When I sat down to write the books in my upcoming Ancestors of Jaiya series, I was mostly interested in tracing a particular family through several generations of the country’s history, before their descendants appear in the main Jaiya series, and I wasn’t thinking too hard about the themes of the books. I knew love and romance would be major themes, because all the Jaiya books are clean paranormal/fantasy romances at heart.
I knew the Empire’s attempts to dominate the country of Jaiya, and Jaiya gaining its independence would be part of the background to these stories, and that I needed to signal the technological changes in this setting over time. I also knew that the heroes would all have versions of the same “pattern-finding” psychic talent which allows them to have moments of precognition. Somehow, without me thinking very hard about it, one of the implicit themes in the books came to be war, and how it changes over time.
In Slaying a Tyrant, the heroine participates in a complicated system of single combat that is becoming outdated. Guns are an exotic and not always reliable new technology. One of the minor antagonists relies on a pair of single-shot, black-powder pistols that he doesn’t maintain very well…a mistake the hero manages to turn against the antagonist, using his pattern-finding abilities. In passing, we see people experimenting with hot air balloons.
In Saving a Queen, the heroine is the former queen of Rivertown, whose city has been conquered by the Imperials after a grim, conventional siege complete with artillery. The new and rare gun technology is the “repeater” rifle the hero owns, and occasionally uses when protecting the queen as she escapes from her enemies…including an ancient, shape-shifting monster. Their group primarily travels by “skyboat,” a specialized balloon design with a gondola that can double as a river barge, when the balloon envelope is deflated. In passing, we see a primitive, “samizdat” style use of the printing press.
In Scapegoating a Hero, Jaiya has gained its independence in the aftermath of a major war between the Empire and its chief rival, the Kingdom of Doomsday. The hero is a naval officer, and his service revolver is a plot point after he uses it to kill in self-defense. The heroine uses the tabloid press to help him win the legal case against him, so once again a technology we’ve seen in passing in another book reappears in a more mature form. The legal trial is only a subplot: the main emphasis is on espionage and intrigue, and the people who can cause or prevent wars behind the scenes. And of course, all that plays out differently when some of the people involved have superhuman powers.
In Seeking a Quantum Tree, the Doomsdayers seize the capital of a small kingdom neighboring Jaiya. The hero is a wealthy Jaiyan expatriate, trying to help people caught in a fairly modern warzone. The main hand guns that figure in the story are also more modern designs, with the ammunition loaded in clips instead of revolver cylinders. The mass media continues to be a presence in the background, because the Doomsdayers produced a grossly distorted film about the hero’s parents some years before, and this colors how some of the characters see the hero. On the political front, Jaiya has come a long way from the fractured, disunited country seen in Slaying a Tyrant, and is now a world power that can compete on equal footing with the Imperials and the Doomsdayers. We also get to meet some mystical beings and concepts that the earlier books in the series have alluded to, but not shown.
At least the first three and possibly all four of these books will be live October 25 on all your favorite ebook sellers. I hope to get the first book in the series set to permafree shortly after release, so check back soon for more information!