Ariel and Astrid have discovered that sharing a husband is a greater challenge than they anticipated, a challenge that is exacerbated by a difCicult winter trip to Wittenberg, where Erich hopes to enter the service of Frederick III, Elector of Sachsen. But their trip is soon interrupted by unexpected complications.
In the town of Marburg, a century-old agreement that has kept the peace between the Landgraviate of Hessen and a band of witches in the forest is beginning to unravel. The young Landgrave, Philip, needs to consolidate his authority, and the witches want something from him that he does not dare surrender.
Erich and his wives are drawn into this conClict, and in the process discover a mystery that seems tied to their unique magical bond—a mystery that may threaten its very existence if they cannot resolve it.
In this second installment in the bestselling Twin Magic series, Michael Dalton spins together magic, steampunk, and traditional German fairy tales into another entertaining alternate history adventure.
The first book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wizards-Daughters-Twin-Magic-Book-ebook/dp/B00PHXIPW0
I will confess to being a sucker for good alternative history. I’ve always been a big history buff, and for me, there’s just something cool about taking what you think you know about a historical period or event and twisting it around into “what-if”situations.
All three of the fantasy novels I’ve written so far have been alternative history set in Renaissance Europe. This is a period I’ve been fascinated with for a long time because of the many political, economic, and technological changes that were taking place. With so much going on, it’s not hard to create intriguing dramas by taking a few elements and twisting them around, or injecting traditional fantasy conventions like magic or dragons into key events.
This not to say that I have anything against conventional fantasy; a well-designedimaginary world can be just as engaging, if not more so. Our literary landscape would be considerably poorer without Middle-Earth, Westeros, Mid-World, Dune, and Melniboné, to name just a few. But building fantasy worlds that are both plausible and memorable is a tall task, one that unfortunately many would-befantasy authors are just not up to.
Writing a fantasy–alternative history piece might seem like less work than crafting a pure fantasy world, but that’s not been the case in my experience. There’s less imagining and designing, but a lot more research. Doing alternative history right requires having a very good grasp of the material you’re working with. Any changes you make need to be deliberate rather than errors—and these are errors that are all too easy to make.
In conceiving the Twin Magic series, I began with what felt like fertile ground: German at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, a time when science was starting to rise up against religion but when old fears and superstitions—such as the risk of babies beings switched for changelings—were still strong. It’s important to remember that during this period magic was nothing unusual, in the sense that common people believed in it and believed that witches and wizards existed along with all sorts of fantastical creatures.
So I took that background and made it real. In these books, magic does exist and has become a familiar element in people’s lives, familiar enough to be part of the scientific, religious, and cultural revolutions that were taking place. Developments like gunpowder and advances in engineering, rather than being pure inventions, are instead outgrowths of this magical knowledge. (Thus injecting a bit of steampunk into this world as well.)
That allowed me to ask some interesting questions: How would the presence of magic affect the endless political machinations that wracked the Holy Roman Empire? How would Martin Luther’s challenge to the Church play out in such a context? (Among other things, the Luther in The Witches’ Covenant, who has both mages and indulgences to worry about, comes up with 110 theses rather than 95.) And how would these mages who have become part of the political and religious landscape deal with those pernicious superstitions?
I’m pleased with how it’s developed so far, and I’m excited to see where I can take things as the series evolves.
Click 'read more' for excerpt:
The creatures that attacked them were entirely silent. One moment Hans was walking behind Heinrich, and the next there was a thin-legged thing—almost like a fleshy spider with a child’s head—on the man’s back, cutting his throat with a slender knife.
As Heinrich fell, blood spurting from the gaping wound in his neck, Hans stood there frozen as if he were watching the scene on a stage. Up ahead of him, Giancarlo had drawn his sword and was slashing at two of the creatures that had dropped from the trees above.
As the horses scattered in alarm, Hans watched as the thing that had killed Heinrich rose from the body and turned in his direction. Still he could not seem to move.
Hans realized he was about to die.
At the last possible moment, his arm became unfrozen, and he drew his rapier just in time to impale the creature as it leapt at him. Snarling and clawing at him despite the blade through its chest, the thing tore a long gash on Hans’ arm. But then Hans thrust forward, pushing it away, and it was dead.
He spun around just in time to see three of the things finishing off Tomas, stabbing him repeatedly with their knives.
Hans froze again. He might have killed one, but he could not see how he could possibly take on three of them. Then one of the things rose and sprang at him, and he somehow caught this one as well, running his rapier through its neck.
With that, Hans could take no more. He turned and ran toward Giancarlo, who had killed the two small creatures before him but now faced something much larger. Hans was at first taken aback, thinking it was a tall, almost skeletal man, dressed in fine clothes more suited for court. Then he realized the thing’s skin was rough bark, and its fine breeches and waistcoat were leaves and moss woven to resemble human clothes. It was nearly seven feet tall, towering over Giancarlo, whose rapier was doing it no appreciable damage. It was all the mercenary captain could do to keep the thing at bay and avoid its slashing claws.
That was when a dark form appeared behind the wood-thing, and
Giancarlo cried out in alarm.