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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Release Day!

Four years after writing the first page of The Spirit Lens, the third and final novel of the Collegia Magica, The Daemon Prism, appears on bookstore shelves and online ebook lists today. What a ride!

I poured a lot of my favorite ideas into this series, which began with a simple double-agent, murder mystery investigation, and ended up in an entangling adventure tale of magic, love, destiny, faith, death, life, and the order of nature. (Somehow my stories just grow!) I took on a risky business of multiple narrators again, knowing that if people grew attached to my quietly confident, always logical librarian, Portier, as I hoped, they might have trouble switching to my shy insecure young heroine Anne. By the time I got to The Daemon Prism, I trusted that readers would love to get inside the crusty, violent Dante's head and see what he had been thinking all along. I know it was fun for me! Of course the demands of the story, said that Anne's keen observations had to be called into service again, and I felt the need to give a brief closure to two other characters as we raced to the ending.

Now that the series is done, what do I like the best about it? The characters and their relationships. I was so pleased at how they developed. Both Portier and Anne hid themselves for a long time. Dante and Ilario were more...overt...about their personalities. I loved the exposure of the Sabrian world in the first book, the court intrigue of the second, and the wide-ranging and yet very "interior" adventure of the third.

To celebrate this launch I'm going to take off for the mountains and start working on a new project. There will also be EVENTS - which I will post about later. As every author, I need my readers to let people know if you like the books. Post reviews. Spread the word.

So, on to the book itself... What's up with the uneasy alliance formed at the end of The Soul Mirror?
Here's a bit of a teaser, the opening paragraphs of The Daemon Prism...

30 Ocet, 883rd Year of the Sabrian Realm, sunset

"Stop right there!" I bellowed. My student’s resolute little inhalation signaled her ready to bind her first complex spell. I resisted the temptation to shatter or repair the well-structured but ill-conceived little charm. She had to learn.

Mercifully, she was well disciplined. Though her will tugged fiercely against mine, she obeyed.

"Concentrate. Look deeper. A hundred thousand streams in Sabria comprise water, rocks, willows, and trout. But to draw on this stream's keirna - its essence - you must unearth the secrets that make it unique. You're no child swatting a fly. Misjudgment could drown us . . . or bury us . . . or turn yon pasture into a swamp." In this case, likely all of them and worse.

She knelt along the stream bank, not half a metre from my boots. Having spent most of every day for two years in her presence, I could sense her every muscle twitch, accurate signals for divining her level of confidence. It had taken her a very long time to prepare for this step, and she was very sure of herself. She hated mistakes.

"There’s nothing wrong with it," she said after a few moments' contemplation. "Sealing the snag will just divert the water around the end of it, digging out the far bank a little more. I'm not blocking the water flow completely. There's plenty of leeway."

She readied herself again.

"No!" I drove the heel of my staff into the rocky streambed.

She jerked but held her ground, not yanking her hand from the water. It wasn't so easy to startle her into attendance anymore. So I assaulted her weakness with words. "Have you learned nothing? There's mud between the rocks. What color is it? What consistency? Does the sun reveal glints of metal in it? What would that tell you of the stream's origins and use? You're a woman of science. Where is its source? Has its course evolved as nature prescribes or has it been purposely altered? Your friend Simon provided you the Pradoverde land grants. If you'd studied them with half a mind, you'd know this land was once a disputed boundary between two blood families. Why?"

"None of those things have to do with a snag of twigs formed this past summer." She was so sure. So calm.

"Wrong! If you’d studied the legends of the Fremoline outcrops, where our stream has its source, you’d know there were persistent tales of gold deposits - "

"There are no gold deposits anywhere in the demesne of Louvel." I could imagine her rolling her eyes. "The rocks are almost entirely limestone. The rumors provide nothing useful to weave into the spellwork."

Breaking her prim, scholarly ways of thinking had been my most difficult challenge. It was why I had chosen this particular exercise on this particular day.

I repeated my probe of the streambed. Again, and then again, moving upstream until the muffled jar of metal shivered my staff and the razored sting of long-bound enchantment flowed up my arm. The virulence of the spell threatened to dissolve the bone. But I held the staff in place and tapped it sharply with my forefinger, my signal that she should touch it, too. She had to feel the magnitude of her error.

Her discipline held. A gurgle out of place in the rhythmic bubbling of the stream told me she’d withdrawn her hand from the water. A quiet chink, a scuff of dirt, and the release of pent power said she'd kicked aside the length of slender chain she'd laid out for her spell enclosure. Determined steps and a brush of skirts brought her to my side.

"If you’d looked deeper," I said, cooler now I'd snared her full attention, "you'd have found a bronze casket buried here at the seventh metre past the dogleg bend - the corner of the disputed territory. This is how the one faction, intending to ensure that they alone could harvest these rumored riches, shifted the streambed to fit their desired boundary."

I could not see her face any better than I could see anything else in this daemon-blasted world. Yet, even had I not smelled her soap-scented sweat or heard the tight hiss of her annoyance, I’d have known her in the moment she laid her finger on the carved hornbeam of my ancille - the moment the spells bound into my staff became instantly more useful, more lethal, faster, sharper, swollen from the inborn power she brought to any working. One would have to plumb the tangled depths of a forest's roots or the moldered residue of an ancient battleground to match Anne de Vernase's potential for magic. That she possessed a mind and will fully capable of wielding such power made her reluctance to take hold of it inexcusable . . .

You can find a larger excerpt of The Daemon Prism on my website.


Kathy Amen said...

Ooooooooooooooooh! Can't wait for my copy to come in the mail. Hope it arrives before we leave for skiing!

Lady Kailen said...

Hi Carol, I'm SO excited that the long-awaited release day is finally here! Since I live outside the US, though, I'll have to wait a bit longer before I actually have a copy of Daemon Prism in my hands.

I'm rereading the first two, and by a supreme act of willpower, I've resisted sneaking a peak at the excerpt in your post. I want to read it in its proper context, otherwise it'll be very hard to wait another two weeks to finish the rest of the story!

From a purely selfish perspective, I'm glad you're already thinking of new projects, but I hope you also manage to fit some R&R time in among all the launch events as well!

Rabia said...

I got my copy today!

So excited. :) :)

Ranna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ranna said...

Congrats! Hoping to start reading it today. Can't wait!

Ranna said...

Oops, sorry about the double post - was playing around with my blogspot username. :T

Kitty said...

I received my copy yesterday and I'm so thrilled! I know the cover wasn't exactly what you wanted but up close it is breathtakingly gorgeous anyway. Re-read the 2nd book recently so that I would have it fresh in my head. Didn't need to re-read the first because I've read it three times; in fact, the first time I read it, when I finished I turned back to Chapter One and started over. Looking forward to experiencing Dante from the inside!

Kitty said...

I received my copy yesterday and I'm so thrilled! I know the cover wasn't exactly as you pictured Dante, but up close it is breathtakingly gorgeous. I re-read the second book recently so I would have it fresh in my mind. Didn't need to re-read the first because I've read it three times; in fact, the first time I read it, as soon as I finished I turned back to Chapter One and began again. Looking forward to experiencing Dante from the inside!

ssas said...

It just jumped my reading queue!

Kitty said...

Updating my comment to say that I'm about a third of the way through and enjoying it immensely! As always, your use of language is so beautiful and compelling. Happy dance!

Ranna said...

Alright, I've finished reading it and wow! So glad I discovered The Spirit Lens when I did, because the wait was well worth it. :) I can't decide whose point-of-view I liked best - they were all so compelling.

Did you find yourself working out the plot twists as you were writing, or did you have them planned out? Everything fit so neatly. Most importantly, there was closure. :) A bit sad that it's over, but am looking forward to your next work!

carolwriter said...

Thanks for all the good words! Hope you've received it by now, Lady and Kathy. SO happy to hear you're enjoying it, Kitty, and hope you are, too, Rabia. And Ranna, you've made my day. Some plot pieces I know well before I get there. Some that I think I know, don't work. Some elude me until I get to the "crossroads" so to speak. But the lovely thing about writing is that if the story unwinds in a way I didn't quite expect, I can go back and weave in the threads that make it fit. I LOVE revision.

Kitty said...

Finished it Monday night, smiling and crying at the same time. Brava, brava, brava! Glorious!

carolwriter said...

Thanks, Kitty!

Lady Kailen said...

Just finished it yesterday, and ... WOW! Have to agree with Kitty, definitely both smiling and crying at the end. Amazing, amazing book; so glad I was on the journey with those characters, I'm really going to miss them!

carolwriter said...

Thanks, Lady K! So happy to hear you enjoyed it.