To me, being a good person requires that you live by your ideals. But what if your ideals require that you heal the dead, even though everyone else thinks necromancy is evil?
That conflict between personal integrity and societal mores is one of the central themes of the Necromancer’s Daughter, the new book by my good friend D.Wallace Peach:
“A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.”
To me, the key phrase is ‘heal death’. Not ‘raise an army of zombies’ or ‘use necromancy to gain personal power’ but to heal. And that raises the question of motivation, another key theme in the story. This is the review I left on Amazon:
‘Aster is born dead and is brought to life by Barus, a necromancer. Not exactly what you would call normal people, and yet…two more loving people would be hard to find. And /that/ begs all sorts of questions about good and evil, love and hate, integrity and lies.
How can giving life be evil when taking it is not?
How can kindness be evil when cruelty is not?
How can living according to one’s beliefs be evil when deception is not?
These are vital questions, and give The Necromancer’s Daughter a depth that I absolutely loved. Brilliant story masterfully told.
Very highly recommended.
Both Barus and Aster are forced to flee in separate directions as a powerful, angry man uses his position to hunt them down. The reason? Revenge. He wanted his young son raised from the dead, but the child’s injuries were too severe. Had he been brought back to life, he would not have been able to stay alive. Not all deaths can be healed.
Many years later, that man’s younger son, Joreh, is caught in a conflict between Aster’s goodness and the repugnance he was taught to feel for necromancy, and necromancers. Another choice, but this time between what Joreh sees with his own eyes and what he has been taught to believe.
To get an insight into the author’s own motivation, I asked Diana whether these themes evolved during the writing of the book or were there right from the start. This is what she said:
Thanks so much, Andrea, for the beautiful review and the question. I’d say you hit the themes of the book on the head. What more can an author hope for?
I’m an outliner, so the theme of a book usually presents itself before I start writing. It bubbles up as I shape my characters and start plotting the sequence of the action.
I often find my inspiration in real life. We live in an opinionated world, where assumptions about whole groups of people are salted with cruel and dangerous righteousness. It’s easy to get sucked into battlelines, and I’m no saint, that’s for sure. In The Necromancer’s Daughter, I wanted to challenge those kinds of harmful preconceptions.
To that end, I created a character who, in common fantasy fiction, is considered pure evil, someone who is feared and ungodly, physically hideous and possessive of dark power. I wanted to challenge readers to discover the exact opposite of the typical expectation. Barus and Aster are truly good human beings who, by healing death, are risking their lives to save others.
At the same time, I wanted to create “good guys” who, through their narrow and rigid vision of the world, end up committing and justifying acts of evil. In other words, I tried to flip all assumptions on their heads!
In a way, young Joreh Graeger is the most important character in the book. He’s the one who questions the truth of his biases. He gets to know Aster as an individual, and goes through the tough process of changing his mind when his assumptions no longer apply. He learns that what is good and evil isn’t defined by power or doctrine or wealth or what he was taught as a child, but by love, kind intentions, and a desire to do no harm.
Thanks again for having me over to your blog today. You’re the best!
Ah, Diana, this sentence resonates so much! ‘He [Joreh] learns that what is good and evil isn’t defined by power or doctrine or wealth or what he was taught as a child, but by love, kind intentions, and a desire to do no harm.’ In this age of polarized battle lines, we could all do with some Asters in our lives.
I honestly can’t recommend The Necromancer’s Daughter more. If you haven’t started reading this story already, please go to one of the following sites and download your copy today. You’ll thank me. And you’re welcome. 😀
And just in case you’ve never read any of Diana’s books before, here’s a little bit about her:
A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.
In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography. Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
One of the things I love most about the internet and blogging is the ability to make friends with people on the other side of the world. Diana is one such friend. Her blog has attracted a community of writers and readers, many of whom I also call friend. I hope to see you there too. 🙂
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8
I’ll finish this post with the beautiful video trailer Diana created for the book: