Thursday, April 27, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: Winter and Wistica

The God of Winter is perhaps the most frightening of the Four Gods and Goddesses. He controls not only the weather, but also the land of the dead. People who have committed great crimes are punished by having their souls frozen so they can't reincarnate. This is why Challens swear by saying "Freeze it!" or "That frozen such-and-such!" The God of Winter has two colors associated with Him: blue (for weather) and white (for death). The rest of the Four only have one color each. 

Wistica is the capital of modern Challen. It's located in the southeast section of Challen, where the Chikasi River meets the Salt Waters. The Season Avatars maintain a second home in Wistica, since they come to the city at the start of every season to perform a soltrans ceremony at the Temple. Other key locations in Wistica are the kings' palace and the university. Wistica is semi-officially divided into quarters named after each of the seasons. (There's no wall or structures marking the borders between quarters.) Challens address letters in a way that we would consider upside-down. If you were to invite Gwen and the rest of the Season Avatars to take chocolate with you, you would write the following lines on the envelope:

Spring Quarter
4 Seasons Street
Lady Gwendolyn lo Havil, Ava Spring

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: Vistichia

Vistichia is the original name for Challen's capital. Back in Seasons' Beginnings, Vistichia was more of a city-state than the capital of a much larger country. I actually modeled Vistichia on ancient city-states. The homes in Vistichia were built of mud-brick; few, if any, traces of them remain eight hundred years later. The only building from that era still mostly intact is the Temple for the Four Gods and Goddesses (They claimed an existing building instead of ordering a new one to be built.) The Seasons Avatars' house in Wistica is built on the site of their home in Vistichia. (The original home was severely damaged during the Fip Annexation.) Seasons' Beginnings is the only book where Vistichia appears. By Scattered Seasons, language changes and a tendency to shorten words changed the city name to Wistica. We'll take a look at the modern city tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: University

Challen has a single university in Wistica, open to men and women from all walks of life. Although the Season Avatars don't attend, the university is the setting for a couple of scenes in different books. In Scattered Seasons, Gwen and Jenna first meet Kron at a lecture he presents on ancient civilizations. Ysabel, Kron, and Jenna attend a different public lecture during the opening of Fifth Season. Later in the same book, Ysabel has a key insight while touring the university's zoological collection.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: Time and Tradetown

This is the last full week of the 2017 A-Z Blogging Challenge. To celebrate, I'm putting Fifth Season on sale this week for $0.99.

As I've mentioned in earlier blog posts, Salth is obsessed with time and gains additional time-related magic in Seasons' Beginnings. This magic allows her to create the Chaos Season storms she sends against Challen. She can slow down time, speed it up to age someone to death, and summon things from the deep past. Her main weakness is that she focuses on the past, not the future.

 Tradetown is a town near the border of Challen and the Dead Land, or Selath. It gained its name long ago when Challens and Selathens met there to trade. Today, Tradetown still is home to many Selathens, including Ysabel's family. We see Tradetown first in Scattered Seasons and also in Chaos Season.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: A Slew of S's

There as so many "S" characters in the Season Avatars series that I can't do full descriptions for them. Here's a quick rundown of what makes the letter "S" so special:

Goddess of Spring: The Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen have no names other than the season They're associated with. Spring is normally pictured as a matronly woman with long blonde hair, and She looks after the people of Challen. Although She's considered "married" to Winter, Summer and Fall aren't Their children.

God of Summer: Little is known about this quiet God, pictured as a green-skinned youth thin enough to disappear into a tree. He controls all the plants in Challen through His Avatars. Homosexual, bisexual, or transgender men, as well as men who wish to remain single for other reasons, might declare themselves Summersmen.

Salth: A magician from Kron's original time. Rumor has it she was born in a king's harem and escaped it thanks to her gifts. Obsessed with magic and time, she is both neglectful of her son Sal-thaath yet his fierce protector if he's threatened.

Sal-thaath: Salth's son, created through magic and skilled in magic himself. He seeks Kron out for company in Seasons' Beginnings.

Selathens: Descendants of people who fled the Dead Land when Salth's power increased. Most of them have settled near the border, but some moved inland and assimilated into the general population of Challen. Those who remain separate have split into two groups: those who want little to do with magic and those who worship Salth. Ysabel's father belongs to the latter group. Perhaps due to lingering resentment toward Salth, Selathens generally hold women in lower esteem than men.

Sophia: The Fall Avatar from Margaret's quartet. When Margaret dies suddenly, the other two members of the quartet have no interest in holding the group together, leaving the inexperienced Sophia to pick up the leadership.

I'll be participating in the March for Science in Chicago this morning and attending C2E2 the rest of the weekend, so I won't have much time to visit other blogs until Monday. My report on C2E2 will be delayed until May as well.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Season Avatars #A-ZChallenge: Reincarnation

Everyone reincarnates in Challen, but only the Season Avatars remember anything from their past lives.

Challens view the dead as resting in the God of Winter's domain until they're ready to be reborn. They refer to the dead as "absent" and believe that they will be reunited with their loved ones in a different life, though their relationships may change. For example, a parent and a child may switch roles in their next life.

For Season Avatars, reincarnation is different. They're reborn in different parts of Challen and different classes so they know the needs of the entire country. They need to know as much as possible about what their magic affects, such as the human body, plants, animals, or the weather. Therefore, they remember what they learned in their previous lives. It doesn't all come back to them at once, but gradually, when they need it. (They always know they're meant to be Season Avatars, as if their birthdays and auras didn't give it away.) They may remember some personal details from previous lives, but not all of them. (This affects the story in Chaos Season.) It's also easier for them to remember recent lives instead of earlier ones. This is why they don't remember the Four as clearly as Kron does.

Here's the full list of Season Avatars, with their names in Season's Beginnings (their first life as Avatars) in parentheses next to the names they have in the rest of the series:

Group 1  (Future Avatars--They become official mid-series)
Gwendolyn lo Havil (Galia)—Spring
Jenna Dorshay t’Reve (Janno)—Summer
Ysabel s’Ivena Lathatilltin (Bella)—Fall
Kay Seltich (Caye)—Winter

Group 2 (Current Avatars in Scattered Seasons and Chaos Season)
Margaret gran Garnell (Magstrom)—Spring (deceased)
Charles vin Estcher (Carver)—Summer
Sophia vin Estcher  (Sylva)—Fall
Dorian gran Garnell (Domina)—Winter
Group 3 (Past Avatarsall deceased)
Tylon fi Vort (Tylan)—Spring
Frederick min Jole (Flilya)—Summer
Helene ava Hartfut (Hala)—Fall
Olivia ava Kalt (Ocul)—Winter

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Season Avatars #AtoZChallenge: Quartets

Season Avatars, like the Four Gods and Goddesses, work in groups of four. Each group consists of one Spring Avatar, a Summer Avatar, a Fall Avatar (who's always female--the other three Avatars can be either gender), and a Winter Avatar. Each quartet of Avatars who belong together are always born in the same year. In Challen, the year starts on the spring solstice, so the Spring Avatar is the oldest (and by default, the leader, especially since the Spring Avatar can magically link the rest of the quartet), and the Winter Avatar the youngest. There are three quartets of Season Avatars, each in a different generation. One quartet will be born, grow up, and come together at the One Oak. Once they've proved themselves to the older generation of Season Avatars, the older quartet retires, and the new group serves for about thirty to forty years until the third quartet is born and comes of age. In theory, the transition between groups happens without fuss, but in practice, Season Avatars aren't always ready to step down. This theme occurs throughout the second, third, and fourth books in the series (the first book occurs before this system is established.) How do we know there are only three sets of Season Avatars? Because they reincarnate, which I'll discuss tomorrow for the letter R.

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