Tag Archives: v.m.sang

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.

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.

Aspholessaria. Bluehaven

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The journey continued. There were, as Trinelli expected, a number of times her healing skills were called upon. True to her word, Asphodel helped as much as she could. It was little enough, because the girl had not been trained in healing. She knew nothing at all. Not even the simplest remedies used by almost every housewife in the land.
She had been brought up as a privileged daughter of one of the ruling families of Quantissarillishon. Although only minor royalty, she had not had to work, The result was that she knew little of how life would be for most people. She was fascinated by Trinelli’s healing, both the mundane and that which the goddess channelled through her priestess.
One day, after they had been travelling for a week, Asphodel asked Trinelli about her religion.
‘Well,’ began the other woman, ‘What do you know about Sylissa?’
‘Not much, really. We elves tend to worship Grillon, as the god of nature. We know a little of the others, but Grillon is our god, really.’
‘Well, Sylissa is the god of Life and Healing. She is the twin sister of Kalhera, god of Death. They are like two sides of one coin. Sylissa’s colour is white, as you can see from my robes, while Kalhera’s is black.’
Asphodel settled down to listen as Trinelli told her about how Sylissa and Kalhera were the daughters of the Chief of the Gods, Kassilla and her consort, Zol the god of Knowledge and Learning. how each chose some aspect of life to be their jurisdiction.
Because she chose to aid those who were sick, occasionally there were disputes between the two sisters, if Kalhera thought Sylissa were denying death to people, but generally they were on good terms.
The clerics of Sylissa were the doctors and nurses of the world, but they did not rely wholly on the power of the god to cure sickness and injury. No, they learned other ways too, such as herbs, and manipulation. They could set broken bones, although sometimes they would call upon Sylissa to help.
Asphodel became fascinated by this and began to ask questions about the various herbs and other methods Trinelli used, She fould the rest of the journey passed quickly, especially as Trinelli sometimes gave her little things to do.
Just as they approached Bluehaven, Trinelli turned to Asphodel and said, ‘You seem to have some aptitude for healing, you know. Have you ever thought of becoming a healer.’
Asphodel was amazed. The idea had never crossed her mind.
‘I’m not sure I’d make a very good cleric,’ she said.
‘You don’t have to. We have some lay people who help us. Why not come to the temple with me and see the Great Mother there. You can decide then what to do.’
So Asphodel went to see the Great Mother and decided to become a lay healer.
Soon that was not enough, and one night she dreamed of Sylissa.
‘Come and join me,’ the goddess told her. ‘You have great potential. It’s wasted here. Join my clerics.’
So after a year in Bluehaven, Asphodel joined the novices at the temple of Sylissa.

All went well during her first year as a novice. Mother Caldo, the Great Mother of the temple praised the young elf, saying she thought she had great potential, and could rise through the ranks quickly. Mother Caldo told Asphodel that she could probably become a Great Mother herself, such was her potential in healing.
‘There’s just one thing, though,’ Mother Caldo said one day, in conversation with one of the archbishops. She sighed. ‘The girl is lacking in discipline. Sometimes she seems to think she knows better than her superiors.’
One day, the Great Mother called together all the clerics of the church of Sylissa in Bluehaven. She stood in the pulpit of the temple and began to speak.
‘As you all know,’ she began, ‘the annual meeting of all the Most Highs of all the religions was held recently in Asperilla on Holy Island. There, they decided that all the sickness and other problems that surround us are a punishment by the gods for the evil that we do.’
She looked at the paper before her before continuing.
‘The consensus of this meeting was that we should try to eliminate evil from the world. The best way to do this, they said, is to refuse aid to those who perpetrate evil. The discussion, apparently, decided against the active persecution and killing, as this would make us as bad as them. The Most High of Sylissa, therefore, has decreed that we will not give aid or healing to such people.’
She shuffled her papers and left the pulpit. An astounded Asphodel followed her fellow novices from the temple deep in thought.
This cannot be right, she thought. Surely we are supposed to give healing to all comers, regardless of anything they might have done. At least, that’s what I understood I was promising when I took my vows.
She listened to her friends talking, and they all seemed to think it was a good idea to eliminate evil in this way, and so she said nothing.

 

Please leave a comment in the comments box. I love hearing from you.

Spring. A poem

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Dandelions, like gold, cover the meadows.
Newborn lambs frolic in fields.
New leaves on the trees are casting their shadows
And winter’s cold grip quickly yields.

At the edges of woodland the primroses glow
And cowslips their scent fills the air.
Anemones dance when the breezes do blow
And birds sing with never a care.

Then bluebells and campions come into bloom
Their colour the blue of the sea.
The cuckoo, that herald of spring, will come soon
His call echoing over the lea.

The song of the blackbird is like molten gold.
His notes are so pure and so clear.
Hearing him seems to banish the cold
And brings joy to all those who hear.

Robin is nesting, and other birds too,
The hedgehog is active once more.
The young of the deer and the badger and shrew
Play their games as in old days of yore.

The sun climbs higher and higher each day
Giving more of his heat and his light.
It sparkles like stars fallen into the bay.
All smile at the beautiful sight.

Hope and excitement come with each spring morn.
What blessings will come with this day?
New starts can begin once again with each dawn
And send us all hopeful away.

Winter Night. (a poem)

This ought to have been published in the winter, but I didn’t get round to it, so I’m publishing it today. Anyway, it’s still technically winter! Hope you enjoy it.

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Snow covers the ice-hard ground
And ponds and lakes are frozen.
All is muffled, every sound.
The birds are silent in the trees,
No moths or butterflies or bees
Just snowflakes by the dozen.

The moon is full and her pale light
Shines gently through the flakes.
But creatures shiver through the night.
The icy wind makes branches quiver
And every living thing to shiver
In trees and hills and lakes.

Across the field there trots a fox.
An owl flies by on silent wings.
On the frozen lake, some ducks.
As snow falls gently on them all,
And cattle low within their stall
We are waiting for the spring.

I welcome all your comments, so please add yours.

Umbrae Blog Tour

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I am quite excited about this release because I started reading the series recently and am looking forward to reading the rest of it.

Debbie has kindly interviewed Miri for my blog. Here is the interview.

What do you miss most from when you were young?
Oh lots of things: my cats – Kitty and Susie; my best friend – Jenny; New York City and in particular the Lower East Side where I grew up; and most of all my omama. I think about her every day – the things she taught me, the stories she told. And I also wonder about the stories she didn’t tell. About her early life in Vienna and how she escaped from the Nazis. Maybe one day I’ll be able to piece all that together.

What scares you the most?
That I could lose my new friends here at P.A.W.S. I’d like to be able to just enjoy my classes and hang out like a normal teen (or at least as normal as a shapeshifter cat girl can be), but bad stuff seems to follow me around, so I guess I should be prepared.

How did you change as you grew older?
I think I’ve become more confident and a little less likely to trip over my own two feet – I think having four paws helps with that and of course having good teachers – Josh and Danny – also does wonders.

What has been the hardest struggle for you?
Believing that I actually have magic. I know Jessamyn says that my whole family had magic, but it does seem hard to believe.

Who do you hope stays in your life?
Well Danny of course (blushes), but I don’t really see how he likes me. And then I hope I’ll always stay close to my friends at P.A.W.S. – Josh, Sandy, Sean and Joey. Joey’s said that in a few years I should visit him in Australia. That would be a lot of fun.

What do you need to be happy in the future?
Good friends, my books and my writing. I hope someday to write my story and delve into my family’s past so that I can write a history of that too.

What is the most important lesson you have learned?
To trust my friends when they say I’m much stronger and more capable than I think I am.

Miri’s story continues in Umbrae (P.A.W.S. 3)

Pick up your copy today!
And connect with Debbie on her blog – Paws 4 Thought
Facebook or Twitter.

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My Visit to Another Blog

Today I’m visiting Auden Johnson’s blog to talk about how I came to write The Wolf Pack. Pay her a visit and read about it. Who knows, you might find something else you enjoy there.

Here’s the link.

http://audenstreasury.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/guest-post-how-dungeons-dragons.html

Some of my photographs

Today is the 5th Tuesday in the month, so I’m doing something different. I’m posting some photographs I’ve take.

As you can see, they are rather old ones. they are all of places in Brittany.

I hope you enjoy looking at these photographs as much as I enjoyed taking them.

 

Please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

 

Aspholessaria.

At first they passed through the forest Asphodel knew. she had not been far away from Quantissarillishon, but had played in the forest around as she grew up. She knew the little streams and the tall trees. She could tell Vass which ones were the best to climb and which were almost impossible. She laughed as she pointed out one where Liss had got stuck when he climbed up too high. He was there for several hours until his father came and helped him down.
They held hands as they walked, and did not stop even to eat. Asphodel took out some food she had pilfered from her mother’s pantry and they ate as they walked. Vass said they needed to get as far away as possible. Although Asphodel’s parents were away for a few days, Vass was unsure how long Liss’s parents would wait before becoming anxious. Certaily they would not worry until after nightfall, but would they be anxious then when he did not return for the night. He suspected they would. After all, he was their responsibility while staying with them.
The darkness began to creep in and Asphodel shivered.
‘Are you cold?’ asked Vass.
Asphodel shook her head. ‘No, not really,’ she told him. ‘It’s just that the forest seems different at night.’
‘Haven’t you been out in the forest at night before?’
‘My parents are very protective. I’m a girl, after all, and not expected to go adventuring in the forest.’
Vass stopped in a clearing through which a little stream ran.
‘We can stay here for the night,’ he said. ‘We’ll need a fire, though. You get water from the stream while I gather wood.’
When Asphodel got back from the stream, she found Vass cutting the turf in the little clearing to make a circle.
‘What are you doing?’ she asked him.
‘Preparing a hearth for our fire. We can’t risk setting fire to the forest.’
Asphodel sat down and watched with interest. After cutting the turf and setting it aside to replace after they had finished with the fire, Vass picked up a stone from a pile he had collected. They were fairly large and he built a ring around the hearth.
He picked up some dry leaves and placed them in the centre of the hearth before laying some small twigs over the top or them. Once he had everything prepared, he took a small metal box from his pack. When he opened it, he removed, a piece of steel. and a small sharpened piece of flint which he struck against the steel. Inside the box was some tinder and when the sparks from the steel fell onto it, it began to smoulder. Vass then blew gently and, taking a wooden splint, he lit it and applied it to the dry leaves.
‘Asphodel, can you blow gently on the leaves to get them burning while I put out the tinder in the tinderbox and pack it away?’
Asphodel was only too pleased to comply, and as the small twigs caught fire, she fed some slightly larger ones onto the fire. Vass took over then, gradually adding larger pieces of wood until he had a hearty blaze going.
‘There, that should keep us safe tonight,’ he said, sitting back on his heels. ‘Wild animals won’t come near fire.’
Asphodel looked around the clearing, fear showing in her eyes. She had not thought of wild animals, but of course, there would be bears, wolves and wild boar at the least. She realised how unprepared she was for this adventure.
Vass smiled at her. ‘They won’t come near the fire, I promise you,’ he repeated.
‘What if the fire goes out while we’re sleeping?’
‘We must take it in turns to watch it. It’s not like having a full night’s sleep, and we’ll be more tired tomorrow, but it’s necessary. I’d let you sleep, but I need some too.’
He reached over and pulled her to him, kissing her passionately. Asphodel pulled away.
‘What’s wrong? Don’t you want me?’
Asphodel looked at him.
‘I’m here, aren’t I? Would I be here if I didn’t want you?’
‘Well, why are you pulling away?’
‘Firstly, I’m a bit afraid. I’ve never…you know. Then, what if I become pregnant?’
Vass frowned. ‘Surely you knew what would happen if you came away with me? I want us to be married, but there’s no need to wait. We’re not in Quantisarillishon now.’
‘Oh, Vass, I’m worried about the pregnancy thing. I know elves expect youngsters to experiment, and it’s not really frowned on, but illegitimacy is. We’re expected to make sure we don’t get pregnant.’
Vass lay down on his blankets and turned over.
‘Take the first watch,’ he snapped. ‘I’ll relieve you in a bit, and don’t let the fire go out.’
Asphodel’s eyes filled with tears that she quickly brushed away. She was not going to let Vass’s anger upset her. This was their first quarrel, and undoubtedly they would have many more over their long lifetimes. She would get used to it, she determined, and not let it get to her.
After a while, she felt her eyes closing. She stood up and walked around the clearing, gathering some more wood to put on the fire as it seemed to her to be getting low. The walking cleared her head a little, and as she sat down again, Ullin, the silver moon, broke through the clouds above the clearing turning everything silvery. Asphodel smiled. Ullin was full, and seemed to be smiling.
He seems to approve of my running away with Vass, she thought.
Just then, Vass woke and told her to get some sleep. He would tend the fire now.
The next morning, when Asphodel woke, Vass was putting the fire out. He removed the stones by kicking them out of the way. They were still hot. Then Asphodel watched as he replaced the turf he had cut away. Soon it would be difficult to see anyone had lit a fire here.
Vass said little as they ate some stale bread and cheese, not as they walked hand in hand towards what they hoped was the Erian border.
‘Vass, what’s wrong?’ Asphodel asked him after an hour of silent walking.
‘I told you last night. I’m going mad being this near you all night and not being able to make love to you.’
Asphodel sighed. So he was still angry at that. She stopped walking and looked at him.
‘You can wait, Vass, surely. We’ll have all our lives to make love as much as we want once I can get herbs to stop pregnancy.’
Vass looked at her through narrowed eyes. ‘Are you regretting coming away with me?’
Was she? She could turn back now. Perhaps her parents had not come home from Daisy’s yet. and would not know of her escapade If they did know they would be angry, yes. Very angry. She would undoubtedly be punished severely, but they would forgive her. Frishillondor was not too bad. He was quite good looking for a man her father’s age, and he seemed kind. She might get to love him, eventually.
‘Well?’ Vass spoke sharply.
Asphodel looked at him and her stomach did a somersault. This was the man she loved. She had every right to be with him.
‘I left my home and family because I love you, Vass. I would go anywhere to be with you. I regret nothing.’
‘Then why wait for us to make love? You know elves have few babies. We’re not a very fertile species, unlike humans. It would be very unlikely you would become pregnant before we could get married.’
Her grey eyes took on a steely glint. ‘Unlikely isn’t impossible, Vass. My mother had two babies whereas most elves only have one. We are of House Royal, and you know there are twins in the Royal line. We are more fertile than most elves. I’m not risking it.’
Vass relapsed into silence and they continued walking. Then he suddenly turned to her and said, ‘You are a most stubborn girl, Aspholessaria.’ He softened his words with a smile and bent to kiss her gently.
Three days passed as they walked through the forest. There had been no sign of pursuit, nor any dangers from the denizens of the forest, either. Vass had been right about the fire keeping wild beasts away. After these three days, the trees thinned and then they met a track leading westwards. They followed it and soon saw smoke rising from chimneys in a small human village.
‘We must be in Erian,’ exclaimed Vass. ‘At last. Now you can go and seek out those herbs you were talking about.’
‘One track mind,’ laughed Asphodel and she ran ahead into the village.

How will Asphodel and Vass’s relationship progress now they are in human lands? Will their parents find them or will they get married and live happily ever after?

Come back on the first Tuesday of January to find out.

All comments about this story are welcomed. I’ll try to get back to you.