A few thoughts about The Sworn and The Dread—Looking Towards the Future

As this blog comes out, The Sworn is getting closer and closer to its publication date in late January, and The Dread is nearly completed in first draft.  It’s been very interesting for me working on these two books, since they show the characters maturing and dealing with some new and troubling issues, compared to the challenges faced in the first four books.

Of course, one way that The Sworn and The Dread are different is that they offer a gateway into my world of the Winter Kingdoms for readers who haven’t read the other four books.  I like the idea of offering multiple points of entry into a fantasy world, so that as the number of books set in that world grows, readers don’t feel like they have to get caught up if they don’t want to do so or aren’t ready to tackle the project.  So for new readers, The Sworn and The Dread are a fresh start, while readers who have been with the series since the beginning will see old friends facing a brand new adventure.

The Summoner/The Blood King was a hero’s journey, and something of a quest tale, with the young, untried mage coming into his power, accepting his birthright and destiny, and fighting to avenge his murdered family.  Tris and most of the other characters were untested, and it was something of a contest of what youth and luck could do up against age and treachery.  Even Jonmarc, while the most seasoned of the bunch, was still evading his destiny, running from both the past and the future.  Part of the fun for me with the books was watching the characters grow into themselves, and their inexperience and untamed powers made the dangers they faced all the more perilous.

In Dark Haven/Dark Lady’s Chosen, although only a little over six months passed since the end of The Blood King, all of the characters have done a lot of maturing as they accept truths about themselves and new positions of responsibility.  Even Jonmarc, despite his protests, grows beyond his fatalistic “looking out for number one” stance, and as usual, no good deed goes unpunished.  As the characters and their relationships matured, it was very interesting to see the story move to the hard choices that come with being in charge.  I’ve written elsewhere about wanting to answer the question, “and then what?” regarding what happened after the close of The Blood King.  Not only are the characters’ loyalties tested in many ways in Dark Haven/Dark Lady’s Chosen, but I believe that each of the characters comes to a totally new understanding of who he or she really is that leaves them forever changed.

When The Sworn opens, six months have passed after the end of Dark Lady’s Chosen.  There are reasons for rejoicing, but there are also dark omens to suggest that war, plague and turmoil are not yet over.  Tris is now an experienced mage in his full magical power, and has rapidly learned the burden of the crown.  Kiara must balance the new demands of motherhood against her responsibilities as queen of Margolan and heir to the throne of Isencroft, a troubled land tearing itself apart in civil unrest.  Jonmarc and Carina look forward to the birth of their twin daughters, but find Dark Haven awash with refugees fleeing both plague and the persecution of vayash moru and vyrkin.  Cam and Carroway, whose heroics resulted in each of them sustaining life-changing injuries, grapple with the aftermath.  Around them all, the fabric of the Winter Kingdoms seems to be unraveling, upending all former certainties.

The Dread, which I’m working on right now, has a lot of story threads to resolve, because the canvas in The Sworn and The Dread is larger than in the previous books, encompassing all of the Winter Kingdoms instead of just one or two of the lands.  It’s been a lot of fun getting to know some of the cultures which we haven’t had a chance to see up close before (like Dhasson and Eastmark), and to watch the complex forces of culture, religion, nationalism and magic light a fire under the action to bring everything to a boil.  Suffice to say that this book is a game-changer, because after the action in The Dread, nothing will ever be the same.

There are plenty of other stories I want to tell about Tris, Jonmarc and the gang and about the Winter Kingdoms, both past and future, but in a way, all roads stem from the confrontations and choices that happen in The Sworn and The Dread.  I promise you this—there’s more than enough action to go around!

Thanks for reading this post—it’s part of my week-long Days of the Dead blog tour, so please catch the rest of my posts, contests, giveaways and goodies at http://www.chroniclesofthenecromancer.com/daysofthedead.html and my other partner sites.  You’ll also find free downloads from my books, as well as freebies from some of my author friends as Trick-or-Treat favors.  Featured treat #17 The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron http://www.rachelaaron.net/TheSpiritThief-RachelAaron-Sample.pdf plus a preview chapter of my new book, The Sworn http://www.chroniclesofthenecromancer.com/TheSworn.html