Realm Explorers Part XCV: Visit New Lilinar and Dubinshire with Dawn Blair
Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 
Dawn has the first three books in the series set up with reduced prices this week starting at $0.99 for the first book and $1.99 for the other two (and she rarely has books 2 and 3 on sale!). Kindle Countdown deals increase in price over time, so the sooner you buy them, the more of a discount you’ll receive off the list price!

Author’s name: Dawn Blair

Title of book and/or series: Sacred Knight: The Three Books (Legend 1), Manifest the Magic(Legend 2), To Birth a Destiny(Legend 3), and History of a Dead Man(a companion novella). There are two more titles still to be released.
Brief summary of the story: 
It’s about a young man, Steigan, who discovers that magic is returning to his world. He’s always been told that magic is evil and dangerous, so he sets out to stop it. To do this, Steigan has to find three books that contain the secrets to restrain magic. In his quest, he learns about his namesake, who was both saint and betrayer to the Temple. Saint Steigan had been responsible for hiding away the books a thousand cycles before. When Steigan finds the books, he gets led into a larger quest to discover why magic was taken from the world and to defeat the enemies that couldn’t be overcome before.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
My planet has a tilt to its orbit which keeps one side constantly facing the sun and the other pole is always away. There are three continents on this planet that I’m currently aware of: the northernmost which always faces the sun, and this area is very much fashioned like ancient Arabia. It’s sandy and sparsely populated. The southernmost continent is obviously like Antartica. It is just too inhospitable to make a living on that part of the planet, especially where they are in nearly constant darkness and cold, so no one lives there. I imagine that there have been shipwrecks down there, with no rescue or salvage missions planned – at least none I’m aware of. Located near the equator, with most of the land falling in northern hemisphere is the third continent. It is here where my Sacred Knight series takes place. There is no official name for the continent as the three main civilizations splitting it the land would never get along long enough to decide on a name. The west holds the territories of New Lilinar. To the southeast beyond the Palin Mountains is Plenelia. To the northeast is the kingdom of Dubinshire. These are smaller towns throughout, some falling under the larger domain’s control and some remaining independent. The planet has one sun, but it is orbited by three moons which make the nights very bright because there are always at least two in the sky.
If we were to visit as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
While you’re in New Lilinar, you’ll want to visit the Temple. It sits in the middle of a lake which is pretty much the center of town. If you’re brave, you might want to see if you can sneak into the ruins of Lilinar. But beware; there are nasties in there. It truly is as haunted as the rumors say.
When you visit Dubinshire, you’ll want to tour the main castle. The nobility of Dubinshire have always been very nice and humble. Ask to see the curios that Lord Ithanes gathered over the cycles. We’re not sure how many of them work, but they certainly are pretty with their silver and gold and crystals. There’s also Dubinshire Park where they hold the annual Springsday Festival. From here, you can see far out over the ocean for miles. If you dare to look down from the cliffs, you might see one of the fisherman from Montikovert. Legend has it that Montikovert broke away from Dubinshire after a civil war. Today, the citizens get along well enough for trade, but there’s still a few animosities that run deep.
Aside from these two major towns, there are a number of smaller, quaint towns that you can visit or take a sail from one port town to the next for easy traveling. If you’re lucky, you might run into a centaur or two in the less populated areas. They don’t much like to visit Dubinshire or New Lilinar for all the stares they get.
What dangers should we avoid in New Lilinar and Dubinshire?
At the moment, gargaxes have been spotted flying around near New Lilinar. Certainly that’s just someone’s imagination gone wild though. After all, gargaxes are a mythical beast, told of to scare children, right?
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in New Lilinar and Dubinshire?
Strickleberries. Oh, my word! Strickleberries can be eaten right off the bush. Just be careful of the prickly leaves. If you really want a treat, just heat the berries up a bit and that makes them as sweet as can be. They make all sorts of things with strickleberries: ale, tea, pie, jam, tarts, cake, bread, syrups, etc. The list goes on and on. Steigan is absolutely addicted to strickleberries, which is probably why I’ve heard so much about them. 
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in New Lilinar and Dubinshire?
Swords are the main weapons used. Daggers are commonly used as secondary weapons.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to New Lilinar and Dubinshire?
Most travel is on horseback or with a carriage or wagon pulled by horses.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in New Lilinar or Dubinshire that we don’t see on Earth?
I’ve mentioned the centaurs. They aren’t very fond of humans, so a sighting is really rare. But they need supplies too and often trade for what they require. Generally, they keep to themselves. It hasn’t always been this way, so I’m told, and at one time they got along very well with the humans. The world just hasn’t been the same since the fairies went away.
Another rare sight is the unicorns. Steigan’s unicorn, Tyana, is probably the most well-known because she’s frequently with him. But to see another unicorn is nearly unheard of.
Should we talk about the gargaxes here too? Well, yes, they are a sentient race if you hold the term loosely. They start off as Shant’olin, ghostly wisps with barely any form at all. Once they have taken enough of someone’s soul, they transform into a gray beast with wings. These winged beasts circle in the sky looking for magic. They’re purpose was once to keep the humans scattered into small groups over the land so that no one group got too powerful. Now they are just hungry for magic, so watch out for them.
Then there are the cahasters, or at least one that I know of. He’s about the size of a large kitten but looks like a baby dragon. Oh, he’s so cute! Or is he? I just don’t know if I’d want to trust a cahaster with my life.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in New Lilinar and Dubinshire?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Insider secret here: magic is returning. A thousand cycles ago, the crazy Queen of Lilinar sealed away magic after her kingdom was destroyed during The Breaking, a time when the domini and maeges turned on each other. Or that’s the story. Now, many people in New Lilinar believe magic is superstitious nonsense. They both hate and fear the people of Dubinshire, who are said to still practice magic.
Of course, the Plenelians really hate magic, so much so that they recently started a war with New Lilinar called the Palin Wars. Even though the domini of New Lilinar drove back the Plenelians at the time, the people of New Lilinar still aren’t sure why the Plenelians initiated their attacks.
It is said that the mythical creatures known as gargaxes feed on a person’s magic, and that they can poke a hole in a person’s magical aura which will keep draining the person’s magic and feeding the gargax until the person dies. Let’s hope that’s not true because no one knows how to heal such a wound and if the gargaxes are returning…
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in New Lilinar or Dubinshire?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
No, not really. I do have some theories about this though as I have often wondered why in a basically a thousand years or two time there hasn’t been much change in technology. Galault, the watcher of worlds, gave me the answer. This planet is orbited by three moons so it’s very uncommon for there to be a moonless night. Often, there are two moons in the sky at any given time. These drown out many of the stars. So, since no one has ever had the chance to study the movement of the stars, there has been no need for mathematics. The people of this world have yet to discover that their planet has a dual elliptical orbit around their sun, with one of the ellipses being a shorter timespan than the other. Not by much, but it does slightly warp their years. Because of all this, no true calendar has been developed. They mark time by the seasons. Dubinshire has four seasons because they are higher in the mountains: warming, growing, harvesting, and cold. New Lilinar which is down in a vast valley has three seasons: rainy, growing, and harvesting. Because their continent is pretty much on the equator of their planet, it never snows in New Lilinar. Dubinshire, again being higher in the mountains, does get snow. Plenelia will occasionally get snow since they are kind of in-between the two and does have a chain of mountainous terrain.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in New Lilinar or Dubinshire?
There is the Brackchoi triathalon which is run every seven years. I’ve never been to one of these, but I’m told the event is quite fun. It involves horseback riding, running, caber tossing. 
The Tachin Board is a game played in taverns which is similar to darts except the point is to land your dart in a special area which allows you to move a piece on a board which is similar to the three dimensional chess boards seen on Star Trek.
Card games are also popular in New Lilinar and its territories. At one time, divination cards were popular.
In Dubinshire, there is a game similar to mancala, but that can occasionally get a little bloody, so I’m told.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in New Lilinar and Dubinshire as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
As mentioned above, there is no true calendar. As some reader will undoubtedly note, when Steigan finds the tomb of his namesake, Saint Steigan, there is a dated inscription on the tomb. This is because when Lilinar and Dubinshire were actually friendly countries and the world was prosperous, many saperes did try to establish a way to mark time. They tried to come up with a calendar system, but they were just beginning to note that it wasn’t accurate. They were so close to discovering the dual orbits of their planet and being able to calculate an adjustment for that when Lilinar was destroyed in The Breaking. Now I’m sure the saperes of Dubinshire had enough information to make the adjustment and if not, they still continued their work. But as the people of Lilinar went through The Reunification, Holy Sapere Tanold did not think this was a priority and probably had all the work burned, if it hadn’t already been destroyed in The Breaking. Many of the traditions that Lilinar had, such as the tri-lunar ceremony, were done away with as New Lilinar rose from the ashes. After Holy Sapere Tanold died, it was decided that a Holy Sapere should only rule for 15 years, after which he went to serve on the Council of Elders for the remainder of his life. That’s when they began the Sacred Knight challenges to determine the next Holy Sapere. During a Sacred Knight challenge, candidates for the position of Holy Sapere chose two Sacred Knights to represent them during the three tests. The first challenge is standard: the Sacred Knights go out tracking a wastile, a rather large and brightly feathered bird. The next two challenges vary during every contest and are chosen by the Council of Elders. The council read the results of the contests to determine which candidate the Goddess prefers.
Is there a particular religion practiced in New Lilinar or Dubinshire?  Please describe what it involves.
Both Dubinshire and New Lilinar have Holy Saperes, but in each territory their functions are a little different. Dubinshire still follows the old ways. They have become very secretive about their religion and close it off to only citizens of Dubinshire. I would hope that they send saperes out among their citizens to help give them guidance and direction, since the chapel in Dubinshire castle cannot possibly hold all the citizens of Dubinshire, but they won’t even answer that question for me.
New Lilinar does have saperes that travel, both within New Lilinar and to its outlying territories.  Also, many of the citizens in the outlying towns perform a role as a sapere as well as have other duties in the towns where they live; that is to say that they have primary jobs and only dedicate themselves to service of the Temple on their rotating shifts. Steigan’s adoptive father, Sim, is a good example. Sim owns an inn and tavern, but he also is a sapere of second rank.
New Lilinar worships the Goddess Alityka. There is speculation as to her having once been a warrior who led an uprising against Gohaldinest and its demons, but since neither Gohaldinest nor demons exist, either she was successful or it was just a story. The stories of Alityka and her beliefs are written down in a book called the Lilton. I have come across old versions of the Lilton which look a little strange to me, almost as if their words were erased and written over. I guess the clerics who once translated all the old texts occasionally made errors. That has to be it, right?
What is the political or government structure in New Lilinar or Dubinshire?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
New Lilinar is lead by the Holy Sapere as discussed above. Holy Sapere Adonid is about to be replaced and move onto the Council of Elders. Steigan has been chosen as Sacred Knight for Sapere Martias, a most unlikely candidate. Rarely seen in public, Adonid is a soft-spoken man who moves with a gentle grace. With his long, straight blond hair, he looks absolutely divine in the Holy Sapere robes, which come behind his head like a sunburst.
Dubinshire is currently ruled by Lord Irragon. He seems like a pleasant enough man and a good ruler. Of course, he’d knew that I’d just come from New Lilinar, so he was probably trying to make a good impression. I’m told his daughters are quite beautiful, but I haven’t seen either of them around.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I came up with the idea of strickleberries long before I started wildcrafting my own herbs. I was out on a foraging workshop when I first came across Oregon Grapes. I knew I’d found my strickleberries! In learning about Oregon Grapes, I was able to develop my strickleberries in more detail. Of course, there is no “Oregon” in my book, so I was really glad I already had a name. More of my own herbalism and love of precious stones comes out in the second and third books of the series as we delve deeper into the magic.
The ideas for the saperes in a town to hold dual roles came out of our own history. Many of the ancient Egyptian priests also had other jobs or other functions within their society.
The outside of the Temple in New Lilinar is actually based on Bodiam Castle. I had to change the inside to fit my story, but when I saw the castle on the lake, I knew it was my Temple.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
Well, there are a couple of scenes that I like people to be aware of with The Three Books. My character’s adoptive parents own a tavern. There’s a scene early in the book where Steigan thinks his life has just fallen apart (oh, little does he know how bad it’s going to get!). He goes back to the tavern and orders up some strickleberry ale. Now, he’s pretty sure that his ma has watered it down, but it’s his first experience with alcohol. I never say that there is an age limit on drinking in my world and for all I know, giving mead and ale to kids might be perfectly acceptable on this planet. It probably is. But here’s the backstory: my mother was an alcoholic and so I have very strong views on alcohol. My son was 13 when he was reading a draft of this and came to me with the question, “Mom, are you sure you want to do this?” I told him to keep reading and finish the scene and we’d talk about it after he finished. When he had, he came back and said that he was good with the scene and how it wrapped up. There were ramifications to the drinking. It’s also the last time Steigan does so – a lesson well learned.
There is another scene where the princess from Dubinshire is trying to get physically close Steigan. I wanted a scene to show a female character as an aggressor because it does happen. Now, Steigan is an orphan and realizes that his life is given to the Temple as one of their warriors. He certainly doesn’t want to leave any fatherless children behind and he knows what this kind of behavior can lead to, so he puts a stop to her. Don’t think he wasn’t enchanted by her though; he spends the rest of the book trying to resist after she’s awoken new feelings within him. He’s no saint after all.
Author Autobiography:
Just ask and I will tell you I’m a multi-dimensional, time-traveling tour guide. I love telling stories about noble hearts and fantastic places. In addition to writing, I also draw and paint, which has lead me into other areas such as comic illustration, animating, and photography. Because I’ve always loved cartoons and would have loved to be a voice actor had I known that it was actually a career choice, I’ve recently started recording my own audiobooks.

In addition to my Sacred Knight series, I’m writing another series called The Loki Adventures, novellas about Loki, Norse god of mischief and his life under parole in Midgard. I wrote a non-fiction editing book for authors titled The Write Edit. I’ve won numerous awards for writing, art, and photography and have collectors of my paintings in Canada, Spain, Australia, and the United States. When I have extra time, I work on a webcomic called Weblinks about vampires trying to save the world.

 
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?  Please include links.
Currently, my books are all on Kindle and available for print through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I do plan on expanding my distribution in May, making the titles available through other outlets such as Kobo. Please watch my website for availability.
Where can readers connect with you online? 
All of my books can be found at www.morningskystudios.com as well as my page on Amazon. You can also find links to book trailer videos for Sacred Knight at each place as well as on YouTube.
Sacred Knight has a Facebook page.
On my blog, you can also sign up for my newsletter which is full of additional writing and art goodies. I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.


I hope you all enjoyed the trip to New Lilinar and Dubinshire.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the _____ world of ______, in Realm Explorers Part XCVI!
-Annie Douglass Lima

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