The Problem of Power
As some of you may know, the Saga of Magiskeep began when I assigned my English class a short story writing topic: What would you do if you had a magic power? What would that power be and what would you do with it?
My students challenged me to write a story too and that idea eventually expanded into Kingdom Beyond the Rim.
It seems like a simple enough question and certainly one to inspire all kinds of fun ideas. But like nearly everything in the world, there can be another side to it all. Even in the world of fantasy, actions have consequences, and Magic is no exception.
Just recently on Facebook, one of my fellow authors posted the statement that Magic must have a price to pay, and asked us other authors what the price of Magic was in our fantasy worlds.
In Magiskeep, using Magic usually does not "cost" a Magician anything. Gifted with the talent to cast spells, Magicians do not lose strength, suffer pain, or lose anything when they use Magic. But, their actions do have the consequences of whatever happens because of Magic. As a result, the wiser Masters of Magiskeep have set down Rule and Vow: "Magic is the power, no other need be sought. If deeds for any other need be done then deeds had best be deeds undone." This concept, a bit of a conundrum, sums up one of the main themes of the Saga. Magic is power, so the moral Magician does not need to seek any other power--including power over other people just for the sake of power. If he/she feels the urge to use Magic to take over others lives, or simply gain more power, than better not to use Magic at all.
Rule and Vow are intended to control the conflict that could arise with one Magician dueling another to see who is strongest in the Magic. It also stops Magicians from trying to dominate others with Magic, forcing them into submission.
From this concept arise some of the important conflicts in the Saga. The first example, of course, is the Master of Magiskeep himself, Sagari. A Seven Arts Mage, blessed with more Magic skills than anyone else in his world, Sagari rules the Keep with an arrogant hand. He resents anyone who challenges him and certainly uses his power to control others.
In essence, he can have anything he wants.
Instead of needing to seek more power, his "problem" is what to do with the power he possesses. In his case, this leads to discontent. One way he tries to satisfy himself is by conquering others--in particular women. He is surrounded by powerful female Masters of Magic. Nearly equal to him in their skill, his only means of dominating them is physical. A battle of Magic would be dangerous and unsatisfying. So, he chooses to satiate his need for control by sexual assaults. Conquering a woman is one of the few things in his life that poses any kind of challenge at all to a man whose Magic can give him most anything else he may want. But a woman who does not want him becomes a tempting mark for his advances.
Sagari is not at all content with his control in Magiskeep and seeks to conquer the rest of Turan. Becuase of the abuse of power, Magic and Magicians had been driven from the rest of Turan in ancient times, in an event called "Wizardchase." While they were not actually ever conquered, social pressure and a certain sense of morality on the part of the Sorcerers made their leaving more a matter of choice. At that time, the enchanted mountains of the Rim were erected to separate Magiskeep from the rest of the world.
But the end of Magic did not end the abuse of power in mortal Turan. That world too had its dictators in the form of petty lords and ruthless princes, who found themselves always seeking ways to control others.
In the Saga, the hero, Jamus constantly faces the battle of power's corruption. His own Magic power has an uncontrollable allure to other Magicians, particularly women. Like many in the world of the Saga, the desire for power and control often overrrides reason and common sense. Jamus, the ultimately moral man, must thread his way through the many snares such desire sets for him.
Must power corrupt? Can a man be stronger than power's temptation?
That is the question of the Saga of Magiskeep.