Suzanne is a real life friend of mine (I do have some…) We met at a Creative Writing course about five years ago. But whilst I’ve been scratching my arse and talking about finishing my novel (with a brief move to Italy in-between), she actually got off her backside and published a fabulous book.
I’m not usually a fantasy reader but I enjoyed reading about wizards and magical kingdoms. I thought it would be rather hard going but it was actually very easy to read with some light-hearted moments. The writing was very strong, the characters likeable and the intertwined stories kept me gripped until the end. I recommend, even if you’re not a fantasy fan.
Now then, onto Suzanne’s post. Yay – finally a new post…and I didn’t even have to write it!
Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson:
Two wizards, 350 years apart. Together they must save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past.
An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?
The female lead character of Varnia is often misunderstood. She is a hunt mistress, stuck in a man’s world with no family but her surrogate uncle, Reaun, to rely on.
A strong willed woman, who doesn’t let anything get in her way…but can also be prone to sulking. However, one thing guaranteed to get her out of a sulk is the Honey Cake at Redstone Manor.
I thought it would be fun to recreate the cake using a traditional recipe I found in ‘A Taste of the Border Country’ cookbook. I’ve given it my own tweaks as I always try to use gluten free flour and prefer self-raising to plain flour & baking powder. I’ve also added fresh ginger, which I believe complements the honey and lemon flavour.
8fl oz clear honey
3 oz butter
12oz self-raising flour (gluten free)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp milk
Grated rind of a lemon
Grated fresh ginger
(I omitted from the original recipe the mixed peel and didn’t add the flaked almonds on the top, but I can see they would work well with the rest of these ingredients).
1. Melt the butter and honey over a low heat.
2. Beat the eggs and milk. Add it to the cool melted butter and honey, along with the ginger.
3. Mix the flour, salt, lemon peel and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
4. Add the melted ingredients to the dry, a bit at a time and mix well. It has quite a liquid consistency.
5. Pour into an 8-inch square greased baking tin. Cook for about an hour on 150 fan.
The old recipe suggests poking holes in the cooked cake and adding another 3 tablespoons of honey over the top. I experimented with and without the extra honey, and found the cake quite dry without it. However, the flavour was good and tasty, and surprisingly it wasn’t too sweet.
I wonder if Varnia would like my version of Honey Cake? Maybe she would wash it down with a goblet or two of mead.