Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post (Magic In "The Wall Of Night" World) written by Helen Lowe.

Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer, and lover of story. She is the author of Thornspell and The Wall of Night fantasy series.

Her first novel, Thornspell, was published to critical praise, and in 2012 she won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer, for The Heir Of Night (The Wall of Night, Book One.) The Gathering of The Lost, (The Wall of Night, Book Two), is currently shortlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award.

You can read more about Helen Lowe at the end of this guest post.

Click here to visit the author's official website.

Click here to read about the giveaway.


Magic In “The Wall Of Night” World

When Robin Hobb provided a cover quote for The Heir Of Night, the first novel in The Wall Of Night series, she spoke of "A richly told tale of strange magic..." That focus felt right, because for me, to be Fantasy there must be at least a glimmering of magic – but the Wall of Night series is absolutely full of magic, and some of it is indeed exceedingly strange.

I’m not sure though that it qualifies as a “system” in the Brandon Sanderson sense of the word, or even so much as Courtney Schafer’s Shattered Sigil series.

The magic of the Wall of Night universe is chaotic, natural, and diverse. There may, however, be some method in the magic, so let’s take a closer look.

The Heir of Night (US cover)The Magic Of The Derai

Firstly, there’s the magic of the Derai Alliance and their ancient enemy the Swarm, both of whom are alien to the world of Haarth on which they now find themselves. The magic of the Derai falls into four main areas: the Golden Fire, which comprised entities, yet was also a power source, but at the time the story opens is believed extinct; the Blood, who are those Derai that are both strongest in magic and traditionally most closely aligned with the Golden Fire; dream magic; and the magic of the gods, which chiefly takes the form of prophecy and artefacts, such as black blades and the three legendary weapons of the Derai’s greatest hero.

The Heir of Night (UK cover)The magic of the Blood and the Derai’s lesser adepts covers a range of forms, including the ability to command objects and forces, both natural and physical; understanding the speech of beasts and birds; acute eyesight and hearing, including seeing in the dark and hearing outside normal human range; the chameleon ability to blend into surrounding materials and elements; dreaming; an empathic spirit bond; farseeing and foreseeing; fire calling; illusion working; mindspeaking; mind- and spiritwalking; psychic shielding; prophecy; seeking; truthsaying; and weatherworking.

When written down like that you might be forgiven for thinking it’s a melange – and I did own up to ‘chaotic’ and ‘diverse’ – but the common element is that the magic has a natural base in the wielder / user, so an important limitation is the user’s physical endurance and psychic strength. Traditionally that limitation was enhanced by the bond to the Golden Fire, so the loss of the Fire represents a major diminution in the power of the Derai.

The Gathering of the Lost (US cover)Dream Magic

Dream magic merits a section in its own right, because although it is one of the forms associated with the Derai it also accesses the Gate of Dreams, which is both a realm in its own right and opens up access to other planes of existence. As is the way with dreams, the workings of this realm may be chaotic, jumbled and mysterious, but can also be clear. The Gate of Dreams is closely associated with portent: truth may be discerned here, but it is equally likely that foretelling may only imperfectly reflect events in the waking or “daylight” world. Nothing is certain...and every action a protagonist takes acts on the dream realm, creating alternative possibilities of fulfilment. To further compound the mystery, the Gate of Dreams has its own denizens, including a long-dead hero who has been promised that her successor will not have to stand alone; the Huntmaster, who may not be more powerful than the hero, but is “older...and much, much darker”; and a ghost that guards a cavern of sleepers and holds the key to a millennia-old riddle.

Very strange magic indeed!

The Gathering of the Lost (UK cover)The Magic of Haarth

One of the interesting elements of The Wall of Night series is that the Derai and the Swarm have always been the only players in the magic game – until now, on the world of Haarth, which has magic of its own. The story’s main protagonists, Malian and Kalan, are Derai, and only beginning to discover the magic of Haarth. What they have learned is that some elements are similar to their own powers: for example, Haarth magic uses can access the Gate of Dreams. There is a deeper magic, however, which is tied to the world itself – what Malian calls a green magic and thinks of as the song of Haarth. She is even beginning to suspect that the world itself may be sentient, although that is not yet certain.

This deeper magic also weaves together the magic of the natural world with the power of the three gods of Haarth – a magic that can take older, darker forms, such as the entities that walk during the dark of the moon, or the blood magic practiced in the land of Jhaine.

So there you have it: gods and ghosts and heroes, dream realms and blood and artefacts of power, mystery, mythology and more than a hint of chaos. I suspect that does add up to Robin Hobb’s “strange magic”, with just enough method in the leaven to allow pretensions to being a magic system as well...

Oh! The magic of the Swarm – Malian’s knowledge of that has also been evolving, but as understanding its nature lies at the heart of the conflict between the Derai and the Swarm, as well as its final resolution,  to say any more at this point would be a major spoiler. You will just have to venture the rest of the tale’s “strange magic” and join Malian on her journey of discovery.


A copy of The Gathering of the Lost will be given to one lucky winner. The winner can choose between US and UK covers. (The cover images can be seen below.)

This is an international giveaway, so everybody is welcome to participate in this giveaway. The winner will be chosen randomly among all the participants.

This giveaway ends at October 1st, 2013.

In order to participate, please send your name, full mailing address and e-mail address to this e-mail address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Good luck to all participants!


US cover art


UK cover art



Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer, and lover of story. Her first novel Thornspell, was published to critical praise, and in 2012 she won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer, for The Heir Of Night (The Wall Of Night Book One.) The Gathering of The Lost, (The Wall Of Night Book Two), is currently shortlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award.

Helen posts every day on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really blog, on the first of every month on the Supernatural Underground, and occasionally on BookSworn authors and SF Signal. You can also follow her on Twitter: @helenl0we.

To read Helen’s finalist’s interview on the Gemmell Award site, please click here.

If you wish to vote, the link is here.

And if you’re a US reader, Helen’s publisher there is celebrating the Legend Award shortlisting by pricing the e-book at just 99c until voting closes on September 30 – through all e-book retailers.



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