Monday, March 20, 2017

Realm Explorers Part XCVIII: Visit Russett with Aldred Chase

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:
Aldred Chase

Title of book and/or series:
Apprentice Fool, book one of the Nobody’s Fool Quartet

Brief summary of the story:
The village of Mottle offers thirteen-year-old Keth few opportunities to rebel against cruel Prince Dorian, who usurped the throne ten years ago. But Keth has a dangerous secret, he keeps faith with the old rituals and dances that the prince has banned.

When the prince’s grain collector leaves Mottle with so little grain that they face starvation over the coming winter, only Keth is prepared to do something about it. His attempt to steal back the grain goes wrong, and he only escapes capture by joining a band of traveling players, as their apprentice fool.

Can Keth keep his audience laughing and his secrets hidden, while working to overthrow the prince?

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The city of Russett took root in a range of easily defended hills, close to where the River Brack flows into the Sea of Wrack. In a similar way to a medieval city-state, it controls the surrounding fertile land, which is dotted with farms, villages, and market towns. The level of agricultural technology is broadly equivalent to that of the late middle ages.

Russett has no moon, but on nights when the sky is clear you can see the splinter, a narrow golden rip that runs the length of the sky.

If we were to visit Russett as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
The city of Russett is famous for its skins and dyes, as well as for the stench from the local tanneries. Tourists have described the latter as the smell of rotting animals, stewed in their own poo, and mixed with putrid vegetables, while locals say that fresh air is bland and has no taste to it.

The most magnificent building in the city is the Golden Palace, currently the residence of Prince Dorian. It sits on the summit of the tallest hill and enjoys fresh breezes from the nearby Sea of Wrack. The enterprising tourist can easily secure entrance to the palace, but leaving it may prove more difficult.

The tourist who wanders so far from the beaten track that they arrive in Mottle will learn that the village is famous for its rain and many different colored mosses.

What dangers should we avoid in Russett?
Dancing is dangerous. Prince Dorian has banned all of the traditional dances, and you should inform the appropriate authorities if you see anyone dancing. The jovial tourist who insists on joining in will find their hilarity is short-lived, rather like the participants.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Russett?
Unless you are wealthy, food is in short supply.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Russett?
Prince Dorian’s guards have swords and bows. Most other people will improvise with whatever comes to hand, such as stones and tools. While not strictly a fighting style, running away is often seen as the best option.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Russett?
Most people will travel on foot, but well-off people will ride on horses. Ships sail the Sea of Wrack.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Russett that we don’t see on Earth?
All the plants and animals are similar to ones that we would encounter on Earth. The old legends talk of dragons, but they’re just stories, aren’t they?

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Russett?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Some folk whisper that the dances banned by Prince Dorian had magical properties, especially at times like sowing the seed and reaping the harvest. A few people have the gift of seeing the wraiths that haunt the wounded land, but it’s not something they boast about.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Russett.
Games and sports like skittles and wrestling are popular. A favorite game for children is tossing pebbles at a wall to see whose lands closest. Dancing has been banned but singing is still popular. Songs that everyone can join in with include: ‘Bang my Anvil Heartily’ and ‘The Tinker and the Jolly Farmer’s Wife.’ For those of a sentimental nature, a favorite ballad involves a heroic dog pining for his master by the wall of the dead garden.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Russett as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The people of Russett do not divide the year into weeks and months, but they are keenly aware of the passing of the seasons. The sowing of the seed in spring and the reaping of the harvest in autumn used to be celebrated by special dances that the whole community joined in. These dances have now been banned by Prince Dorian.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Russett?  Please describe what it involves.
While no formal religion is worshipped in Russett, the people have a number of shared beliefs and rituals.

Traditional dances were performed throughout the year and the whole community joined in. These dances helped people to affirm their connection to the land, but they are now banned.

The dead are cremated and every settlement has a beautiful walled garden, called the dead garden, where the ashes are scattered, while mourners sing laments.

People believe that the land was created by weavers who wove it from threads pulled from a star. Having finished the land, many weavers left to create new lands, but two groups chose to remain. One group became the original inhabitants of this land. The second group live in a world beyond the splinter, a narrow golden rip in the sky, visible on clear nights. If ever the land is damaged, they will crawl through the splinter and sew it back together again.

What is the political or government structure in Russett?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Russett is traditionally ruled by a prince. Ten years ago, Prince Dorian came from out of nowhere and invaded with a small force. He defeated the much larger force of the previous ruler, Prince Gawain, at the Battle of Crouchers Hollow. Since then, he has banned all of the traditional dances and he has ordered his grain collector, assisted by a flock of spiteful ravens, to collect ever-increasing amounts of grain from the people. This grain is sold abroad to fund Dorian’s lavish lifestyle.

Keth wants to rebel but the majority of the half-starved people are too demoralized to try and overthrow the cruel prince.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
The landscape is inspired by the beautiful countryside where I grew up in the north of England. When I was little, we still had a working tannery in our town and the smell was unique and terrible; you would take a deep breath then scurry past with a hand across your nose and mouth.

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
I don’t think any of the topics are “hot button” but I do think that the theme of whether one person standing up against injustice can make a difference is timeless.

Author Autobiography:
My first experience of fantasy fiction was reading ‘The Hobbit’ at school, and I’ve been hooked on the genre ever since. My favorite places for writing are cafes and park benches, but I do most of my work at my desk. My best ideas come to me when I’m travelling by train or walking by the sea. I’m lucky enough to live in Australia where we have many beautiful beaches.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?

The other three books in the Nobody’s Fool Quartet, Royal Fool, Prince of Fools and Dragon’s Fool are all available in Kindle format from Amazon.

Where can readers connect with you online? 
You can find me on my website and on facebook.


I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Russett.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

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