Readers' Questions about Transformation

I love answering questions about my books. Here are questions that readers have asked me about Transformation in person or via email. For questions about the other Books of the Rai-kirah or about writing and publishing in general, see these other question pages:

New Questions

What aspects did you focus on while creating the characteristics of this alternate world?

In all my stories, I try to touch on all the aspects that make a world, emphasizing the aspects that reveal my characters. In the Rai-kirah series these were mythology, customs and rituals, and geography.

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The World and the Story

Are the wings really green?

No! Despite the striking cover art by Kevin Murphy for the Roc edition of Transformation, the wings are gray, very thin, and quite a bit larger than in the illustration.

What happens to a Warden's body when he walks through a portal?

It vanishes. He is wholly removed from the human world.

When a Warden is wounded in a demon battle, is his physical body actually damaged?


Will we ever meet a Derzhi sorcerer who is worth his lightning bolts or will they forever be entertainers?

Forever entertainers. Derzhi magicians only happened upon bits of true sorcery by accident. They are irrelevant, which is, of course, exactly what they were afraid of.

Are demons evil spirits?

Ezzarian lore says that demons are not evil in themselves, but only hunger for it and feed on it. The true evil is their possession of human souls. This is why Ezzarians try to banish the demons from the soul, rather than killing them outright. Ezzarians feel the universe "thrown out of balance" by demon death.

In our language demon has become synonymous with "evil spirit", but, in fact, there are alternate meanings. The word demon (or daemon or daimon) can also mean "a persistently tormenting person, force, or passion, an attendant spirit or genius, or one who is extremely zealous, skillful, or engrossed in a given activity." In Greek mythology, a demon is an inferior divinity, such as a deified hero.

Rai-kirah are not as simple as they seem. Seyonne explores the nature of the demons in Revelation.

Whose magic really opens a portal?

The Aife creates or weaves the portal and the landscape beyond it from her own power, her knowledge of the physical world, and the substance of the human soul. The combined power of the Aife and the Warden open the portal and allow the Warden to walk through it.

What happens if the Aife closes the portal with the Warden still in the victim's soul?

Evidence says that the Warden is lost to the human world. Ezzarian lore speculates that the Warden falls into an abyss of darkness populated by the rai-kirah, there to live in torment until he dies--if he is so fortunate as to die.

Why do the Ezzarians worry so much about purity and corruption?

In combat, the demons are constantly trying to pry out the names of Wardens or Aifes, and possess the souls of those who fight them. The Ezzarians fear that any weakness in character or morality might allow a demon to make inroads into their own souls, causing them to betray their comrades fighting the demon war. The Ezzarians seem to be the only race that has the knowledge and power to oppose the rai-kirah, so that if the Ezzarians fall, there will be no one to stand between the rai-kirah and the human race. Over the years, their wariness has hardened into customs that others might view as extreme.

How do the Ezzarians acquire melydda? Do all Ezzarians have melydda? Can they use it up?

Melydda--true power for sorcery--is not acquired. It is an inborn trait. Though many Ezzarians feel their power strengthened from some particular physical locations like the forest, there is no strict evidence that this is anything but folklore. Some Ezzarians, like Seyonne's father, are born with no melydda. Some, like Seyonne and his mother, are born with a great deal.

Melydda is expended during any working of enchantment, just as physical strength is expended during physical exertion. After extreme expenditure of melydda, an Ezzarian sorcerer can be completely depleted for a period of hours or even days. This is why Ezzarian tradition frowns on any frivolous use of power. It is possible for the power to ebb so low from disuse or overuse that it cannot be reclaimed. The Rites of Balthar are predicated on this. Immerse Ezzarians in such horror that they will expend every shred of melydda to stave off death and madness, and they will end up so drained that they can never again touch their power. Of course Galadon recognized that there was also an element of faith involved.

How was Seyonne chosen to be a Warden?

All Ezzarian children are tested when they reach the age of five. By that time it can be determined how much power a child possesses, and the child's level of schooling is prescibed from that day. The most talented children are trained for the most demanding roles--Warden, Aife, Weaver, Searcher, Comforter--depending on their particular talents and personality.

Are there other sorcerers besides the Ezzarians in the world of Transformation?

Seyonne says that there are certainly other people in the world who possess true power. The Khelid were one example. Even some of the Derzhi magicians inadvertently touch true sorcery from time to time.

Why do Ezzarians have a queen but no king?

This custom is rooted in the myth of the Ezzarian goddess Verdonne and her son Valdis. In brief, Verdonne was a mortal maiden who was loved by the god of the forest and bore him a child--a half human, half divine son named Valdis. The god grew jealous of the boy and plotted to kill him and all the mortals who loved him. Verdonne took up a sword and, with long and terrible suffering, defended the humans until Valdis could grow to manhood. Valdis then imprisoned his father, and rather than taking his father's throne for himself, gave it to his mother along with the gift of immortality, saying that she had shown what a true god should be. He stands as her "strong right arm."

Does Aleksander have magical power?

Not in the sense of inborn power for sorcery, but of course, there are many kinds of spiritual and psychological power, even in our own world.

Aleksander told Hoffyd that Vanye used to take slaves out to the desert and hunt them for sport. Why did Seyonne say that this information was a "gift" from Aleksander?

For a long while Seyonne did not trust his own seeing--that Aleksander might truly be worthy of jeopardizing his own life and his soul. Knowing that at least some of the Prince's cruelties of the past weren't quite so baseless as they seemed made it a bit easier to go on with very difficult tasks. And the fact that Aleksander would TELL him this, leave him this message specifically, tells Seyonne that

  1. Aleksander cares what Seyonne thinks of him
  2. Aleksander understands that some of his past behavior is reprehensible
  3. Vanye was really a worm and so Seyonne doesn't have to feel so bad about him.
  4. What is Dasiet Homol [see the Map of the Derzhi Empire]? This isn't actually mentioned in Transformation is it?

    Dasiet Homol--the Place of the Pillars--is one of the ancient builders' ruins. It is about a quarter of a league (three-quarters of a mile) of paired pillars, stretched out in a line from north to south. There are markings on the pillars, but no one knows what they are. No, it does not appear in Transformation, but will be very important in Revelation and Restoration. The place is rich with melydda...

    Will Aleksander and Seyonne meet again in Revelation?

    Yes, although Revelation is primarily Seyonne's story--a journey of discovery. The two meet yet again--and more extensively--in Restoration.

    Do Seyonne and Ysanne marry? Do Aleksander and Lydia marry?

    Yes. Yes. Both couples marry before the beginning of Revelation. But that is not the end of their stories, of course!

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    Writing Transformation

    You said in the Orbit interview that you thought of Aleksander first and had no idea what or who Seyonne would become at that moment. Does this mean that in your mind, Aleksander is the main character, or is it Seyonne?

    If I were to say that one person is the main character in the series, it would surely be Seyonne. That becomes clear in Revelation. Even though Aleksander did come to life first. That was what was so startling and exciting about getting into Transformation--that Seyonne turned out to be so intriguing and so important. But, of course, without Aleksander, there would be no story. Seyonne would have likely died alone and in captivity as he expected. In Restoration (to be released in summer 2002) both Seyonne and Aleksander again play major roles. After all, we do need to find out what is the feadnach, the mark of destiny that bound Seyonne to protect and nurture Aleksander long before he found any reason to care for him. Indeed one might say an essential thread in the three books is what one person, no matter how imperfect, can do and be for another.

    How could you so vividly explain what Seyonne had to endure while he was a slave? Was it all made up, imagined? Did you research it?

    Seyonne's experience came out of my head (and whatever knowledge of history and human nature that has been planted there over the past years). I knew he was a man of intelligence, compassion, and courage. But because of his race's customs, he would perhaps not fall into the "hero cliches" of undying hope and constant attempts to escape. I tried to think what slavery might be like for such a man, if he truly believed that escape was impossible and that suicide was unthinkable. How would he cope with life?

    Where did you get the idea for Transformation?

    I always begin a story with a character. In this case it was the cruel and arrogant Prince who was to fall very low before discovering his own worth. And then I needed someone to tell his story . . .

    How long did it take you to write Transformation?

    About 9 months.

    You said in your Orbit interview that you didn't know who Seyonne was when Aleksander bought him on page 1...and now, he embodies the caer gwillyn. You honestly didn't know what Seyonne was going to become?

    I truly didn't know any more than what I said earlier. I knew he was intelligent, courageous, and had lost everything but his innate goodness (and he wasn't too sure about that). And I knew that he had once been a sorcerer, but I wasn't sure what kind, or what he could do. I suspected that he might recover his power, but I wasn't sure how.

    Once the books of the Rai-kirah are finished, where will you go? Are there only three books planned?

    Yes, there are only three books about Seyonne and Aleksander. Much as I love these two guys, I have wrung them out. I hope my readers will enjoy Song of the Beast (the story of a musician who has just been released from a long and terrible imprisonment without ever knowing why he had been imprisoned) and the books of my new series, The Bridge of D'Arnath forthcoming in 2004-2005.

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    Which cover do you prefer? Who are the cover artists?

    I'm going to take the fifth on this one. All my covers are wonderful. I was scared they would be schlocky! The artwork by Kevin Murphy (Transformation, ROC edition) and Matt Stawicki (Revelation, ROC edition)is all beautifully done. I love the moody landscape of the Transformation cover, and I think the ice castle in the Revelation cover is stunning. The cover of Restoration is glorious and striking. I don't know who does the Orbit covers, but I do love Orbit's trade paper format. They've come up with very nice "packages" all around for the UK editions.

    Is Abomination a fourth book of the Rai-kirah?

    No. Abomination was a working title for the second book, now known as Revelation. Both good titles. Revelation works a little better.

    Who is 'Carl Berg'?

    There is no Carl! Despite the typos you might have seen on Amazon at one time, there is only one author of Revelation! As if new authors didn't have it tough enough. . .

    Are "Seri, Aidan, Dante, Will" (referenced in the dedication of Transformation) characters that we will meet in the Books of the Rai-kirah or in other works?

    Readers will meet Aidan in The Song of the Beast. Seri is the heroine of Son of Avonar, the first book of The Bridge of D'Arnath

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    Send me any other questions you might have.

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