic, please visit earlier tour stops or find links on my website at: www.avatarofcalderia.com.
Killian moved forward to the edge of the clearing, then turned and looked at Ellianthia, holding out his hand. After some hesitation, she inhaled deeply and walked over to his side, raising her hand tentatively to press her palm to his. The Elfin princess looked up at him, his flame-red hair gleaming in the sun, his blue eyes clear and bright with excitement. What kind of power did this human possess, that he could so easily enter this sacred place, this Elfin sanctuary where even Mellisandria, an ancient Wise One, trod lightly? She gripped his hand more tightly, wondering what might happen if she let go.
They walked directly to the mound, hearing no sound save that of their own footsteps, the pounding of their hearts, and the rustle of the grass as they brushed against it in their passing. When they reached the mass of tangled vines and stood before the Stone, he felt humbled by its megalithic size and grandeur. The surface visible beneath the branches and the blossoms appeared smooth and flawless, with no sign of weathering, as if time had stood still for ages here in this place of power.
Killian did not know what he was meant to do next, but he felt drawn to walk around the Stone while it waited for him to unlock its mystery. Still leading Ellianthia by the hand, he had paced perhaps a quarter of the way around its base before he found that same palm-sized circle that he had seen in his vision, positioned partway up the side of the monolith. Knowing instinctively that this was what he had been seeking, he raised his hand toward the circle and looked at Mellisandria for final confirmation that he should proceed.
“It is your destiny,” she said, nodding once. With that, he stepped forward and placed his palm flat upon the circle.
At the instant of his touch, a brilliant flash of golden light erupted from the circle, encasing the Calderian prince and the Elfin princess. Then several gasps arose from the observers, Ellianthia’s loudest and nearest of all, for Killian’s eyes were two luminous orbs glowing with divine presence, as if the gods themselves had entered his body and now looked out through their Avatar upon the awestruck mortals gathered there. In that moment, any lingering doubts that he was indeed the chosen vessel of the deities vanished from the minds of all who had witnessed it.
Almost immediately thereafter came a deep rumbling that shook the ground and rattled the lofty branches of the trees around them. A strong gale sprang up, whipping hair and clothing about, and making them blink from the force blowing against their faces. The deep vibration seemed to be emanating from within the Stone itself as, before their wind-stung eyes, a vertical crack appeared in that flawless gray surface.
Soon, the crack became a narrow crevice running down from top to bottom, then widened steadily into a rift that grumbled and creaked with every inch of movement, cleaving the granite and snapping the vines that covered it. Then two stone doors, each some five feet in width, pivoted as if on hinges and swung outward, revealing a dark, mysterious opening into the monolith.
Killian glanced at Ellianthia, who was staring back at him with the same expression of shock written on the faces of the other Elves and humans waiting behind them on the edge of the clearing. Though the glow in his eyes had dimmed, he was undeniably the prophecy fulfilled, for all could see that the “One who will come to split the stone” stood before them. She tried to pull her hand away, but he shook his head slightly and pointed toward the opened doors, knowing that their presence was required there. Gathering his courage, he led her inside.
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I have been enamored with science fiction/fantasy since I was (as my southern grandmother used to say) "knee-high to a grasshopper." Thank the gods for ebooks, because I ran out of room to store my collection many moons ago. I enjoy reading, RPG’s, canning homegrown preserves, old time radio, more reading, and Scottish Highland Games (middle name is McMaster). I actually had a kilt of my clan tartan made, and I've been promising myself to learn how to play "Scotland the Brave" on the bagpipes. Perhaps one day…
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Author David M. Echeandia is giving away two $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Cards (winner’s choice) to two lucky winners! Enter with Rafflecopter. The giveaway runs 3/5/14 – 3/20/14 (Midnight Eastern Time).