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. 

Author’s name: Valerie Comer
Title of book and/or series: Majai’s Fury
Brief summary of the story:

A fantasy tale of forbidden romance amid clashing religions and cultures.
Taifa hoped the goddess Majai wouldn’t notice she hadn’t provided a firstborn for sacrifice. But when the king demands Taifa’s life in exchange for the child she has not yet conceived, she knows she is out of time. She seizes the king’s proposal—her life spared if she neutralizes Shanh, the foreigner whose doomsday prophecies infuriate the king.
Secure in Azhvah’s protection, Shanh’s mission looks simple enough: deliver his god’s fateful message then return to his homeland. But when Azhvah allows a conniving woman to weaken the shield, many long-held beliefs are shattered. Can Shanh’s god truly desire to rescue this heathen from the fate she deserves?
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The countries of Nuomor, Ghairlazh, and Evdrika meet in the midst of the Azhalawar Mountains. Nuomor, to the south, embraces a large body of water called the Inland Sea, providing it with a Mediterranean type climate. Her people worship various deities. Our heroine, Taifa, worships Majai, the water goddess.
Ghairlazh is a cold, foggy and steep country on the north side of the mountains. They worship Azhvah in a ritualistic, legalistic way. Every breath these people take is ruled by the mardazh, a priest/dictator.
Evdrika is ruled by an opportunistic king, ready to side with anyone so long as there’s something in the deal for him and his country.
If we were to visit as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there? 
The Holy Temple in the capital of Ghairlazh is an impressive piece of architecture with inlaid gems and domes of gold. While Nuomor’s temple and palace are equally amazing, the true beauty of the capital city are the many small islands separated by canals and linked by uncountable bridges.
What dangers should we avoid? 
Depending on where in Nuomor you are, you’ll want to look out for random acts from the deities. In the capital, Majai is fond of swelling the tides and altering the fountains. She’s even been known to alter the water clock that rules the city.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served? 
Beware the Ghairlazhian mutton curry, as it is heavily spiced and salted. Foreigners tend to loath it.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common? 
Hand-to-hand combat is most used. However, Majai is raising a secret army for Nuomor, with equally unknown capabilities.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to these countries?
Nuomor is wrapped around the Inland Sea, so water travel is most common: gondolas in the capital and sailing ships on the open sea. Locks enable ships to reach several of the cities that lie upriver.
In Ghairlazh, only those who live on the coast make much use of ships, except on a few small lakes. The terrain is so steep inland that hiking beside pack donkeys is the most common means of transportation.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter that we don’t see on Earth?
The people are much like humans. Instead of extravagant plants, animals, and races, the people of these lands must deal with capricious deities and deeply entrenched customs and belief systems.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of these people?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
There are no spells or magic in the traditional sense. However, the deities, good and bad alike, have power to do miracles within their realm of influence. They use their skills liberally.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
The most advanced technology is the lock system on Nuomor’s rivers, as well as architectural prowess in the entire region.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same as on earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
Both Nuomor and Ghairlazh operate on a five-day week. In Nuomor, it’s a hand of days, but in Ghairlazh, it’s called a pamh. Ghairlazh is very fond of the number five, actually. Every five pamh there is a festival.
Is there a particular religion?  Please describe what it involves.
Nuomorans worship various deities, depending on where in the country they live. Taifa lives in the capital city where they worship the water goddess, Majai. A key foundation of the novel is Majai’s demand that every woman’s firstborn be given in sacrifice.
Ghairlazhians are shocked at the heathen ways of the Nuomorans. They worship one god, Azhvah, with fierce loyalty. He makes demands of his own, though, such as a facial scarification ritual that shows his people’s repentance of their sins.
What is the political or government structure?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
King Ezait is the leader of Nuomor. He rules with a council and a lot of input from Majai’s priests.
Ghairlazh is a theocracy. The mardazh is known as the Mouth of Azhvah.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I grew up knowing too much about legalism and doing as you’re told, just because. Not to put a bad light on my parents, who were true believers striving to follow God! But I became aware that as children, we absorb the teachings around us and use them as a fallback. It is difficult to question our belief systems. Both Taifa and Shanh are products of their cultures and find it difficult to question.
I’m also intrigued by Old Testament Judaism, the sacrificial system, and the many many laws that the Pharisees gleefully added to. The religion of the Ghairlazhians is very loosely modeled after this system.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
The Nuomoran culture encourages promiscuity, practically demands it. Because the story is about a woman trying to outwit Majai’s demand for a firstborn sacrifice—and not by remaining chaste—some readers may find several sensual scenes a problem. The door, however, is firmly closed on sex.
Author Autobiography:

Valerie Comer writes fantasy set in uncharted dimensions as well as contemporary inspirational romance, such as her popular Farm Fresh Romance series. Valerie’s characters, whether their feet are planted in this world or another, struggle with their faith and a sense of belonging and purpose.

Valerie and her husband of over 30 years live on a small farm in Western Canada with assorted cows, chickens, pigs, and bees, growing much of their own food. She cherishes time spent enjoying the outdoors with her husband, their adult children, and adorable granddaughters.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book? 

Majai’s Fury is available in various formats, including Kindle, paperback, and epub.  Click here to download it in any format. 
Where can readers connect with you online? 

The best place to find me is at my website and blog. Here you can find my social media links and/or sign up for my monthly newsletter. You can also discover the other titles I have available!

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Nuomor and Ghairlazh.  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 fantasy world of Destiny in Realm Explorers Part XXII!
-Annie Douglass Lima