I love magic. It's probably one of the major reasons I was drawn to the fantasy genre from early on. So I was delighted when L. Blankenship let me in on the promotion of her new novel, Disciple, Part II, by agreeing to come on over and talk about the magic system she uses in the series.
Let's jump into it.
Magic for the saints of war
There is only one way to perform magic in the "Saints of War" universe of Disciple: using kir. The people don't think of it as magic, since minor kir-mages are common enough. It's just a part of life.
What are kir-mages?
Eight out of ten people could learn to use kir to make a simple charm -- a small magic spell that does one thing, such as create a match-sized bit of fire. Whether those eight ever have the chance, or the kir available to them, to learn such a thing is a different question entirely. Most do not, unless they live in an unusual kingdom like Wodenberg.
One of ten people cannot spin even one simple charm. The ability to shape kir into charms is innate, then trained through practice and will. Some people simply do not have it.
So far, we've described ninety percent of all people. The remaining ten percent can be divided into four levels of kir-mage.
Disciples can master three or four "standard" charms, usually within a certain area of expertise. At the level of Blessed, kir-mages can see beyond formulas and begin to design their own charms. Their efforts are more complex and flexible, though still limited to themselves or those they can directly touch.
Disciples and Blessed are sought out by Elect and Saints; they're trained to the limits of their innate ability and given positions of authority as befits their skills. Saints create a minor bond with their Disciples and Blessed, through which they supply their followers with kir.
Of the gifted ten percent of all people, six are Disciples and four are Blessed -- or not quite four. Elect and Saints are rare things, only a fraction of a percent of the population, but they do exist.
Elect are not limited to charming themselves, or through touch. Their charms can be stable enough to exist until cut by another kir-charm. Elect can weave large, complex, and deadly charms. It's said that the only limits on an Elect are his own wits and that last, vital step to becoming a Saint.
That would be binding kir-founts to oneself.
What are kir-founts?
Founts are places where kir wells up from the earth. This raw stuff of magic always rises up in conjunction with water, regardless of whether a water spring "ought" to be in a given place or not. Why kir rises where it does is an open question, as well.
Any living being can feel kir, when it's as strongly concentrated as it is in a fount. People and animals are naturally drawn to founts, and drinking the kir-laced water is invigorating for anybody.
But only Saints can fully tap that power and bind it to themselves so they can call on the fount's large reservoir of kir at any moment. Their skill at shaping kir into charms is so strong, so detailed, and so instinctive that once they have a fount -- or more than one -- at their command, they are gods.
Well, not truly. They are Saints: sacred, powerful, practically immortal. The people of this world don't need gods.
Saints then distribute the fount's kir to their bound Elect, Blessed, and Disciples. And they guard their founts jealously; Saints struggle for control of more founts, to kill their fellow Saints and harvest their wisdom, and surround themselves with kingdoms full of followers to do this with.
What is kir?
It is a compressible, reactive, malleable, yet indestructible… essence. Kir is green in its normal state, golden when compressed, and can turn white-hot at certain levels of focus. Under a kir-mage's will, it can be shaped like clay, or like steel, and yet it can rush like water, like wind, through the mage's being. A shield woven from kir can stop any steel blade, and yet one snick from a kir-knife and it melts away like so much fog, back to the earth from which it came.
Disciple is a gritty fantasy romance about a teenaged girl, Kate, learning to use her kir-magery to help defend her homeland -- its saints and founts -- against a vast empire.
Back cover of Disciple, Part II
The prince first kissed Kate Carpenter for fear of missing the chance if they didn’t survive the journey home through the monster-prowled mountains.
Now that kiss seems like a fever dream. It’s back to work for her, back to the fellow physicians jealous of her talents and the sneers of an infirmary director who wants her shipped off to some tiny village. Kate means to be on the front lines to save lives. She’s worked too hard to overcome her past to let them deny her the chance to serve her homeland when the enemy’s army reaches their kingdom.
The grand jousting tournament is a chance to prove she can manage combat wounded, and at the royal Solstice banquet Kate means to prove she isn’t an ignorant peasant girl anymore.
But the prince’s kiss still haunts her. Their paths keep crossing, and the easy familiarity they earned on the journey home is a welcome escape from their duties. It’s a small slip from chatting to kisses.
This is no time to be distracted by romance -- a vast and powerful empire is coming to slaughter anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical fount.
Kate ought to break both their hearts, for duty’s sake.
Disciple, Part II on sale now
along with Disciple, Part I
at all major online retailers
More information, updates, and extras at Disciple of the Fount
Sample of Part I • Sample of Part II
Disciple, Part III coming in late 2013
Disciple is complete in six parts and will make a lovely doorstop
when all 400k words have been published.
Disciple, Part I • Disciple, Part II
Begins Monday April 15
I'm giving away a bundle of BOTH paperbacks:
Disciple, Part I and Part II.
One week to enter!