“The flame that gives the greatest light also casts the longest shadow.”

It’s one of those amazing experiences for an author, when one of your own book characters suddenly comes out with something uniquely profound. Perhaps even a universal truth? (I wish.)
The title quotation comes from “Spilling the Magic”, a fantasy novel for older children. The words belong to a character called Idrik Sirk. In the amazingly strange world of Murn, where mountains float, dragons are vegetarian and pigs can fly, Idrik Sirk is a Spellbinder (a particular kind of wizard if you will). He’s also dead. He’s also a skeleton. His words come from a conversation he has with Billy and Mary – the book’s main characters – when they come blundering into his tomb. (I did tell you Murn was strange.)
A slightly longer version of his words read;

“…The flame that gives the greatest light also casts the longest shadow. Look about you. Look! Light and dark. There’s never one without the other…”

Idrik Sirk is giving us a warning. At first glance, it appears to point directly at the nature of good and evil in a dangerous world. But take another look, there’s also something else. The flame that gives the greatest light also casts the longest shadow:

He is describing the inevitable consequence.

How often we see this in so many walks of life… If there is always a winner, there are ever so many more losers. If there is only one “best”, what does that make of all the second bests, but shadows? If we call one man “king”, what are we calling all other men? If all eyes look only upon the beauty in the room, all else goes unseen. (And that is our loss.)

Can there possibly be so much in one simple sentence? Perhaps I should just leave you to think it over…

Spilling the Magic by Stephen Moore

Suggested Readership: Older Children / Middle Grade


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