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An Interview with Magister Robiam, the chief Mage in the land of Grosmer. From The Wolf Pack–a fantasy adventure.

This month I have managed to prize an interview out of
Magister Robiam, the chief mage in the Mage Tower in tower-2410961_1280
Hambara.

Me: Thank you very much for allowing me this time in what must be a very busy schedule.

Robiam: Not at all, my dear. We must keep the press happy. Magic is still not fully trusted you know.

Me: After the Mage War and the Forbidding I suppose you mean. Arch-Mage Yssalithisandra told me about that.

Robiam: Yes. I can’t understand why it is taking so long for people to realise that
magic isn’t evil. It’s just a tool, and the users can equally put it to good or bad use. Just as a knife can be used to cut up food for the preparation of a meal, and also to kill or injure someone. The knife isn’t evil, just the user.

Me: Quite. You are a magister, sir. Tell me what that means.

Robiam: It is the highest rank that a mage can reach. When an apprentice passes
his or her tests, they are welcomed into the ranks of mages and go by the title
of simply ‘Mage’. The first year of their ‘mageship’ if you wish to call it that, is a
probationary year. They cannot ‘fail’ this year though. It is mainly to let people know
that this person is very newly qualified. Thus, folk know that their experience is limited
and not expect too much of them. The probation can be extended or shortened.
depending on the mage in question.

Me: What happens after the probation is finished?

Robiam: The mage continues to be a simple mage until, or if, they reach a certain
standard when they will become an Arch-Mage. Many do not progress beyond
being a simple Mage of course.

Me: And to progress to Magister an Arch-Mage must reach another, much higher
standard?

Robiam: You’ve got it; but the level for Magister is extremly high and few manage
to make it.

Me: So there are only 3 ‘levels’ in the magic profession?

Robiam: Yes. Of course, once there were many more. Newly-qualified mages were
known as a Conjurors, then they would progress to Magicians, Sorcerors, Wizards etc.

Me: Why was this scrapped?

Robiam: It was too cumbersome, and mages are rather fond of their independence. They are free spirits, if you like. They do not like to be regimented, and so it was simplified.

Me: Why not do away with ranks completely then?

Robiam: It was suggested, but the Magister in charge of the Tower at the time thought
that the general public should have at least some idea of the power of the mage they
were dealing with, and so it was decided to retain 3 ranks. (Although if you consider it,
there are really 4, including the probationary mages.)

Me: Thank you for making that clear, Magister. I was wondering, however, ahout those
who fail their mage tests. What happens to them?

Robiam: Unfortunately there are always a few who have a little magic but insufficient to pass the tests. We do not turn them out into the world to create havoc, which they could easily do. We make them associates of the Tower and they become entertainers, keep shops selling magic items, become adventurers etc.

Me: Thank you very much, Magister for your time.

If you would like to know more about the magic on Vimar, the world in which Magister Robiam and the other people I’ve interviewed live, you can buy the first two books in the Wolves of Vimar Series, available from Amazon in ebook ot paperback formats. They are The Wolf Pack and The Never-Dying Man. Follow these links.

http://mybook.to/thewolfpack/

http://mybook.to/NeverDying/

If you have read either or both of these books I would be most grateful if you would post a review, Reviews are important to authors because it is the main way that other people find their books. If you have done so, or are going to do so, Thank you very much.

Book Release

The Stones of Earth and Air will be released next week. It’s book 1 in Elemental Worlds. Here’s a bit about it.

earth-and-air

Pettic is the best friend of Torren, the Crown Prince of Ponderia. When Torric starts behaving out of character, Pettic sets about trying to find out why. He discovers that Torren has been kidnapped and a doppleganger put in his place.

He decides he cannot let his friend remain a prisoner, nor allow the cruel impostor to remain as Crown Prince and ultimately King as he would no doubt become a tyrant. Pettic therefore sets about rescuing his friend.
He discovers that Torren is imprisoned in a mini-plane created by a magician. The only way in is using four gems associated with the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

There is a problem, though. Each gem has been hidden on one of the four Elemental Worlds. Pettic resolves to enter each of these worlds and find the gem. How can he find a single gem in a whole world, though? And he can’t return without the gem.

On each world, he has to perform a task to help the inhabitants.

Can he discover the gems, or will he remain trapped on one of the worlds? What are the tasks he has to perform, and can he get back and then enter the mini-plane and rescue Torren before the false prince becomes king?

Strangeness in the English Language

English is a strange language. There are many words spelled the same but pronounced differently, also there are words pronounced the same, but spelled differently. then there are words that are the same in spelling and pronunciation but have different meanings, depending on context.

The strangest, in my opinion, are words ending in -ough.

We have:

 Though, pronounced ‘tho’
 Bough, pronounced ‘bow’. (although that in itself has different pronunciations)
 Enough, pronounced ‘enuf’
 Thought, pronounced ‘thort’
 Through, pronounced ‘threw’

No wonder foreigners have some difficulty with it, although (another one, similar to ‘though’, here) it seems they are able to manage quite well if the number of foreigners who speak the language extremely well is anything to go by.

I was in an Italian restaurant in Germany and was greatly amused to see the German waiter speaking to a French customer in English. This also happened when I was in Croatia. The Croatian receptionist spoke to a visitor, whom I think was Russian, in English. These strange inconsistencies seem not to faze them, even if they confuse some native speakers!

Horselords Part 2

This is the second part of the story of Kimi and Davrael from The Wolves of Vimar Series.

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Kimi shivered as she contemplated her fate. These men were not going to kill her. That was not what they wanted or they would have done so already. Did they want a hostage to ransom? That was not the style of the Tribes. They simply came and took what they wanted. Horses mainly. They did not use money and they measured their wealth by the number and quality of their animals.

Her musings came to an end when she found herself pulled roughly from her horse. Someone untied her feet so she could stand, and a tall man came over.

‘Who is this?’ he queried in a booming voice.

‘She’s a settler.’ one of her captors replied. ‘She came after us so we ambushed her and brought her here.’

The tall man circled Kimi, looking her up and down as if she were a piece of horseflesh.

‘Not much to look at, is she?’ he said. ‘Plain face, and small. Still, she’s got nice eyes, and lovely, thick, brown hair. I’m not sure how she’ll be at bearing children, though.’

Kimi’s eyes opened wide as she realised what this man was saying. They were going to use her as breeding stock, just like a mare. Something snapped in t he girl’s mind and she kicked out at the tall man.

‘I’m not a mare to be put to the stallion,’ she responded, eyes blazing.

The men all laughed, and the tall man called another young man over, who was looking the stolen horses over. When he arrived, Kimi saw a likeness between him and the tall man and concluded the younger one was his son.

‘What do you think of this girl?’ asked the tall man.

The younger man looked her up and down as his father had done and said, ‘She’s very plain, and a bit small. She may not be able to bear children successfully.
His father frowned. ‘She has spirit, though. That is what we need in the tribe. None of your submissive women. That’s fine in a woman, but not if she breeds children like herself. We need women with spirit. I like this girl. You will marry her.’

With that, he stalked off. leaving the young men all staring at Kimi.

The chief’s son, for the tall man was the tribal chief, told the others to take her to a tent and to make sure she could not escape. Struggle as she might, Kimi was not strong enough to break the hold of t he man holding her and she found herself thrust into a tent. The man then tied her to the tentpole by her wrists.

Kimi struggled to no avail, only succeeding in chafing her wrists. Then the tentflap opened and the chief’s son entered.
‘What’s your name?’ he demanded.

Kimi made no reply, but turned her head away. The chief’s son grabbed her chin and turned her head back towards him.

‘Answer me when I speak to you.’

Kimi spat in his face and received a blow across her cheek for her insult.

As he wiped the spittle from his cheek, the young man stood.

‘We have your best horses now, and you, so we’ll be leaving in the morning. My father says we must be married, but that won’t happen before we get far away, back to our own territory, the territory of the Prowling Lynx. I will have my tattoos done to show I’m the son of the chief and then we’ll be married.’

He started to leave the tent, but turned and kicked out at Kimi, landing a kick on her left leg.

‘You’re not what I’d have chosen. There are plenty beautiful women in the tribe who would jump at the chance of marrying me. Still, my father says I must marry you, so I’ll do so. Those other women will still be anxious to be my lovers.’

He laughed as he left Kimi alone to consider her fate.

Kimi could not help it. She tried not to, but tears pooled in her eyes, and try as she might, they overflowed and fell onto the tent floor.

During he next few days Kimi had some relief from the taunts of her husband-to-be as he was busy erecting and taking down tents before moving off, or herding the horses, who tried constantly to turn back to their old home.

It started again each evening. though. The young man came to her tent and insulted her, or kicked and hit her. Kimi determined not to allow him to make her cry. At least not in front of him. but once he left for his own tent, she allowed the tears to fall.

How long would it take to reach the lands of the Prowling Lynx tribe? She hoped it was a very long time, She prayed that her father could raise some of the settlers and come after her. Then she prayed they would not, because many would be killed in the fight that ensued.

Eventually, she decided she would be co-operative in order to lull this raiding party into thinking she had become resigned to her fate. Perhaps she could manage to spot an opportunity to escape.

England–A Poem

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That misty isle across the sea
Will always be a home to me.
The cliffs of white that guard our shores,
The rolling Downs, the bleak, cold moors,
The skylark with his liquid song
Soaring high above the throng
Of hikers, picnickers and such,
Whose hearts he never fails to touch.

The little streams and brooks do run
Through woodlands, glistening in the sun.
The little fish are swimming here;
A kingfisher is always near.
A flash of blue above the stream,
A dive–then gone, that silver gleam
Of minnows. Gone to feed his brood
In holes, all waiting for their food.

In cities where the pigeons fly
The wind-blown litter flutters by.
The cars and buses, cycles too,
Line up at lights, forming a queue.
The city’s clamorous roar assaults
The ears, but never, ever halts.
The busy folk all rushing past
They never slow, time goes so fast.

The little market towns do snooze.
The slightest little thing is news.
In pretty villages with greens
Are cottages with oaken beams.
The church bells echo o’er the fields
Calling us with merry peals
As they have done for many a year
Bringing hope and lots of cheer.

This land does not a climate boast,
Just weather, blown from coast to coast.
All in one day this land can get
All four seasons, sun and wet.
Though no extremes do us attack
Do not go out without a mac
For rain can come at any time,
Though rarely with a gale force nine.

The English folk are stubborn, too
As we evinced in World War two.
We do not push, but stand in line
Waiting patiently ’til it’s time.
We do not wail and wave our arms,
For such behaviour has no charms.
But when we’re roused, then just watch out!
We’ll demonstrate, wave flags and shout.

And so my country is unique;
Its people are not really meek.
An upper lip that’s stiff conceals
A wicked humour that reveals
Our lack of deference for power,
Our love for bird and bee and flower.
Abroad may have its charms, it’s true
But England’s magic’s ever new.

V.M.Sang
April 2014

 

 

How to correct two simple wordprocessing errors.

There are two things that I want to tell you today. they are things that annoy me somewhat when I come across them. the first is how to create superscripts and subscripts.
So often I read 25C or H2O. They are both wrong. The Celcius scale is measured in degrees. and the formula for water needs the dropped 2 or it means, if it means anything, one atom of hydrogen and two of oxygen Which is an impossibility anyway.
This is a very simple thing to rectify. Simply click on ‘format’ on the toolbar and click on Font.
You will get the following window opening.

Capture

Check the superscript or subscript box, whichever you want and click OK. Then type what you want to be super- or subscripted. Go back to Format, Font and uncheck the bod. Click OK and you’re ready to go.

Unfortunately, WordPress does not recognise the superscript nor the subscript, and when I copied this into WordPress, it came out without these corrections. I had to remove the corrected words.

 

 

The other thing that irritates me when reading is when there is an apostrophe at the beginning of a word. (such as ’till, an abbreviation of until) So often, this comes out as ‘till, which is. of course a quotation mark and not an apostrophe. (A quotation mark that is not closed, either.)
In order to prevent this, it is very simple. You can fool Word into thinking it’s an apostrophe in the middle of a word by not pressing the space bar until after you’ve typed the two words.
EG. Wait here’till I arrive.

Then you simply go back and put in the space. Word will then keep the apostrophe the right way round.

Wait here ’till I arrive.

Both quite simple really, but are usually done wrongly, either because the writer knows no better, or through ignorance of the means to correct it.

Horselords

Kimi and Davrael are two of the group who call themselves The Wolf Pack. I have been serialising some of the earlier stories of these friends on the first Tuesday of the month. so far I’ve done Carthinal’s parents and Aspholessaria, known as Asphodel.

horses

Kimi woke to hear sounds of horses whinneying. A gate creaked and then she heard galloping hooves. She quickly jumped from her bed and went to the window of her small bedroom. There, in the darkness, she could just make out a herd of horses disappearing across the plains.

She ran to her parent’s bedroom and woke them.

‘The horses have been stolen,’ she called as she turned to her brothers’ bedroom.

Her father leaped out of bed and ran to his window. This looked out over the back of the ranch where there were two corralls of some of the best horses on Vimar. He saw that these had not been touched, but these were not his best animals. The one Kimi’s room overlooked held those.

‘Are you sure, Kimi?’ he called to her as she woke her two brothers. He knew she would not have made such a mistake, but he felt he had to ask.

The girl came out of her brothers’ room, followed by the young men,Yeldin and Olias. The boys were older than their sister, Yeldin being the elder at almost twenty, and Olias was eighteen. Kimi would be seventeen at her next birthday in two months’ time.

‘Of course I’m sure,’ she said. ‘I heard the gate creak, then galloping. I looked and saw them galloping off over the plains.’

Olias looked at his sister. ‘Are you sure they didn’t just jump the gate, or otherwise break it themselves. Did you see anyone?’

Kimi looked at her brother and sighed.

‘I’m not an imbecile, Oli,’ she told him. ‘The gate was open. Unless the horses have now developed a way of opening the gate, someone did it for them.’

‘The Tribes,’ said her father, pulling on his trousers as he came out of the room he shared with his wife. ‘It must be one of the Tribes. Thieving scum that they are.’

The family was one of a number of settled folk living close to The Barrier, the range of mountains that cut off the Western Plains from the rest of the continent of Khalram.

Once they had been of the Tribes themselves, following the herds of wild horses that roamed the plains Several generations ago, some of the people had decided they could rear better horses if they had more control and so they settled in one place. There had been enmity between the Tribes and Settlers ever since.

Kimi looked hard at her father.

‘Not all the Tribes are thieves, Dad,’ she told him. ‘Some are, yes. They are jealous of the progress we’ve made in breeding, but not all of them.’

‘A Tribe member is always a thief,’ replied her father in a tone that said he could not be convinced otherwise. ‘Get dressed quickly, pick up your weapons and come with me. We’ve some horses to get back.’
Soon, Kimi and her brothers were cantering westwards after their animals, alongside their parents. All carried bows, and the men were also armed with knives. The tracks were easy to follow. The thieves had taken around twenty of the family’s best animals and they left plenty of signs of their passing.

Then the tracks split into three. Kimi’s father pulled his horse to a halt.

‘They want to confuse us so we don’t know which way to go,’ he said. ‘We’ll need to split up to find them.’

Kimi’s mother pulled her horse nearer to her husband.

‘Do you think it’s a good idea to split?’ she asked him. ‘We’ve no idea how many there are. It might be that there are too many for a couple of us to take on alone. Perhaps we should just go after one group and get those horses back. At least we would have some of our stock.’

‘These are our best animals,’ said Kimi’s father. ‘We need to get them all back. If we allow the thieves to gain even one, they’ll spread the word that we’re easy and keep coming back till we’ve no horses at all.’

The argument went on until Kimi, ever practical, pointed out that while they were arguing, the horses were getting further away. They took a vote, and all voted with their father and so the group split into three.

Kimi found herself with her elder brother, Yeldin. They followed one set of tracks to the south west.

‘Any idea how many are in this lot?’ he asked her. Kimi was a good tracker and she descended from her horse and studied the tracks.

‘I’d say there are nine horses here, but how many are ours and how many are being ridden by the thieves I couldn’t say.’

Yeldin smiled at her. ‘Well, little sis,’ he said, ‘I’m sure we can take them on. Let’s get going.’

They had ridden for several miles when they spotted dust on the horizon.’

‘There they are,’ called Yeldin from ahead. ‘I’ll circle round from the east and you approach from the west.’

Kimi pulled her pieballed horse round and galloped of in a westerly direction. She had her bow ready to fire at any enemy who approached, but she was not prepared for the five warriors who came from out of a stand of trees and surrounded her. They quickly pulled her from her horse and bound her hands and feet, then put her back across her horse so she could only see the ground below as they cantered southwards towards their camp.

What will become of Kimi, captured by one of the Tribes? Find out next month.

 

The Legend of Grillon and Parador.

 

 

Grillon and Parador are two of the gods of Vimar, the world I created when I started to write The Wolves of Vimar Series.

Grillon is the god of Nature and wild things and Parador is the goddess of Agriculture. The legend is told each year on the first day of spring, which is also the start of the year on Vimar. The first month of the year is called after Grillon, and is known as Grilldar. It falls roughly the same time as mid-March to mid-April on Earth.

I hope you enjoy this poem, which also appears in the first book of The Wolves of Vimar, The Wolf Pack. The friends spend this day in Roffley on their way to find the Sword of the legendary king, Sauvern, who united the land of Grosmer.

On the eve of Grildar, morality is lax, and there are many children conceived at this time. They are considered as blessed, though, and are thought of as the children of the god, and not conceived of human males.

parador

Legend of Grillon and Parador

One day the Lord of Nature was walking all alone
When beside a hidden pool a lovely sight was shown.
For bathing in the moonlight, where no-one should have been
Was a beauteous maiden, the loveliest he’d e’er seen.

Lord Grillon lost his heart to her
This maiden oh so fair.
He vowed that she would be his own
His life with her would share.

He showed himself at once to her
As forward he did tread.
She said “And who are you, good sir?
Should you not be abed?”

Oh lovely maid, my love, my life,
I ne’er will rest again.
Unless you come to be my wife
My heart will feel such pain.”

And so fair Parador was wed
To Grillon. She agreed
To always sleep within his bed
And others ne’er to heed.

But evil now will turn to dust
That love and bliss
For Barnat after her did lust
And swore she’d be his.

He poisoned Grillon’s mind and said
She was untrue
That she had been into his bed
And others too.

Lord Grillon he was truly sad
That she should treat him so.
He thought that he’d go truly mad
So far from her he’d go.

Now Parador had done no wrong
To deserve this fate.
She could not any more be strong
Beneath Lord Grillon’s hate.

So mourn she did and all the world
Did join with her in sorrow.
All green things died and creatures curled
All safely in their burrow.

But in good time, Lord Grillon found
How false the god of war.
He came to her and he reclaimed
The love of his wife once more.

So once again the land grew green
And springtime came again.
And summer’s warmth and life serene
While she forgot her pain.

And so each year the land remembers
The love of Parador
And autumn comes and winter’s embers
Till Spring returns once more.

Looking Closer at the Semi-colon Used in Lists

Here are some thoughts on the semicolon. I found these ideas very interesting, especially to clarify things in lists.

Diane Tibert

During the writers’ meeting on Tuesday, we discussed the use of semi-colons in a list following a colon. The published historian in the group, an academic professor who knows a great deal about grammar, punctuation and writing in general, brought it up.

In professional academic papers, the rule is that a semi-colon, not the comma, must separate a list of items when preceded by a colon.

For example: The settlers of the area came from many countries: Germany; Switzerland; Poland and Spain.

FREE KINDLE READ:
Shadows in the Stone

However, I have not encountered semi-colons used in this manner, so when I came home, I started to dig. It was difficult finding rules online, so I referred to my trusty handbook The Bare Essentials by Sarah Norton and Brian Green.

It recommended the use of semi-colons in complicated lists. The sentence they used as an example was: A few…

View original post 374 more words

In Defense of Grammar Schools

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There is a debate going on in the UK at the moment about education. As an ex-teacher I am interested in the arguments.

The Conservative Government wants to allow Grammar Schools to be re-established. Before the 1960s there was a system of Grammar Schools and Secondary Modern Schools.

In order to get into a grammar school, all children took an examination at age 11, in the final year of their primary school. It was called the 11+ examination. Those pupils who were in the top percentage got a place in the grammar school. I don’t know what that percentage was, but I have heard it said that the top 25% went to grammar schools.

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The grammar schools were academic schools, and they taught academic subjects. secondary moderns tended not to teach much in the way of languages, for example.

It is said that the future of children was settled at 11, and that was not good, because some children developed later. But the 11+ was not the end. There was a 12+ and a 13+ that pupils could take if they seemed to be developing in a more academic way.

At that time, the school leaving age was 15. The pupils who went to grammar school had to stay on until 16 so they could do the GCE ‘O’ level examination. A few pupils stayed on at secondary modern and did ‘O’ levels as well. If they did well in the examinations, they could then go on to the 6th form in the grammar school or at a college. I have several friends who did this.

During the 1960s, came the advent of the comprehensive school. These schools were deemed to be fairer than the old system. Each neighbourhood took in all the pupils from its catchment area. All went to the same school, regardless of their academic ability. This, it was said, was much fairer. It did not create an elite and a lot of ‘failures’ at the age of 11.

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On the face of it, this seems to be fine, only I think there are a number of flaws in this argument.

The main one, I think is this. Pupils from a given area all go to the local comprehensive school. There is no examination for entry, so no feelings of failure by those who did not pass the 11+.
That sounds fine, but if the neighbourhood school is not very good, all pupils from that particular neighbourhood are being failed.

Children do not get the chance to meet children from a different background, either. They are living with these people, have been brought up in the area, either rich or poor, and so they do not get a rounded picture of society.

The idea was the opposite of this. Pupils attending comprehensive schools were supposed to see all the different types of people. Yes, they saw all the different academic types, but not people from different social backgrounds.

Comprehensive schools were supposed to prevent the feelings of failure by some pupils failing the 11+. I don’t think you can stop pupils from feeling inferior intellectually by lumping them all together. They can see the brighter pupils doing better than them in their academic work. That will make them feel inferior just as much as ‘failing’ the 11+.

One other thing brought about by the introduction of comprehensive schools, is that the education given is a watered-down academic curriculum, which is not suited to all pupils, and has lowered the academic standards for the very brightest pupils.

Grammar schools, they say, create an elite. This is supposed to be bad. In a perfect world, I suppose everyone would have the same academic capabilities, but everyone does not. There are some people who are much cleverer than others. Some say that it is solely due to their background how some people develop, and a middle class background is advantageous. This I would not dispute, but only to a point. There are middle class children who do not excel, and working class ones who do, in spite of their background.

They say that comprehensive schools help social mobility. How? Pupils live and learn in the same area with the same people and values.

In a grammar school, pupils come from all backgrounds and all areas of a town. They mix with each other and get to know something of the lives of each other. Pupils from working class backgrounds can get an academic education, and get away from the schools in their area where ambition is perhaps not so great.

Bright pupils who live in an area with a poor school can get away from that as well.

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It is said that grammar schools have more middle class pupils than working class ones. That is something that can be worked out. ‘They’ say that the exam can be coached and middle class parents are more likely to put up the money for coaching. Well, I went to a grammar school and was coached for the exam, but not by private tutor, which is the perception, but by my primary school. Encourage primary schools in working class areas to coach. Or develop an exam where coaching is no advantage.

There’s always an answer, and in my opinion, the advent of comprehensive schools has lowered standards. When I look at the exams I took at ‘O’ level and the exams pupils take at GCSE, there’s no comparison. We had to write essays. They just have ‘structured questions’, or fill in the blanks.

I see grammar schools as promoting social mobility far more than comprehensive schools in contrast to what the detractors say, that they are elitist and prevent it.

I would love to hear what you think of the grammar school debate.