The second installment of the Chronicles of the Necromancer.
In The Blood King, sequel to The Summoner, Tris Drayke races against time to gain the skills he needs to challenge his half-brother Jared for the throne of Margolan and defeat the dark mage Arontala before the Obsidian King can be loosed from the abyss. Pursued by assassins and caught in a dangerous web of intrigue, Tris’ greatest danger is his own magic. The fate of his kingdom, his lady and his soul hang in the balance. As Margolan plunges into darkness under the yoke of a tyrant, Tris leads an unlikely insurrection, knowing that if he fails, death will be the least of his worries. Betrayed by the living, Tris finds staunch allies among the dead and undead. As the truce unravels between mortals and vampires, angry ghosts demand their revenge, and the Sisterhood of mages lacks the power to intervene. The battle for the throne of Margolan and the freedom of the Winter Kingdoms rests on Tris Drayke’s magic—and his ability to control the powerful forces aligning against Jared and Arontala. Like a storm on the horizon, war is coming—but can Tris control what has been put into motion, or will his battle for the crown bring a greater darkness?
Here’s an interview with Gail Z. Martin, author of The Summoner and the newest novel in The Chronicles of The Necromancer—The Blood King (February, 2008).
Q: What are some of the frequently-asked questions?
A: 1) The Map—lots of readers paid a great deal of attention to the map, which was beautifully drawn by Kirk Caldwell. It is very small in the book, and I was able to post it on the web site so you can see more detail. I’m told that Solaris originally though about making it a two-page spread in the book but too much of the detail got lost in the center binding. I have gotten a lot of questions about why Tris talks about going north to Dhasson when Dhasson is East. Well, if you know how the roads lay, you’d realize that you have to go north to get to the best river crossing into Dhasson. It’s a simple matter of access. We’re so used to amazing bridges over huge spans that we tend to forget that such things were more limited a few hundred years ago.
2) Why doesn’t Tris try to summon Cam/Harrtuck/Soterius after the battle with the slavers? Well, for one thing, the slavers come back and say that there aren’t any survivors except for Jonmarc, who’s in bad shape. So Tris doesn’t really have reason to think that Cam and the others are missing. Tris is also very new in his gift, and so using it isn’t second nature yet. He’s just been roughed up and been through one of his first real battles, so he’s still in shock. And then there’s the immediate problem of saving Jonmarc’s life, which badly strains his magic, and the physical stress of the march toward the forest. He’s got a lot on his plate, and it just doesn’t occur to him.
3) Why a good Necromancer? My answer is—why not? Necromancy—Summoning—is a powerful gift, and because of that, it is very seductive. Even people with good intentions, like Lemuel, can become blinded to the danger and darkness of what they’re doing and get seduced. Because Summoning is so powerful, many Summoners are corrupted by their power. As soon as you believe that the end justifies the means and that you can use evil tactics to produce a good outcome, you’re lost. So the power of necromancy itself is not inherently evil, but it is very dangerous. Many Summoners misuse it. Tris will have to struggle with both great temporal power—being a king—and great magical power.
4) What’s with rules on using magic? Rules on using magic are no different from what separates superheros from supervillains. If you use your power for the good of all, to heal and restore balance and bring justice, then you’re serving the Light. If you use your power for your own gratification or to put yourself in the role of a deity and punish and destroy, then you’re serving the Darkness. They’re the same voluntary rules we have to maintain civilization. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. The biggest person could grab all the food. The fastest person could push to the front of the line. The strongest person could shake down everyone else. We place limits on ourselves to live in community and be civilized. The same goes for magic.
5) Why the multi-faced Lady? I wanted to play with the concept of a feminine deity, because in the West, we have so skewed our perception to only include warlike, “manly” characteristics (which I believe is a serious misreading of sacred texts). Since deities are incorporeal, the whole concept of gender is really irrelevant anyhow. I also think that the way we see the deity says more about us than it says about the deity. So if we see a punitive, merciless deity, we’ll behave that way toward others. If we see a compassionate deity, that will alter our behavior. If we see a deity that embraces and includes we’ll behave one way, and if we see a deity that excludes and limits, we’ll behave another. The eight faces of the Lady—four light and four “dark” indicate a lot about the world view of Her followers and the kingdoms that revere that Aspect. The Aspects are not always what they seem. For example, we’ll learn a good bit more about Istra, the Dark Lady as the books go on. While some take Her as the demon goddess, she’s really the protector of outcasts and the patron of the vayash moru, who have often been persecuted.
Q: Which character in the world of the Winter Kingdoms do you most relate with, or is the most like you?
A: I think I most identify with Tris and Jonmarc. Tris because he overcomes a dysfunctional family and must figure out what to do with a powerful gift that has a history of destroying its bearers. Jonmarc because he has his whole world turned upside down and had to consciously choose what to make of himself and what to believe about people, himself and the deity.
Q: With that being said, which other sci-fi/fantasy writers would you recommend that I read?
A: Some of my favorite authors include Mercedes Lackey, Piers Anthony, David Drake, Steven Brust, Spider Robinson, Anne Rice, Christopher Stasheff, Joel Rosenberg, Neil Gaimon, Tolkein, David Eddings, to name a few. I’m also reading my way through the other Solaris authors, and am enjoying that. Outside of SF/F, I have been deeply moved by Chaim Potok, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joan Didion, John Cheever, Anne Lamott, Fredrick Buechner, Erich Maria Remarque and Ayn Rand. Give me a full page and I can keep on going! I don’t get as much time to read for fun as I’d like because I use that “free time” to work on the books or on getting the word out about the books. If you really want to see SF/F consumed in large quantity, my husband and two oldest kids keep bookstores in business! They read constantly. I’m usually proofreading my own stuff!
Q: Do you enjoy connecting with readers? Why?
A: It’s a wonderful thing to create a world in your head with characters that mean a lot to you personally and then share that with other people and have it become “real” to them. I love hearing from readers who have really entered my world and come to care about the characters. I can tell from some of the comments and questions that they’ve really gotten into it and thought about it. That is so wonderful—it’s like building a theme park and watching people come and have a good time and enjoy it the way you enjoy it. How cool is that! The other thing that’s great about connecting with readers and going to conventions and getting back into the whole SF “subculture” is that it’s great to meet people who have read the same books you’ve read and who don’t think you’re weird for reading them. You can make cross references to books and movies and TV shows and they speak the same language. When I was growing up, the only thing worse than being a smart girl who wouldn’t stop asking questions was being a smart girl who liked science fiction. That was considered to be so weird. So when I went to conventions, it was the one time a year I could feel like I really fit in, and it had to last until the next year! But it was enough to give me hope that there were other people like me out there and that some day I could break away and make my own place where I fit in. And I did.
Q: How can readers make the most out of all the online and virtual resources you’ve put out on the Internet for Chronicles of the Necromancer?
A: I’ve tried to make the www.ChroniclesOftheNecromancer.com site into a community for readers to stay connected between books and to connect with me and with each other. First off, they can ask me questions on the discussion forum and post comments on the guest book. I also keep the events calendar updated so that my signings and virtual events are listed. As time goes on, I hope to be able to add more content about some of the “back story”—the things that I know about the world and the characters that doesn’t always make it into the book because even with 600 pages, there’s only so much room! More details about the Lady, some of the history of the kingdoms, etc. If time permits, there are also snippets of story that I’d like to add—what was going on the meantime when other scenes take priority in the book. In order to keep the pace going, you don’t always get to delve into that, but it’s the kind of thing you wonder about. I also try to post reviews, places the books get mentioned on the Internet, and other tidbits like radio interviews I’ve done and links to guest blogging appearances. I really need to update my links page—there are some other links to Solaris authors and SF/F sites that belong there. So to make the most of it, check out the web site often, and sign up for the newsletter so that you find out what’s going on. Then friend me on my MySpace page, and you’ll get my bulletin. If you’ve bought from Amazon, you’ll get my Amazon blog updates. I try to keep the newsletter, MySpace blog and Amazon blog pretty much in sync. I’m also on Amapedia, Shelfari and Wikipedia. And with the Podcasts and audio interviews, I try to have some fun conversations with interesting people.
Q: Who is The Blood King?
A: Jared, of course!
Q: Is that who the lead figure is on the cover?
Q: What about the other ghosts?
A: After all the people Jared’s killed, finding ghosts to be on the cover wasn’t difficult.
Q: Does The Blood King finish the story that began in The Summoner?
A: Yes. The story about Tris’ quest for the throne concludes in The Blood King. Other books in the series will deal with events before and after The Blood King and with existing and new characters.
And here’s the interview with Martris Drayke, prince in exile, and Summoner.
Q: A lot of people have suggested how wonderful it is to have a Summoner around in this age. How does it feel to be able to summon the dead?
A: I’ve always been able to see and speak to spirits. I just didn’t realize that everyone else couldn’t do the same. Even then, I thought it was just a parlour trick, like Carroway’s smoke ghosts. I never thought I was grandmother’s mage heir, until after…after what happened on Haunts. How does it feel? I don’t know if there are words…it’s breathtaking, to be able to ease the imbalance and help a troubled spirit find peace. I never realized how much pain there was…how many things left unfinished. It’s a good feeling, being part of making that whole.
Q: As things are, it seems the expectation of several kingdoms is high. Do you feel much pressure at the moment?
A: No one wants a return to the days of the Obsidian King. We can’t afford to let that happen. The Sisterhood knows that. The Blood Council knows that. And the allied kingdoms—Isencroft, Dhasson, Principality and perhaps Eastmark—know that. Nargi and Trevath are fooling themselves to think otherwise. Pressure? You know that I never wanted to be king. I was quite content to be the second son, out of sight with my books and my dogs. But there’s no one else to stop Jared—no one who can make a legitimate challenge for the throne, no Summoner for perhaps another generation. I didn’t ask for this. But I can’t walk away from it. I know what kind of king Jared will be. By the Lady, I can’t let that happen. I’ll die before I’ll let him rule Margolan.
Q: With all these challenges, it must make your relationship to Kiara quite difficult…
A: That subject is off limits. I will not let the crown—or the war—intrude on that. Next question.
Q: How important are your friends to you right now?
A: I lost my family on Haunts. Nothing can bring them back to me. But on the road, I found another kind of family. I can’t do this alone. I’d be a fool to think that I could. We’re the most unlikely set of insurrectionists! But if the Lady grants Her favor, we just might have a chance. We’ve become very close on the road these last few months. I couldn’t ask for better mates. Together—I think we’ve got a chance.
Q: If you could summon anyone from the past—even hundreds of years—who would you most like to, and why?
A: King Hotten repelled the last major invasion of Margolan 200 years ago. Mikhail has been able to tell me what that was like, but it would be an amazing thing to actually talk with King Hotten and hear it from his perspective. I wish I’d had more time with King Argus. I didn’t realize how well he knew my grandmother, what an important role he’d played in defeating the Obsidian King. I wish I could talk to him about those times—understand what really happened. Maybe before all this is over, I’ll get the opportunity.
Q: The journey ahead is still long and hard, but what right now do you feel has been the greatest accomplishment of your life? Discovering your powers, saving your friends lives on a couple different occasions, finding love, or something else?
A: I’ve been able to use my magic to make a difference, to set things right. I see what that means to the people who come to ask for my help. I know what it will mean for Margolan, if I live to take the throne. Because of that magic, I’ve been able to protect the people who put themselves in danger on my account. I wish I could help mother and Kait. By the Lady, I’ll free them, or die trying. But to use the gift that the Lady has given me in the service of restoring balance, that has been a very satisfying feeling.