No, we aren’t going to talk about the beloved children’s tale. Maybe in a later blog. I’m currently plugging away at manuscript #4, which has some cool revelations and growth-arcs for a number of the characters, including the man around whom the entire War of Wars is centered: Magnus. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Magnus—rather, an iteration of him—was the main character of the manuscript from which Feast of Fates was derived. I think I’ve already explained the process of how Feast of Fates came to be, but to sum it up for the uninitiated: after three drafts of that tired, old manuscript, and some painful editorial coaching, I realized that I had written the fifth book first.
Of course, now that I’ve written the “origin” material for Geadhain, everything from that fifth book has certainly changed. Everything except for the fundamentals of Magnus. I mean, he’s Immortal, so there’s no surprise that he might still be around after/ if/ regardless of the War of Wars reaches its climax. And like his eternal life, there are aspects of him that are fixed, poles of his personality that will not easily move: his genius, his sympathy, his desire to have something of his own. But even the mightiest are not without fault, and despite his great power and wisdom, he really doesn’t have much common sense, or know what drives him through his endless years.
I think one of the most interesting criticisms I’ve heard (from a reader) regarding the character is that he’s “naïve”. Why didn’t he know more about what was happening in the South? First, there’s the matter raised in the books of etheric currents: great lines of magik that criss-cross Geadhain and interfere with all advanced communications beyond the concentrated bursts of sorcery stored in farspeaking stones.
“Okay,” you say. “I’ll accept your technobabble, and that maybe the information just wasn’t flowing to him. However, why didn’t he make it flow? What about his spy-network?” Well, Magnus suspected that a dark presence or event was brewing at the other end of the continent, though it wasn’t worrisome enough for him to care about. He had his wife, who really ran the show in Eod while he pondered greatness, heroes and history in the Hall of Memories. He had a city that worshiped him as a living deity. He really was clueless that something so dark and terrible could be happening in Mor’Keth—other than the disgruntlement of the local tribes for a reason quite distant to his priorities. Plus, Brutus clamped a fist down pretty fast and hard in the Summerlands, and very little–information, people–escaped that wrath. We see that grim tale in Feast of Dreams through the eyes of Beauregard and his father.
Anyway, back to Magnus, in one of the novels I describe him as: a child drowning on a bed of toys. Dig deeper, and I’m sure you’ll find a parallel between Magnus and our own often narcissistic society: how we have a million ways to broadcast our emotions, though these broadcasts can lack real spirit and passion. Magnus’s self-centered behavior, cleverly masked by his accomplishments, by the assumption he must be benevolent and wise to rule a nation as great as Eod, is indeed his strongest fault.
Kudos to the readers that picked up on that. Magnus is naïve. He’s an all-powerful, emotionally charged child; he pretends restraint until his temper is tested. For nearly every one of his thousands of years, he’s been cared for by someone else. First, by Brutus. Then, by Lila and a cadre of servants and wisemen. In his quest to find himself, he hadn’t once stopped to hear the answers within, and he always looked without: to conquest, to raising a civilization, to the support of his brother and wife—but never to himself. And so it is, that after a long, messy and gloriously dark reckoning in Feast of Mercy that he’s at last stripped of his false mirrors, fully alone, and forced to confront these questions.
His development surprised me. I mean, there’s a good man there. A lost man, but a good man. The next arc of the story, where we at last see the man he’s to become, is much more powerful after knowing the road of his defeat. I can’t wait to dig into that manuscript. Sooner, rather than later I hope. In the meantime, let’s learn from Magnus on how to be aware of our failings, and on how to not be blinded by our successes. At least as a man who lives forever, Magnus will eventually get it right. We don’t have the same luxury.
All my love,