My 2021 mini series on The Query Letter was a lot of fun for me, and well-received by my followers. So, I’ve decided to do another series for 2022, centered on a theme I haven’t discussed in a long time: the mythological and historical foundations of Eolyn’s world. With each post, I’ll reveal hidden backstories and little known facts that aren’t always apparent in the novels. Followers who have read The Silver Web are bound to learn something new. For those who haven’t yet started the books, no worries: I will avoid spoilers! As part of the series, I’ll connect each topic to a broader discussion of my creative process.
I’m very excited about this new endeavor. I hope my posts will generate interest and discussion from readers and writers alike. Please fill up the comments with any ideas and thoughts that come to mind as you read each post!
Today, we’ll begin with the Origin of the Silver Web.
To understand why the Silver Web exists, we must return to one of the great atrocities of the Mage King’s reign: the massacre at East Selen. At Midwinter’s Eve, a powerful family of magic known as the Clan of East Selen had gathered deep inside their forest home. Their celebration was bright and full of hope. A truce had recently been declared with the Mage King Kedehen. The war, they thought, had ended. No one expected an attack, but Kedehen, driven by fury and fear, decided to crush them all.
In Chapter 32 of Eolyn, Mage Corey, who escaped the massacre as a child, gives this account many years later:
“Kedehen’s men came at night. They dragged my people out of their beds and murdered them on the doorsteps. Men, women, and children. No one was spared. I thought I was trapped in a nightmare. My mother…” Corey paused and cleared his throat. “My mother suffered much before she died. My father was hacked to pieces in front of my eyes.”
Only two people survived: the child Corey and his older cousin, the witch Briana. Both were captured by Kedehen. In exchange for sparing Corey’s life, Briana agreed to become Kedehen’s Queen. She soon gave birth to Kedehen’s only son, the Mage Prince Akmael.
Briana’s relationship with Kedehen was complicated. She hated him for the massacre, yet before the war, they had fallen in love. Briana first met Kedehen as a young prince, when he began his study of magic. Because of his many elder brothers, Prince Kedehen was certain he would never ascend to the throne, nor did he want to. But fate had other plans. When Kedehen became King, insurrectionists who did not want a wizard crowned took up arms against him. They fought a long and brutal war. After the war ended, Kedehen, anxious to protect the peace, sought to stamp out any remaining opposition.
Throughout the war, Briana tried to stay neutral, but the nature of the conflict demanded everyone pick sides, and the brutal aftermath made it impossible for her to support the man she once loved. While she did not willingly become Kedehen’s Queen, her capitulation was seen as a betrayal by the handful of witches who escaped the ongoing purges. When Akmael was born, Briana’s destiny, and the destiny of the Clan of East Selen, became bound to Kedehen’s lineage.
It is sometimes said that in a world controlled by men, a woman’s only defense is the curse. As Kedehen systematically systematically eliminated women practitioners of magic, Briana found herself cornered and without hope. While Kedehen maintained tight control over her magic, the Queen managed to craft a curse disguised as an amulet. This was the Silver Web, made to put an end to the line of Kings that had destroyed Briana’s heritage and betrayed her sisters in magic. Before she died, Briana gifted the medallion to her own son.
My earliest conception of the Silver Web was not as a jewel but as a tapestry. I envisioned Queen Briana imprisoned in her tower, weaving a tapestry that foretold the story of her son and Eolyn, the last daughter of the witches of old; the girl who would bring forth a new era of magic. (Remembering this, I find it very interesting that artist Autumn M. Birt’s 2021 rendition of the Silver Web resembles a tapestry!) I abandoned the idea of a tapestry because it became clear to me prophecy has no place in Eolyn’s world. As skilled as Briana is with her magic, she cannot write the future; she can only weave intention.
Just as Briana’s relationship to Kedehen is complicated, so too is the intention woven into the Silver Web. Briana seeks to break the power of her son’s lineage, but not through conflict or bloodshed. Rather, she hopes to redeem Akmael’s soiled heritage through the transformative power of love.
I can’t say whether Briana’s wish is fulfilled without some major spoilers. In any case, readers might argue the question is left open at the end of the trilogy. Whatever the final outcome, the Silver Web plays a powerful role in the saga, uniting Akmael and Eolyn in an enduring bond of friendship and respect. To discover how that bond impacts the future of magic and the many characters with whom their fates are interwoven, you’ll have to read the novels!
QOTD: What roles do prophecy, curses, and magical intention play in stories you have read or written? Do you think curses always bad, or can they be used as a tool for justice?