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Centuries ago, the prophetic Golden Age ended in war, and history spiraled into darkness. Now, only scholars retain the last portent of the mythic city A’lara, concealed in a distant glade for the advent of the dragon mage.

At the edge of the Known World, the slave Larin escapes her new lord before she meets his dark masters. Deep in the mountains, the legendary elf Kingard awaits his call to battle. When young Darek flees imperial mages tasked to exterminate shape-shifters, he launches them all on a voyage to redeem their unsought destiny.

United by fate and guided by prophesy, their growing band of fugitives journey for A’lara to fight the ancient evil infiltrating the capital.

But looming over the gears of fate, their enemies follow the same prophesies. With the unknown close upon them, Kingard and his allies face a mortal quest to restore their infected empire.

“The Known World” refers to the portion of the fantasy realm known to the peoples whom each story is about, as opposed to a single static map. I intend my Tales of the Known World saga to encompass all the stories that take place in my fantasy realm, whether they are directly connected or not.

What makes your world special or different?

My Tales of the Known World saga takes place in a fantasy world rife with magic, prophesy, elves, faeries, and a slew of other fantasy tropes that I’ve put my own unique spin on. In addition to the different “Known World” maps of various regions, the assorted peoples of the series have different cultures, practices, and magic abilities, as well as different religious and philosophical explanations for magic and life in general.

One unique feature of my world is that I’ve mapped it extensively. My first book had 19 maps of the Known World, and my upcoming sequel has 23 planned maps. This cartography gives my world an in-depth visual element that most written stories are lacking, and it establishes the framework for a long-term “in-world author” – an apprentice cartographer within the Known World, tasked with illustrating each book of the saga.

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Using my Linguistics degree, I’ve invented languages for my world; with my background in cultural anthropology and psychology, I’ve created cultures that really encapsulate the diversity of real-world humanity.

My magic system is well-developed, organized, and provides an intricate structure for practically any magic power to arise. The depth, extent, and detail of my world make it quite special, as do the realism of the cultural diversity and history of each people.

Is there a system of magic?

My system of magic is complex and multi-faceted, allowing for myriad different combinations of abilities and expressions of power. What is most unique about the magic of the Known World is that practically every individual has magic to wield, and by extension, almost every society throughout history has evolved with certain magics as commonplace. Naturally, then, the development of each culture’s technology has coincided with the use of magic to solve everyday problems. A few examples are cold food storage using ice magic enchantments, floodgates employing water magic, and blacksmith technologies to create weapons with magical properties. Some cultures that have more limited access to magic abilities also have more advanced technologies of the non-magical variety – for instance, the dark elves of the Land Across the Sea use typewriters and the printing press.

Are there any magical creatures?

There are fanciful creatures in my world, and there are people in my world (called speakers) who can talk with animals. Some creatures have magic abilities while others don’t, and a creature’s level of magic correlates with how difficult that creature is for a speaker to hear. Additionally, some very rare people in the Known World (called shifters) can shape-shift into an animal form, and a creature’s level of magic also correlates with how unusual that animal form is for shifters overall.

I rank the animals of the Known World into three categories:

First, there are the non-magical creatures of the Known World. Animals common on Earth such as cats, dogs, and chickens fall into this category, as well as some fanciful creatures like the wyvern – a type of dragon-kin with two legs, two wings, and no magic.

In the Known World, there are no cows, and instead the wyvern is a main source of meat, leather, and wealth in a number of cultures.The most basic ability of speakers is to hear and speak to these non-magical creatures, and most shifters have animal forms that fall within this category.

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Second, there are the magical creatures of the Known World. Animals that we consider mythic on Earth such as the pegasus, gryphon, and phoenix fall into this category, as well as other less-known creatures like the drake – a type of dragon-kin with four legs, no wings, and some magic powers. In the Known World, many cultures have domesticated these magical creatures to use as mounts, particularly for their warriors or regional guardians. Some gifted speakers can talk with magical creatures, but only the occasional shifter has an animal form within this category.

Third, there are the sentient creatures of the Known World. This category is reserved for animals that have the same depth of intelligence and conscious awareness as people do. So far, the only sentient creature is the dragon (and maybe also the sphynx, once I get into my desert stories down the road). There are many types of dragons, but the wild dragons of the mountains are the most typical – four legs, two wings, and an array of magic powers that aren’t well-understood by the people of the Known World. In all of recorded history, there has never been a shifter with a dragon form, until the nine year old Darek emerges in Book One of my saga.

Only the rarest speakers are powerful enough to talk with dragons, and in ancient times, various peoples of the Known World interpreted this communication barrier incorrectly.

Believing dragons to be magically mute, deaf, and therefore stupid, ancient peoples enslaved dragons into domestic beasts. In modern times, knowledge about the sentience of dragons is much more prevalent, and wild dragons are generally given more respect, including some recent conservation efforts for their habitat. But some cultures still keep dragons in captivity – notably, the racing dragons of the eastern Known World, bred for centuries to lose the wings and magic of their wild cousins.

Is there anything special, precious, or unique about your world’s geography or its place in the universe?

A unique feature of the planet is that it has two moons of different sizes and colors, each of which orbits at a different rate. Names for these moons vary across cultures, but the larger moon is often called First Moon and is a mottled silvery-blue, about the same size and a few shades bluer than our own moon on Earth. The smaller moon is often called Last Moon, a rusty orange moon that appears about 1/3 the size of First Moon in the sky. (In truth, Last Moon is about the same size but orbits three times further from the Known World.) These lunar orbits form complex ocean tides and combine with the solar year to form the calendar system in modern use.

But while the Known World planet is the main stage for my saga, there is also the realm of the Nine Hells. This realm is a sort of alternate dimension that is loosely connected to the Known World but bound by different laws of space, time, and magic. Every second in the Known World equates to an hour in the Nine Hells, and the blood magic of the Nine Hells is profoundly different from the life magic of the Known World. Moreover, the daemons of the Nine Hells have their own cultures, religious beliefs, and languages – as well as their own array of non-magic animals, magical creatures, and sentient beings. Notably, the daemons and their deity are not inherently evil; rather, they see the value of suffering as a means to enlightenment, and the pious do their best to promote this suffering in all they do.

Is there a religious system in place?

Myths vary from culture to culture, but most peoples of the Known World worship a deity called Mother. Though regional beliefs differ, the basic theology is that Mother gave birth to the world and created each sentient race. When the people in their duality saw Mother in her unity, they felt sad and wanted her to have a partner of her own, so Mother created a second deity, often called the Other. This Other was Mother’s partner for a while, but his magic was different, and when he began to create his own creatures, they caused problems on the face of the world. Mother banished the Other and his creatures to the Nine Hells, giving rise to modern daemons and their deity known as Father.

However, vestiges of the Other’s magic remained in the Known World, providing a number of extra powers to those who would turn from Mother. The strongest of the turned was known as the Dark Master, the Other’s chief servant on the face of the world, and in response Mother created the Light Master to be her chief servant, balancing the magic of the Known World and healing the damage done by the Dark Master. Thus arose the struggle between good and evil, according to most peoples of the Known World.

In Book One of my Tales of the Known World saga, the Dark Master resides in the northeastern realm of Kholl, making preparations to overtake the free lands of the west. In anticipation, the Light Master sends a number of characters on a quest to awaken a power that can defeat the evil invaders, but things grow ever more complicated as various prophesies of the future fall into different hands. Though neither deity actually appears in the book, prophesy is usually considered to be Mother’s Word, and the Dark Master claims to have met his deity personally.

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