The story is told in a three part structure, beginning and ending with the personal journey of the titular character.
Much of Jarek’s youth revolved around making him fit for the throne, but one terrible day in adulthood finds him defeated, humiliated, and banned from the capital. He may only return upon complete surrender. Once home, he faces a trial by his commanders, though they are also fugitives by decree. Their land is a former province cut off from royal support, only kept free by the number of soldiers loyal to Jarek; but he swore to uphold the terms of his defeat, never to attack the capital.
As every illusion Jarek lived under is falling apart, he receives a visitor who tells him how the people of his land have suffered under his oblivious and unsustainable decision making. He faces a choice: drink himself to death while everything falls apart or change his land for the better. The latter might be impossible.
Just as he makes his choice, strangers arrive from a part of the world unknown to him, seeking a free and peaceful life, warning of a tyrant who pursues them. The story of their homeland is told in the second part. One man’s insecurity combined with his greed sees him betray people who believed they were his allies. He desires a great empire that he wishes his father had pursued, but this drives his transformation into something else–or, the persistent appearance of something he can never truly be.
But his former allies have no time to consider why he did this to them, not that they are to blame. Those who survive will each lead their people in a form of resistance suitable to their ways. Some will take to the battlefield, seeking justice, or vengeance. Some will search for a new home, challenged to leave no one behind, but they may flee into the waiting arms of a different danger. And some will do another thing altogether.
And the third part brings everything together. What is Jarek willing to do? Will anything ever be enough?
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
It felt important to write a redemption story for a character which shows his transformation once disconnected from imperialism. I am also happy to show the contrast between compassionate leaders who pursue a hospitable society versus insecure aspiring conquerors whose greed and ambitions lead them to commit atrocities.
While this book does work on its own, it also serves as a tangential sequel to "The Fate of Lenn". I provide all the context the reader needs to enjoy this book on its own.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Many characters are the legacy of world building that could reach back 15 years. Many are also the ancestors of characters I had earlier written, so I had to consider shared traits and habits, and the lore already spoken about them versus the facts I would present.
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