06 May 2015

Title: The Novice (Summoner #1)
Author: Taran Matharu
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, 398 Pages (May 5th, 2015)
Add to: Goodreads
Order here: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository, Amazon UK

Synopsis: When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

Guest Post

The Lore of the Summoner Series

When A Life Bound By Books kindly offered me the opportunity to write a blog post on my book’s lore, I was very happy. Most fantasy authors have an encyclopaedic knowledge of their world, but never get to write it all down at once. So here goes, the lore of the Summoner Series.

The Hominum Empire and its History

Two thousand years before the events in The Novice, dwarves inhabit the land that is to become the Hominum Empire. To the north, the elven clans live in the great woods, while the tribal orcs live in the southern jungles.

An albino orc is born; a symbolic leader who’s coming was prophesised. He marshals his tribes into a brutal and bloody war with the north, threatening the elves while the dwarves take shelter below ground. At the same time, a great exodus of humans crosses the Akhad Desert to the east and settles in the dwarven lands.

The elves are losing the war, preferring to hide in the trees than fight. To save themselves, they hire the newly arrived humans as mercenaries. After many years of fighting, the albino orc is killed and his warriors are driven back into the jungles. In exchange, the elves teach the humans the art of summoning. The first king of Hominum foundsVocans Academy, a military school that trains human summoners as battlemages.

A thousand years later, the Hominum Empire is fully formed, after a great sickness sweeps through the dwarven population. The human king and his nobility, aided by their exclusive ability to summon demons, take control and subjugate the dwarves, resulting in many rebellions.

A great animosity begins between the two races. Dwarves are forced to live in ghettos and have their population strictly controlled. They are also subjected to police brutality and constant discrimination.

The elves lose their ability to summon demons thanks to the proliferation of duelling and new laws put in place to prevent the practice. At the same time, the Hominum Empire is constantly at odds with the orcs, suffering from raids and even another war a few hundreds years later, which they win.

Fast forward to the twenty-odd years before The Novice. The nobility, who were once the only ones able to summon demons other than a few orc shamans, discover that a small number of commoners also have the gift. Some are the illegitimate offspring of nobles, while others manifest the ability independently. For the first time, commoners are able to attend Vocans Academy.

Present day. The third orc war has been going on for eight years, lead by a new albino orc. Orc shamans are working together, while the various tribes unite under one banner. The humans begin to lose the war.

Meanwhile, the elves have also declared war against the Hominum Empire themselves, refusing to pay the heavy taxes levied against them. However, this benefits nobody and peace talks are already underway. An elven princess is sent to Vocans Academy as a sign of goodwill. She becomes the first elven summoner in a thousand years.

The dwarves have developed a new weapon, the musket, but guard the secret jealously. In exchange for arming Hominum’s military, the king supports their bid for equal rights and peace between their peoples. Despite this, hatred still lingers and the threat of another rebellion remains. A dwarven youth is also sent to Vocans, to be trained as a leader for dwarven recruits, who will also be joining the war effort.

Fletcher Wulf is born in the midst of all this, living a secluded life in the village of Pelt near the elven border. But when he comes across a summoning scroll and accidentally summons a demon, his life is changed irrevocably. Vocans Academy beckons.

The Magic System

TheNovice’s magic system, though it is never actually referred to as magic, was inspired by videogames, with rules, power levels and limitations.

Although I do love witches, wizards, mages and their ilk, it does often frustrate me when Deus Ex Machina style magical events act as solutions to otherwise unsolvable problems. Very often, it becomes a “get out of jail free card” of sorts. I prefer my magic to have rules, so that this doesn’t happen.

In the world of Summoner, the ability to summon is passed down in the blood. The first-bornchild always inherits the gift, while their younger siblings have a much smaller chance.

Every summoner must at first be gifted a demon through the reading aloud of a summoning scroll, usually through a parent or sponsor. Once summoned, the demons act as familiars and share a mental and emotional connection with their human counterparts. Without a demon, a summoner would be almost indistinguishable from a normal person, although some exhibit the early ability to produce small sparks or flames. The source of their true power is the channelling of mana from their demons.

Demons can be infused within theirsummoner when they are not needed, allowing them to recover their mana and rest. While within, the demon can see all that the summoner does. In order to be summoned or infused, the demon must be standing upon a pentacle, which must be inscribed or made of organic material.

Demonic species come in all shapes and sizes, from small beetle-demons known as Mites to larger ones, such as Griffins and Wendigos. The demons will also have a fixed amount of mana and a level, depending on their species. Summoners also have levels, which improve as time goes by and they become more experienced. The more powerful a summoner, the higher the level of demon they are capable of summoning. For example, a level ten summoner could own ten Mites, which are level one, or one Minotaur, which is level ten.

Demons are captured from a disk-shaped world called the ether. Around the edge of this world is an abyss, where warped, tentacleddemons known as Ceteans live. The outer rim is made of a mars-like desert called the Deadlands, followed by jungles, seas, mountains and volcanoes as you come closer to the centre, where most of the demons can be found.

The ether is accessed by a keyed pentacle, differing from the pentacle needed from summoning in that it has symbols on each point of the star, acting as coordinates for an approximate location in the ether. This portal must be fuelled with mana at all times to keep it open. Summoners are unable to enter the ether unless wearing a suit, not unlike a deep-sea diver’s, as the air is poisonous. They will usually use their demons to hunt for others in the ether, dragging them back through the portal so their summoner can infuse them.Summoners are able to use scrying crystals to see and hear what their demons do while they are in the ether, rather like a small television screen.

Finally, there are the spells. To perform a spell, a summoner must etch a symbol in the air with a glowing finger, leaving a blue glyph that once fixed will follow their fingertip as if attached by an invisible frame. Only when the mana is channelled through this glyph, does it become a spell.

The five main battle spells are fire, lightning, telekinesis, shield and healing, though there are many others. If mana is channelled through the finger without etching a spell, it produces wyrdlight, an insubstantial glowing ball that dissolves upon impact but is an excellent light source.

I think that’s pretty much it, without going in to too much detail! It this sounds like the kind of world you would like to read about, feel free to check out Summoner: The Novice, officially out on 5thMay 2015.

About the Author:

Taran was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for reading at a very early age. His love for stories developed into a desire to create his own during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.
Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’.

Thanks to Wattpad.com and updating daily, its popularity dramatically increased, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months.

After being featured by NBC News, Taran decided to launch his professional writing career and has never looked back.

His SUMMONER trilogy will be published in Spring 2015 by Hodder Children’s in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and British Commonwealth, Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan) in the US and Canada, Heyne in Germany, Crown in Taiwan, Planeta in the Spanish speaking world and Record in Brazil. Book 1 will be published by EKSMO in Russia, Ecliptic in Bulgaria and Alpress in the Czech Republic.

Find Taran Online:

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