Adventuring with Children - Noor Al-Shanti

18 Aug 2023

Isaree of the Wild Isles is a story of adventure, survival, and found family. Isaree and the others are forced to flee their village because they know that the Sorcerers are coming to forcefully take anyone with magical powers, or enough strength to be forced to work in the mines. So they set out together, on a crazy journey of survival that none of them were prepared for. This group, pushed into this adventure by their elders so they can escape and survive, is not your usual group of fantasy adventurers.

Isaree is a young woman who has just discovered her own power. She hasn’t told anyone else yet, but when they’re trying to find a way to predict who will show power when the Sorcerers come to test them Isaree comes forward:

“I think I have an idea!” She said loudly, before she lost her nerve and before the effect wore off. Her hands were glowing an eerie purple colour. Chaarumathi screamed.

- Ch 1

She ends up having to step forward more than once during their adventure.

“You must lead the other group, Isaree,” the blacksmith said. “You’ve always been good at navigating the wild paths and you’ve had your power for a few weeks now.”

- Ch 2

The responsibility of leading a group in their wild escape weighs heavily on Isaree, who still hasn’t really moved into the role of adult.

It felt strange to be included in an “adult” conversation.

- Ch 3

Isaree is still young enough to want to run around in the woods freely without responsibilities and to long for the chance to explore and relish in that magical power she has just discovered.

They picked a dangerous path along the rocks right by the water’s edge. It was slow, but thrilling, the water dancing wildly beside them, splashing them, licking at their feet. That was the first time since the village that Isaree felt the magic again, filling her up as she looked out at the vast waters, tugging at her heart as she moved. Her hands felt hot and nimble. She felt that she could build them a bridge or move rocks away out of their path if she wanted to, but she did not allow herself to get carried away.

- Ch 3

So although Isaree has the responsibility of leading the group to safety, she’s still a child at heart and still seeks the thrill of adventure as she and her friends discover the wider world outside their village.

In some ways, Isaree is the typical fantasy heroine. She’s a young person with power who is going on a journey of survival and discovering the wider world. The strong, dependable young man Sirichai and her wise friend Chaarumathi are also there to help and guide her. But their other companions are all much younger

Thaban and Toofan are young boys with a lot of energy and still in their mischievous stage.

Thaban’s idea for the Blacksmith to shoot fireballs at people and see if they’d do magic to protect themselves had resulted in the identification of Muni and Asa as magic users.

- Ch 2

They’re old enough to realize the danger they’re all in, but they are, undoubtedly, little boys that the others need to protect and guide. Isaree fears for them and seeks to protect them as they journey together. They become like little brothers that she has to look out for. There’s another boy about their age in the group as well, but Leng is not from Isaree’s village. It was his arrival that set the whole story in motion.

Isaree was staring down at her hands when the boy came limping out of the trees, all battered and bloody and hysterical. His name, fittingly enough, was Leng. And he did talk loudly, his words cutting into their souls like ice-cold knives. She watched from the doorway as her aunts and neighbours fussed over him. But nothing they could do, no warm fires or hearty meals could take that look from his eyes, that haunted look.

- Ch 1

Isaree’s desire to provide this young, traumatized boy with safety and comfort becomes one of the biggest drives for her. So when Isaree finds her own secret, unexpected adventure, Leng is the first one she shares it with.

And then there’s Pakwan.

Pakwan is the youngest member of the adventuring party. She’s a toddler who has to be sent with them because she has magic. If you’ve ever had to take care of a toddler, you know that it’s not just rocking them to sleep or feeding them. Especially when that little baby has power.

Pakwan wouldn’t stop tugging at Isaree’s braids until she was given the beaded hair tie to play with. She was so tiny. Too tiny. And her sudden movements and exclamations tended to cause wild winds to erupt from her. Isaree found herself bouncing the little girl on her knee, wondering how in the great Circle of the World she was going to teach this little girl to control her power. If they survived, that is.

- Ch 2

One of the hardest things about taking care of someone so young is that you can’t really explain to them what’s going on and, if they have a problem, they can’t explain it to you, either.

She cried for hours from the moment they set foot on the ship. Nothing would calm her. Nothing would placate her. And she could not explain to them what was wrong. Finally, after hours of crying, she fell asleep.

- Ch 4

Combine that with magic and you get a pretty potent mixture.

Pakwan began to whine, so Isaree picked her up. The little girl immediately began to play with Isaree’s hair, pulling at it a little too hard.

“Do you want me to put you down, Pakwan?”

“I want Mama!” The girl said angrily. Her voice thundered around them, echoing as if it had been spoken by a being as enormous as the mountains themselves. Isaree gulped.

- Ch 5

Will Isaree and the others ever find a safe enough environment for this little girl? And how does little Pakwan end up making a discovery that will turn Isaree’s life upside down and, perhaps, change the entire Circle of the World?

Be the first to find out by joining Isaree’s adventuring group as soon as it sets out. Pre-order now to be one of the first people to read this story: