Meet Reina and Parisa, two of the talented magicians from Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six
Each decade, only the six most talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation into the Society of Alexandria…
The Society of Alexandria, guardian of the lost knowledge of the greatest civilizations of antiquity, is the first secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade only the six most talented magicians are selected to be considered for the initiation.
Enter the final set of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, involuntary halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can guess the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating the worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the inner workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there’s Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions a new structure of reality – an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications.
When candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will have preliminary access to the Society’s archives and will be judged on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, chance and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six would-be insiders will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves the best among their rivals, most of them will.
Most of them.
On the day Reina Mori was born, there had been a fire nearby. For an urban environment, particularly one so unaccustomed to flames, there was a heightened sense of mortality that day. Fire was such a primitive, archaic problem; for Tokyo, an epicenter of advances in magical and deadly technologies, to endure something as backward as the lack of sophistication of boundless flame was unsettling and biblical. Sometimes, when Reina slept, the smell would rise to her nose and she would wake up coughing, vomiting a little on the side of her bed until the memory of the smoke cleared from her lungs.
The doctors knew that she possessed power of the highest Midrian caliber right away, surpassing even the trinkets of normal sorcery, which were quite rare on their own. There wasn’t much natural life to speak of in the hospital high-rise, but what was there – the decorative plants laying lazily in the corners, the handfuls of cut flowers in vases meant for sympathy – had crept towards her baby. forms like nervous, anxious little children, yearning and fearing death.
Reina’s grandmother called her birth a miracle, saying that when Reina took her first breath, the rest of the world sighed in relief, clinging to the bounty of life she gave them. Reina, on the other hand, viewed her first breath as the beginning of a lifetime’s tasks.
The truth was that being called a naturalist shouldn’t have exhausted her so much. There were other Median naturalists, many of whom were born in the rural areas of the country, who generally chose to enlist in large agricultural enterprises; there, they could be paid handsomely for their services in increasing soybean production or purifying water. That Reina was considered one of them, or that she was called a naturalist, was somehow a misclassification. Other midwayers asked nature for things, and if they beckoned kindly or dignified or powerfully enough, nature gave. In Reina’s case, nature was like an irritating brother, or perhaps an incurable drug addict who happened to be a parent, always popping up to make unreasonable demands – and Reina, who initially didn’t think much of family, didn’t care about the feel, mostly choosing to ignore it.
There were quite a few words to describe what Parisa was like, which she assumed most people wouldn’t approve of. Perhaps it went without saying that Parisa didn’t place much importance on approval. She was talented and smart, but above that – at least according to anyone who had ever looked at her – she was beautiful and gifted with something that had been passed down to her through a chance arrangement of DNA instead of be won over by it. her two hands were not something she felt it necessary to idolize or condemn. She didn’t rail against her looks; didn’t thank for them either. She simply used them like any other tool, like a hammer or a shovel or whatever was needed to complete the required task. Moreover, the disapproval was not worth considering. The same women who might have disapproved were quick to adore her diamonds, her shoes, her breasts – which were all natural, never synthetic, not even illusory. Whatever they wanted to call Parisa, at least she was genuine. She was real, even if she lived on false promises.
Truly, there was nothing more dangerous than a woman who knew her own worth.
Extract of The Atlas Sixcopyright © 2022 by Olivie Blake.