Few writers can say they live in Middle Earth. Steven Raaymakers is one of them. Though “largely inhabited by sheep and cows,” as the author puts it, New Zealand is also a source of inspiration on an epic scale.
And we’re not just talking about inspiration with language. We’re talking visuals, too.
Concept art is very important for a writer like Raaymakers. Through art he is able to build a world and explore its cultures. One look at his gallery on http://vonstreff.deviantart.com/gallery/ and one can see it’s through the visuals that Raaymakers explores mood and setting, such as different locations of his Rhotian Empire. The attention to detail staggers the imagination. With places like this in Raaymakers’ mind’s eye, there’s no telling what wonders the story holds for the reader. Here’s another breathtaking example:
The Wyverns’ Way climbs the steep cliffs of the Western Coast. Carved centuries ago by an ambitious king, the Way was originally used to post sentries to watch the Western Sea. Legends and myths held no information about what lay beyond, and the ever present threat lurked over the king’s mind. After a decade or so they fell into disuse, the wind and rain corroding the stone and rounding the steps. Now it lies abandoned.
Raziel and Alicia face this perilous climb, one of the most difficult moments in their journey.
Raziel and Alicia are the young main characters in Raaymakers’ Aria of Steel Trilogy. Yes, kids. Kids have to climb that beautiful, terrifying cliff-stair.
But let’s be clear: this is no children’s fairy tale of happy-go-lucky adventure. Like Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, the audience meets a child surrounded by the terrible, and forced to thrive upon blood and fear. Chapter 1 opens with Raziel wielding vengeance upon others. No adult thinks the child possible of such violence, and they’re right—on his own Raziel would not be capable of killing a guard, or a general. But with a cursed sword in his hand, all bloody things are possible…that is, until he meets Alicia. She’s not to be read by anyone: Raziel, the sword, or the reader. A wild card like that promises some dark and dangerous adventure in the chapters to come.
Care to know more?
Raziel is a tortured soul. Soon after finding a speaking sword in a forest, his family is slaughtered by the Rhotian Empire. The twelve year old boy sets out to avenge his family, and destroy the empire.
Alicia, a girl with the power to ‘hear’ emotions and control them, joins Raziel and his sword, an uneasy truce binding them. Their journey is fraught with peril, and unbeknownst to them the empire is facing threats from within.
Will they find the inner peace they strive for? Can they forgive one another, and themselves? Or will Raziel ultimately become the living nightmare the sword whispers of?
Steve Raaymakers can be found on Facebook, both as an author—
—and as an artist.
His blog, http://ariaofsteel.blogspot.co.nz/, provides a sneak peek at the first two chapters of Canticle of Souls. If you’re a lover of the dark fantasy epic, then you’ve found your next trilogy.
Special thanks to Jean Lee of Jean Lee’s World for her contribution to this spotlight.