Evening Burnwick lives in a land where young men and women are entombed underground to make the crops grow. She craves more than a peasant life, but she feels crushed beneath the foot of the landlords. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she is poaching on the Church’s lands and runs into an irritable shapeshifter with problems of his own.
This short, charming, coming of age fantasy contains LGBT characters and encourages everyone to find their own truths.
Evening and Owen are two of my favorite characters. I hope you enjoy their story. Someday, I may write more of their adventures.
Mylinka is one of the heroes of the epic fantasy series, The Astralasphere Spiral. When we meet her in the first book, Another World’s Song, she is a mischievous Gailfen girl on the cusp of womanhood. She lives on the legendary island of Malyndor and is the daughter of the world’s most celebrated and powerful mage, Taven, the Guardian of the Astralasphere.
Mylinka wants to learn how to wield magic, but magery is, traditionally, a male pursuit. Although Taven is not a traditional mage, the Guardianship weighs heavily on him, and he doesn’t fully support his daughter’s dreams. The bulk of his thoughts are occupied by the Astralasphere–a great, magical orb from which mages can draw power. He believes the mages’ use of the Astralasphere is damaging the world, so he is engaged in a power struggle with Lord Mage Asfret. This struggle ends with Mylinka being taken far from her home.
This is where the second book, Under the Shadow, finds here. As the foster daughter of Lord Murdoth, she takes the name Teg N’guul. In this book, she is older, and her life has made her fiercer. She is pragmatic, doing whatever she believes needs to be done to accomplish her goals. In this sense, she is something of an antihero, like Han Solo from Star Wars. She is, at her core, a good person, but a difficult life has given her a hard outer shell.
Fearless, stubborn, and complicated, she is one of my favorite characters to write.
Lord Mage Asfret is one of the main characters of Under the Shadow. While Lycian and Mylinka are the book’s heroes, Asfret is one of its villains.
When we meet Asfret in the first book in the series, Another World’s Song, he is a dashing, leonine figure dressed in red velvet robes. He is angry and blustering, full of self-importance. As an adviser to Queen Livian of Khydgel, he has encouraged the criminalization of magic there–reserving its use for military purposes or in some other service of the crown.
Asfret looks a bit different when we first meet him in Under the Shadow. In the world of Cith Lor Mahl, as in our world, actions have consequences. I don’t have a picture of Asfret except in my mind. Although Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t look exactly like I imagined Asfret, I think he would play him well. So, here’s a photo of a blond Cumberbatch–he just needs horns and an entitled smirk.
Under the Shadow: Book Two of the Astralasphere Spiral, follows three main characters–the two protagonists (heroes) Lycian and Mylinka, and the antagonist (villain) Asfret. Today, we’ll meet Lycian.
Lycian’s story begins in Another World’s Song: Book One of the Astralasphere Spiral, when he is the young foundling of a mage named Jahern. Although Lycian has an ability for magic, Jahern has decided that he is a wyrm–one born to magic who isn’t allowed to use it because of some curse. Wyrms are often deformed or have some outward manifestation warning of their cursed status. One of Lycian’s horns is crooked. (All Gailfen have horns, but most are symmetrical.) He also has purple eyes. Unfortunately for Lycian, they are considered a bad omen, for the demons locked in the Void also are reported to have purple eyes.
Lycian is far from being a demon, however. He tends to be honest and kind, sometimes to his determent. He loves animals and champions the downtrodden. Always, he tries to look for the good in others.
In Another World’s Song, Lycian became fully aware of his power and began learning how to use it. In Under the Shadow, he must learn how it should not be used. To me, this seemed like an important part of growing up. It’s one of the struggles not just mages, but all young adults, have to face as they come into their own. We all have power, we have only to face it.
My fantasy stories might not seem autobiographical, but I use elements of my own past and emotional landscape when crafting my characters. I know what it’s like to lose a parent (not to death, but to other things)–but what if that loss had been the result of a brutal murder? I take the pain I know and extrapolate. I mold and twist until I’ve wrought something unique from my own experience. I do this over and over, constantly.
I think it creates realistic character emotion and depth, and it’s extremely therapeutic. When I write, I do so with the knowledge that there’s a possibility no one will read that book, no one will connect with it, it will exist forever alone and unloved. But that’s okay, because it gave me the chance to fight my demons again, to win the battle, to put them back in their cages once more.
This is another amazing review for Under the Shadow. There are a lot of details in this one! I loved that she included an excerpt from the book. That is a description of Jahern’s private, hidden laboratory that he deserted years ago when he went into self-exile. Jahern is Lycian’s primemaster.
Both Lycian and Mylinka suffer greatly in this story and learn much of their history, something I dare not divulge. Suffice to say there must be a Book Three.
There will be a final installment, which should release around the first of next year. Thank you, Blue Haven Press!
This wonderful review of Under the Shadow on Jennie Reads brought tears to my eyes. With this series, I’m trying to write fantasy that is realistic and grounded in authentic emotion, so I loved that she says this book is more than just “popcorn.”
“Popcorn enjoyment is good while you’re eating but then an hour later you are just thirsty from the salt or craving sugar or something. This book, however, did not leave me with the popcorn feeling. I really got into it – could not put it down for almost 3 days. If it wasn’t for meetings and driving I could have finished in one day. The book did something that most Fantasy does not for me and that is – I cared! I cared about the characters, the place, the plot and subplots – all of it. It pulled me in and I enjoyed the stay!”
That’s just an excerpt. The whole review is lovely. Thank you, Jennie!
Cith Lor Mahl is the world where the epic fantasy series, The Astralasphere Spiral, takes place. This is a map of Cith Lor Mahl, created by illustrator Oscar Paludi, that appears in Another World’s Song: Book One of the Astralasphere Spiral and in Under the Shadow: Book Two of the Astralasphere Spiral. (It will also appear in Jairra’s Veil, book three.)
Cith Lor Mahl means ‘the world without’–as in the world without dragons. In many ways, Cith Lor Mahl is a world bereft. It mourns the mysterious loss of its dragons even as the mortal races continue on in their lives of chatter and commerce.
This is a map of the outskirts of Anjlith, where Lycian lives in Under the Shadow: Book Two of the Astralasphere. To the right is the Garden of Lost Heroes, the massive, ancient graveyard where Lycian lives in an empty crypt with Quin and the wolves from Durnineh. (No, Lycian isn’t a vampire. He lives in a crypt because he was hiding from warmancers, and it seemed like a nice place.)
To the left, you can see Anjlith’s city wall. Anjlith is beautiful.
“Many claimed it was the most beautiful city ever built by Gailfendic hands. Long before the time of Gahlad, the great white stones that composed the castle had been mined from Mount Ilyandaire, where Jairra first touched the world, and the tall, elegant towers had been wrought with the skillful craftsmanship of long dead artisans and the magical words of an ancient mageking.”
But shadows fall even in beautiful places. Lycian, who has always held an idealistic view of Anjlith, discovers this truth in this second installment of The Astralsphere Spiral.
This is another beautiful map created by illustrator Oscar Paludi.