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Chima returns to the Seven Realms with next-generation spinoff

Posted April 4
Updated April 7

You might say that author Cinda Williams Chima’s life has always been touched by magic.

With a fortuneteller for a grandmother and an active imagination, Chima has never been far from the notion of magic.

“When my sister and I would visit (my grandmother), we were always begging her to tell us our fortunes,” Chima said. “You could say part of my interest in magic started there.”

And with Chima giving her latest series the tagline of “Dragons, pirates and wizards behaving badly: Welcome to the Shattered Realms," readers can bet that the four-book Shattered Realms series will be packed with all things magical.

Flamecaster” (HarperTeen, $18.99, ages 13 and up) the first book in the series, brings Chima’s fans back to the world of her Seven Realms series, following the next generation.

After a series of murders leaves the "queendom" of the Fells in chaos, Adrian sul’Han, also known as Ash, has his mind set on revenge. Ash is a powerful healing wizard, but in the case of the king of the neighboring land of Arden, he has determined he will take a life instead of save it.

Jenna Bandelow, given away by her true family at birth, bears a beautiful yet mysterious magemark. Jenna has spent her entire existence fighting for her life, either by surviving the cruel work in the mines or running from those who seek her magemark. And no one, including Jenna, knows exactly what the mark means.

But Jenna and Ash seem to be destined for something more, and their strange meeting unites them against Arden, setting them on a dangerous and unexpected path.

“I wouldn’t say I planned on doing a spinoff,” Chima said, “but I was very eager to return to the (Seven Realms) world and see what was going on.”

Chima, who has written some 250,000 unpublished words about the Seven Realms world, laughed about knowing the world very well. Some of the events in the new Shattered Realms series were actually partly written a few years ago, Chima said. After 25 years of war in the Fells, Chima was interested in looking at the effect it would have on the characters.

“If you grow up and you know nothing else but a wartime setting, you’re going to grow up differently,” Chima said. “So this generation, even though I didn’t take it easy on the main characters in my first series, this generation has had a really tough time.”

Fans of Chima’s Seven Realms series can expect appearances from some of their favorite characters. And where Chima’s first series focused on the Fells, Shattered Realms will introduce characters from all over the Seven Realms.

“I kind of hate to say who is coming back and who isn’t,” Chima said. “People who have read the first series will see some familiar faces, but center stage will be taken up by these new characters — several of whom are the children of characters that were in the first series.”

Readers who have not yet read Chima’s Seven Realms series will still be able to read “Flamecaster” without feeling lost, but readers should know that the Shattered Realms series holds relationship spoilers for the Seven Realms series.

“I try to make it so it doesn’t matter,” Chima said. “Obviously, I hope that someone who reads the new series will be prompted to go back and read the other series. … If I had my way, all my books would stand alone yet be connected. You know how you go to the library and the only book on the shelf is the third book in the series? But that gets pretty impossible with this kind of story because it is sequential and builds.”

Despite coming back to a world that Chima has spent years writing, the Shattered Realms series has required a lot of research.

“It’s interesting how much research you actually have to do to create a fantasy world,” Chima said. “A lot of people think if you write fantasy you just make everything up. But it’s real-world details that make your fantasy world convincing.”

Studying everything from cannons to horses to castle architecture, Chima takes care to make the points that carry between fantasy and reality match up.

Whether her ideas are fantastical or based in reality, Chima finds that the best time for them to come to her is early in the morning.

“I like to say that voice in my head, the one that tells me I don’t know what I’m doing, she is still asleep,” she said. “That’s when I come up with my most creative ideas.”

“Flamecaster” contains violence related to war, mild sexual references and a few mild swear words.

Hikari Loftus is a graduate of the University of Utah. She blogs at FoldedPagesDistillery.blogspot.com.

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