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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

GUEST BLOG: Magic, Life and the God Complex by Jeffrey Bardwell (Author of Broken Wizards: The Artifice Mage Saga Book 1)

Visit Jeffrey Bardwell's Website Here 
 Find Broken Wizards on Amazon Here
Find Broken Wizards on Kobo Here

Fantasy Book Critic is pleased to welcome Jeffrey Bardwell to our blog today as a special guest blogger. Jeffrey is the author of the soon-to-be released book Broken Wizards. Broken Wizards is the first novel in The Artifice Mage Saga. It is scheduled to be released April 15, 2017.

Summary for Broken Wizards:
Time's up for mages! 

The wizard purge is in full swing. Sorcery is illegal in the modern, steam-powered Iron Empire. The Magistrate's Black Guards hunt the uncivilized mages using mechanized armor and mysterious, clockwork weapons. The guards deliver their prisoners to the Butcher, Captain Vice. All wizards are tortured and executed as traitors to the state . . . with one exception.

That exception is Devin, an outbreak mage and ex artificer, a prince of machinery. The Magistrate exiles the youth over Vice's protests to the wild kingdom of wizards and dragons. Devin only knows gears and springs, but his savage magic offers salvation, if he can tame it. The exile must learn to harness his dangerous, new powers before the Butcher tracks him down to finish the job. 

Follow Devin's quest in Book One of The Artifice Mage Saga. Join the fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody's hands are clean.

To celebrate the release of his book, Jeff has stopped by to talk about magic, life and the God complex. Welcome him to the blog! 


Magic, Life, and the God Complex by Jeffrey Bardwell
Easter is approaching and with it the annual celebration of the most famous instance of rebirth. Whether you believe in the literal resurrection of Christ, the story resonates because society is captivated with the archetype of instilling life in the dead or the inanimate, a need for which fantasy has the answer: magic. Authors have cloaked these powers in many different guises: lightning (Mary Shelly), magic powder (Frank L. Baum), a wish upon star (Carlo Collodi), prophecy (C. S. Lewis), or intercession of the gods (J. R. R. Tolkein) all restore or create life force. Whether acknowledged directly or not, such power has a whiff of the divine.
What effect does this magic have on the magician himself? For, in some dark, literary irony, the magician who creates life is always male. Surely, women have no place in tales of birth? Or perhaps the idea was too close to reality for fantasy? No, we have a man, a young man (typically a virgin), who wields this awesome power.  

I draw a distinction now between reanimating the dead and reanimating the lifeless. In the examples above, there are only two instances where life was gifted to that which was never sentient in the first place and both stories involve wooden simulacra: The Marvelous Land of Oz with Jack Pumpkinhead and the eponymous Pinocchio. This invokes even more of a god complex than before! We are not simply reanimating dead tissue, we are building a person from scratch (albeit not from the clay or mud of the creation mythos) or metal (let's leave robotics to science fiction), but wood. Granted, unlike mud or metal, that wood was once alive until we chopped it into pieces and fashioned it into a crude reflection of mankind, but it could not think before we magicked it so.  

The Jesus carpenter metaphor is somewhat more blatant in Pinocchio than Oz as we have the humble woodworker Mastro Geppetto, who creates a spark of life in his hand-crafted, wooden son. Does the creator take responsibility for his wooden progeny? In the case of Pinocchio, the desire for a son and the nature of humanity is at the forefront of the plot, and in Oz tossed off as a magic trick, as the ramifications of tin godhood are usually reserved for the tales of reanimation, such as Frankenstein. But in a world with devout citizens, and in the typical medieval second world fantasy, the role of the typically polytheistic faith and its representatives is paramount, unless the wizards are also the priests (whoops, I just gave myself an idea), then creating life would precipitate either a crisis of the faith or a god complex.
In my new novel, Broken Wizards, I bring together the creation of a wooden son (Pinocchio) with the existential questions of the responsibilities of godhood (Frankenstein) in a world where magic is fairly commonplace (Oz). My magician is a devout, gods-fearing youth who has discovered he now wields the power of the five gods themselves. The crisis is easy enough to rationalize in the moment. 
 He is not divine, but a mere agent of the gods. But the rest of it? The youth has just unwittingly created a son. His incipient fatherhood is a much more real, much more scary concept than piddly, abstract notions of divinity!

I invite you to discover (perhaps, even enjoy) the rest for yourselves.

About the Author:
Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.
The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at:


Becky G said...

Looks really good! I love a good Wizard!! I am currently reading Sara Pascoe's book Being A Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For. It's been fantastic, my daughter and I both enjoyed it!! is the author site. Well worth the read.


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