The fourth thrilling installment of Gail Z Martin’s Chronicles of the Necromancer series.
Treachery and blood magic threaten King Martris Draykeís hold on the throne he risked everything to win.† As the battle against a traitor lord comes to its final days, war, plague and betrayal bring Margolan to the brink of destruction. The price to save his kingdom may be the lives of those he loves mostóand his soul.† Civil war looms in Isencroft, and Cam of Cairnrach may be the only hope to put down a rebellion that threatens the crown. In the Margolan palace, betrayal threatens the new queen and the unborn heir to the throne. Alone in a new kingdom, Queen Kiara is charged with treason and becomes an assassinís target. And in Dark Haven, the undead threaten the Truce with the living, leading to deadly conflict. Lord Jonmarc Vahanian has bargained his soul for vengeance as he leads the vayash moru against a dangerous rogue who would usher in a future drenched in blood.
Interview with Gail Z. Martin
What gave you the idea for Dark Ladyís Chosen?
So many stories just end when the good guy wins, as if that fixes everything.† In real life, assuming you can tell who the good guys are and whether or not theyíve actually won, there is usually a total mess to clean up and things never go back to the way they were.† After every war in history, there was a period of re-making and anarchy until the powers that survived sort things out.† Thatís the inspiration for Dark Ladyís Chosen.
***Spoiler here for The Blood King***At the end of The Blood King, Tris defeated Jared and took the throne.† But given all of Jaredís willful destruction and also how much governance he ignored, the kingdom is in dire straits.† And like most things, it takes less time to break something than to make it again.† So even one year of driving off or killing the farmers, burning the crops, displacing the trades people, looting the treasure is going to take a while to un-do, and some of it will never be the same.† Itís that in-between time that fascinates me, when the energies of creation and chaos are sorting themselves out.† Thatís whatís going on in Dark Ladyís Chosen.
Your books seem to be getting darker.† Is that intentional?
Not from the sense of saying, ďGee, I need to make my books darker.Ē† Itís a natural progression of where the events in the story are going.
How have your characters changed as the series has gone on?
In The Summoner, Tris is a 19 year old young man who may not have a perfect home life, but he comes from a well-to-do family and really hasnít had to worry about anything serious (aside from staying out of Jaredís way).† Thatís true for Kiara as well.† Cam and Carina have had a rougher time, but the last few years have been better for them.† Carroway and Soterius had a comfortable life at the palace.† And while Jonmarc is usually in danger, itís at a level heís learned to tolerate as ďnormal.Ē
Everything that happens in The Summoner and The Blood King upends all of their worlds.† And as they step into their new roles and responsibilities, it changes them.† They are also living in perilous times.† There are still a lot of challenges to be overcome before ďnormalĒ is good again.† They are going to have to change to meet those challenges, and reinvent themselves to deal with the new reality,.
†Can you reveal a little about where the stories might go after Dark Ladyís Chosen?
There will be new threats.† Margolan and Isencroft are not back to full strength.† Thereís famine and plague, and groups within the population are restless.† There are threats from inside the kingdoms, as well as a new threat from across the Northern Sea and something Tris hasnít faced beforeÖ.a dark Summoner.
You also do the Ghost in the Machine podcast.† How does that tie in with your books?
In the course of going to conventions and writersí conferences I meet a lot of other authors.† I know my readers read about 200 books per year.† Iím very grateful that they read my books, but that leaves 196 other books to be read!† My podcast may introduce them to other books and authors they hadnít discovered yet, and thatís good for everyone.
Itís been a busy year for you with conventionsóWhy is attending conventions so important to you?
Conventions are really the lifeblood of fandom.† I used to enjoy attending conventions before I became a writer, and now itís even more fun.† Itís where I get to meet other authors and also get to connect with readers.† I hear the buzz thatís going on and I get to discover new things.† Thereís always something new.† I love it.
†Interview with King Martris Drayke of Margolan
How is the siege going at Lochlanimar?
Not well.† Winter is the often the season of choice for sieges because it doesnít take men away from farming or the harvest, but itís a miserable time to be in the field.† The magic is very unstable.† And itís true; there is a fever in the camp, sent by Curaneís mages.† I pray to the Lady that we can finish this and go home.
You havenít been king for a full year yet and already Margolan is at war.† What are your thoughts about that?
I would certainly have wished for a more peaceful transitionÖ.and for my father to have lived another twenty or thirty years.† But that didnít happen.† I hope that there will be peace once Curane and his traitors are defeated.† We canít ever recreate what was, but maybe we can build a new future.† I hope so.
When your heir is born, the crowns of Margolan and Isencroft will be joined, at least for a generation or two.† Thatís caused some problems in Isencroft.† Do you favor the idea of a joint kingdom?
Itís not a question of favoring the idea.† When my father and King Donelan of Isencroft came up with the idea of the betrothal contract, it was to prevent a war.† At the time, Iím sure Donelan thought they would have more than one child.† When we deposed Jared, the original contract was nullified, but by that time, Kiara and I were in love.† Isencroft was also in very bad shape from a couple of bad harvests.† Donelanís done the best he could, but luckís been against him.
Our hope is that Kiaraís father will live a long and healthy life and that by the time the succession issue really has to be dealt with, we will have more than one child of age to assume the throne so that the throne really isnít consolidated.† Iím sure that would make the people of Isencroft happy, and truth be told, it would probably make some people in Margolan happier also.
Your magic has become much more powerful.† Has it changed you?
Itís hard to explain if you havenít felt the magic.† Itís like being able to see a whole new range of colors or a world thatís hidden to everyone else.† Magic reveals a side of nature that is expanded and amazing.† But dark magic has terrors of its own.† People without magic sleep better not knowing about any of this.† I donít have a choice about seeing it.
Iíve been lucky enough to have had some good teachers, even though my training was rushed and most of what Iíve learned has been ďon the jobĒ so to speak.† There hasnít been time for a lot of theory.† But yes, I think the magic has changed me, both the wondrous things and the terrifying things.
Most people fear death because they canít see across to the other side.† They wonder if there is another side.† I donít wonder.† I know that there is something else, even though I havenít exactly seen it.† And I know that for most people, there is peace and rest.† For some, people like Jared and Curane and the ones who hurt others without conscience, there is restitution.† I used to wonder if the Lady really existed.† I donít wonder anymore.† But at the same time, I have more questions now than I ever had.† So yes, the magic has changed me.
Despite the reforms youíve put in place, Margolan is still having a great deal of difficulty.† Do you foresee a return to the prosperity the kingdom enjoyed under King Bricen?
By the Whore, I hope so!† Unfortunately, it wonít be soon.† Jared managed to do an incredible amount of damage in a short time.† Itís easy to destroy something, and so hard to rebuild it.† Thereís been only one planting and harvest since I took the throne, and many of the farmers and workers hadnít returned yet from where they fled to get away from Jared.† Maybe they never will.† Until the farms are working again, people will be hungry.† Weíve done what we can to help, but it wasnít enough.
Now, thereís likely to be plague.† Weíve lost men in the war.† The people who fled when Jared had the throne havenít come back, and they wonít return until things get better here.† So in the meantime, our army is short on men and our fields are short of workers.† Itís going to take years to rebuild, and thatís assuming that Nargi and Trevath donít decide to attack.
I want to restore Margolan to what it was like when father ruled.† But it wonít be easy and it wonít happen quickly.† Whether or not the people will have patienceÖ.weíll see.
†Interview with Lord Jonmarc Vahanian of Dark Haven
Now that the Truce has been broken in Dark Haven, can mortals and vayash moru coexist peacefully?
Most mortals and vayash moru want peace.† There are just a handful of rogues on both sides stirring up trouble.† Thatís why we have to end this nonsense.† Now.
Youíre mobilizing an army against Malesh.† Are you out for justiceóor revenge?
Malesh slaughtered an entire village of mortals.† Heís threatened to kill more.† I took an oath to King Staden to protect all of Dark Havenís residentsóliving and undead.† If we canít contain this, itís the kingís right to bring in an army to stop Malesh.† It will get really ugly if that happens.† Best to put an end to this while itís still a ďfamilyĒ matter.
Justice or revenge?† I donít know and I donít care.† I just want to bring that bastard down and make him pay.
What will happen in Dark Haven if the Truce is set aside?
If the Truce ends, the kingís army will occupy Dark Haven until peace is restored.† And if they canít bring peace, itíll be like it was before the Truce, when mortals and vayash moru and vyrkin lived in fear and killed for reprisal.† Gabrielís told me about those times.† I have no desire to see them return.
Youíre having a rough first year as Lord of Dark Haven.† Any regrets about taking the title?
None.† I was probably fated to have some bloody bastard trying to kill me, no matter where I was.† Just my luck, I guess.† Before Malesh started playing games, we were making progress restoring Dark Haven and its lands.† Iím proud of what we accomplished.† There just wasnít enough timeÖ.for any of us.
Thereís a rumor that King Donelan threatened to place a huge bounty on your head if anything happened to Carina while she was under your protection.† In light of recent events, does that worry you?
Only if I live through the battle.