Magicians in Ellada have a similar history and place in society as they did in our own Victorian Era. When Micah begins to study the history of magic, he learns the following from The Secrets of Magic by Adem Risto: “The book had a brief overview of magic from its beginning: as basic illusions that priests would wield to cement their followers’ beliefs and sway the cynical. Vestige artifacts were considered holy and proof of the divine. Yet when scientists deduced that Vestige might be technology and not magic, believers grew more cynical of the priests’ effects. Magic for a long time was street entertainment, often married to vaudeville or circuses.”
There were a few great magicians of the age, two of which are the magicians who have a fierce rivalry that sparks again in Shadowplay.
Adam Risto, the author of The Secret of Magic was responsible for changing a lot of people’s opinions on magic. He was the one who really helped it become what it is in Shadowplay – a grand stage extravaganza. Shadowplay describes him as: “An incredible inventor, he transformed magic from sideshow entertainment into a show fit for nobility and royalty.” He was the first magician to perform for royalty, in the grand Hippocampus in Imachara, the capital of Ellada. He also kept his personal life very private, so not much was known about him, other than he came from modest beginnings. He died about half a century ago.
Risto was a great influence to the first of the magicians we see in Shadowplay, Jasper Maske, or the Maske of Magic. He, too, came from humble beginnings and invented many wonderful illusions when he worked with his partner, Pen Taliesin. Jasper founded the Kymri Theatre, an incredible theatre inspired by the beautiful architecture in Kymri, another island in the Archipelago, loosely based on Egypt. This became one of the biggest showcases of illusion outside of the Royal Hippocampus. Maske was set to become a magician to eclipse even Risto. I’ve based Maske a bit on the magicians Carter & Robert-Houdin.
However, this all changed when Pen Taliesin, Maske’s partner, turned against him. Taliesin, when he joined Maske, was primarily an escapologist, and while he had an energy that the audience loved, he lacked the same refinement and delicate prestidigitation of his partner. I’ve based Taliesin a little on Houdini. Initially, they worked together in harmony, developing new tricks and performing some of the best illusion shows in the country. But their relationship turned sour and they became bitter rivals. Fifteen years before, they had a duel, and the loser was no longer allowed to perform magic.
Fifteen years later, that duel is rekindled in Shadowplay, with Drystan, Micah, and a new character, Cyan, at its heart.
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