There are some parts of the world—or at least the world of the Shine Cycle—that cannot be discovered before their time has come, even in an age of spacefaring civilizations. And so, even though the series has, in the planned volumes previously introduced here, expanded its scope to the stars above and to our own and other universes, this is a more … terrestrial story.
The story begins with the discovery of a new continent a fair distance off the shores of the two continents by a ship on a routine patrol.
This is big news for two reasons: first, despite the curse (introduced in Vayna, the first book in the series by internal chronology, but an oft-recurring element since then) that makes all the land that he directly controls marginal farmland at best, and despite seeing his domain shrink significantly as large areas were liberated in past wars, Tashere—the ruler of the Dragon Empire—has been pushing the people under his control to breed prolifically, so if he succeeded in creating a colony (under a puppet governor, to bypass the terms of the curse) he would soon be in a strong position to try to take back the lands he has lost. And second, in the Shine and Wild Empire and its allies, the various races and cultures have so little room left for expansion left that friction seems inevitable; this discovery opens a new frontier. Fortunately, the ship that discovered it wasn’t a Dragon ship.
After a brief opening arc, to introduce these events and cover any necessary background, the story consists of two interwoven threads: the colonization and the war.
After briefly surveying it, the Shine and Wild Empire opens the new continent to colonization by volunteers from its various regions and constituent groups. This story will probably follow a group from Danielle‘s demesne; in any case, I intend to describe the challenges they face in settling a new land that has been, until then, utterly uninhabited. The colonists need to plant farms, establish towns, build ports, and set up a network of outposts across the continent to make sure that their enemy doesn’t get a foothold unnoticed.
While the preparations are beginning, the foreign policy of the Shine and Wild Empire shifts from one of simply deterrence and readiness to one of distraction, making obvious preparations—concentrating forces—along the land borders with the Dragon Empire to draw its attention away from the movement of people and matériel in the opposite direction. And it allows border tensions to escalate to the point of small-scale attacks despite peace nominally holding.
And then the Dragon Empire responds, as it has so many times before, by invading its neighbors. It’s soon fought to a standstill, but every effort is made to keep Tashere’s eye on the land borders rather than across the sea.
Eventually, though, deception and distraction fail. The Dragon Empire discovers the new continent. It launches the navy that it has built up during the peace, and sends it to attack both the colony and the shipyards from which supplies are transported.
After a series of naval engagements, the navy of the Shine and Wild Empire eventually decisively gains the upper hand, finishing with the destruction of the Dragon Empire’s harbors and then its fleet to force a truce.
Some of the principal characters here are Danielle, whose district supplies so many colonists and supplies that the continent is placed within it for administrative purposes, and Josephine, who is serving as the royal aide-de-camp in the opening scenes and whose princedom is a major front in the early war. As well as the obvious, the commanders on the various fronts and the leaders of the colonization parties.