Local author releases fantasy novel

Seattle/Lopez Island-based author HM Sanders has released the first book of her fantasy pentalogy, “The Ringmaker Series” via Amazon Direct Publishing. With original illustrations by acclaimed fantasy artist Anthony Waters, of Magic the Gathering fame.

Book one, “The Ringmaker,” takes place during a time of complacency. The people have lived in relative peace and prosperity for many years, after the vanquishing of dragons that had plagued previous generations. A remnant species of human-dragon changelings (called Nameless) has long assimilated into the general population and never assume their dragon identities. Along with the dragons, the forces of magic have nearly been eliminated from the world.

Now a Nameless despot, Governor Agadittur is secretly re-discovering and harnessing his dragon persona to gain power. Agadittur kidnaps, imprisons and rapes a young Nameless woman, Sauvir, the Ringmaker of the Tundin people, in order to enhance his power. But he underestimates Sauvir. She resists, escapes, then seeks revenge.

Sauvir has deep shame and has repressed her dragon self, but slowly she begins to accept her innermost identity as a gift, a strength. It is by marshaling her inner power that she can save herself and her people.

Aspects of the book are loosely inspired by the Jorge Luis Borges story, “The Garden of the Forking Paths,” which the author read when she was 17 years old. “I thought it would make an interesting story if somehow a type of animal controlled the paths of time from a magical standpoint.”

The development of these imagined animals, called tonkirs in the novel, was also influenced by the author’s introduction to beekeeping. “My partner decided to keep bees, lost interest in them, and left me with a hive to tend. A bee’s life, the life of the colony, and the entire cycle of bees and what they do to survive is fascinating. I began to speculate how tonkirs might adapt and evolve within their own life cycle, and what role each period in the cycle plays. The role magic plays in their lives. In my book, the tonkirs have become endangered and rare due to a cataclysmic event that nearly eradicated the forces of magic from the world. All elements of magic have receded deep into the earth.”

The first book of “The Ringmaker” series centers on the female protagonist’s story. It is the journey she goes through to accept her own gifts. This process of self-acceptance would not have occurred had she not been imperiled and forced by necessity to reveal and cultivate her frightening powers. Sauvir was born a changeling, a human who can transform into a dragon. Precious few of these changelings still exist, and those who do seek to hide their forbidden power, have been taught to fear and abhor their inner selves.

The evil Governor Agadittur is also a changeling with the ability to transform from human into dragon. Sauvir’s relationship with Agadittur is complex. Sauvir is curious about the deep knowledge Agadittur possesses about his dragon nature. Sauvir is pulled in two directions: on the one hand, she’s desperate for knowledge about her power and on the other she’s disgusted by Agadittur’s murderous, manipulative behavior, fearful that because she too, is a dragon changeling, she may not be able to quell her own murderous desires.

Sauvir works her way into a position of power, then is subjugated by a man with the same ability.

There’s a parallel in “The Ringmaker” to the modern world. A tyrant has risen to power through deceiving the fearful populace into believing that he can empower them. “What I focus on in the world of the novel is the story of one individual who sought to overcome her personal oppression and utilizes her power despite the stigma associated with it. This is the strength that comes when oppression becomes so extreme that one is provoked to act.”

Sanders is interested in a different view of the hero/heroine archetype that pervades the patriarchy to this day. “I didn’t want my male character Belador to save my female character Sauvir. Nor did I want Sauvir to save Belador. I wanted them to help one another achieve a common goal that sprang first from a foundation of love and respect. That is my hope for humanity, that one day very soon people can become aware of the stereotypes we all carry of one another, and see through that veil to the truer, more complex humans that we all are.”

“I love the themes of death, trust, loyalty, magic, and intuition. My books concern people with gifts who must follow their own intuition, sometimes against great odds, to find out what lives in their hearts, and their hands. There are plenty of books written about the landscape of physical war. I prefer the quieter, richer landscape of the individual.”

“The Ringmaker” is available via Kindle download. HM Sanders is available for readings and speaking engagements. Contact through her website www.HMSanders.com.