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This Writing Life: Bruce R. Cordell on Plague of Spells

Thank you, John, for your generous invitation to write a guest post about my novel.
Plague of Spells is finally out! I’m excited to see its official release, but I’ll try to relax a moment and reflect on the themes that underlie the story. This is an interesting thought process for me, because I didn’t have any themes in mind as I outlined and wrote this book, other than to tell a story about the Abolethic Sovereignty.
That said, the theme that emerges in chapter one and remains a driving force throughout this book (and will continue to do so in City of Torment and Key of Stars) is change.
The Spellplague, in the aftermath of the goddess of magic’s murder, reordered the world (and beyond). We experience the violent initial spasm of this transformation from the POV of one of the primary characters, Raidon Kane. Afterward (or, eleven years afterward, anyhow), we see all the crazy alterations to the land wrought by the catastrophe. These changes lead us to several sub-themes in Plague of Spells.
On the heels of change, loss and sacrifice jump out. All the primary characters in the book, having experienced the Year of Blue Fire in their past, have lost something or have sacrificed something to get where they are as their stories begin. Arguably, Raidon has lost the most, and in order to move on with the task destiny wants him to complete, he must deal with that loss.
Another strong theme in the book is exploration and discovery. Raidon sees strange marvels as he travels across Faerun, but I’d say the theme of exploration and discovery is embodied most in the character Anusha Marhana. Relatively sheltered and possessed of a strange ability that gives her a unique impetus to explore her surroundings, Anusha is a woman who is eager to see the world. From her point of view, everything is potentially exciting, even the ominously clad Japheth.
Draped in a night-black cloak stolen from a Feywild lord, we learn Japheth has made several poor choices in his past. The man has become so compromised with obligations (both mystical and physical) that he is in danger of becoming little more than a puppet of evil masters.
How Japheth deals with his problems introduces the theme of redemption, or the possibility thereof. Will he seek to break free of his past, or will he become the villain fate seems intent on making him?
Bruce R. Cordell is the author of several other Forgotten Realms novels, including Stardeep, Darkvision, and Lady of Poison. He is also one of the co-authors and designers of the new Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, 4th Edition, and Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons. Read his blog HERE. Read my interview with Bruce about Stardeep, HERE.
Reviews of Plague of Spells can be found at:
Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review
Grasping for the Wind

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