Journeys – Love them or hate them but you can’t avoid them
First and foremost, The Gifting, which is the beginning of the Gathandrian Trilogy, is a novel about journeys. My main character, Simon, sets out on a vast physical journey to another country, and must also make a journey into his own mind in order to uncover the skills which lie there.
When I was working out the nature of the journey, I therefore wanted it to be a spiritual as well as a physical one. So I took the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water and made them into magical lands which Simon and his companions must cross in order to reach their destination. I wanted the interplay between what these different elements symbolise in Simon’s development, and the practical hard graft of how the group must traverse them. And, of course, what they discover at the end of their long trek.
All well and good, but the very strange thing about all this is how much I myself hate journeys! When young, my poor mother used to give me the strongest travel pills whenever we travelled up north to see my grandmother who lived 300 miles away. Whatever she tried, I was always sick and held everything up. Which, as the family always tried to do the journey in a day meant some pretty late evening arrivals in Newcastle.
These days, I don’t get quite as travel-sick in a car, though occasionally it does kick in again if I’m hungry and particularly if the car or coach is a very plush one. In terms of my stomach, the ricketier the transport, the better I like it, it seems.
However, I’m still not that great in aeroplanes or on a boat. Yes, I do have to admit that once, when my husband and I were flying back from a holiday in Slovenia, I was that person on the plane who – when we went through a bad storm – said: “We’re going to die! We’re going to die, aren’t we?” Oh the shame. Thankfully all the other passengers on the plane apart from us were Slovenian schoolchildren who had no idea what I was saying. They all thought it was great fun … I think my husband still has the bruises on his arm where I was holding on to him. Well, I never said I was brave.
I’m also not too good on boats either. The ocean fills me with horror and I still have dark memories of the four hours I spent on a ferry between England and France in the middle of the night during yet another storm when the boat couldn’t actually move due to the roughness of the sea. Believe me, seasickness is not to be recommended under any circumstances, though I did make a lot of new friends in the ladies’ loos where we all – in a very English fashion – politely took it in turns to be sick in the available cubicles.
This is probably the reason why Simon’s not a good traveller in the air or at sea either. Here he is during his voyage with his companion Johan:
When the sun is high in the sky, the scribe finally awakes with a groan. “Johan?”
“Yes, I’m here.” He places himself where Simon can see him, be reassured—if indeed he has any reassurance to offer. “We’re here. On the boat. It’s the middle of the morning.”
As he speaks, the scribe pushes himself upright, and his face turns pale. The boat sways with his motion. “No more desert men?”
“No. They’re no longer a threat,” Johan replies, frowning. “They don’t...”
But Simon isn’t listening. He barely makes it to the side before he is vomiting, shaking and soaked with sweat, into the sea. Johan rests his arm across his shoulders, and holds him as he retches again.
When the bout has finished, Simon gags twice more and then groans.
“Lie down, you’ll feel better if you do.” Johan half-carries the sick man to the bottom of the boat again where, still shivering slightly, he lies curled like a question mark between the two benches.
“What is this?”
“Hush. Don’t speak. It’s sea-malady. You’re not used to the movement of the water. Here, I have something that might help.”
“Good,” Simon murmurs. “That would be nice.”
Johan searches in the herb bag for what he wants, and then places two dried leaves in the palm of Simon’s hand. He senses the man’s surprise when he tastes them: ginger, but with a sharper tone.
“That’s right,” he says. “It’s a type of ginger that grows in the parks and gardens of our city. It will ease your stomach and cleanse your mouth.”
Simon nods but says no more. For a while, he continues to lie prostrate in the boat, his eyes closed. Johan listens to the screeches of birds, breathes in the salt smell of the water and welcomes the warmth of the sun on his face.
“How is your head?” the scribe asks after a while. He sounds stronger now.
“It hurts a little. But it will pass. Your sickness?”
“The leaves you gave me are working, I think. Tell me, is it always like this on the sea? And, more importantly, why didn’t you warn me about it?”
Johan laughs, but not unkindly. “It’s like that for some, yes. Others are better sailors by nature.
But most grow used to the movement in time. Soon you will gain your sea-balance, believe me. Do you think you can sit up now?”
“I really have no idea, but I’ll try.”
May all your own journeys be happy ones, and don’t forget to enter the competition to win a Kindle – details below!
Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition.
She is the author of six published novels, including her fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, published by Bluewood Publishing and featuring scribe and mind-reader Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: www.gathandria.com and the first of these novels is The Gifting. In addition, her short stories are regularly published by Riptide Publishing, Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads.
Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at www.annebrooke.com and she regularly blogs at: http://annebrooke.blogspot.co.uk. Her Twitter page is here: http://twitter.com/AnneBrooke and her Facebook fan page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-Brooke/97047896458. All visitors welcome!
by Anne Brooke
The mind-dwellers of Gathandria are under deadly siege. For two year-cycles they have suffered: their people decimated, their beautiful city in ruins. Their once peaceful life has descended into chaos and misery. Legends tell of the Lost One who will return at such a time to save them from their mortal enemy – the mind-executioner. This enemy knows their ways well, for he was once an elder of the city. Time is running out.
Johan and Isabella take up the quest, journeying to the Lammas Lands searching for their distant cousin and lowly scribe, Simon Hartstongue. The elders dare to hope that he is whom they seek. Not everyone shares this hope; there is one amongst them who is bound to the enemy, shielding their secret thoughts from mind links while seeking to betray Simon.
Powerful lessons are learned as they travel through the mystical kingdoms of the Mountains, the Air, the Desert and the Waters. Deadly attacks threaten total annihilation and devastating sorrow strikes. Story-telling weaves a tenuous net of protection around them, but the enemy has absolute power with the stolen mind-cane in his possession. To his surprise Simon hears its song. Desperately he tries to understand and embrace his gifting, as he struggles to comprehend his inheritance.
A strong and pure mind is needed in the battle to defeat the enemy. If you are branded a coward, a murderer and an outcast, how can you be a saviour? Doubt creeps into the Gathandrians' minds. Is Simon truly the One?
Clutching the boy, Simon stumbled to Isabella and Johan. But they were no longer there. Not on the mountain. Not anywhere.
He could not comprehend what his eyes were telling him; the two of them were floating, solid ghosts, on...nothing. The boy gulped and shook.
Simon could not voice the words, could not even focus them, merely fling them from his thoughts. So close, and yet a thousand fears away, Johan tried to smile, but Simon could see the spasm in his cheek. Feel it echoed in his own.
“What do I do?”
The other man’s body balanced between sky and the far-off earth, hemmed in only by air, he stretched out his hand. “Come. I cannot touch you during this part of the journey, Simon. The Air Kingdom forbids it. But we can give you the strength you need. You can follow my hand. And Isabella’s. You can follow me.”
“I can’t,” Simon said, staring at him as if for a moment they might be the only two people alive. “It’s not possible, Johan. Don’t be stupid. I’m not strong, not like you and Isabella.”
He found his legs could no longer support his and the boy’s weight and, in spite of the terror behind and the destruction to come, he collapsed onto bare rock, pain ricocheting through his body. Shivering, he turned to his tormentor, hovering on a plateau of air and incomprehensible faith.
“By the gods,” the scribe begged him. “Don’t make me do it. Please.”
“Simon. You don’t have time for this. I know you want to live.” Johan’s voice came somehow not from where he stood, not even simply from within Simon’s mind, but echoed throughout the whole of his body. “Please. Trust me. Don’t you trust me?”
“What do you think?” he cried out. “No. I don’t. Not enough.”
“You don’t know that. Come.”
“No, believe me—I can’t.” From behind came a sudden tearing sound, like a knife ripping silk. The mind-fire was dying.
“You can,” he said.
In the emptiness after his words, Simon lay face down on the ground, trembling, the boy almost crushed under his chest. Impossible, it was impossible.
A roar and a flash of redness and pain as the last protection collapsed. The stench of meat and the dogs’ teeth came scrabbling through the flames. In his mind, the boy screamed at last, in a way he could never do in the flesh. With a groan that came from the gut and sliced through him, the scribe stumbled to his feet and stood, swaying, he on rock and Johan on air. Although fully clothed, Simon was as naked as he had ever been.
He caught and held Johan’s ice-blue gaze. For a moment, somehow, time stopped and everything became still.
“I am afraid,” Simon told him, as simply and clearly as he could.
“I don’t trust you.”
“Simon, I understand. Take one step. Trust me for one step only. But you must leave the mountain behind, or you will both suffer the death that is not true death. Come.”
Wild roaring, and then the pounding feet of the dogs.
Breath ragged in his throat, Simon covered his face with his one free hand and smelled the stale salt of his own tears. Then at the edge of thought, already infiltrating his mind’s frail barrier, the executioner’s triumphant cry.
The scribe turned. The enemy rose before him, a figure clothed in flame which did not burn. Pain cauterised his mind and he screamed. A flash of black and silver at the edge of his vision. He raised his hand to protect himself. The mind-cane flew towards him: a dagger, a bearer of an impossible death. He screamed again. Then everything fell silent. The cane brushed against his arm, the silver carving impossibly cold. A flare of warmth encased him and then just as suddenly vanished.
He should be dead. He was not.
The mind-cane lay at his feet, humming. Another scream, this time the enemy’s. With the astonishment of being alive his only thought, Simon wrapped both arms around the boy and stepped out with his right foot onto nothingness.
Giveaway competition details: The giveaway competition: the prize is ONE Kindle ereader worth £89 if these three questions about The Gifting are answered correctly:
1. In the beginning of Chapter Four, what sound is Simon first aware of when he wakes up?
2. At the start of the Third Gathandrian Interlude, who knocks Annyeke down in his desperation to reach her?
3. What happens to Simon at the end of Chapter Six?
Answers should be sent to albrookeATmeDOTcom (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after the tour ends.
There is also a Runner-Up Prize of THREE eBooks from my backlist (not including The Gifting) to one lucky commenter from the whole blog tour. Good luck!
Make sure to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/07/virtual-book-tour-gifting-by-anne.html
Thanks Anne for stopping by,