Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Guest Post: "Not so Black and White" by C.S.Sealey

When Patrick at Momentum Books, Australia got in touch with me to review C S Sealey's debut - Equilibrium, a serialized high-fantasy book in the tradition of David Eddings or Brandon Sanderson, I got super excited about this chance to dive into this fascinating new world that C S Sealey has built up - and will be exposing us to in the next six installments coming out. 

Here Carmel talks about her love for this wonderful genre and what her perspectives are on worldbuilding - especially as wrought in this new exciting series. 



Reading fantasy is a hobby that millions around the world take pleasure in for a whole range of different reasons—to travel, learn, remember, forget, laugh, cry, feel terror, discover, imagine, fall in love, be blown away, dream… However, beneath each of these reasons is the same universal idea—escapism.

The one thing I and many other readers of fantasy crave more than anything else is the ability to be transported through time and space to another world, to meet impossible characters, see impossible things and rejoice when our protagonist overcomes his adversary or feel the heart-wrenching pain when he fails. The realm of fantasy knows no boundaries. Here, animals can speak, people can change their shape, corpses can rise from the dead, dragons can rule the skies and powerful sorcerers can conquer the world.

However, in Equilibrium, I tried to do away with the traditional idea of black-and-white good versus evil, replacing it with the more complex concept of a wide spectrum of greys. Every character is capable of acts of great heroism but also of great evil, given the circumstance or mental state. Equilibrium is a six-part fantasy epic set in a world not entirely dissimilar to our own mediaeval past. One empire is set against another in a generations-old struggle for territory and dominance—neither willing to bend the knee. Here, the stage is set for a classic battle of good against evil. However, I have endeavoured for this fight to be not quite as clear-cut as it might appear on the surface.

During the writing process, I decided that my heroes and villains should be harder to distinguish from each other than, say, hobbits and disembodied flaming eyeballs, or school boys and black-robed, snake-wearing zombie wizards. I wanted to shape all my characters equally, giving each of them their own deep, believable backstories, motivations and consciences. None of my characters are outright evil and none are flawlessly good.

Did I decide this from the outset? No. But when movie after movie and book after book crossed my path where the villain was two-dimensional and was evil simply as an excuse for the equally as bland hero to exist, I decided that my characters deserved something bigger and better. What does my villain really want? Why does he feel it necessary to do certain things? What happened in his life to make him feel and think this way? What, if anything, makes him morally worse than his opposite? What would he do if the roles were reversed? Is it simply the use of point of view that is dictating the roles in the story, rather than the acts of the characters themselves?

Answering these questions shaped Equilibrium in many ways, expanding the narration from what was just one or two “hero” points of view to a whole suite of characters on both sides of the war and from all walks of life. Using this technique, I was able to demonstrate that an act of mercy could be seen as a kindness or weakness; an assassination was devastating for some and a moment of joy for others; and the fall of an empire was doom for one nation and the end of oppression for another.

In Equilibrium, you can decide who is the more righteous, who has the greater claim and who is the more deserving of victory. In this, perhaps there is no right or wrong answer. As Shakespeare once said; There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. And when the two empires meet on the field of battle, only the victor will write the history.

About the Book

The Spirits' ancient equilibrium is brought into being when the twelfth mage is finally found. But Angora is unlike those who have come before her and she refuses to blindly accept her fate.
The Ayons have mysteriously retreated from a far-reaching southern offensive, ordered back by their newly crowned king.
In the aftermath of this battle, Angora is washed up on the shore of a foreign land, bruised and battered, determined to keep her past a secret from all. Rescued from slavers, yet immediately falling prey to others, she is thrust into a war not her own.
Proclaimed one of twelve legendary mages, Angora is charged with protecting the innocent with magic beyond her imagination.
But a dark future awaits her and her friends as the Ayon threat begins to swell once more in the north.

Sounds like a crackler huh? I can't wait to find out.  Read more about the book here.

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