Tag Archives: Undead

Is it Necromancy or Not?

Hi everyone!

Thanks to a lot of fantasy-based fiction, including books, video games, movies, and TV shows, most everyone has at least some idea of what necromancy is.  The act of raising the deceased, or reanimating them.

Burning-Skies-Digital-FinalRecently, a friend who finished reading Burning Skies came to me disappointed with how necromancy was used in the new novel.  The reason?  Without giving the plot away, she was unhappy by the apparent hypocrisy of how characters regard necromancy and how they regard what the Staff of Aliz does.

Though she remained unconvinced after I explained the difference, it prompted a great conversation between us, and I wanted to cover the topic here, hopefully generating discussion from you, my awesome readers :D

What is Necromancy?

Image Source - vsbattles.wikia.com
Image Source – vsbattles.wikia.com

According to the Oxford Dictionary, necromancy is: “The supposed practice of communicating with the dead, especially in order to predict the future.”

This holds true with my research into necromancy as it is known in the occult.  The legend goes that if necromancy is used on a deceased person, the undead may reveal the future.  Really and truly, that is what people in the ancient world (and perhaps many still do in occult circles) believed.

necro-gameofthronesFantasy has taken a different spin on it.  There are many, many forms of necromancy throughout the varying fantasy universes.  I have not seen many that use it based on the original intent.  Most ‘pop-culture’ fantasy merely makes necromancy a form of raising the dead and making them do their bidding.  World of Warcraft, Buffy/Angel, and even Game of Thrones (though I don’t know if they call it necromancy in the show, and I have not yet read any of the books.)

This is, without doubt, the most common thread I see in fantasy.  There are cases where the resurrected person retains their personality, to at least some extent, but there are others that show it as nothing more than reanimating a body.  No soul, no intelligence, no personality, just a mindless automaton.

Necromancy in Burning Skies

So how does it work in the Sword of Dragons universe?  Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this post, beyond the existence of necromancers.

A brief history of necromancy that is not covered in Burning Skies: when the Necromancers of Vestuul first came to be, it was when they had discovered a new magic: they could reanimate the dead.

Though no personality or soul returned to the risen, the magic used to raise them connected them to the Universe, indeed the magic was of the very essence of the Universe.  These deceased could be coerced into revealing events to come, predicting the future with startling accuracy.

Image Source - thespectacularspider-girl.tumblr.com
Image Source – thespectacularspider-girl.tumblr.com

But the necromancers lost their way.  Over the centuries, the magic was perverted, and the most powerful necromancers were able to raise and control armies of undead.  With every fallen enemy, the ranks of the undead grew, until nothing could stop the necromancers, and they conquered their world.

How Does The Staff of Aliz Work?

Introduced in The Sword of Dragons, and eventually finding it’s way into the hands of the first Wizard King, the Staff of Aliz controls the very life forces of the Universe.  With a disciplined mind, the wielder can literally dispel the very life within any living thing.  Or give it back…  It can even heal the gravest of wounds.

Image Source - wowwiki.wikia.com
Image Source – wowwiki.wikia.com

But it has limitations.  As the Wizard King explained in The Sword of Dragons, if a person has been dead for too long, the staff will not work.  And in Burning Skies, the staff cannot return the undead back to life.

When a deceased person is brought back to life by the Staff of Aliz, it is truly bringing that person back to life.  Their soul, their intelligence, everything they were returns, and their bodies are healed.

What’s The Difference?

The difference is in the definition: someone brought back to life with the Staff of Aliz is exactly what it sounds like: they are brought back to life.  Necromancy, on the other hand, only reanimates the body.  No soul, no intelligence, nothing of the former person remains except for their body.  Furthermore, their body will continue to decompose.

Think of the difference between someone who has been resuscitated and a zombie (think biological zombies, an infection.  Walking Dead for example.)  While the resuscitated person may have been dead for a very short time, they are still themselves (assuming no brain damage from lack of oxygen.)  Zombies are not themselves.  They have no intelligence.  The only part of their brain that works are base instincts and basic motor skills.

Image Source - wallbase.fr
Image Source – wallbase.fr

Now apply that to magic (if this were a sci fi instead of fantasy, it would be advanced science that simply looks like magic to the less developed.)  The difference between the Staff of Aliz and necromancy is like the difference between a Paladin in World of Warcraft reviving a character and a Death Knight or a necromancer raising a corpse.  Is the Paladin using necromancy?

What Do You Think?

I’ve made my case, now I want to hear from all of you!  What do you think?  Do you think the Staff of Aliz is necromancy?  Or do you think they are completely different schools of magic?  Is it hypocritical for characters to condemn necromancy but be okay with the Staff of Aliz?

Thanks for reading!  :)
-Jon Wasik

Character Reveal – The Covenant’s Guardian

Hi everyone!

With the release of Burning Skies just around the corner, I thought I should start sharing more about the exciting new adventure!  :)

Image Source - background-kid.com
Image Source – background-kid.com

Burning Skies starts six months after the conclusion of The Sword of Dragons.  The new Alliance has fought on a unified front against the orc incursion, and have pushed them back into the Wastelands.

In that time, all contact has been lost with the exploratory colony on the far eastern continent of Trinil.  The Wizards attempt to portal to the colony, but find they are blocked from doing so.  In fact, they cannot create a portal anywhere on the vast new continent.

Screenshot from Skyrim
Screenshot from Skyrim

As further mysteries compound, the Allied Council decides to send Cardin, Sira, and the rest of their team across the vast ocean to investigate.  What they find is an army of undead, poised to strike at Edilas at the will of their necromancer masters.  But who are the Necromancers?  Why must they strike at Edilas?  And how has no one ever encountered them before?

The Covenant of the Order of the Ages

Imagine everything you thought you knew about the universe has suddenly come into question.  What were once known facts have suddenly been proven completely wrong.  And imagine those facts were taught by a central body.

The Covenant, leaders of the Order of the Ages, have managed to retain a seat on the new Allied Council, but at the start of Burning Skies, their position has begun to weaken.  They have openly admitted to misinterpreting the Cronal, the central document that forms the foundation of the Order, and as they attempt to ascertain the truth, they struggle to maintain their place in the world.

But the Covenant’s secrets run even deeper than anyone knows, and as prophecy and apocalypse begins to unfold upon Halarite, more of the Covenant’s secrets begin to unravel.

Anila Kovin – Trusted Guardian of the Order

With such dangerous knowledge beneath the very foundations of Archanon, they have entrusted the protection of their order to an elite few.  Anila Kovin is the greatest of their guardians.

Shrouded in mystery, Anila is one of the most skilled soldiers Cardin has ever encountered.  She wields a sword unlike anything ever encountered on Halarite – long, slender, and curved, light as a dagger, and made with the strongest steel.  Anila is able to hold her own against Cardin despite having no powers.

Image Source - alphacoders.com
Image Source – alphacoders.com

When the mystery of the new colony on Trinil is linked to the Order and its secrets, Anila is dispatched with Cardin and his team to journey across the sea.  There she begins to form a close friendship with Reis, the only other member of the group to be powerless.

This comes as a refreshing change for the Warrior.  Having always been surrounded by Mages, and more recently Wizards, Reis has envied their power and felt out of place.  Anila is the first person he has met who is as powerless as he is, yet can hold their own against those with magic.

However, Anila’s secrets cannot remain hidden forever.  And in the final climactic battle of Burning Skies, the truth of who she is must be unveiled, and Reis’s spirits crushed.

I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into Burning Skies!  This is still just the beginning, and barely scratches the surface of the epic story told within the pages of Burning Skies.

PS: for those curious minds, Anila’s sword is indeed meant to resemble a samurai sword…  ;)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik