Duncan Lay, author of the Dragon Sword Histories has released a new book!! It is called Empire of Bones #1 Bridge of Swords and it looks to be a great read. We asked Duncan for some background info on the new series and this is what he has to say.
Empire of Bones is set in the same world as The Dragon Sword Histories, although 300 years later and on the other side of the world.
There are no common characters and there is no need to have read the first series to begin this one.
There is one, small connection in that an event at the end of The Radiant Child had an unexpected effect on the other side of the world and began the chain of events that leads to Bridge Of Swords.
But you don’t have to have any prior knowledge of the world, nor its history and all will be made clear as Empire Of Bones moves to its conclusion.
The three lands Empire Of Bones is principally set in are very different.
First we have Dokuzen. This is a land with magic, healing, advanced building techniques and a high standard of living. Their lifestyle has hints of the Roman era, with similar technology, as well as a strong flavour of Shogun-era Japan, with concepts of honour and an emphasis on your clan and family determining your status in society. They worship this world’s God, Aroaril, but religion is not an integral part of their lives. The people’s names, as well as the place names, reflect the Japanese influence.
Next we meet Vales. This is much more a rougher, cruder community, much less formally structured, without a central ruler or anything more than a loose connection between its towns and villages. Rather than building in stone, they use wood and thatch. Principally a land of farmers, they are also miners and traders but have few, if any warriors, despite their personal bravery. Perhaps closest to Britain following the Roman withdrawal, before the Saxon invasion changed the language and the face, when the old British tribes ruled, although without their unique Celtic culture. The people’s names, as well as some of the place names, reflect the Celtic influence.
Finally there is Forland. More advanced than Vales but without the higher knowledge and technology of Dokuzen, they are able to build with stone. Ruled by a King, they have a standing army and a warrior tradition. Conquerors and aggressors, they have taken many of the southern countries by force and thirst for more. Perhaps comparable to Saxon Britain, where it was torn between a warrior code and something higher. Their names, as well as some of the place names, reflect the Saxon era.
One note about the place names in Vales and Forland (and indeed in all the other countries in the surrounding lands). There is a mystery, central to the story, around these names and why some carry certain meanings and others seem normal. As the main characters and readers will discover …
Sendatsu is a warrior on the run, being hunted by his own people, trying frantically to get back to his children and unravel a 300-year-old mystery about magic and why his people sealed themselves off from the rest of the world.
The son of a Clan Leader, his name means Guide or Pioneer in the old tongue of his people, the language nobody speaks any more. He has lived a life of privilege and luxury, always surrounded by servants and those eager to do his bidding.
Yet it has not been easy. His father, Lord Jaken, is determined to take control of the Council, to rule not one clan but the whole of Dokuzen. Sendatsu had to be the best at everything, prove the superiority of Clan Tadayoshi – or else. And he has known heartache. As the son of a Clan Leader, he was not allowed to marry his childhood love, Asami. Instead he was forced to marry the daughter of another Clan Leader, to unite two clans and improve their political standing. Meanwhile Asami also had to marry – Sendatsu’s best friend, Gaibun.
His wife, Kayiko, died in childbirth and he stepped aside from the life of political manoeuvring and backstabbing his father saw for him to instead raise his children. This act of rebellion was the first and only way he had defied his father.
But when a chance discovery reveals clues to a 300-year-old mystery and threatens to turn Dokuzen on its head, Sendatsu is the one at the heart of it.
Forced to go on the run, hunted by his own people, he finds himself in Vales, a rough, backward land that nevertheless may hold all the answers in the ruins dotted across his hills and valleys and in the hearts of its people. If he can find the answers, he can go home.
But Vales is not without its own problems, while to the south, the cruel King Ward of Forland looks to add it to the long list of his conquests.
Sendatsu stumbles across a curious pair, a young Velsh bard called Huw and a young Forlish dancer called Rhiannon, both on the run from Ward.
He sees them as the source of answers and the way home. They see him as the hero they need. But are both wrong?
In a land where all must work hard to live, Huw dares to dream. While his people love to pass the long winter nights with tales, songs and riddles, Huw is the first of them to want to make that his life. While his village sneers and laughs at him, he travels south to Forland, to earn enough gold to prove them wrong.
In this arrogant country, made rich from its conquests and packed with slaves from conquered lands, he wins both gold and fame, winning the coveted right to perform at the King’s court.
To get there he has had to deny his Velsh heritage, pretend he is also Forlish, forget all his father taught him about honour and principles – but he sees that as a small price to pay.
But then two things rock his complacent little world. First he meets Rhiannon, a beautiful Forlish dancer also performing for the King and falls head over heels for her. Then he learns King Ward plans to terrorise and terrify the Velsh until they beg to become part of Forland.
Torn between staying and somehow winning the heart of the untouchable Rhiannon and warning his people, the decision is taken out of his hands when he overhears King Ward and Rhiannon’s father discussing how to make her the King’s mistress.
Huw tricks Rhiannon and flees north to Vales, hoping to save his people and win the girl, all in one.
But saving a peaceful land of farmers and miners from a brutal army of conquest is not an easy task.
Then Huw and Rhiannon meet Sendatsu, from fabled Dokuzen. Not realising he is a hunted fugitive, they see him as the saviour of Vales. Although Rhiannon, who has been raised on tales of beautiful Dokuzen and longs to dance there, sees Sendatsu as something more …
Huw faces many choices, none of them easy, and must learn there is always a price to be paid for your actions …
Her mother died giving birth to her and she has been raised by her father Hector, once a noted singer in the court of King Ward, until illness robbed him of his voice and his fame. He has trained her from birth to astound the court and astonish the King with her singing and dancing.
Her life has been devoted to the one goal, without friends or family, until she meets a young bard she thinks is called Hugh of Browns Brook. But her new friend turns her life upside down when he tells her he is really Huw from Vales and she has to run away with him or join her father as a victim of King Ward.
Torn between grief at the loss of her beloved father and a determination to avenge his death and protect the Velsh, she only sees Huw as a friend. But she sees Sendatsu as a vision, something out of the songs she has spent her life singing.
Meanwhile, she is learning to stretch her wings, to make decisions for herself and step outside the gilded cage her father crafted for her.
What she doesn’t know is that her father Hector is very much alive and hunting for her and Huw, determined to drag them both to King Ward and face his vengeance at being cheated of his prize.
What none of them know is that the answers to the 300-year-old mystery lie within Rhiannon. She has a hidden power that will turn every single land upside down and utterly destroy everything the people think they know about their history.
She is the future … if she can unlock what is within her.
ASAMI AND GAIBUN
While Sendatsu searches for answers and a way back to his children, his two childhood friends struggle to find a way to return him.
Asami is the most talented Magic-weaver Dokuzen has seen in a generation. Once, all the people could use magic but the power has been dwindling within them. There are few capable of more than a trick or two.
Devastated by Sendatsu’s refusal to defy his father and run away with her, forced to see him marry for politics and not love, she has thrown herself into her magic.
She agreed to marry Gaibun but it was not a union of love and while they share a large home, they do not share a bed. She consoles herself with dreams of a different Dokuzen, where who your clan and parents were do not matter as much as your talents. The head of the Magic-weavers, Sumiko, tells her that if she were to rule Dokuzen, things would be very different – and this is music to Asami’s ears, although also treason, punishable by death.
Gaibun’s father Retsu should have been Clan Leader, until tricked and outwitted by Lord Jaken – Sendatsu’s father. And yet the two boys became friends. Gaibun is desperately in love with Asami but has had to live with the knowledge she sees him as but a friend and loves Sendatsu.
When their marriage turned his dream into a nightmare he consoled himself with mistresses and devoted himself to the Border Patrol, dedicated to keeping everyone else out of Dokuzen. Now working for Lord Jaken, he has been promised much, not least the leadership of their clan when and if Lord Jaken can take control of Dokuzen.
Sendatsu’s unwitting discovery of a revelation that could destroy the very foundations of Dokuzen sets both Sumiko and Jaken’s plans to rule into motion. Asami and Gaibun must somehow help return their friend and avoid being drawn deeper and deeper into plots and conspiracies in the struggle to rule Dokuzen.