Today we're welcoming author Anne Brooke to the blog on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for her SFF novel, "The Gifting".
Anne will be awarding three eBooks from her backlist to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops)! The more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win prize!.
She's also offering another contest. One person will win a Kindle ($89 value) if these three questions about The Gifting are answered correctly and emailed to albrooke AT me DOT com (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after the end of the blog tour:
1. In the beginning of Chapter Four, what sound is Simon first aware of when he wakes up?
2. At the start of the Third Gathandrian Interlude, who knocks Annyeke down in his desperation to reach her?
3. What happens to Simon at the end of Chapter Six?
Anne wrote an awesome guest blog for us -- take a look!
The Stars Explained by Anne Brooke
While I was in the beginning stages of writing The Gifting, the first in my fantasy trilogy, I began to realise that the people of the Lammas Lands had a belief system that was very particular to them. Something that affected how they thought about themselves on a day to day basis, even subconsciously, as well as being a part of their ancient tales and legends. That belief system was, in similar fashion to our horoscope today, based on the patterns made by their stars.
This was very odd for me, as I don’t actually believe in horoscopes and never read them – so it was strange to take up that theme within the novel. Still, I’ve always been one to leap in before those second and third thoughts hold me back, and in the end, I very much enjoyed creating the system. It really helped me to get to the heart of the characters.
I ended up with ten stars symbols, which are the Owl, the Fox, the Oak, the Wolf, the River, the Elm, the Horseman, the Lovers, the Lone Man and the Mountain. Each of these stars has a specific characteristic linked to it, such as wisdom for the Owl, refreshment for the River, Nourishment for the Elm, and Danger for the Horseman, etc. After that, I was able to link each of my main characters with the star they were born under, and it very much helped me with their most important attribute – their key driver, if you like – and how they related to it, or not. So my hero Simon is born under the sign of the Owl, but has yet to learn wisdom; his companion Johan is linked to the sign of the Horseman, and is willing to put himself into danger for a greater cause. Likewise, Simon’s mother, though deceased as the book begins, is always seen as a source of spiritual nourishment throughout the story, and her birth-star is the Elm.
The stars also have vital legends attached to them, and these legends help the people to make sense of their world and their place in it. Here’s Simon telling the legend of the horseman to his young apprentice during a storm when the boy is frightened:
Simon settled down at the table in order to transcribe papers given to him by Ralph. For the records. Another man accused of rebellion, another man doomed to die. The Overlord had his own scribes of course, but he trusted only Simon with this task, a fact that did not endear him to his fellow scribes. But, for fear of what they thought Simon might do to them, they said nothing. Gods forgive them all.
Concentrating his whole mind on the work alone and leaving aside the reasons for it, he thought at first the sound he heard was that of the wolves on their evening hunt, and discounted it. Sometimes, as the depths of the cold cycle approached, the wolves would lose enough of their natural fear to scavenge close to the village. On those nights, the people kept their children in.
It was only when the door crashed open and the boy fell inside, his small figure framed by sudden light and noise, that Simon understood a storm had begun. Rare, for the Horseman season. An ill omen, if he believed in such things. In the meantime, he had the boy to care for.
“Come there,” Simon soothed as he lifted the boy to his feet again. “It’s all right. You’re safe here.”
When the task of struggling to shut the door against the tunnel of wind and rain was done, the scribe turned to smile at him, but he shook his head and backed away, eyes wide. Sensing the boy’s growing terror, Simon knew he would need more from him than mere words.
Beckoning him to the reading chair, Simon waited until he’d settled himself in its depths and knelt at his side, hand resting on the boy’s trembling arm. His eyes fluttered back and forth, to the door and to his master. The scribe waited until his thoughts had calmed his apprentice and he was at least facing him for more than a moment or two.
“Listen,” Simon said, “listen and remember.”
The formality of the words, with their flavour of traditional story-telling and rich living, startled the boy. Simon had used this trick deliberately before, even though he did not come from a family accustomed to such things. It worked now.
When the boy nodded, the scribe began.
“In the Horseman season,” he said, his hand still resting on the child’s arm.
“Sometimes the Horseman rides alone and that is when the mountain storms are greatest. Rare, I know, and not something you will have seen before, but it happens. On those evenings—such as tonight—the Horseman takes his blackest, strongest horse, and saddles it with a golden saddle carved by the rays of the sun. On this stallion, he places a bridle of wild bells, and reins made of fire. Because both god and horse always wish to be free, they become angry and the stars tremble. All night long, the Horseman rides over the mountains and cries out his fury. His words become the fierce wind and the horse’s mane the streaks of flame in the night sky. He leaps the chasms of the valleys to ride the mountains’ path, and the sky road between them. “But listen to me, boy. No matter how loud and terrifying he and the stallion are, and no matter how bright their anger, they can never harm us. We live in the valley, and the Horseman cannot fall so far. His domain is the highest skies and ours the lowest earth. If once, by some strange miracle, he fell to us, then his voice would become nothing but a whisper, and his wild stallion only the young fawn you see in the woodlands in spring. There is nothing to fear; the Horseman has noise and fury, but no form to harm us. Come, sleep in my dwelling tonight. In the morning he will be gone, his rage ridden out, but we will still be here. Whole, unharmed, alive.”
I hope you enjoy the book, and finding out about the links between the people in it, their legends and stars, and the decisions they make in the adventures they have – for good or bad. Happy reading.
Johan and Isabella take up the quest, journeying to the Lammas Lands searching for their distant cousin and lowly scribe, Simon Hartstongue. The elders dare to hope that he is whom they seek. Not everyone shares this hope; there is one amongst them who is bound to the enemy, shielding their secret thoughts from mind links while seeking to betray Simon.
Powerful lessons are learned as they travel through the mystical kingdoms of the Mountains, the Air, the Desert and the Waters. Deadly attacks threaten total annihilation and devastating sorrow strikes. Story-telling weaves a tenuous net of protection around them, but the enemy has absolute power with the stolen mind-cane in his possession. To his surprise Simon hears its song. Desperately he tries to understand and embrace his gifting, as he struggles to comprehend his inheritance.
A strong and pure mind is needed in the battle to defeat the enemy. If you are branded a coward, a murderer and an outcast, how can you be a saviour? Doubt creeps into the Gathandrians' minds. Is Simon truly the One?
She is the author of six published novels, including her fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, published by Bluewood Publishing and featuring scribe and mind-reader Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: www.gathandria.com and the first of these novels is The Gifting. In addition, her short stories are regularly published by Riptide Publishing, Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads.
Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at www.annebrooke.com and she regularly blogs at: http://annebrooke.blogspot.co.uk. Her Twitter page is here: http://twitter.com/AnneBrooke and her Facebook fan page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-Brooke/97047896458. All visitors welcome!