Today, author Natsuya Uesugi has stopped by to talk about his novel, The Seer of Ice and Sky. Make certain to read until the end so you can appreciate the delightful article from the author, “Fantasy as Microcosm: A Statement on Gender, Mutuality and Equality” then enter to win a copy of book one in this series, The Seer of Grace and Fire.
Title: The Seer of Ice and Sky
Author Name: Natsuya Uesugi
Release Date: Sunday, December 30 2018
Format: Paperback, eBook
Price: $19.99 paperback, $29.99 hardcover, $3.99 ebook
Story Type: Novel >50k
Length: 208 pages
Cover Artist: Natsuya Uesugi
Genres: fantasy, dark fantasy, high fantasy, epic fantasy, LGBT fantasy
Keywords/Categories: gay, transgender, bisexual, non-binary
Is This Part of a Series?: Yes
Series Title: The Seer of Grace and Fire
Book Blurb: Surviving the devastation of DarkFall, Timorn is now rightful King of Faerie. With evil lurking at the fringes between the kingdoms of the humans and the elves, the dark mage Dalannin travels to Dragonreise to forge an alliance with the Dragon King.
Timorn’s traveling party sets off on request from an elven emissary but dissent grows as the party passes through the human city of Ekhrine. As they stop at the Ecclesiastical University where the cleric Kabal translated The Legend of Arden prophesy, a demonic aura haunts their path.
Can Timorn forge an alliance with the dragons to ensure peace or will darkness drive a wedge between him and his magical twin Ethesian as they journey through the elven lands. Transgender heroine.
Series Blurb: A human cleric translating an elven prophesy must bring the work to the high court at Kannon in faerie before DarkFall, the solemn anniversary when all the male faerie newborns were murdered 17 years ago. If the translation does not arrive in time, all is lost. Timorn, a 17-year-old ranger travels the human towns hiring out his services. A mysterious elven woman hires him to take her to Kannon before DarkFall, and only he can lead her with his purple faerie eyes.
The evil Valkyris is amassing an army to attack Kannon at DarkFall insisting she possess the prophesy. Sending her dark mage Dalannin to infiltrate faerie, he marches his demon hordes towards Kannon and sneaks into the palace. Ethesian, the 17-year-old faerie daughter of King Ailon plays the dragon lyre, a female magic. Yet recently she has started having prophetic dreams as if she were male. When a lie is revealed, Ethesian is tasked to study magic she must master before DarkFall. Will Timorn reach Kannon before the Valkyris and Ethesian master a magic she shouldn’t possess? Secrets and lies, revelations and wizardry, DarkFall is coming and so too the reluctant faerie who would be king. Learn more in the first book of the dark fantasy trilogy, The Seer of Grace and Fire.
The Seer of Grace and Fire starts the dark fantasy trilogy reviewers have called “Enthralling” and “A beacon of light for readers young and old.” The series continues with release of The Seer of Ice and Sky book 2. Book 3 The Seer of Flesh and Death will be released early 2020.
Timorn squinted as he studied the elven emissary, Arhlamanel dressed in finery, yet his stance and mannerisms were less refined then Ihel’s. He sensed deception. His ranger skill told him the elf was concealing something about his identity,
“I am aware of dragon riders, but not of a dragon king in Arenth,” Timorn said, turning to Eanna, his mother the First Consort, for confirmation. Eanna shook her head, also unaware.
Arhlamanel nodded. “The dragons are elusive and secretive, Your Majesty. Only a few high elves dare to venture up the perilous paths into the ice mountains to entertain them. It is treacherous as the dragons carefully guard the priceless gems within their lands.”
Timorn gripped the arms of the throne, leaning forward. “At DarkFall, we saw an adult dragon. A rider in black sat atop its monstrous form. Luckily the brunt of its power was stopped before it could let loose with abandon.”
“It is as we heard. Thus, the dragon king requests you come to Akrisia, to the mountains in the North. He has sent me as emissary, in partner with the high elves, to bring you to hear his message. A party of your choice is invited to travel along, including one named Ethesian, who is also summoned. But be warned. One who wad banished many years ago has returned and is making inquiries in the dragon lands. He goes by the name of Dalannin. There is much suspicion amongst the elves. Do you know of him?”
Timorn gasped. If Dalannin was with the dragons, that could only mean danger. Timorn spoke authoritatively, immediately deciding based on the elf’s report. “Yes, we know Dalannin, and yes, my party and Ethesian will accompany you to Akrisia. Lady Eanna will remain and keep watchful eye on the crown.”
“Yes, my lord,” Eanna acknowledged the decree.
“You must come dressed as a ranger,” Arhlamanel added. “That is how they will know you: by your clothes, your faerie daggers, and your sword. The dragon king and his half-dragon army will join you at the dragon court, high in the mountains. The trek up the expanse is arduous and will require a full day of walking to reach once we arrive.”
“Had Dalannin already recruited dragon riders to his cause? Timorn hoped for a negative answer.
“Unknown your Excellency. I hope, for our sakes and all of Arenth he has not.”
Exclusive Post – Fantasy as Microcosm: A Statement on Gender, Mutuality and Equality – from the Author
I wanted The Seer of Ice and Sky, book 2 of The Seer of Grace and Fire trilogy to have the transgender character, the magical dream seer, Ethesian come into her own. Where she honed her magic and embraced her secret in book 1 learning more about herself and her place in the faerie court at Kannon, she grew from her humble innocence at the beginning to a complex and powerful heroine with solid core beliefs and an understanding that matured through her trials.
In book 2, she embraces her new found identity as a transgender woman, yet her non-binary nature which she embraces more in book 1 while exploring her role, shifts in book 2 when her pronouns change and she becomes more comfortable with her power. Still the faerie court pressures her to use female pronouns to “keep the peace” and hide her true nature to that nobility around making a commentary about the pressures of society affecting one’s true expression of self.
When writing book 1 , I made it explicit in the faerie culture at court that “men cannot have long hair, and women cannot wear men’s clothes” for fear of being ridiculed, banished or even burned at the stake for heresy, social etiquette and crimes against court decorum in the faerie kingdom of Itheria. These rules, as strict as they are, were necessary to set up Ethesian as “other,” a stealth transgender woman with long hair who was designated as male at birth. This sets up the dangerous precedent we see when the nobility and extended lineage of royal nobles are faced with Ethesian’s gender dichotomy and protest “too much,” the leader of the first house even calling for her to “burn for her treachery.”
Many transgender individuals are faced with society as a hostile environment where social norms, rules, religion, etiquette and even familiarity cause huge rifts is presentation of true self versus the “facade.” For those faced with unaccepting families, jobs, relatives or belief systems, and those that presented differently before transition, being “whole” can be difficult if not at times dangerous for a transgender individual’s safety.
In 2017, 29 deaths of transgender people occurred in the United States due to fatal violence. This number was the highest recorded. These victims were killed by acquaintances, partners, and strangers. Some of the cases included anti-transgender bias where in others, the victim’s transgender status may have put them at risk, such as forcing them into homelessness or survival sex. In 2018, as of September, there had been 21 deaths of transgender individuals in the United States. The numbers for Mexico in 2018 were 11 killed, and in Europe, the number was 2 deaths, with Pakistan reporting a transgender woman being burned to death by four men and in India four transgender women were attacked by a mob and one died, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Due to the staggering high counts of violence towards transgender Women of Colour and transgender individuals in general, I wanted to bring visibility to this reality and show a strong transgender woman coming to terms with her identity and embracing her resilience and power. This was my basis behind the character Ethesian in The Seer of Ice and Sky. She is a main character in the story and a heroine in her own right.
As a member of the gay community, I wanted to give Ethesian a voice as both a woman and a minority. She is a Jahnae, a member of the faerie kingdom, as opposed to a human or an elf in the story, which are the more established races. By making Ethesian marginalized and someone who possesses both male and female magic, she has a unique perspective and almost a genderfluid outlook on reality which was something else I wanted to delve into. She is non-binary and identifies as both male and female at times, using pronouns as she sees fit for both her expression and her own identity.
Myself, I tend towards the androgynous, with my pronouns are He/Him, a few times they have been They/Them or Xe/Xim when I was first coming out, but I find the typical straight male role does not represent who I am, I tend more towards gay culture and that resonates with me. I would not say I am genderfluid either just cut right down the middle, neither, none, not, sometimes I might call it non-binary but that also does not seem to fit sometimes, my preference is towards total neutrality. Being gay and androgynous, I am familiar with my experiences of the world and see through the lens of LGBT culture and that is what I write about: gay and transgender is what I know and have experienced in my life, it is my soul, my relationships an how I live. In my writing The Seer of Ice and Sky, I wanted to explore Ethesian’s femininity as both male and female and bring her personality and strength to the forefront as she finds herself in book 1 and solidifies her beliefs and self-worth in book 2.
It was important that I highlight Ethesian as a transgender woman. With 3.7% of African Americans identifying as LGBTQ and about 1% Asian and Pacific Islander identifying as LGBTQ, both groups disproportionately experience poverty, persecution, stigma and discrimination. Myself, I am Blasian: half Black and Native American, and half Japanese. As a Hafu, mixed race, I too have experienced rejection from all the cultures I am a part of, and have at times been subjected to bullying and had my own experiences with violence and discrimination out in the world. It is definitely something that needs to be exposed of more, and that writers need to ensure is represented in literature. That is why I write about gay, transgender, non-binary, bisexual characters and People of Colour because we need more visibility in today’s multicultural and global society and in literature. So I write fantasy, science fiction and yaoi to showcase these characters which sometimes are overlooked.
With such a high rate of violence and hate crimes against transgender People of Colour it was crucial that Ethesian, as a minority in the story, non-binary and a transgender female, her voice needed to be loud and clear to provide visibility to an often overlooked demographic. As a YA book, I wanted to ensure that LGBT teenagers had a role model in Ethesian, seeing a strong woman they could look up to and relate to.
I hope Ethesian’s story can reach across race and gender lines and show a fantasy tale full of f hope and empowerment showcasing transgender women and fostering equality.
About the Author: Natsuya Uesugi is a cybersecurity analyst with an MBA in International Management and a minor in Japanese. He is author of the science fiction grydscaen series, the yaoi novellas and manga graphic noiz and The Seer of Grace and Fire fantasy trilogy. He creates all the illustrations for his books. He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, anime and writing poetry.
Natsuya is giving away an ARC of book one in the series – The Seer of Grace and Fire – enter via Rafflecopter. You can enter HERE.