Revisions to BEYOND THE PROPHECY are ahead of schedule.
Creatures of the Plains
I hope it’s not obvious, but the beasts living on the plains in the world of the Dual Magics Series are based—loosely—on the Pleistocene megafauna of North America.
I left out all the creatures that would have screamed that that was the inspiration. No mammoths or mastodons. No giant ground sloths or wooly rhinos. Although, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist in this world. Just that they don’t occur in the part of the plains inhabited by the Dardani. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dardani’s ancestors had something to do with that.) But if you were to wander off the map up north into the Northern Wilderness or south beyond the mountains, you might find these creatures roaming in those areas. Maybe that’s why people don’t often go to those areas.
The lions are actually intended to be the American lion, a separate species that was a little larger than the modern African lion. Though, having nothing else to go on, I do portray their lifestyle as very much like their African cousins. The swiftcat(mentioned only a few times) is actually the American cheetah—which was not a true cheetah. At least one species had retractable claws that would have made climbing trees easier for it than for modern cheetahs. And the Forest tigers are fairly obviously based on saber-toothed cats.
The wild horses are modeled more on the zebra than on domestic horses, except that I gave mine leopard spots rather than stripes to break up their outlines and make them harder to see. Why not?
Of course, I added a few things, like the wyverns the live in the mountains (and at least historical hints of other kinds of dragons). But wyverns and dragons aren’t new to fantasy. (In fact, most of my novels seem to have a dragon in them somewhere. Only FIRE AND EARTH and DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING have no mention of dragons.)
The only creature I entirely made up was Chitter in the first book, the little flying-squirrel-like creature with a lion’s mane (like a golden lion tamarin) that hung around Vatar’s campsites.
I left out the teratorns, (really giant condors) too. The largest North American version (there was one a lot bigger in South America) was about fifty pounds with an eighteen-foot wingspan. I’d duck if that flew overhead.
However one of the two kinds of magic allows certain people to take a different form and a couple of my characters change to eagles. But one of the requirements of these shape changes (under normal circumstances) is conservation of mass. So, a petite hundred-pound woman will be a hundred-pound eagle. Plus, just because she can take that shape doesn’t mean she knows how to use it. That has to be learned. I didn’t want to lessen the struggles of these characters learning to fly by having really big birds making it look easy.
So, that’s a window into what might be lurking out on the plains.