Indie-WednesdayAlong my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to include self-published, indie, and small press works in my reading schedule.  But it is difficult to know where to start: so many new authors and books to examine to find the perfect fit for my tastes.  And to help others with this same problem, I’ve decided to turn my Indie Wednesday feature into a day where writers can introduce themselves and their work to everyone.

With this in mind, I’m happy to get things rolling with a guest post by Jeffrey Bardwell, author of The Artifice Mage Saga.

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Magic, Life, and the God Complex


Jeffrey Bardwell

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Easter is approaching and with it the annual celebration of the most famous instance of rebirth. Whether you believe in the literal resurrection of Christ, the story resonates because society is captivated with the archetype of instilling life in the dead or the inanimate, a need for which fantasy has the answer: magic. Authors have cloaked these powers in many different guises: lightning (Mary Shelly), magic powder (Frank L. Baum), a wish upon star (Carlo Collodi), prophecy (C. S. Lewis), or intercession of the gods (J. R. R. Tolkien). Whether acknowledged directly or not, such power has a whiff of the divine.

What effect does this magic have on the magician himself? For, in some dark, literary irony, the magician who creates life is always male. Surely, women have no place in tales of birth? Or perhaps the idea was too close to reality for fantasy? No, we have a man, a young man (typically a virgin), who wields this awesome power. I draw a distinction now between reanimating the broken wizardsdead and animating the lifeless. In the examples above, there are only two instances where life was gifted to that which was never sentient in the first place and both stories involve wooden simulacra: 
The Marvelous Land of Oz with Jack Pumpkinhead and the eponymous Pinocchio. This invokes even more of a god complex than before! We are not simply reanimating dead tissue, we are building a person from scratch (albeit not from the clay or mud of the creation mythos) or metal (let’s leave robotics to science fiction), but wood. Granted, unlike mud or metal, that wood was once alive until we chopped it into pieces and fashioned a crude reflection of mankind, but the thing could not think before we magicked it so. The Jesus carpenter metaphor is somewhat more blatant in Pinocchio than Oz as we have the humble woodworker Mastro Geppetto, who creates a spark of life in his hand-crafted, wooden son. Does the creator take responsibility for his wooden progeny? In the case of Pinocchio, the desire for a son and the nature of humanity is at the forefront of the plot, and in Oz tossed off as a magic trick, but ramifications of tin godhood are usually reserved for the tales of reanimation, such as Frankenstein. But in a world with devout citizens, and in the typical medieval second world fantasy, the role of the typically polytheistic faith and its representatives is paramount, unless the wizards are also the priests, then creating life would precipitate either a crisis of the faith or a god complex.

In my new novel, Broken Wizards, I bring together the creation of a wooden son (Pinocchio) with the existential questions of the responsibilities of godhood (Frankenstein) in a world where magic is fairly commonplace (Oz). My magician is a devout, gods-fearing youth who has discovered he now wields the power of the five gods themselves. The crisis is easy enough to rationalize in the moment. He is not divine, but a mere agent of the gods. But the rest of it? The youth has just unwittingly created a son. His incipient fatherhood is a much more real, much more scary concept than piddly, abstract notions of divinity!

I invite you to read the novel for yourselves and enjoy discovering the warped wonders of life.

About Jeffrey Bardwellbardwell

Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.

The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office.

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Purchase the book at Amazon

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  1. Excellent idea this Indie Wednesday. Thanks Jeffrey for your insight to what ideas your book was built on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very thought-provoking post, and a great idea for a recurring meme.
    Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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