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Teaser Tuesday: What is Magic Like for the Unmagical?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 06:53

While the Alpennia series has focused largely on characters who have significant mystical talents, Floodtide gives us a larger window into how "ordinary" people experience the magic that pervades the world. I've made previous reference to the climax of a Great Mystery feeling like a shiver down your spine, and to how even those who don't have measurable mystical talent can contribute power to the working of a mystery. Because the experience of those with greater talents can be so dramatic, there's no internal conflict in ordinary people between having these experiences and considering themselves untouched by magic.

This is Roz's contradiction: that she regularly performs house-charms and believes that they have effects, that she has a sensory response to the workings of magic around her, and yet that she considers herself to have no magical talent. If pressed, she might quibble over the definition of "talent," just as Serafina initially believes she has no mystical talents despite her extraordinary sensitivity to visions. From another angle, one might suppose that she categorizes her experience during "church mysteries" as different in kind from how Celeste's charms affect her. But as the story moves toward its conclusion, Roz seems to be on the edge of integrating her understanding of how she experiences magic.

* * *

When I was a girl in the Orisule school and the sisters celebrated her name-day mystery, I imagined the saint holding her starry cloak out around all of us girls, like she was watching over us and protecting us. All I could think was how wonderful it would be to feel that way always.

All through those long days and nights working the fever charms, my magic feeling never really went away, though being tired and hungry, I didn’t pay it much mind. Now I wasn’t sure I wanted to feel like that all the time. Maybe it was better if it was rare and special.

But when Maisetra Sovitre spread her arms out like that and put a hand on our shoulders, everything got jumbled up together in my head: all my memories of the picture of Saint Orisule, and all the times working with Celeste on charms, and how being with Nan had given me that magic feeling too and that was why I’d never thought it was a sin, and it all shivered through me at once.

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