The Seventh Tower

The Seventh Tower is a series of six books written by Garth Nix, the result of a joint partnership between Scholastic and LucasFilm. The series follows two children from distinctly different societies in a world blocked from the sun by a magical Veil which leaves the world in complete darkness.

Tal is a Chosen from the Castle, and Milla is an Icecarl from the Ice. Together they discover that an evil, long thought to have vanished, once more threatens their world, slowly and secretly letting its presence be felt. A pact was broken, and a war dormant for two thousand years is rekindling. Danger looms, and it is up to two children and a small band of unlikely heroes to save their Dark World.

The books are as follows:
#The Fall (2000)
#Castle (2000)
#Aenir (2001)
#Above the Veil (2001)
#Into Battle (2001)
#The Violet Keystone (2001)

Background

The series was born when an editor from Scholastic emailed Nix saying he liked Nix's previous book "Sabriel", and that he'd be glad to work with him on something in the future. A few months later, Nix received another email from the editor saying Scholastic and LucasFilm were working to create a new fantasy series. He asked if Nix would be interested, to which Nix replied that he might be. They discussed it back and forth through email.

Several months later, Scholastic and Lucasfilm gave Nix a general list of "influences and ideas" to base the series on. However, Nix was still given much freedom to expand from it to create a story of his own. "In a way, each of the ideas and influences on the original list was like a seed," says Garth Nix. "The seeds were planted in my imagination and things have grown from them, and I have helped them grow and shaped them to fit into the story." Among the points included on the list was a world "where it is always night for some reason" and characters with magical companions of some sort. [http://www.scholastic.com/titles/seventhtower/qa.htm]

The series was written at a rather quick pace, as fast as three to four months per book. By June 2000, the first book entitled "The Fall" came out. "The Seventh Tower" has since gone on to sell more than one million copies in the US.

The World and its People

Chosen

These are the "Masters of Light and Shadow", possessing magical control over Sunstones and shadows. They live in a Castle with seven towers that extend above the Veil. A Chosen is judged by their color level, which shows their ranking in society. In order of superiority, they are: Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, and the lowest level is Underfolk. The entire community of Chosen is governed by an Emperor or Empress.

A Chosen ascends or descends color levels by his or her accomplishments and failures. If a person is demoted below Red level, they become an Underfolk, doomed to serve for the rest of their life. There are ways that a person may be demoted directly to Underfolk regardless of their current level, including losing all their Sunstones and losing their Spiritshadow. One tower and specific areas of the Castle are occupied by each color, but there are white levels throughout the castle that are neutral territory.

Underfolk

Underfolk are the servants of the Castle of the Chosen. They are born to serve their Chosen masters until they die, without any chance of promotion. They are not allowed to possess a Sunstone, have regular shadows, and are generally associated with the color white. A Chosen may be demoted to Underfolk level in certain circumstances, including losing their Sunstone and losing their Spiritshadow. A Chosen child can be demoted by gaining seven deluminents.

Shadowguards

Every Chosen, upon being born, gets a shadowguard bound to them in Aenir. These creatures protect their master Chosen until their Chosen binds a much more powerful Spiritshadow when they come of age, at which point the shadowguard is released back into the land of Aenir. Shadowguards, unlike Spiritshadows, may shift their shape to anything. They sometimes appear like regular shadows, and are significantly weaker than a Spiritshadow.

Spiritshadows

Each Chosen, upon reaching the age of thirteen and three quarters, must go to the spirit realm of Aenir and bind a creature to serve as his or her Spiritshadow until the Chosen's death. The power of the Spiritshadow directly affects the Chosen's ranking in society. A law states that Spiritshadows may not harm other Chosen.

Spiritshadows may be large or small. They are more powerful than the shadowguard they replace, but after their master's death they fade away. Spiritshadows without a master ('free Spiritshadows') are prohibited from the Castle. A Spiritshadow feels, to some extent, what their master feels, including pain and emotions. The reverse of this is also true.

Day of Ascension

Occurring once a year, this is the official day when every Chosen enters the dream world of Aenir. For those coming of age, this is their chance to bind a Spiritshadow. It is forbidden to enter Aenir before the Day of Ascension.

Icecarls

The Icecarls are a semi-barbaric population living in a matriarchal society outside the Castle of the Chosen on the Ice. Unlike Chosen, they fear magical shadows and curse anyone who possesses one. Honor is considered of high importance to Icecarls, and they traditionally commit suicide if they have done something dishonorable. They also, unlike the Chosen, are not overly bothered by nudity.

The Icecarls are separated into clans, each clan having their own ship which travel on runners over the ice. Each clan is headed by a Crone. Clan ships follow the Selski migration around the Dark World. One trip around the world is called a circling, which equals roughly one year.

Creatures living on the Ice

"Selski" are huge beasts that inhabit the Ice, and are the main source of food and materials for the Icecarls. The "Merwins" are dangerous horned creatures, and their horns can be fashioned into swords which shine with light. "Wreska" are the antlered creatures that pull Icecarl sleighs across the ice.

Crones

Icecarl women possessing magical abilities. Crones' eyes become cloudier as they age, giving the appearance of blindness. They govern all clans of Icecarls. There are Crones in each clan ship, while more important Crones remain based in the historically significant Ruin Ship. Crones are aware of the Chosen and their Castle, unlike the Chosen, who believe there is nothing outside their Castle but ice. High-ranking Crones with more experience are called 'Mother Crones'.

Shield Maidens

A group of experienced Icecarl warrior women residing in the Ruin Ship. They hunt down dangerous creatures and function as law-enforcers among the Icecarls. Shield Maidens are led by an older, higher ranking, and more experienced warrior known as a 'Shield Mother'. A hand of Shield Maidens consists of 12 warriors led by one Shield Mother.

Sword-Thanes

The male equivalent of a Shield Maiden, although they are less prominent in the Icecarl community and work alone.

The Ruin Ship

Housing high-level Crones and Shield Maidens, the Ruin Ship is most important ship of the civilization of the Icecarls, and has been resting for centuries in the foothills of the Mountain of Light. Unlike the rest of the ships, which are made from bone and hide of animals, the Ruin Ship is made of a golden metal called ethren that never rusts. It is five times the size of an average Icecarl ship, and is the model upon which all ships are based.

Aenir

Aenir is a magical spirit world which can only be entered by using a Sunstone and reciting a spell. Unlike the Dark World, Aenir has no veil and is warmed and lit by the sun. It is inhabited by various creatures which the Chosen bind as their Spiritshadows or shadowguards. Because Aenir is a place of magic, not many things are what they appear to be, making the place quite dangerous. Natural features and locations are not fixed in place: valleys, hills, and even ruined cities wander across the land.

Only Chosen enter Aenir on the Day of Ascension. The time spent in Aenir is considered a vacation for all but those young Chosen who have reached the age to bind their own Spiritshadow. While in Aenir, the skin of humans takes on a slight glow, and they are significantly lighter, presumably due to Aenir's weaker gravitational pull.

Sunstones

Stones which have their own light and heat. They are grown from crystals originating in Aenir. They are "charged" by exposing them to sunlight for extended periods of time. The "charging" is done above the Veil in large nets. The larger a stone is and the longer it is exposed to the sun, the more powerful it will be. They are a part of everyday life for the people of the Dark World, used in everything from giving light to cooking food. Chosen children are given weaker Sunstones, compared to the Primary Sunstone which older kids and adults use. A person may have more than one Sunstone. However, a Chosen who loses all of their Sunstones is demoted to Underfolk status.

Sunstones are used in many ways, mainly by providing light or heat. Uses described in the books include healing, fighting with deadly light beams, greeting superior Chosen respectfully, binding Aenirans as Spiritshadows, teleporting to Aenir, creating solid walls or objects of light, telling time, and sacrificing the stone to absorb a light-based attack.

The Veil

The Veil is a shroud of darkness that covers the world from the sun, resulting in eternal darkness with only Sunstones to provide light. It was created to protect the people of the Dark World from the creatures of Aenir, and is generated by the seven Keystones in the seven towers. The Veil is presumably quite thick, as it takes many moments to cross. Inside the Veil, there is absolutely no light or sound.

Keystones

At the top of each tower there is a Keystone which keeps the Veil running. A Chosen from each tower is assigned as a guardian to protect their Order's Keystone. The Keystones must be unsealed for periodic renewal by the guardian, and if all Keystones are unsealed at one time, the Veil will shut down.

The Hall of Nightmares

Dreaded by the Chosen, the Hall of Nightmares is a room used for punishment in the Castle. It is run by a man named Fashnek. The victim is placed inside a glass globe powered by Sunstones. Sleeping gas knocks them out and puts them into a dream state. Fashnek enters and controls the dream, turning it into a nightmare the victim cannot awaken from until Fashnek allows it. Those who have been to the Hall of Nightmares are seldom ever the same again. The victims often twitch uncontrollably, cease to laugh and smile, or lose the ability to communicate altogether. Ironically, the glass globe used for the nightmares was originally created to help people with bad dreams.

Main characters

*Tal "— A thirteen-year-old Chosen boy from the Orange Order."
*Milla "— An Icecarl girl approximately Tal's age. She belongs to the clan of the Far-Raiders and her strongest aspiration is to become a Shield Maiden."
*Adras "— A Storm Shepherd who becomes Tal's Spiritshadow. He is the brother of Odris. "
*Odris "— A Storm Shepherd who becomes Milla's Spiritshadow. She is the sister of Adras. "
*Ebbitt "— Tal's eccentric Great-Uncle."
*Sharrakor "— A free shadow long believed to be the Empress's Spiritshadow. He takes over the body of Shadowmaster Sushin."
*Shadowmaster Sushin "— A Chosen who is ranked as the Dark Vizier, answering only to the Empress. Like all Dark Viziers his rank is disguised, in his case as a high ranking member of the Orange Order. For most of the story, he is under the control of Sharrakor."
*Crow "— An Underfolk rebelling against the Chosen for the freedom of his people."
*Fashnek "— Chosen in charge of the Hall of Nightmares, feared by other Chosen. Half his body has been replaced by a Spiritshadow."
*Malen "— A young Crone, daughter of the Shield Mother Arla."
*Rerem "— Tal's father, guardian of the Orange Keystone."
*Graile "— Tal's mother."

Quotes about the series

*"I'm pleased that LucasBooks, in collaboration with Scholastic, is expanding into an exciting new realm of fantasy with" The Seventh Tower". I've always believed that reading encourages children of all ages to use their imagination, and I hope that the adventure that unfolds in" The Seventh Tower "series will take readers on a new journey of the mind." :::— George Lucas [http://eidolon.net/homesite.html?pagename=oldsectionnews.html&pagetitle=Previously+in+the+News&section_name=garthnix ]

*"We are thrilled to join LucasBooks in this venture. Lucasfilms' extraordinary ability to create new worlds, combined with Scholastic's established expertise in publishing new successful series in the children's market, make this partnership an exciting venture.":::— Barbara Marcus, president of Scholastic Books [http://eidolon.net/homesite.html?pagename=oldsectionnews.html&pagetitle=Previously+in+the+News&section_name=garthnix ]

*"Often, I get the feeling that the story is really happening somewhere and all I'm doing is trying to work out the best way to tell it.":::— Garth Nix [http://www.scholastic.com/titles/seventhtower/qa.htm]

*"Garth Nix has created a wonderful fantasy world with this series...The young boy Tal and his reluctant (and somewhat grumpy) companion Milla are an interesting pair and their journey is full of surprises. Garth has a great gift for characterization and pacing, and he has a sly sense of humor which always entertains.":::— Claire E. White, The Internet Writing Journal [http://www.readersread.com/cgi-bin/review.pl?reviewid=40105]

External links

* [http://www.scholastic.com/titles/seventhtower/ The Seventh Tower Scholastic site]


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