Books

Mark Tompkins on The World of The Last Days of Magic

Remember, if you will, the legends, myths, and faerie tales you have heard, the ones with magic in them — the Irish ones, if you know them, otherwise any will do. Then imagine that those tales were true. Imagine that magic and fantastical beings coexisted with humans in the medieval history from textbooks. That is the world of The Last Days of Magic.

In the fourteenth century, magical creatures had been driven from much of Europe. There was one holdout, one last fully magical land, Ireland, controlled by a coalition of Celts and faeries. These were not the shy, diminutive faeries of today’s children’s books, they were elegant, powerful, and passionate — they even married and bore children with the Celts, when they weren’t fighting them.

The treaty between the races gave the Celts dominion over most of the surface while the Sidhe manifested a parallel, hidden land for themselves called the Middle Kingdom, accessed by magical doorways. One exception was the Skeaghshee, a clan of Sidhe who retained the trees they occupied.  An uneasy peace was maintained by the Morrígna, a goddess with three female aspects, much as the Christian God had three male aspects— the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Morrígna’s aspects were Anann, who remained in the spirit realm as the source of power to the other two, and a set of twin girls who were periodically reborn into the human realm during times of great trouble: the sage Anya and the warrior Aisling.

This story line was sourced from the rich bounty of Celtic mythology. Of the many origin myths of the Sidhe, the one used traces their bloodline to the first age of the world when randy angels sneaked out of heaven to procreate with daughters of Eve, producing magical hybrid offspring called the Nephilim. Stories of the Nephilim were drawn from ancient and current Bibles, and from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In medieval Europe, France was ruled by the High Coven, dark witches who lusted after the Sidhe’s knowledge of magic. Most of the French witches in the novel were based on accounts of real women tried or accused of witchcraft, some of whom were burned at the stake.

The Roman Church sought to drive all magic from Ireland and the rest of the world, except that practiced by their holy sorcerers, exorcists. The novel’s league of exorcists was crafted from the lore of King Solomon who used a magic ring to control demons, and the church’s history of embracing exorcism.

All enchantments required energy to function. Ardor, the natural energy that was used to create the world and every living being, lingered in Ireland where it could be used by magical beings and by humans with the requisite training and aptitude. In France, the High Coven resorted to powering spells by stealing energy from within bodies, killing their victims. Exorcists used relics and words of power from angelic grimoires, magical books, forces that were not intended for extended use by humans.

The world of The Last Days of Magic was assembled from old stories as much as it was invented – not only faded legends, biblical myths, and faerie tales, but also accounts found in history books.

Laura Hartman Maestro's map of The Last Days of Magic's world.

Laura Hartman Maestro’s map of The Last Days of Magic’s world.

The Last Days of Magic is on sale March 1, 2016. Check back tomorrow for more exclusive glimpses at the book and its world, and read our interview with Mark Tompkins here!