Over on Pinterest, I've been keeping a pin board full of images that inspire and capture the spirit of the Scorched Continent series. With book one, Steal the Sky, coming out January 5th, I plan to explore some of these images here and explain what they mean to the world and the characters which inhabit it.
Doppels vs. Illusionists
In the cities of the Scorched Continent, the term doppel is a feared one. Parents tease their children with stories of powerful face-changes stealing them away and taking their place if they misbehave, and teetotalers warn against the dangers of carousers being tricked by wily doppels while their guard is down.
But the term doppel is a distinctly Valathean word, used to malign and disparage the magical talents previously embraced by the native Catari population. Talents that the empire of Valathea deemed too dangerous to allow to flourish, and as such set out to destroy by both sword and a smear campaign. The Catari call their doppels illusionists, and they can do far more than change faces.
Illusionists are capable of manipulating selium, a gaseous substance mined from firemounts, to change its apparent texture and color. They can change their appearance in this manner - the ability for which they are most feared - but they are also capable of creating illusions separate from themselves, whether it be creating the image of an inanimate object or disguising a location.
Due to Valathea's insistence on using their derogatory term, doppel, the fact that illusionists can change the appearance of so much more than their countenance has dropped out of common knowledge. An oversight a few doppels take ready advantage of.