New Year Update

And we’re into 2017.  Let’s hope it’s a good one!

The main event for the first half of this year is of course going to be the release of Bound in April 2017.  As usual, I’ll put the first chapter up a month or two in advance for you guys to have a look at.  I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out, and I’m curious to see how you guys react when you get hold of it!

In other news, Alex Verus #9 is still progressing – it’s moving slower than I’d like, but at least it’s moving.  On the plus side, I’m starting to figure out just why this one’s been so difficult to write – I’m having to make some major decisions about the plot of the series, and they were decisions I hadn’t realised I needed to make until now.  Still, I think the hardest part is now over, so the pace ought to pick up from now on.  

On the website front, I’m thinking of adding a FAQ section to this site.  One question I get asked often via email is for advice/suggestions on the writing front, so I’m thinking of writing a couple of blog posts on that subject.  Let me know in the comments if any of you would be interested in that, and if there are any other things you’d like to know about.

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. . . and Happy New Year!

Okay, technically I already said that last week, but hey, it’s the holidays.  New posts will resume in 2017!

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Merry Christmas!

And a Happy New Year.  Here’s hoping it’s a good one for you guys!

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Ask Luna #78

From: Margaret

Hi Luna

I wondered who supplies the one shot items Alex uses so much. I get the impression most mages would see is as beneath them to stoop to manufacturing and retail of such routine magical items so I wondered where they come from.

Yeah, you’ve put your finger on why they can be hard to get hold of. One-shot items aren’t as common as they can be, and a big reason for that is that most mages who can make them, won’t. From what Alex says it’s actually pretty easy to learn to churn out the things, but most mages don’t do it and the ones that do tend to keep them for themselves.

So to get one-shots, Alex either has to find one of the handful of mages who don’t mind doing that kind of grunt work, or he has to get them from adepts. It’s much harder for an adept to make a one-shot than it is for a mage, but since there are so many more of them, the amount of one-shots produced by adepts outnumbers the amount produced by mages by quite a bit.

From: Kurt Von Bosse

Hi Luna,

I’ve been thinking about the British Light Council and from a political standpoint it seems to me to be a rather odd organization. It began long ago perhaps during Roman times. Rome was an Empire when Briton was conquered. After the Romans left the country devolved into a number of petty kingdoms before eventually becoming unified (more or less). Today Great Britain can be described as a constitutional monarchy.

Throughout most of the world and through most of recorded history the majority of governments have been one form of monarchy or another. So my first question is do you know if anyone has ever tried to make himself or herself King or Queen of the Mages? It seems with all those examples of Caesars, Kings, Czars and Emperors running around someone would have at least tried to pull off the same trick in mage society.

Now actual political power in Great Britain is not held by the reigning monarch. I won’t bother describing the actual system, you already know that, but it does involve individual citizens voting for political parties. There doesn’t seem to be any voting by rank and file members of the Light Council. Any votes that do take place only occur at the highest levels of the Council. When you were going through apprentice training was any explanation given for how this system came to exist?

Finally, if I had to find a parallel between the Light Council and a mundane form of government, the closest example I can think of would be the medieval and early renaissance Italian City State Republics. Though these republics granted some rights to their citizens they weren’t democratic and instead were ruled at the highest levels by competing political factions, just like the Council. Unfortunately, pretty much all of those republics eventually fell to despots, sometimes from without, but often from within. It looks to me like Richard Drakh and Mage Morden might be trying to do the same thing. Do you think my example fits or do you have another one? From Chalace’s descrition of what happened to the Council in India does it seem to you it was taken over by a despot or perhaps a junta of some sort?

This is more the sort of question you’d go to Sonder about, but from what I vaguely remember, yeah, it does happen from time to time. Main thing stopping it is other mages. You’re right, mages do like the idea of being king or queen, but they like the idea of someone else NOT being king or queen even more. Think of it as kind of like a society of cats. When everyone wants to be king, no-one is.

The compromise is how we ended up with the Light Council. You’ve got an oligarchy, and then the aristocracy, and then everyone else. I think it basically evolved out of the collection of the most powerful people in Light mage society. None of them would bow down to the others, so they had to work together, which they didn’t like, but they liked the other options less, so here we are.

But this is also one of the reasons why most mages don’t get involved in Light politics at all. If they stay independent then they don’t have to take orders.

From: laz

Hi mage Luna thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

In Ask Luna #67 you talk about someone weaving everyones fate…if that is happening, could that be arachne? I ask because after anne gets burned in burned Alex has a weird vision quest and sees anne/arachne…..

Next question I assume there is a reason Alex didn’t just call in a terrorist bomb scare on your apartment? My assumption is that levistus/the magical world would REALLY not like the publicity and possibly backdown.

Finally whats up with the blue unicorn thingy that is above you in google, when you google “ask luna” (at least when doing a google from the USA).

thank you

laz
Ps how old is alex 😉

Alex is 34.

I can’t actually remember what I wrote that long ago. Did I really say something about weaving everyone’s fate? I know Arachne’s pretty powerful, but I don’t think she’s THAT powerful. Would have thought it’s more likely just to be a dream.

Alex didn’t call in a bomb scare because Levistus’s goons would have just pressed the button and killed me. And yes, he checked. You’re really overestimating how scared these guys are of publicity. I mean, Alex has been stabbed in the middle of the Empire Casino, chased down the platform of Stratford station by a psychotic air mage, and nearly blown up by a rocket launcher on Hampstead Heath in broad daylight. If they seriously want you dead, it’s going to take a lot more than that to scare them off.

And as for the blue unicorn, I’ve got the feeling you’re probably looking at a My Little Pony site or something.

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Quiet Week

Uneventful week today.  Alex Verus #9 is moving steadily along, Bound is still on its road to publication, and there are a few Ask Luna questions in the queue.  There’s a new game released that I’ve been looking forward to, but right now I’m mostly distracted by the new book.

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Ask Luna #77

From: Jason

I was wondering about the basics of how one would go about enchanting magical items?

This is actually something I know very little about. According to Alex, to be good at making focuses and one-shots, you have to understand the theory of how they work very well, and that’s something I never cared about much. I can use items just fine – it’s a matter of figuring out how to press their buttons – but I’ve never been interested in how they’re made. I know mages who go in for that stuff have workshops and a whole bunch of special tools, but that’s about it. Sorry.

From: Ryan

Luna,

I was once again enjoying your and Alex’s exploits in Hidden. As a color blind person, I noticed Alex’s difficulty with colors when y’all were doing inventory and when he dyed his hair. Is he also colorblind?

No, he just has really bad fashion sense. There’s a reason he goes to Arachne when he wants to look good. It’s probably also a guy thing – ‘oh, dying your hair is easy, right? You just pick a bottle off the shelf and use it like shampoo?’

From: DrizztMajere

Hi Luna,
I was just reading where you were comparing chance and fate magic. I was curious, isn’t what Alex does close to fate magic? I searches the future and picks the path that he wants to walk or that would be more beneficial for him. If this is the case why hasn’t he tried branching out magically in that direction to give himself more versatility in dealing with the psycopaths that want to use or kill him?

Because as far as I know, the only way to use fate magic is via those old imbued items, and the only one we know about has a two-thousand-year-old mind mage stuck in it waiting to possess anyone dumb enough to pick it up. Yes, there’s overlap, and yes, it would be very powerful, but I don’t think Alex is that desperate. Yet.

From: Massimo Barbagallo

hi Luna, I was born in Sicily though I have not been there in very long, what with moving to Cambridge for my PhD, and then to California to live. I was wondering if you speak any sicilian, since it’d be funny if you said a word here or there, and why you’re so bad at cooking, since most sicilians love good food.

I actually used to speak a little bit that I picked up from my dad and at family gatherings. But the trouble with languages is that if you don’t use them, you lose them – it’s been more than ten years now since I’ve spent any time around native speakers, and I can barely remember a word of Sicilian. I dunno, maybe it’d come to me if I went back there, but after that last visit, I’d find it really hard. Too many bad associations.

And as for the cooking, jeez, not you too. You know how much stick I used to get from my family for being bad at that? The way my dad reacted, you’d think I was torturing small animals or something. It wasn’t even my fault, it was the curse, but it’s really hard to get good at something when every little thing keeps going wrong. I don’t even know why it would mess up cooking more than anything else, but maybe it just really hates anything that’s for the benefit of other people . . .

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Bound ARCs are here

The first paper copies of Bound are arriving.  They’re just for me (you guys don’t get to pick them up just yet) but here’s a picture so you can see what they look like!  

bound-arc500

This isn’t how the finished versions will look (they’ll be missing the white border) but I kind of like this design, too.  Bound will be out in the US and UK at the beginning of April, 2017.  

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Ask Luna #76

From: Xexas

Luna are there any magic types that con only be passed down hereditarily.

Not as far as I know. If there were, they probably wouldn’t last that long. Mages tend not to have big families, and while there’s a much better chance that a mage’s child will have some magical talent, it’s nowhere near a sure thing.

From: Nick stephenson

Can magic be given voluntarily to another person

Nope. Magic’s a part of who you are. Only way to ‘give’ it to someone else would be to replace who they are with who you are, ie possess them, which wouldn’t exactly be doing them any favours.

From: Faragorn

So, how is the publication of Alex’s story likely to affect how other mages see him?
I’m guessing most wont even read them, but even if they do will they care?
Caldera might find it somewhat interesting, but she doesnt end up looking that good overall.

Will the average light mage even care about how corrupt Levistus is?

Most mages don’t read those kind of books, so they’d be unlikely to notice. In case they do, there are some . . . other measures Alex has taken. Can’t really tell you what they are, for obvious reasons. But yes, if mages read it, they’d care, if for no other reason than that Alex and I have done more than a few things that’d be considered highly illegal. People like Levistus would be in trouble too, but he’d have a lot more political clout to deal with it.

From: Kurt Von Bosse

Hi Luna.

I have been thinking about Mage Lyle, and I wonder what your impression of him is? You’ve had him as a part-time teacher in the apprentice program and I believe you might have met him briefly at the ball at Canary Wharf.

Before you answer here is what I think about Lyle. I believe he was probably sincere when he told Alex that he was trying to help him. I think Lyle might actually have felt some sense of remorse for turning his back on Alex, when Alex was desperate for support from the Light Council after he left Richard. However, Lyle has a problem and because of it Alex has one too.

There is nothing wrong with Lyle wanting to improve his place in the world, except the career path he has chosen for advancement has put him in waters that are over his head, and he’s swimming with the sharks.

Without knowing what Lyle’s specific magic abilities are, my guess is that aside from the time Mage Crystal manipulated him at Fountain Reach, Lyle is probably pretty good preforming whatever duties have been assigned to him. Whatever you may think of Levistus and his allies, as a general rule they probably don’t employ incompetents.

Unfortunately, Levistus and company are the kind of people who, if they read about the machinations of historical figures like Cardinal Richelieu, the Borgias, the Medicis, Ivan IV (the Terrible) and Henry VIII; to name a few, they would probably see them as kindred spirits. Like Levistus, the people I named had no problem sacrificing minions, executing innocents or doing whatever they needed to do to accomplish their goals. I doubt Lyle has the street smarts to see the danger he may be putting himself in by working for these coldblooded players of Mage politics, and I don’t think he realized he helped set up Alex until Alex told him off.

There may be a lesson here for Sonder, as someone with his abilities may be coveted as a useful asset by the same or very similar types of people on the Council. What do you think?

I never liked Lyle very much. Whenever I talked to him he always seemed vaguely uncomfortable, like I was a homeless person approaching him on the street and he was trying to figure out how to get rid of me without having to give me any money. As for your analysis, you’re probably right. He never really struck me as evil, just snobbish and the kind of guy who just automatically assumes that everyone must see the Council as the best thing ever. His dealings with Alex haven’t exactly earned him many favours, so I expect he’s had his own problems. Nowadays he’s working for Undaaris, which from the sound of it probably suits him pretty well. (Oh, and he’s an enchanter, by the way – aka charm mage. You get them in male versions as well as female.)

Whether the same thing’ll happen to Sonder – good question. I like him more than I do Lyle, but he’s got kind of the same attitude as far as the Council goes, so maybe it wouldn’t be that surprising. I have been wondering for a while what he’ll do when he starts working with the Levistus types and finally has to make a choice about whose side he’s on. It feels as though, up until now, he’s managed to put that off.

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Ask Luna #75

From: Yoshi

Alex says that there are 4 magical mean of transport gating using mounts like pegasi elementals like starbreeze but also Taias what are Taias exactly?

Giant birds with rainbow-coloured wings. Apparently they used to be a lot more common than they are now. There are much fewer magical creatures around than there were in the old days.

From: Sam

Hey Luna!

I really look forward to reading your posts every Friday, so thanks for answering everybody’s questions!

I was just wondering what the LGBT* community in mage society is like. Are queer mages openly out of the closet, or are things more conservative. Also, are there any LGBT* groups or anything among mages, or do they stick to groups with normals? Sorry about the weird question!

I hope life as an official mage treats you well. Stay safe!

Depends what you mean by ‘in the closet’. Gay/lesbian types in the magical community don’t exactly advertise, but they don’t pretend to be straight either – they just don’t bring it up. This is easier than you’d think because mages are pretty secretive about their private lives. If they’re married, or in a relationship, or anything like that, they generally don’t talk about it. Usually the only way you find out about that kind of stuff is through rumour/gossip, and you never know if the rumours are true. You do get a few who wear it on their sleeve, but they’re the exceptions.

I think it’s probably true to say that people pay less attention to what your sexuality is in the magical world than they do outside it. It’s because mages care so much about the mage/adept and the Light/Dark divides that everything else comes a distant second. Religion and race are the same way. It’s not that they don’t notice, it’s just that the number one priority is always whether you’re ‘on their side’ or not.

From: Blackendedsoul

Hi there, I am a casual fan from Bangladesh. I do have a lot of questions and I honestly think that they are a bit too much for one session. So I would like to separate them into topics.

For now I am going to ask about – and sorry for bringing back the topic – your curse.

So what I understand is, when the present bearer of the curse passes away, the next person to get it is the youngest female of the bloodline, correct? So what happens if a younger female is born into the family after someone gets the curse but is herself too young to come under the influence of it. I mean, say someone gets it when she is 5, she would have to be 10+ for the curse to take a swing, right? What if a younger sister is born when she is 7? Also, what type of mage was the person who weaved this curse (both in magic type and affiliation, i.e. Light/Dark/Independent)? Finally how many generations has it been running?

Thanks and sorry for the long message…

If a girl’s born when someone else has already got it, then nothing changes. So if a girl gets it when she’s five, and when she’s 7 she gets a younger sister, she’s still cursed. The curse doesn’t say ‘welp, nice knowing you’ and pack up and leave. Only way for it to move on is for her to die.

As for who the mage was who did it, nobody knows. I mean, our family isn’t magical, so they’d have had no way of knowing about this stuff. It’s not like they could go on the Internet and look her up or whatever. She wasn’t even described to me as a mage, just as a strega. I guess she’d have had to have been a chance mage, but beyond that, I doubt anyone will ever know.

From: R Mandell

Hi Luna:

Did Alex ever learn who it was who tipped Will Travis off that Alex was part of the hit squad sent to acquire his sister? And how did Will learn it was Alex Master as well?

This is one of those things we’ve never known for sure. I mean, Will wasn’t exactly interested in explaining himself, and by the time it was over, he wasn’t able to explain himself, what with being dead and all. But we can take guesses, and one name kept cropping up. At the time Will showed up, who had a lot of links to adepts and was someone Alex had very recently pissed off? If you’re guessing someone who lives in Soho, you’re on the right track. Can’t prove it, though.

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Bound Cover – US Edition

This one is a little later than planned, since I’ve had the first draft sitting around for a while now, but I just recently got a finished version of the US cover for Bound, so here it is!  Once again, release date is April of next year.  As usual, I’ll post the first chapter a month or two in advance.

bound_front mech.indd

Alex Verus #9 is also going well, with the first section done and the second underway.  

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