Max Douglas would rather find adventure in his books than put in any effort at school. So when a stranger named Geoff wanders into the bookstore and starts talking about other worlds, Max can’t help but be interested. Following a strange accident during a science experiment gone wrong, Max finds himself tossed into a world torn straight from the pages of his wildest imagination. Accused of wizardry by local knights, forced into a voyage across stomach churning oceans and made to argue with unhelpful dragons, Max desperately seeks a weapon that can fight the true threat to this new world he finds himself in: The Sorcerer Ansgar. With the help of his genius scientist best friend Heidi, and a flame spewing princess named Katherine, Max just might pull it off.
Targeted Age Group:: 16-49
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was raised on tales of imagination. My first love of fantasy came from a mix of Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast along with the PC game Black Cauldron. I was enamored with the idea of other places and worlds. PC adventure games such as Black Cauldron and King’s Quest allowed you to feel like you were an adventurer in distant lands. Then I began to read stories such as the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Prydain, the Circle of Magic series (specifically the one by Debra Doyle), the Earthsea Cycle and others. I wanted to capture that feeling of adventure I’d had as a young teen that was a mix of both adventure gaming and fantasy reading. In creating the Dream Map I hoped to combine light science fiction and modern elements with a world of dragons, sorcerers and magic weaponry.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The central character, Max, is blatantly based on my own attitudes and relationships as a young man. I was good natured enough but sour toward a lot of people and mildly depressed at times. I couldn’t seem to fit in, and Max is much the same way. Heidi is much like an early childhood friend of mine, a headstrong young girl that acted as my best friend. Katherine, meanwhile, is the embodiment of a strong woman that I got from my mother. Max acts as the heart of the series, a person always willing to stand by his friends even when he doesn’t have the skill to protect them. He’ll still give his life for them. Heidi is the brains, the thinker and also the first one to come up with a plan. Katherine is the sense of duty and responsibility, which suits her role as the future Queen of LaGuna.
As for the rest of the characters, I wanted to invoke a lot of fantasy archetypes from a range of writing. The intolerant royal father is found in King LaGuna, while the loyal and incredibly skilled leader of the knights is Sir Christopher. Christopher in some ways is comparable to all the great swordsman and leaders throughout fantasy and mythology, such as Sir Lancelot. The most distinct characters from the traditional fantasy archetypes, while still remaining in a fantasy setting, are Captain Terrance and Admiral Rowley. They invoke a later English period of the high seas, while Rowley’s dress is based loosely on the uniforms of a number of British standards from several time periods and settings.
The sorcerer himself is relatively faceless through much of the story, but he isn’t without motivation. I never liked the use of villains in Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Prydain, although I understood why they were used in the way they did. Disembodied evil in many ways can endure as a frightening icon long after the story is over. For my villain, though, I needed someone with a motivation and some level of charisma. The character is more complex than what he seems from the outset and I needed to position him in a way that I could return to the character later if I needed to.
But my favorite character outside of the main trio is definitely Geoff. He is the embodiment of mystery, a man that seems to genuinely care for Max while also hiding his true motivations and feelings. It’s impossible to see what he is really aiming for, and that was intended, since Geoff is a common character whose motivations I wanted to leave ambiguous should I take the book into a series.
Heidi laughed at Katherine as she flipped the tablet around, pressing an ear to the side and listening to the music coming from its speakers. The princess held it away, frowning. “Is it magic?”
Heidi pushed her glasses up her nose. “Absolutely not. It’s science! In our world we’re capable of compressing music and storing it on devices like this. It lets us listen to music anywhere we go, among other things.”
Max pulled out his music player, dangling the headphones. “Yeah. I’ve got one too, but this thing’s even smaller than that tablet.”
Kate shook her head, shoving the device back into Heidi’s hands. “What else can be done with this thing?”
“The options are endless,” she replied, swiping her finger across the face of it. “You can write on it, store images of things you see, play games, look up information. It doesn’t work as well in your world as in ours because you don’t have an internet, though.”
“Essentially a neverending source of information, the world’s entire store of knowledge. For instance, if I wanted to know how to build a boat like this one, or estimate how much it costs? In our world, this tablet could link up to the internet and find the answers. Then I could start designing my own boat on it, if I wanted. It’s positively amazing.”
Kate shook her head. “And where is this internet?”
“Well, nowhere, and everywhere. It’s all the computers of the world hooked together, with all their information connected.”
“Correct. Devices we use to store information. Each one of those has some information, and then when you connect all of them, all that information comes together.”
“Much like a spider’s web.”
“Right. Actually, in our world the internet is also known as the world wide web.”
“I find it difficult to imagine how it works.”
Max harrumphed loudly. “Erm, Heidi, didn’t you have something to show us?”
“Oh, right!” She adjusted her glasses as she started to pace. “I’ve been considering ways to counter the dragons, or even the sorcerer. I still refuse to believe entirely in either one until I actually see them with my own eyes, but that doesn’t prevent me from being prepared. You see, there is something I have confirmed, and that’s the power of the Pyroliths. Kate, the dust on your gloves and the material they coat the Sparkers with really creates quite an explosion.”
“There’s nothing else in our world like it. The Pyroliths have always been one of our strongest defenses in wartime. All the islands are aware of how to create Sparkers, but only LaGuna knows how to create the gloves we use in Pyropraxis.”
“Quite obviously a good secret to have,” Heidi noted, reaching into her pocket. “Now don’t get upset with me, but I’ve been thinking that if there really are such incredible threats to fight as wizards and dragons, that we’ll require something infinitely stronger than what you’re currently using for firepower. To that end I’ve been doing work with the Pyroliths over the last few days, working out a method to make your Sparkers stronger and much more accurate. Right now you’re essentially just tossing rocks at your enemy. Super hot, exploding rocks, but still just rocks. I know we can do better.”
“What did you have in mind? We’ve made several larger types of them but they’re harder to aim and move.”
“We have a law of technology in our world that says the more refined something gets the smaller it gets. The problem is you’re not refining your weapons, you’re just making them bigger. It’s the opposite approach you should be taking.” She reached into her pocket, retrieving a piece of wood and a small device that looked similar to the spyglass that the admiral used to see over distances. “This is called a burning lens. When light enters through the broad end and exits through the narrow one, it passes through two lenses, and allows you to start a fire. Check this out.” Heidi placed the wood piece onto the seat she was on and unlatched the window, the full intensity of the sun now streaming in. She directed the broad end upward and, as they watched, a pinpoint of light began to shoot through the narrow end. A pulsing dot glowed on the surface of the wood for a moment, growing in intensity until a puff of smoke began to fill the air. “The burning lens concentrates light and allows it to burn into wood.”
“Not to be a spoiled fish, but everyone knows about burning lenses. We use them at the palace.”
Max rubbed his hands together. “Uh, well, I didn’t know about them.”
Heidi laughed, reaching into her pocket again. “I didn’t think you’d be impressed with that, your highness. I got the burning lens out of storage here on the ship after all, so I assumed you’d know about it. Just a moment, though. I think there’s a significant chance that you’ll be impressed with what I have to show you next.”
Curious, Katherine pushed herself off the bed, followed closely by Max, the two of them walking to the long window seat that stared onto the ocean. Heidi retrieved what seemed to be a second burning lens, holding it out to them but keeping the sun from passing through it. “Do me a favor,” she said as she handed it to Katherine, “Take a look through that, tell me what you see, but don’t let any light hit the lens.”
“That seems easy enough,” the princess agreed, gently taking the device and turning it over a few times in her hands, searching for any distinguishing features. Holding it up and staring through the eyepiece, a magnified version of Max appeared in her view, though the colors were incredibly distorted. She pulled the device away, handing it over to him so he could look through it as well. “It’s very much like a spyglass, though the colors collide like a rainbow.”
Max squinted, pulling it away and handing it over to Heidi. “Yeah, it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope telescope.”
Heidi grinned. “Correct Max, because I’ve inserted a third lens into the device, in the middle. The one difference is that the new lens is made from Pyrolith, which is why you’re seeing all the shifting colors.”
“You did what? I know how much you like playing around with new stuff, but are you sure that making this thing was safe?”
“Positively. I’ve spent my free time in the armory, watching how the Pyroliths are carved from larger pieces and worn down into the dust. It was simply a matter of using the same process to create the lens.”
“That’s cool and all, but what good is a colorful telescope?”
“I have bigger plans in mind than that, Max. Take a look.” She nodded toward the ocean, waiting until the pair of them were just behind her shoulder. She extended her hand over the water, turning the new spyglass toward the sun, its broad end glittering in the light. For a few minutes they held their breath as the sun caught in the lens, glowing with a blue green hue. With a spark, a beam of light spit from the narrow side, cutting into the waters below. It was far more powerful than the previous demonstration, and steam began to bill up from the waves below. Trails of growing mist erupted into the skies, even as the small device in Heidi’s hand began to shake. She held tight to it for a second, trying to retain control of it before she tossed it outward, gasping as it fragmented into a shower of bits. The tube burst into metal splinters, splashing into the waters beneath.
Kate was breathless, her eyes pinned to the ocean behind them. “I’m not entirely sure what I just saw, although I’m sure it’s important.”
“There is no question about it,” Heidi agreed. “You’ve just witnessed this world’s version of a laser. We have them in our world but they require significant amount of power and sophisticated technology to operate. In yours, a Pyrolith can allow us to create a similar effect for cheap. These stones you use have incredible properties, and if we apply the same principles I used for the spyglass in a cannon form, we’ll have lightweight, portable weapons your world has never seen.”
Max covered his mouth, looking concerned. “Okay so, you’ve got this new weapon designed, and I’d be completely okay with it except that, you know, it just exploded. If you make anything bigger it could destroy a whole room.”
“Totally agreed Max, but I’ve also had a chance to see the sort of metalwork they do here in LaGuna. It’s not sophisticated, but it’s sturdy. It wouldn’t take much to create a modified cannon barrel and use that to funnel the energy. Of course there’s no way to know whether it can withstand the energy blast until we’ve actually had a chance to give it a test run. Your highness, I think you can actually help with that.”
“Oh?” Kate grinned at the thought. “Howso?”
“Well, I’ll need help working out the shape of the weapon, and even though I’m something of a minor genius, I’ve got not experience melting down metal. I’d need the help of some of your crew, but they’ve got no reason to listen to me. You’re the princess of LaGuna, though. If you gave the command, they’d listen. I promise I won’t blow up the ship.”
“How powerful do you imagine these could be?”
“It’s hard to say until we’ve actually fired one. I can tell you they’ll be exponentially more powerful than what you’re using for weapons now, though.”
“I mean they’ll be like ten of your Sparkers firing at once. Maybe more.”
“Hm. I think I can agree to it.”
“Who knows? By the time I’m done, you might not need any dragons to win this war.”
“Wouldn’t that be something? Bust one last thing, Heidi.”
The girl adjusted her glasses, peering over the rim of them. “Hm?”
“I don’t go around calling you Ms. Trevino, like the admiral does. Please don’t go around calling me your highness,” she said with a smile. “Kate will do.”
“Oh, of course your high-er, Kate.”
“There we go!”
About the Author:
Jason Luthor has spent a long life writing for sports outlets, media companies and universities. His earliest writing years came during his coverage of the San Antonio Spurs as an affiliate with the Spurs Report and its media partner, WOAI Radio. He would later enjoy a moderate relationship with Blizzard Entertainment, writing lore and stories for potential use in future games. At the academic level he has spent several years pursuing a PhD in American History at the University of Houston, with a special emphasis on Native American history.
His inspirations include some of the obvious; The Lord of the Rings and Chronciles of Narnia are some of the most cited fantasy series in history. However, his favorite reads included the Earthsea Cycle, the Chronicles of Prydain, as well as science fiction hits such as Starship Troopers and Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep?
Links to Purchase eBooks
Link To Buy The Dream Map On Amazon
Have you read this book or another by this author? If you have, please scroll past the book sample and tell us about it in the comments!