Starglass is a celestial substance, deposits of which have been mined from various places across the world of the Shifting Isles. It was discovered just years prior to the Breaking of the World in what was then the country of Agoran, a small deposit having been unearthed in the midst of an excavation in the mountains near the city of Norton. When the construction crew could neither separate the substance from the rock that surrounded it nor chip it out with any tool at hand, they notified the Jaduan High Council, which sent a delegation of magi to investigate.

Through extensive assessment and trials, it was ultimately discovered that the starglass only responded to the touch of pure gold, at which point the starglass immediately transformed from a seemingly solid substance into a liquid. The starglass was gathered into a gold basin and taken away to Jadu’n for further study.

Further trials performed by the magi, with the help of Agori scientists, led to the discovery that starglass in its liquid form created a portal, seeming to bend space-time so that an object could travel from one point to another instantaneously. The small deposit of starglass was poured into a gold frame, and when turned vertical, the celestial substance remained within the frame’s borders rather than spilling out. The frame and starglass were then cut in half, forming two thinner frames. With the starglass now split, what were the outside surfaces of the original piece still appeared fluid, while the newly-formed backsides of the two frame halves appear solid and impenetrable. Passing an object through the front of one of the portal halves causes the object to emerge from the front of its partner half. This process was tested many times with this first portal, moving the two halves to various locations of increasingly great distance and tossing a ball through them, then testing the ball’s integrity at each pass to make sure it wasn’t damaged or diminished in any way.

When the Breaking of the World occurred in 2952, and the single landmass separated into the eight Shifting Isles, other deposits of starglass were uncovered. The first to be found was in what remained of the mountain range that had once separated south Andria and north Indisar. The hills of south Andria, near the village of Behrwick, suffered landslides that uncovered a starglass deposit large enough to create a portal that could be tested for the use of human travel. The construction of the portal was expedited as a matter of quickly finding a way to restore travel between the lands rather than keeping the various countries isolated.

As the portals were new and had never been tested on living creatures before, however, no one was willing to test the portal once it was constructed, until Alasair Faneck, a young and newly-certified mage, volunteered. The trial proved successful, and Faneck’s bravery earned him a place in the revered Jaduan Historical Society, which he served until his death in 3047.

After that successful trial and the testing that followed, starglass deposits were sought out all over the world and more portals were formed, which came to be known as the starglass Gates. The Gates were placed in strategic and important destinations on every Isle, in addition to smaller Gates commissioned for personal use at the client’s expense (for example, the Gate that Sam Shyford has made for Seryn in Addiction). Divinity Square in New Haven, Agoran is such a popular destination that it contains a Gate to each Isle’s capitol city, the exception, of course, being the Gate to Vhais, Tanas, which was destroyed in 3519 during the events of Return to Tanas.

It was the Tanasians, in fact, who discovered how to destroy the Gates, previously assumed to be impossible. While anything that moves through the front of the Gate is transported to its partner Gate’s location, striking the back of the starglass can shatter the substance into glass-like shards. Once this occurs, even with the touch of gold, the shattered starglass can no longer achieve its liquid-like state. Once this was discovered, the Council of Elders on Tanas ordered all Gates found on their Isle to be destroyed, cutting them off from the rest of the world and stopping the people from escaping. They allowed only the Gate in the capitol city of Vhais to remain (later destroyed, as noted above), and never found the Gate hidden on the mountainside near the city of Sonekha (through which the rebels escaped in The Prisoner, and which still leads to the Gateway on Agoran).

Within a gold frame, starglass shimmers like starlight, but neither reflects anything before it nor allows a view to what lies beyond the other half of the portal. Passing through the substance gives a sensation of neither hot nor cold, neither wet nor dry. Prior to being mined, however, when the starglass is solid, it feels cold and hard like diamonds.

Starglass Gates are featured/mentioned in:

  • “Transformation”
  • The Prisoner (Shifting Isles Series, Book 1)
  • S.P.I.R.I.T. Division (Shifting Isles Series, Book 2)
  • Return to Tanas (Shifting Isles Series, Book 3)
  • Broken (Shifting Isles Series, Book 4)
  • Betrayal (Shifting Isles Series, Book 6)
  • Addiction (Shifting Isles Series, Book 7)
  • Blindsighted (Shifting Isles Series, Book 8)
  • Heavens Aground (Treble and the Lost Boys Trilogy, Book 2)