Monday, March 21, 2016

Realm Explorers Part XCII: Visit Gwenlais and Heathwin with M.T. Magee

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. This one is temporarily being discounted to just 99 cents!

Author’s name:
M.T. Magee

Title of book and/or series:
The Treasure of Gwenlais  The Rienfield Chronicles Book 1

Brief summary of the story:
Princess Laurel of Gwenlais finds herself tragically and quickly thrust into a world of danger, so unlike the idyllic and sheltered life she has known. These dangers from an unknown enemy also unexpectedly throw her into the arms of Caleb, the warrior Prince of Heathwin, the nearby kingdom with which Gwenlais has a tense alliance.  The more refined people of Gwenlais find their neighbors and protectors of the West necessary, but consider them uncouth and sometimes barbaric. The long and bloody feud between Heathwin and the mysterious, frightening, and misunderstood, race of beings called the Rabkins, had finally reached an uneasy truce, by the hard fought and diligent efforts of Prince Caleb. This fragile agreement was soon shattered by an attack from outside that threatens both kingdoms of Gwenlais and Heathwin. Laurel and Caleb find themselves not only fighting for the peace and existence of their kingdoms, but fighting for their newfound love that is imperiled at every turn from a nameless enemy, and their own people as well.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The world I have created comes from the inspiration of both my Scottish heritage and my husband’s Irish descent, with pride and respect for both cultures. The beauty of the Scottish Highlands, as well as the lush rolling meadows of Ireland, serve as a backdrop for the mythical realm of Rienfield. Many of the names of villages and towns that are used are actual names of towns and villages of Scotland and Ireland. They are used in direct correlation for what their rich past made them known for and is applied with loving respect for their history in the story. Many of the names of the characters are Irish, Scottish, or Gaelic, again showing my love and admiration for our heritages. The characters also speak Old Irish, from time to time, referring to it as ‘old speak.’

If we were to visit the kingdoms of Gwenlais and Heathwin, as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
If you were to visit the kingdom of Heathwin in the Planting season (spring) you would be able to enjoy the wonderful Planting Festival. Filled with music, dancing, visiting merchants, and wonderful food. If you were visiting the kingdom of Gwenlais during the Harvest Festival, you would see the city of Gwenlais full of merchants and local farmers displaying their crafts and local crops. As well as traveling minstrels, acrobats, and even the Princes of Heathwin would be there as well.   

What dangers should we avoid in Gwenlais and Heathwin?
In Gwenlais there is always a danger of raiders or highway men so best to not travel alone on the roadways at night. In Heathwin the land is much wild and untamed. Creatures such as Dragon’s Tooth, and Boracs live in the deep forest. A Dragon’s Tooth in a man eating plant which closely resembles a mossy tree stump. It had poisonous tendrils which feel out for unsuspecting victims, then quickly grabs them dragging them to their waiting jaws. The Boracs are clumsy but vicious creatures the size of large dogs. They are hairless with long tails and hides, with large floppy ears almost hiding their faces, covering their long jaws filled with sharp teeth. They will catch and eat anything in their path if they can.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Gwenlais or Heathwin?
Gwenlais is a kingdom of rich farmlands. So anything from their many farms and gardens is always on the menu. They are particularly proud of their honey, which they make mead with. And raise an ugly little animal called a Gork. It resembles a small wooly pig with horns and a rather large head. However, it is prized for its succulent rich meat. In Heathwin, most of their produce and crops come from Gwenlais, but they have lovely apple orchards, and also enjoy wild game such as venison, wild boar, and salmon.   

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Gwenlais and Heathwin?
The warriors are mainly from the kingdom of Heathwin and are typical of the fighting style of Medieval Scotland and Ireland, between the 12th and 15th centuries. Broad swords, long bows, cross bows, as well as hand to hand are used. They also train and use large cats called Scimitar Cats, because of their long front fangs for defense and to track slavers and raiders.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Gwenlais or Heathwin?
Again what was commonly used in Medieval times, wagons, horses, boats, oxen carts, etc.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Gwenlais and Heathwin that we don’t see on Earth?
As mentioned earlier, Dragon Tooth, Borac, Gorks. But also glow moths, tiny blue sprite dragons, that glow blue at night. Also the noble and misunderstood race called Rabkins. That is the fellow you see peering out of the woods on the cover. Though they appear to be animals, they are actually an intelligent and mysterious race of beings that at first only Prince Caleb of Heathwin can talk to. There is also the Kadesh. They look like to be child-sized people who resemble rodents. They are traveling merchants, love bright colored clothing, and are Prince Caleb’s favorite informers, as they travel throughout the realm of Rinefield.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people there?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
I really don’t use magic, hence no wizards or magicians. Rather I use abilities that certain races such as the Rabkins have. The characters have to work so to speak to achieve their agendas. Knowledge in highly regarded. Princess Laurel, the heroine, leans to become a healer or Ollam, as they are called. Scribes are the record keepers and spiritual leaders of the people.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Gwenlais or Heathwin?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Only the use of colored stones surgically implanted into the skulls of the Scimitar Cats to help control them.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Gwenlais or Heathwin.
All the people of both kingdoms enjoy music, dancing, and playing games such as Fidchell (ancient game of checkers) Tablut (ancient game of chess) Pass the Boar (a dice game favored among children) as well as reading, horseback riding, especially in Heathwin. Both Kingdoms love art and sculptures. Archery is a favorite sport in both kingdoms as well.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Gwenlais and Heathwin as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
Seasons are mentioned such as Winter, Planting season, Growing season, and Harvest season.
NO days of the week are mentioned, a month is a month, two weeks is called a fortnight. Festivals in Planting and Harvest are celebrated. The royal family in Heathwin has a Family gathering yearly in winter. Another example is instead of saying a person is so many years they say seasons. In the beginning of the story Princess Laurel is 18 seasons, Prince Caleb is 28 seasons.  

Is there a particular religion practiced in Gwenlais and Heathwin?  Please describe what it involves.
The people of both kingdoms worship an entity called The Maker. There are no churches or temples, though men called Scribes are considered the spiritual leaders as well as historians and they keep track of all the histories of the realms. The household heads are encouraged to lead their families in a prayer of thanks at meals and gatherings.  One day out of the week is considered a day of Prayer and Reflections, where local businesses are closed and families are encouraged to spend the day together at home in prayer and reflection.

What is the political or government structure in Gwenlais and Heathwin?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she? Iwenlais is a monarchy fashioned after the early rulers of Britain. King Garron is the ruler at this time. He is a fair and just ruler, though he does tend to still carry the old bigotries of his father and grandfather in regards the people of Heathwin, who they have an alliance with.  In Heathwin the structure of rule is very fashioned after the Clans of Scotland, with King Fergus, Prince Caleb’s father, being the king and Chieftain of his Clan. He is a well loved and respected leader as his father and older brothers were harsh in their dealings with the other Clans.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit?
The people of Gwenlais, where the heroine Laurel is from, tend to consider themselves more refined, never really having to fight or defend themselves as the Sentinels, or warriors of Heathwin do this for them, in exchange for growing crops and livestock for Heathwin. The people of Heathwin tend to be more relaxed and sometimes bawdy in their behavior, which those of Gwenlais tend to find uncouth. Both tend to misunderstand each other often. The ruling family of Heathwin and their Clan as well as the Sentinels, speak “old speak”, which is actually Irish Gaelic. Caleb then begins to teach Laurel how to speak it as they draw closer. I loved introducing this aspect into the story. Readers will never have to wonder what is being said as I make the dialogue meaning clear, with the explanation given by the characters.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book? My grandparents are from Scotland and my husband’s family from Ireland, county Clare to be exact. We both have a love of history and the medieval period is my favorite. I also enjoyed studying Irish Gaelic.

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
Without standing on a soap box, I do touch on the subject of brutality against women, as it sadly has become a trend in many genres. Basically making it something that is frowned upon, especially by the younger generation. As well as the prejudices and misunderstandings of different races and cultures towards each other.

Author Autobiography:
My name is M.T. Magee and I live in New England on our small farm with my husband and son. We raise an assortment of silly goats, quiet rabbits, far too many ducks and chickens, and a high strung Border collie cross named Gronk. I have always loved fantasy and fell in love with Tolkien at age eleven. I read all of his works at age twelve. I have been writing stories since I was ten years old and have always wanted to be an author. After fulfilling my dream of becoming a nurse, marrying the love of my life and having two wonderful sons, I have finally been able to fulfill my first dream of publishing my first book. My youngest son is severely disabled and I am his full-time caregiver. The long winter months here in New England make it virtually impossible to go out very often, so I used this time to begin my story The Treasure of Gwenlais. Fifteen months and 1144 pages later I am very happy to present my story to all of you. I love strong female characters, who are still able to convey a sense of vulnerability and be very relatable. I also love strong male leads who are not afraid to show their soft side. Love of family is important to me as I am sure it is to everyone and I convey this in my story. So welcome to the world I have created and I hope you enjoy visiting often.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book? 
My book is currently in e-book format, and I am very happy to announce I am now having a promotion running from Mar.21st until the 25th for .99 regularly 3.99.  I currently have over 20 five star reviews.*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Where can readers connect with you online? 
I have a lovely website with beautiful pictures, music, excerpts, and reviews.

I have a twitter acct.

My author page on Facebook

As well as my Gwenlais board on Pinterest where you can see the inspirations behind the story as well as the next books that will be coming in the series.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Gwenlais and Heathwin.  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 Lael, in Realm Explorers Part XCIII!
-Annie Douglass Lima


Michele Morin said...

New series to me! Thanks for such a comprehensive review!

Tina at said...

I love the cover of this book. I found myself studying the details of it! Thanks for being a part of Booknificent Thursday this week on! Always great to have you!