Ascarion

Book Four in the Chronicles of Ealiron

In the world of Ealiron, it is known that wizards and gods rarely involve themselves in the affairs of mortals, preferring to gaze upon the starry tenets of their kind. They see war or the collapse of empires through the prism of change and transformation, leaving it alone as they would a leaf decaying on a forest floor. Everything has its time. But some troubles are not what they seem. On the isle of Tromb in the far northern realm of the Gray Isles, a rift has appeared in the timeline of the world. Cloaked beneath a turbulent monarchy, a storm, rumors of an evil god and the tears of a princess, it has gained the attention of both wizards and gods.

Rhinne, by F.T. McKinstryRhinne of Tromb, a lonely princess at odds with her own people, has old magic in her veins. Encouraged by her brother Wulfgar, a seasoned warrior, she is also good in a fight. This and a weary defiance of nameless hostility put her on the wrong side of a dark order of warlocks festering in the shadows of the realm. Accused of treason, Rhinne is forced to flee, pursued by the king’s assassins. Wulfgar is left to war believing his sister fallen, one of many who will die in the name of the old ways.

Far away, Lorth of Ostarin, a powerful wizard, an assassin and servant of the old powers, learns that something untoward is happening in the Gray Isles, where he has a dark history. When Rhinne is delivered into his hands under unlikely circumstances, he discovers she is not only being hunted by foreign assassins, but also has the ability to channel immortals. Wounded and distrustful as a feral cat, she slips from his protection and escapes into the wilds with the help of a god thought destroyed centuries ago. Only he knows her secrets, and he’s not telling.

Spring Moon Raven, by F.T. McKinstryWhen wizards get involved in war, the stakes tend to be high. Wulfgar arrives from overseas to the wizards’ citadel, heavy with grief and bearing a text that is the key to his sister’s silence. If discovered, this text will mean war with a god who has changed the timeline of the world to hide an evil deed involving Rhinne. Through a series of dangerous encounters with assassins, thieves, spies and seers, Rhinne, Wulfgar and Lorth return to Tromb accompanied by a mysterious army, a raven that is not what it seems and a war god with a private agenda. But the battle that awaits them is only subterfuge designed to hide their true intentions of casting down a devious entity whose very thoughts can plunge the world into horrific devastation.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Ascarion Cover ArtAscarion, Book Four in the Chronicles of Ealiron, Double Dragon Publishing.

An epic swords-and-sorcery tale of what the gods are willing to do for love.

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© F.T. McKinstry 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Water, Earth, and Shamanism

The process of writing a story has a way of revealing one’s knowledge or fascination in terms that extend beyond conscious understanding. A powerful lens into the nature of experience, metaphor conveys information that literal explanations can only attempt. Somewhere inside, our hearts make the connections.

Generally speaking, the ancient practice of shamanism involves learning to perceive those connections via a journey into the Otherworld, the realm of essence and the source of exteriorized reality. This typically happens during some years-long cataclysmic life event such as illness or loss whereby the shaman endures the dissolution of personal boundaries, limitations, and false perceptions, and thereby emerges from the Otherworld not only expanded but also connected to the source. It is essentially a mystical experience.

Mistress of the Sea, by F.T. McKinstry

Mistress of the Sea

When I began writing The Gray Isles, I didn’t sit down and think, “How about a story about shamanic initiation?” It started as a story about a young fisherman’s son named Hemlock who has big dreams that contrast miserably with his lot in life. Through him, I embarked upon a sailing trip over the shining waters of an attractive cliché and was promptly accosted by a sea monster with its own ideas. My story grew into a novel complete with tempests, swords, and teeth.

The shamanic initiation often heralds a crushing landslide of doubts and questions about the nature of reality. It’s hard to ignore the forces of the Otherworld when one’s life falls apart at the hands of one’s deepest dreams and desires. At the same time, everything one once imagined possible becomes an illusion in the face of actual experience. It’s a paradox. Transformation inherently implies death: one can’t change unless something is released. For the shaman, this is everything that blocks connection to the Otherworld and understanding of his or her place in the overall scheme of things.

Hemlock of Mimir, by F.T. McKinstry

Hemlock of Mimir

Hemlock’s journey begins with a classic refusal of the call. His perception of reality is shaky as it is, even by the estimation of the wizards he serves, ironically. But he has a deep, visceral connection to the sea. When it shows itself, he naturally assumes it’s just another fantasy. When he gets the idea of trying to prove otherwise—to defend his sanity, of course—he crashes headlong into the implacable clutches of initiation.

This takes Hemlock down, rends him asunder and spits him out on the other side. Now a lost soul, his roots to the earth begin to disintegrate beyond his control. But, cruel as they are, the forces of the cosmos are on his side in the guise of wizards and assassins—and the sea itself, a literal metaphor in this case. A bridge between earth and water, Hemlock is transformed quite nearly to the destruction of everything around him. So it goes. Who would possibly sign up for such a thing if they knew what it would mean?

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Cover Art, The Gray IslesThe Gray Isles, Book Two in the Chronicles of Ealiron.

The legends of sailors and wizards collide in an epic tale of witchery, secrets, curses, and the birth of an immortal.

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© F.T. McKinstry 2017. All Rights Reserved.