Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"The Gossamer Mage"

What is magic? As imagined by Julie E. Czerneda, it’s wild and free, a force of nature and source of wonder. She first explored this theme in her Night’s Edge series, starting with the award-winning Turn of Light. In The Gossamer Mage, Czerneda goes further, envisioning magic not only as integral to landscape and history, but well aware what we’re doing with it. That tie between us and other, the profound changes we make by connecting, have always informed her work, be it fantasy or science fiction.

Czerneda applied the Page 69 Test to The Gossamer Mage, her twentieth novel published by DAW Books, and reported the following:
What fun this is, to pick one page and see what it says, or doesn’t, about the entire book. In this case, page 69 of Mage is the first sign there are several layers to what magic is in the realm of Tananen, hinting the way magic moves through it and The Deathless Goddess is far more complex than those who live here believe. Cil, who has used magic to kill the other inhabitants of his village out of spite, finally pays Her price for it.

From page 69:
Cil aged no better than he lived, his body shrinking in on itself, growing shriveled and more deformed, cheeks caving in, hands become wizened claws. The men holding him let go in horror, but only when the Designate ended their kiss did he fall.
Yet there’s a hint of something more…
Saeleonarial blinked. Had he seen a faint plume of ash as the sad corpse met the ground? Before he could be sure, a breeze danced through silks, tugged his beard, and whisked away any trace of glittering bronze.
Such ash is left when something made of magic ends its intended lifespan or is killed. There shouldn’t be any left from the corpse of a man. Ah, but that’s a clue.

The creatures, the gossamers, Cil created to destroy the hapless villagers? Without him, without his spite and fury, they are set free, to again be wonders.
The waiting monsters lifted their heads. The long ones closed their eyes and burrowed head first into the ground…The made-flies rose in a swarm...the sun sparkling on their tiny wings so it seemed for an instant that the air itself shimmered…
Which is what, before Cil, gossamers have been. Accidents, wonders, marvels who have nothing to do with us except the occasional sly trick. What was different here?

A turning point, this page, in the characters’ understanding and in readers. I hadn’t noticed how profound a point I’d made on this one page till now.
Visit Julie E. Czerneda's website.

The Page 69 Test: To Guard Against the Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue