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My vision is to create a world where every person feels valuable purposeful and empowered

Jaques Smit Author



“The Eye of Winter” by Jaques Smit is a gripping action-adventure set in the world of Ayrul. Birger, a brash young thief and his eager accomplice Wynn, rob the wrong merchant, stumbling upon a plot to start a devastating war.

Pursued by cutthroats, Birger sets off on a journey to stop it from happening. But he gets more than he bargained for when he meets Renate Couture. She helps him cope with loss, tame his emotions, and settle in with a team of spies as they explore the complex political landscape of Azrea.

With epic battles, magic, and richly drawn characters, Jaques brings his love for fantasy and positive psychology to life in the unfolding dynamics of the story. Join Birger in his transformational journey alongside exotic friends, facing difficult choices and moral dilemmas.

Published by Paul Smith Publishing London




In 2009, amidst a challenging period in my life, I embarked on a journey to crafting this book. I had found solace and inspiration in the world I had created through pen-and-paper role-playing games. However, as I started writing I realised something, while I loved games, and fantasy, I wasn’t very well-read. 

This showed in the quality of my work and so I began to improve my craft. Along the way, my life transformed as old challenges passed, and new ones took their place.

I travelled the world as a game designer, living on four continents. My temperament settled, I got married, and had a son. All the while, I read, researched, wrote, worked on my storytelling skills in role-playing games, and any other narrative format I could.
My most notable change came when I discovered coaching and Positive Psychology. For three years, I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about it. What a wonderful gift, I thought, being able to help others perform at their best. 

Thanks to this twist, I found both my purpose and something else I wasn’t expecting. For most of my career, I loved creating new things. But now I spent most of my time enabling others to create things. 

I missed being a creator myself. On top of that, I was working very hard and getting drained. I needed to find balance.

When my publisher reached out, I wanted to do something related to my vision. I started researching leadership and imposter syndrome, but it didn’t sing to me.

My first love, fantasy, and the world of Ayrul, which I had been creating for more than a decade, began calling me back. I still remembered my amateurish first attempt, and I knew I could do better.

Now I’m certainly not saying I’m great now. I believe that the day you think that you begin to decline. 

I strive, and often fail, to think of myself as a forever beginner. Embracing the ever-beginner mindset allowed me to be hungry for more. To see failure as just another step in the journey and accept feedback as an extraordinary gift to devour. 

When I sat down to rewrite this story, I wanted two things. First, I wanted to craft a setting worth playing in. I prepared the maps, hoping that one day, players I didn’t know would walk in the streets of Anthir and brave the treacherous Wild Lands. Perhaps the Magpies’ Code might even live in their cities.

The second thing I wanted was for my work to serve my vision to create a world where every person feels valued, purposeful, and empowered. Lacing my story with concepts from Positive Psychology – maybe I can start a Positive Fantasy movement  – and offer readers a new way to learn about it. Renate and the idea of a Mindweaver, embodies much of this ambition. 

A seven-legged jumping spider made its home in my hallway while I was writing this book. My young son Liam and I named it Bob. Since my son was a fan of my writing, I decided Bob should be in the book. While Bob would later be renamed Snow as he took shape in the pages, this little bit of inspiration was also a defining factor in how my magic system evolved. 

Creating this book has been a long journey. Sometimes, it was draining, but most of the time it was life-affirming.

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