The Circle of Six: Emily's Quest

The Circle of Six - Emily's Quest - Dan Sanders

There are fantasy books, and then there are EPIC fantasy books. The Circle of Six definitely qualifies, in my opinion, as an epic. It's a book that requires your undivided attention as you follow Emily and her companions on their quest. 

I thought the plot of this work was excellent. It's well thought out, detailed, and woven together beautifully. Each character is portrayed very realistically with admirable characteristics as well as human flaws. 

I had a little bit of trouble visualizing Emily as a bird and then as a rabbit. I kept seeing her as a human, which disrupted the story for me a bit. I don't blame Dan Sanders at all for that -- it was my own perception of the character. I have a more difficult time identifying with animal characters, so I think that I pictured her as a human in order to better relate to her. 

I could definitely see this turning into an animated children's story. Although there are some dark and scary scenes, I think it would translate well to the screen. 

Overall it was an excellent read. But if you're a skimmer like me, you need to remember to FOCUS on this book as you read it. I know that I missed several important parts because I wasn't focused enough on what I was reading (hard to do with a 2 year old). 

Even so, I enjoyed the author's voice and storytelling skills. 

Some Bio Information

Following a 20 year corporate career, Dan Sanders is now a writer, speaker and activist.

Sanders is associated with the humanist movement, an advocate for the mental health organisation, the BlackDog Institute, as well as a proponent for ethics, science based scepticism and the humanities in education and recently set up The Activist Parent website. 

He lives in Sydney, Australia with his piano teacher wife and the huge imaginations of their five children.


1. What inspires you to write?

This is a broad question so will try to explain some of the dimensions of that inspiration. At the broadest level, I’m inspired to write to articulate or create meaning. Part of that meaning is a hope to leave a legacy, a legacy that breaths insight and perspective into the unseen generations who follow, to give them a vision that the creative life can have deep and lasting meaning. At this level, I feel it’s more than an inspiration, it’s as though I am compelled to write, a force that I can’t ignore for very long, lurking at the edge of my consciousness, to give voice to my life, or the lives of those who don’t have a voice. I think at some level artists, movie directors, actors, and musicians all create to give an artistic voice, a fresh perspective, to a concept or a theme where they might have an insight that’s important to them. That’s writing to me.

But I’m inspired to write by other things. I love language, it moves me, like music. When I hear a cliche or poorly used words I cringe like nails down a blackboard. When words are tossed together in fresh bundles, or crafted with cadence and tempered tones I have been known to shed a tear. 

What about daily inspiration? Some things grab me and I feel compelled to write it down, to observe it and to capture it for later. But the rush and context of daily life when I’m not in the act of writing can be a distraction to the creative process, limiting the type of thunderbolt inspiration people sometimes think about when referring to inspiration. 

2. Can you describe your writing process a little? 

My leadership background in the corporate world has forced me to set goals and targets for everything. I set myself monthly word targets, working back from the goal of the project or projects I’m working on. I then break this down further into a weekly guide, not too fixed. I find daily targets too easy to be broken by the vicissitudes of daily life.

Writing requires a deep introspection (something I haven’t found in any other activity in my life), a separation from the surrounding world. But with five children and a piano studio our house is a buzzing metropolis. So I put on my noise cancelling headphones (Parrot Zik II’s)–usually to Bach Cantatas (the simple tonal rhythms still my noisy thoughts), close my eyes and drift into the world I am writing about. I write the scene in my head, write the outline , and then jump in, all in my app of choice, in Ulysses. 

3. What character from The Circle of Six do you identify with the most? 

Characters in some way are expressions of parts of ourselves. And for that reason I connect with parts of each of them. But if I had to pick one, it would be Xavier. We sometimes find situations, especially as children, that make us unwitting accomplices in dangerous acts that can affect the path of our lives. His pure heart, his desire to please, his loyalty and his ultimate courage resonate with me. 

4. What is your least favorite part of the writing process? 

Again, broadly, it has to be the marketing process (if that can be considered part of the writing process), the act of finding readers. Marketing moves what is an intensely internal activity and shares it with complete strangers. I, like most writers, fear rejection, humiliation, and judgement. But having been through the process now and the wonderful joy my writing has given I’m constantly amazed and humbled by the unintended consequences of my life as a writer. What started out as a drive for expression and family legacy is now touching and inspiring complete strangers. That said, I’m still not used to the role of my mediated self in public–TV and Radio were some of the most nerve wracking moments in my life.

5. Who is your favorite author? 

Too many to tell but Fantasy and Sci-Fi writers; J.R. Tolkien, Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings, Julian May, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, all of whom have given me instruction in the genre and permission to be bold.

This might seem strange but I have been most affected by a range of literary authors who in their own way have instructed me on the craft: Martin Amis, Hemingway, Nabokov, John Cheever, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Munro… 

6. What’s your dream vacation? (Or have you already been there?)

Now you’ve done it. It’s got me planning again. To retrace the footsteps of Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald through their haunts in Spain and France. I can even picture getting stuck along the way and never returning.

7. Is Emily’s story over? 

I miss her so very much. Imagine losing your home, your family, your body, and having to save a world so grand and immense you can hardly breath. Yes, her journey and that of some of her friends from the Circle of Six will continue, for at least four books as part of the Legends of Eostra Series.