Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mage Quest

The audio version of my novel "Mage Quest" has just been released, and I'm very excited.  But if you're here mostly interested in medieval history, you'll soon see some of that too.



The Royal Wizard of Yurt series, of which "Mage Quest" is part, is set in a slightly skewed version of the real Middle Ages.  In fact, I imagine that this is what medieval Europe would have become by the nineteenth century if there had been no New World to discover, no Protestant Reformation, no French Revolution, and no Industrial Revolution--plus of course working magic!

In this book, the characters are off on a quest to the fabled East.  Now, in fact, medieval Europeans knew very little about the real Middle East unless they went on Crusade or pilgrimage (and then they were shocked).  Nineteenth-century Europeans didn't know much more.  But they found the Middle East fascinating and exotic.  There was a big fad for "orientalism," anything involving harems, turbans, desert sands, mummies, palm trees, and the like.

This fascination led to the success of "Arabian Nights," especially in the Sir Richard Burton translation (no, not that Richard Burton).  In this book westerners learned about Aladdin and the lamp, Sinbad the Sailor, and many other exciting characters.

Now, in the twenty-first century, historians of the Middle East have of course gotten away from orientalism.  You can't start studying a society by assuming it's weird and exotic.  Everyone is normal to themselves, after all!

But in "Mage Quest," I have included a heavy dose of the way that the real nineteenth-century West imagined the East, as full of amazing wonders.  However, I have radically downplayed the West's negative views of Islam.  I'm not in the business of being insulting to anyone's religion.  I have also included a lot of material inspired by twelfth-century descriptions of the Holy Land and Byzantium.

Now if you're just interested in an exciting adventure story and don't want to hear about modern historians of the Middle East, you can ignore all this and just enjoy!

But if you're interested in how I shaped the backstory, the novel assumes that there was a Roman Empire equivalent long ago, but that it never actually took over the Jewish kingdoms in Palestine, and that Christians, Jews, and Muslims were able to work out their quite serious differences in subsequent centuries enough to coexist.

The audio version is narrated by Eric Vincent, who does a great job, especially with the Ifrit--a particularly large kind of djinn.  The production has music between chapters to set the mood and is just terrific.  It is available on iTunes, Audible.com, and Amazon--or, if you prefer to read it, it's available as an ebook on all major platforms as well as a physical paperback (out of print unfortunately, but used copies are available).  Let me know how you like it!

(By the way, I wrote the book over twenty years ago, long before modern on-line gaming.  Some modern video games include "mage's quest" as one of their aspects.  If you came to this page looking for gaming tips, sorry!  Maybe I should get a percentage of gaming revenues? I wish! as if that would ever happen.)


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