Hey, guys! I don't know if you've seen any of the great posts this last week for Laini Taylor's Days of Blood & Starlight blog tour (so if you haven't - I have a full list of them at the bottom, and you should.); basically, to celebrate the gorgeousness that is Laini's writing, and as a teaser for the just-released Days of Blood & Starlight, the participating blogs picked a page number, and Laini is stopping by to talk about a scene from that page, and some of the background and beautiful, lyrical magic that went into it.
I get to wrap up the tour today with my page number, 413 - a combination of my two favorite numbers, and no, I really couldn't tell you why that is... I know I probably put Laini in a bit of a pickle, choosing a page so near the end of the book, but I'm certainly pleased with the result.
But enough from me. I'll let Laini take it away. =)
“It was magic. Not the magic that he had discovered for himself, cobbled together out of guesswork and pain. He may as well have lived his life scraping and scratching in the dirt, only now lifting his head to see the sky and its infinite horizons, its unguessable fathoms.”
All right. Well, this blog tour format is cool and unique, but the further we have progressed into the book, the more difficult it has become to find a way to talk about passages without spoilers! This one comes during the climax (Akiva is the “he”, by the way) and has to do with the magical systems of this world I have created. So I’ll talk about magic, and creating magical systems a little bit, and see how I can bring it around to this scene without giving too much away.
All of my books have contained magic (even if I tried to write realism, I am sure that magic would wriggle its way in), and none of the systems are quite alike. The first thing I discovered, while writing my first book, BLACKBRINGER, is that you have to be really careful when writing magic into existence, not to make any single character too powerful. If you do, it becomes very difficult to create believable conflict. Your powerful character, be it the protagonist or the villain, will simply dominate and win, and there will be no story. Oops.
A system of magic has to have checks and limits. In the case of BLACKBRINGER, the protagonist Magpie had the potential for extraordinary, unprecedented power, but had very much to learn before she could control it. It was going to take her years to grow into her power. That was the way I kept things in check there.
In LIPS TOUCH, each of the three tales contains its own magic, but I’ll mention Hatchling, the last and most involved, in which the cost of power was no less than one’s humanity, and turned out to be a devastating bargain. There was one quirk of magic that evolved in that story that I love: The Druj (race of immortal, unfeeling demons) achieve their magic through speaking it. Whispering it, in fact. They can shape-shift into animals, but the problem is, once they are animals, they lack the ability of speech to whisper themselves back, so they must trust to others to do it for them or risk being trapped in animal form forever. This idea—this difficulty—became a plot point and added much to the narrative. From small details like this arises the richness and texture of a story.
In DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE, for the entire first draft, magic was a hazy system. I didn’t know its cost, or how it was accomplished. It just was. It was in revisions, working with my editor (Alvina Ling) that I got down to fleshing it out with more depth and clarity. It was fairly late in the game that I came up with the idea of the pain tithe, which is explored in much greater detail in DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT. (Get ready for brass vises and lots of bruises). Also, in this series, the history is that a thousand years ago during a slave revolt, the archives of the seraph magi were burned, and the magi were slain, and ever since, basic knowledge of magic has been lost. Only a few have such a strong sympathy for it that they’re able to “cobble it together out of guesswork and pain,” as Akiva has done.
In the scene above, he has just glimpsed a depth of magic he has never even dreamed, and has realized, for the first time, the full extent of the unknown and what has been lost. He is on the verge of discovering something extreme and extraordinary, something catastrophic which he will not begin to understand until Book 3.
Also, he’s about to stab somebody.
So there’s that.
I'm currently reading this glorious little gem, so make sure you stop back by soon for my review. Until then, how'd you like to get your greedy little mitts on a copy of your very own?
Also, bear in mind, this is a sequel, so if you haven't read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, you'll want to grab a copy of that first.
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Make sure to check out the other stops on the tour:
Page 44 – Forever Young Adult
Page 115 – YA Bibliophile
Page 245 – The Book Smugglers
Page 321 – Mundie Moms
Page 413 – The Book Rat - oh hey, you are HERE!