P.J. Reed is a talented author and has great credentials with her education and love of literature, poetry and English. The Torcian Chronicles is very intriguing and P.J. Reed has done a masterful job of the front cover and description that seems to take the reader into another world and away from reality as great books should do.
Author Bio: P.J. Reed
How did you get into writing?
I just fell into writing. I remember that in junior school I loved writing plays – not your normal children’s plays about fairytale princesses. These were exciting, adventures about travelling the world finding treasure and battling evil forces. I also had a voracious appetite for reading and I read every book I could lay my hands on. My prized possessions were a row of red hardbacked Enid Blyton books and I used to create my own miniature books. My writing then stopped at secondary school as homework got in the way and effectively stamped all over any creative output. Finally, I got to teacher training college. You had to do courses in each subject and doing a primary English course on how to teach children to write poetry proved a pivotal moment in my writing career. I really enjoyed scribbling out poems, unlike the rest of the college and my lecturer took me to one side and told me to think about a career in poetry. I don’t now if this was a comment about my teaching ability or my writing ability but from that moment on I began to write.
What can you tell us about your daily routines that help you focus and your creative habits? So, for example how do you come up with some of your ideas and inspiration for your book?
My writing routine has to fit around children, pets, and housework. So, I have no set times to work. I just write when I am able to – which means the house is relatively calm and peaceful. I write in my bedroom behind a shut door listening to soundtracks on YouTube. However, as soon as I enter into the world I am creating the music disappears and time in this reality stops. I once spent 7 hours writing caught in the world of Torcia. When I finished the scene I came back to reality and realized not only had I missed lunch and tea break but the evening meal was looking rather dodgy too. That is the beauty of writing – you travel to new worlds and change the ordinary for the extraordinary.
The inspiration for ‘The Torcian Chronicles’ came like all my story ideas – a vision of evens happening which run like a film in my thoughts. So I saw the opening of my book that of Mesham sitting in his hovel drinking wine while his country burns and I just started writing to answer the questions
Who was he?
What was happening?
Who was invading Torcia?
From those three questions an epic, dark fantasy novel appeared.
Is this book very personal for you? If so, how?
The book is very special to me because the characters are real and it is a commentary about their life, struggles, and heroism in the face of grave danger.
The Torcian Chronicles
Book 1 – Defiance
The title of the book ‘Defiance’ is significant because the book is about a group of people from the edges of society bound together in a quest to defend Torcia. Each one has to choose whether to stand up and fight for what they believe or to do nothing and let their country fall.
Plot and Synopsis
The story begins in the Walled City in the once peaceful kingdom of Torcia. The city is bursting with terrified, starving civilians trapped as the Mivirian invasion sweeps across the Kingdom. Left for dead the Captain of the Northern warband watches his men being slaughtered in a clearing by the Ghost Marshes. Torcia is on the brink of destruction. However, one warlock still lives, Mesham of the Walled City. Although of advanced years and bad temperament, he has the strongest magic of anyone still living in Torcia. The King, aware of the significance of Mesham, entrusts the shocked warlock with the task of saving a country that despises him. In the caves of the Scir Dun Mountains; the King, Lokir and his two high councilors open the ancient scroll containing Eftboren Galdor, the rejuvenation incantation. The powers of the spell are magnified by the faulstan flakes of the chamber and the spell explodes. The King and his councilors seek refuge behind the broken altar while Mesham is transported to a shadow world. In the shadow world Mesham meets Aewielm a water dragon, who reluctantly decides to help the Torcian cause. Mesham is rejuvenated but not before he sees a vision of King Athemar talking to the Mivirian King Leodhator.
Once back in his own world Mesham finds that Councilor Abrecan has been murdered and the Walled City destroyed. The sole survivor of the massacre is the castle messenger Shadral, who joins Mesham in his mission. They are forced to take the Ragna Road to Deorctreow village in the hope of acquiring a guide to take them over the Mivir Mountains. Unfortunately, Ragna is a cursed place and after fighting their way through its many trials they are captured by the Dwellers who are under orders from Councilor Baberekan to kill the traitors on sight. They are taken to a Dweller hideout and are thrown into the cellars to be butchered and served at the Inn that night. Mesham uses his magic much to Shadral’s consternation to escape. They steal ponies and head to the monoliths which marks the end of Deorctreow Forest. Surrounded by the Dweller army, they escape through a tiny hole in the base of the monolith. The hole leads to a complex underground cave system once used by the Wiccecræften to illegally practice magic. Using the secret tunnels, Mesham and Shadral race to the Ghost Marsh pursued by the Dwellers. They are attacked by a marsh beast. Fortunately, a wildman leaps to their aid and leads them to the relative safety of his stone hut on the Grey Plains. The stranger reveals himself to be the wrongfully disgraced Captain Sicam of the Northern warband. The Captain is eager to join the fight against Mivir once more and joins the companions in their mission to save Torcia.
This book is an epic, dark fantasy story, so will appeal to people who like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Merlin, and Game of Thrones.
It is dark fantasy so one horrified reader who expected to be taken to Narnia when reading this book was very shocked at its warfare, brooding nature, and intrigue.
Themes or Messages
This book has multiple layers and subplots, for the reader to relate too.
The setting for this book is the two great lands of Torcia and Mivir. While Torcia rejected magic as evil and passed laws to regulate its magic users forcing them to wear clothes and badges identifying them to the law abiding good people of Torcia, Mivir embraced magic. The country became ruled by an omnipotent warlock who created armies of magically enhanced soldiers – the deadly Mivirian Outriders. Unfortunately, Leodhator, king of the Mivirians, used too much magic, mining the faulstan crystals which stored the aweosung energy used to create all spells, until few remained. It was then that King Leodhator looked towards Torcia, a country with fields full of unmined faulstan crystals and protected by a weak mortal army. Then one night without warning Mivir invaded. ‘Defiance’ begins a week after the invasion when Torcia stands on the brink of collapse.
There has been a King or Queen ruling Torcia since the beginning of time. The earliest recorded writings tell of the legend of Beohun, the dragonslayer.
No one in the village dared to challenge the dragon. Beohun stood alone and waited for the fire. When the dragon arrived Beohun singlehanded fought the dragon in mortal combat lasting a day and a night.
As the morning sun rose, the villagers left their huts and found Beohun slumped across the dragon. His broadsword embedded in the dragon’s heart.
The legend of Beohun the Dragonslayer was born. Since that time the line of Kings has remained unbroken. Unfortunately, a line of kings is only as strong as its present ruler and King Athemar of Torcia is vain and shallow with few abilities. However, his shallow nature hides a deadly shadow which threatens the whole of Torcia.
As this is an epic high fantasy book there are many characters, some good, some bad and some grey ones. It is up to the reader to decide their worth.
The central character of the story is Mesham, a warlock from the Walled City.
He failed to get an apprenticeship to Wyrdirkin College the warlock training college of Torcia and works gathering ingredients and selling potions to the residents of he city. With his country under attack, Mesham has to decide to fight, flee or join the invading army that sees his magic as a gift not a curse.
Captain Sicam is one of the heroes of the book. Of Anglo-Saxon good looks he is tall, strong, and brave. A born soldier and captain of the destroyed Northern warband.
The book also contains many magical creatures including Aewielm, the river serpent of the Scir Dun Mountains. The legend of Aewielm is a children’s tale told by mothers to stop their children venturing near the river’s fast flowing waters Unfortunately, this does little good as dozens of children go missing from the river banks each summer.
Captain Cewalur is the leader of the Outriders. An interesting man noted for his ability to follow any order and total lack of compassion,
‘Captain Cewalur took off his helmet to reveal a face ravaged by magic. His skin tinged blue/ grey, his veins stained black as the aweosung energy raced through his body. He looked at General Greulon with huge black eyes that masked his contempt for the unenhanced.
“Every guard tower has been destroyed, my Lord, Farlig is burning; they are defenceless!”
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How to buy
If you like unusual graphic novels, I would suggest you read Single Cell by Dr. Machina. It’s mad science meets satire. There’s dark humor, absurdity, and one giant fragmented sci-fi universe.