Sunday, September 13, 2015

Realm Explorers Part LXIV: Visit Avonoa with H.R.B. Collotzi

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: H.R.B. Collotzi

Title of book and/or series:
Avonoa Series: The Secret of Avonoa (Book One), The Shadow of Avonoa (Book Two)

Brief summary of the story:
The Secret of Avonoa:
            Parents are wrong. Teachers are wrong. His leader tries, but fails. The young dragon Dak can’t imagine why he still bothers to do as he’s told. However, dragon law could take his life if he disobeys, so he’s forced to pass the Krusible. The most important test in a young dragon’s life, the Krusible is the only way to gain freedom from the Rock Clouds where his dragon ruck lives, but he can’t manage to remain silent for it. If he doesn’t earn freedom, he might as well crawl into a cave and let his fire consume him.
            When Dak’s two best friends, Tog and Priya, leave for an exciting mission, Dak is left behind because of his fourth failed attempt at the Krusible. Instead of remaining behind to endure his punishment, Dak does exactly what everyone feared he might, and secretly follows them. Once on the surface world, Dak quickly learns – in the face of temptation, savagery, torture and possible death – the significance of the secret of Avonoa.
The Shadow of Avonoa:
            “Stay away from the surface world!” That’s what Hiro told himself. In fact, that’s what he teaches young dragons now. Humans are dangerous, violent, and evil - best to avoid. That’s all Hiro wants now, too. Until a human shows up in his lair and ruins everything!
            Princess Anna tricks Tog, Hiro’s best friend, into sneaking her back into Hiro’s life. Even with the story of a dangerous creature attacking, Hiro refuses her pleas for help. But when the dragons learn that previous involvement with the humans has dire lasting effects, Hiro is forced to investigate. With death sweeping over the land, Hiro’s intervention discovers possibilities none could imagine – least of all, him.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
            The world of Avonoa is much like our world with forests, rivers, mountains and grasslands, except for a few big differences. Avonoa has three moons and one sun. Avonoa also has an enormous mountain in the center with several floating mountains hovering around it. The Inner Mountain, as it is called, is so high it’s difficult for even a dragon to reach the top. One of the dragon rucks of Avonoa lives in the floating mountains surrounding the Inner Mountain. They are called the Rock Clouds. Other rucks live in the desert (a highly desirable place for the sun and warmth), the frozen northern waste (where dragons have become adapted to the cold and ice), and the islands off the eastern coast of Avonoa (where dragons reportedly swim to hunt).
            Other points of interest in Avonoa might be Centaur River, so large and long that it cuts Avonoa in two. The centaurs live on the plains at the head of Centaur River. The Black Forest, named for the trees grown so thick that very little light gets through the branches, even in the winter.

If we were to visit Avonoa as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
            If you’re a dragon, you could visit one of the rucks throughout the land. Have a game of Catch It or a race to the other side of the Rock Clouds.
            If you’re human, sail on Teardrop Sea or take port in Fallen City in the shadow of Kingstor Noble where the king of the Noble Kingdom lives. Order a snork delicacy at an inn in the Just Kingdom, but never a homemade one from a clan mother. Visit a faerie shaman and try to barter the price of a love potion. Visit the Cave of Invisibility in the Allegiant Kingdom where it is said many have entered, disappeared and returned again to tell fabulous tales of small gray creatures on the “other side”.

What dangers should we avoid in Avonoa?
            If you’re a dragon, avoid humans! They’re monsters. Real ones! They’ll try to kill you and rip out your brain. If you speak in front of one, dragon law says you must kill them! If they offer you something shiny, just take it and run. They think dragons barter for lives. Stupid humans.
            If you’re human, avoid dragons! But if you get cornered by one, make sure you have something shiny or sparkly to offer it. It doesn’t have to be necessarily expensive or extravagant, just shiny. Usually, you can offer this to the dragon and they’ll leave you alive.
            And avoid centaurs! They hate faeries more than humans, but they would sooner kill a human than speak to one!
            Also avoid the Black Forest – for all creatures! There are all manner of dangerous creatures in the Black Forest, including scorrands (giant two-headed lizards with rows of teeth like swords) and banshees (large black bird-like creatures that kill by screaming at you)! Also, if you see a small floating bulb that changes colors and is propelled by a single tentacle – DON’T TOUCH IT!

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Avonoa?
            Among dragons (as the viewpoint this adventure is written from), you would only eat meat, with the occasional sprig of mint as a treat and a single flarote bulb if you’re sick.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Avonoa?
            Swords! Although several clans in the Just Kingdom have begun adopting spears for use, the Five Kingdoms of Avonoa were built upon the use of the Five Swords of Avonoa. Each Kingdom has a sword imbued with majikal (spelling is on purpose) powers to give the owner (the ruler of each kingdom) that quality. Nobility to the Noble Kingdom, Justice to the Just Kingdom, Honor to the Honorable Kingdom, Courage to the Courageous Kingdom and Loyalty to the Allegiant Kingdom. Having five kingdoms ensures that there’s never an equal divide of power.
            Many staff guards (the lowest rank of soldier) are hired into the Noble army and use only a pike or spear until they learn to use a sword. Once skill increases the staff guard can apply and test for a promotion in rank.
            They also use bows and arrows and crossbows. King Philip of the Noble Kingdom is rumored to favor the bow. Humans have large crossbows used only for shooting thick, heavy bolts they call “dragon killers”.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Avonoa?
            Mostly horses and wagons are used by humans. Faeries can fly or walk. Centaurs use only their own hooves and dragons their own wings or claws.
*Note: Distance is measured As The Dragon Flies among all creatures! Dragons can fly faster than a horse can run on a straight open space, but obviously for much longer.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Avonoa that we don’t see on Earth?
            Dragon, centaurs, faeries, and possibly small, gray creatures called goblins, but that might just be myth.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Avonoa?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
            Magic, or majik as is it known in Avonoa, is widely acknowledged. Every species has majishuns of varying degrees of experience. Anyone can perform majik if they know what to do and how to do it. If not, it can be dangerous and possibly fatal to dabble.
            Majik in Avonoa is usually a mixture of objects, ingredients and/or symbols chanted over with specific incantations in order to achieve a desired outcome. Rhythm and cadence are fundamental in the use of majik as well as majikal objects.
            Objects must be majikally enchanted to use at a later date, such as majikally enchanted glowing orbs used for light, or majikally enchanted cloth that doesn’t get wet. Crystal balls are majikally enchanted crystal and filled with dragon tears. They are used to see the past, present or future, but they’re extremely rare seeing as it’s difficult to find a dragon crying.
            Faeries of Avonoa use majik most often. They have the highest number of master majishuns, or shaman, in Avonoa. A shaman can give many answers to questions and fix many problems, but always at a price. Although the number of faeries in Avonoa is low compared to other species, they are considered the strongest race for their use of majik.
            Since centaurs hate everything to do with faeries, they also avoid majik and its uses. They do have majishuns and lesser shaman among them, but they are usually shunned by other centaurs.
            Humans have few advanced shaman, but they have some. Most faeries try to keep the secrets of majik within their own families, therefore, it’s difficult for humans to find someone to learn from.
            Dragons don’t use majik. They are majikal creatures and each has a strong characteristic of majik, but they don’t put them to use. Although Visi, the prophetess dragon, is a highly skilled shaman, she lives far away from other dragons so they can’t take advantage of her skills.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Avonoa?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
            Any “advanced technology” would be made from majik. Avonoa is still a medieval-type world, but enjoys comforts from common uses of majik.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Avonoa.
            Several varieties of games and sports are common among different species in Avonoa.
            Dragons enjoy any flying races, like “Catch It”, where an object is thrown and others race to catch it first. However, the most popular game would be “Tossing Riddles”, where they throw riddles back and forth to each other. But don’t be the one to “drop it”!
            Centaurs play games of strength and agility. They love doing obstacle courses!
            Among faeries the most popular sport is a game called Touratege. A small ball is bounced between hands and feet while participants fly across a field trying to place it in the opposing basket.
            Humans play similar games to all of these, but the most popular sport is fighting. Human men from all over Avonoa will gather to watch fighting matches between champions. This sport is the major reason humans are seen as barbaric by other species.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Avonoa as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
            Number of days of the week are the same, although they have different names and aren’t mentioned for clarity sake. (Besides, dragons don’t worry about such things.) Months of the year are different though. There are fifteen months in the year. The year is separated up into five three-month seasons. Those seasons are; spring, summer, autumn, winter then fall. Rain doesn’t stop often in fall and this is the season in which book two is written. Book one is written in the winter preceding.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Avonoa?  Please describe what it involves.
            Almost everyone in Avonoa believes and worships (in some form or another) in the Seven High Gods of Avonoa. Those gods are: Shurka, god of the sun; Shurta, god of the moons; Khurta, god of the stars; Kruh, god of the clouds; Tarsa, god of the wind; Tarka, god of flight; Tartaku, god of the sky. There are numerous lesser gods who are worshipped as well.
            There is one group of humans called the Hamees who only believe in one all-knowing, all-powerful god. They are often ridiculed and scorned for their beliefs, but they are a peaceful people. They take solemn oaths to care for others and always be honest.

What is the political or government structure in Avonoa?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
            Avonoa is divided into five kingdoms. King Philip rules the Noble Kingdom, King Torodov rules the Courageous Kingdom, Queen Sarador rules the Allegiant Queendom, King Theodor rules the Honorable Kingdom, and King Grisivere rules the Just Kingdom.
            The rulers emulate the characteristics of their kingdom. While the Just Kingdom is just in their punishments, they might be less brave to face those punishments than someone from the Courageous Kingdom, etc.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Avonoa?
            All species and kingdoms have nuances in their everyday way of life. For the most part, humans are accepting of foreigners and their misunderstanding of those nuances. Humans would be more forgiving than other species.
            Among faeries, never bring up the centaurs. Among centaurs, never use faerie language or speak of faerie culture. And, of course, dragons and centaurs can’t stand humans, but faeries tolerate them.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
            Not really, I try to make everything as unique and individual as possible. I love dragons, that’s why I write books from a dragon’s point-of-view. I did name the three highest-ranking centaurs after my three kids. I love names and when I hear a name I like, I’ll use it in my writing. Like Priya, I met an awesome Indian woman named Priya and I had to use it for an amazing dragon!
            The biggest thing inspired by my own life is the season of Fall. I love rain, so I decided to create a season just for me. Three months of nothing but rain!

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
            I try to avoid controversy in my writing, but a major issue all these creatures have is not accepting each other for their beliefs and cultures. In the second book, The Shadow of Avonoa, the protagonist, Hiro, begins to see how those judgments against other species might be wrong. Book three, The Heart of Avonoa, is where Hiro really begins to change his mind and heart about the differences between others and himself.

Author Autobiography:
            I was born in Berlin, Germany as an army ‘brat’. Early in life I found a love for telling stories, but when my parents told me to stop lying I kept them inside my head. When I got older (and hopefully wiser) I decided to turn those ‘lies’ into stories again. I began a serious (if you can call fantasy ‘serious’) writing career in 2010. The Secret of Avonoa is my first published novel with book two in the Avonoa series, titled The Shadow of Avonoa, NOW AVAILABLE!! I also have a couple of modern-day sci-fi novels that I plan to re-vamp into young adult novels when my dragon series is finished. I currently live in Minnesota (yes, by choice) with my husband and our three kids.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book?
AMAZON! The Secret of Avonoa is available in paperback or on Kindle. The Shadow of Avonoa is available in paperback, I’m still working on getting it available on Kindle, but hopefully soon!

Where can readers connect with you online?
Facebook and Twitter are great, but my website is best!

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Avonoa.  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 the fantasy world of Aria, in Realm Explorers Part LXV!
-Annie Douglass Lima

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