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A to Z Challenge 2019: B is for Barriers and Circles

Welcome to my A to Z Challenge 2019 posts. This year I’ll be writing about the world of Kinyal which is the setting of my epic fantasy novels and short stories. These posts offer insights into the world’s history, locations, and factions, but do not spoil any of the events or secrets from the novel.

You don’t need to read them in order, and as the challenge progresses, I’ll do my best to add links to related topics for each post.


Barriers are spheres of magical energy summoned by both arcanists (or demonologists as common folk would have it) and high mages for protection. Barriers can prevent physical attacks as well as manifested magical ones (such as a ball of fire or a spike of ice), but are not capable of stopping magic in its pure form.

This is one of the speculated reasons of why the Cataclysm had seen so few survivors. The kingdom of Zemarion reportedly boasted many powerful arcanists, but with no warning, most of them didn’t have enough time to prepare their circles and barriers weren’t enough to hold the rage of magic at bay.

Barriers are also static. Once summoned, it can’t be moved around and if the caster tries to move from his or her spot, the barrier will disperse. This restriction doesn’t apply to others protected within its boundaries who can walk freely as they aren’t the anchor for the channeled energy. Of course, they won’t be able to step out or in unless the arcanist or the high mage removes the barrier.


How can you tell an arcanist and a high mage apart? The high mage can’t draw a circle.

Needless to say, high mages aren’t particularly fond of this arcanists’ joke, but at the very core, it does underline one of the difference between the two schools of magic.

Circle is a crucial part of the arcane arts and is used by the prospective demonologist to make a pact: the circle along with the caster’s willpower are enough to call upon a demon. With no magic present in Kinyal, it’s the only way to reach out to the world of yalari and make a pact, and it is customary that the arcanist himself or herself performs the summoning. The ones unable to do so are, after all, too weak-willed for yalari to have any interest in them.

Circles are also used in summoning the demonlings, the weakest among the yalari, though as mentioned in the A is for Arcane Magic post, few arcanists do so without a good reason. Some menageries or underground fight pits have use for those creatures and will pay a good coin for it, but other than that there’s little reason to bring those vile being into Kinyal. Unless, of course, a demonologist or they employer have ill intents…

Lastly, as mentioned above, circles can serve to ground the barriers. A barrier cast with the help of a circle can withhold more attacks, including those of pure energy, and grants anyone inside complete protection for as long as the arcanist can channel magic into it. Moreover, an arcanist can move freely within it, and it’s easier to disperse it and put it back in place if needed, letting allies in or spells out.

Circles have other applications as well, and are one of the few ways to keep magic within the world where it doesn’t naturally exist, but most knowledge was lost during the Cataclysm or is guided carefully by the most influential arcanists. The one use that is highly sought-after is healing: no “healing spells” exist, and channeling energy does little in terms of curing anyone… unless it’s done with the help of a circle. Tales have it that in the past, arcanist were able to cure mortal wounds with their magic and close to regrow limbs, but nowadays the art of healing is rare and not nearly as powerful, though tall gossip circle about men and women who can heal themselves from magic without the use of a circle.

If you’d like a taste of the world, my free collection contains two of the stories from my free short story collection are set in Kinyal. The Arcanist and the Mage Killer and Scourges, Spells, and Serenades tell of the early adventures of Kamira and Veelk, the main protagonists of the upcoming novel.

You can get the collection by signing up to my newsletter.

All posts in this year’s challenge (links updated with new posts):

Arcane Magic || Barriers and Circles || The Cataclysm || Devanshari  || Essence || Free City of Kaighal || Gildya Magna || High Magic || Imbued Stones || Juamha || Kamira Altrainne || Languages || Mage Killers ||

Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games. Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English. Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

This Post Has 9 Comments

    1. Melfka

      Thank you, Sue.
      Yest, it’s going to be a series of three books with possible spin offs. At the moment, I’m putting finishing touches on book 1, and there are two short stories in my collection that are set in this world as well.

      Your comments for A went through and I replied. They were just initially market for moderation since you were a first-time commentator. You should be all good from now on 🙂
      I’m swamped with freelance work today, so I’ll be catching up on your B and C tomorrow. 🙂

  1. SteampunkCow

    Wow gal! I´m really impressed with the depth you have given to your world, you make your arcane magic sound so organic, so real… I can see all the love and time invested in creating your stories. 😀

    1. Melfka

      Thank you! When it comes to world building, this is definitely my most unique and worked on world, and probably my favorite, though it’s more due to the story I’m telling in it and my main protagonists.

  2. sjhigbee

    Yes – wonderful, wonderful worldbuilding with detail and considered consequences built in… Fabulous:)

    1. Melfka

      Once again – thank you. I’m so glad you enjoyed my posts. More so, since you’re a seasoned reader!

      1. sjhigbee

        You’re very welcome – I always enjoy reading your posts and once I’ve caught my breath – Life is madly hectic right now – I will be revisiting and catching up:))

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