This weekend, I finished reading Wings of Wrath by C.S. Friedman. Wrath is the second book in the author’s new Magister Trilogy. I found it a fantastic read, and I’m disappointed now that I have to wait the third book to come out. (I had to buy wrath in hardcover because it’s not even out in paperback yet.)
One of the things I absolutely love about Friedman’s Magister Trilogy is her conceptualization of magic. She describes magic as an act that draws upon and uses up the athra, the very fire of the soul, to work. In the cases of witches, this means that every spell cast costs the witch moments of her life. The first book, Feast of Souls, starts out with a witch who knows she’s near the end of her life performing one last final act of magic. This is after announcing years ago that she would do no more magic so that she might enjoy what little life she had remaining. The town turned against her and she lived in solitude, until a woman came with her two small children to beg for her help. The baby boy in her arms was sick with a plague that could kill everyone. Here’s part of that scene, as scene from the witch’s perspective:
The log in the stove hadn’t caught; the fire was dying. Winter’s chill seeped into thecabin and into her bones, and she let it. There wasn’t enough power left within her to keep her flesh warm and heal the boy as well. Not that an witch with a brain would waste power on the former task anyway…no when there was wood to be burned. The power was too precious to waste on simple things. If only she’d understood that, in the youth of her witchery! A tear coursed down her cheek as she remembered teh hundred and one little magics she could have done without, the tricks performed for pleasure or show or physical comfort. If she could undo them all now, how much tme would they add up to? Would they buy her another wee, another year of life?
Too late now, Death whispered.
Dying. She was dying. This is what it felt like, when the embers of the soul expired at last. She could feel the last tiny sparks of her athra flickering weekly inside her. So little power left. How much time? Merely minutes, or did she have all of an hour left to wonder if she had done the right thing?
A young girl, the sick boy’s sister, witnessed that scene. That girl is later introduced in the story as Kamala, the first woman to ever successfully become a magister, those sorcerors who have somehow learned to do magic without sacrificing their own lives. They are ageless and can live practically forever. Of course, what most people do not know is that the secret to the magisters’ survival is that they have learned how to tap into and use other people’s athra for their magic.
I’m anxious to read the final book of the trilogy, as Friedman has managed to weave some intriguing mysteries into the story. I’m looking to find out who the magister Colivar really is, for example, and why he knows so much about the ancient souleaters, who have suddenly returned to the world of men. Friedman has also hinted that there is a relationship between the magisters and those ancient beasts, and I’m anxious to find out the connections.