Monday, July 28, 2014

The Magic of Love and Desire in Eolyn Fantasy Audiobook

Today I welcome to Her Ladyship's Quest author Karin Rita Gastreich. She is promoting the audio edition of her novel Eolyn. She has a wonderful guest post everyone should read about the love life of her main character. The YouTube video above provides an audio sample. Plus there's a Rafflecopter giveaway you can enter at the bottom of the post.

EOLYN [audio edition]
Karin Rita Gastreich (author)
Darla Middlebrook (narrator)

Sole heiress to a forbidden craft, Eolyn lives in a world where women of her kind are tortured and burned. When she meets Akmael, destined to assume the throne of this violent realm, she embarks upon a path of adventure, friendship, betrayal and war. Bound by magic, driven apart by destiny, Eolyn and the Mage King confront each other in an epic struggle that will determine the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.

"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes will satisfy fans of traditional epic fantasy, with a romantic thread." – Publishers Weekly

“Magnificently written.” –Kindle Book Review

Aen-lasati, the Magic of Love and Desire

By Karin Rita Gastreich

When I began crafting the world of Eolyn, I had it very clear in my head how women’s sexuality would be seen by the subculture of the Magas, the particular tradition of witchcraft that Eolyn inherits. I even allowed Magas to use the term ‘sexuality’ in the original draft of the novel, until one of my editors, Terri-Lynne DeFino, challenged me on this. Terri argued that sexuality as a concept didn’t really exist in the Middle Ages, making the word anachronistic in the context of epic fantasy.

Terri had a point, but her comment put me in a difficult dilemma.  While sexuality may be anachronistic in the context of medieval societies, it was not in any way anachronistic for the Magas of Eolyn’s world. Magas understand the concept of a woman’s desire, and consider it an integral part of women’s magic.  There was no way I could sacrifice the concept of 'sexuality' without losing a very important pillar of their worldview.
With a little bit of thought and some help from a critique partner, I invented the word ‘aen-lasati’, a magical and sacred word that literally translates to the ‘fire within’.  So the word changed in the final version of the novel, but the concept remains.

Aen-lasati is one of the gifts of Primitive Magic, the most ancient, powerful, and least understood class of magic recognized in Eolyn’s world.  Aen-lasati is considered a divine impulse. Magas (as well as mages) are taught to respond to it with joyful reverence, not with fear, and certainly not with prohibition.
In a maga’s worldview, there is no such thing as meaningless sex. All sex, when freely shared, is considered sacred. On the other hand, there is no maxim that sexual relationships must be bound by rules of fidelity. Indeed, according to some schools of thought, the whole concept of fidelity flies in the face of a true understanding of aen-lasati. (This is, of course, a little different from how I was brought up in the American Midwest, but that’s another story. . .)

This perspective does separate magas from the larger context of Eolyn’s world, where women are often expected to fill traditional roles associated with patriarchal medieval societies. This causes no small amount of tension and conflict, not only for Eolyn, but for all the magas who have come before her.
From an author’s point of view, the practical implication of aen-lasati is that my heroine has no qualms about sleeping with a man she does not intend to stay with forever. She can also embrace the possibility of loving two (or more) men at once.  

Now, there is a hero in Eolyn’s story who is the wonderful, complex alpha-type guy that most readers would expect the heroine to commit to when all is said and done. But there is no guarantee that Eolyn will do that, even if given the opportunity. As a maga, she has been taught not to promise herself to one man because sooner or later aen-lasati will kick in, and the gods may very well direct her toward union with someone else.

This sets Eolyn apart from many of the heroines I’ve known, especially in fantasy, where most women seem clearly destined to settle with the one guy who is “right” for them.

I’m certain there are exceptions to this rule; Guinevere comes to mind as an example, and I hope we’ll hear others in today’s comments. But for the most part we seem to expect the Heroine, in her heart of hearts, to wait like the legendary Penelope, steadfast and true, for the one Hero who is “right” for her.

When writing the novel, I really enjoyed exploring this aspect of Eolyn’s world. I found it more interesting to allow complexity and nuance in her choice of partners. As a story teller, I especially appreciated having all bets off in terms of Eolyn’s final decision, whether that would be to settle with a particular man or to continue on her own path of magic.

I’ve also found that the concept of aen-lasati strikes a chord with a wide range of readers, both women and men.  Many consider this one of the most intriguing and fresh aspects of the novel; others are a little taken aback by the teachings of the Magas and their implications for Eolyn’s journey.  In either case, the idea of aen-lasati has my readers thinking, discussing, and debating. I like to believe that this is one of the signs of a story well told.

Note:  I have tried to construct this essay in a way that avoids spoilers for those who have not yet read my novel.  For those of you who have already read EOLYN, I would very much appreciate it if you do the same with your comments. Thank you!


About the Author:

KARIN RITA GASTREICH lives in Kansas City and Costa Rica. An ecologist by trade, her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance.  Karin's first fantasy novel, EOLYN, was released by Hadley Rille Books in 2011. The companion novel, HIGH MAGA, is also available from Hadley Rille Books. Karin’s short stories have appeared in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and A Visitor to Sandahl.   She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency. Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at and at

Author web links:

Blog Heroines of Fantasy:
Twitter:  @EolynChronicles

About the Narrator:

With experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc) with an impressive emotional range.​
Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrates podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books.  She is able to produce retail quality audio books from her home studio in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan - Canada.

Narrator Web Links:

Twitter: @GypsyCatVoice

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