Thursday, 29 September 2016

'Unbidden' reveal

'Unbidden', the third installment of The Elm Stone Saga, launches in just over 24 hours. Get excited, people! This book takes the series down a more political path, as a growing Aristea becomes more aware of the issues of international governance and the diversity of magical culture and identity. To give you a little bit of an idea of what you're in for, read on below for an exclusive extract.

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“Did you notice she smiled at what Lord Gawain says?” Hiroko asked, opening and closing her hand several times in quick succession, experimenting with creating and closing down wards. The result was a sort of flicker of magic in front of her. “He says, ‘Oneida is a master academic of many magical arts and methods not known or used by more conventional styles of magic’.”
No, I didn’t miss Oneida’s sidewards glance and her flash of amusement, but I hadn’t realised anyone else had detected it.
“I don’t even know what that means, so I can’t begin to suggest why she found it funny,” I admitted. Hiroko was thoughtful as she readied for the next onslaught of pillows.
“I think it means she does not practise white magic,” she said. “This should not be a surprise because she is not from the White Elm’s nation, but it is a surprise that the White Elm wants her if she uses uncontrolled magics.”
“Uncontrolled magics? It’s all white magic, isn’t it, unless it’s bad?”
Hiroko lowered her ward and stared at me, thinking how best to answer, and I took the opportunity to lob pillows at her.
“White magic is the magic Jadon teaches us here,” she explained carefully. “This is the type of magic the White Elm con…. Condone? Condones and monitors. They say it is clean. It is energy. The rest is…” She struggled to articulate. “It is clean like when you scrub the dirt and the skin away. Bare. But there are other ways to channel and shape magic. These ways are older and difficult to predict. Wild magic. These are not legal in communities controlled by the White Elm.”
I’d never considered that magic could be wild, or that there were other methods beyond what I was being taught here. The White Elm’s methodology was identical to what my parents and aunt and uncle had used, and that pretty much encompassed my entire exposure to the magical world.
Actually, I realised, that wasn’t true. I knew that there were other types of magic. There was dark magic – Renatus’s job was to study it, learn it and know it, for when other sorcerers skilled in these arts challenged the council.
Hiroko smiled slyly, privy to an inside joke I wasn’t in on. She said, “Lord Gawain is careful. He calls her an academic.”
Like Renatus. Just an academic. I thought of some of the spells I’d seen Renatus use. I thought of the fireball I’d used on Lisandro to keep him at bay on Monday night, the magic that had come from the part of my brain I now shared with Renatus’s memory bank of magical skills – that had not felt like the magic I was used to casting with. Wild magic. Dark magic.
He’s been teaching you bad things, sweetie.
I’d gathered, of course, that this particular spell wasn’t legal, and as such I’d neglected to mention it to anyone else on the council. But it had come from the same place as the incredible feat of Renatus using my own power and filling my cupped hands with water out of thin air. That was beautiful, and I remembered the delight I’d felt at knowing I’d one day be able to do that and other magic like it unassisted.
Wild magic.
If those two examples were one and the same, or at least from the same source, was all wild magic necessarily also dark magic?

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