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Looking over the August to-do list (we're nearly halfway through the month!), I believe I've made significant progress on almost all the items. Anything dealing with college is on hold until the week of Fall Orientation, and since the weather remains obstinately hot and muggy, long-sleeves are not possible. But driving continues; one pair of shoes has been bought; Plenilune moves on apace; the brain is suitably stormy; and the first round of Tempus Regina edits is complete. At the moment I am sending this second draft to only two beta readers, but perhaps at the next turnpike I'll expand the readership. I can't send it to everyone but don't wish to disappoint anyone, which puts me in a very sticky situation. We'll see how things pan out.
In the meantime, I will try to get on with the questions asked two months ago. There was one from Joy and one from Sarah Ellen that unintentionally dovetailed, and I think it would be helpful if I tackled them in one post instead of taking them on separately. Both are intimately bound up in the life of Tempus Regina and thus are difficult to spell out in so many words: as with all these questions, only the novel itself can provide anything like adequate answers. However, I hope this post will provide a little clarification, especially to Sarah Ellen's question - which is one I'm sure others have been mentally asking as well and which may make some readers uneasy.
I am curious to know if...Christianity is an obvious and uncloaked element in your characters' faith. What is the religious-system of Tempus Regina's world?
This is a huge question to approach, which is part of the reason why I've taken so long about getting to it. It's dashed difficult! First off, the phrasing presupposes that Tempus Regina is set in some fantasy world, which was hopefully cleared up in my post As Dreams Are Made On. As an historical fantasy, it takes place firmly between the bookends of the real world, and that includes the faith of the characters.
Regina's faith is the product of a Victorian upbringing, a little battered and corroded by the constant necessity of fighting to maintain herself: when you are forced to rub shoulders and knock elbows with the world, a good deal of the prettiness gets chipped off. In the ages to which she travels, however, there is much more of a religious mix. These are the times of early Christianity, when biblical doctrines were often combined with paganism to create a drink more palatable to the heathens. Some continued to hold to the array of Norse or Roman or even Persian gods; others accepted a version of Christianity; others, like the Assassin, took a little of everything but were really agnostics at heart.
This variety obviously jars someone like Regina, and since she finds herself thrown into a bargain with the Assassin, her faith - weak as it is - does collide with his worldview. The antagonism, in fact, does much to reawaken the rudiments of Regina's faith. It brings her face to face with what I mentioned concerning the story's theme: "the law at work in her members" and the war between Spirit and flesh. However, this is much, much less central to the plot than it was to The Soldier's Cross. Or at least, I will say that it is neither so obvious nor resolved so neatly.
On a scale of clear spiritual overtones, my novels would probably be listed as The Soldier's Cross ("What must I do to be saved?"), then Tempus Regina ("Who will deliver me from this body of death?"), then Wordcrafter ("Greater love hath no man than this..."), and then The White Sail's Shaking & The Running Tide ("Am I my brother's keeper?").
I've seen pins on your board about elements and wardings and such. Do you include some sort of magic in this book?
The simple answer is yes, this book does include a much greater magical aspect than any previous work of mine. Tempus Regina is, again, a somewhat dualistic novel and I am constantly working to balance the elements of history and the elements of fantasy. It is not historical fantasy in the way a book like Black Horses for the King is historical fantasy, simply by virtue of its placement in a time period about which we know next to nothing: there are definite fantastical components. This does include some ambiguous sorcery on the part of certain characters.
Magic as "magic" is not a great part of the story. On the other hand, alchemy is, and it branches into intuitive alchemy versus the hard-learned, scientific alchemy of the ancient Greek philosophers. The elemental power that some characters possess, and the burden of mastering something as immense as time itself, introduces a tension that I hope to explore in the future. Suffice it to say for the moment that for the most part, the pins from the Tempus Regina board fit into the realm of scientific alchemy, which forms most of Regina's experience in this novel. It's the Assassin's specialty.