Ok, so I took a week off from the blog. That wasn’t intentional. Life just gets busy every now and again. So, without further ado, we return to our regularly scheduled program: discussing my next novel, CITY OF SCARS, set for release sometime in late June.
The Skullborn Trilogy takes place on the world of Malzaria, a once rich and prosperous land which has fallen on hard times in the wake of the decade-long Rift War. Thus far I’ve blogged about the setting and the magic system. Now we’ll focus on the cast and creatures.
Azander Dane: The central figure to the story is fallen knight Azander Dane. Once a member of the prestigious order called the Dawn Knights, Dane (as well as the rest of his comrades in arms) was disgraced after a series of mysterious events in the remote Razortooth Mountains. Now a bitter shell of the man he once was, Dane ekes out an existence as a mercenary for hire, selling his services to the crime cartels as he drifts from one city to the next.
Ijanna Taivorkan: A Bloodspeaker of incredible power, Ijanna was raised by the mystics of Allaj Mohrter to fulfill a prophecy which will eradicate the evil left behind in the wake of the Rift War. Unfortunately for her, living out that prophecy will spell Ijanna’s doom, and as CITY OF SCARS opens she’s trying to find an alternative to sacrificing herself. Ijanna and Dane have something of a history, though as the novel opens their connection is unclear.
Kath Cardrezhej: A young native of Ebonmark and a member of the City Watch, Kath is recruited to assist the newly arrived White Dragon Army when the Empire of Jlantria takes over the city. Having already been struck by a tragedy triggered by one Bloodspeaker, Kath and his family are about to find themselves in turmoil once more when Kath is unwittingly drawn into Ijanna’s fight for survival.
Aaric Blackhall: A Jlantrian Colonel appointed as Grand Marshall of Ebonmark, Blackhall has the unenviable task of establishing order while at the same time striving to reign in the power of the local crime cartels — the Black Guild and the Phage. To complicate matters, Blackhall must also carry out a secret mission for Empress Azaean, when all the battle-weary colonel really wants to do is get home to his family.
Marros Slayne: One of Blackhall’s close friends and a former mercenary soldier, Slayne is also leader of the Black Eagles, a clandestine squad which carries out assassinations, kidnappings and other sullied assignments unsuited for the White Dragon Army.
Toran Gess: A Veilwarden of House Blue, the wryly sarcastic Gess is Blackhall’s arcane adviser, tasked with ensuring the Colonel carries out Empress Azaeaen’s special assignment. In spite of his innocuous personality Gess is an incredibly capable and powerful mage.
Vellexa: A Bloodspeaker of some infamy, Vellexa is a representative of the Black Guild and largely responsible for the cartel’s day-to-day operations in Ebonmark, and she reports directly to the Guild’s mysterious leader the Iron Count. Vellexa heads the search for Ijanna with the aid of her henchmen Sammeus and Cronak.
Harrick: Leader of the local cell of the Phage, an up-and-coming crime cartel and the direct opponents of the Black Guild. Desperate to prove himself to the heads of the ruthless organization, Harrick attempts to hunt Ijanna down and deal with the Jlantrian occupiers in Ebonmark with the aid of stolen magic and mercenary soldiers.
Bordrec Kleiderhorn: One of the few independent crime lords in Ebonmark, Bordrec is bound to aid Ijanna due to a blood debt owed to her father. Bordrec must do his best to survive the crime war between the Phage and the Black Guild while also dealing with Blackhall and the Jlantrians.
Jorias Targo: Another independent crime lord, Jorias is a brute of a man as well-known for his illegal gladiator events as he is for his infamous “werewolf serum”.
Kruje: An exiled Vossian prince, this black-skinned giant is a captive gladiator forced to fight in illegal matches just to stay alive. Little does Kruje know the important role he’ll end up playing in Dane’s hunt for Ijanna.
Tuscars: Grey-skinned marauders who roam the ice-wreathed wastes called the Skull of the World, the Tuscars are ravenous barbarians who live only for destruction. Driven by a fierce hatred of humankind and a relentless need to breed and conquer, the Tuscars are disorganized and psychotic brigands who use their massive numbers to overwhelm their opponents. Since the end of the Rift War the Tuscars have been held to the Skull by the Jlantrian White Dragon Army, though some slip through now and again and find work as mercenaries and enforcers for crime cartels or corrupt city-states.
Voss: A race of black-skinned and black-hearted subterranean giants. The Voss are as renowned for their arcane weapons and abilities as magical engineers as they are for their cruelty and cunning. Overlords of the dismal underground city of Meledrakkar, the Voss provided the Blood Queen’s armies with weapons during the Rift War and worked closely with the corrupt Empire of Gallador. Ultimately it was Vossian war machines which led to Gallador’s destruction, and other remnants of the deadly artifacts they created can still be found all across (and under) the continent. Voss are rarely encountered above the surface.
Arkan: Mysterious denizens of the underworld, the emaciated and monstrous Arkan are a race of telepathic megalomaniacs who strive to enslave all other species. The Arkan wage their secret war from the vast underground city of Il’drazza’kuul, a haven of slaves, twisted experiments and dark magic. The Arkan act from the shadows, manipulating events on the surface while quietly extending their influence throughout the underground realms. Feared and hated even by the other nefarious races, the opportunistic Arkan are just waiting for the right time to strike.
Chul: Not really monsters but humans made monstrous, the Chul are a militaristic apocalypse cult of cannibals, outcasts, psychopaths and murderers. Led by the enigmatic Witch Mother, the Chul strive to resurrect the Blood Queen from her sealed tower of Chul Gaerog, believing when she returns Vlagoth will destroy the weak and reward her dark faithful. The Chul operate in cells scattered across the civilized lands, secretly taking prisoners to torture and feast upon.
Trolls: Experimental cross-breeds between Voss and Tuscars, trolls are red-skinned brutes possessed of low intelligence but telepathically programmed with military cunning. Incredibly durable and fearless, the Empire of Jlantria developed trolls for use in the Rift War, and occasionally still deploys the creatures alongside regular White Dragon soldiers to act as enforcers and heavy artillery.