Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Daymaker; Transformations; The Skybreaker - Ann Halam

I apologise for the lack of reviews since Saturday, but we're in the middle of a heatwave here in southern England - and the temperature in my tiny attic room was rarely below 30C for much of the weekend - too hot to write and almost too hot to read either (I spent most of the weekend watching DVDs in fact).

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Ann Halam's "Daymaker" trilogy (The Daymaker, Transformations, The Skybreaker) is eco-friendly fantasy, as the prologue to Transformations explains:

Once, long ago, the land had been different. The towers of light marched across its little hills and valleys, almost without a break: trees of light stood outside every door and lined every road. There need be no night, it could be daytime always. In those days the human world was served by the strange unnatural tools the scholars of the new land called "machines", and ordinary people called "makers". One maker would do the work of a hundred hands, but greatest of all were the Daymakers, the centres from which power flowed to all the lesser kind.
Then one day the people of Inland decided to dispense with electricity and machines; and "magic" took the place of the machines. This new magic functioned via an agreement made by all the people, and it was called the Covenant. This magic calls on the mental powers of everyone, young or old, educated or uneducated, to work - thus: The Covenant is in the mind and heart of every individual who lives by free will in What Is and with What Is. So long as that free will operates, animals, plants and even the weather, obeys humanity.

In each community there exists a "meeting" of the Covenant, led (usually) by a woman Convener, who is strongly talented in the magic of Inland. She is responsible for channelling the power of the free will of the community to "shift and hold" all living things, and to control the weather.

However, in The Daymaker, a ten year old girl named Zanne, daughter of the Convener of Garth, was found to be strong in Covenant magic, but also a lover of machines. She had the facility to see machines as a part of the natural world. She is sent to Hillen Coven, the school under the mound in which magic talented girls (and occasionally boys) are taught all there is to know about Covenant magic. When Zanne is 15, she goes on a journey into the wilderness to find a Daymaker (a power station), intending to bring it back to life and restore the towers of light. However, Zanne discovers that there is someone else, more powerful and far more ruthless than Zanne who wants the power of the Daymaker for herself, and Zanne is forced to "kill" the Daymaker with her magic (ie. make it unable to function ever again).

In Transformations, Zanne is sent to find a maker in the mountains of Minith; instead she finds a cache of poison which is infecting many of the young people of Minith so that they turn into "werebeasts". Unlike the people of Inland, who wanted the Daymaker destroyed, the people of Minith believe the sickness of some of their young people is the price they must pay for their mining and metal-working, and they oppose Zanne's intention to destroy the poison and the makers.

In The Skybreaker, Zanne, and a young man named Holne of Minith who, unusually, has the magic talent, are sent to Magia, the land across the sea. Hillen Coven has learnt that a skybreaker (a rocket) still exists in Magia and they are sent to destroy it before it can destroy Magia and all of Inland. Ostensibly, Zanne is tutor to King Temias, the 10 year old boy who rules Magia, and who appears (at times) to be insane. However, although Temias is King of Magia, the country is effectively ruled by Mage Monkshood, the most powerful Mage of Magia who, like Zanne, loves machines and who wants to use the skybreaker. Zanne and Holne must make the dangerous journey to Endemunde, which is known as the end of the world, because of its remote location, to stop the Great Mage from using the skybreaker, otherwise it really will be the end of the world.

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