So, as some of you know, I’ve been posting for a while about my Novel. However, you probably don’t actually know what it’s about. Hopefully, your interest will be piqued enough that you will want to take a look at it in that far day when I actually finish it and hopefully see it shepherded into print.
The basic plot is this. The cleric Theadra inadvertently discovers a palimpsest that contains one of the heretical gospels that were burned and obliterated during the early days of the monolithic Church. This cannot be tolerated, and her superiors in the Church, including her erstwhile mentor Prefect Antonius and his rival Prefect Eulicia. The latter, having gained permission from the Imperator Talinissia, hires assassins to kill the young woman before the taint of heresy can spread.
Fortunately, Theadra is rescued by the woman known as the Huntress, a half-human/half-Fae youth whose real name is revealed to be Rowena. Together, they flee into the lands of Korray, and after they are captured by a sequence of chieftains, they gradually become lovers, each finding in the other the emotional fulffilment they have long sought.
Theadra’s flight threatens to reignite a long-simmering conflict between the Imperium and Haranshar, the two great powers that occupy the continent. When she flees into the the lands of the Korrayin–who for centuries have served as proxies in the wars between the Imperium and Haranshar–she disturbs the fragile balance that has been the status quo. Soon, the various chieftains, including the Poison King Ibrahim, begin feuding in an attempt to gain custody of her.
In Haranshar, the dubir Osroës, scion of one of a disgraced noble house, serves as the chief minister to the Shah. When word reaches him of the heretic’s flight, he sees in this an opportunity to at last bring the Imperium to its knees. He has long been fostering the Church of the East in the hopes that they would be able to challenge the hegemony of the Church of the West, even as many of his fellow nobles despise them as apostates from the Faith of the Flames. With the Shah’s backing, he sends a group of soldiers to collect Theadra.
In doing so, however, he ignites the flames of war, and the cold war soon ignites into a hot one, and the lands of Korray are engulfed.
This conflict gradually widens until it consumes the Imperator Talinissia, her counselor the Prefect Eulicia, and everyone else. The conniving and belligerent Duke Childerick, aided by his wily aide Count Pepin, manage to leverage their success on the Killing Fields of Korray to a popular uprising against the Imperator who, faced with the will of her people, is forced to resign in favour of her cousin the Duke. Anastatius, along with his lover Trystane, also flee into exile.
The second part of the book follows the fortunes of war and those whose lives are affected. Eulicia, now ensnared and in service to the new Imperator Childerick, helps Talinissia escape imprisonment, hopefully to find sanctuary with the Fae and possibly reclaim her throne. Osroës and the Shah, each working on their own designs, manipulate Theadra into taking up the crown of the Episkopa of the Church of the East, an elevation that strains her relationship with Rowena, who eventually leaves her.
Meanwhile, the Alchemists at the Academy reveal to Childerick that they have recovered the lost Art of Binding from a captured Korrayin and that, using an athame made from the blood iron found in Korray, they can bind the spirits of the daimons–entities of fire and air–into the bodies of human beings and thus forge a powerful weapon.
This radically changes the course of the war, but I won’t go into too much more detail. I have to leave some surprises, right?
At a larger cosmic level, the entity known as the Demiurge, long banished from the material world, yearns to return an reclaim his hegemony. He also seeks to bring together the many worlds that were shattered during the conflagration that erupted between the Name (the male and female godhead) and the Demiurge. To do so, he employs men and women known as Strangers, one of whom wanders this world manipulating those who are in power, hoping to bring the old systems and institutions crashing down into ruin, thus setting the stage for the bringing together of the shattered worlds into a terrible and primal unity.
That’s basic idea of the project. I really want to engage with the larger philosophical questions that motivate the best fantasy. How do people make sense of their historical worlds? How does the body impact one’s ability to move into another realm? Are those who are defeated really the villains that history–and often religion–makes them out to be? How do great powers that bestride the world like colossi come crashing down into ruin? How does love in all its forms–agape, eros, etc.–influence people and even gods to do things that might prove dangerous and destructive, both to themselves and others? Is there, in the final analysis, such a thing as true evil?
Of course, I’m also drawing on some historical parallels, both recent and ancient. In particular, the Imperium and Haranshar are based on the Byzantine/Late Roman Empire and Sasasnian Persia, respectively. However, to be quite upfront, this project was influenced by the 2016 elections, too, so take that for what it’s worth. Note that I’m not intending to write an allegory, but instead a reflection on what it means to live in perilous times.
More details of the project will come as I make my way through the chapters that I’ve already written. The broad strokes of the book are laid out (thank you NaNoWriMo!), and I am pretty happy with it. I envision the project a whole as a a tetralogy but, given how other fantasy epics have worked out, I’m hesitant to make those kinds of limitations.
Stay tuned for more updates as I continue working on it. Though my dissertation must always occupy the front burner, that doesn’t mean that I’m not also going to give my novel the attention that it deserves.