Monday, March 13, 2017

Realm Explorers Part XCVII: Visit Tamarin with Elise Edmonds

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:

Elise Edmonds

Title of book and/or series:

Where Carpets Fly

Brief summary of the story:

Mystery and adventure meet in a magical land of flying carpets, vibrant cities, and seafaring folk. Follow Elina Faramar’s journey from the village flying carpet shop to magic school in town. What’s her new magic teacher hiding? Why won’t anyone discuss the nearby, volatile country of Pallexon? The situation turns to a nightmare when friend Kara is mistaken for a spy. Can Elina’s wits and magic save Kara and unravel Pallexon’s secrets?

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

Elina lives in the fantasy country of Tamarin. It's a southern country with a warm climate. The country is split in two by a large river, and most towns are situated on or close to the river, where it's most fertile. The Sultan, the ruler of Tamarin, lives in a large palace in an island town called The Delta, situated at the southern mouth of the river. Elina starts life in the northern village of Darien, living with her parents above the family flying carpet shop, and then moves to the nearby town of Kamikan to live with her aunt.

The country of Tamarin has vibes of various Mediterranean and Arabian real-world cultures, with various magical elements. The story has an urban feel, and the tech is at a reasonable level of civilisation, but magic is the focus of the country's tech, rather than innovations like steam. Elina begins to uncover a mystery about the neighbouring country of Pallexon: this country is more technologically developed, but does not have magic. Pallexon has a cooler climate, and the feel I've gone for is more akin to Victorian England.

If we were to visit Tamarin as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?

I would recommend that you arrive during one of the quarterly Festivals. Entertainments will keep you busy for the whole weekend. The Kamikan circus is particularly celebrated, and you will see wonders like the exotic trained horses from Pallexon – a real rarity, and Elemental Magic acrobats who have amazing displays of fire and water power. Following that, the pygmy camel races are always fun, and you can finish the day off trying the various types of street food while watching a firework display.

What dangers should we avoid in Tamarin?

Tamarin itself is a pretty safe place to be at the moment. But political undercurrents are running quite high. It's probably best not to ask too many questions about the neighbouring country of Pallexon—people might think you are a spy.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Tamarin?

Traditional Tamarin food is based around lamb or chicken in a spiced sauce. They use many spices, such as cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and pepper, together with combinations of dried fruit like raisins and apricots, to create tasty stews. These meals are often served with couscous or flat bread, and finished off with mango slices and the obligatory pot of mint tea.

In recent years, imports from other countries have increased, and you'll find dishes that come from other cultures: roast dinners, and pies, for example – but the Tamarins often put their own twist to these dishes and make them their own.

Street food is common and everything from meat kebabs to sticky sweets to ice cream can be found, particularly at festival time.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Tamarin?

In the last war, between Tamarin and Pallexon ten years ago, the main types of warfare were armoured flying carpets, and naval warfare. The Tamarins had an advantage with their flying carpets, because at that stage, the Pallexis had no airborne weapons, but the Pallexis traditional firearms were very effective against them. The Pallexi naval fleet was also extremely powerful despite having no magic, and the war ended in a stalemate and the current uneasy treaty.

The Tamarins have some magical firearms—mainly combining the standard kind of firearms with Elemental power. There is the steam-rifle, which shoots deadly jets of steam, and the flame-rifle, which shoots fireballs. Both weapons do away with the need for bullets. The Tamarins also have Elemental grenades, which explode with the force of the particular element contained inside them: fire, water, earth, or air, creating violent earthquakes or tornados for example.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Tamarin?

The main type of transport is the flying carpet. These come in all shapes and sizes—and to suit every budget. There are tiny one-person carpets, enormous family-sized carpets with special restraints for children, and commercial carpets with the ability to secure packages below them. Inside city limits, both speed and height are highly regulated, but outside the city, the rules are relaxed. The one flaw of flying carpets is that cannot fly over large bodies of water or areas of extremely high humidity (for example, the jungle) because they absorb the water over time and sink, losing the ability to fly.

For those who don't like or can't afford a flying carpet, a pygmy camel is the best option. They are hardy little beasts, capable of carrying decent loads and going for long distances.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Tamarin that we don’t see on Earth?

The plants and animals you see would be very similar to somewhere like those you would see in southern Spain or Morocco. Houses favour climbing plants and decorative trees like palm trees.

The most unusual race you will come across are the river fairies. The majority of people treat them as akin to insects or birds, but those who have skill in Biological Magic know better. The fairies are sentient, and rumours abound that they might also have a sixth sense. A few people can communicate with them, but it tends to be trivial conversation. The fairies love to play with people swimming in the river, particularly children. They prefer the more rural areas, but it's not unusual to see them in a town, however they do tend to keep more of a distance when there are crowds of people around.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Tamarin?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.

There are four branches of magic in Tamarin: Tangible, Elemental, Biological, and Cognitive. Most Tamarins can do one or more types of magic, generally based on inheritance, and the amount of work they put in to develop the skill.

Tangible Magic is the ability to move physical, non-living items. For example, you could use it to shift heavy items around in your home—boxes, furniture, etc. It's also possible to create a Tangible Charm that means an object can be moved with the use of a verbal command by anyone—this is how flying carpets are created.

Elemental Magic is the manipulation of the four elements: fire, water, earth and air. At it's most basic level, it's good for chores like digging the garden! At the other end of the scale, the navy use Elemental magicians to steer ships by manipulating the wind and the sea.

Biological Magic is the skill of talking to plants and animals. Plants are mastered first, and those with this skill are excellent gardeners! From there, people move on to talking to small creatures such as birds, before progressing to larger animals. Once you become proficient at talking to plants, you can persuade them to grow in certain ways and produce better fruit. You can even use them as basic weapons, using climbing plants to wrap around people's ankles, for example!

Cognitive Magic is the ability to read people's minds, and to telepathically communicate with other Cognitive users. It's a secretive kind of magic, and many people are not even aware it exists, because it tends to be used for government surveillance and kept very quiet. It's possible to read the surface thoughts of another person without them being aware of it, but reading further into someone's mind can be painful for them and can cause damage, so this is a highly regulated type of magic. On the more benign front, it's used by mental health healers to treat diseases of the mind.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Tamarin? If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.

Another common use of magical technology is the glow globes. These are the equivalent of lamps and torches. They are spherical globes, that produce a glowing light when tapped—a result of an Elemental Magic Charm. Every home has glow globes. Some with the skill will permanently suspend them in midair and move them around as needed. Other people merely buy special stands to place them in. A lot of people carry a miniature version in their bag or pocket.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Tamarin.

Most villages are situated on the river's edge. Consequently, most children can swim as soon as they can walk, and spend the little leisure time they have in or by the river. Older children will have flying carpet races outside the city limits, although these have a disreputable nature and a tendency to attract trouble.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Tamarin as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?

Tamarin has the same calendar as Earth. They celebrate quarterly festivals based around the solstices/equinoxes. Each festival lasts for a whole weekend, and a large proportion of the population takes the time as holiday.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Tamarin? Please describe what it involves.

No, Tamarin is a secular country.

What is the political or government structure in Tamarin?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?

Tamarin is ruled by the Sultan, from his palace in the Delta. The Sultan's prime minister and chief adviser is the Grand Vizier. Each individual town is ruled by a Vizier and his committee of advisers. All Viziers report to the Grand Vizier. The position of Sultan passes on a hereditary basis, and the current Sultan's sons are all given positions of responsibility within the kingdom. The current Sultan is a fair and just ruler, and concerned about current relations with Pallexon. He keeps a substantial army and navy.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?

I've been on holiday to Spain, and I'm fond of Mediterranean food—Spanish, Moroccan, Greek, Israeli etc, and some of the culinary and architectural details are based on real-life things that I like. I've always been a big fan of books with flying carpets, and I really built the world up around how I imagined a fantasy world with flying carpets in a more urban contemporary setting, rather than the traditional fairy tale/Arabian nights feel.

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?

Elements of terrorism, slavery, economic struggles, and governmental oppression all come into the story as Elina discovers what really goes on in Pallexon. One of the main themes that comes out of the book is the importance of freedom.

Author Autobiography:

Elise Edmonds is a new writer from the South-West UK. Reading and writing have always been her doorways into another world—a way to escape and spend time walking with wizards, flying with fairies and dealing with dragons. By day she is a finance professional, and in her spare time she pursues writing as a creative outlet, to put the magic back into everyday life. In addition to reading, Elise enjoys watching movies, playing the piano, and going to Zumba classes. Her greatest loves are God, her husband, her family and friends, and her two beautiful cats.

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

Where Carpets Fly is available from Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle ebook.

Where can readers connect with you online? 

My blog: Magic Writer

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Tamarin.  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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