I enjoyed the magical mindgifts and dragon science in Path of the Spirit Runner. How did these begin and change as you wrote?
Evolution is the central theme of these books. Humankind becoming something more. Developing what it takes to challenge the Watchers and stop the cycles. I loved Anne McCaffrey’s Rowan series. The gifted who moved spaceships with their minds. Telekinesis and telepathy intrigued me, and I devoured any fantasy novel with mindgifts as the basis of a magic system. It seemed logical the first evolving mindgifts would be extensions of our physical senses. Farsight. Mindspeaking. Over time, I created rules around what each mindgift could do. Its limits, practical uses, and the ethical questions using them raised. I was well into the third book when I realized the push/pull dynamic made empaths and mindriders unique. They alone could affect change. The other mindgifts are merely receptors of information detected by newly augmented senses. That distinction not only made me rewrite the earlier books, but also directed how the series ends.
The dragon science is more real, if you will. Usually, after a cycle ends, the field is cleared before the new players appear. But this time, remnants of technology from civilizations that came before lingered. And survivors. The kazera are dragonkind and shouldn’t be in this cycle at all. Yet, they are. So are their swiftgates, Phoenix Island, the Barrens wall. Readers are right to wonder why.
Your writing is exceptional, as expected. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
My goal was to finish the entire saga before publishing the first book. When I started writing Rootstock Saga I was annoyed… no, more than annoyed… I was angry with another author for not finishing his story after investing us so thoroughly in the first books of his series. I won’t name names, but we’re still waiting on book six well after the first books launched a major HBO series. And we may never get a proper ending. But I discovered my writing style isn’t unlike his. Multiple POV. Pantser vs planner. For me, diagraming a novel to meet someone’s prescribed formulaic beat points just feels wrong. Act one. Inciting event. Midpoint. Second inciting event. Mechanical instead of intuitive. Storytelling is art, not formula. So, it was important to me to finish the storytelling, to commit to the ending, and then backtrack to weave plot lines and characters to reach that ending. I was determined to give readers a cohesive epic.
So that’s what you’re getting in Rootstock Saga. An epic story with an ending.
What can readers expect in book three of your Rootstock Saga, The Witch of Lurago?
This is when good gets really good. World-building checked off. All the major characters fleshed out and their arcs climbing their intended trajectories. Game board set for the final gambit. This is my favorite book so far.
You’ll see fewer new characters and settings introduced. Brace for a winnowing of major characters. Some you’ll be glad to be rid of, but others you’ll miss. Expect magic to be more magical, dragonkind to come out of hiding, unlikely allies to find common cause, long-held secrets to be revealed, and a few of your favorite “ships” to sail.
Gifted or cursed? Isobel is a healer, and the Hawks who accepted her, broken and different as she was, need her help. But she must hide the truth behind her healing power. She is an empath.
John Deighton, The Prophet, is back in Innis and stoking the embers of bigotry and superstition, scouring the realm and imprisoning mindgifted Aurels. When he corners Isobel, will she fight back or succumb to her old fears and lingering scars of the Beast of Monaughty? Will she answer the call of a healer if it costs her everything she loves?
Far across the sea, Tobias Buchanan is racing against time to build New Rhynn as a haven for his clan. As the noose of oppression squeezes tighter in Innis, the Hawks may soon be forced to choose between their homeland and their way of life. Can he earn a place for his Hawks amongst the Este of Tallu? Can he prove Rhynns are worthy of their trust?
Meanwhile, the Este are discovering their own place in the Awakening and the Joining. Spirit runners grow more powerful by the year, and the Mists hover closer over Tallu. But will it be enough when the water rises? Will they be ready before the cycle ends?
Legend of the Storm Hawks is a intriguing start to your Rootstock Saga, weaving multiple story-lines into one overarching story that brings the world to the brink of war. What were some sources of inspiration that influenced this book?
Rootstock Saga is about evolution, about becoming something more. It’s also a “what if” exploration of how The Patterns of our own cycle might have turned us down different paths. Scottish history, especially leading up to Culloden, is one example. What if the Scots had opted for peace instead of fighting for a Stuart king?
I enjoyed the varied cast of engaging characters throughout the book. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Nigel was my favorite. His confidence. His snark. Though Brynmohr is a close second. He is evil good, and good evil. From the start, you sense he is someone he doesn’t want to be. I enjoyed his arc. And, of course, Isobel. She regains her damaged sense of self in book one, and is ready to come into her own in book two.
The characters need to choose between wielding their power or keeping their secret. How did you balance magic and its use throughout the story to keep it believable?
Evolution again. Magic is a genetic adaptation. Mindgifts don’t suddenly appear like flipping a light switch. It’s more of a slow burn, an awakening. Magical realism is a perfect fantasy style for conveying that, I believe. Besides mindgifts, the other “magic” in the story appears as remnants of technology from the last cycle of dragonkind. The swift gates seem magical, but they’re just dragon science we don’t understand yet.
This is book one in your Rootstock Saga. What can readers expect in book two of your series?
Expect an expanding world. Across the ocean, Tallu is a compelling new setting. Book two balances the narrative of our beloved Rhynns and the Este protecting their land and their way of life. Twelve years have passed, and the Storm Hawks are raising families. We see them deal with the oppression that festers after they chose peace over freedom. We meet the new generation, the Children of Promise. More magic awakens and we come face to face with dragonkind, the Kazera.
Legend of the Storm Hawks introduces the Rootstock Saga, four novels all due to release in 2020. Not a light read, this is serious fantasy for serious fantasy fans. Set on a future Earth, our own history echoes from the shadows. Adversity awakens gifts in this tale of evolution and survival. Science meets fantasy in a burgeoning of psychic and psionic power, and the mindgifted struggle with bigotry, abuse, theocracy, gender roles, climate change, and the temptations of power and privilege. Their intricately interwoven POV voices and plots converge in a long, rewarding end game.
A master player convinces the pawn the move is its own. Nigel has been at the game longer than most, but lately the pawns keep turning into rogue knights. It’s damned inconvenient of them, considering the world is about to end again.
The Watchers will soon declare this cycle over, as they have so many cycles before, shrugging off yet another rise and fall of humankind, and giving the dragons another turn at dominion.
Legend of the Storm Hawks by L.H. Leonard is a culmination of fantasy, prophesy and politics. It’s a story filled with intrigue as the characters embark on a journey backed by prophecy and tinged with uncertainty. The characters are rich and well crafted. Nigel is a politician holding so many strings that it is almost inevitable when it all unravels. Sethlyan has been told he and his brothers, Aengus and Gaven have significant roles to play when the time comes but really, his gifted wife Isobel and their impossible family is his main focus. All these men have interests to protect and for each noble intent, there exists a force intent on blocking its fruition. Politicians, religious leaders, and clan leaders are each looking out for their own interests and although there are attempts at alliances, not many interests align. Before there are any resolutions there is betrayal and there is war. There is also what looks like the fulfillment of prophecy. Men thought dead are still alive, babies are being borne of women who should not be fertile and one religious zealot has managed to find broad-based support for his cause. Still, the cycle has to continue. No one knows how it will all play out, despite the supernatural gifts some of them possess.
I enjoyed everything about Legend of the Storm Hawks. The setting was unique and captivating and breathed life into the characters as well as their station in life and their heritage. The themes of family, politics, and xenophobia are presented interestingly considering the time period is closer to medieval than modern. The point is that anyone can relate to the different struggles the characters go through to protect themselves and their families.
The story is consistently engaging as each event led seamlessly, and sometimes surprisingly, into the other. The plot is complex, and one can appreciate how the author fits it all together, but not so complex that I couldn’t follow it; the depth of Game of Thrones without the overwhelming complexity.
My only concern would be the wait for the next installment since the anticipation of seeing what happens next is not about to wane. The characters really grow on you and you want to see what happens next, even if everything seems to be at a standstill, for now. Legend of the Storm Hawks will effortlessly suck you into it’s world and leave you wanting more.
Pages: 562 | ASIN: B0826XRYCY