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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading debut author's novels or those author's who have not had many reviews thus providing them much needed encouragement 
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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Guest Post by Janet Ursel, Dear Professor Wotton

I recently discovered a new author, Janet Ursel, and her debut novel, Disenchanted. I read and reviewed an advanced reader's copy prior to the release of this book on July 14. To help celebrate and promote this release, I asked Janet to be a guest on this blog and asked her to write about anything she wanted concerning her writing, journey to published author or her novel, Disenchanted.

I was very very pleased to say that Janet has created an account from the main character, Blayn Goodwin, who provides some backdrop to the theme of wizards and wizardry that forms some of the world-building to Enchanted. This account is not in the novel but is the background to one event that did happen in the novel, where the main character Blayn wanted to know from Professor Wotton, a Southlander, why the Southlanders dislike the Coventree people and their way of life. After quite an explicit account of why this is, Blayn decides (in this letter to the Professor, that is not in Enchanted) to explain some of the background of the Wizardry hierarchy to help the Professor understand that his claims against the Coventree Wizards and their behaviour may not be entirely well founded. It almost reads like a deleted scene or an Appendix! 

So sit back, enjoy this segment of the wonderful world-building that Janet has created that exists in Enchanted as Blayn explains the hierarchy of Wizardry and the training of wizards.

Dear Professor Wotton, 

In response to your request for information about Wizardry and how it works in Coventree, I thought I would give you a list of all the steps required to become the Supreme Wizard (or Wizardress, although that is rare). I hope that you will find the information useful for your classes. All of this is such common knowledge for those of us in Coventree, it’s easy to forget that students in the Southlands would not know. 

The process usually begins when a witch or magician goes looking for an apprentice, although in some cases the parents of the child take the initiative. The child is usually about twelve at the time, although exceptions can be made. I myself was only nine. It still astonishes me that my mother allowed it. Strong preference is given to children who are Mageborn, and apprentices with no wizarding background will find it difficult to rise through the system. This difficulty may account for Edgar Saville’s willingness to look outside Coventree for ways to enhance his chances. I suspect that is changing now.

Apprenticeship usually lasts seven years, not because it really takes that long to learn the basics of magic, but because apprentices provide a cheap source of labour for their masters. To be fair, it probably would not be wise for most young people to advance to the next stage much younger anyway. Maturity is needed as well as knowledge. When the apprenticeship is complete, the new sorcerer or sorceress receives his or her athame (the ceremonial dagger) and leaves behind the apprentice’s tunic for light brown robes. 

Sorcerers are under no obligation to continue through the ranks. They can settle down and marry and provide whatever services they have been trained for. This is especially common for herbalists, like my mother, or experts in powders and philtres. Others just use their wizarding skills to give them an advantage in their family’s business, or use the opportunity to break into something different. 

But those who do wish to rise higher must go on a period of Wandering. They explore Coventree, getting to know witches and magicians from different towns and shires, to expand their knowledge beyond what their own masters could teach them. They are also expected to develop something new: a new spell, a new remedy, a new use for something already known. I am rather sorry for my own discovery; it has resulted in many deaths. 

Then the aspiring witch or magician must undergo the Witch’s Flight: anointed with a salve made of henbane, belladonna, and mandrake, they undergo an illusion of flying, among other things. This is supposed to open their minds to greater things. Some do not survive, and this is supposed to indicate the choice of the gods. Alan Phips has since told me that my own flight was “eventful”. 

After all this has been accomplished, and approved by the shire wizards, the young man becomes a magician, the young woman, a witch. The functions are the same for both: bestowing blessings, officiating at Circles, plus whatever specialized skills they have to offer. In small villages, they often become a central power. They are not allowed to marry in order to keep their focus and commitment on their craft. They are allowed to consort with other witches and magicians, but are not supposed to form any lasting ties. This has always mystified me. I wonder now if even this might end up changing. 

Witches and magicians wear a flat, cylindrical cap and robes in the colour of their shire to indicate their status. They are addressed by Mistress or Master with their surname. 

To become a wizard or wizardress, one must be invited to join the Grand Council of one of the six shires. Each of these is made up of six wizards and six wizardresses. Wizards carry a staff with a pewter knob on the top, wear a linked pewter belt, and a cap like a magician’s but embroidered in silver. They stop using their last name, being presumably too important to need one. Thus Master Phips became Master Alan once appointed to Council, for example. 

Each Grand Council is led by one Grand Wizard and one Grand Wizardress, who are also their shire’s representatives on the Supreme Council. They wear the cylindrical hat of the Supreme Council, a belt of silver medallions, and carry a silver-knobbed staff and are referred to as Grand Master or Mistress. 

The Supreme Council is presided over by a single Supreme Wizard or Wizardress, bringing the total number of members to thirteen on the Council. The Supreme Wizard gets the tallest hat of all (never with a brim—the wind would rip it off his head) and dresses in dark brown robes with gold for his staff, belt, and embroidery. He is chosen by the other Council members and usually remains for life, or at least as long as he can function. As you can imagine, a lot of politicking goes into these choices, although the Supreme Wizard is not that supreme on council. He still has only one vote and must rule by influence more than anything else. Still, his influence, both on Council and in all Coventree, is vast. I say “he” because women very seldom manage to develop the power base to be chosen. This angered my mother a great deal, although she seldom spoke of it. When she did, it was explosive! 

I trust that will satisfy the curiosity of your students and fill in any gaps in your own knowledge. I really do long to come visit you again in Sunbury, but now that I am free to move about as I wish, I am too busy to do so! 

May God hold you in his grace, 

Blayn Goodwin

Thanks Janet for a very entertaining and comprehensive account of one of the aspects of the world-building that you have so masterfully constructed in Disenchanted.

If Janet's account has whetted your appetite for more of Disenchanted, it can be bought at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online and Christian bookstores.

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