Fun Friday

Of Withlings and Dualism: The Basis of Conflict in The Bow of Hart Saga

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The Bow of Destiny depicts conflict between good and evil as is common in epic fantasy. But what is not specifically in the series to this point is the basis of the conflict. While my prequel short story, What Is Needed, shows something of the conflict in the demise of most of the mystic order of Withlings, the conflict is much older. But to better grasp this history for the book, an understanding of Withlings is necessary which introduces basic viewpoints of characters – including those who hold greater power in the world of Denaria.

Withlings are mystics who worship and serve the deity of Eloch. By the practice of their faith, Withlings are able to perform miracles such as healing, move from place to place or utter very accurate prophecies. These are but a few examples of Withlings’ abilities but these are not dependent upon their inherent powers but those of Eloch. The frequent saying among Withlings is, “What is needed is given.” This means that they trust Eloch implicitly to provide what they need at any moment which can include miraculous actions. Often, Withlings will speak – or not – based on their sense of what Eloch wants them to do.

So, Withlings must practice mystical ability to “be with” Eloch in order to know what they must do. Withlings consider this a form of “listening” and it becomes the basis of their life. Sometimes, they may know much but be withheld from taking any action, something very hard to do and a reason they practice mystic discipline.

To Withlings, there is only Eloch as the true deity and it seems to be so. However, there is also the dragon Magdronu. What does not come into this series are the details of how Magdronu came into conflict with Eloch and how he got the worst end of that conflict to be cursed into the form of a dragon.

Magdronu takes actions that are often typical for an “evil” character. However, he considers himself to be a dualistic counter-point to Eloch, a co-equal deity who has been kept from his natural prime position in the world as light and dark ebbs and grows. So to Magdronu, his conflict with Eloch arises from being withheld from taking his true place and that everything is out of balance as a consequence. To Magdronu, he must rise at some point and he seems “evil” but this is really just his nature and is no less valid than “good” on the part of Eloch.

So while Magdronu sees himself kept out of the balance of nature, he is stuck in a position of being cursed and unable to gain his prime position. Thus Magdronu must find a way to rise through the force of his will and the use of his magic. To this end, Magdronu sees Withlings as a force that thwarts him and he has tried to wipe them out as a way to gain influence.

But the question remains, how is Eloch able to hinder Magdronu so thoroughly? Thus we end up with a dwindling order of mystics, a prophecy against Magdronu, a mythic bow and someone intended to possess and use the Bow of Hart. Such is the background for the main character, Athson, who must discover his destiny.

Want to discover more about The Bow of Destiny? Here’s a list of other interviews and appearances I’ve made both on blogs and internet radio shows.

Internet Radio Shows: 

Speculative Fiction Cantina

Also here are a few recent blog appearances:

Bookwraiths: Tuesday Teaser

And one of my favorites on C. S. Boyack’s Lisa Burton Radio (which is actually a great blog series).

Where you can find The Bow of Destiny in print, audio, and e-book formats:

Amazon

Other Books in The Bow of Hart Saga:

An Arrow Against the Wind (available in audio, print, and e-book)

  The White Arrow (available in audio & e-book, print releases 3/15/21)

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

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Fantasy Friday! A Tour of the Real Funnel

Athson runs in the dark. Trolls howl as they thunder like an avalanche after him through the underbrush. Clawed paws snag and tear his clothing. Firelight fades. Heavy footfalls of trolls pound near, their huffing punctuated with grunts and snorts.

He turns and rushes back toward the gorge, the Funnel, near the troll camp. More trolls search the night, and others call for help. A kobold appears in front of him, and he runs into it. They fall hard, and the creature squeals as Athson grunts and kicks the creature in the face. Athson scurries off its back and rushes on. Where can he hide?

Deeper darkness yawns at his feet. He slides to a stop but not soon enough. He goes over the edge and rolls on a steep slope. Below, at the sheer edge, Athson’s legs go over, and he grasps wildly for any handhold.

Trolls point at him and howl as he slides over the edge. He falls and screams.

From An Arrow Against the Wind

The passage above makes some reference to a setting that recurs in The Bow of Hart Saga, especially in the latter two books. There’s drama around the setting of a gorge through which a rushing river flows in the world of Denaria. The gorge of the Funnel serves as part of the basin for the Long River west of the Drelkhaz Mountains while also serving as a major geographic boundary for the eastern side of the Troll Heaths. It’s here that Athson experienced some of his childhood trauma and here that he must return.

 

The Altar of the Trolls overlooks the gorge called the Funnel and plays a major roll in The Bow of Hart Saga as a geologic feature.

 

There is an actual location from which I based with the gorge in An Arrow Against the Wind. I grew up in North Alabama which is in the southern Appalachians. There are several interesting rock formations – and even caves (more on that another time) in an area that’s largely unknown outside of Alabama.

Little River is formed from East Fork and West Fork on Lookout Mountain. From the confluence of the forks, the river runs through what is called Little River Canyon which is a National Preserve. The river is about 26 miles long and empties into Weiss Lake which is drained by the Coosa River.

The Canyon is actually one of the deepest canyons east of the Mississippi River and sports some dramatic views such as Canyon and Crow Overlooks which are majestic cliffs over 300 feet high but the canyon is over 600 feet deep in places. From these vantage points, you can view just how big this place is.

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Additionally, here are some links containing other shots that provide more perspective. I haven’t been able to track down some of my best ones from several years back but they are from similar locations on the canyon.

Google Images

Road Trip America

FrankEmory.com

There are any number of videos that also provide some excellent perspective shots of the canyon – here’s just one.

I’ll add my other photos as I find them but you can see that the canyon is great for a fantasy fiction setting.

What Got Cut – Excerpt from The Goddess’ Veil

Introduction

Today, I thought it would be a bit fun to share a small bit that was cut from The Bow of Hart Saga. It was meant for a sub-plot that ran parallel to the main story but in a different part of Denaria – which doesn’t even appear on the maps in the book. However, all of this sub-plot was cut to create a simpler plot that was less confusing.

However, I have so much written it seems a waste not to use it at all so I’m seriously considering the publication of this material as a novella series or a single book. Here’s a short portion of what I wrote about a character named Sramsurash who is a monk who’s done something quite rash. He’s now thinking back over what he’s done which is what this scene describes. Read on and I’ll share more of why this was cut at the end:

Excerpt

A distant, rumbling growl echoed down the length of the pass. The monk froze in his steps hardly daring to breathe. Had that sound been some animal or the passage of wind? Maybe it was a falling boulder whose crash onto road had echoed strangely in the gorge. He swallowed hard at the thought of some ravenous animal tracking him. Sramsurash hurried on while looking over his shoulder as thoughts of worse things than bears flitted through his mind. The temple kept terrible creatures and he suddenly wondered if one had been sent to track him.
Sramsurash frowned at the thought. He had been rash in his actions, having planned for nothing of a trip – no food or clothing suitable for his needs. While he had walked the hallway to the goddess’s chamber with growing trepidation his only thought had been to take the veil. In sudden conclusions after long meditation, the monk had acted. He remembered pausing outside the rooms, wearing his padded slippers so soft and quiet but his heart pounding in his ears loudly.

The monk knew he had trembled but he had still crept into the rooms. He had shuffled across the carpets hoping to avoid anything in his way but there had been nothing. The goddess had been reputed to be a light sleeper and the slightest of disturbances would have awakened her. Indeed, Sramsurash was still surprised he had actually been able to take the filmy cloth from the stand where it hung in the pale moonlight that spilled across the inner chamber where the indescribably beautiful avatara lay upon her bed.

He had been sweating profusely when he exited the goddess’s rooms and found to his surprise he held the veil dangling in his grasp in plain sight. But it was more than fear that had distracted him he now realized. He had stowed the wondrous item within his voluminous robes and slipped noiselessly down the halls to his chambers, thinking he might hide the goddess’s sole garment until he could decide what to do and thus steal power from her by rendering her incapable of appearing in public. But along the way a blinding realization had struck his mind that he must leave the temple or be discovered and slain. Had not the guards seen him go and return?

The monk had diverted himself and left by a little used door. There was no thought to destroying the veil. He had seen the veil lain over open flames and simply smother them out. Sramsurash could only assume the veil held some magical or supernatural power that, thin as it was, it could not be quickly destroyed by a simple flame.

The monk had fled until he could decide what best to do. He had traveled west in the night opposite to the direction he was supposed to be going in the next week for his lone pilgrimage. All through the night he had stumbled down the road as fear grew in his mind that he should hear the sound of pursuit from the dreadful knights of the avatara. Indeed, such was his fear that as dim dawn grew on the horizon behind him that the monk had paused along the way to consider his next actions carefully. Holding the veil he had gazed at the seemingly frail cloth. He was not used to this fear since his life as a priest had been one of ease and repetitious ritual but now he knew he must decide a precise course of action.

Sramsurash remembered now his foolishness as he stumbled down the cold mountain road. Lost in his reverie of careful thought, the monk had not heard the swift approach of horses until they were just around a bend and almost on him. He had turned to run and fallen. But the veil had fluttered down over him and covered him with its large expanse. In the scant time it took the monk to take a few shuddering breaths the horses, carrying the fearsome knights had thundered into sight and passed him where he had lain on the side of the road in plain sight with the item of his offense in just as plain sight.

This event puzzled the monk even now. He could not see how the horsemen had missed his cringing form along the ditch but they had. He had wondered at this and thought at first if it was just the near darkness. But Sramsurash now doubted this as he hugged himself in the cold and slapped himself to stay warm. Had the veil some quality of hiding such that it had saved him from the knights and certain death?

Commentary

As you can tell, this is a very rough draft and needs a lot of work which is one reason it was cut – as a sub-plot it made the rest of the series cumbersome. I also wrote this before I start using deep point-of-view that is used in my current series novels so the style is rougher. There’s a lot of telling and almost no conversation until much later on in the scene. I’ve learned much better about developing the beginning of a book than I knew back in 2011-14 when I was working on this (don’t form an opinion about The Bow of Hart Saga based on this – it more of a sample of what got cut, why and how I’m going to use it in the future once it’s re-developed).

However, there are more problems that have to be corrected. This bit of remembering by Sramsurash should be show as its own scene to open the book and introduce the character and his motivations. Additionally, the setting of the far western empire of Gantura should also be better established – something which I did not have time to do. There are a number of other issues with it being a sub-plot such as tying it together with the main plot of The Bow of Hart Saga – these two stories just did not have enough overlap to make them mesh well. I concluded that it was best to pull this out and work on it another time which I’ll likely begin pretty soon after completing some other novel rough drafts.

Conclusion

Thanks for stopping by to read the excerpt today. Please excuse both the lack of artwork and how rough the work is but I hope it shows why I cut it from my series and on direction I’ll be going in the near future. Feel free to leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I can (I’m traveling today so it may take some time).

Also, please remember I’ve just released the digital boxed set of The Bow of Hart Saga on Amazon just this week – have a look at it!

About the Author