Thursday, July 11, 2013

Villains: Sambana the Evil Shaman

SAMBANA THE EVIL SHAMAN
from Bad Spelling

In "Bad Spelling," Kat's love interest, Andy, is a troll...sort of. Stolen at birth by the Trolless Gorm to replace one of her newborn triplets, Andy is through and through troll. He loves his brothers Endy and Indy, respects the troll King Ole, and is overall pretty happy being a troll.

However, when Gorm is near death, she tells Andy that he's bortbyting, a changeling. His real family is the Sami tribe of Siberia. Well, we already know that Kat's father is a Sami from Siberia. Hmm. Coincidence? I think not.

The Samis (also spelled Sámi or Saami) are a widespread extended clan of people closely related to the North American Eskimos and Aleutes. You've heard of Samoyed dogs, the breed of sled dog bred by these northernmost indigenous people. The Lapps are the same people just a little further west. There is lots of interesting information on the Sami people out on the internet. I discovered them by trundling around the web looking for an indigenous people living in Siberia. I wanted Kat's father to be completely different from the Euro-Nordic witches of Galdorheim. I hit the motherload with the Samis. These are the perfect folks to be the middle link between witches and trolls. The Free Encyclopedia is a treasure trove of information. I spent a lot of time following links and reading. These are people not widely known by the "civilized" world.

The Samis of Siberia are primarily hunter/gatherers with fishing being a major food source. You can imagine that near the Arctic Circle, farming is not possible. Russia pulled the same dirty trick on the Samis as the US pulled on the indigenous tribes of North America: relocation. They moved them all next door to the Barents Sea, which, naturally, is not a desirable piece of real estate. I know we could all go on and on about the injustices of the world, but that's not what I'm doing here. I encourage you to follow the links from the Free Encyclopedia. It's an addictive trail of fascinating information.

But the central idea in the Witches of Galdorheim books is the existence of this type of people exactly where they are in Siberia. Worked out great for my story. In "Bad Spelling," Kat has to deal with a shaman of the Sami people. First she has to find him, and that's a pretty long journey in itself. Along the way, she meets Andy and they travel to the Siberian north to find him.

The Samis practice shamanism with various shamans handling different parts of life.
  • The Tadebya advises on the right time to go fishing or move the village (the Samis are nomadic). He handles the practical day-to-day needs of the people.
  • The Vidutana deals with the heavens so is the go-to guy if you're in need of heavenly guidance.
  • The Sambana is more like the crazy monk living in a cave somewhere. Everybody around knows he's got some kind of power, but he's also dangerous. He can cast evil spells, deals with black magic, and is an all-around unsavory character.
This is very simplistic, and you won't have to try very hard to find differences in my interpretations of shamanistic matters with real-world examples. But, hey, I'm writing a fantasy here and am allowed to mess with all things magical to my heart's content.

Excerpt

The Sambana jerked his eyes from the scrying flame with a curse. The little witch’s power amazed him. Calling the polar bear from its winter sleep sapped almost all of his energy. With great effort, he’d wakened it from sleep, ravenous from the deep hunger of hibernation. And then, as if it were of no moment, the witch called a full pod of Orcas!

When he had discovered Borisi frozen halfway between life and death, he had set the protective spell. Luckily, Borisi’s body was outside the witch wall, so he could keep watch. He felt it when the old witch discovered the spell. Now, this insolent child set out to stop it.

He had felt the village shield ripple. Someone went through the wall. He watched, recognizing the girl as Borisi’s child. The boy wasn’t of the people, so could be ignored. He muttered to himself and moved back from the flame. He needed to rest before he could try again to stop the witch from reaching the Mountain King’s lair.