Questions left over from The Swordsman’s Oath kicked this story off. ‘Where are the rest of the artefacts?’ closely followed by ‘what’s Ryshad going to do now – come to that, how’s Temar going to cope?’ Then I asked myself how are the Tormalin nobility going to react to recent magical and geographical discoveries? I soon realised the Summer Solstice Festival in Toremal was the obvious place for Ryshad and Temar to go looking for answers to all of the above.
Ryshad has to decide whether or not to swear renewed service to the House of D’Olbriot, or to hand back his oath. Will his sense of duty allow him to abandon Temar D’Alsennin, as the younger man tries to salvage something from the ruins of the Kellarin colony?
For Ryshad, who’s lived by a code of honour all his adult life, the answers are obvious, even if the decision to let Livak go off on her search for aetheric lore is a difficult one. At first it looks as if his two obligations will complement each other, when Messire D’Olbriot commands Ryshad to guide Temar through the five intense days of the Solstice Festival. But the swordsman soon faces conflicting demands on his loyalties as different priorities emerge. At the same time, manoeuvring and rivalries among the Tormalin nobility are complicating Temar ’s quest for the artefacts he need to revive his sleeping people. Each man has to summon all his own resources as well as calling upon the other if they are to emerge with a whole skin, let alone any degree of success.
I’m trying to do something different with each book in this series, to avoid rewriting the one before as much as anything. In this Tale, the bulk of the action takes place over five consecutive days and that set me a whole new set of challenges as a writer in terms of pace, continuity and plot development. Moving from Ryshad’s point of view to Temar’s, I had to show a complex society as seen by an insider and an outsider at one and the same time, while not overburdening the book with potentially irrelevant detail. The story explores the use and abuse of power but here the power is political and financial. Juggling all these requirements wasn’t easy but then, if a puzzle’s too simple, it’ s no fun, is it? I found writing this book exhilarating!Try the opening chapter!