Last Sunday, I reflected on how trees not only influence human creativity in terms of art and literature, but play an important part in defining the landscape of the fantasy worlds in my books.
In the first post, I focused on Thornspell.
Probably the most significant way in which trees shape the landscape in The Heir of Night is through their absence.
Two thirds to three quarters of the book takes place on the Wall of Night, which is a bleak, wind-blasted and lifeless environment.
The contrast to more clement terrain is made gradually in the last part of the book, where the protagonists cross the transitional Gray Lands to the hills of Jaransor.
Here is the reader’s first encounter with trees in the transitional and marginal Gray Lands:
“The country was both lawless and desolate, but there were way stations all along the road’s length, established by the River merchants who traded with the Derai. The last—or first—of these was tucked into the low hills around the Border Mark and comprised little more than a wood pile and a ring of blackened fire stones. The dawn light, stealing into this camp, revealed a fire’s cold ashes; two great gray horses were tethered among the wind-stunted trees, with their saddles and a modest amount of equipment trussed into the branches overhead.”
~ from The Heir Of Night, Chapter 27, The Border Mark
The following is what the main characters, Malian and Kalan, experience when they cross over into Jaransor:
“Despite her weariness, she began to notice small details about the landscape around her. The herb thyme grew wild and its scent rose, heady and aromatic, whenever the horses’ hooves crushed it. Small yellow flowers danced among the rocks and the higher slopes were covered in a mix of scrambling green—sweetbriar, said Kyr, when she roused herself to ask—and dark, twisting thorn scrub. Eventually, Malian began to see the green shimmer of trees growing along small precipitous creeks, and they stopped at last in a narrow ravine where the trees formed a green roof and a stream ran clear over brown pebbles.”
~ from The Heir Of Night, Chapter 25, The River of No Return
As in our world, trees in The Wall of Night world signify life.
Also, just for those who wonder how New Zealand figures in my writing—seeing as its Fantasy—does anyone local recognise the landscape influence on the Jaransor scene?