by Gail Z. Martin
Same kingdom, different perspective. And what a difference that makes.
In The Summoner, the first book of my Chronicles of the Necromancer series, main character Tris Drayke survives assassins sent by his half-brother, Jared, who has implemented a palace coup, killing all of the rest of the royal family except Tris. When Tris and three friends escape, Tris discovers quickly that as the youngest son of the king, he knows little of practical value and even less about survival outside his sheltered existence.
Since Tris is the focus of the Chronicles books, much of that story is seen through his eyes as he gains a whole new appreciation for the reality of the lives of the common people of Margolan, and experiences first-hand the Usurper’s iron-fisted rule. The lessons are humbling and hard, but they make him the king he will eventually become.
Jonmarc Vahanian is both bodyguard and unwilling mentor, becoming a loyal friend and unintentional king-maker. In The Shadowed Path, my newest release from Solaris Books and the first new book in the Chronicles/Fallen Kings series in five years, we find out the details of Jonmarc’s back story and the journey that makes him the bitter, scarred, smuggler and former mercenary we meet in The Summoner.
Jonmarc knows the hardscrabble life of the Margolan commoner from personal experience. His family was comfortable in their small fishing village, with a father who was a blacksmith and a mother who was a weaver. When his family was murdered, Jonmarc found himself alone and running from dangerous enemies from the age of fifteen. He learned how to survive on his own and navigated the underbelly of the kingdom, the taverns frequented by cutpurses and assassins, the grungy inns that provided havens for mercenaries and brigands. He made his first kill in self-defense the night his family died, and learned his sword skills fighting for his life against sell-swords twice his age.
In The Shadowed Path, through Jonmarc’s eyes, we see a very different view of Margolan than the one Tris Drayke knew or recognized. Not only do we see the kingdom differently, but we also see characters differently as we meet them under very different circumstances in a prosperous kingdom under a sane and enlightened king, long before the dark times of the Usurper.
I started writing Jonmarc’s back story several years ago as sequential short stories, released individually, that add up to several serialized novels. The first 18 stories are currently out, with several novellas yet to come. Solaris Books wanted to do a collection of the first 10 stories plus commissioned an exclusive eleventh for the book, and of course, I said ‘yes’.
Readers who remember the books will recognize the milestones. I intended the stories to trigger strong deja vu for fans of the series. If you’ve read the books and certain junctures don’t make you want to yell a warning, you aren’t remembering the details! For those who haven’t read the books, The Shadowed Path is a perfect starting point. Either way, events in the books will have a whole new meaning once you’ve read the collection and the additional short stories.