When I’m writing stories in my Hollow series, I try to make some of the magic used in Hollow pretty much run of the mill as far as the locals are concerned.
It’s kind of like we are today with electricity. We take it for granted that we can plug in a lamp, or a hairdryer, and it lights up or blows hot air (preferably not both). But three hundred years ago, your electrical appliance would have seemed like magic to anyone witnessing you blow-drying your curly locks. There would be a mob bearing pitchforks and flaming torches outside your house, coming to drag you off to the nearest bonfire before you’d even taken out your curlers.
Like electricity is to us, some magic is rather humdrum to the residents of Hollow. Not all of it, of course, because there’s some out of the ordinary magic there too. Nevertheless, they can make use of sympanometry without the slightest curiosity about how it works.
Back in our own non-fiction world, we accept that there are things we don’t understand. For example, you don’t need to know how a microchip works in order to use a computer, or how an engine works when you’re driving to your local supermarket at breakneck speed, late at night, to buy a card for your mother whose birthday you’ve only just remembered.
That’s how it is with sympanometry (the popular-in-Hollow branch of magic based on shapes).
A case in point is Krislemeen, the prickly, easy-to-offend leader of a bunch of rebels, who has no need to understand the principles of sympathetic shapes in order for her to use sympanometry to execute anyone unlucky enough to have offended her.
In the third book, A Taste of Steel, Drome rubs Krislemeen up the wrong way – as he does with almost everyone – and finds himself on the receiving end of the rebel leader’s ire.
I won’t give too much away, suffice to say, he’s only go himself to blame, which isn’t much of a comfort when he’s strapped atop a pile of explosives, waiting for the fun to begin.
For Krislemeen, the magic she’s using to trigger the explosives is rather mediocre. Drome, on the other hand – especially at that point – doesn’t feel sympanometry is boring and commonplace at all.
I’m sure you’d agree if you were in the same situation.
Well, you would, wouldn’t you?