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: C. S. Johnson
Title of book and/or series: The Princess and the Peacock, (Birds of Fae, #1)
Brief summary of the story:
Kaipo carries the vivid memories of his mother’s death in his heart, just as surely as he bears the scars from the fires that killed her—the same scars that mark . But he also has in his heart a dream—he wants nothing more than Princess Mele to fall in love with him. When he hears Princess Mele is searching for a suitor, he and his adopted brother Rahj make their way up the Forbidden Mountain where the Fae Queen Jaya resides. For those who make it to the top of her mountain, she grants a wish of their choice—but she does it in her own way. Kaipo might wish for the beauty that will win Mele’s heart, but Jaya has another idea in mind …
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story: The island of Maluhia is located in the Indian Ocean, with a Hawaiian influence around the 1850s. For several generations, the kings of the island have allowed them to flourish as a small island.
If we were to visit Maluhia as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
There are several places to visit. In the capital of Shanthi, there is a bustling marketplace, with lots of different goods to examine. The big draw of Maluhia is the natural beauty of the surrounding seas, the sandy beaches, and the high peak of the Forbidden Mountain.
What dangers should we avoid in Maluhia?
The kingdom trains its warriors to protect their island, but it is always best to watch out for abuses of power, bribed fighters, and vengeful families raging against each other over generational battles. There are also traders who would kidnap and sell people into the sex trade on other nearby islands. In addition to this, sickness and superstition runs through the island.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Maluhia?
There are plenty of fruits and fish, with other birds that are served—including peacock!
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common?
The island lore is beholden to sharks as animals of power and rage, so a lot of their weapons have shark teeth that decorate the blades of their daggers and swords.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Maluhia?
So far, only boats have come.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Maluhia that we don’t see on Earth?
The Forbidden Mountain is the key feature of Maluhia. It is a very tall, steep mountain that reaches into the clouds. The mountain offers a barrier to the capital city on the inside of the island, but the poorer villages are situated all around the mountain.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Maluhia? If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Jaya, the Fae Queen, resides at the top of the Forbidden Mountain, where she has created a small, supernatural bubble in which she can live. Her Fae magic—inborn, as a child of a fallen angel—leaves her with “Eden’s Curse,” in that if she is not careful with her magic, it can ultimately overtake her. She cannot stop using it, however, just as she can’t stop from causing mortals trouble.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Maluhia? If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
There is nothing that would qualify as “unusual,” unless you count the Fae Queen, Jaya, who has taken up the peak of the Forbidden Mountain as her home. She offers a bit of magic to the islanders, but they know not to worship or trust her entirely. It is only because he is so desperate that Kaipo even attempts to see her at all.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Maluhia.
There are plenty of sports, but most have come from their warrior training traditons.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Maluhia as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
They go by the seasons more than the years, but they keep track of things based on the stars. There are feast days, but more of them are regulated to the culture more than religion.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Maluhia? Please describe what it involves.
Since it was founded after Christianity came to Hawaii, but there is a mix of cultures, there is a general monotheism that is mixed with older superstitions. That is why Kaipo’s scars make him alienated from culture, and the whispers of Rahj’s birth damage their family.
What is the political or government structure in Maluhia? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
The kingdom is on an island, and they are traditional monarchy that rules through bloodlines. King Ahanu is in charge, and he is a gracious and understanding ruler. He recently lost his wife a few years before, and since then, he can’t say no to his daughter.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Maluhia?
They are a culture of respect, so it is important to make sure you are being respectful, as much as you can. They value strength and cunning, and beauty, too, but their most celebrated value is loyalty.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I have traveled a lot, and I have a cousin I call my “Hawaiian Princess cousin.” She is just so pretty, and I used her as inspiration for Princess Mele. The best part is that she is exactly like Mele in that she wants to add beauty to others’ lives and she does this as a teacher. One of her students is even named “Kaipo.”
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
One of the more indirect elements of the book is dealing with the Indian eunuch culture. While it is less rare today and there is not a lot of vocal news on the matter, India’s “third gender” has been growing in its awareness. Some of the eunuchs are taken from childhood and others chose that direction, but overall, I wanted to bring awareness to the table, that there are broken men who have been castrated and while some have been content with their lives, some of them are quite devastated. I wanted to, in my own way, speak to them that their life is still capable of beauty and still worth living. There are people who love them and no matter what suffering they’ve faced, they are still able to be loved and cherished as children of God.
C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.
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I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Maluhia. Questions about the world or the book? Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!
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-Annie Douglass Lima