Avalyne is at peace.
The Shadow War has come and gone and the kingdom of Carleon is now restored. King Dare, a mortal man has finally wedded his elven love Arianne. As they prepare to usher in a new era of prosperity across the land, the Queen happily announces the impending arrival of an heir.
Arianne’s joy is short-lived when she discovers that an ancient evil has emerged from the wreckage of war with a monstrous plan for her baby. Determined to protect her very mortal husband, Arianne embarks on a quest with her two companions, the warrior maid Celene of Angarad and Keira of the Green, to journey to the far corners of Avalyne before the enemy can plant a seed of evil in the heart of her unborn son.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wanted to write a fantasy in book in the vein of the Lord of the Rings which featured female protagonists going on an adventure of their own. Women are often sidelined in this types of stories and I wanted to give them something unique to get them out of the door and willing to face untold dangers.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The heroines are modelled after common genre types, the elf princess, the warrior maid, the outcast stranger. I wanted to make them real, to show their struggle beyond being the prize won or the typical warrior woman that seems to outdo all the men.
‘You are silent,’ Keira stated as she joined the Queen at the bow. The wind was blowing northwards, allowing the sail to do most of the work and carry them up river. Celene had taken charge of the rudder, directing the boat to move against the current by weaving it from side to side along the river bank. It allowed Keira the freedom to join the Queen, who was sitting alone.
Both she and Celene had noticed the Queen’s melancholy though neither brought attention to it. It was understandable of course that Arianne should feel somewhat overwhelmed by everything that had taken place in the last day. Only yesterday she was celebrating the arrival of her child, and today she was off to face an enemy who had struck at the most intimate of places.
‘I am thinking,’ Arianne answered, looking up at Keira as the other woman sat down beside her.
‘Of what’s ahead?’ Keira ventured a guess.
‘Of what could happen if I fail,’ Arianne confessed with a sigh.
‘You mustn’t think like that,’ Keira reached for her hand and squeezed it gently. ‘I know it seems grim, but we will stop this.’
Arianne was trying not to let despair overtake her, but it was difficult when she considered the consequences for failure. ‘I do not know if I have it in me to stop this evil from taking my child. My mother thinks that I can stop Mael’s agent, but I wonder if she only thinks that because she has little faith in the ability to men to prevail. She forgets that until I met Dare, I had spent my life sheltered behind the Veil. He was the one who encouraged to explore the world outside, to see what lay beyond. That time when I came to take you to Eden Taryn, that was probably the first time I had really travelled alone.’
‘I remember,’ Keira nodded. ‘You saved my life.‘
‘You saved Dare’s,’ Arianne countered just as promptly.
Arianne knew how much pain Keira had experienced with the burrowers burning through her veins, and how much of her journey to Eden Taryn was seen through a stupor of pain and darkness. At Dare’s summons Arianne ridden to the edge of the Green and escorted Keira to Eden Taryn, while he, Aeron and Tully led the Disciples away. He had already been so grieved at the loss of Braedan, and was not willing to sacrifice this stranger whose only sin was to give him shelter.
‘It was the right thing to do. As this is the right thing to do,’ she said firmly. ‘We can do this Arianne, and if we fail, at least we tried to stop the evil from returning to our world. Sometimes we have to suffer for the good things. Maybe that’s what makes it all worthwhile.‘
‘You don’t understand,’ Arianne whispered, caressing her belly protectively, as if will alone would shield the babe within from all harm. ‘If I fail and the Enemy is successful, I will have only two choices left to me. The first is to take my own life, because I will not give birth to a monster. I will not raise a vessel of Mael to watch him bring to ruin everyone I love. If I am not given the choice and somehow, the Enemy sees to it that I do give birth to the child, then neither Dare nor I can allow him to live long enough to reach adulthood. As a child of our flesh, I will not call him our son, he will be King. Imagine, if you will, what that means.’
Lylea’s vision coming to pass, Keira thought. A bloodthirsty king with an army of Berserkers, with the potential to be even worse than Balfure ever was.
‘Don’t you see?’ Arianne said with tears running down her cheeks. ‘If he is born, then we will have no recourse but to put him to the sword or risk the destruction of Avalyne. I know Dare would do it. For the good of his people he would make the sacrifice, and I know as surely as I breathe, it will destroy him.’
‘It is not the failure I fear Keira,’ Arianne whispered, It’s what we may have to do after.’
And to that, Keira said nothing.
I was born and raised in Singapore but moved to Australia in my teens. I’ve spent some years in country Australia and then moved to the big city, being Sydney, for work. In recent years, I’ve decided that the city is too much for me and have moved to a coastal town called Woy Woy (yes, that really its name – it means big water) and have been there since.
Why do I love to write?
In Stephen King’s IT, Bill Denbrough asks ‘Why can’t a story be just as story?’
I think I became a fan of Stephen King just because of that, because that one simple question is how I look at all my stories. I rarely think about the thematic aspects of a story, only that when I have an idea, it just sits in my head until its demand to be heard are met.
My favourite King quote?
“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!