Answers to a few niggles

Posted on March 24, 2016 (Subscribe to Blog)

I received an email with some questions and suggestions about the Island of Fog shapeshifters, and I thought it would be worth addressing them here on my blog. A spoiler alert for those who have not read the entire series!

So here goes:

Can you make it so the prisoners, the scrags, become unshapeshifters by doing another blood transfusion on them? Because I thought you might have forgotten that and allowed them in your next book to keep being shapeshifters.

Not forgotten, no. This is briefly mentioned in Unicorn Hunters.

The blood transfusion Hal went through to rid himself of his werewolf curse cleansed his blood of dragon magic as well, so yes, the transfusion certainly would have worked on the scrags. And who's to say Miss Simone didn't do that with some of the more dangerous villains? But maybe most of those scrags, without their nasty Queen Bee leading them, eventually got out of prison, joined forces with Miss Simone, and accepted jobs in the community. This, after all, was what most of them wanted all along – to be accepted into society.

As it happens, the years rolled by and their shapeshifting powers went stale. There's an old saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and that's true of an adult body suddenly infused with magical blood. It might work at first, but the body fights back and restores normality. Children are best suited to shapeshifting. Their young bodies are more adaptable, and they take on the power with gusto. Their powers will last much longer than any scrag.

Except Seth. Remember him? He was also a scrag, but he was young enough to accept the shapeshifter blood and properly adapt to it. Word has it that he's still a dragon shapeshifter twenty years later, whereas the rest of the scrags are fully human again.

Let's not forget, though, that many of the scrags really just wanted to be ordinary again. A pleasant side effect of shapeshifting is that cells regenerate and wounds heal. So when the scarred virus victims transformed back and forth during that battle on the beach in Castle of Spells, their crusty, cracked skin softened and normalized. Scrags were no longer scrags after that. Mission accomplished.

Also, now Hal and everyone can change into whatever they want, with a simple blood transfusion!

Ah, now, wait a minute. Not everyone is going to jump at the chance to have their entire body drained of blood and flushed through! I doubt their parents would allow it, and Miss Simone would never agree to such a thing anyway unless there was a very good reason.

Hal and his friends have gotten to like their abilities and what they turn into, and nobody wants to risk something going wrong. The only person who might have a really good reason to give up his ability is Dewey, who was rightly ashamed of his centaur heritage after what the gang discovered on Whisper Mountain. But even then, you can't hate an entire race or community just because of a few bad apples. (And yes, that applies in the real world, too.)

Or if they can't change to a different species, they can at least make themselves bigger with a blood sample taken from the biggest dragon and then do a blood transfusion. After all I doubt they made Hal into the biggest dragon when they gave him the blood sample from Felipe's friend who want the biggest.

You have to remember that Hal is young throughout the 9-book series. Therefore he's a young dragon. To quote a passage from Unicorn Hunters:

Travis watched with glee, wishing he could be a dragon just like his dad. Of course, even if he were allowed, he wouldn't be that big. Not yet, anyway. But it wouldn't take long. As a human youth on the cusp of adulthood, he might only gain another ten or twelve inches in height, but his dragon form would grow three or four yards in length and probably put on a few thousand pounds of weight.

Also please make sure that no one else knows how to make people into shapeshifters, like lock up Queen Bee's lab guy.

Rest assured this was taken care of! Miss Simone has the system locked up good and proper these days.

I read the blurb on the first book on the Island of Fog Legacies and you want to make Travis a tiny wyvern? I dunno if that's gonna go good really. It doesn't feel as cool as the hero being an awesome dragon!

Haha! If everyone was an awesome dragon, what chance would there be for the enemy? It wouldn't be much of a story, would it? But like you said above, the scrag shapeshifting incident at the castle proved how dangerous it would be if villains were able to transform into deadly monsters. So Miss Simone – along with the council – has decreed that certain ferocious beasts are permanently off-limits. Want to be a dragon? Forget it. Try a soft-hearted dryad instead.

Actually, a wyvern is a pretty cool mini-dragon, and Travis should consider himself lucky. But when you read the book, you'll realize (as he does) that whatever he chooses comes with problems, and even the most horrendous monster can be captured. What really counts is cunning – being able to use what you have to your advantage.

Oh and by the way one mistake, in one of the earlier books with the phoenix in, how come Hal and his friends didn't lose their powers when they were right next to Blair when he rebirthed?

Because Blair's rebirth power at that time was pitiful compared to the thousand-year-old phoenix he came to warn everyone about. As he said in Chapter Ten of Lake of Spirits:

But my demonstration is feeble compared to what a real phoenix can do. Especially old ones." And: "Jacob will be reborn, to live for another thousand years. But his regeneration will be... I don't know, ten, twenty, maybe even fifty times more powerful than mine."

Blair did manage to knock out a few nearby geo-rocks, and maybe he dulled the abilities of the shapeshifters for a while. If so, they didn't notice, and they had plenty of residual magic to recharge with. But Jacob's fiery rebirth utterly wiped out all magic for miles. It took months for it to leak back into the world.

You'll remember that Blair used his power again in Chamber of Ghosts and Valley of Monsters to reverse the gorgon's death gaze, and it took him several weeks to recharge. His power grew stronger each time, but even so, nothing beats soaking up magic for a thousand years.

Good writing, those are just a few niggles. :-)

Thank you! – and I'm always happy to answer any niggles readers come up with.

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