The Children of Fi is the exciting follow up to your other novel, The Mage Sister. Arinda has a plan to start a magicker school for girls. Why was it important for Arinda to create this school, alongside the one for boys at Vespith academy, against Jahx’s wishes.
Actually, Jahx is all for the program – he just gets frustrated with Arinda’s headstrong ‘I’ll-do-it-my-way’ sort of approach. His protests are meant to slow her down and get her to understand that she must follow the proper structure like everyone else, that there are consequences if she doesn’t. For Arinda, the magicker school for girls means so much to her because as a child, she was powerful and very smart. However, since there were no programs for girls, and being a girl magicker was such a shameful thing to be, she had to hide it and was not allowed to learn about her power. If she had never been sent to Vespith Academy and Jahx’s magic hadn’t chosen her, she faced a life of nothing but drudgery. She wants to stop that happening to other girls because it made her life so miserable and hopeless.
In this story you bring back some old friends and enemies, as well as introduce some new ones. Did you choose which characters to bring back, because you like writing for them, or did the story dictate who came back?
While I do really enjoy writing for some of them, such as Nathan and Cullen, the story did have a lot to do with who needed to return. Most of them had become such an integral part of Arinda’s life in The Mage Sister, they couldn’t just disappear in the second book. Also, Miles Dunforth, the main antagonist in The Children of Fi, is just as lazy as he is evil and I knew he couldn’t pull it off by himself. He’d have to find a really good henchman, and who better than someone that already had a reason to want revenge on the Kingdom of Rowan and the Circle of Mages.
The Children of Fi gives a lot more history of Kynllaria and Fiaryn. Was this backstory something you always had, even when writing the first book, or did it come after the first was finished?
Part of it, like the history of Fiaryn and Fiaryn’s Gate, I had developed long ago when I started writing The Mage Sister and building the world they live in. Other parts, such as the story of the Sun Dynasty of Naria Valley and the specific details of Jahx’s history, needed to be added and pretty much evolved as I wrote it.
Cullen, the Master Healer of Rowan, is a defender of Arinda’s plan to educate girls in magic. I found his character to be intriguing. What was your inspiration for his character?
Cullen seems to be everyone’s favorite character. For the most part I just let him be himself, but I’ve also known and worked with many doctors over the years (I’ve worked in the medical industry since 1999). As a healer, Cullen has many of the characteristics I observe in the doctors I work with every day – self-assurance, compassion, occasional impatience, frustration with patients who don’t listen – mixed with a person dealing with a troubled past and an unpleasant personal life that few know about. These are all elements that are a part of Cullen, yet Cullen isn’t based on a specific person I’ve ever known. I just borrowed some of the traits I’ve observed to add authenticity to what he does and allowed him to speak in his own voice.
Is there going to be another book after The Children of Fi? If so, what will that book be about?
I am currently working on the third book in the series, telling the story of what happens after The Children of Fi. It’s hard to tell much about it without including spoilers for The Children of Fi, so I’ll just say that there will be a lot about a certain event at the end of The Children of Fi, which must involve quite a bit of conflict, and I’m not entirely certain how that’s going to be resolved just yet. Also, a new conflict arises surrounding the location Fiaryn’s Gate and the gate itself. Now that Fiaryn’s is gone, quite a few people have plans for it and some are willing to do anything to claim it. And finally, a whole new group of characters comes out to play, and we will learn more about the ancient and mysterious Coubirigh, the scary baddies that turn magickers into mages… if they survive the encounter.
A great accomplishment, a dire mistake, and secrets buried long ago set into motion a volatile chain of events that lead the Kingdom of Rowan straight into an unexpected war. When Arinda’s school for female magickers becomes more successful than she could have hoped for, she and King Nathan are invited to other countries to advise them on setting up their own programs. But not everyone is interested in the education of their girls, and not everyone is who they seem to be. In this sequel to ‘The Mage Sister’, long kept secrets are brought to light, and the truths they reveal will change the world of Kynllaria forever.
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In this exciting follow-up to The Mage Sister, Arinda and Jahx are married, but Jahx has been troubled by bad dreams. They’ve spent several months together to let their magic blend and settle, and their love for each other grows. During that time, Arinda hatches a plan to start a school for magicker girls, right alongside the one for boys at Vespith academy. Of course, she’s met with stiff opposition, but this is Arinda, and she’s determined to get her way. As word gets out about her her work, Nathan receives a notice from Chilharia that they are interested and excited about setting up a girls’ school. Not long after, Tenaria follows suit, but the prospect of visiting alarms King Nathan. While Chilharia is on good terms, Tenaria is just short of openly hostile. Jahx flies into a rage, refusing to go and demanding that Arinda stays in Rowan as well.
Despite Jahx’s disagreement and refusal to let Arinda go, Nathan wins the argument. Jahx, Arinda and the rest of the Royal party embark on a journey that seems innocent enough, but the Danforth family of Tenaria is known to be overly ambitious, even dangerous. What was supposed to be a pleasant exchange of ideas becomes something so terrible that it could rip Kynllaria apart.
Jeanne Bradford brings back some of the best characters from her first book and introduces us to new kingdoms and their people. I do recommend that you read The Mage Sister before Children of Fi. The events of the first book shape some of the events of this sequel. There’s also a good deal of history revealed here, expanding on the reasons which drove the legendary Fiaryn and his followers to abandon their old world and take the gate to Kynllaria.
The conflicts and revelations of the past are a driving force in this novel. Cullen, the Master Healer of Rowan, is both a friend and defender of Arinda’s plan to educate girls in magic, and his experience with, and connections to Tenaria play a key role in the story. Jahx battles his past and Nathan fights for the future. Nathan’s wife, Queen Catherine, also proves to be a woman of strength, cunning, and devotion. As with the first book, sometimes the bickering and temper tantrums get to be a bit much, but in one case, one of those temper tantrums turns out to be a good thing! As the group from Rowan traverse the other kingdoms, they meet new friends, old enemies, and uncover secrets and spies within their midst.
This is a good read, and Ms. Bradford has a real talent for pulling the reader along in one direction, and just when you think you know what will happen, the wheel turns, and you’re off on another adventure. Battles are fought against overwhelming odds, and everyone is in danger. It keeps the story fresh and exciting! The end of this book was a real shock for me, and I’m looking forward to more from this author.
Pages: 341 | ASIN: B01CN19ZOA
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The Mage Sister is an epic fantasy novel that follows a young girl named Arinda as she struggles with controlling her magical powers. What was your inspiration for Arinda’s character and the struggle she faces against the Circle of Mages?
Arinda is a girl I met in a dream, as are most of the people in Kynllaria. Almost all of them were all there. Arinda was special and powerful and terrified because, in the dream, she was being hunted for that power. The dream ended when she was caught, and I woke up, my heart racing from Arinda’s fear. It was a difficult point in my life. Someone I had cared about had told me that I couldn’t be a writer because I didn’t have anything to say that anyone cared about, and I felt a bit lost because I’d loved writing and story-telling since I was little. I don’t know what it was about that dream, but it lit a fire in me, and I decided that person was wrong. I started writing, started working out how that dream scenario came to be, and how I could make it work out for Arinda. It took a long time, and a lot of growing and learning about writing and what makes a good story, but that is how The Mage Sister came to be.
The wilds are full of magical creatures, and small spells and devices are commonplace. How did you handle balancing the power and use of magic in the story?
I wanted magic to be treated as an everyday, commonplace thing – something as simple as math or reading or any other subject of study, so that it was an accepted part of the environment. I didn’t want the wonder of magic, as we might view it, to take away from the development of the characters and their story. It took a bit of work to map it out and dissect it and organize it in such a way as it might be taught as a part of a curriculum, but it helped me understand it, too.
There’s a large cast of characters in The Mage Sister. Arinda, Jahx, King Nathan, the Royal Household, other Mages, and Sebastien who makes a perfectly nasty antagonist for the novel. What was your favorite character to write for?
Nathan and Cullen are my favorites to work with. Their antics and banter are a lot of fun to write, and they keep me laughing. Cullen is a fierce personality, constantly on a low simmer, but he’s as kind as he is contentious. He’s described as everyone’s favorite thug healer. Nathan is one of the noblest, most generous souls you might ever meet. He’s goofy, but tough when he has to be. He stands up and does his duty, but he’s bored with a royal life he didn’t want in the first place and just wants to live a common life. These two are as close as brothers, fight like demons, but would do anything for each other. It is rumored that Cullen might have been responsible for the death of Nathan’s viciously abusive father. Cullen was the Royal High Healer and certainly could have done it, but no one could prove how Nathan’s father died or who might have done it, and Cullen won’t say one way or the other. He only smiles and shrugs.
In The Mage Sister mages can command powers from many branches of study. What would be a branch that you would choose for yourself?
That’s a hard question! It would be a creative skill. Perhaps Cullen’s ability to grow plants out of anything, because I like to garden but I don’t always have the time for it. Wouldn’t that be fantastic – to grow a beautiful garden by just thinking it into existence?
The Children of Fi is the sequel to The Mage Sister. Can you tell us what happens to Arinda and where the story goes in the next book?
In The Children of Fi, Arinda has decided to begin her own Magicker program for girls. She faces a lot of obstacles, and works hard to overcome them. When her program finally does get going and becomes quite successful, she is invited to another kingdom to discuss her work. When a different kingdom demands a visit, too, Nathan feels it would be diplomatically unwise to refuse, even though he suspects their interest has nothing to do with Arinda’s school at all. As their journey begins, secrets that have been buried for a very long time begin to unravel, an old enemy returns, and a game of political cat and mouse begins that forces the kingdom of Rowan into war and leads everyone to question who can be trusted.
Arinda must choose between a life of drudgery or facing her worst fear – the Circle of Mages. But when her magic betrays her, the decision is no longer hers. Fifteen-year-old Arinda has no idea how extraordinary she really is. She only knows that she has a different kind of magic, different in a bad way. She also knows that she must never reveal this difference to anyone, or she’ll be sent away to a society called the Circle of Mages. There she would be magically bound to one of these monstrous mages forever, and bring shame on her family. Even so, Arinda desperately wants to learn about her magic, and becomes a little more rebellious than is wise. After a magical experiment goes awry, Arinda is sent away to school, run by well-loved and stunningly handsome Headmaster Jahx Rife. Unfortunately for Arinda, the handsome Headmaster is secretly a member of the Circle of Mages, and Arinda is alarmed by the amount of interest he shows in her, terrified that he might find out about her dire secret. Then her world is turned upside down when her own magic betrays her. Now she must face the very people she has feared her whole life, and call upon powers she has been too afraid to explore in order to endure in a society she has been taught to dread.
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Arinda has been in hiding for her entire life. While nearly everyone in her little town of Amok can learn the simple magic spells that make everyday life simple, she doesn’t dare try. If the townspeople discover that she’s an actual magicker, she’ll be enslaved by the Circle of Mages for the rest of her life. Her Nanny raised her with dire warnings about the evil Mages and protects her so well that not even her parents know her dark secret.
When their parents send them to a boarding school, Arinda and her elder sister Amaris are on their own. The Headmaster, Jahx Rife, seems to take a keen interest in Arinda, and she’s desperate to keep him from discovering her magic. Of course, things go awry, and Arinda confronts her worst fears. Her suspicion and anger might blind her to the intentions of the Circle of Mages, but some of what her Nanny told her has a veneer of truth. There’s someone she should be afraid of, but her stubborn nature may keep her from seeing the threat for what it is.
Jeanne Bradford offers a Young Adult novel that is entertaining, fast-paced and full of intrigue. It’s almost heartbreaking when Arinda faces hostility and rejection, and digs in deep to defend herself from all of the perceived threats around her. In her eyes, everything her Nanny warned her about is coming true. She’s a stubborn young woman and she’s determined to keep herself free.
The world building here is excellent. I was prepared for a story about magical boarding schools, but the author surprised me and took the plot in an entirely different direction. The setting is intimate, a small kingdom founded many centuries ago by people who “came across” from another place. The wilds are full of magical creatures, and small spells and devices are commonplace, but greater magic is feared. Mages can command powers from many branches of study, and readers learn about the use of magic and its dangers right alongside Arinda.
There’s a large cast of characters. Alongside Arinda, Jahx, King Nathan, and Cullen are the members of the Royal Household, other Mages, and a nasty piece of work named Sebastien. He and his cronies are young, arrogant, and perpetually in disgrace. Sebastien makes a perfectly nasty antagonist for the novel, exploiting weaknesses in the Mages’ ranks and determined to take Arinda as his own. A strong book needs a strong antagonist, and Sebastien does not disappoint.
One thing I found troubling is that so many of the conversations were contentious. It felt like nearly every time two characters spoke to each other, someone wound up shouting, back talking a superior, speaking rudely, or getting angry. There is a lot of dialogue in this book, and when so many conversations are highly emotional or held at top volume, it diminishes the impact of the situations they’re discussing.
I enjoyed The Mage Sister and recommend it for readers 14 and up. The novel leaves enough room for a sequel, but it will easily stand alone as a complete tale. Like many fantasy novels, the themes of learning to trust, leaving childhood behind and joining together for a common cause are strongly presented. Check it out for yourself or for your favorite stubborn, self-determined teen.
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 1606594060
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