on giants


Since the Perilous Realm is the realm of Story, there are giants here. All different sorts of giants. Nasty, people-eating, harp-stealing giants; frost giants and storm giants; giants with multiple heads; Nephilim; jotuns and ettins; colossi; Brobdingnagians; giants that live up in the sky, in the earth, under the sea; giants that can change size and change shape; giants that don't look like giants, but don't tell them that; unemployed giants in Greenland; friendly giants...

There are many places in the Realm where you can see the work of giants. Rings of huge stones, great mounds of earth, clefts in the sides of mountains, ravines and river valleys. Near a range of hills called the Winden Tors lives a good-natured, sleepy giant who does little but lie around all day and is often mistaken for a hill. Whether he will turn into a hill eventually is uncertain, but some say this is how many geographical features are formed. Like Nose Hill and Elbow Creek in Calgary, commemorating the body of Naapi, Old Man, the primeval ancestor of the Blackfoot people.


The Perilous Realm

The Perilous Realm is the world (or worlds) from which all of our stories come. 

Dreamers and storytellers have journeyed often in the Perilous Realm and returned with the tales that tell us who we are, and who we may be. 

To those who live in the Realm, our world is known as Elsewhere, or the Untold.

The Realm is apparently infinite in extent, although in places it conforms to a geography and a cosmology similar to ours. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The moon circles the earth and the earth the sun. The seasons have their cycle, and the directions conform to what we know: the further north you go, the colder and more barren become the lands. To the south are warmer climates.

Within this familiar framework, however, there are unusual distinctions. The Realm is home to innumerable storylands, each of which is (or was, before the Great Unweaving) separate and distinct from any others. Stories come from innumith, the “storystuff” that lies in potential in the realm, in its earth, trees, water, stone, and all beings. 

Innumith is also the name for a power of being able to see and manipulate the very threads of stories and the paths between them. One with such a gift is known as a loremaster.

The present loremaster of the city of Fable is Nicholas Pendrake. He owns a toyshop in Pluvius Lane, where he lives with his granddaughter Rowen.


Greenwoods Books, Edmonton:

Wednesday, September 10: 7:30 p.m.
Thomas Wharton presents The Shadow of Malabron
The Shadow of Malabron is the first novel in the trilogy, The Perilous Realm. Long ago, Malabron the Night King tried to turn all stories into one – his story, a nightmare of absolute power. But when Will, a rebellious teenager, stumbles from the present into the realm where stories come from, he is caught up in Malabron’s evil designs. Aided by some of the story folk – including the feisty Rowen, her grandfather Pendrake (a loremaster) and Shade, the laconic but loyal wolf – Will must combat a host of perils, if he is ever to find the gateless gate that will take him home.

“The Realm is not just a world with stories in it. This world is Story. It is the place that all of the tales in your world come from. Whatever you might find in a story, you will find here. Adventures, strange encounters, riddles. Goblins, ghosts, wizards, dragons. Heroes and monsters. Bravery, goodness, and terrible evil. And many other things that have yet no name in your world. And you are here now, and that means you are in a story, too."




One of the great pleasures of writing the Perilous Realm trilogy has been creating the epigraphs at the head of each chapter. If you've read my book The Logogryph you know that I'm fond of imaginary books, and the epigraphs for the chapters of The Shadow of Malabron are all "excerpts" from such made-up books.

Like the Spindlefog Misguidebook to the Realms of Story. In this case I thought that if most real-world destinations had guidebooks, the Perilous Realm, being (in part at least) the land of Faerie, would have misguidebooks, either out of sheer caprice or in order to keep people from finding the place too easily. Spindlefog is the name of the publisher of this and other misguidebooks. I'm sure there are more stories to tell about him.

Then there's the Book of Errantry, which is a kind of "scout handbook" of rules and useful advice given to every young person who joins the Errantry as a knight-apprentice. (There will be more on the Errantry in a later post.)

And Redquill's Atlas and Gazeteer of the Realm. A book of maps and information about the worlds of Story. Could such a book ever be completed?

And Balthazar Budd's Flora and Fauna of Wildernesse. This one is based on a real book that I had to read and study when I was a biological sciences student, years ago: Budd's Flora of the Canadian Prairie Provinces, a huge tome cataloguing and describing the plants and flowers of the Canadian west. The book was named for Archibald Charles Budd, an Englishman who emigrated to Canada in 1910 after winning 250 pounds in a limerick contest. (I'd love to read the winning limerick). A.C. Budd worked as a botanist in Saskatchewan and became an authority on the plant life of his adopted home. If you ever need to differentiate hay sedge from broom sedge, Budd's book is the place to go.



...from The Spindlefog Misguidebook to the Realms of Story

Arzareth, the land that no one has visited:

Follow the river Abrach south from Brythar for twenty-one days, until the stream finally runs dry in the wastes of Houl. Make for the Talon Rock on the western horizon and strike out across the deathly plain, for a further thirteen days, until you reach Quef, the country that is all border, with no interior. From here it matters not which direction you take, for you will always find Arzareth before you but unreachable, on the far side of a dry riverbed, or seen through flickering leaves, or glimpsed, blue and inviting, from the top of a hill, or across a channel of surging ocean surf....

"another land" Esdras 2, 13:40-46)